Tag Archives: Grief

Open Up Your Heart for a Worthy Cause – We Are all Different

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” ~ John 11:25-26

Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

What is this church about?

I have written quite a few times about how I found my niche at the Church of Spiritual Awakening. I visited several Spiritualist churches going back and forth from church to church trying to get a feel or a sense of belonging. It took me a while to realize where I belonged.

The Church of Spiritual Awakening is unlike many other churches. Many of us believe in God, Lord, the Almighty, Infinite Spirit – whichever way you wish to call him/her, but don’t believe in certain religious doctrines. I grew up in the Catholic religion, however, there were certain things that did not sit well with me. As a child, I was sensitive to spirit. Something my parents nor sibling could see, feel or hear. I was lucky to have parents who didn’t judge me for what I saw, felt, or heard. They were always there and never made me feel uncomfortable or tell me it was my imagination.

Searching for answers within religion

As I grew up, I could no longer deny something was wrong with me. I didn’t understand it and frankly; I was afraid of it. So as a teenager, I joined the local neighborhood Catholic church. I played guitar in the choir and took part as much as I could in its ministries. One time I spoke with the Reverend explaining to him what I’ve felt ever since I was 4-years-old (that’s as far back as I could go). The Reverend suggested I contact the Rosicrucians. I didn’t know who they were or where to locate them, so I never even looked them up. Then again, there was no internet so it might have taken more time than what a teenager was willing to put in.

In the search for answers, I visited the Evangelical church and after a few visits felt compelled to let the pastor know what I felt. But during a service, I ended up running out when the pastor and congregation kept chanting and telling me to repent or the devil was coming for me. I also visited the Baptist church for a while and spoke to the pastor. He said the devil possessed me. When I was 18-years-old, I had my first session with a psychologist. That didn’t go any better. She wrote me a referral to a psychiatrist because, according to her, I was borderline schizophrenic. And that’s when I stopped searching for answers.

I found excuses of why I was seeing, hearing, or feeling inexplicable things.

“I probably saw it on the news,” I would think to myself. Or “I heard someone say it,” and so on.

There was always an excuse until eventually I just blocked it. It was always there, and every so often I would have an “episode.” But I put all my faith in God and just let it go.

The premonition that shook my core

Then one day, as I was driving my children home from school, I saw something that woke me up. As we waited for the light to change, an image came to my mind. It was an image of a car accident and a woman crawling out of the wrecked vehicle’s window with blood all over her face. She crawled out crying, looked at me, and extended her right arm towards me. I recognized that face! It was my cousin’s face. I panicked and began trembling when the honking of horns and my children signaled to me that the light had changed. I didn’t know what it meant or why I had felt it, but I tried to leave it behind. Two weeks after that incident, I received a frantic call from my mother.

“Debbie, please go check on your cousin. I just got word she had a car accident,” Mom said.

“WHAT? WHERE? WHEN?” I screeched out.

“Today close to you on the main road,” she replied.

I left as fast as I could and stopped by my cousin’s house. I was so relieved when she opened the door. They were all fine, just a little banged up. But that left me feeling so uneasy.

The guilt was killing me

“Why?” I thought. “Why would I wish this upon my cousin? How could I have done this to her?”

I felt so guilty. As if I had caused the accident. I couldn’t shake it out of my head. At that time, I was working at a church, so the next day, I spoke with the Pastor. I told him about the accident and how guilty I felt. Opening up was hard for me. It had been so long since I told anyone, but I told him about my experiences since young. I needed to let it out. I needed God’s forgiveness for having such horrific thoughts about my loving cousin.

The Pastor listened and reassured me I had nothing to be afraid of and need not feel any guilt. He told me I wasn’t alone. There were many like-minded people who felt, saw, and heard just like I did. He then encouraged me to meet them, which I did. That day, I realized I was not alone and much less crazy. I befriended a few like-minded individuals but still had my reservations about my feelings. Every so often I’d have a premonition. I learned to not hold on to it, but pass it on to the right individual. It helped some, but I still did not understand why.

A cruel awakening

It took a tragic event in my life for me to come to terms with it. My oldest son died in a pedestrian accident. My grief was unbearable. As a mom, I didn’t want to let go. In my mind, I always held a conversation with him and he responded. I had my doubts, though. One night, my sorrow was so deep I just needed to know. I cried so hard and prayed so much. Asking for God’s help, I prayed. I prayed for God to help me decipher this feeling – the hearing my son speak to me. If this was indeed from God, then teach me how to work with it and I will embrace it. But if it wasn’t, please take it away.

Click here for Spiritual Awakening Fundraiser

I found my home

A few weeks later, while researching on the internet, I found the local Spiritualist churches. I loved its principles as I felt the same way. Hence, I visited quite a few before I decided that the Church of Spiritual Awakening was my home. I did many workshops at this center – Introduction to Spiritualism, Laying on of Hands Healing, Beginners Mediumship, Advanced Mediumship, among others, and also attended the Tuesday night Meditation Circle for a while.

I learned many things at the Church of Spiritual Awakening. One being that the spirit never dies {John 11:25-26}. That makes me feel at ease with myself and my gift. I know I’m not the only one either. Like me, there are many children, teens, and adults that do not understand the gift they have. A Spiritualist Church is a place where they can safely talk about it and learn to use their gifts positively. There are no judgments here. We welcome everyone to partake in our services and activities. It’s an open and affirming environment with lots of loving people.

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

Accepting my gift is a blessing

I have finally accepted the gift Infinite Spirit has given me and would love nothing more than for the Church of Spiritual Awakening Center to have its own location instead of renting out space. As of now, we hold the meditation circle and Sunday services through Zoom. Though I miss our personal interaction, on the bright side, the building fund has continued to increase since there is no rent or utilities to pay. So, to reach our goal, we are having fundraisers.

This fundraiser and many others that we will have during the year, will not only help us increase our building fund; but will also bring awareness to what we represent. It is a loving atmosphere with people from all over the world coming together with a like-minded attitude. We love everyone and all are welcome.

This fundraiser is for masks. Everybody is wearing a mask – some are plain, some are creative – so why not support a worthy cause? We have unique designs and colors to choose from. So, if you feel compelled to help us raise funds for our new building, follow the link to the Spiritual Awakening fundraiser, make sure to put “Debbie Centeno” as the person you’re sponsoring, and thank you in advance for your support.

Love and light to all!


A Grieving Mother Receives Comfort from Her Child through a Perfect Stranger’s Song

“There is no death. Only a change of worlds.” ~ Chief Seattle

Photo by Jarl Schmidt on Unsplash

A Heart Warming Story

Today I read the most heart-warming story ever. It teared me up. I use the Nextdoor app within my neighborhood. A woman, which I’ll call Ann, who lives in a surrounding neighborhood, was writing to express her thanks to a stranger. She did not know him, but his interaction with her caused a great impact. 

A Mother’s Nightmare

This month Ann experienced the worst nightmare a mother can go through. Her 19-year-old son died on February 3, 2021. I don’t know the details of his death, but it is not relevant in this story. Ann was driving back from picking up her son’s urn and ashes and stopped at the neighborhood supermarket for some groceries.

An Angel Among the Strangers

As she waited her turn at the deli counter, a kind gentleman who I’ll call Elvis and was also waiting his turn complimented her tattoo. He had a tattoo as well—an Elvis tattoo. They began to chit-chat while waiting, even though her mind was elsewhere. She could not fully describe him because of his mask. From what they spoke, she thought he might have been an Elvis impersonator when he was younger. 

“When I had hair,” she recalls him saying. Then he sang a part of the Elvis song “Love Me Tender” to her. 

Love me tender, love me sweet.
Never let me go.
You have made my life complete
and I love you so.

A Message from Heaven

The lyrics Elvis sang tucked at her heart and emotions. She felt as if her son was singing the song to her. As if he was telling his mom to always hold him close. Even though it made Ann emotional, it gave her a sense of peace and joy on that day and for the days to follow. Little does the stranger, Elvis, know what he did for Ann. He did not know how she was feeling, or that she was grieving the loss of her son, and how much comfort he brought to her. Therefore, Ann took her story to Nextdoor to thank him.

I Can Relate

I don’t know Ann or Elvis, but this story touched me because, I too, am a grieving mother. My son was 20 years old when he died. I know the feeling of receiving a message from a stranger or someone known to me and sensing it came from my son. For me it is a sign that Infinite Spirit (God) is always there for us and will always provide us comfort because the spirit never dies. Infinite Spirit sends his angels to comfort us either through someone we know, a sign, song, or a stranger. 

To the Stranger

I pray for God’s blessing for this stranger so he can continue to spread his love and healing through his music. Sending healing love and light to Ann and Elvis.

What Is Our Mission on the Earth Plane?

“We are all different. You have to figure it out. What makes you tick and what makes you happy. Stop looking to others for answers and start looking within. It takes time but there’s no hurry. Enjoy the journey, because that’s what life is all about.” ~ Rebecca Fox

Photo from Pexels

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Where Did Time Go?

Time goes by fast. So fast that we don’t even realize it. Thirteen years have gone by since I began questioning my life. It all started when my son died. In these past 13 years, there have been many changes. I’ve grown a lot spiritually and mindfully. Forgetfulness is one of the things that has grown too. Like I don’t even remember what I had for dinner last night! Yes, I know, that could be part of aging. 😊 As I was saying, I’ve done a lot of spiritual growth.

I Questioned My Life

Within these 13 years, I began to analyze my life. What is life? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? Am I fulfilling the purpose of my existence? Those questions began to cross my mind. I needed answers. It didn’t sit right with me that we are born, to study, work, get married, give life to another, raise them, and that’s it. The cycle begins again. It didn’t make sense to me. There had to be more to life than live to work. When my son’s life ended I felt I was wasting my life. He was given only 20 years and just when he began to discover life, it was cut short. So, what could I do to fulfill my purpose in life? To make my years count.

I Finally Awakened

It was through the grief process that I finally awakened. I feel that my son had a hand in this. It was through him that I discovered there is more in life than I thought. I’ve always been spiritually intuitive but never did anything to develop it. If anything, I tried hard to block it. The lack of understanding of what it was and meant kept me in fear. I made sure to stay connected to my religious beliefs, my Catholic upbringing, and Infinite Spirit (God). My son did not allow me to fear it anymore. I had a sixth sense and I could feel it. I could hear him. Many times I thought it was my wishful thinking, but I was proved wrong by other like-minded, spiritually intuitive beings. Even though they connected with my son and it helped me immensely in my grieving, I never gave in.

But one night my sorrow was so intense and deep that the tears would not stop flowing. What is happening to me? Am I going crazy?

“Please Lord,” I pleaded, “If it’s a gift from you, teach me how to work with it. I will embrace it and use it for the highest good. But if it is not from you, then take it away. Please take it away.”

That night I cried and prayed for hours until I finally fell into a deep sleep.

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It Was Meant to Be

In my search for answers, I began researching on the web anything related to spirituality. I came across a few spiritualist churches with like-minded people. It was important to me that these churches worshipped God (Infinite Spirit) and only God. These churches seemed to fit what I was looking for. So, every week I visited a different one in hopes to find where I fit in. There was a particular one, Church of Spiritual Awakening, which made me feel more at home than the others. Still, I continued to explore all my options even though I already knew where my heart stood. But I wanted to be sure of my decision. However, I knew it was meant to be. I needed to further develop my God-given gift in order to help others grieving the loss of their loved ones.

Lessons I Learned

I learned to meditate at the meditation circle which the Church of Spiritual Awakening holds weekly. I enjoyed it very much and began to meditate at home as well. Meditation changed my life. It is different from praying. The way I see it, when I pray I talk to God. When I meditate, I listen to God. In being still and listening I learned so much about myself. I learned to be patient, loving and found inner peace. Things that bothered me before no longer did. I raised my awareness and consciousness. And also felt more connected to nature.

I began to see the world differently. There was beauty where I didn’t see it before. I began to change my mindset and way of thinking. I learned to view everything, even the hurtful situations, positively. It does not make sense for me to worry about something I had no control of. All of this improved my life. I found peace.

One Pair Anywhere

I Found My Home

Eventually, I joined the church and participated in the classes they offered – Introduction to Spiritualism, Laying on of Hands Healing, Introduction to Mediumship, Advanced Mediumship – and a few others. I continue my meditation as often as possible and have even taken up yoga. Contrary to what many might think, it has been a blessing. It has improved my life 100%.

We Are Spiritual Beings

So, what does all this have to do with my son’s death? It was because of his death my life was turned upside down. After his death, I realized there had to be more in life than just work to live. While he was on the Earth plane, we were close. Even after his death, I can still connect with him in the spirit world. You see, we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We are energy. Everything is energy. Once we acknowledge and accept this, we are then awakened and can take charge of our lives the way we need to. The way we want to.

Grateful to Infinite Spirit

I love my son and miss him immensely. It pains me to know that he had to leave the Earth plane for me to realize that we are eternal because the spirit never dies. I can honestly say, that despite my son’s passing, to this day, I have never been happier in my life. Happiness resides within ourselves. Nothing and nobody can make us happy. All this, I owe it to Infinite Spirit who opened my eyes to the true nature of my existence – my awakening. I am forever grateful for the wonderful son Infinite Spirit gave me and for the opportunity and knowledge to continue to communicate with him. Thank you, Infinite Spirit, for never leaving my side.


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.


The Feelings Behind Twelve Years of Grief

2004 vacation – Puerto Rico

Will It Ever Go Away?

This month brings me a lot of emotions. On Tuesday, July 9, is the angelversary of my son’s death. It’ll be 12 years now. It hurts the same as the day of. I can think about all the joyous times we spent together. My mind is well-aware of what happened and accepts it. My heart does not understand. How can I repair this broken heart from the loss of my son? I don’t believe there is any way to repair it. I’m at a good place with my grief now. But, every birthday, holiday and this month, in particular, will always trigger these feelings. I don’t have to think about it. It’s only natural. It’s called love.

Can’t Help the Feeling

A person who grieves the loss of a loved one does not plan on riding the rollercoaster of emotions. It just happens. The feeling isn’t welcomed. It just shows up. We do not entertain them either, they just linger there. We don’t relive the tragedy. It just seems like the events of that day/night will haunt us forever. This feeling just grabs ahold of a person like it or not. No two griefs are the same and none compares to the loss of a son/daughter – the worst grief you can experience.

Even after 12 years, I keep the feelings between my husband and myself. I know he understands, he goes through it too. I asked my daughter how it affects her. She responded that she tries not to think about it and keep herself busy. I too, keep myself busy. That’s why I write. It makes me feel better to jot it down. It helps me release the tightness in my chest and lifts up the tension on my shoulders.

It’ll Be a Good Day

Yes, July 9 will be a difficult day for me. I am doing my part to make it a good day. Will I go to work that day? Maybe. I’ll keep a positive attitude and hope for a good day. And, as I’ve done these past 12 years, I will continue to do for him what he could not.

My advice to the rest of the world is to hold your loved ones tight and let them know how much you love them. Let go of the petty things and embrace each other. Life is short and not worth clinging on to the resentment. Don’t waste precious time in meaningless things. Blessings to all.


A Tribute to My Son

Words in poem below

The Great Eternal Silence

By Aquinas T. Duffy

Missing in the darkness, vanished without a trace.
With only the memories and photographs to fill an empty place.

Frequent prayers and fervent cries. Is there anyone there?
But the only sound was the silent, eternal fanfare.

For a long time, it’s a deafening sound,
subdued by a path through lost and found.

Laughter and sorrow, anguish and grief;
all the moments of life but with no relief.

Everything and nothing, one within between all;
gentle, loving, penetrating the eternal silence falls…


Not Just An Ordinary Day

La Pieta by Michelangelo

This image 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, it’ll be 12 years. 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. I just learned to live with it.

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 Moms, so strongly feel towards our children. Simple things can trigger the emotional rollercoaster, some so simple as looking at a calendar.

One day I was updating my calendar with future tasks reminders when it struck me. Right there in front of me was “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 – not even my husband as I usually do when I feel the sadness creeping over me. I just turned towards my son’s photo and whispered “I love and 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 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 disappear 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. That’s okay to feel the way I do. I feel that my grief makes me work through the everyday battles we come across. It makes 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.


So, will I work on July 9? I don’t know. It all depends on what my heart is feeling 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.

No One Grieves the Same, Nor Better or Worse

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

Grief Is Always Different for Every One

Grief strikes differently. No one grieves the same. So when you compare your grief with mine, it makes me uncomfortable. There are many reasons to feel grief. It could be the loss of a beloved pet, loss of a job, a divorce or a breakup between two lovers. Losses are tough and I don’t wish it upon anyone. But, just as there are different reasons to feel grief, there are different ways to grieve. No grief is the same – even if we both lost a child.

Different Types of Grief

I can understand where a person may come from. I have a dog and I love him as my child. Losing my dog would devastate me. But there’s no way that losing a pet can compare to the loss of my son. I know a woman who had the audacity to compare her divorce to the death of my son. I asked her how is it the same? She said she lost the love of her life, not in death but in a divorce. It did not sit well with me. She will get over her divorce and maybe even remarry. But I will never be able to replace my son. How dare she compare her loss with mine?

Don’t Compare Our Grief

You can’t compare griefs even if it was of your child. My relationship with my son was different from yours with your son. Our griefs are different so please don’t compare them. I will never compare my grief with anyone else’s. I hope people understand the importance of not comparing such sensitive feeling because it is not the same. Let’s be sensitive to other people’s feelings and don’t compare.


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.

Available on Amazon

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.


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.

We Exhumed and Cremated Our Son’s Body

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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?


 

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