Six Months…...

Today it has been six months since Ryan left this earth and began
his eternity in heaven.

Six months…
it seems like yesterday….
it seems like forever…..

I have a large group of friends, neighbors and my social media
friends who touch base from time to time to see "where I am with
my grief".  I know it is meant with true concern for me.
I'm sharing some things that were helpful to me.

There are days when I make it throughout the day without tears.  Well most of the day
anyway.  Then there are days like today when tears flow freely.
I wish I had better control.  At this point it seems beyond my ability.

Some of our immediate family are handling it well and some are having a much
harder time.  I don't want to speak for anyone else because as I have learned, grief
is so different for everyone.

I have had times when I have actually smiled and laughed in this last month
without immediately being overcome with guilt for "having a good time without him".
But I also can not bring myself to enjoy things I know he would of loved.

It is hurtful to me when I see everyone going on with their lives yet I know
that is the way life is and should be.  

Family gatherings are very hard for me.  We have a large family with lots of boy cousins 
his age so when I'm with them, I'm thinking about Ryan not being there.  I love my
family and I'm looking forward to a time when that's not the case.  

Holidays…. well you can imagine.
I'm not sure how I will handle it in the future.  This Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas
I opted out.  It was still too fresh.  Easter I choose to try to do some of our traditions.
I'm not sure I did a good job of being present but I did try.
I still have a husband, 3 girls, 4 grandkids and two son-in-laws.
Trying to decide if we should celebrate the same way of come up with new traditions.
I'm not sure if it would be better or worse.

I visit Ryan at the cemetery quite often.  I'm usually there 3 times 
a week, give or take.  It comforts me.

I understand thats not the same for everyone and I know that has nothing
to do with how much you miss him or loved him.  

I still haven't ordered Ryan's headstone but hope to have that remedied very soon.
I've finally made a decision of what I want.  I had to be very sure and I
changed my mind several times so I just put it off until I could be sure.
I think I felt that once I had the headstone, there would be nothing else to do for him.
Like putting up his headstone made his death final.
The things you think about don't always make sense and that's okay.

After traveling down this road of  grieving the loss a child I have learned a few things.

Everyone handles it different and there is no wrong or right way.

I have realized that I may not have been there for others the way some have
been there for me and I want to be sure that doesn't happen again.
  Here are a few things that helped me that may be useful in the future when
 you're walking with someone through grief.

  My best friend dropped everything, jumped on a plane and spent
 2 weeks with me handling everything I couldn't deal with without being asked.
Most people will ask for you to call if they can do anything for you.  
That's not going to happen.  They're just trying to hang on.
Try to do something, anything without being asked.  Bring by dinner, bring coffee to chat
or just sit by her if she/he can't talk.  Clean their house.  Pick their kids up for a play date,
mow their yard, wash their car, take their dog for a walk... etc.
It will mean the world to them.

I was (and am) quick to tears when Ryan's name comes up.  I feel that
has led many to never bring him up.  Bring him up.  There may be tears but 
the person grieving wants to know their loved one isn't forgotten.  If your waiting
for the tears to end, that may never happen….

Grief may lead some of us to do and say things that they don't mean.
They are dealing with guilt and loss and sometimes that leads to lashing out.
You may find that they are not making an effort to call you or join in with
usual get togethers or activities.
 Forgive them and move on.

Send cards throughout the first year (or longer) on holidays just letting them know your thinking of
them during a time that must be hard and you're lifting them in prayer.  I have a friend
who has done that for me and it has meant so much.  It could also just be a Facebook message, text or
email.  I received many, many of those the first few months and it was truly a blessing at 
a time when I couldn't bring myself to speak to anyone.

I received a few books on grief that was very helpful to me.  On this one, I would keep the person 
in mind.    I have a very dear friend who definitely did not appreciate books.  
Like I said before, everyone is so different in grief so that is why I think it is
 difficult and uncomfortable for us to reach out.

I received a special cross from my dear sister-in-law with Ryan's name engraved
on it.  I can't begin to tell you what that means to me and I plan to pass that kindness 
forward in the future.  I think jewelry is a special way to memorialize a love one.

If you have any photos of the deceased, please send it to the grieving family.
Especially if it's one they may not have.  It's like being given another precious moment.
Something they can never get back.  Time….
This would have to be the most important to me.

Going along with pictures are stories about them that the grieving family
my never have heard.  Especially happy times.

Don't assume because you've lost someone that you know how they feel.  None
of us knows how others deal with loss and comparing losses don't always help.
  They have their own story and histories that we can't begin to know.  Just be there.
Don't give up on them.

I hope the tips above are helpful should you find yourself in the position
of helping a friend or loved one with grief in the future.  I wish I had known.

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