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My Mom Died Last Week

My mom died last week. I wish there was a gentler way to say that. My 91 year old mom passed away peacefully. I was alone with her at the time. She was there when I breathed my first breath and I was with her when she breather her last. It will always be the most extraordinary blessing of my life.

As she was in her last hour, I quietly said things like, “We are all ok. You prepared us well and we all love you so much.” I promised her we would take care of dad. I mumbled quietly over and over, “It’s ok to let go, it’s ok mom.”

I said all the things a 62 year old youngest daughter should say. I was focused and I knew what she needed. I was a grown up. After she was gone, I turned into a 6 year old child. I was crying like a baby and I said, “Come back mommy, I need you here. Please don’t leave me. I need you.” I was, for a time, inconsolable. It was a grief so deep that it overwhelmed my reason and senses.

The next day, among the myriad of emotions and thoughts I had, it occurred to me that the children we serve with the chickadee, are just that: children. These are real kids that have lost a parent, sibling or other loved ones. I reviewed the program for me, as an older adult. I watched all the videos. Every bird has a word. I was surprised that it all applied.

One of the Tweethearts talks about shock. I was not surprised my mother, who was ill and in her 90’s was dead, but I was still shocked. The word “ritual” came to mind as our family debated the ceremonies and how to recognize and celebrate our mother’s life. Our bird Melody explains all the different ways to “communicate” at this delicate time. I had trouble speaking and often sat just staring. Toots the humming bird talks about “denial.” I spent days, and still can’t believe my mom isn’t here. Kenny the Cardinal spends time giving space for sadness. Fiona the flicker is all about the fear and how that emotion surrounds and pops up during times of loss and trauma. I’m still feeling scared and I’m having trouble sleeping Gert the goldfinch takes on the big word, “regret.” I wonder if I was as good of a daughter as I should have been. I regret not being more, saying more, doing more. Jay Jay the bluejay explores “anger.” I have some anger at some health care professionals that I thought could do better. I’m angry at myself for not being a more effective advocate. Dr. Bonita the bluebird encourages kids to be “gentle” with themselves and others during this time. I took that advice and spent time, in solitude, taking a break from the obligations of my life. Marty the purple martin explains forgiveness. LAF stands for Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness. I needed to LAF for sure. It was good to remind myself that I can forgive myself and maybe even the doctors! Our Grandpa Sage is all about the word “acceptance.” The grace to accept what we cannot change is one of the keys to life in any situation.

I am shameless perhaps to entwine the sacred time of my mother’s death to a children’s grief program but I am stunned that as an adult I was able to take the birds with words lesson and utilize it as an adult. As an older person, I am struggling. I am depleted and “discombobulated” another bird, Rayna the Robin uses to teach kids that they are not alone.

I am spending time, going over the messages of the Healing Chickadee and praying that the HUGE and OVERPOWERING emotions and experiences of children during trauma, loss and grief, can be helped with this little program. I found it helpful. Families being given permission to give themselves and EACH other, especially the little ones, the time and SPACE to heal on their own timetables. We encourage kids and their trusted adults to keep looking up, find the birds, watch them fly and be reminded that they are loved. Their tweetheart will always be with them.

Damn, I miss my mom. I want to call her. I want to sit with her. I want to hug her and hear her again. I nearly topples me. Imagining the same for a child keeps me sitting here at my desk, letting grief centers, counselors, schools, funeral directors and social workers know that we have something that might help the sting. The birds with words are meant to comfort and connect. Letting children know that they are NOT alone.


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