Christmas is over; thank God for small miracles. When one has suffered the physical loss of someone in their lives, the holidays, especially Christmas, can be extremely difficult and challenging. When that loss in your life is a child, it can change how one experiences and processes the holidays forever.

As many bereaved know, our grief journey soon becomes a subversive, evocative “it,” an acceptable pronoun to minimize the reality of a condition that no fortunate other can comprehend nor want to imagine; the loss of a child in their family.  So the world and we tend to hush it up, whisper our pain and not talk about “it”. We don our dancing shoes and tap dance for the world to music we have come to loathe.  Joy the World. Yeah, right; hop in my sleigh and go for ride.

It starts, however, long before Christmas and endures through the New Year’s festivities. How do I cook a turkey and baste it with love when my cup is empty? How can I not shop for the loved one that so loved my Christmas presents? How do I feel thankful when I feel so cheated? How do I manufacture Christmas cheer? How do I hold in the agony I experience when other parents hug and snuggle their children? How do we do “it”?

We do it because it is our kids, it is our grief. It is not a condition or a stage we go through; it is picking up our shattered lives. We are in a process of transmogrification as surely as caterpillar creates a cocoon. Sometime in the future that chrysalis  that is wrapped around our injured soul will become clear as does the caterpillar’s and we shall see the world again for what it is, and know it is our time to rejoin it, which takes as long as it takes.

We are changed forever, but we can find joy again… as elusive as it may seem. It, our grief, becomes us. We can choose to become more collateral damage to our loss or we can strive to be an intentional survivor in this world.  A world in which we experience our intended destiny; a journey we were meant to discover despite its dark despair.  Our children have angel wings, we have butterfly wings; together, we can soar as one in our hearts until we too get our angel wings and soar as one into eternity.  They are now our teachers and we are now the students. Its back assward I know, but it is what it is.

I buried my child with his body in those early years; it did not work for me. The world became an emotional desert painted in different tones of gray. I wanted color back, I wanted the beach back, I wanted the smell of spring lilacs back, I wanted my son back. So I returned to the pain, I returned to the facts. I pulled my son back from the grave and started grieving for him all over again.

I dived back into my grief head long, bringing my son’s name back to life in this world, making him an active participant not only in my life but the life of others. Why did no one give me permission to do this? Why did everyone accept the finality of death without compunction, resistance or retort?

Like silent lambs to the slaughter, we sometimes accept society’s dictates in processing loss and we move on as urged and expected. We become complacent because we have no strength or there are seemingly no real alternatives. Life sucks, and we accept the fact it always will and we move on and get over it. That siren of apathy charted my course for many years and life was lusterless and listless.

When I started getting signs from my son Kelly, it broke the siren’s spell and we started a new relationship on non physical level.  I brought Kelly back into my life with my book, my speaking, my everyday living; like the movie Pleasantville, my-black and white world was turning back to color. Wow!  Not only do I discover that there life after death for my son, I realize it is a fact for me as well.

My grief, no longer a noun, has become a verb, an action verb; we live our loss with action, with intent, with anticipation and we celebrate the rest of our lives with our child not without them. We just say NO to those who tell us we must move on, and how we should be over it; there is no getting over it, it is me! Deal with me, what you see is what you get, and it ain’t going away.

Christmases will come and go and you will always have that nagging feeling you have forgotten something, or feel you are waiting for the package that never arrives.  Those feelings do not go away but color can come back to Christmas and into your life someday…if you believe.

Mitch Carmody 2011

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Mitch Carmody

Mitch Carmody

After suffering many familial losses from a young age and ultimately with the death of his nine-year-old son of cancer in 1987, Mitch Carmody, has struggled with the grief journey and how grief is processed and perceived in this country. He published a book in 2002 called “Letters To My Son, a journey through grief." The book has now reached the bereaved in every state and 7 other countries. From the book’s success he now travels locally and around the country lecturing on the grief process and/or conducting workshops on surviving the loss of a loved one. He has also conducted a variety of workshops with The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents USA as well as a sought after speaker for many keynote presentations. As a trained hospice volunteer, he has also helped many loved ones and their families through the dying process. Mitch has published several articles in national bereavement periodicals, is a frequent contributor to TCF Atlanta On-line and currently a staff writer for Living with Loss Magazine. Through email correspondence on his website he council’s the bereaved on a daily basis. Since the death of his son 19 years ago, Mitch has dedicated his life to helping those individuals and families whom are trying to navigate in the uncharted territory of death, dying and the bereavement process. Through his compassionate insight and gentle spirit he will touch your heart and hopefully give you tools to aid you on your journey Mitch lives in rural Minnesota with my wife of thirty years, he enjoys riding my horses, gardening, writing, helping others, giving blood monthly and creating works of art. He is also a proud first time grandfather to the daughter of their surviving daughter Meagan. To learn more about Mitch and his work, go to: www.HeartlightStudios.net. Mitch appeared on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing “Letters From My Son.” To hear Mitch being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley042706.mp3 Mitch appeared again on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” discussing the Holidays, Helpful or Hurtful? To hear Mitch interviewed by Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: www.voiceamericapd.com/health/010157/horsley122508.mp3

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