Thoughts about Easter

(Topics: Grief and Anxiety, mental health, Easter/Religion, cemeteries)

Hi Friends,

The other day, I spent the day with Charlie.

I have been feeling really, really sad and overwhelmed lately. Sometimes, when I’m feeling heavy, it’s very hard for me to figure out why – and knowing why makes it easier for me to either live with the feelings, or to find something to do to help.

I felt like I’ve been having a harder time than usual staying steady when life threw me curve balls (as life always does, on smaller and larger scales). When my hubby also commented on that, I decided to call my therapist to see if I could get in for an extra session.

(Side note: there is NO SHAME in asking for extra help! I know it’s hard. It’s hard to know when to ask, and it’s hard to ask. It can be hard to admit that you aren’t able to do it all yourself. I encourage you to set up support systems so it’s easier to ask for help. For instance, I have friends who I trust, who know my whole story and things I struggle with. I can easily vent to them, because I don’t have to explain anything. But I also don’t want to burden them – so I also have a therapist. Therapists are AMAZING, guys. If you try a therapist, and you don’t feel comfortable, it’s ok to go to a new one. FIND THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOU ??. Once you find someone you like, the point is that they are trained to help and trained to listen – but they are OUTSIDE the situation. They won’t get hurt feelings, and they won’t get mad. They JUST HELP. And it’s AMAZING ??.)

I got an extra session to get help, because even things that seemed like they should be little were feeling big. My therapist is my outside perspective, and helps me find my rational brain but also helps me acknowledge my emotions.

In this session, she helped me identify stressors that were overwhelming me, or stressing me out, or triggering my grief – even when sometimes it was super subconscious.

I actually prepare a little for my sessions by taking notes on rough days, of what bothers me or big things that happen. This helps guide what we talk about and helps me feel like we use the time a little more effectively (this is not everyone’s style – you do you!).

Above the line, notes to tell the therapist.
Below, notes written afterward, with some of what we talked about.

After we went through my list, I asked – WHY?? Why is everything so hard right now?? And she literally sat there and counted things off on her fingers, guys. Counted things back off to me, that I had told her about, but also helped me identify a few more things that had been in the background, that I had not yet seen clearly enough to name.

One was that, the last time we moved, it was not only right after Charlie died, it was literally because Charlie died. We had planned to wait to move until he was 3-6 months old before we moved. Instead, we were in our new place about a month after. So since we’re moving sometime this summer, that might be a reason that packing and planning is so hard for me to work on.

One of the other things she pointed out is that Easter is – like Christmas – about a mother, but this time about the son dying. And coming back again…
Mary is a complicated figure for me. Really complicated.

So after we’d identified what some of the triggers were (there were about a half a dozen others, too….), we talked about how to find some relief. Some comfort, and a way through, through the sad and the pain, because the stress isn’t as heavy when the sad isn’t weighing me down.

The other day, I spent the day with Charlie.

The main solution she suggested was to let myself feel. To spend some time with Charlie, if I could, but to remember and feel and cry and just be, with my pain and sorrow, and weep if I need to.

The universe (God?) listened to my need. I had been worried that I couldn’t find time, since it’s a decent distance to Charlie’s grave; and to sit and feel, I couldn’t be rushed. But one of my scheduled items got cancelled, and suddenly I had a whole day ahead of me, to go to my little boy.

I spread out my blanket, and opened the umbrella to keep the sun off (and in case it rained), and I sat down with Charlie, and lay with him, and talked to him.

I told him how much I missed him and how much I wanted to hold him… and I wept.

Tears do cease, at some point. The pain behind my sternum, the pressure in my throat does ease, as though the tears wash out a tightness and release something.

I weeded his garden, and touched some of the decorations and memorials we have for him there.

And I lay with my chest over where he is buried. The closest I can come to holding him.

The other day, I spent the day with Charlie.

It means so much to me, to have a place to care for, that is just his, and his alone.

I have a complicated relationship with Mary, Jesus’ mom. Her baby was born alive, which hurts at Christmas. She gets to see him grow up. But she suffers through his death. I imagine that she hurts inside, behind her sternum, so tight it hurts to breathe. I imagine she weeps so deeply she convulses in Joseph’s arms. I imagine she knows this pain. But. He lives again. My Charlie doesn’t yet.

Jesus died right before a Jewish holiday. That meant that his body had to be dealt with before the sun went down that Friday, and couldn’t really be tended to properly until the Sabbath and the Passover was over. Joseph of Arimathea was the guy who put the body in the tomb in the right cloths. He made sure the basics were taken care of, that were important.

But women went to care for his body, to lay him to rest and to say their last goodbyes. Those are the women I watch, in this story. They prepare the ointments to rub on the body, to do the rites of burial and death from their culture, to make things right, as much as you can when someone dies. They go back after their holiday, to finish things.

We know who those women were, because they were the eyewitnesses that Jesus was gone (alive, risen, back).

I care who they were, because they were the grave tenders. The ones who would have placed the headstone and served the funeral lunch and planted flowers with his mom, if it were now.

The book of Matthew says it was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. The book of Mark says it was women including Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome (so that was a pretty large group). The book of Luke says it was the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee, and also lists them as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women. In the book of John it’s only Mary Magdalene.

No matter who it was, they cared. They took the time to go, and planned to care intimately for his body, hands on. I wish so hard I’d been able to do more of the funeral care myself, for Charlie. This isn’t something our culture is used to, anymore. And I did not know to ask for it, and I don’t know if I would have wanted it at the time — in hindsight, though, I miss caring for my little boy, giving him the final kiss in his coffin.

I saw a picture, last month. It was a mama and a papa, tucking their baby into his coffin, into his “forever crib”. Seeing that, suddenly my heart longed for having done that for Charlie.
To care for a body, to minister to their last cares on earth, is an act of pure love. Of closure. Of peace within sorrow.

As I lay with Charlie, my breast filling the hollow in the earth beneath which he rests, I felt complete and yet bereft. Filling the hole in my heart, the gaping hole in my life with the closest thing I could.

The other day, I spent the day with Charlie. 

While I was there, I read a book to Charlie. We read to Pookie regularly, and it’s a thing we can hold onto – one of the things we’d looked forward to, so much. So many other things were taken away, but that we can still do.

I also read a graphic memoir, called Rosalie Lightning, written by a father whose daughter died of SIDS. His experiences – his raw emotion – reading that while visiting Charlie –
He talked of how a loss parent’s attention can be grabbed by other children of the right age, how we can stare, stare at what could have been.

Today is the day before Easter. The in-between. The waiting – for us, who know how the story ends. For those back then, the second day since. Counting life based on the life-changing moment. For me, two days ago was 2 years and 10 months. Since.

Charlie is nearly three. How do you plan a birthday party for the 3rd year since a death?

I’m always aware of how old he is/would be/would have been.

Today is the day before Easter as I write this, Saturday. Some churches hold a vigil, traditionally held from before midnight until after midnight, to celebrate the moment of Easter at the turning point of the night.

We went to an evening vigil service. When the priest was preaching about the Easter life, the Christian life, is to focus on LIFE not death – all I could think was, how intrusive is death. How hard, not to think of loss, even with the promise of life.

Right then, two 3-year-olds started to get restless and play.

My Charlie.

I should have been dealing with a restless Charlie.

Every day, I spend the day with Charlie.

No matter what, he’s on my mind. This is a holiday (holy day) about life, promise of life, promise of future life, power over death.

My son is dead.

My religion gives promise, hope.

But everyday, my son is not in my arms.

My son is on my mind. My son is in my heart. Everyday, he is with me. I’m the one staring at your son, thinking of what my son might have said, might have done, and hurting.

I’m the one rocking a teddy bear, because my baby is dead.

I understand the hope with my head, but not yet with my heart. I have to take any tiny bit that my heart can understand.

To the lady who passed the peace to my bear, please know that in my heart, you passed the peace to my son. Thank you. I may cry, but my heart is lighter.




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