Wednesday, December 20, 2006
What Grieving People Want You to Know
By Virginia A. Simpson, Ph.D
1. I am not strong. I'm just numb. When you tell me I am strong, I feel that you don't see me.
2. I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I'm not sick. I'm grieving and that's different. I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget my loved one and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and love into the rest of my life. That person is part of me and always will be, and sometimes I will remember him with joy and other times with a tear. Both are okay.
3. I don't have to accept the death. Yes, I have to understand that it has happened and it is real, but there are just some things in life that are not acceptable.
4. Please don't avoid me. You can't catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I most need to be cared about. If you don't know what to say, just come over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, "I'm sorry." You can even say, "I just don't know what to say, but I care, and want you to know that."
5. Please don't say, "Call me if you need anything." I'll never call you because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could do for me takes more energy than I have. So, in advance, let me give you some ideas:
Offer to take my children to a movie or game so that I have some moments to myself.
Send me a card on special holidays, birthdays (mine, his or hers), or the anniversary of the death, and be sure and mention her name. You can't make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach out on this difficult day.
Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I may so no at first or even for a while, but please don't give up on me because somewhere down the line, I may be ready, and if you've given up, then I really will be alone.
6. Try to understand that this is like I'm in a foreign country where I don't speak the language and have no map to tell me what to do. Even if there were a map, I'm not sure right now I could understand what it was saying. I'm lost and in a fog. I'm confused.
7. When you tell me what I should be doing, then I feel even more lost and alone. I feel bad enough that my loved one is dead, so please don't make it worse by telling me I'm not doing this right.
8. Please don't call to complain about your husband, your wife, or your children. Right now, I'd be delighted to have my loved one here no matter what they were doing.
9. Please don't tell me I can have other children or need to start dating again. I'm not ready. And maybe I don't want to. And besides, what makes you think people are replaceable? They aren't. Whoever comes after, will always be someone different.
10. I don't even understand what you mean when you say, "You've got to get on with your life." My life is going on, but it may not look the way you think it should. This will take time and I never will be my old self again. So please, just love me as I am today, and know, that with your love and support, the joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget and there will always be times that I cry.
I'm not sure exactly who wrote this little poem . . . but it's true.
"A Child that loses a parent is an orphan,
A Man who loses his wife is a widower,
A Woman who loses her husband is a widow,
There is no name for a parent that loses a child,
For there is no word to describe the pain."
Wow isn't that the truth!! I can't even describe the pain & I'm living the life of a bereaved parent. Recently I've been feeling pissed off . . . this isn't the life I want to live, I don't want to live here without Landan. I don't know how I'm going to do it! Sometimes I think how lucky my mom is because she's in her 40's . . . my parents/step parents will get to Landan before me! I'm so jealous! Seriously . . . I'm not going to try to kill myself or anything, I'm to chicken . . . but sometimes I wonder how quickly it would all be over if I just sharply turn the wheel when I'm driving. I loooooong for Landan something awful! He is my entire world! Now it's broken into a million pieces & I only want to put it back together if I could have Landan back.
I find myself feeling anxious alot . . . I was eating some ice cream earlier & had to stop . . . because I miss seeing Landan eat ice cream. I even miss seeing his little tiny butt when he would run around naked, hehe. Gosh . . . you can never imagine all the things a parent takes for granted. I mean I was scared during my pregnancy ya know, people have miscarriages all the time. I guess you just sort of assume that once your baby is here & healthy that you have nothing to worry about. I know I felt that way.
I can't even begin to describe the feeling of being in the hospital watching the Dr. give your precious little boy chest compression's . . . In my head I was saying "Fight Landan, please, come on start . . ." I was just waiting for his heart to start beating again. I never thought it would end like this. Then the Dr taking us into the next room & my mom said "Is he gone?" and the Dr shook his head yes & told us that his pupils were fixed & dilated, and that there was no more brain function. I still didn't cry at this point . . . I never could have imagined this, I was in total shock.
It wasn't until I held my beautiful, but lifeless little boy that I was able to cry & accept the reality (In a way.) Holding Landan after he was gone is still another thing I can't explain. The nurse brought in a rocking chair & covered him up in blankets & he was handed to me. Oh God it was . . . gut wrenching, heartbreaking & devastating. My little boy whom I would still at age 3 watch him breath at night & feel his heart beat. I still right NOW can't believe he's gone. I just sat, touched his precious face & rocked & rocked & rocked. It was like he was sleeping, so beautiful as always.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Go see Landans memorial video I made : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q1aIW9szys
Here are some links to thinks about Landan & other informative information.
HARRIS Landan Michael Everett Landan Michael Everett Harris, 3 years old, of Rossford, Ohio, died unexpectedly on Thursday, November 16, 2006, at The Toledo Children's Hospital. He was born to Lacey D. Harris-Willoby and Robert E. Alsept on August 17, 2003, at Flower Hospital, Sylvania, Ohio. Landan was a big Sponge Bob fan and was deeply loved by his family and friends. Surviving is his mother, Lacey (Andrew) Harris-Willoby; father, Robert E. Alsept; grandparents, Kim (Mark) Finnegan, Taylor (Beverly) Alsept, Mark (Jan) Harris, Susan (Eric) Whetsel, Jim Willoby; great-grandparents, Robert Bailey, Darlene (Jack) Phillips, Marilyn Harris, Tony (Cheryl) Smith, Tim (Lynn) Harris, Fannie Alsept, Everett Sterrett, and Josefine (Chad) Finnegan; aunts, Carol (Robert) Alsept, Lois Alsept, April (Tom) Fox, Joyce Sterrett, Barb Alsept, Marie Alsept, Lakin and Lexie Finnegan, and Kristin Aparicio; uncles, Taylor Alsept, James Roberts, Ramsey Hommoud, and Antonio Riley; and God parents, Velina and Dorian Johnson. Friends and family will be received from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, November 20, 2006 at the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, 222 East South Boundary Street, Perrysburg, Ohio (419-874-3133). Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, November 21, 2006, at 10:00 at the funeral home. Burial will follow at St. Rose Cemetery. Condolences may be made directly to the family by visiting: http://www.witzlershank.com/
My daily schedule:
2-3pm ~ I wake up
3pm - 7am ~ I watch tv, researching information about meningitis, perfecting Landans memorial websites, talking to other bereaved parents, etc
7am - 2,3pm ~ SLEEP
So as you can tell my world is upside down/ inside out. It sucks . . . I just can't sleep. Thats when all the thoughts & images of loosing Landan run around crazily inside my head. I'm usually fine during the day because I'm preoccupied by spending time at my moms house, running errands with her, having visits with my closest friends. But it's when my husband is sleeping & I'm forced to be awake by myself that I get upset. For example . . . only a few hours ago it was still December 16th . . . exactly one month since my baby passed away . . . I was crying, looking at pictures of Landan & watching videos of him. I miss him so much! 90% of the time I still can't believe he's gone -- I feel like I'm waiting for him to come back from somewhere.
8/17/03 - 11/16/06
Landan was one of the sweetest little guy I've ever met. The passion in his eyes & the love in his heart was amazing. Watching him figure out how to do things on his own was also amazing to watch, he was so so smart for his age. I miss him so much, I can't even describe the pain. A part of me died with him on 11/16/06. Below his is story that you can also read on his memorial myspace page.
Everything started on Tuesday November 14th. Landan was acting crabby so my husband (Landan's stepfather) put him down for a nap. He only slept about an hour & was still crabby when he got up. He was touching his throat so I asked if his throat hurt and he said yes. He was still acting crabby and tired so I thought he had a cold, I went out to the store and got him some children's Tylenol and Motrin. Landan slept in the living room off and on for the rest of the day until I took him to bed in my room around 9:30-10pm. I gave him more Motrin at 2am and he woke up at 3am and asked for more juice, then at 6am I woke up, saw his juice was gone, asked if he wanted more and he said yes so I refilled his cup.
At 9am I woke up to find Landan laying on the floor next to my bed covered in, what looked to me, like bruises. I sat up straight in bed and frantically tried to focus my eyes because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought he was dead, I was so afraid to touch him. I thought he was going to be cold. Once my eyes focused I saw he was breathing, touched him and felt that he was still warm. I ran to the kitchen where my cell phone was plugged in, I yelled Landan's name while I was running to the kitchen so he would stay conscious. I called my mom and then 911. When the paramedics arrived they checked his vitals but they knew he was sick so took him out to the ambulance. I remember sitting in the ambulance and asked the driver when we were going to leave, it felt like we sat their forever. We took him to the best hospital in the area, Toledo Children's Hospital. The last thing Landan said to me while we were in the ER before they took him up to the PICU was "Mama hold me" but I couldn't because they needed to get him up to the PICU as soon as they could. I think I said "It's ok bebe." We followed him up, and I remember my mom asking the doctor on the way up if he was going to be ok, and he said something like "... he's a very sick little boy ..." We waited in the waiting room down the hall from the PICU for about an hour. Before the doctor came down they sent a chaplain in to talk to us, my mom knew then that he was really sick. The PICU doctor came in shortly and told us Landan had bacterial meningitis and it was a 90% mortality rate.
We were finally allowed in to see Landan. We had to be in almost full scrubs. We had to wear masks, gloves, everything. His left foot was completely purple, his back, and nose as well. His other extremities were very splotchy purple. All this was cause by something called "DIC" which is where the body bleeds and clots at the same time, because he had septicemia. I remember the nurse told us she asked Landan if he wanted to watch cartoons, and Landan said yes so he watched cartoons, but was very out of it. She told us to tell him to go to sleep, my mom (his nana) said "Go to sleep baby", Landan shook his head and said "no." Those were the last words Landan spoke to us. The priest came from our church to preform the anointing of the sick. This was the first time I cried, Landan's dad, the nurse, priest & I were the only ones in the room at this point. If Landan would have survived he would have had several amputations and most likely plastic surgery for his nose. But selfishly we would have taken him any way we could just to have him here with us.
The PICU doctor told us we needed to consider hyperbaric chamber treatments if Landan had a possibility of surviving.Landan fought for 23hrs at the hospital enduring three hyperbaric chamber treatments. It was downstairs for 2hrs in the chamber, upstairs in the PICU for an hour, then back down to the chamber. The treatments were helping to bring back color to the purple areas, because it forces oxygen into the blood and tissues. The PICU doctor said it was a miracle he lasted as long as he did, that's why our hopes here high.
Landan's little heart of gold finally couldn't take anymore and he went into cardiac arrest. We watched them doing chest compression's and then the doctor told us he was gone.
It happened so fast. I stepped out of the PICU for a minute to take a phone call & update my friend because his blood pressure had just went back up. My dad & step mom came running out and told me I need to get back into the PICU right away. I asked my dad as we were walking back in what happened and he told me Landan's heart had stopped and they were doing chest compression's. Like I said we watched the whole thing, I'll never forget that for the rest of my life. We got to hold Landan for 5 hours after he was gone. They finally told us it was time to go, I think they know we would have never left. I don't think anyone is ever ready to say goodbye to their child. Landan died on Thursday November 16th.
My baby was laid to rest on Tues November 21st, which is exactly a month to the day that he was a ring bearer, and walked me down the aisle in my wedding. I still can't believe his gone I wish I would have taken him to the hospital the night before but I thought he just had a cold. I miss him so much and wish I could still receive his hugs and kisses.
Written in 2007