As we begin 2018, I have been reflecting on my individual and family goals as so many others do once a new year begins. This process has been also interesting for me to reflect back on my goals throughout this grief journey and how some of my goals have remained the same and some have changed.
After my husband died in August 2011, so many of my goals were focused on my children. I was experiencing a lot of anxiety about the trauma that my children had experienced from the death of their dad, and I wanted to make sure that I was the best mom that I could be to them. I studied children, teens, and grief when I was able to in between parenting and working as a new single mom. Many of my goals centered around wanting to make sure that I was helping them in productive ways along their individual grief journeys and trying to learn what they each individually needed. Because my three children were all so different then I definitely experienced many challenges and learning experiences along the way. This remains a high priority in my role as Kylee and MiKayla’s mom and definitely continues on as some of the most important goals in my life.
After my only son PK was killed instantly in a car accident at the age of 18 in June of 2013, then the emotions and feelings that I was and continue to experience are difficult to put into words. I had always heard that the death of a child is the worst to experience, and I am most definitely a believer. As I look back on those months and years, they are best described as shock and fog. It was taking every ounce of emotional strength that I could muster to just make it through every day activities. Every part of me just wanted what I could not have… my son. Goals during those months and into the next years were centered around task completion. Getting my tasks done at work… sitting through an entire basketball game and trying to cheer for the teams he should have been playing on… trying to work on my memory. These were just a few things that I was used to doing easily and naturally and suddenly they were beyond difficult.
As I look back on those early times after my son’s death, then I know that I have made emotional progress. I am able to focus clearly at work again. My son continues to come into my thoughts throughout each day…. the longing that I have for him is just as strong. I have learned to coexist with that longing for him. I can now be at my desk and complete a project while missing him all at the same time. I often describe it to others as this… I love him just as much… I miss him just as much… I long for his presence in my life just as much; however, I continue to learn how to live with the pain of his loss while improving the other areas of my life. I continue to learn every day how to coexist with the incredible pain of losing my only son.
My memory has most definitely improved. I was amazed at the memory problems that I experienced as I was early on in my grief journey. Items that I was able to remember were grouped around the deaths. My mind had categorized memories that I could recall into three sections: before my husband’s death, between the death of my husband and my son, and after the death of my son. My recall swirled around these three time frames. Many times when others were asking me to remember what they had shared with me then I could not remember. It was also happening with my short term memory and was definitely a source of aggravation for my children. They would tell me something, and I would ask them to repeat what they had told me sometimes multiple times. I still have times where I can see how the traumas affects my memory, but I am thankful that I can report continued progress in this area.
When a parent loses a child, it is difficult to set goals and think about continuing on in your life without them. I was not suicidal. I was dedicated to giving my daughters my best. However, everything in me was fighting moving forward in my life without my son. I did not desire to. Again, I was not suicidal, but I wanted him in my life for always. It is difficult to explain that battle that exists for a parent who has lost a child in this area, but it is stronger and more difficult than I know how to express. Everything in me wanted my son to be present in my life for the rest of my life.
It has now been 4 1/2 years without my son. I do have a desire to continue to grow and to improve the person that I am. I have made steps in my emotional healing. I have not “arrived”. However, I never want to be a person that thinks that they have “arrived”. I always want to challenge myself to improve and to grow. As I look forward into 2018, I definitely have areas that I want to grow and improve in.
Being the best mom that I can be to my two incredible daughters continues to be at the top of my list. I want to continue to learn how to be an encouragement and support to them in their individual journeys. I have financial goals that I want to accomplish for them in college and as they begin their individual lives. I want to continue to celebrate each part of who they are and to celebrate each moment and memory that exists with them. These two daughters of mine are loved beyond description, and I want to give them my best every day. As you have read before, I remind myself every day that they are just as deserving of my best as my beloved PK was. I sure want to give it to them… every day.
In my faith, I want to continue to rebuild my trust in God. I have found that after the deaths of my husband and my son that I did not feel very well taken care of. As I have shared before, I have seen how this affected my ability to trust. I want to continue to learn to rest in His love for me and to have great faith that He will take care of my two daughters and I. This continues as a primary goal for me and a sincere hope for my two daughters. I want to live a life of faith, love, joy, and hope and to share that with others.
I have shared before that I have written a book and want to submit a book proposal. I started the blog last summer and have desired to build the blog up before submitting the book proposal. This blog has been a great outlet for me in processing my individual emotions, sharing the experiences of our family on our grief journey, and for reaching out to others who are hurting and are in pain. I love this blog and the opportunity to share these different parts of who I am and of what the girls and I are experiencing. The encouragement and support that i have received from some of my family and friends has been such a blessing. Support and encouragement from people that I have not met before has been such a fun surprise. However, as with any parts of our life then there have been hurtful times as well. One of my goals for this next year is to continue building the blog and to work really hard on not feeling discouraged by support that I have not felt in it from some key people in my life. As I am pouring my heart out in this blog, then I have noticed that there are some family members and friends who I thought would really be supportive to me in this journey that have not been. That happens sometimes in our lives. The people that we most want support and encouragement from that we think that we are the closest to sometimes do not give that to us. My hope is that I continue on building the blog and sharing my heart regardless if I have support and encouragement from those in my life that I so desperately want it from. I hope that for each of you also… that you will be true to yourself and your goals and dreams regardless of how others in your life are reacting or not reacting. Sadly, it happens in all of our lives. I am committed to continue to build the blog. I have learned that building the blog is a slow build, and I am praying and pondering about when would the best time to submit my book proposal will be. 🙂 Perhaps 2018 will be when I submit my proposal.
I have personal goals in the areas of health and wellness. Consistency is always the goal for me in exercising and healthy eating. Consistency is a battle for me. I have studied enough to know the benefits of exercise. Pam Smith, nutritionist, shared one of the best examples of the benefits of exercise in regards to stress reduction that I have ever heard. She shared that in years past so many people dealt with external stressors. For example, the stressor might have been a bear that one may have encountered. That bear must be immediately dealt with as a stressor, and when faced with a bear then one must choose fight or flight. Whichever option was chosen, the stress of the bear encounter was going to have a reaction from the person experiencing the stress. She shared that in today’s times, so many of us deal with internal stress. She also shared that she believed that many in our culture today are not dealing with their internal stress. She highlighted that when our body exercises that our body then thinks that we are dealing with the “bears” or stressors in our lives, and that exercise reduces stress. In addition to wanting to be in shape, I most definitely want to continue to deal with the stress including emotional stress in my life in healthy ways. I definitely desire to be consistent in exercise and healthy eating. I want to live a life of health and wellness in each area of my life.
Personal growth is a top priority. I want to continue to grow in compassion and understanding of others. I want to live my life in love, faith, hope, and joy. I want to continue my son’s legacy. I believe that my daughters are my husband’s and my legacy, and they will continue our legacy on for us. Because my son had no children then I have a tremendous desire to do my best to honor his legacy to the best of my ability.
I know looking ahead to the fall when both of my daughters will be in college then I am embarking on a new journey. Over the last 23 years, a huge part of who I am and my priorities have focused on my children. As the empty nest comes closer and closer to becoming a reality, then I will definitely have a big adjustment to make in my day to day life when both of my girls are in college. I never planned to be a single empty nester, and I am most definitely open to sharing my journey with someone new if that person comes my way. However, that is unpredictable and uncertain. Loneliness is a part of this journey for me after having lived as a widow for 6 1/2 years now, but I know that if that is how I continue that I can continue to grow and improve personally and to reach out to others.
Reading more books continues on as a goal! This past year has finally marked a breakthrough in that area for me. After my son died, I would start a book and not complete it. This happened to me many times, but thankfully this past year, I have been finally completing books again. 🙂
Playing the piano a lot more is another goal. When I play the piano, then something happens deep inside of me. I have avoided it many times on my grief journey. I want to spend time playing each week and to be able to once again truly love all that I experience and feel when I play.
With the exception of my girls as number one, then these goals are not in ranked order. Some will be more difficult then others, but I desire to continue to grow and learn in all areas of my life. Hoping that the girls and I and each of you will experience much new growth and lots of love, healing, hope, and joy throughout 2018!!
“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” Jim Rohn
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins
“Most people want to avoid pain, and discipline is usually painful.” John C Maxwell
“Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.” Jim Rohn
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Tony Robbins
“The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda.” John C Maxwell