Category Archives: Spirituality

My beliefs and experiences

Life After the Loss of Our Child

I Need A Magic Wand

I’m not perfect and I don’t have it all figured out. I am at a good place in my grieving process. So, when I see someone who I’ve befriended on Facebook or that I know struggling with the grief of losing their son/daughter it breaks my heart. I wish I could help them get to that place of peace that I have reached. I would love to help them try to live fully in memory of their child. If only they knew what I’ve learned on how to live life after the loss of our child. Can I get a magic wand to make that pain go away?

The Pain is Unbearable

It hurts, I know. It seems as if there is no hope in sight. The days are long and the nights are longer. We don’t think we’ll make it. There’s no space in our mind for anything else except to grieve the loss of our loved one. There is only plenty of space to relive every second of our last moments with them and mourn every day of our lives.

There Truly Are No Words

We know people mean well, but we really don’t care to hear anyone’s advice or comforting words because there aren’t any that will help us understand why. This holds true especially when coming from people who have never experienced such a loss. And, believe it or not, a simple hug will do much more than words. We don’t want to think about anything else other than our deceased child so trying to divert our attention towards other things won’t help either. I know because I’ve been there.

What Were Their Dreams?

My only advice to those who are grieving the loss of their son/daughter is to try to live for them. If your child(ren) were of talking age, most likely you’ve had conversations with them. Try to recall those conversations. What did they like? What did they want to do and didn’t have the chance to? Where did they want to go? What were their dreams? So, once you’ve identified those things, try living for them. Do, in their memory, what they could not. Try fulfilling those dreams for them.

Keeping Their Memory Alive

If they loved horses spend time at a stable, volunteer at one or go horseback riding in your child(ren)s memory. Did they enjoy dancing? Then take dance lessons, teach dancing to another child or something to that effect. What was their favorite color? Paint a wall in your home in that color and make it a memorial wall for your child. There are so many things that to do in memory of our child(ren) which will keep us busy, give us a sense of accomplishment and believe me, make us feel happy once we reach our goal. Most important of all, our child(ren) will be so happy and proud of us even though they’re in heaven. And, there’s no better feeling than knowing that our child(ren) are happy.

We Shall Live

I wish I had a little magic wand to make my grieving friends whole again, but I don’t. That little magic wand is within each one of us. Only you can make it happen and believe me, it is possible and it does help us continue to live.

My heartfelt blessings to all. {{Hug}}


Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.


Listening to the Sounds of Wind Chimes

I love wind chimes. I enjoy listening to their melodic sounds. They help me calm down and meditate. I can sit and listen to a wind chime for hours. I have nine wind chimes ranging between metal, wood, stone, and glass. They all sound so peaceful. You’d think one would go crazy listening to so many sounds at the same time. But no, that’s not the case. It really is enjoyable and just the perfect tone needed to feel relaxed – maybe too relaxed I’d say.

One of my many wind chimes

Wind chimes have been around for a very long time. There are a few legends surrounding them. Some believe wind chimes could get rid of bad energy such as in Feng Shui; others thought they attracted ghosts, and also forecast the weather. I don’t believe in any of these legends. I just know it gives my home a sense of tranquility which I and my visitors love. So you take your pick, what is your belief about wind chimes?

My favorite wind chime’s melodic sound

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit After the Loss of a Loved One

It is nice to see all the beautiful holiday decorations and how people are so jolly during the Christmas season. I try to do my best to hide my grieving emotions and to convince myself that someday, eventually, those emotions won’t come around. But, while speaking to a Mother, which I’ll call Emma, who lost her daughter in a car accident more than 20 years ago, I realized that is not the case.

Emma came into my office and commented on the photos and quotes on the frame with the clothesline I made. I told her that I try to do as much as I could in memory of my son. Including the Christmas tree which we put up every year as a gift to him.

I explained that we decorate Richie’s tree with 3×3 picture frames which hold photos of Richie throughout his life. I was able to place some of the photos inside clear glass ornaments too. And, every year when I travel abroad, I bring an ornament for Richie’s tree. 

She gasped in surprise and told me, “How did you do that?” “How were you able to get past that you had lost a son and put up a tree?” “It’s been more than 20 years for me and I haven’t been able to get back into the Christmas Spirit!” “I haven’t decorated or put up a trip since then!”

At this point, I was a bit taken aback and told her it was our way of giving Richie a Christmas gift from us – my children, husband and myself. But, I do understand where she’s coming from. Especially since her daughter, along with Emma’s father, died during the Christmas season. I don’t blame her. I  can honestly say that I am at a good place in my grieving process. And, I wish I could help others who grieve find that place of peace that I’ve been able to find. It wasn’t easy but I managed to get there and my sincere wish is that other grieving parents reach that place.

To all those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, many blessings to you and may you find that peace in your grieving process. Merry Christmas to all.

The true spirit of Christmas is love…

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.

Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart

A Christmas Miracle Right Before My Eyes

A Christmas Miracle

The holidays are fast approaching and for those of us who grieve the loss of a loved one it stirs up emotions. It’s been my case for the past few days. On a particular day last year, God performed one of His miracles, a Christmas miracle, which I want to share with you.

What Is An Angel Tree?

I work part-time at a church. The church is one of the sponsors for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. One of the church volunteers was looping a string on the Angel Tree tags to hang them on the tree. Curiosity got to me, so I asked what she was doing. She explained the program and how it works. Each tag has a child’s name with information such as age, favorite color, their needs with sizes and their Christmas gifts wish. The tags hang on the Church Christmas tree in the narthex for members and friends to select, purchase the gifts, and return the gifts to the Angel Tree. 

A Great Cause to Participate In

I returned to my office and called my husband where we talked about the Angel Tree Program and what a great way to help less fortunate children. We both agreed it was a great cause and decided to participate.  After that call, I thought about my angel in heaven. He is always on my mind but with the holidays approaching, it seems to be more. God knows how much I miss him and so I thought, “I can’t get my angel Richie a gift, but I can get a gift for a young child and make their Christmas a happy one.”

My Angel Tree Tag Is My Angel

I returned to the reception area and asked the volunteer, “When can I grab my Angel Tree tag?” and there it was. Just as the volunteer fumbled her fingers through the tags searching for a little girl, my eyes caught sight of the one on the top pile. The tag read “Ricardo. Not Richard or Ricky, but “Ricardo.” It was staring right at my face, I just stared at it in shock. The volunteer was oblivious of what was happening. She said, “Well I found a little girl’s tag if you want it.” I responded, “You know what, I’m going to take this one right here.” Look at the name, it says Ricardo. My son’s name was Ricardo” and I proceeded to explain to her what had just happened.

It Was God’s Gift to Me

She smiled at me and said, that’s God’s way of letting you know your son is always with you and that you can indeed get a gift for Ricardo. Tears were already filling my eyes. I felt that God was listening to me and letting me know that Richie is always with me. God always has my back. Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful message.

Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart is a compilation of my grieving journals, rants, sadness, and joy. I’ve been through many different scenarios – both good and bad – which have helped me reach the place of peace that I now have. I invite you to explore my journey and I pray that, as it helped me, it will help you. You can find it on Amazon in paperback and in Kindle version too.

He Was God’s Child and I Was Chosen as His Mom

I Found the Book

While clearing out some clutter in our home office I came across a book called, Food for the Soul – A “Best of Bereavement poetry collection.” I opened it to the page that affected me the most and began to read. The one that answered my questions and made me realize that I was very much-loved especially through my grieving. So I decided to share my story with you.

The book came in the mail during the first few weeks after my son’s death. It had no sender name or information. At that moment, I was grieving heavily and was upset that God had taken my child from me. I questioned God why did He take my child? What had I done wrong? My tears were tears of desperation. These tears came from within my heart and soul. The cry that was heard from afar as the pain tore through my entire body. I needed that cry, I needed to let it out. It was within that time frame when I received this book.

Personalized Memoroal Jewelry

I opened the book wherever – not at the beginning. It happened to be page 44 where there’s a poem by Edgar Guest called,  To All Parents. As I read, I felt the hand of God touch my soul and I understood many things. Even though I was still grieving I was able to understand many things in my life and my anger diminished. The more I reflected on the poem and compared it to my life, the more the anger diminished. My selfish attitude began to transform into one of gratitude. Yes, it is hard to understand how could I feel gratitude after my son’s death. Maybe, after you read the poem, you too will understand.

To All Parents by Edgar Guest

I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine, He said.
For you to love the while he lives and mourn when he is dead.

It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for Me?

He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and should his stay be brief,
You’ll have his lovely memories as solace to your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay since all from earth return,
but there are lessons taught down there I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to take him back again?

I fancied that I heard them say, Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may.
And for the happiness we’ve known forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him much sooner than we’d planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.


Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart
by Debbie Centeno

The death of my son was the worst thing to happen to me. For the six months that followed, I felt numb, depressed and lonely. I didn’t want to continue living. Even though I had my daughter and younger son, it did not make me feel any better. I did not know what to do to make them feel better. How could I continue on without him? What would I do to become whole again? I had two choices. I could either succumb to depression or live for him. I decided to live for him. I decided that I wanted to do what he could not and so my journey began. I learned a lot from my son through the memories of our conversations. Even in death, he was teaching me what I did not know. I learned to live from my son. And, with this journey also began the spiritual connection between my son and me.

Soul-Searching For The Meaning of Life

“The wise use of intelligence requires more than academic intelligence; we need soul-searching and deep reflection to live a more balanced and meaningful life.” ~  Dr. Paul TP Wong

Life, what is it? Besides breathing and living, what is it? Why are we here? What are we here for? All these questions popped into my mind just a few years ago when life began to change for us.

As a child, it never occurred to me to think about life. I’m sure, like many other children, I was anxious to grow up and be an adult never thinking about the responsibilities that come with it. Then, it happened. I became an adult with everything else that follows – love, children, college, work… is that it? Is that all life is about?

When I reached the “adult” age I didn’t have any of the above questions. I guess I was too busy being a wife, mother, and employee which left me drained enough to keep me from wondering what life is. Then everything changed. From running around every day dropping off children at school, work, pick up children, doctor’s appointments, children’s extra-curricular activities, church, homework, etc; to only go to work. Well, there’s still doctor’s appointments, church, and work but it’s not that running around as before like a headless chicken.  

So now what? Now that I have the time to sit and think about life I began to question it. With the questions arose curiosity. What is there beyond these oceans? What kind of life do other people around the world live? I only knew what I had seen on TV, read in a book or learned in school. All of a sudden I felt like if I were in the Jim Carey movie called The Truman Show. I always thought that I lived in the best place in the world and never doubted it. But, what makes us think such a thing? It was time for me to explore what life is all about so I began soul-searching.

Prayer and meditation were the basis for my soul-searching. I have always believed in God and in prayer. I prayed every day and still do. But, after I began meditating did I realize that, while I prayed every day, I really never sat down to listen to God. So when I meditated I began to silence my thoughts and only listen. That is when I finally awakened. I loved the comforting peaceful silence that goes along with the meditation which has opened up a whole new outlook on life and answered some of my questions.

I began by doing things I had not done before – nothing illegal or bad. I wanted to explore the world, go beyond the ocean walls. I wanted to learn about other countries, their people, culture, and traditions. I wanted to meet new people and connect with like-minded people. I realized that life is not only about living to work. But only if we stop overworking ourselves, complaining, fighting or worrying and think about life will we awaken enough to see all the beauty this world has to offer and we’re missing. There is so much to do in life, so much to see and discover and so little time.

So, if you’ve reached the stage in life where you’ve slowed down, take some time, not only to pray but to meditate and listen to God speak. You will realize that you were not put on this earth only to work, but to discover the beauty of Life.

How Many of You Dream While Taking a Nap and What Does It Mean?

It is not uncommon for me to take a nap when I’m home. It’s a boost of energy for me. Today was no exception. I was off from work and working on my blog when I felt sleepy so I laid down for my nap and fell into a deep sleep. I don’t ever recall dreaming when taking naps but today, I had a dream. The dream was nice but at the same time disturbing. I wasn’t planning on sharing it but since it hasn’t left my mind, I figured I’d share it. Maybe putting it out there will eliminate it from my mind. I don’t know much about dream interpretation but here it goes.

In this dream, I came across various family members and friends which I have not seen in a very long time. The first one was a friend I had more than 30 years ago. Debra was a special friend. We spent a lot of time together, went on day trips, parties and she would sometimes stay overnight at my house. The last time I saw Debbie was between 1990 and 1991. She was the same Debbie I last saw, with her beautiful huge smile, so sweet and impeccable manners. We hugged and talked for a little bit but I don’t recall what we talked about and then we parted ways.

Then I came across a cousin, well my mother’s cousin actually. Lydia was a loud woman but so nice. Her outgoing personality was still prevalent in the dream. She received me with a huge hug and kiss. We talked for a little then we parted ways. Again, I don’t recall what the conversation was about.

After Lydia, I came across my uncle Alex. Tío Tinito, as we lovingly called him, looked just the same as the last time I saw him. Young, healthy and handsome. He received me with open arms and greeted me with a hug. We chatted for a bit, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Then my grandfather appeared. I did not recognize him at first since the last time I saw him I was very young – probably a teen but I’m not sure. He did look the same as what I remember. He approached me, gave me a hug and told me he was my grandfather. I do recall responding that I knew who he was. The conversation was short, but just like the above, I don’t know what it was about and he was gone.

The last person to approach me was the wife of my cousin, Ivette. She looked glorious – just her crazy loud self that we all loved. She came over to me hugged me with a loud “PRIMA” escaping her mouth. We talked for a bit and then she was on her way.

So, remember when I mentioned above that this dream was nice but disturbing at the same time? Well, it was nice seeing all these people again and having spent time with them. The disturbing part is that they are all dead. I’m not afraid of the dead, but dreaming with people that have moved on from this life, well, it’s not exactly fun. I don’t know how to interpret dreams, so if anyone of you knows, can you give me an insight into what this means? Or is it insignificant? I’m not worried but I am curious so your feedback is greatly appreciated.

 

We Exhumed and Cremated Our Son’s Body

Quotes-Life--Sorrow-quote--9748
Photo property of Angie Radillo

At work, I had a conversation with a coworker. It was an uncommon topic, maybe morbid to some. We talked about death. I told him how I never thought about what I’d do if any of my children died. Would I cremate or bury my child? Of course, it’s not something we, as parents, talk about or even think about! We believe, or should I say, expect that our children outlive us. That’s not the way it is and there are so many decisions that we are not ready for if we outlive our children. My coworker had a different experience when his dad died. He had the opportunity to sit with his father beforehand and write what arrangements his dad preferred. When the time came they were able to grieve and not dwell on the arrangements.

When my son died, we didn’t know what to do or where to go. Granted we were in a state of shock but had it not been for my boss at that time, who happened to be a pastor, we were clueless. From what funeral home to have the wake, to the casket type, color, memorial cards, clothes for the deceased, etc. there were so many questions that we were not ready for. After looking at what was available we made our choices. Frankly, I just agreed at whatever. I was too consumed with grief to focus on those things. I think my husband made most of the choices and I just went along with it.

Richie_1

After the burial, I felt worst. I felt as if I had abandoned my son in the rain, cold and heat. Many might say it was just a body lying in a grave, but for me, it was more than just a body. He was my son. I felt so tense. The tension ran from my shoulders up towards my head and extended through my arms. My jaws were clenched so tight that my teeth hurt. My chest ached with every breath I took. Nothing helped the pain I felt. The Xanax numbed it but did not take it away. I cried every single day – in the morning, in the afternoon, while driving, while showering, at work, before going to sleep – at any time. I just wanted to bring my son back home.

Almost a year after his death, we, as a family, decided to exhume my son’s body, cremate him and bring him home on the first anniversary of his death, July 9. And, on the year after he was buried, July 12, we brought his ashes home. We had a small gathering with some family and friends to celebrate his life and the Pastor did the blessing of his ashes. We also enjoyed Richie’s favorite meal, dessert, and drinks.

Richie's Urn

I know that many people didn’t agree with what we did. There were too many opinions on the matter, especially from different religious groups. But I didn’t care. The important thing was that I felt at ease and content with my decision. It was as if the weight was lifted off my shoulders. My jaw relaxed, and I was finally able to breathe without feeling the pain in my chest. Plus, I truly believe that the Lord would not have given me the peace I felt once we cremated Richie’s remains and brought him home if it were not meant to be or if it were wrong.

That was when we realized that we needed to have a plan. It’s a gruesome topic for some but if you think about it, it’s better to have a plan in writing than to try to figure things out at the last minute while grieving. Like my coworker said, it helps to avoid confrontation within the family on what needs to be done. Should you be buried, or would you prefer cremation; where to be buried or where to scatter the ashes; what music to play and so many other questions. If we plan these things ahead of time we will spare our loved ones from the agony of having to go through this. In the case of the loss of parents, it will avoid any conflicts that may arise if one sibling prefers cremation while the other wants to bury the deceased parents. The siblings would just have to honor the parents wish, as simple as that.

Yes, it might be a gruesome topic to talk about but for the tranquility of all involved, it should be discussed. What are your thoughts?


 

I Feel So Blessed

I feel so blessed. After the release of my book, Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart I didn’t know what to expect. I was a bit frightened, but if I wanted to reach those grieving the loss of a loved one, I needed to be brave.

You see, everything in my book is based on my experience and I have witnesses for most. The only thing I omitted was some names to protect privacy, but it is a true story. For some, it might be a bit controversial because it doesn’t agree with their religious views. But, I know that for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, it can be a sign of hope and that is my goal. If I could help one grieving soul get to that place of peace that I am in, then I am happy. This was what pushed me out of my comfort zone and I don’t regret it.

I’ve received so many beautiful message via instant messaging on Facebook, e-mails, text messages and even calls of people, that were truly touched by my book. According to their accounts, some read it in two hours or less because they couldn’t put it down, while others had to pause for a few minutes, hours or days because they felt it really touched them to a point of tears. Some said I forgot to mention they needed tissues to read it.

I’ve been told that it really brought a new perspective in life to them. Other’s mentioned that they were unaware of what NOT to say to a grieving person and are guilty of saying the wrong things – all out of good intentions though – they just didn’t know. Every time I receive feedback from my book it makes me so happy that I get emotional.  I took a leap and published it not knowing what to expect.  I didn’t know if the responses would open up that wound, but I never doubted that, just as God pulled me through my grief, He would make sure to shield me on my new endeavor. That is why I feel so blessed!

I Have a Lucky Monkey

Where Did It Come From?

I have a yellow monkey. It has a button on his head with three special words. He is ten years old. It’s from one of those vending machines where you pay $1.00 and try to grab the stuffed animal with a claw. It is not an expensive or good quality stuffed animal, but it is special to me, and I will tell you why.

When my son Richie (RIP) was alive, he would constantly say that he was going to win the lottery because he had the lucky numbers in his head.  One day, we were sitting at the dinner table eating our meal. The TV was on the news channel. The news anchor was commenting on the lottery jackpot winner when out of nowhere Richie mistakenly said, “I’m going to win the lottery because I have the lucky monkey in my head.” The way he said it so seriously was too funny, and we all burst out laughing. From that day on, every time Richie said that he was going to win the lottery, we would mock him by saying, “…because you have the lucky monkey in your head?” He didn’t like it, but he laughed with us anyway. Richie passed away and never won the lottery.

Betting On the Monkey

On Saturday, May 10, 2008, and about a year and a half after Richie’s death, my husband was working the night shift at a local restaurant that had one of those vending machines. According to his account and another employee, my husband happened to see the yellow monkey trapped underneath quite a few stuffed animals. He claimed that it just caught his eye and he could not stop thinking about it. So, when business slowed down, he approached the machine and placed his $1. He was determined to grab the yellow monkey. His coworkers told him it was not possible because it was trapped too far down. My husband insisted he was going to grab it, so his co-workers placed a bet that he could not. My husband’s focus was entirely on grabbing that yellow monkey. It took a few dollars, but he was able to grab it.

So, why is it so important to me? That Saturday night was the day before Mother’s Day. I was still grieving the death of my son heavily. When my husband arrived the next morning (Mother’s Day) from work and gave me the monkey, it made my day. You see, the three special words on the button on top of his head read, “Worlds Greatest Mom.” It made my day. My husband was lucky to have been able to grab the monkey. I felt as if it were a gift from my son in heaven – he sent me his lucky monkey through his dad and for that, this yellow monkey will always hold a special place in my heart. He’s my lucky monkey.