Medical Marijuana and the LDS Church

Medical marjiuana.jpg

On Friday, February 5, 2016 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints opposed a bill in the Utah legislature brought forth by Senator Mark Madsen that would make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. citing unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.

And I am angry.

I grew up being taught that the LDS church was politically neutral. Every election season a letter is read over the pulpit in every Ward in the United States written by the First Presidency emphatically stating that the church keeps out of politics.

However, this past legislative session in Utah has proven that the church’s long-claimed stance of political neutrality is false. Most people outside the state don’t understand how one religion, no matter how prominent, can have such an effect on state policies. But it does. Most of the state legislators identify as LDS and as any LDS person will tell you, when the prophet speaks, you listen, and you do as you are told. Obedience above conscious.

The reason for opposing medical marijuana?

Unintended consequences.

You mean like people suffering from chronic, debilitating, and painful diseases getting relief?

You mean like people who do suffer those painful diseases not becoming addicted to the opioids their doctors prescribe because that’s all doctors can do legally?

You mean like people being high all the time on THC? NEWFLASH – these same people are high all the time. On opioids.

And because they are having to ever increase their opioid use with no legal proven alternative available, it is leading to some patients becoming addicted. Utah has an insanely high opioid usage rate as well as heroin rate. The Utah Department of Health has noted that Utah has an experienced a more than 400% increase in prescription drug use injuries and death in the last decade. An average of 21 Utahns die a month due to prescription drug overdoses. Utah ranks 8th highest in prescription drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Marijuana isn’t the drug you should be worried about, LDS church.

Heavy opioid use for chronic pain also leads to liver damage, digestive difficulties like not being able to keep food down and chronic, and bowel damaging, constipation.

I’m sure the LDS church leaders believe this is a moral issue, so I have to ask…

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

No one has ever overdosed on Marijuana.

I could see if this were legalizing recreational marijuana use why the LDS church would be opposed to that and taking a strong stance against it.

But this is about medicinal use in oil form. Mormons love their medicinal oils. I’m sure if doTerra was pushing this, all the prominent MLM owning Mormons would jump at having it legalized.

Luckily Senator Madsen is not kowtowing to the incredible and inappropriate overreach of the LDS church into state politics. He has proposed 8 amendments to the law that he hopes will alleviate concerns to the Bill.

Anecdotally, when my mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in August 2007. She opted for chemotherapy treatments to extend her life and it was awful. She threw up constantly. She couldn’t keep any food down, thereby becoming dehydrated. She was in constant pain. Her doctor prescribed for her Marinol to help increase her appetite and deal with the nausea chemotherapy caused. Marinol is one of the cannabinoids.

I wish I could sit down with the leaders of the LDS church and describe to them what it was like to watch my mom suffer an absolute nightmarish hell during her last 3 months on this earth. I wish I could tell them what it was like to sit with her in her hospital room watching her writhe in pain, wake up and look at me with panic-stricken eyes that reminded me of a wounded animal, and beg me, BEG ME, her second daughter, someone she called “girl baby” and nursed at her breast until I was 15 months old, BEG ME to go find someone to kill her. Please tell me how you would feel to have your mother, a light and sunshine to everyone she knew, be suffering so much she begged you to find someone to take her life.

You know that scene in Terms of Endearment when Debra Winger is in the hospital dying of cancer and her mother, Shirley MacClaine, goes and screams at the nurses and demands they relieve the suffering of her dying daughter? Yeah, that was me.

Please tell where the dignity is in letting dying people suffer when oil from a plant…A PLANT that God planted in the ground.. can alleviate suffering? Why are those who aren’t suffering constantly asking others to do it when they have no idea the pain that is involved?

On another anecdotal note, I’m old enough now to have several friends who suffer from various chronic, painful diseases:  Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Anxiety, Erytohmelalgia (or Mitchell’s syndrome), and numerous other autoimmune disorders. THC has been proven to alleviate the pain and other symptoms that these debilitating and painful diseases cause. Prescribing people who are suffering ever-increasing amounts of opioids is unconscionable, and I would argue, ammoral.

So I’m begging the leaders of the LDS church to do the right thing. I was always taught growing up in church to do the right thing and let the consequences follow. I was taught to be honest in my dealings. I was taught to put the pain and suffering of others above my own comfort. Please LDS church, practice what you preach. Again I ask,

What’s so moral about letting people suffer?

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Grief and Getting Through

I’ve had a lot of loved ones recently suffer the loss of someone they love. Whether that be a parent, child, grandparent, friend, significant other, etc. My heart breaks for them because I know this pain too well. I’ve been living with the loss of my mother the past 8 years and I wanted to share what I have learned.

Several months after my mother died I attended a grief support group. Everyone in the group had lost someone significant to their lives and it was healing to be with people who knew exactly how I was feeling and it was healing to be able to support each other in our collective grief. One particular night the Social Worker who was leading the group told us that we had to find our “new normal.”

I felt an instant wave of anger at that statement. I didn’t want a “new normal.” I wanted my old normal back. I wanted a normal that included a living mother to help me navigate life and motherhood. I wanted a normal where my kids had a relationship with both their grandmas. I wanted a normal where it didn’t feel like my heart was hemorrhaging at every moment of the day.

Eventually I realized how kind that Social Worker was when she talked about a new normal. Because I didn’t have a choice. Life was going to give me a new normal whether I wanted it or not.

I learned that my new normal was going to be like if someone cut off my right hand and I had to learn how to write and function with my left hand. It’s not easy. It doesn’t feel natural. It’s against my gene’s predetermined hand dominance. But eventually I learned how to write with it. And it was sloppy and messy at first, but over time, it got easier.

And although it’s easier now, it’s not perfect. Every happiness that has come to me since my mother died has been bittersweet. She’s never going to be here for all the births, weddings, birthdays, happy occasions, accomplishments. She’s never going to be able to be a grandma to her grandkids, four of whom she will never meet. She’s never going to call me again and recap American Idol for me while I pretend to be annoyed. I’m never going to cry to her again when someone is mean to me. She’s never going to cheer me on, root for me, or tell me how much she loves me again.

And that’s okay. It’s not fair. It’s not what I want. It’s never going to be alright. But it’s okay.

Despite the bittersweet, there has been joy. And when I do have those happy moments or we as a family have welcomed a new member or enjoyed a family gathering together, we feel her with us in Spirit. If I can’t have her here on earth, I’ll settle for guardian angel.

So my new normal has become honoring her life. I do this by living the best life I can. By being happy with what I have. By helping others as much I can. By raising grandchildren to be people she would be proud of. By making others laugh. By being kind to strangers and children. By leaving the world a better place for having lived in it.

Like she did.

For Whom Mother’s Day is Difficult

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and we will collectively celebrate the women who either gave us life or raised us. We will make phone calls, or take them out to lunch, send them flowers, buy them meaningful cards, and express gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us.

Except some of us won’t be doing any of those things on Sunday for a variety of reasons. There is a small club of us for whom Mother’s Day is difficult. This post is for us.

Mother’s Day is difficult for those of us who have lost our mothers, either through death, estrangement, or other reasons. It’s difficult for those who deal with infertility and Mother’s Day is just a reminder of what we don’t have. It’s difficult for those who have lost children and it’s a day that reminds us of what we used to have.

I remember the first Mother’s Day after my mom died. I was 8 months pregnant and completely dreading that Sunday. We all met up at the cemetery to see my mom’s headstone for the first time. She died six months previously and the ground was too hard to install it earlier. I think we went out to lunch afterwards. I can’t remember. Grief has a way of erasing memories. Self-preservation at it’s finest. The next month I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and my mom wasn’t there to hold my hand this time.

Mother's Day

The advertising industry doesn’t realize how hard this holiday is for some of us. They don’t realize how triggering it is to see the umpteenth commercial about the perfect card/flowers/fruit bouquet you should send your mother. They don’t realize how triggering it is for women who are experiencing infertility, or are childless due to life circumstances, to see commercial after commercial reminding them that they’re not a mother when they desperately want to be. And unfortunately some bloggers are devoid of empathy and compassion and like to shame those of us who have deep-seated hurt around this day.

That is why we need to be patient with our tender little hearts. We need to do some self-care and allow ourselves to feel what we feel, without guilt or shame. (For self-care I like to take baths and read, exercise, watch silly movies with my kids, and make snarky jokes). If Mother’s Day is difficult for you for any reason your feelings are valid. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel bad for feeling bad. Give yourself the same empathy and compassion you would give your best friend. Celebrate, or don’t, however you choose this day. For this one day, it is all about you and your tender heart. Protect it.

I acknowledge that I am incredibly lucky. I have four children whom I love and who love me. They keep talking about the things they are making at school for me or the present they all want to buy me to celebrate me on Sunday. They are so sweet. What I want to do on Mother’s Day is gather them around me and embrace each one of them and tell them just how lucky I am to be their mother. They are such good kids with such big hearts. I also have a wonderful mother-in-law, who has always treated me like one of her own kids and is just about the best grandma in the whole world. I have no problem honoring her on Sunday and thanking her for all the sacrifices she has made for her family. All the things she has given to us to help us make our lives better.  All the times she has cheered us on and picked us up when we’ve fallen. Even when we’re ungrateful or don’t acknowledge just how special she is. Sometimes angels masquerade as people, and she is one of them.

mother day

However, Mother’s Day will always be bittersweet to me. No matter how thankful I am to be a mother and to have had a wonderful mother and mother-in-law, there is a part of my heart that will always be missing. It’s in the shape of my Mama Sue. On this day I will wear the necklace I gave her on the very last Mother’s Day we celebrated with her when none of us knew she was sick. I will lay flowers on her headstone and I will thank my God above that one of the bravest, funniest, most loving people I’ve ever known gave birth to me. But I will also mourn because I wish she were here for me to tell her why I’m so grateful I was lucky enough to be her daughter. Alas…alas…

Happy Mother’s Day, to all of us, the motherless, the neglected, the infertile, the childless, the discarded, the abandoned, the weary, the sad. This day is for you too.

This post was featured on The Huffington Post

To the jerks saying Robin Williams was selfish

I was once a jerk like you. I thought that anyone who would take their own life and leave behind grieving family members was the most selfish person in the world. I thought suicide was the most selfish thing a person could do.

I was wrong.

I know through devastating personal experience what it’s like to have your depressed brain lie to you and tell you that you are worth nothing. That no one loves you. And that everyone would be better off without you. In that moment you don’t feel selfish. You believe that best thing in the world would be to remove a burden, yourself, from the people you love.  In that moment you contemplate ending your life it feels very selfless.

Depression lies to you. Depression is a brain disease that distorts a person’s world view. Depression is debilitating and it’s the ultimate act of betrayal to have your own brain make you believe that the world is better off without you. I know, because I’ve been in the “pit of despair” where I have contemplated taking my own life because I believed it’s what I deserved. I believe my family members would be happier with me gone. The pain. The unimaginable pain you feel that makes death seem like an option better than taking another breath. It’s a hell I can’t adequately describe. It’s why I work so hard to stay out of that dark place and surround myself firmly in light.

I have nothing but compassion for Robin Williams. He must have been in a torturous state of mind to believe that this world was better off without his light, his passion, his humor, his grace, his art. Who among us wasn’t touched by one of his performances? Who didn’t he make laugh? Please, if you have a soul, have compassion for this man and what he must have been going through to feel so desperate that taking his own life was the only answer he could think of to get out of his horrific pain.

To those of you who can’t understand, please look past your own feelings and accusations of selfishness and try to imagine the hell someone with depression might be living with that death is the better option than life. Look past your own life’s paradigm to see the people around you who are hurting and have some semblance of compassion for where they might be at. Reach out in love and remind those whose brains are lying to them that they do matter, they are loved, and that life is the better option.

And if you’re depressed and contemplating suicide, please reach out to someone. We need you here.

Suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255

 

robin

Bangarang, Peter. Until we meet again.

 

Happy 67th Birthday, Mom

As always we are  missing you this day

A photo collection of a few pictures of my Mother on her 67th Birthday

Mom as a baby
Mom at 13
Mom in her 20s in Washington, D.C.
My most favorite picture of my Mother
My parents shortly after they were married
My parents on their wedding day in Rockville, MD in 1971
My mom and my sister in 1972
My mom and a baby me and my big sister in 1978
My Mom and my brother in the early 90s
My Mom and Dad and their dog, Minni
Me and my parents at my college graduation in 2007
The last picture I ever took of my mother, on my daughter’s birthday in 2007

This is the fifth birthday we’ve celebrated without you, Mom. The last birthday you had on earth was your 62nd. Unfortunately you were sick that day and we never got to celebrate it. I’ll never forget it because it was the night of that horrible Trolley Square tragedy. The siblings and I always get together on your birthday to talk about you and to celebrate your life.  We have lots of funny stories to share.  You always made everyone laugh.  Whenever I tell a “punny” joke, I think of you.  

I got to be honest, this time of year is hard for me.  Sometimes I get so angry because I don’t understand why you had to go.  It’s in these moments I hate cancer so much.  Losing you has had a profound affect on my life.  I can never go back to the person I was before your cancer diagnosis.  She is gone now too.  Sometimes I look at the women around me who are about my age who take their mothers for granted and I just want to shake them and ask them if they know how lucky they are.  The thing that hurts the worst, though, is that I feel the years slipping away from the last time I was with you.  The other day I was reading some emails from when you were sick and they just felt like it was such a long time ago.  And if that was a long time ago, that means it was a long time ago that I had a mom.  That I had you.

Whenever I read a good book I know you would enjoy, I wish I could give it to you so I could call you up later and we could talk about it, like we used to.  I miss your guidance and direction in my life.  I miss your unconditional love and support of me.  You used to tell me that I was as smart as I was beautiful, and I would believe you when you said it.  I wish I could call you up and tell you your only granddaughter started piano lessons this week, carrying on our family tradition.  She practices on the same piano Poppy played, that grandma left to me when she died.  I wish I could tell you the funny and/or cute thing your littlest grandson namesake did.  I wish I could tell you how my oldest son is addicted to video games like his father, and you would laugh and shake your head.  I wish I could tell you how smart, funny, and sweet all your grandkids are.  How great it is that the cousins are forever friends.  You would be so proud of them.  

I wish you could wrap your arms around me when I cry when people are big meany heads or when life seems too overwhelming sometimes.  All of these I took for granted when you here, alive and well.  Back when life made sense.  I have faith, mommy, that I’ll see you again and that you’re watching over us right now as our own personal guardian angel.  But like M’lynn says in Steel Magnolias, “maybe I’m just selfish because I’d rather have her here.”  

Life goes on.  Your death taught us that.  You left a great legacy behind you.  Children who love and miss you.  Grandchildren who are proud to be yours.  You left a piece of you with all of us.  I can feel you in so many moments.  Tender moments with my children and I flashback to a time of you and I together when I was a child.  Every time I finish a book.  Whenever I wear a piece of your jewelry.  Whenever someone laughs at one of my jokes or tells me I look like you.  I feel you in those moments.  Recently Jessica’s mom said that I look like you and I was so proud in that moment.  What greater legacy can you leave me than your face in mine?  Your eyes in mine?

I hope that I make you proud as a mother and as a daughter.  I’m who I am today because of you.  I’m trying to instill the lessons and values you imprinted on my heart into your grandchildren.  They are kind and that’s what matters to me most.  You might be gone, but you’re still a part of my world.

Happy Birthday, Mom…

Love,

Your Girl Baby


(Edited to add:  my kind friends let me write up a post on their blog in tribute to my mother about taking her endowments out as her proxy a few years ago)

Gratitude

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” -John Milton

Tuesday night I went to yoga with K. We like to go to a class that has a really exceptional instructor. Like most yoga instructors she asks the class to set an individual intention for the class. This week she decided that our intention for the class was to focus on gratitude. It was a really excellent class and I got more out of class than I thought I was going to when I came that night. I haven’t been able to go to that class in months and I forgot how much I need that calm, that meditation, that peace that yoga brings.

November is a hard month for me. This November 6th marked the 4 year anniversary of my mother’s passing. When I think of November and Thanksgiving of 2007 I can remember feeling very tender, very raw, very small, and profoundly sad. This year to mark my mother’s life, I went and laid flowers at her grave and told her all the good things that have happened since her passing. I believe she has been a witness to these blessings. I’d like to believe that she might be even facilitating these blessings as a Guardian angel.
And I think it’s important for me to remember all the good things that have happened since her death. It shows me that life goes on and good things will continue to happen. Bad things too, but we live for the good and grow from the bad.
So here is a list of things that I’m grateful that has happened in my family since my beautiful mother said goodbye to us in this life. I think she would be happy that I’m counting my blessings and not dwelling on the sadness of her passing.
1 – The birth of my 3rd child.
2- The marriage of my father and his wife.
3 – My brother graduating from college with his Bachelors degree.
4 – My sister-in-law graduating with her Masters and becoming a Physician’s Assistant.
5 – The marriage of my brother to his wonderful wife.
6 – My sister and brother-in-law purchasing their first home, which they love.
7 – My sister’s new position at work, my brother-in-law finding full-time employment in this economy.
8 – Our new home.
9 – My brother finding full-time employment after graduating that he enjoys.
10 – My brother and sister-in-law buying their first home and only living 3 miles from us.
11 – The hubs new position with a new company.
12 – My daughter finally getting the educational help she needs to be successful.
13 – All of our continued health and happiness.
And although I can’t help but wish she was here with us to experience these joys, she is never far from us. I hear her voice in my head all the time as I know how she would respond or react to situations. Most especially this Thanksgiving I’m grateful that she is my mother. Death cannot stop that. Her imprint is on my heart forever.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” – Melody Beattie