It’s the start of a new year and with it comes hope - hope for a better year than last, hope that you will not lose anyone else that you love, hope you will never feel this pain again, and hope that this year we will learn how to live in our new selves. Hope is what we have to hold on to and finding a way to do that seemed very hard during the grief process, at least in the beginning stages. I found that after God and I started talking again, and I became involved in community charity projects, the “desperation thing” eased as I became smarter about the network of organizations set up to help those in need - as I understood the system the hope became stronger. I was inspired by the many people that I met during the hours spent in these organizations because of their passion, their willingness to help others in spite of their own difficulties, and that many of them were in the very place of those they were now helping. I did not tell any of those I met why I was there or what led me there-it was just too painful to discuss.
I was glad that the holidays were over that first year, it was very stressful and I was not mentally or physically prepared for the work involved. I certainly was not prepared for the emotions that came when I realized that my friends, co workers, and parents ignored the fact that my Amber was missing from the celebrations. It was all just another “kick when I was down”.
I was pleased when my daughter and son in law announced that they were expecting a child. My daughter, however, was torn about the idea because of it being so soon after her sister’s death. I assured her that they would be great parents and a new baby would be wonderful! The baby would be due in MAY – that was not the best news for them – there is much sadness in May along with Mothers Day, my birthday, and my expecting daughter’s birthday. I held onto the idea that God knew what we needed and it would all work out fine.
The New Year brought my first therapy session. I was very excited to talk to someone, at this point it did not matter WHO - it was a shame that I had to pay someone to listen to me (and with feedback great stuff), but I just wanted to explode with questions. I had been trying to find answers on the internet for 8 months and as time rolled on the questions became more complex.
Our first meeting was wonderful, there were no questions about my past, or my childhood, or if my parents were good to me as a child, etc. — you know all the things you hear about when discussing what therapy must be like. She simply introduced herself and asked me why I was there - she understood that my daughter had died from suicide. Wow did I let loose-the first topic was trying to understand if I was in the proper stage of grief? Crazy you have to ask that - I had not been able to ask that question to anyone. I explained the treatment that I had been receiving from those around me and she explained much of what I already knew about people not knowing what to say. I can honestly say the answer was not enough – I was angry at them for letting me down in such a horrible way. Having to lose my friends at the same time as my daughter was just too much. She asked if I had any guilt feelings and we discussed that and then we briefly discussed my charity work and then my granddaughter. By the time the hour was up I knew this was going to be the best thing I could do (beyond talking to God) to help myself. I, of course, did not have time to get out all my pent up feelings that first day and so I began seeing her every 2 weeks - it was great. By the time 2 weeks would roll around I would be about ready to explode needing to talk to someone. I am still seeing her now, but not as often, and it still helps me very much to have a person that you trust giving me honest answers regardless of how they may make me feel at the time. Not that she was hurtful at all, but honesty is very important in the grief process in my experience, because I had no one around me that I trusted (excluding my hubby). I needed honest answers to my questions in order to try and make some sense out of all the uncertainty surrounding me in every area of my life. As the months rolled by the more I realized that I would never know what “normal” was again. The family dynamics changed completely and therapy was extremely beneficial in helping me to see the bigger picture of how to help the children. After the many months alone I started thinking I was doing something wrong- BUT the Christian side of me knew that I was not shown the kindness I deserved.
My work setting became harder and harder and along with my therapist I tried to develop techniques to help me get through the day. I knew that God could get me through and so everyday I prayed as I drove to work – I prayed standing at the backdoor every morning before opening the door and still it did not help the tension in the building. At my therapy I started talking more about how to get through work than the more important issues – work was literally sucking the life out of me and yet I felt I needed to stay because of the added financial responsibilities due to Amber’s children and my father. My hubby and I knew it was only a matter of time and my job would have to end one way or another and we diligently saved money and paid bills preparing.
As spring came in 2009 I was starting to think about how I would deal with that first anniversary of Amber’s death, along with my birthday, and Mother’s Day which all fell at the same time. I had a baby shower scheduled in April for my daughter at a dear friend’s beauty shop in my hometown. I took a shower invitation to work with me and put in on my desk under some papers thinking I would put it out for the girls so they could get something for the baby, but I just could not bring myself to do it. Of course they all knew about the shower and ordinarily the group or individual would buy a gift for any occasion - but not this time. I bought gifts for weddings, birthdays, baby showers, bachelorette parties, and more and although I know NOW that I should not have expected anything from these people who already had shown me what they really felt about me I was very hurt - again! The hurt that came from my work place was just unbearable at times, but I would continue to pray on my drive there and at the door every morning. I added to my calming things – the serenity prayer that I had laminated and another prayer I found on the internet that I taped down on the top of my desk. I would just read them over and over till I could calm down and get my head in the right place. I also found a smooth rock that had Faith carved into it and I would put it in my pocket. I remember my therapist asking me time after time why I kept trying so hard to be at this place that caused me such anxiety, and all I knew was that financially we were not prepared and it was not the proper time. As my boss saw the weakness in me he became more aggressive towards me. He had a very loud, sharp voice. He sounded angry most of the time even when he was not. He would hover over my desk in such an intimidating matter that I would freeze up with anxiety and just lose my thoughts. He would do this in front of the other employees also which continually undermined my authority with them as their manager. Everything I tried to implement into the workplace he would make fun of behind my back to the other employees-they would tell me. He called me a bitch to them, he told two new employees (that I know of) to be sure not to make “nigger” jokes in front of me as I had a black granddaughter. When I ask him about these things in his private office he would hold his hand up and say ‘Debbie, I swear I would never do anything like that-you know me better than that’. He never would admit to anything, but I knew it was all true.
The other girls in the office were young enough to be my daughters and he was very sexual to them telling them nasty jokes that I found disgusting. They complained to me on several occasions, but would laugh when he was telling them, because they were in fear for their jobs. He knew I did not approve and he felt that they were all “friends” and that gave him more grounds to “gang up” on me. He was a few years older than me and was very inappropriate with them and me. Enough of that for now-it gets much worse later.
I have enclosed the poem that was taped to my desk at work for more than a year. I do not know the title or author.
Dear Lord, I thank you for this day,
I thank you for my being able to see
and to hear this morning.
I'm blessed because you are
a forgiving God and
an understanding God.
You have done so much for me
and you keep on blessing me.
Forgive me this day for everything
I have done, said or thought
that was not pleasing to you.
I ask now for your forgiveness.
Please keep me safe
from all danger and harm.
Help me to start this day
with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude.
Let me make the best of each and every day
to clear my mind so that I can hear from you.
Please broaden my mind
that I can accept all things.
Let me not whine and whimper
over things I have no control over.
And give me the best response
when I'm pushed beyond my limits.
I know that when I can't pray,
you listen to my heart.
Continue to use me to do your will.
Continue to bless me that I may be
a blessing to others.
Keep me strong that I may help the weak...
Keep me uplifted that I may have
words of encouragement for others.
I pray for those that are lost
and can't find their way.
I pray for those that are misjudged
I pray for those who
don't know you intimately.
I pray for those that will delete this
without sharing it with others
that God changes people and
God changes things.
I pray for all my sisters and brothers.
For each and every family member
in their households.
I pray for peace, love and joy
in their homes; that they are out of debt
and all their needs are met.
I pray that every eye that reads this
knows there is no problem, circumstance,
or situation greater than God.
Every battle is in your hands for you to fight.