How can it be October? Today is a glorious, warm fall day. A nice change from the hint of winter that touched my part of the world last week. Well, it happened one day at a time. One moment at a time, really. One death at a time. One fire at a time. One protest at a time.

When my son died, many people asked me how I was coping. The unimaginable had happened. The loss of a child. I was blessed with the care of two young adult sons and my husband and support from amazing friends and family. This helped tremendously. But really what helped me was what I learned in helping my son manage his mental health diagnosis 3 years prior.

I had been a helicopter parent. Worrying about homework and college admissions and friend groups. I was working on this. I kind of considered myself a reformed helicopter parent. But the worry and anxiety were still there.

Then, my middle son, a senior in high school, experienced his first manic episode. Life changed. This middle child, self-reliant, organized, needed us. Needless to say, the anxiety and worry escalated. We worried about the future: will he be able to go to college or get a job. These were paths of thinking that only led to more anxiety. Somehow, perhaps out of self-preservation, I learned instead to focus on being in the moment. What do we need to do today: get to a doctor’s appointment, send an email to ask for a gap year, exercise.

So, when our beautiful boy lost his battle, I continued to focus on one day at a time. This is how I coped. It was his gift to me, I think. Slow down. Notice the changing leaves. Enjoy the warm days while they are here. Listen to the chimes given as a gift in his memory. Laugh.

As we look for ways to cope during this extraordinary time, I encourage you to try this “one day at a time” approach. What do I need to do today? It doesn’t mean one isn’t forward looking. Rather, it allows one to focus on and enjoy today’s tasks and simple joys.

We, at Chowdy, wish you well.

If you are in a crisis, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

Elizabeth Parkinson