Monday, June 25, 2018

Lessons in Grieving

Lessons in Grieving 

Today, marks the one year anniversary of the day the world lost Casey.
Casey was the youngest and only boy in my first nanny family. I was with him from the day he was born until he was 6 years old. Casey was in my wedding on June 22, 1996. He drug my current charge down the aisle. I am so glad that I did not know then, that 21 years and 3 days later at the age of 29, he would leave this earth.
This last year has been a hard one for me, but I know that as hard as it has been for me, it can’t compare to the loss his parents, his sisters, his soul mate Maria and the rest of his friends and family feel every day.
When you are a nanny, and you work with a wonderful family, one of the things that happens is that you get to be someone who frequently swoops in and makes things better. You juggle schedules, you come to work early, you stay late, you work an extra weekend and your employers come to think of you as their own personal hero. Time after time, you get to “save the day” And when you work for an amazing family, it is always noticed and appreciated.
One of the hardest things about this tragic loss for me was that there was absolutely nothing I could do to fix it. I didn’t get to swoop in with a solution, or extra hours or a brilliant idea. All I could do was send them love.
This loss rocked my world in a way nothing ever has. It continues to rock my world on a daily basis but, I have learned some important lessons and I want to share them with you.
I wrote about this last August, how a nanny’s love has no expiration date. You can read it here;

The love we have for the children we have cared for, doesn’t ever go away. Sometimes we are lucky and we get to have them in our lives, but sometimes we only get to have them in our heart. We have them for a season, we love them for a lifetime.
I wrote about how I didn’t know how to grieve this loss and I also said that I was hurt and disappointed that only 2 of my friends had continued to reach out to me as I grieved this loss. After I wrote that post, I heard from a number of nannies who checked in on me and said they were sorry they had not supported me but the message I got over and over was this one.
“We thought you were ok. You didn’t say anything, and we just thought you were ok”
So…I learned an important lesson that I want to share with you.
Grieving people hurt. They hurt every day. They wake up hurting and they go to bed hurting and they hurt when they wake up at 2 AM and can’t go back to sleep.
They might talk about it and then get quiet, and you might think they are ok, but when people don’t talk about the pain, that is the time you should worry. Grief has no timetable. Long after everyone else goes back to their normal life…grief lingers.
When people get quiet, it usually means they aren’t dealing with the pain well.
Even the strongest people need love and support. Don’t assume. Strong people are used to dealing with their own stuff, but some things are just too hard to bear alone. When you know someone is going through a hard time, a simple phone call, a card, a thinking of you text is always a good thing to do. You never know the difference it will make.
I didn’t talk about it, I kept it all inside and pretended to fine…until I wasn’t and I couldn’t. I am better now but today is going to be a hard day, for me and a lot of people I love. I hope you will keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. I hope you will text me or message me and just let me know you are thinking of me but more importantly….
In honor and memory of Casey and the amazing human he grew up to be, I would like for you to eat an OREO (his favorite cookie) and do a random act of kindness today.
Putting love out into the world is the best way I know to honor Casey’s memory.

His family also has started a foundation in his name. If you feel inclined to a make donation to that would be wonderful too, but most importantly…just be kind and compassionate and extend a little grace to everyone you meet today.
I know Casey would love that.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Planning for a personal crisis

When we are faced with a personal crisis, our first instinct is to fall apart. So how do you keep from doing that?
First of all, we have more control than we realize.
Let the Bad News sink in: Acknowledge that you are going through a rough time. Pretending that you aren’t won’t make it any better. It’s ok to be upset and it’s ok to be in pain.
These are all normal reactions. Many of us are strong and feel that we are weak if we ask for help. Actually being able to realize that we need help is one of the steps toward taking control of our lives again.
When we go through a crisis, we immediately start to think of all the things that we have to do in order to survive.
It’s important to do that, but it feels less overwhelming to try and break it down into tiny baby steps.
If you are a live-in nanny who just found out that she is losing her job you need to ask yourself: What is the first thing I need to do to get through the next hour?
Remember that this is a temporary crisis. You need to find a temporary solution. When you speak, listen to your words. Avoid using negative words like
 “This always happens to me”
“I am never going to be able to find another job in this economy”
“I must have done something wrong”
“This is my fault”
None of those thoughts is productive. Each of those thoughts just makes you feel worse about yourself and those negative thoughts are most likely not even true.
What you need most right now is to believe that you are going to get through this.
This is why it is so important that you have a plan.
Every nanny should have a plan but especially live in nannies who live where they work. Losing their job means losing their home.
This is one of the wisest things you can do to prepare yourself for a transition.
You always need to have a place you can go on short notice for at least 24-48 hours where you can catch your breath.
Then you need a place you can go for a longer time until you can get back on your feet. This could be the same place but you might have to have 2 places. You also need to have some money put away to live on until you can secure employment.
If you have this plan in place ahead of time, when the crisis hits, you can take a deep breath and know that you will have a place to sleep that night. Just knowing that should take a load off your mind. Remember, you don’t have to figure out what you are going to do the next 5 years of your life, you just have to figure out what the next step will be.

It might be helpful to set aside time each day to brainstorm about what you are going to do, how you are going to get through this bump in the road. Treat it like job research. Make lists, network, and then be sure to take some time to take care of yourself.
Break it down into baby steps and just do the next thing you know to do. Instead of thinking ”I will never survive this” think about other things that you didn’t think you would survive, but did.
The reassurance you have that you have survived other hard things in your life will give you some peace of mind and confidence.

Try to think about the future in a positive way. Recognize this as a transition in your life. Transitions move us forward to a place of hope and new beginnings.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

You Love Them for a Lifetime

Today is August 5, 2017.

It’s a beautiful morning. The sun is shining, there are no clouds in the sky and there’s a gentle breeze blowing through the air. I’m sitting on the porch with my coffee thinking of all I have to be grateful for ….and then I feel it.  I feel his presence with me.
My mind goes back to another beautiful morning in June.
Terry was at the lake. I came back from my walk, looked at my phone and saw I had a text from my former boss, still my friend, Lisa. I texted her back and said I would call her in a few, she texted me back and said she couldn’t talk but she would call me soon. I texted her back ( don’t you love this age of technology?) and said I had a coaching call at 9 so I only had a small window of time.
I was so happy that morning. I had big plans for my day and I was ready  to conquer the world after getting in 4 laps around the subdivision .......and then the phone rang.
It was Terry. He said “Honey, I have some really bad news” Nothing could have prepared me for what he said next. His voice cracked and he could barely say the words “Casey was killed in a bike race this weekend”…………..and the world started to spin, and my heart started to race and everything started to close in. I couldn’t find words. I had to know more….and I had to be alone and quiet.
He went on ….”Lisa is on her way down to be with you because she doesn’t want you to be alone”
We hung up, I looked online at the paper and there was the story. I looked on Facebook and there were the postings on his page. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine a world without Casey in it.
Casey (29) was my youngest charge in the first family that I nannied for. I was with him the first 6 years of his life and even after the job ended he was a ring bearer in my wedding and still a very important part of my life.Terry and I still saw him on a regular basis until he became a teenager.
 I hadn’t seen him in awhile  but we were Facebook friends and I kept in touch, we chatted a couple of times a year and I kept up with all his stories of cycling and his life with his soulmate Maria.
Molly was his sister and I usually never said just Molly, it was always Molly and Casey. They were as close as a brother and sister could be. Always rooting for each other, always supporting each other where ever they went, what ever they did.

I called Lisa and asked her not to come. I wanted to be alone. (I’m funny like that) I needed to process this loss. I spent my day looking at Facebook postings from all the people who loved and adored Casey.
He was so kind, he was such a gentlemen, he was always doing something for someone else, he was kind, he was patient, he was modest….he was so loved and he is so missed.
I went through pictures and thought about all the funny stories I had about him in my head and I cried a river of tears.
It’s been 6 weeks now and I still cry every day. It’s still the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about every night. When you are a nanny, you love and care for someone else’s child.
You only have them for a season but you love them for a lifetime.
One of the things that I am most proud of in my career as a nanny is that I developed a course called Nanny Transitions where I help support and guide nannies through the pain of leaving a family.
Leaving Molly and Casey was why I developed this course. It was so painful to leave them after 8 years that I didn’t know how to deal with my grief. As I worked through it all I developed a workshop to help other is my labor of love to my industry……but nothing ever prepared me for this.
Sometimes I struggle with my grief and I feel guilty about grieving or I feel like I don’t have the right to grieve….but my nanny’s heart tells me I do.
As a nanny, I have always tried to reach out and support and encourage nannies who are going through hard times but of all the thousands of nannies that I know, only one has reached out to me to see how I am, to see how I am doing and that makes this hurt even more.
I put a post on Facebook and lots of people posted and supported me. It gave me hope that I would have support through this, but a few days after this happened I posted on facebook about my hurting heart and even nannies who knew of my loss, asked me why I was sad. It was so painful that I deleted the post. It made the pain hurt, even more, to think that the only people I thought could understand my grief……………….didn’t.

So…I’m trying so hard here, to deal with the grief of losing this man who was not my son. I didn’t know him well as a man, but as a child, as a curly red-haired boy I knew him so well and loved him so much and you don’t just stop loving them when the job is over. There is no expiration date on love.

I’m grateful for my husband’s love and support through this time. He knows me so well and he sees how much I am hurting. He spends extra time with me and understands that his very independent wife can’t be alone right now.
I’m moving slowly through this grief and I know it will be here for a long time… I know it will change and shift and the day will come when I don’t wake up crying.
I also know that grief has its own timetable.
I don’t understand why Casey had to go but I will learn the lessons of his life. Casey was an Eagle Scout and he lived by the Scout Law. I will try to do the same. It is the best way to honor him.
I carry him with me now and sometimes in the quiet moments of a gentle breeze  I feel him with me and I know that he is at peace. I hope I always do.
Ride on Casey… are forever in my heart.
Caseys family has now formed a non-profit organization in his memory.
I hope you will visit and consider supporting