Grief recovery, loss of child, healing after death & loss 

Facebook Twitter Gplus RSS

This Damn Grieving Process!

A new day….today is a new day. In my personal growth and coaching I often work with people to see what they want to see and create what they want to create. The funny thing is many people tend to focus on what they say they don't want….so guess what…that is then what they create. What they DON'T want! This is because, whatever you focus on in your mind is what grows from your mind. Angry Michelle

I have been resisting the death of my child. I have been angry as you can see from the photo I have included. See the big wrinkle between my eyes? That is from anger.

I have screamed in the street. Melted down in my front yard. Melted down in many places for that matter. I have denied it. Been angry, blamed my husband. Blamed myself. Even blamed and been mad at Phil. Have you ever heard, what you resists persists? If not, watch me as I have been a prime example of demonstrating this for the last month.

I want to work on the healing side of this. I want to focus on the healing process. I want to move forward. Phil is dead and gone and his physical body is not coming back. God it is hard to write that. I miss him. I love him. I want him here damn it! He would stop by the house and we would go to lunch. He was my son. He was my friend. I liked him. I enjoyed him. He was funny. He was kind. He was compassionate. He always watched out for and supported others.

He left behind him a very large wake. A baby. A broken relationship. A family. Friends. Co-workers. Unpaid bills and he even took out a title loan on his vehicle the day before he left. Nice. One last opportunity for me to be mad at him some more and then I get to feel guilty for being mad at my dead son AND then I get to beat myself up for feeling guilty for being mad at my dead son. Lord this process stinks. Yet the more I resist it…the more it persists. *SIGH*

Sad MichelleSo the healing begins. I feel so sad, as you can see from the enclosed photo, and yet life starts to go back to normal for most people. They have felt my pain for nearly a month and it has been agonizing for them to feel it even for a few minutes a day. They don't have a knowing…they know about. They allow them self to go there for a few seconds and then they stop and feel the deep, deep sadness they would feel if they lost their child and their mind will not allow it. It is my reality and my mind still will not allow it.

They still drop by my Facebook page to see how I am doing because, after all, they are my friends. They send me virtual hugs, maybe something funny, a poem about sons and then they go on about their day. How do I know this? Because I too have done this. I have known people who have lost their children and there really isn't much that can be done. And it does get depressing after awhile to even read about the families suffering. There is one woman who I even unfriended last year because I simply couldn't read about her dead son anymore. She was grasphing at videos and photos of him….now I have a knowing.

I understand. I really do. I wouldn't stay here either if I could get out of it.

I had a real estate agent call on a piece of land I have listed the other day. We talked for nearly five minutes and I told him I would get some additional information to him…all I needed was his name and phone number. He said his name and on came the meltdown. Guess what his name was? Phil. Oh MyHappy Michelle God…are you flipping kidding me?

What is a mom to do? I am reading spiritual books. I have talked to a medium. I have talked to pastors and I have a wonderful Pastor's wife who has been calling and I can't bring myself to even pick up the phone. I myself have meditated and gone into my mind and brought Phil in to talk to him. In my mind….it's just not the same.

I have to start focusing on what I want. I want to heal. I want to be happy. I want to look like the photo posted on the right. Happy. I want to talk about my other children and what they are doing in their life. I want to go on walks with my husband and coach others and sell homes. I want to be a service to others. To be productive.

So I will ask.…what can I do for you today? This is how you can help me. Allow me to check out once in awhile and have down days and allow me to be productive too.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. At the end when it is my time and there is a spiritual life on the other side…I have no doubts Phil will be there to greet me. I can wait until it is my time….and then I will tell him once again how much I love him and what a great dad he was to Ava. I will tell him how much I missed him and how glad I am to see him again. I will tell him how strong I had to be because of him…how he made me a better and stronger person when he left. I will tell him to be proud of me for all I had to muster up to go on without him and his charming chuckle. Until that day…I must live. I must go on. I must thrive.


 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
3 Comments  comments 

Phil at Summer Camp

It is 10:30 PM and I just got home from a movie and dinner with Paul and the girls. I wanted to straighten the guest room so I was in there messing around with stuff and I hung some clothes up in the closet. Phil had a thing that hangs in the closet…..I call it a cubby hanger.

I am not sure what this thing is called for sure but it hangs in the closet and has cubbies for you to place shoes or gadgets or…whatever you would want to store. I remember when we got the stuff from his house, we brought it in and Paul must have just picked it up and hung it in the guest room closet.

I peeked into the cubby and saw some things in it so I reached in and found a photo that Phil had of himself at summer camp. He must have been around 11 or so in this photo.Phillip at Lake Powell

His grandfather Shelton took him to Lake Powell for summer camp that year. He was the cutest kid ever. I remember how excited he was to go and how excited he was when he came back.

He had a great smile and I know he enjoyed going to this camp. The photo is glued onto a small board of sorts. I wondered if they did that at camp and he just never gave it to me. I'm not sure and I don't think I have ever seen this photo before. It tells me this was a good memory for him.

As soon as I saw the photo, once again I had a meltdown. These meltdowns seem to be a common thing…I see or hear something that reminds me of Phil and then I begin to sob….yes, it is the sort of loud, obnoxious sobbing you would expect when a mother loses her child. My legs go limp and I crumple to the floor. It is odd as all these sounds are coming from my body and yet very little tears are left.

It ends with a headache and typically a stomach ache too. I simply feel drained and sick afterward. I am sure someone will simply say, "It's okay dear, it is all part of the process, you are doing great." I hate the process!

When I look at Phil in this photo I remember what a good boy he was. He was always polite and helpful to me. I studied the photo. I remember he always was running and jumping and playing and always had scuffed knees.

I used to love to rub my hands over the top of his head as he had the short hair and it felt pretty cool. It looks like he almost had a flattop in this photo. He had great hair and in the last couple of years he shaved it pretty short. I often gave him a hard time about it and he would just smile and wink at me. I think he didn't want to buy shampoo and conditioner. He said he did it as he was going bald because of my side of the family.

Man I love that kid. Always have. Always will. If I happen to die an old lady in my bed, I am sure one of my last thoughts will be I hope I get to see my boy again. I hope he is happy and he remembers me and he is the one to greet me on the other side. I miss him.


 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
2 Comments  comments 

Phil’s phone

When Phil died, I sat on my patio and called his phone and played his voicemail over and over with a couple of glasses of wine. It was raining. He loved the rain. I recorded it and still listen to it over and over. Not like that first night though.

I used to tell him to leave me a message when he called. I didn't know why I felt so compelled to have him leave me a message. He wouldn't do it. I don't know why. He said I will just call you back if you don't answer your phone. 

I have found that I was going through my life waiting for all the big events to happen. Graduations. Weddings. College. New jobs. Babies being born.

Broken HeartIn reality, it is the little moments that create my life. Like the John Lennon song says, life is what happens when we are busy making other plans. Now hearing his voice on his voicemail is all I have. I have a few little video blurbs. Some photos and my memories. I have his shoes and a few trinkets. He was 22 and didn't have much stuff.

I am afraid if I stop talking about him and hearing his voice I will forget. Part of me wants to forget so I won't hurt anymore. Yet, if I forget it will be like he was never here.

It is such an odd process. I have buried my dad. I have buried my mom. I have buried my best friend. I have buried other friends throughout the years. I am not supposed to have to plan my child's funeral. What about the graduations and babies and new jobs? What about college?

I will do what I do and trust the process. I don't like it. I don't want to even be part of the process…yet, I think there is a higher purpose. I suppose it is to help someone else. I like to do that. I seem to have so many life experiences. I will sit down and tell you about it someday. I can relate to almost anyone I meet. Seriously. I suppose this will be another thing I can relate to that others can't.

I sure wish I could have had Phil's phone but it was burnt up in the fire. The phone company won't give me his text messages. Was he in the middle of a text? Is that why he wrecked? I guess I will never know. It doesn't really matter. As long as I taped his voice….that is what matters.

I love you Phil Henry…I love you and I hope you are somewhere wonderful….learning and growing and moving on. I love your voice. I miss you very much.


 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

I always Wanted to Write a Parenting Book

In 1998 I decided I wanted to be a writer. I told my husband this revelation. He said, "Um, no offense but didn't you flunk out of high school English?" To which I replied "….so I don't know the prepositions…I know them now. I don't need to be able to dissect a sentence to write. I can talk. I can write." And so I did. I began writing.

I wrote employment articles. One got picked up in a magazine. It was high color, very classy. Never mind that it was for an air conditioning company. I didn't care. I liked the way it looked. I started submitting my articles to local newspapers. I got nada. Then I decided they must not like the topic so I figured, I was a stay at home mom…I would writing about parenting. Everyone always commented on how well behaved my kids were. I wrote one article and submitted it to the local paper, The San Tan Monthly. When the paper came out, I opened it up and there was my article! I was so excited. I had the encouragement I needed. I always wanted to write a parenting book

I submitted a family photo with the next artilce. They published it. I told the editor I wanted to call my "column" (yes I just created a column for myself), I wanted to call it, Life with all these Kids

After a year or so, my articles started to be picked up by the Arizona Republic and they actually paid me $100 per article. That was the same time I went to work in real estate and I let my little writing gig go. I turned to writing websites and making money in real estate.

I always wanted to write a parenting book. Why didn't I? Well, the biggest reason was my parenting of Phil. Phil was hard for me. I didn't know how to parent him. He chose his own path. We always had this strong bond and told each other how much we loved each other but there was always this sadness between us. It was like there was this big gap between where he was as a little guy to where he had gone as a teenager. He felt it too. Like we didn't know how to get back to that place.

I will write more in detail about what I mean about this…just not today. It is too new. I cannot go there yet. I will in time. If he was here with me today, I would tell him how perfect he is just the way he is…he isn't wrong or bad. He had chosen to explore a different part of the world than I did for sure. I was attached to how his life had to look. I wanted him to go to school. I wanted him to not cuss. I wanted him to be responsible. He was learning all of this his way. I wanted it to be my way. He did and is still teaching me to let go of that. It doesn't always look the way I think it has to look.

I think I have the freedom to write that parenting book now. I now see all the parenting lessons there were for me to learn..funny how that happens sometimes. The lessons are in hindsight. I am happy Phil and I were good when he died. We were very good. The last month of his life he gave me several long and lingering hugs and said it's going to be okay mom. At the time I didn't know what he was talking about….he must have known at some level his time was limited. He had not done this before…not in the same way. It wasn't like I was crying or sad…yet, he was comforting me. Even when he moved out he said, you will be okay without me mom…it's okay. You will get along. He always had that connection with people. At a very deep level he seemed to know what was going on at a spiritual level. I don't mean to make him bigger than he was…I just always noticed how in tune to people he was. I am thankful for this valuable lesson. None of the tasky stuff matters. It is about the people. The relationships. I miss my son. I wish I could just hold him one more time.


 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

He didn’t die in the Fire….he died before

Please read this article at your own risk. There are details of the fire and the accident in which Phillip was killed. The first part is the actual news article that appeared in both print and online.

Two Die in Firery Crash near Yuma, Arizona
















The Newspaper said, two killed in a fiery crash. When the police officers came to our door…I knew it wasn't going to be good news. I could see the serious looks on their faces and I didn't want Paul to answer the door. I heard the officer ask Paul, "Are you Mr. Shelton?" He replied. "Yes." Then I heard the officer ask, "Do you have a son named Phillip Shelton?"

Oh my God. At that point I heard him say something about a bad accident on I8. I became hysterical. Is he DEAD? Did Phillip DIE? I was yelling this hysterically.

I remember running into my daughters room and saying, Oh my God, Oh my God…over and over I repeadted it while I sobbed and held my stomach. She was shouting at me…MOM WHAT? What happened? MOM? I just kept saying Phillip, Phillip, Phillip.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. I had left the room while the officers gave Paul the details of the accident. None of that mattered anymore. All that mattered was my baby was gone. My toddler, my little man, my teenager, my young man, the father of my granddaughter. I have these memories of the stages of his life. Phil as a baby. Phil as a toddler. Phil as an eight year old. Phil as a 12 year old. Phil as a teenager, a 19 year old, a 22 year old young man starting his family. Learning to work and support others.

Later that night I told Paul I simply wanted to go get Phil. I wanted to hold him. I wanted to unwrap him and look at his fingers and toes the way I did when he was first born. I didn't care if he was dead…I just wanted to hold him again.

I remember the look that came across his face. He said, "No Shelly, you can't do that." I didn't understand. Then he continued, "There was a fire Shelly, Phil is gone, he was burnt up in the car."

For several days I couldn't handle this information. My mind raced. I envisioned him pressed against the window yelling for someone to help him…scratching and clawing to get out of the pain of the fire. I wanted to reach into my body and rip out my heart so it would stop hurting.

It has been a couple of weeks now and we have talked to witnesses. We have talked to people who were the first responders to the accident. Phillip and Alyssa were both dead on impact. They did not die in the fire. Their bodies were badly burnt but they did not die in the fire. This gives my pained heart some peace.

I miss you Phillip. I am not sure how to get along without you. You have been such a part of my life for so long. Your boots still sit inside my back door. It sort of seems like you might come back if I leave them there. I know you will need them for work.



 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

What day is it?

What Day is it? I don't know what day it is. I do know it has been two weeks and two days since my son crashed into a tree. The stories continue to come out. There have been witnesses come forward and it brings me some peace to know my son did not get trapped in a burning car…he was dead instantly. I feel good about that. It sounds so weird to say that. To even think that seems weird. I just didn't want him to suffer if he had to die. Apparently he did as he is gone.

His baby girl misses him. She looks around and says dada and runs to the door to see if he is here to pick her up. I show her photos and videos…she seems a bit interested but it is like she knows that is not him.

What day is this again? Someone asked me the date and I had no clue what the date was. When they said it was the 17th of September, I couldn't believe I Had not only forgotten my friend Michelle Biggert's birthday but I had lost two weeks. I don't remember any time going by. It is sort of like the Matrix…..time is going really slow. I feel like I am moving in slow motion and nothing is real.

The emotions that come up are overwhelming. Yes. I said it. Overwhelming. As a coach, I have never liked that word. I don't now that I had ever felt overwhelmed until the day the police showed up at my door and told me my son was dead. Nothing mattered. Time stood still and I wanted it to either speed way forward or better yet….go back a week. I would do so many things differently. An opportunity to "should" on myself. Something I warn my clients about doing…beating myself up. Doesn't work. Still I find myself doing it. I find myself beating my husband up too..he could have done this or that differently.

I find myself lying on the floor in a fetal position many times throughout the day….just sobbing until my head hurts. I have never felt pain such as this. I wake up in the morning and it feels as if someone is sitting on my chest. When I go to bed, I think, wow, made it through another day…and then I wake up and think…shit…another day without Phil.

How can I never talk to him again? Well meaning people say, you can still talk to him. Well of course I can….I just don't know how that looks yet. I miss him. I want to hold him like when he was a little boy. Just sit with him in the chair.

I have Ava Rose. Rosie is what Phil liked to call her. He tried to get everyone to call her Rosie. He tried to get everyone to call me GiGi too. I resisted that big time. I guess he won as now I am calling myself GiGi…much to my dismay. None of that shit matters now. Only my love matters. The love of a mother for a son. I hurt really bad. I will go on and move on. I will never forget him.

What day is this?

 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
1 Comment  comments 

Parenting Phil

When Phillip was a small boy, he was so easy. He was an easy baby. He would do whatever I asked of him. He was helpful and he was protective of the other kids. I remember when he was five years old he made up a langauge all of his own. He named each of the kids with funny names and he could do this crazy clunking noise with his tongue like no one I know.

My heart is broken. I want to write about him and I simply cannot bring myself to do so. Everytime I start to remember his life I have a melt down. I loved this kid so much. I remember telling my husband, nothing better happen to this kid or they will have to bury me with him!

The unreal has become real. This doesn't happen to my kids. Our family is normal…we don't have people die from accidents! It just doesn't happen! This is what I used to think. I had the usual worries like most moms I suppose. I would always give the warnings of "wear your seatbelt" and "drive the speed limit".

When the police came to the door to tell us, I was slow to answer. I knew it would be a turning point. I already knew before we answered the door. Oh God, how can this be real? This can't be real, can it? Is it possible? My Phillip was burned up in a wreck and now his remains fit in a small box about the size of a flour bag? How does this work? His beautiful face, laugh and perfect head….his wonderful sense of humor…all gone from a simple error while driving.

This sucks. I hate it. I resist it and it persists. Nothing will ever be the same. I will never be the same.



 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

The last time I saw Phil

I remember the last time I saw and held Phil. It has been two weeks today since I last saw Phillip. He had just rented a new apartment and Paul, Josephine and I went over to see it. He had Ava Rose with him and Paul and I sang and danced with her. I have a video to post on it…unfortunately Phillip wasn't in the video….only Paul, Ava and I. I can hear his voice though.

When we left I gave him a hug and told him I loved him…we went out the door and I told Paul I needed to go back and give Phil a hug and tell him how much I love him. Paul looked at me like I had two heads and said, you already did that Shelly. I said I need to do it again. He said it's fine, Phil is fine. So I didn't go back. If I could share anything with you it is to follow that voice in your head that tells you things like this. Remember, there is often more than one voice in your head. I am talking about the one that is a nagging little voice that tells you what to do when it doesn't really make sense. I wish I had gone back, it still wouldn't be enough. It still wouldn't make me feel any better….it is the other voices way of beating me up. I will not listen to that voice…..the one who wants me to feel bad. This is my ego…the ego wants me to feel pain.

Phillip knew how much I loved him. A couple of days before he died he said, I love Ava so much. I said now you know how much dad and I love you. He said, yes, I do.

Miss him. I always will.

 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments 

The Cremation on 911

The Cremation on 911

It seemed appropriate that September 11 was the day my son was cremated. I don't know why…it just did. He was born on the 4th of July, died on Labor Day Weekend and it just seemed like his life was always revolving around some sort of important date.

I never knew anything about cremation. In Nebraska we always had a family plot. When I go home, I always visit the cemetary and I knew nearly everyone in it. It is sort of a bitter sweet visit. It is nostalgic and usually I am shocked at some of the names I see as I had no idea they had passed.

With Phillip he told me he wanted to be cremated a couple of weeks before his death. I actually brought the subject up for whatever reason. I said, I don't want to be put in a box…he said, me either! Just cremate me mom. I told him he had to outlive me and he would be the one taking care of me.

I always knew. I knew for many years Phil would not be with us long. It is that nagging feeling I had. I never wanted to believe it and I always just wrote it off to a mothers intense love and worry for her first born.

We all met at the crematoriam, they walked us through the mortuary and out the back into another building. We signed a waiver for something, not sure what. Then we went into the room and there was a box taped together. The box my son was being stored in. A large cardboard, coffin if you will. There was a big machine with the door closed and they explained they would fire it up and then open it and he would go in. My husband said we could all say out goodbyes and then go out before they put my baby into the fire. He had already been burnt…I don't know if I could handle any more fire on him.

We left and went to breakfast and then went to another place and bought his urn. It was with a sense of sadness I got through the day. When I got home we popped a movie in and I was fast asleep in nearly five minutes. I slept most of the afternoon.

It was a long day. Tomorrow will be near the end. We will pick up Phillip's billfold (what is left of it) and we will pick up his ashes. The urn is on order and we will have it in a week.

My grief is immeanse today. I had some distractions and I was greatful. Everywhere I look I see Phil. I hear his voice. I smell his smell. God, I miss him.


 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
2 Comments  comments 

Day 7 without Phil

Today was rough. I had several melt downs. I was angry and sad and sad and then angry. I lashed out at my husband. I did things that were not rational. I rebelled against my husband. I popped a beer at 8:30 in the morning…then when my husband questioned me, I said, "Who makes these rules that you can't drink a beer in the morning?"

I was angry at Phil today and then I woud feel guilt for being angry. WTF? This is like some sort of torture.

All the personal growth I have down and I know that to think is to create. If I stop thinking about the accident. If I stop thinking about Phil being in a fire…if I stop thinking about him never coming home….I won't generate these emotions. I don't want to stop thinking about him. I want to remember him, hold on to him. What if I forget? I cannot remember his voice sometimes….it has only been seven days…what happens when it is seven years?

I miss him. I love you Phil.

So many friends stopped by yesterday. Both of my brothers were here and their wives. My dear friend, Gary Elkins from California stopped by. I am so thankful for my large circle of friends who are here to support me.


 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
No Comments  comments