Last week’s question about changing priorities brought in many responses. I was thrilled at all the survivors who wanted to share, so I will make my comments very short. As to the change in my priorities, I have joined some groups that give me enjoyment and reduce stress. I belong to a bell choir and also our local garden club. Playing music forothers and planting gardens with beautiful flowers for others to enjoy, gives me joy and I spend a lot more time with people who laugh and reduce stress as they add something to the community.
Next week’s question comes from Cindy who will be facing her first holiday season this year. I know there will be others who willgive suggestions to Cindy: With the holidays right down the road, what do other people do to get through them. Are there any books, magazines, TAPS articles, or any other sources, that you know about that can help us? To send a response,email Carol.Lane@taps.org. Thanks for all the replies.
My priorities have changed so much. Before, I knew in a moment I could call my oldest son and we would laugh, talk about the Oregon Duck Ball games, share stories about his children, where they had been. It was as sure as the sun would rise tomorrow. Lots of things we put off until tomorrow, never thinking that tomorrow might not be ours to treasure. It is now important for me to tell those I love that indeed I do love them; I appreciate the things they do for our family. Sitting down to family dinner is so important, not to share the food but to share the love. Holding each hand, giving the Lord thanks for the moment and then laughing at ourselves. A picture of Jim is above the table in both our home and our youngest son's home. In the beginning our first priority was to go to the cemetery every day, making sure the flowers were fresh and the flags were flying. We still care that the cemetery is well kept but now we keep a bouquet of flowers at our table, it reminds usof the wonderful times we ate as a family while Jim was here. Well maybe all weren't so wonderful. At one time Jim had a parrot and it had a cage just outside of the kitchen. Jim and his brother taught the bird to spit like an old man. One Saturday morning all of the neighbor kids came for breakfast and Jim got that bird to sound like he was spitting. The whole crowd erupted into laughter. The next Saturday twice as many boys showed up for breakfast. After that the bird went to the garage at meal time. My main priority now is to treat everyone as though tomorrow may not come. I embrace my family, know we are strong and we will survive.... and if we don't survive we will leave a trail of love behind us to be remembered by...
My priorities have always been my family members,so that has not changed. My daughter in law is 27, widowed with 2 young sons, and lost her mom the year before Andy was killed. I consider her my daughter and we find solace, often unspoken, with each other. Just to love my grandkids as much as I can, and let them know it.
My priorities have changed dramatically. I try not to let the little things and sometimes even big things get me down. Life is full of choices… you can dwell on could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, and never get anywhere. When Gary died, a piece of me died too. A piece of my family died. That piece we will never get back. But I hold on to what has happened since his death. My parents, sister and I are closer than we have ever been. I try to travel to my hometown to see my relatives more. I try to be a better wife and mother. I do this knowing we never truly know when it is our time to go. I would hate to have regrets on my part leaving relationships damaged for sometimes petty things. I believe we are here only for an allotted time and my brother would have wanted this time to be special. His time was cut short, but in an ironic way, his death brought his family closer together. Each day is special. Each person I encounter each day is special. Gary’s death has made me a better teacher, also. Because he didn’t die KIA, but by PTSD related issues, I make myself available to my students to talk if they want. Gar didn’t feel he could do that, and some days I wonder if he did, would he still be here. I know some may not see a connection there, but I do, and that helps me cope. So I guess, without getting overwhelmingly spiritual about Gary’s death, he has made me a better person, and in time, I will have less regrets about what I think I could have done to keep him here longer than he was.
My priorities since Brian died are on my relationships. I keep in close contact with my family and friends and let them know how I treasure them. I also honor Brian by working on suicide preventionand trying to bring awareness.
The love of my life - my Marine husband - passed 19 months ago. His death has made me realize that unconditional love, family, and health are the most valuable things on earth. It is most important for me now to not just tell my loved ones how much I love them - but to SHOW them how important they are to me. I have also been told on so many occasions that I was one of the lucky few that had the "love of my life". There are millions out there that never have the unconditional love and respect that I did from my husband. So now - I show respect to my family as much as my love.
How have my priorities changed in the last 21 months since the passing of my son? The first thing is that I am very pro-active about getting people to sign up to be an Organ/Tissue/Skin/Cornea Donor. Out of our horrible tragedy came a ray of hope and some positive impact on several people. I think of the many who received parts of my son and believe bits of him are alive. More importantly, I know how he gave the gift of sight to two and 48 other were either enhanced or saved that evening of his death. In addition, more people were helped from skin and bone transplants in the months after his death.
I tend to be with my surviving son and dad more. I make it a point to call those I really enjoy being with. I try not to waste mytime. I try to live well and laugh when I can.
I now found the love of my life and enjoy being with him. I think my son sent him to me. He is a treasure.
That is how I have changed.
Joe, my son, left a gift for my two other children. My priorities right now are to see his wishes come through. This is tough. I have to be hard when I want to be weak, and I have to push, when I want to let things be. I have a 15 year old son, he is giving me fits. His grades are terrible, and I am so frustrated. He still is too immature to understand the gift his brother gave him. I want to shake him, but, I know deep down he suffers this loss as well. That is the conundrum. My other priorities are to give to my wife. I am failing here as well. I guess my priorities are still in a changing state. This loss really has made me re-set my ideals of how life is or should be. I am humbled, sad, and wanting to be left alone. Yet, Joe was a giver, and until I die I will follow his last wish, that is my new priority.
How have my priorities changed? That question is how I am now. Before my son died I had a great job and on the outside a great boyfriend but it really was not as good as it all looked. After my Brandon died it took a little time but then I found some strength I didn't know I had and changed all of that. I left the job and the alcoholic boyfriend. I found a new great job. My life is still day by day but losing Brandon has changed my life forever. I am a different person. I hold the people I love a little closer. My priorities have changed but I guess so have I...
We never miss an opportunity to be with Jarrett, our surviving son, and dote on our 5 grandchildren totally. Nothing is intense, and life is a different. We don't make grandiose plans of family trips, big organized holiday activities, or preserve "stuff" for family to inherit. We are impulsive; if we want to go or do something we normally do it. We are so aware life can change so dramatically in a flash that we don't worry about tomorrow and next year. Petty disagreements and cross words just don't happen with us and our son, daughter-in-laws or grandchildren. It is a real issue in our lives if we are involved with anything stressful we get out. We serve on a committee in church and in the community, but we don't serve if it causes us anxiety. The energy to defend a cause is spent. If it is something recognizing Darryn and his sacrifice we stay the course. Darryn was the life of our family, the planner the visionary; we have a much quieter life.
The biggest priority that has changed for me since the death of my Son is that I always used to worry about everything; my job, my vehicle, etc. Now I don't worry about that stuff anymore. It all came down to money because without it everything would fall apart. Now all of that doesn'tmatter. I find that the biggest priority in my life is my children and most ofall my 4 year old grandson that I'm raising. I try my best to let them know howmuch they mean to me.
As for this week’s question I feel that the love and care of family members has become even more important than ever. Having myhusband and other two children express their feelings and vice versa has become very important to all of us. Spending time with our family and keeping in touch with one another is a constant now. Material things on the other hand are no longer important. They are just things and can be replaced. Our Blake however will never be replaced.
Doing things like crafting, sewing, and other hobbies that use to take up a lot of my spare time is no longer of much interest. I need to know that each family member is ok and all's well. I have to know that nothing else has happened to hurt the family I love so much. The "mother hen" in me seems to be on overload in the need to protect them. I am constantly having to remind myself that my children are all adults and they each need their own space so I won't suffocate them. To let go and let God do the protecting of my family has been easier said than done.
My son was killed in December 2011 so I’m still working my way through the initial grieving process. There have been a couple of priority shifts in my life. One, I don’t “suffer fools” as easily as I did before. I still respect people and their view points but I do not care if the classroom is painted off white or light green and I don’t want to discuss the upcoming church budget, again. I’ve also had to learn to cut myself some slack. No one was expecting me to be superwoman except me. It’s OK for me to say no, I cannot do that this year. It’s OK for me to cry at work or in the store or witha friend. It’s OK to tell someone I’m feeling rotten or having a bad day, even if they don’t really want to hear it. Taking care of myself and my family are my priority now. Helping us find a way to survive the upcoming holidays and 1stanniversary are my priority. Sharing things with my husband and other family members are my priority.