Yoga This Morning

I am still struggling this morning to shake the reality of the world.  The morning’s unscripted and unexpected comments from innocent bystanders shake my wobbly legs on this chillier February morning as I am undressing for yoga class….it is not even 7 AM!

As I peel the layers of outerwear off my own body, remove my shoes and start to go into the  cave, next to me is this woman — happy spirit, normal based on appearances — she is smiling broadly. She has no idea my only son is dead. She is one of these faces I see in the morning in this yoga cave where I retreat to breathe and challenge myself and try to stay present with life, doing positive things, starting my day in a positive way by coming to be present and push myself to stand on one leg and wobble and practice how to balance and use this metaphor in my real day to day life…. and instantly shares how hard it was to get out of her warm bed this morning with two children cuddling up around her.

It is impossible for me to not feel worse when this woman adds she “is tired from being woken up so many times during the night from her kids sleeping next to her disturbing her sleep.” I wanted to cry instantly and say quietly my son is dead.  He died in a blink. Yes – she would not believe this woman sitting here said this, yet it is tragically the truth. I wanted to ask her what she is doing at the gym at 7 am.  Why would she prefer to be anywhere but home making breakfast and sending her children off with hugs and love? What is she doing here?

Yes – I want to try to escape my painful reality and yes, I come at 7 AM to avoid the brain making this parallel — if Joseph were alive I would be getting him ready for his school day before going to exercise class or whatever that journey might be if he were here in 1st grade.

How did this come to my morning when I am really trying to be in the real world and not focus on my dead son and my dead dreams and my dead old life path?

How do I not tell her who I am next time our paths cross?  How can I believe that her life is not easy nor is it my reality.  How do I tell someone that her life makes me even more aware of what is gone?  How do I trust this is exactly where I am supposed to be after 27 months?

How do I prepare myself if I go out into the real world again today? How can I accept more unexpected visuals or overheard random comments filling my ears and head with more to digest … more lives to remind me of my loss? Again and again I push away the desire to cave in to the pain and not reinvent myself or focus on being positive and make the world a better place for others because my little boy is dead?

I need to know how to handle this without wearing a t-shirt that has his picture on my body and a message on my back that says “HE DIED IN A BLINK.”

This bereavement is the non-visual handicap that no one can see unless we wear our broken heart on our sleeves … I truly want to give up trying …

Kim P.

The Open to Hope Community

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  • Clara Hinton says:

    Wanting to escape the painful truth and all of the reminders that our child has died, we go to great lengths to do just that. Yet, life has a rather strange way of doing just the opposite….bringing us face-to-face with reminders almost hourly, if not more often.

    When my baby died, I wanted to avoid all babies and all reminders. Yet, the sad truth is that everywhere I went there were moms and babies, happy families, giggling children, baby clothes in stores, advertisements on tv, baby pictures in magazines. I was shaken to my very core. I didn’t want to be reminded….it was like having a knife cut through my heart every time I saw a happy, cherub-faced baby and I had an empty hole gaping in my heart.

    How do we go on? We cry, we scream, we withdraw, we sob all through the dark hours of the night, and then we try all over again the next day. We face the harsh reality that our child is not here. I can’t really explain it, but having walked this path before, I can tell you that little by little, the pain begins to ease. You’ll find yourself saying, “They just don’t get it, but I do.” And, inwardly you’ll remember a happy moment….a time with your child that brings joy rather than tears. You will begin to look at other children and see them for who they are — innocent and so unaware of the harshness of life. And, you will feel tenderness, not jealousy. You will find hope in simple things like a butterfly or a rainbow. You will see pictures of teddy bears and angels in the white clouds. You will smell the fragrance of a flower and be filled with peace. You will not give up trying because you have a sustainable strength deep within that will help you through each day. And, you will make it…one hour at a time, one moment at a time, until you can walk with a smile deep within your heart knowing you are such a special mother to have known the love of your very special child.

  • Lori says:

    Your post was so touching and so poignant. I have two second-graders, so the loss of your child really hit home. You expressed your painful feelings so beautifully and I often think that expressing those feelings is key to working through them. I commented on my blog recently about grief and loss, and I find that those posts are the only ones that generate comments. Why? I think its because there are so many people who suffer silently, because they don’t want to impose their grief on others or think that others are tired of listening. There are so many people who need to talk about it but feel that they can’t. Your site provides them with such a wonderful opportunity to share. I’ll add your link to my site if that’s okay. Meanwhile, my posts and resulting comments on grief and loss can be found at for anyone who is interested. Lots of love to you…and thank you for sharing.

  • Jennifer says:

    I lost my only daughter 11 months ago…how could that be???? I am also painfully aware of the people around me…and the fact that they just don’t get IT. So far, I have said nothing, but often wonder if what they need is a reminder…a blunt and painful reminder of what they have to be thankful for…of what it’s all about…

  • Lori says:

    Jennifer – You may be right. Maybe those of us who are experiencing grief and loss shoud talk to others about it – whether they want to hear it or not. It’s so true, isn’t it that we often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Maybe sharing our losses can help others to appreciate what they have while they still have it!

  • Clara Hinton says:

    I’m so very sorry. Life can shake us to the very core, and losing your only daughter has done just that, I’m sure. I don’t know how it could be, and yet……it happened. You have joined the ranks of the many parents that are grieving the loss of a child…..a group that you didn’t choose to belong to, and a group that you never wanted to belong to. None of us wants to part of that group, yet here we are.

    You asked a question, and it’s a valied one. You’re wondering if people around you need a “blunt and painful reminder of what they have to be thankful for….of what it’s all about.” I asked myself that same question probably a million times, and then I began asking people. Talk about frustration and anger! I think I did more crying trying to explain, than I did when I kept painfully quiet. The truth is, that for most of us we don’t get it unless we’ve traveled the same road. And, that is a sad, hard, cold fact to face. It’s impossible to explain the hole that we feel when our child dies to a parent whose child is alive and healthy and thriving and well. That parent might pause for a brief moment and listen, but then life goes on again just the same the next day. The death of a child is far too complex of a pain to explain completely…..even when we are blunt.

    So, what do we do? I finally chose to talk about my losses to anybody and everybody that would listen. Not in a way that tried to make others feel guilty for not feeling my pain, but in a way to try to educate them that the pain does exist. My own family wasn’t even aware of how deeply the wounds hurt from loss! How could I expect causual friends and people on the street to understand?

    An amazing thing happened to me…..the more I talked about my losses, the more comfortable I felt, and it put others at ease enough to begin to ask me questions. They weren’t “put off” by me, but they wanted to know. “Why do you take pictures at the cemetery?” “Why is mother’s day still such a downer for you?” “Why are certain months hard for you to face?” “How did you get through the depression?” “Did your church help?” “What can I do to help?”

    Begin talking about your daughter……when you feel you are ready, and be prepared for people to feel very, very uncomfortable at first. But, the more you talk about your daughter — how much she means to you, how hard it is moving forward without her, how much you wish people could understand and appreciate all of life…..the closer friendships you will form. Often people care, they just aren’t aware of your deep pain, and they feel too uncomfortable to bring up the subject of death. Death isn’t easy to talk about, especially the death of a child.

    I hope something I’ve said helps you just a little bit. This is a journey that we’re on, and we need to support one another all we can as we take each step of the way on the road to finding peace and hope.

    Anytime you want to talk about your daughter…..I’m ready to listen!

  • Audrey says:

    Thank you for sharing such a poignant and painfully familiar story. I most appreciated your ability to describe the inner turmoil we feel about remaining silent or speaking up, and the frustration when we think we are in a “safe” place someone or something brings about the reminders of our great suffering. I’m so sorry your precious son is gone. I fell compelled to echo what others have mentioned, to include talking about our loss and our child when it arises. I usually find that people respond quite compassionately. They don’t understand, but they stop rambling on about how tough their life is, when they understand that I have a different perspective. I don’t like being the mom that provides some perspective to their parenting challenges, but that’s the reality and though it may be uncomfortable, I think it’s worth it. . .for me and for them and their children. I wish you peach and gentle days. Missing our babies.

  • Clare says:

    Thanks Kim P, Clara and all who touched a nerve. I lost my 17 year old last April to an alcohol overdose. His body was found.

    We donated his brain to science, we went on t.v. to warn the young to not leave your friends when their outcome from an evening of risk is uncertain. We’ve talked and explained and watched the reactions of others. Mostly they feel sorry for us. They feel uncomfortable. They don’t want to talk about us, our loss of our son, our pain, our shock that is still present today.

    I am inert like a piece of crumbling rock. I can’t seem to find any strength. Some days I’m able to go about a routine. I substitute teach and love working with special ed. Never did this before Galen’s death. But when I’m in a setting where I know that Galen also tread. I look for him in all f the faces, the shapes of heads, the heights of boys, their dress, their habits in the lunch room. This all helps me to imagine what Galen’s daily life was like back then. It’s exhausting but it helps. I haven’t found a sole who looks exactly like him. I haven’t had a sign that he’s nearby. Only in my dreams and very few times.

    I’m talking to him now. Mostly asking him questions about what I should be doing. I don’t seem to get direct responses. Only hints from the events and coincidences that seem to occur.

    I feel that nothing is left for me. It is all too hard. I can’t look forward. I feel aged to the point that I’m ready to go. What am I to do?

  • Clara Hinton says:

    Dear Clare,

    Oh, I’m so very sorry to hear about the accidental death of your son, Galen. Alcohol overdose is something that is very rarely talked about, yet it is a big, big problem because so many young people toy around with alcohol and don’t have a clue about the possible consequences of poisoning. We need to do so much educating in this area, yet many times it’s like falling on deaf ears. People don’t want to think about the things that *could* happen until they really do happen. And, then……most people only stop and think temporarily and then go about their daily routines once again. For a parent who lost a child, this is one more added grief to the journey you are now called on to travel. Again, I’m so very sorry.

    Your heart sounds so lonely,and so heavy and that tells me that you’re still doing a lot of work to get through the raw stage of grief pain. When my 13-year-old sister died, it was years until life returned to a semi-normal state, and even then it was a “new normal”. So much changed when she left us. Your grief over Galen is so fresh yet, Clare. Give your heart time to adjust to his physical absence.

    You mentioned that you look for signs of him, and those will come at the most unexpected times. Galen hasn’t left you by any means. He’s still living within your heart….I believe that with my entire being. When we lose a child, that child is never far away. We birthed our child….nothing can separate us completely, not even death. As your heart begins to accept this “new normal” a little bit more, you’ll begin to see life differently. It’s almost as if the clouds pull back and begin allowing some sunshine in once again. Give yourself lots and lots of time. It’s way too soon to process all that’s happened.

    I’m so sorry that others don’t seem to want to talk about Galen. People in general feel very uncomfortable talking about death, and when the death is a child of someone, they really get quiet. Most people feel if they mention our child’s name that will upset us. What they don’t know is that we’re thinking of our child day and night, just as you have Galen on your mind constantly.

    How will you look forward? It will happen. I don’t know how, but it really does happen. Hope is alive in you right now, and it will prompt you when you’re ready to make the choice to move forward.

    What an admirable thing you did by talking to others about alcohol overdose! And, I know you didn’t think of that as moving forward, but…when you reach out to help others, you’ve already made the choice to move forward! Be kind to yourself, and give yourself the gift of time. Healing will come.

    And if you feel like talking and sharing more about Galen with us, please do! We’ll listen!

    Clara Hinton