Awakenings of a Deroche Spring Morning

(First posted on April 22, 2020 on InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Blog.)

My wife and I live in British Columbia, Canada, in an area known as the Fraser Valley. We live in a small community called, Deroche. We love living here. Farmland, mountains, and the mighty Fraser River surround Deroche. There are evergreen trees as far as the eye can see. There are also countless deciduous trees.

This morning (April 10, 2020) I climb out of bed with a specific purpose in mind. Around six-thirty get dressed, grab my camera, and head for the dike. The dike is a five-minute walk from home. My purpose for rising early is to snap a few shots of sunrise. The dike follows the meander of the Dewdney Slough, our nearby local water body.

 The dike is a world unto itself. All year round birds dot the landscape flying and having fun. They also like to sit on the branches of trees or bramble bushes. For most of the year the trees are alive with various shades of green. The deciduous compete with the evergreen as their vibrancy blends in like a patchwork quilt. Spring has its own unique way of showing off in this part of the Fraser Valley. One never gets tired of living in this area. I walk the dike for a few minutes and decide to pause. My eyes are favoured with sights that remind me this is a time of awakenings.

Deciduous trees awake from slumber, shake off the cold of winter, and begin to bud. The grass now stands upright after months of laying low. Ducks and Canada geese float in the slough without a care in the world (well, perhaps except for eagles in the area). The surrounding mountains stand unmoved as the protectors of the Valley. Their usual evergreen attire is always in fashion.

After walking a few metres more it happens. The sun begins to arise and greets the morning. The songs of numerous types of birds resound. Not too far away a few pesky starlings let their presence be known. Black-capped Chickadees and Red Robins join in the chorus to welcome the sun, the star of the morning.

I hold my camera steady and wait for the right moment. You see the sun is an expert tease. The glow becomes brighter as one waits. As if all of a sudden God’s morning star pulls out all the stops to nature’s chorus of glee. A brief glare into the sun’s brightness draws a view of molten gold to one’s mind. There is an awakened awe to an overwhelmed desire to put the camera into action.

For a terrified moment I shudder to think I may have missed a magnificent shot. The camera clicks and a moment of glory is frozen in time. Creation sings to God in the morning and now my eyes, mind, heart, and camera hold His praises close.

As if to never want the moment to end a slow pace to home is enjoyed. At home the clock tells me it is just a few minutes after seven-o-clock. Wow, all that excitement, glory, and praise in less than an hour. The awakenings of a Deroche spring morning are an experience to behold. Perhaps one day you can join me!

The Purpose of My Blog

I am not new to blogging but I still have a lot to learn about it. Please allow me to give you an idea of who I am and why I blog. I have forty years of experience of supporting people in their grief. This includes professionally and volunteering as well as in my education.

As a boy people fascinated me. For the most part my fascination continues today. Through the years the ways people process their grief is of particular interest. I maintain every person I come alongside who is grieving is my teacher. The same applies to those I have sat with as they near the end of life. Each person is unique and so is how one grieves.

I call my blog, Scarred Joy. Here is an idea of what Scarred Joy means. Scarred Joy is deep grief leading to hope. It is pure raw pain seeing the light of healing. Scarred Joy is weeping and not knowing if we will smile again. We never lose the scars of our grief. In the scars grief and hope are together. We walk through life being familiar with our scars yet moving forward. We move forward in hope.

My hope for Scarred Joy is that it will inspire people to move forward in their lives. We can cling to hope, whatever hope may be. My tagline for my grief work is, Touched by Grief, Held by Hope.

I do not allow other people to tell me how to grieve. I grieve in a way suited to me. I also never tell other people how to grieve. I do, however, encourage people to not be afraid of their grief. Rather, we can honour our grief. Through grieving we can teach ourselves lessons of who we are. If we listen to ourselves even in grief we may gift ourselves with compassion for other people.

Through compassion we learn to empathize with the pain of others. In the grief and death-denying context of North America compassion is vital. Compassion allows one to hug not only a loved one but also a stranger who is grieving. Compassion is recognizing our grief and that of other people can teach us we are not alone. We are in this grief together. This fact may elude some people but it is still real. I hope you will follow my Scarred Joy blog. Please comment about what your read. Even in this way we may learn from each other.

Still My Love, My Darling—2020

NOTE: This is a revised message of one originally posted on June 10, 2017.

With this particular post I would like to highlight more of the “joy” than the “scarred” part of life. A few years ago a song hit the charts on the radio people still sing today. The song is, “Unchained Melody,” and became a hit due to the singing duo The Righteous Brothers. The song begins, “Oh my love, my darling. I’ve hungered for your love, a long lonely time.”

Who is your love? Is there someone your heart longs for? Is this an easy question for you to answer? I’m sure some people will immediately want to answer with replies like, “I love God and my heart longs for Him!” Okay, I get it and that’s valid. I’ll ask the question again this way. Of all the people you know in your life, whom does your heart hunger for more than anyone else? Unchained Melody is a love song. Who is your “darling”?

One morning I got up early to work on a writing project. My “darling,” my wife, surprised me and arose early also. I thought with it being Saturday she would like to sleep in. I remember when I was going out I noticed my darling relaxing on the couch. I took advantage of the situation to sing ’ Unchained Melody, for her listening pleasure. Well, at least I think she listened! Oh boy, now I’m rethinking whether my darling takes pleasure in my singing. The romantic in me is confident she did.

Now before I go any farther, I have to clarify something. As a more introverted person, I don’t sing to just anyone. My darling and I have been together for years. I feel safe with her and trust her to know more about me than anyone else.  If anyone else asked me to sing for them the answer will more than likely be, no.

Do you sing for your darling? Do you long for your darling? Do you hunger for your darling’s touch? My darling is not to be taken for granted. As a selfish creature I may slip from this priority from time to time. I guess it is human to default toward our selfish nature. If you have a darling he or she becomes your heart’s love.

My darling and I have been married to each other for more than forty years. Even after forty-plus years of marriage to the same woman I still have a long way to go. I still make mistakes. I still have selfish moments. I have insecurities. I beat myself up as a failure. I have times where I think I didn’t provide for my wife and family as best I could. I see in such misgivings my own room for growth. It is in light of this standard I pray, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

Years go by and we are getting older. In time our twilight years will be upon us. I dread the time we may be parted. I never want to live without my darling.

The melody of my love for my darling goes on. Sometimes I get out of tune. Sometimes I forget all the lines. Sometimes I feel unworthy of her love. Our melody, however, while perhaps still under construction, is sweet! It is music to my ears!

Oh my love, my darling, after all these years, I still hunger for your love.

Cancer At Christmas

Christmas can bring back bittersweet memories.

This Dec. post is a brief reminder the Christmas season isn’t without times of grief and sadness.

As a boy I remember being excited as Christmas drew near. My imagination worked overtime as I anticipated the fun of Christmas. To me, there was no greater time of year than Christmas Day. Now I am older I still love Christmas.

As years have gone by I recognize the Christmas season has its share of emotional scars. For the most part these scars healed but have not disappeared.

During our forty-one years of marriage my beloved wife has experienced cancer twice. She has survived each time but, of course, not without scars. Her most recent cancer scare came during Christmas season of 2017.

A role of a husband is to protect his wife. I could not protect my wife from cancer either time. I bear the scars of this.

I wrote about my wife’s cancer in a series of Scarred Joy posts in Dec. 2017 and Jan. 2018. I wrote them as a way of processing her journey with this illness. Using the term, “illness,” in this context under states the reality of cancer.

Cancer is an invasion, an assault on one’s whole being. Cancer while a direct assault on an individual impacts other people as well. Perhaps the emotional impact of cancer is most felt in the life of a spouse and one’s children. I will highlight this in a future post.

For the sake of this post I present to you a poem depicting cancer’s assault on a husband.

Cancer At Christmas

Honest with my heart
This hurts
Cries and whimpers
Numbness
Shaking a fist at heaven
My head supported by my hands
Face wet with tears
Frozen in time
Cancer diagnosis

Why God? –Cancer at Christmas?
Help me help her.

My darling, you amaze me
Your words calm
You say you have peace
I enjoy peace with you
We hang decorations
Drink eggnog
Romance each other
Hold on
Never let go
Thankful
In the moment

This illness will not win
Beneath the surface
We have peace
Stillness
Rest
We are together
Give thanks
Make merry

In the rare silence
Of Christmas
God is not surprised
By this fiend cancer
Joy is our companion
We weep
Rejoice
We are not alone
Immanuel
God with us
Unseen yet present

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Featuring: The Autistic Author and Animator

Scarred Joy is primarily devoted raising awareness and shattering the stigma around Autism.

Scarred Joy is primarily devoted to raising awareness and shattering the stigma around Autism. From time to time the blog will highlight stories of people living with autism. Today’s post includes one of these stories. Scarred Joy is presenting to readers a book entitled, The Autistic Author and Animator and its author, Janet Walmsley.

As family members of people on the autism spectrum, we cannot allow the opinion of anyone place limits on our loved ones. As we read this post you will see what I mean.

 Janet and her daughter, Jenny, are living proof of smashing the prejudiced views of other people. Even medical professionals can miss the mark regarding the potential of those on the spectrum.

Please read the following words from Janet and leave a comment afterwards at the bottom of the post.

My book, “The Autistic Author and Animator”, is about my daughter, Jenny, who was diagnosed with low functioning Autism at the age of 3 and was told she would never talk, never do well in school, never be where her peers are and the list went on. I walked out of that specialist’s office saying, “That’s not going to happen!”

She faced many challenges on the way to reaching her dream of becoming a professional animator and published author. It is a heartfelt story which relays the importance of perseverance, courage, strength within a mother-daughter bond as their journeys intertwine – revealing a mother who was her daughter’s rock right from the beginning and did everything in her power to help her daughter see the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

The Autistic Author and Animator is a striking narrative that illustrates one’s full potential – a testament that autism is no barrier to success and fulfillment. We never looked back, full speed ahead with always taking the positive out of Autism, and yes, there were bumps and trials however we trucked through them and learned from them.

Jenny is an inspiration and role model not only for the Autistic Community but also for the General Public as I have so many say to me, “Wow, if that girl can go through what she did and be where she is today, what is stopping any of us from pushing down our barriers and going after our dreams and goals, we want to do a Jenny!”

Jenny is now 26 and is a professional 2D and 3D Animator and she has a best selling, award winning Fantasy Fiction book, “Dysnomia”, which is the first of a Trilogy and getting quite a following. She just finished her second sequel to it and will be published next year.

What a far cry from what I was told when she was 3 years old, so one must never say never and be your child’s voice, sounding board and rock. Let them go to the peak that they can, as there are different levels, as they deserve a rich fulfilled life and to be a part of our society and workforce, like anyone else.

———————————————

The greater population can learn a lot from parents like Janet regarding autism. Jenny, also, can teach people the realities of living with autism. Jenny, and other people like her deserve a fair shake at reaching their potential. Anything else is unfair and immoral.

As a grandfather of two grandchildren on the autism spectrum I hope to do my share of raising awareness not only to autism but also to the people on the spectrum. With people like Janet and Jenny involved in this desire a difference in our society will be made.

If you have a story about your or a loved one’s experience on the autism spectrum please feel free to contact Scarred Joy. I would love to feature your story on a post. Please contact me through the blog at https://scarredjoy.ca. You may also contact me through email, at caledomiaspirit@gmail.com.

Please order The Autistic Author and Animator, through

Red Tuque Books at http://redtuquebooks.com/

Amazon Books at www.amazon.ca

or through Janet’s website at http://www.janetwal.wixsite.com/autismconnects.

A Story of Joshua Jordan

The vast majority of Scarred Joy Blog posts will be focused on raising awareness to people living on the autism spectrum.

This post takes a detour from autism. Joshua Jordan is a young writer whom I admire and want to promote in this Scarred Joy post. You may ask why? Well, Joshua lives in a Scarred Joy way. This means he has suffered in his life yet chooses to move forward. He has experienced hell on earth at the mercy of human monsters. The wonderful thing about this is, he has lived to tell about his experience.

Joshua expresses his pain in two books he has written. His books, Shopping Cart Boy (2018), and Soul Rape Soul Rage (2019), offer sobering accounts of the horrifying abuse he experienced by other people.

Scarred Joy posts tend not to by shy about the reality of pain and suffering in life. I’m honoured now to present my readers with Joshua’s story in his own words.

Through my writing and speaking I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want people to know what it feels like to be a kid taken away from his mother because of addictions.

I believe that pretty much any day with my alcoholic mom was better than what I went through in foster care. That is saying a lot, my mom could be pretty hard to live with at times.

With my mom I was always warm, dressed nice, fed and loved. In one of the foster homes I was in I was abused badly. For some time I wasn’t allowed to see my mom which made it even harder.

I would cry and cry when I had to leave her and then acted out when I went back to the foster home. At the time I didn’t understand that was one reason they stopped our visits. I was only seven when I thought about killing myself for the first time. I just wanted the pain to end. When I didn’t get to see my mom anymore I thought she had forgotten about me.

I don’t write a lot about my mom, as I don’t want people judging her. My mom had a rough life due to abuse at an earlier age than me and by more people.

Now and then mom became drunk causing her to fight with people. A lot of guys were afraid of her. I knew she would protect me if something happened at home. I found it hard seeing how out of control she would get including saying stupid mean things to me. I believe beside her hurts, addictions, and things going on, she may have had a mental illness or at least severe depression.

Being sexually abused when you are young is a challenge to get over. There are not many counselors who are skilled at helping victims of sexual abuse. I went to some and they wouldn’t even let me talk – they said they were relationship building so we could talk about it. I got angrier about my abuse when this would happen – it is like teasing someone that you have the medicine they need to make them better but you aren’t going to give it to them.

People often think you must keep quiet about being sexually abused as a child. They think if you are a kid it is easier to get over things. I think kids try to protect their parents and other people by not talking about it. I also think organizations like Churches, counselors and police should make it easier to talk about than it is.

Going back to live with my mom was great until she started drinking again then died from complications from AIDS. I will never forget the day she died and how hard that was for my brother and me. He has his own troubles and is eighteen years older than me. I lived with him for a while but it didn’t work out. I then went to live with someone I knew from foster care who had been nice to me. She kept me as her son and tries to understand and help me.

I never thought I would be as popular a speaker as I am with my book. On my own I’m not great at public speaking. My adopted mom helps me by being with me when I speak. She keeps me on track and helps me from being too nervous.

 With experience I have become a better speaker and realize people want to hear my story. People have told me they had no idea there are so many kids like me. They are kids who need help and understanding as well as lots of patience and prayer.

The poems Joshua writes in his books are raw and horrific. He desires to make a real and beneficial difference in the lives of other people. In this desire we read the words of a compassionate young man.

Readers, I urge you to purchase Joshua’s books.

Shopping Cart Boy can be purchased at: http://www.siretona.com Both books are available on Amazon.

An Open Letter From A Grandfather Of Special Needs Kids To Their Parents

As I write this letter I am primarily thinking of my own grandchildren who have “special needs,” and their family. I am, however, making it available to other people by including the letter as a blog post.

Dear Parents,

As a grandfather, I accept my “special needs” grandchildren may never live a “typical” life, whatever that is. I accept these children for who they are. They are unique and made in the image of God. He loves them and I can do no less.

I am so proud of your children when they reach a milestone they struggled for. They are young warriors not knowing the meaning of giving up. For instance, other people may not understand the thrill of knowing your child can now poop in the toilet. They don’t have to understand but I celebrate with you.

When I talk about my family I don’t make a big deal of it by saying something like, “I have six grandchildren and two of them are “special needs.” If part of a conversation I’m having with someone turns to bragging about grandkids kids, I brag along. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I love these children.

Before I go any farther I must make mention of an important part of your family. Other children, typical children who are part of a “special needs family,” may inadvertently be almost forgotten. If your family includes children who are “typical,” please monitor them and make sure they are doing well. Life can be lonely for such children. Give them some golden time just for them.

Believe me as a grandfather, I notice things. I can tell when a child is feeling left out. That’s where I can come into action. I can take the child out for lunch or to a movie or other fun things to do. The point is giving this child some time where he or she is spoiled for a while.

I have to admit I become somewhat angry when people exclude your children from things like birthday parties. Even if your child or children aren’t able to attend at least they can be invited. This includes family as well as friend type gatherings. There is no reason to not include children with special needs unless it is a health or safety issue. Even then an option may come up so they are not left out.

Many people make little effort to understand children with special needs. The lack of empathy they show is obvious. This is why people may seem to ignore you and your family. They don’t realize children with special needs are teachers of life. Being in their presence can expose us to our own weaknesses or strengths. These children present the “typical” population with a choice. The choice is to accept or reject them.

As parents I know your lives may differ from the lives of typical parents in a number of ways. I think of being diligent in keeping your calendar up to date. This is not for the purpose of scheduling barbecues with family or friends etc. Your calendar is used more for life and health purposes. This includes regular therapy or specialist and other related appointments. These are integral to monitoring your child’s day-to-day life.

Due to the health challenges your child or children live with there are experiences, situations, and events etc. beyond your control. Most times you can only dream of such things as getting away for the weekend or even planning vacations. This is the reality of your lives.

I see your world and now mine through the lens of a grandfather. Through this lens I see I have taken on a greater love for life. I see life is fragile and even enigmatic. As I look through my grandfather filter I see not all of life is black and white, right or wrong, good or bad. Life just is and it includes mystery!

There is mystery in the reality of special needs as it pertains to life. How is it one child or even two or three children in one family may have special needs? How does this happen? This is such a mystery. Perhaps the best thing to do, the most human thing I can do is accept these children. Accept them by seeing beyond their “special needs” and see them for who they are.

You see, in accepting children and other people with “special needs,” I may see my own needs. I may then see acceptance means love. As a grandfather I do not merely accept my grandchildren I love them. They are part of me.

I am getting older by the day. I look back over my life and I see there are more days behind me than in front of me. I know I may miss out on certain years of my grandchildren. I may be taken ill and no longer able to make a trip to see them. If this happens I trust they will always know how much I love them. This will never end.

All my love,

Papa.

https://scarredjoy.ca/

Not The Elephant Man

I don’t know if many of my readers have heard of Joseph Carey Merrick. He lived from the year 1862 to 1890. He was born with deformities all over his body and once grown up he became a sideshow, circus type of attraction. He became known as the Elephant Man.

Scarred Joy is turning a corner, as it were, regarding regular posts. Blog entries, for the most part, will now focus on what society has labelled, “special needs.” The edginess and frank content of my posts will remain. A goal is to raise awareness of the disabilities of our society, as it perceives people with “special needs.” We will also from time to time note the wonderful accomplishments of people with special needs.

Joseph C. Merrick was the subject of ridicule many times throughout his life. People were curious about him. Some people feared him out of their ignorance of knowing how to respectfully respond to someone “different.” He lived with ridicule and being misunderstood, for much of his life.

At some point in his childhood, Mr. Merrick suffered a hip injury, which became infected and resulted in a permanent limp. His life included being out into the world on his own at a young age due to an unhappy home life. He spent time being homeless until an uncle took him into his home for a while. Once the stay with his uncle ended Joseph entered a workhouse.

Through other different parts of his life, he spent time as an exhibit in a freak show and suffered such indignities as being looked at as grotesquely “different” than “normal” people. There were other times in his life where the public treated him as an object to stare and wonder at out of morbid curiosity. This endeavour hosted by some showmen at least enabled Joseph C. Merrick to gain some level of monetary profit.

As Joseph reached his early twenties the times were changing regarding society’s attitude toward freak shows and the like. This change in attitude worked in Mr. Merrick’s favour for the most part. People like Dr. Frederick Treves a surgeon at Royal London Hospital befriended Joseph and introduced him to a more caring environment. Joseph now had more opportunities to meet people than he had in his life. Treves learned Joseph was an emotional, sensitive and somewhat shy gentleman. He was not an Elephant Man to be afraid of. The hospital became Joseph’s home for the rest of his life until he died at age twenty-seven.

There are times in the lives of people with “special needs” where other people will view them as objects of curiosity. There will also be instances where a child or loved one will be addressed in a condescending manner. This may come about through statements like, “oh, she laughs just like a normal girl!” or comments like, “wow, he can do up his own shoes? He’s such a big boy.” Statements like this may be accompanied by a pat on the child’s head or a similar gesture.

While the average typical person may never admit or perhaps not even be aware of it, what I call, “the elephant man” syndrome exists in modern society. People with “special needs” may still be approached in a similar fashion as Mr. Merrick. The fact remains people are often hesitant when approaching a person with special needs, if they approach them at all.

With special needs of any kind, there is a constant companion throughout life. This particular constant is that of Scarred Joy. This means those with “special needs” carry scars throughout life, caused by other people, that reminds them they will always be considered “different”, not “typical,” “not the same” as “normal” people.”

Those of us who love a family member or someone else we love, who is labelled, “special needs,” know our lives have changed forever in some ways. The typical world may never get over seeing the “difference,” before they notice the person. We, however, must remind the world, those we love, who have special needs, are not an Elephant Man.

(for a brief biography on Joseph Carey Merrick see, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Merrick; See also https://mentalfloss.com/article/81415/new-calls-bury-bones-elephant-man-joseph-merrick)

I Don’t Know What To Say

Scarred Joy is turning a corner, as it were, regarding regular posts. Blog entries, for the most part, will now focus on what society has labelled, “special needs.” I will primarily be referring to families, that is, parents and grandparents, raising children who live with such challenges as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, etc. A family having experienced the death of a child may also be considered as having special needs.

The edginess and frank content of my posts will remain. We will be dealing with various issues, etc. that come with families living with special needs.  A goal is to raise awareness of the disabilities of our society, as it perceives people with “special needs.” We will also from time to time note the wonderful accomplishments of people with special needs.

A number of people have already encouraged Scarred Joy with this refocus. I’m thankful for such positive vibes I have received. There is a confession I have to make, however, before I go on. I confess I don’t know what to say.

I say this due to the fact I’m not an expert in the area of “special needs.” I am a mere student. While there may be professional type people who are regarded as experts, I’m not one of them. I don’t learn what I may know about “special needs” from books or listening to a professor or instructor who teaches courses on “disabilities” etc. They have their place, of course, but they aren’t the experts who teach me.

Real experts, people who live in what I call the “world of special needs”, teach me. The real experts I refer to are my daughter and her husband as well as their friends who live in the same world. My real experts also include my grandchildren who are labelled as children with “special needs.” Through such people I am given an idea of what living with “special needs” is like.

As I write I am asking myself questions like the following. Is “special needs” the correct term or is it merely acceptable. I mean, who decided to coin the term “special needs” and it becomes part of everyday language?

In my reading I have seen such terms as “retarded” or “mental” or “special ed” or “spastic,” are words of a mean nature today. The more enlightened ones who shun such derogatory terms do not use them. This begs another question, “If I have to use a term other than “special needs,” what do I use? You see I don’t know what to say.

Well, as you read this message you might ask, what does “Scarred Joy” mean? Scarred Joy is a term I came up with, to in some way capture the fact people move forward in their lives in spite of suffering. You may know of similar terms or words for this. I also use this term, Scarred Joy, when I think of families who live with “special needs.”

You don’t have to agree with me but this is how I see it. With “special needs”, there is a constant companion throughout life. This particular constant is what I call, Scarred Joy. Those with “special needs” carry scars throughout life, often caused by other people, that remind them they will always be considered “different”, not “typical,” “not the same” as “normal” people.” In spite of being known and noticed for their “differences,” they, for the most part, carry on with their lives in a Scarred Joy manner.

I say all of this because I don’t know what to say. What I mean is, I don’t know what to say when I write in this blog being dedicated to families with “special needs” as a significant part of their lives. I am open to “special needs families” teaching me as the blog continues. I invite such family members to please follow Scarred Joy. I will cherish your feedback and input into the content of this blog.

An Expression of Love and Grief: When Parents Die: Part Two

You remember the special phone call you received each year from your parents on your birthday. You hold close your father’s favourite pair of slippers. They are the slippers he kept at your place and used when he visited you. You go into your kitchen to do some baking and the recipe is one your mom gave you. You have to sit down and compose yourself. You rearrange the suite in your basement your parents used in their later years. You realize as you clean up the area even their fingerprints left on the furniture have now gone.

The memories we may have of our parents represent a major part of our lives. Their deaths initially take us into uncharted territory. It is a territory full of emotion and change. We now take on a new title of identification, “adult orphan.” Our parents never died before. It may take a while for the shock to subside. One may describe this as feeling numb. We may be devoid of words for a time in coming to grips with this loss. As shock begins to subside it can result in a deep expression of grief that seemed to pass us by at first.

When my father died I didn’t like the thought of him lying in the hospital morgue. A few days after my mother died I thought I heard her calling my name. The grief experienced after the death of parents may be of a profound nature. It is unique. It does not feel like anything else one has experienced. It is final. It cannot be fixed.

Our parents are not coming back. This realization can seem too much for us to process. It can be brutal on our emotions. Days may drag on as if never to end Nights may crush us with loneliness.

In the mercy of God we may begin to sense enough that life will forever be changed. The realization I am an adult orphan did not strike me until the death of my mother. Dad had died a few years before her. My life had taken on a different status. I was no longer someone’s son. It struck me as strange. I asked myself question, like “what do I do now I have no parents?”

My grief drew me to my writing. Words helped me express this path once foreign in my journey through life. I wrote a poem that I included at the beginning of this post. I don’t claim to be a poet. I wrote the words for the sole purpose of giving expression to my grief.

Death comes to us all. Regardless of the unrealistic view many in the western world have of death it is still a part of life. It will not allow us to evade, deny or pretend it does not exist. Death came for our parents and will come for us.

When you consider your own children you may look at them and think to yourself, “Where did the time go? It seems to have flown by.” Now at this juncture of your life you may be reflecting on similar thoughts. “When did my parents become old?” “I still needed them and now they’re gone.” Life is so different now.

You may be in the initial shock of losing your parents. Perhaps it has been a week or two since your last parent died. There are funeral or memorial service or celebration of life details to now put into action. It may be the funeral gathering etc. has past and life goes on as usual for many. Not for you however. You are a grieving daughter or son. You are a mourner. You are still you but someone is missing.

In my experience with grieving people I know some are hard on themselves. They fall into the trap of such things as “stages of grief.” They think there is a certain way one must now act. They listen to the voices of other people who in their ignorance think “you should be over it by now.” Your grief process is unique to you. You will live with it and honour it as you choose.

Perhaps the following questions may help you in your life without your parents. How do you honour your parents now they are physically missing from you through death? What legacy have your parents left you? In what ways do you remind other people of your parents? What did you learn from them about grief and loss? What is your grief journey like right now?

Blessings to you as you now live without your parents. Live on remembering them. Your love for them goes on.

NOTE: When Parents Die: Part One, Estrangement, Not all adult orphans look back on their relationship with their parents with fondness.”Alan Anderson, https://scarredjoy.ca/, When Parents die Part One: Estrangement, Dec. 6, 2018.