There is not a single holiday that is safe from the cold grey hands of grief. My therapist said something to me this week which I took to mean things can and will happen and fear of it is not serving me. Yet fear rises anyway - unbidden and unwelcome. It litters our lives like the giant boulders of a fresh avalanche - roadblock after roadblock to the present, to the love between us. We all know what we want is to connect - to feel the gratitude for those who remain but love has grown painful, not only from fear but from empathy. Not always but all too often and I wonder when I will acquire real GRACE and what that even looks like. I hope that someday I can stand beside a grieving friend and not overwhelm us both. I am visited by visions of vast space and deep oceans and I try to see that is the ALL of "all that is" and that I and my life CAN contain it and DO even when I feel like I can't. It started with a loss of freedom really. My father and mother getting older but then my father developed a recurring blood infection that took almost 5 years to heal. Sometimes we were back at the hospital within 2 weeks. Being caregivers for them took away so much of our ability to do the things that we, as a family, were passionate about. Our travel was limited and we were limited in what we could do for homeschooling our children, offering workshops and facilitating healing in other places. We wouldn't have made a different choice for anything but still... it was the beginning. In the middle of that my sister died suddenly of an accidental overdose. She was mentally ill and that in itself made it quite a complicated grieving process. She left behind 3 children, 2 were adults and one, 13. Then almost 3 years ago, our son, (my stepson, born in my heart at the age of 3) died just before his 21st birthday. He drove off the road in AZ in the in the wee hours of the morning after working all day and then drinking. 5 months later my brother in law got sick. His diabetes was out of control and he was diagnosed with an AVM - a brain disorder that causes him to have seizures and strokes, any of which could kill him and there is nothing they can do. He has deteriorated quickly and now cannot be left alone for long, has trouble walking and is nearly blind. We nearly lost him, he recovered but a couple weeks later, my father, after having a relatively healthy year, no blood infections, died on Easter Sunday after returning to lay down and having a brief chat with my mother. He died right in front of my husband as he came in to give him his medicine - he just breathed his last breath. So, there we were, drowning in responsibilities. A family grieving deeply and not knowing how to climb out of the pit and then something happened. We stopped turning towards each other. Our oldest son who already had a addiction problem began to spiral and ended up in jail and we (my husband and I) ended up with conflicting forms of PTSD. My husband pushed away and I tried to keep everyone too close. His behavior changed to someone I didn't recognize and couldn't tolerate. Love was too hard for him. He felt shattered and acted out - trying to feel something different I guess and it shattered our family. Our family and the dynamics are unfamiliar. Our youngest 3 children 12-19 struggled with anger at him and fear, not knowing what he would do or how to be there for him when he wasn't behaving like their father. Where am I now? After a year of healing, trying so hard to support each other where we can, we are still here loving each other - trying to figure out where and who we are in the aftermath. As he has been healing, his heart has begun to return and he is more familiar to us all and in many ways we appreciate each other so much more. Still, complicated grief and complicated PTSD is the ruler around here. On mother's day I grieved so deeply, for my son, for my sister... I struggled against it but it turned to shame. I only felt like an inadequate mother. I kept thinking how I have let them all down, too deep in grief, too deep in everything. I wanted to just be grateful for all these beautiful children that remain in my care - including my sister's and believe me I am! But I showing them - acting that way - I don't know if I do a great job of that when I am not the same - when my sadness and fear invade so often. I just keep thinking we used to be so close, we used have so much fun, I used to be a good mother.