I’ve gotten through Derek’s birthday and Thanksgiving and although it was so hard I made it!
I purchased a star in Derek’s name for his birthday and we had his favorite dinner of salisbury steaks (the tv dinner variety lol), mashed potatoes, corn and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The kids shared what they remembered about Uncle Derek and it was nice to be sitting at the dinner table remembering the good times.
For Thanksgiving my youngest daughter, one of my grandsons and I went to my ex’s for dinner. People think that I’m crazy for doing things with him and his new family but it was nice, his wife and I cooked together and talked and laughed. My ex knew Derek and was there through a lot of the tough times with Derek. He was also there, for me, after Derek died. I remember when I got home from Philly he made a special trip to my house to give me a hug and tell me how sorry he was, he cried with me and he came to Derek’s funeral to show his support. He may have been a shitty husband but he has become a good friend and so has his wife. They don’t care how much I talk about Derek and they don’t judge me for my grief.
We’re only 3 weeks away from Christmas and as much as I try I just can’t get into the Christmas spirit. I’m not finding any joy in picking out the perfect gifts for my grandkids or my daughters like I used to, all of my shopping has been done online when I used to love going to the stores and searching out the perfect things. I look at all of the lights and the decorations and I feel nothing, my daughter has decorated her tree and her home beautifully, for Christmas, and I look at it and feel nothing.
Last week I was reminded that I have 2 living kids and that I should be focusing on them and was told that I focus on Derek too much when I should be focusing on them. Oh how I wish that it were that easy, I really do. I don’t feel like I “focus” on Derek all the time, I do think about him every single day but a lot of the time I can think about him and smile when I remember the things that he used to say and do. But that empty chair for his birthday and Thanksgiving is not something that I can ignore. Derek always needed me since he was a little boy he required so much attention whether it was good or bad. My daughters don’t need me, they don’t come to me for advice or ask my opinion on things. They are grown women that have their own children and their own lives and I am here if they do need me, as much as I can be.
I know that the Holidays are hard for everyone that’s grieving the loss of a child, I know that I am not alone and I know that this won’t get better it will just get “different”; I just hope that, some day, I can feel the joy and the magic of the Holidays again because God knows that how I feel now is awful.
I recently read an article about what losing a child does to a person’s brain and body and these things are out of our control, it’s just what happens when something happens that’s out of the “norm”. Losing a child isn’t something that’s supposed to happen, a parent isn’t supposed to outlive a child and when you do it causes complete chaos. Here’s the article https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/how-parents-experience-the-death-of-a-child/
I’m doing so much better than I was just 3 months ago, since I moved in with my daughter I’m not isolating, I’m spending time with my daughters and grandkids and loving every minute of it. I’m going out and doing things with friends and enjoying myself which is good. I’m still trying to quit smoking and start going to the gym, all I can do is keep trying and have faith that some day it will happen. I can’t do everything at once so not isolating and getting out of the house is a huge step in the right direction! I’m still learning to not be so hard on myself and to stop the negative self talk, something that I’ve been working on since long before Derek died.
I’m loving the outreach that Derek’s Place has been doing at Heartside Park! The people there touch my heart every single time we go there and I love talking to them and hearing the parts of their story that they want to share with me. I’ve met some great people there that I can talk to and laugh with and that makes my heart smile. I haven’t met another “Patrick” yet but I will and I will help them just like I did him. I’m so excited for our Christmas party at Heartside Park on the 21st! Shelly and I are going to buy the rest of the hats we need tonight and then we just have to bake the banana muffins and the Christmas cookies and we’ll be all set! The generosity that we have received from people to fill their Christmas bags has been wonderful and makes me believe in the goodness in people!
So, basically, I am right where I’m supposed to be in my grief and I know that so many people can’t understand that and I thank God that they can’t but instead of judging something that you can’t understand why can’t you just admit that there’s no way that you can understand and support me? Most people are very supportive of grieving parents but there will always be the “judgers” that think they’re helping but they’re really not. People like that are so uncomfortable with your grief that instead of saying nothing they say the completely wrong thing to try and make themselves feel better.
All I know is that addiction is uncomfortable, grieving your child is uncomfortable and I’m not in this position to make other people feel “comfortable” with my grief. I’m in this position to live my best life possible, for me, and to share my journey so that other parents know that they are not alone and that how they are feeling, at any given moment, is “normal” now. Writing this blog helps me to heal so I write it; for me and for other grieving parents. Derek’s Place is also helping me to heal so I will keep reaching out to the homeless and the addicts in an effort to help them to believe that they are loved and they are worthy of living their best life! I’ve always believed that I was put here to help people, I always thought it was to help women and children that have been victimized by physical and sexual abuse but actually it was to help people like Derek. My Son showed me that and I will not stop helping the people like him; the good people with great big hearts that are suffering.
I love you Derek and I miss the hell outta you