Tag Archives: Grief

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?


 

Not Just An Ordinary Day

La Pieta by Michelangelo

The image above is the sculpture of La Pieta in the Vatican sculpted by Michelangelo. It shows the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ after his crucifixion, death, and removal from the cross, but before he was placed in the tomb. It is behind a plexiglass to avoid damage to the sculpture, hence the glass union line from top to bottom. I chose this image because I can relate to the pain Mary felt with the death of her son.


July 9 is just another day, not a holiday nor a recognized day of some kind, but just another ordinary day. That is for others but not for me. July 9 marks the “angelversary” of my son’s death – 11 years now. Time sure does go by fast. But, unlike the saying, “Time heals everything,” guess what? It doesn’t. There are things that cannot heal, and the loss of a son/daughter is one of them. At least for me.

It is not that I dwell day and night on the fact that my son died. Nor do I live anticipating for this day to come, or his birthday. It’s something more and it’s uncontrollable. It’s the love we, as Mom’s, so strongly feel towards our children. Simple things can trigger the emotional rollercoaster, some so simple as looking at a calendar.

Last week while sitting at my desk at work, I was getting ready to update my calendar with future tasks reminders when it struck me. Right there in front of me was “Monday, July 9,” which caught me by surprise. It was there, glaring at me, tearing me apart. It felt like a dagger straight between my ribs and into my heart. All the memories of that night flashed through my mind and the tears started to build. What were just mere seconds of staring at the date on the calendar felt like hours. Our last conversation, our last hug, and the last “I love you” swept through my mind. The smile that I had before seeing the date just melted away. I felt the sadness building up. But I didn’t speak to anyone about it and I didn’t text my husband as I usually do when I feel the sadness creeping over me. I just turned towards my son’s photo sitting on the credenza hutch behind me and whispered “I love you and I miss you” and continued to work. The more I tried to concentrate on my work, the more the thought of my son crept into my mind. I could see his beautiful face just smiling at me. It was as if he were telling me, “Mom, it’s okay. I’m fine.” And I know he is okay but, try to explain it to my heart which doesn’t understand it. My heart only knows that there’s a permanent hole there which cannot be healed.

Grieving Mother Free Loving Memory Cards to Share

I don’t think there is a grieving mom who can say that she has healed after the loss of her child. Oh, I’ve had a person tell me that I will heal because based on her experience, after losing the love of her life through a divorce, she has fully recovered. Yes, she compared her divorce to the loss of my child. I wish it were that easy, but it’s not. She was able to rebuild her life with a new husband, but grieving parents cannot replace a son/daughter and that love does not subside. It’s impossible for it to subside because each child is loved unconditionally. Grieving parents may or can have other children, but each child is their own person. Therefore, no one child can replace another. There’s nothing – absolutely nothing – in this world that can replace the loss of a child.

I know I will continue to grieve for the rest of my life and it’s because of the immense love I feel for my son. I also know that it’s okay to feel the way I do. I feel that my grief makes me work through the everyday battles we come across. I use it to make me stronger because, my thought is, if I am going through life without my son, I can get through anything. For me, there has been no worst pain. And I know that every time I feel that grief, it is a sign of what a loving mother I was to my child and still am to my other two children. This strength I owe to the Lord and am grateful to Him every day.

Memorial Jewelry
Memorial Jewelry


So, will I work on Monday, July 9? I don’t know. It all depends what my heart is feeling on that day. I will prepare to stay home and celebrate his life with my family – maybe cook his favorite meal and remember all the great times we had together. Yes, July 9 is an ordinary day for everyone else but not for me. It is a commemorative day which will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I thank the Lord for not abandoning me in these moments.

To my son in heaven, “I will never stop loving you or forget you. May you rest in peace.” ~ Love Mom


Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart 
by Debbie Centeno

Throughout these past years, I wrote about my journey through grief. My ups and downs, rants, joys, struggles and what I did to reach the peace I now feel. Diary Of A Grieving Mother’s Heart can be found on Amazon in both, paperback and Kindle version.

A Mom Never Stops Grieving

Today I had an emotional moment at work. I was in my office when I overheard a conversation between a couple of co-workers and the volunteer. They were talking about a teenager who was learning to drive. As I heard it, I began to imagine my children and when they learned to drive, especially my forever 20-year-old angel in heaven, Richie.

Richie was 16-years-old when I began to teach him how to drive. At that time, we had a Dodge Caravan so that was what he began with. He didn’t have his learner’s permit yet but since he was so anxious to learn, I began giving him lessons. Thank God I did. Little did I know that those lessons would someday come in handy.

I was not well health wise and there were times when out of the blue I’d develop a high fever with chills. But life had to continue. My husband worked, I worked, and the kids needed to get to and from school. During the 6-month period that I went through medical treatment, I continued to work as much as I could. Some days after leaving work to pick up my children from school the fever and chills would kick in. I felt so sick. I remember a few times arriving at school to pick up my children and my wonderful 16-year-old son, Richie, would ask me if he could drive us home so I can rest. The first couple of times I didn’t allow it. But one day I could not take it any longer and asked him to drive us home. He was happy to do so and drove the 14 miles from school to our home. I remember sitting in the passenger seat and staring at this amazing young man and how he stepped up to help his mother. I felt so proud of him. He got us home safe and I will never forget his beautiful broad smile of pride. I, too, was proud of him. I don’t remember if I told him at that moment, but I know I told him many times afterward.

As the memories of the past came to my mind, I felt that same pride for him, but at the same time the tears began to flow, and sadness filled my heart. It never fails to happen. Memories of my beloved son bring me happiness but sadness too. And I can’t help it. But it’s okay. As my husband and co-worker reminded me today, I will never stop grieving the loss of my son for as long as I live.


Diary of a Grieving Mother’s Heart

Happy 31st Birthday in Heaven

January 8, 2018 marks 31 years since I first became a mom to a healthy 9 pounds 1 ounce baby boy. We named him after his dad and called him Richie. He was my oldest and the one who resembled me the most in thoughts, ways and looks. Richie was very curious and a good son. I was blessed with three good children and am thankful for that.

Just like I have a good relationship with my younger two children, I also had a good relationship with Richie. I say “had” because he passed away on July 9, 2007 – 10 years ago. The fact that he died so long ago doesn’t make the pain any easier. In fact, this week has been rough for me and I’ve shed plenty of tears.

I sit in my family room and look at his photos on the wall  when he was a baby until his last year alive.  I begin to remember all the wonderful moments spent with Richie and I smile. Then the thought of not having that anymore makes me sad, and it doesn’t help the pain.

I remember when we would share some of the same taste in cookies, candy and coffee. Like me, he too, liked mint Oreos, peppermint patties and Starbucks coffee. I grin at the memories of those moments until the sadness creeps in and it doesn’t help the pain.

I remember his common phrases like, “There’s no such thing as a coincidence,” “$100 is pocket change,” and “So, yeah” after he’d finished talking. I can see him in others when they say any of these and I giggle thinking of him. But, knowing I will never hear him again doesn’t help the pain.

I can see so much of him in his younger brother in gestures, actions and in appearance. It does make me happy. But at the same time, it hurts to know I will never see him spending time with his siblings, and it doesn’t help the pain.

Every year during his birthday, angelversary, and holidays, I think maybe this will be the year when I will have my last cry. And, every year I experience the same roller coaster of emotions. It doesn’t get easier, I just learned to live with it and after 10 years I realized that it will never go away. Now I understand others that have gone through this horrendous experience.

I once had a friend who lost her son from a heart attack at the age of 36. Her name was Anita. I knew Anita for a few years before she told me about her loss. It had been 14 years since her son died and her grief was so deep that she was still taking antidepressants. I know another person whose mother lost a son at the age of one year old. She told me that he would have been her older brother. It had been 41 years since his death and her mother cries every night for him. Also, within my online grief support group there were a few moms who were grieving the loss of their son/daughter. Not all of them had the strength to continue living and ended committing suicide.

I didn’t want to live on meds for depression, cry every night for the rest of my life, or ever have the thought of committing suicide, so I dealt with it differently by living for him. I thought that maybe, just maybe my grief would not last so long since I was taking a different approach. But I was wrong. It doesn’t matter how you grieve, losing a child is the worst experience I’ve ever had, and nothing can take that grief away. I now understand Anita and the other mom’s.  Anita passed away sometime last year. While it saddens me to know about her death, I know she is happy to be with her son again.

To hear these things scared me a bit. I didn’t know what to expect. Would I grow crazy in desperation trying to reach my son? Would I fall into a deep depression? Would I be able to continue living? When you lose a child, your world turns upside down. You don’t remember that you have other children, spouse, family or that there are people who love you and want to help. It takes a lot of courage and faith to lift oneself up and continue living without your loved one. It takes a lot of love from your closest family, friends and co-workers to lift one’s spirit. It cannot be compared to the loss of a parent, sibling or friend. The bond between a mother and child is one of a kind – I dare say it is the strongest bond there is.

Yes, I’ve been sad and quite emotional these past few days. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my son. He lives forever in my heart and I’ve finally learned that it doesn’t matter how long its been, I will always miss him, love him and cry for him and that’s okay. I now know that it will only go away the day I meet him in heaven.

So, on this day, January 8, 2017, in memory of my son and in support of all those grieving the loss of a loved one; I ask that you hug your children, partner, parents and or siblings and let them know just how much you love them. Blessings to all.

Happy 31st Birthday my son. I love you and miss you so much.

~ Love Mom