Friday, December 16, 2005

More On The Holidays

Last night I posted about my first Christmas without my son Jason. This will be the eighth without him. I don't feel any different about losing him than I did then. I don't do Christmas anymore for the most part. I still give my loved ones gifts and a couple of times have cooked but for the most part I have not celebrated a holiday since Jason died. There are a lot of things I don't do in the After times that I always did in the Before times.

I have made many dear friends, other moms who lost their child in drug related deaths. I have been reaching out to them for almost eight years now. They are very dear to me as they are the only people who know how I feel and what it is like to lose a child to addiction. Some have been with me all the while and others are newer moms in grief reaching out trying to grab a hold of something or someone to keep them from drowning in this awful grief.

The newer moms are the ones who are facing their "firsts". I can never find the words to begin describing to you what it feels like to face the holidays, birthdays, and Heaven dates. All I can do is tell you that the anticipation of the dates or holidays arriving is always worse then when the day actually arrives. Once that day is over it is a huge weight lifted from us. Till the next special date...

The second year of grief is the hardest without doubt. I can say that for myself and I can say that for all the moms in my support group online at www.angelsofaddiction.com . The luxury of numbness has gone. Only stark reality hits you square in the heart in that second year. Shock has worn off, denial is gone. It is true. It was not a bad dream. Jason really did die.

About three years ago I had the idea of making ornaments with our kids pictures in them. Each one of us sent everyone in the group an ornament of our children. It was a wonderful thing to see the moms excited about Christmas for the first time. Christmas trees went up and on them were all our Angels. I actually went out and bought a new tree. We continued the practice each year as new Angels came into our lives, and their moms became our dearest friends.

I found wooden unpainted Angels at a craft store. The had a place in the middle to insert Jason's picture. I hand painted them, put Jason's name and dates on back and I mailed them out to all the moms who did the same in return. Some used the same kind of Angel while others sent snowflakes or Santa's and such with their child's picture. Some were store bought but most were handpainted and decorated by all the moms. We ran to our mailbox everyday to see which Angel would arrive in the mail that day. They now are a part of all of our lives and we feel certain they must all be good friends up there in Heaven looking down on us. After all, it was the kids that brought us all together.

It is very sobering for people to walk up and look at the tree and see all these beautiful faces of children who all died drug related deaths. It puts faces to the statistics. I know one mom who together with the police department in her city goes to schools and churches to tell our stories and show the kids what drugs do to you and the damage left behind for their parents and siblings. She takes the tree with all the kids ornaments and pictures on it. She told me that it really makes an impact on the kids. They see kids that look just like them. They see that these are beautiful young people who are no longer with us. They are all dead. Drugs killed them.

I guess my point is- there are ways to celebrate the holidays without our kids. Most find it easier to start new traditions. It is hard for some to do the normal Christmas because that child is no longer there and it hurts too much. Find new ways to celebrate. Look for ways to celebrate their lives, not their deaths. Maybe hang a stocking for your child and each member in the family writes a little note to their Angel and puts it in the stocking for them. Sadly most people in the family don't want to acknowledge the empty chair. In those cases it is easier to just find a quiet way yourself to remember your child. Give to St. Jude Children's Hospital or buy gifts for a child in a boy's or girl's home. Ask for one around your child's age and if you like.

Our Angel Trees have given us much comfort and we have peace in knowing that all across the United States our kids are being remembered. Long after friends and relatives have moved on and don't mention our children anymore, we know they are being remembered by us. Moms with Angels of Addiction.

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