On Grief

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I realize that for a lot of the military widows/parents/children out there they are experiencing grief, some more so than others. Everyone is at a different point in their grief. I get that, I really do. However, I see no reason what so ever to make accusations, point fingers, and be just down right mean to people whom are experiencing grief. Are we upset at the events in Iraq and Afghanistan right now? HELL YES we are. But still does that justify being mean to someone else? I don’t think so. Here’s why.

No matter where a person is in their grief, it’s theirs and no one else’s. Is losing a father, husband, son, or daughter that served in the military difficult? YES it is. I don’t care if the death occurred in Vietnam, in any present combat operations, or by an accident or suicide, a death is horrible to the surviving families. I’ve experienced both a combat death and death by suicide. Neither one has been fun or a walk in the park. ONE thing I’m grateful for is the love and acceptance I’ve found with friends within TAPS and in my local community. But this isn’t always the case.

Social media is a place where many of us go to express our grief, but it isn’t always the best place to go. I’ve been blasted by others because I voiced my thoughts. I’ve been accused, YELLED AT, and told I was an idiot. I’m not an idiot, I know this. I’m a grieving parent and spouse. The only reason I can reasonably come up with as to why people are horrible to others is that their own grief is so great they want others to feel the same way. What is odd in this thought is I’m pretty sure that everyone is/was at some point feeling that much grief they ache in their very soul. I know I have, so I’m sure others have as well. Another reason could be is they just don’t know how to express their grief without hurting someone else. Personally, I think the later is very sad. It’s sad for that person and its sad for the one whom is receiving the anger.

My advice for anyone experiencing grief due to a military death is simple. Stay off of social media. Start a blog and write about how you feel. You have much more control on who can view your blog and you can always block comments so you don’t have to listen to hurtful anger directed at you. Your grief is yours and yours alone, don’t let others hurt you more than you already do.

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Counseling is a Good Thing

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Today I had my appointment with my counselor at the VetCenter. I’m so thankful for my counselor, she’s absolutely AWESOME.. Today I told her I’m having doubts about whether or not I’m doing OK or if I’m reverting back some. I told her I think I’ve been reverting back and that it was bugging me. Everytime I hear of another soldier dying in Afghanistan I get so disappointed. When I hear about a military man/woman being mistreated I become disappointed. And that’s nothing to say about watching a movie that’s about the military or a military operation, I just can’t do it. I’m at the point now that I can’t even talk about Robb without crying and if you know me you know I don’t cry in public!

I used to be able to talk to anyone about Robb and what he meant to me, but not now. I can start, but I get about as far as saying “my husband Robb…” and that’s all that comes out of my mouth. I know why it’s happening, but I certainly don’t like it. We, my counselor and I, talked about why this is happening and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just something I’m going to go through. I can’t change it, nor do I really want to right now. We talked about grief and how it works and we both agree the phrase, “moving on” is just so wrong to use in regards to grief. “Moving through our grief” is a much better way to describe what a grieving person does. Lets face it, you really never “get over” it anyway, so why even try. Let’s just call it what it is and move through it and it really doesn’t matter if it ends either.

Another thing about today with my counselor I really appreciated. We talked about how some people put up a “shrine” to the dead person. Some do this, and I think people have claimed that I do this (I don’t and it’s a long story for another time). Some people leave the bedroom of a child who has died just the way it was when the child was alive. They don’t change a thing, and family members go in the room and remember the life of the brother/sister/child. I think this is so important, and yet people (the general public) think you need to put all that stuff away and never look at it again. That is SO WRONG!!! There is nothing wrong with remembering the person, and if their stuff helps you to do that GREAT!! If having their stuff around you makes you happy, then SO BE IT! I think it’s important to remember a grieving person will always remember their loved one. A grieving person will never forget the life that was lost, and the last thing anyone should do is try and change that. A motto of TAPS.org (Tradegy Assistance Program for Survivors) is Remember the love, Celebrate the Life, Share the Journey.

If you don’t think I’m doing this right, well then it’s really not my problem now is it?

Twinkle in His Eye

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Twinkle in His Eye

Robb Needham

I received this from Michael Reagan who does portraits of the fallen. Well I wasn’t expecting this picture, but I’m certainly happy that I received this one. This is by far the best portrait of Robb I have and I absolutely love it. It looks exactly like him, so much so it’s a bit scary, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On September 20, 2013 it will be 7 years since Robb was killed in action over in Iraq. Seven years I have been a widow, and it still seems it all happened just yesterday. I’ve done a lot since Robb’s death. I was able to go to Liberia, not once but twice and minister there. Liberia will always be a special place for me. It’s where I learned that just because someone is a muslim, doesn’t mean they are the bad guys. The second time in Liberia I was asked to teach a seminar for teachers, so I taught various methods that can be used in a classroom. Basically I taught the book “Methods that Matter” by Harvey Daniels. I had a lot of fun, and I hope some of the teachers learned a thing or two.

18 months later, Dylan, our only son committed suicide. Talk about a double wammi. Dylan’s death was so hard on me and I know it was extremely difficult for Robi, our only daughter. It was a very difficult time in our lives. We survived and Robi now is extremely happy and doing very well.

It’s been a rough road, but a road that needed to be driven. I know, you think I’m nuts for saying that. Well I believe there are times in your life when you road won’t be fun, it won’t be smooth, and it certainly will bring you grief. I think I’ve had my share and hopefully I’m done. At least I’m praying that I am. But I have a more clear understanding of grief and how it can devastate a person, or it can bring out the best in a person. I’ve seen both with other people I’ve met who have experienced a death from the war on terror.

I wonder what is next in my life. I certainly don’t have a clue, but I wish I did.

Just Me

Learning about myself is always a good thing I think. I just wish others would see the different me and now wish for the old me. Lately and this has happened more than once, people seem to want me to be the me I was before my husband was killed in Iraq. Well, I hate to break it to them, but that’s just not gonna happen. I am a different person since Robb’s death. When you experience the death of your spouse in a combat action you change and that change lasts forever. The grieving seems to settle or doesn’t hold you down on a daily basis and life become a lot better than right after the death. My days now are so much better than anything I experienced before and it’s difficult to explain exactly what I mean. I still have difficult days when I’m depressed but it’s not debilitating any longer. I still function, I get dressed, do stuff around the house, or go down to the school where I volunteer. 

What bothers me the most is when people make assumptions based on what they think they know about me. When it comes down to the nitty gritty no one but my psychologist really knows what I’ve been thinking. She knows because I tell her. Assuming that I’m unstable is absolutely crazy on the other person’s part. I am perfectly capable of making decisions that affect me. I am responsible for myself. I will decide how I will live my life, and I will not accept any “advice” from others unless I totally respect them.

So from now on I don’t want to hear about how Robb described me to others. I am not that person any longer and I’ll never be her again. That ship has sailed and it ain’t going back to that port.