What 37 years on earth has taught me!

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37th bday  The morning of my 37th birthday. October 2 2017

I’ve always struggled with sleep, as a child I remember making up games in my mind to make myself fall asleep, I would sneak into my parents room and sleep on the floor, as a teen I would read until I passed out. So no surprise on this day – October 2nd – my 37th b-day I was awake at dawn. I tossed and turned desperate to fall back asleep and finally got up to enjoy the quiet of the morning before the chaos began. I poured my coffee and sat down to watch the news.

Well you know by now what I saw. My heart broke, I was in shock, not again. My husband and I have been to LV a least a dozen times in the last decade, we always are on the strip or at a concert or show. Had we been there for my b-day, which was considered, we would have been at the country music festival (we love country music) were this heinous act of  gun violence occurred. We decided not to go because we are going to be running in the Rock and Roll Marathon in LV in November, which is celebrated at the end by a concert. I am not sure we will attend. But we should not let fear win right? Except that in the USA  this year there have been 273 mass shootings (a mass shooting is defined as 4 or more people being killed) last year there was 483! read more in the link below.

http://www.abc15.com/news/data/mass-shootings-in-the-u-s-over-270-mass-shootings-have-occurred-in-2017

So is it safe to travel to the US? We recently- last spring- went to Disney land for the first time, my kids leading up to it did not want to go and I could not understand. The answer came after much interrogation, they did not want to be killed, I said why would you think that? they said everyone has guns in America. Hmmm, yes they have a point. I explained as best I could that there are police everywhere and most places have measures to prevent people bring guns in, although yes there were metal detectors at Disney land most places unfortunately allow guns in the United States, something not legal in Canada. I understood their fear. It is undeniable that America has a gun problem and the debate was proven to be over when 20 babies were killed by an automatic riffle at Sandy Hook 5 years ago and nothing was changed or fixed about their lax or non existent gun laws. It is unfortunate that a country as big and powerful as the USA is more obsessed with their sick gun culture and ‘right to bear arms’ than the right to healthcare or to walk safely in their country without the threat of gun violence.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/if-sandy-hook-didn-t-change-america-s-gun-laws-nothing-will-1.2454880

My kids woke up, I turned off the news and wiped my tears away. They came down the stairs singing happy b-day. Bitter sweet. I hugged them and we started our morning.

Houston Trail

Something I have learned after 37 years…

Whenever I have felt overwhelmed by grief, tragedy and heart ache I need to go outside. Walk amongst the trees in the forest and breathe.

I’ve learned that life gets so much more complex as we age, as people die around us the undeniable reality of our obvious and eventual demise can feel overwhelming

Death also gets ignored by many. Some rush through life trying to be successful, creating a fortune, for what? To be buried in a gold casket? I truly admire the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates that spend their fortune helping others, eradicating polio in Africa- a pretty noble thing to spend your time and money on in your retirement years. Or Oprah Winfrey opening a school for girls in Africa, or Facebook founder Mark Zukerburg donating 100 million to education in the US.

I’ve learned that flashy things are just that things. Things that end up in the landfill.

I’ve learned that I’d rather have enough than a feast.

I’ve learned that real people, honest people, even though honesty can be a hurtful or a hard thing to swallow at times, is much better than the fake people.

I’ve learned that no matter how many push ups or chest presses you do, your armpits and under arms will still get flabby ( and so will your knees- no amount of running will stop that ).

I’ve learned that after 35 you finally stop being so harsh on your body.

I’ve learned to appreciate when it’s quiet.

I’ve learned not to take things for granted. Even when your tired and frustrated, a tug at your sleeve for a hug, or an I love you with a smile can be amazing.

I’ve learned education can change perspective and direction.

I’ve learned that you’re never to old to make mistakes and to keep learning.

I’ve learned that kids are pretty darn smart and much more resilient and accepting than adults.

I’ve learned it is ok to let people judge you, as I have learned it really does not matter what they think. Most do not know you well enough anyway.

I’ve learned no matter how hard you give to others they wont assume they need to give back until you ask.

I’ve learned it is ok to say no.

I’ve learned it is ok to yell and get angry, and it is also ok to say sorry and accept responsibility.

I’ve learned that exercise can do more than just keep your body healthy, but your mind too.

I’ve learned too that there are more ignorant people in the world than I’d hoped as a younger person.

I’ve learned we only get one life and don’t know what comes next, so try your best to cherish it and that does not mean be happy all the time.

I’ve learned that music and dance can heal and rejuvenate the soul, but also trick the mind into feeling young again.

So, I went with my BFF to see the amazing singer, dancer, performer, the person I saw at age 10 at the first concert I had ever attended. We went to see Janet Jackson and danced and sang the night away, and I hadn’t  felt that good,  in a long time.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

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When a book stays with you…

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I have always been an avid reader, with a few neighborhood friends but not many school friends once I learned to read and discovered this magical place called the public library that let you borrow books for free I was hooked. I will never forget my excitement every summer as we packed up to go to the cabin we would go to the library, there was always so many I wanted to take out but I was always only aloud two, I think my mom was afraid of them getting lost…  I spent many days of my childhood tucked away in my room reading, then as I became a teen reading into the early mornings. as a young adult I continued my affair with books though not as much as I would have liked, having to work, sleep, deal with life as an adult but also have some sort of a life. Then this magical thing called pregnancy happened and I was allowed to read, all the time again, I added the necessary parenting and child birth books to my repertoire along with my novels. who would have known that that would be the last time I loved to read…

Not right away though, after the birth of my first son, I read to him aloud while he nursed, it is very good for infants to hear their mothers voice as well as a large spread of vocabulary, or so I learnt in one of my previously read baby books. But then they start moving and you don’t get to sit still again…

Soon after the birth of  my second son two years later I realized I hadn’t read a book in a very long time, I was too tired. I was haggard and angry with two little ones that needed all my time. My husband worked long days but also traveled a lot, he saw this change in me I suppose it was the beginning of me losing myself into my children. We went to Mexico after our second turned two, I had not read a full book in almost three years. I was feeling very unhappy. A neighbor at the time who is now a very close friend lent me EAT PRAY LOVE by Liz Gilbert, ‘you have to read this!’ she said. So I reluctantly brought it along knowing I would never get a moment to myself to do so.  I will never forgot the one afternoon, my husband said as the kids napped in the room, I have to answer emails, why don’t you go for a swim or something… I was pleasantly surprised, I grabbed my book and ran out the door, not returning for a few hours, finishing from cover to cover this book that I just had to read. I was changed by the words I read, I connected to Liz’s struggle with her life. I too wanted to be a better me. That book stayed with me for a long time, I re read it over and over for the next few years not wanting to stop the feeling of hope it gave me.

eat pray love          secret         no death no fear

Fast forward  a few years, we fell back in love, our kids became easy little humans no more menacing , time consuming, toddlers. life was good. Life was great! We even finally took a solo trip together to Hawaii – were we conceived…

When we got pregnant again all I could think of was why? not now. everything in our life was so good, why did we go and do something so stupid. I cried and I cried, knowing the hard road another baby would bring. Well not to worry, it was even harder than we could have ever anticipated. The pregnancy was “normal”  but my new baby was not, she was born upside down and backwards, not breathing. She spent her first four weeks of life having surgery and brain scans. She came home for two short weeks and almost died on our living room floor when she stopped breathing, I gave her CPR and she was rushed back to the hospital, where we learned she had an abnormal trachea and would never breathe on her own. She died a week later. Life teaches us so many different things through hardship, if we are willing to see them. But at that moment my life went dark.

After she died I only read books on grief, fiction and non fiction. I needed answers to my thoughts, I wanted understanding to my feelings of hopelessness; my grief, a feeling that was so overwhelming. Article after article, book after book. All on death, grief, bereavement, loss, suicide and coping. The one that I read over and over trying to accept my loss was No death no Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh.

My son said a few years later in a very painful way, you used to laugh when I tickled you.

I also used to read for pleasure too…

Today, five and a half years after my daughters death, I have half read a hundred books, nothing could catch me, nothing mattered, they were all dumb stories.

I did finish a few, for I went back to College wanting a change, a distraction, needing to learn. I read Frankenstein, The Watchmen, Tale of two cities, The Road, The Island of Doctor Moreau to recall a few. All great books by equally great authors. But not until just recently have I noticed I can read with enjoyment again, I think my taste is much more ‘real’ than it was but who knows that would not have happened over time with age.

So I share The Secret  Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton, the first large novel I have read in less than two weeks that I did not want to put down, that I have thought about its contents long after I closed its pages. That I think will stay will me for a long time just like Eat Pray Love did/has.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is about a young family that suffers a tragedy and how they come out on the other side by moving for the summer to a small town where their family is originally from and learning about life, death and the earth. This book touched me in a way that has not happened in a long time. It had yes, my need to examine grief checked off, but it had side stories about different forms of grief, a grief for what was, for what man and greed is doing to the earth, how small southern towns still have a long list of bigotries and prejudices, how society in general still needs to find acceptance. With adventure and truth the family slowly heals, though will be forever changed.

If you are looking for a new read I highly recommend this book.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inclusion

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Todays world, we have come so far it seems, but perhaps maybe we have not… if you look at history not that long ago in terms of years (less than 100) where many people were not included. 1920 was when women were granted the right to vote in the USA, and not until 1940 in Quebec(Canada) with other provinces allowing between 1916-1922. not until 1947 were Native Americans given the right to vote, in 1952 people of Asian decent are finally allowed to vote and 1964 is when African Americans are finally allowed to vote. But not without repercussions.

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2016/us-elections-2016-who-can vote/indhttps://interactiveex.html

In 1961 the state of Illinois was the first to decriminalize Homosexuality, yes you read that right, it was a crime to be what you were born. Just like people of a color other than white were discriminated against simply because of that skin color, but people born LGBTQ were criminals? Until 1973 Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.  In 1982 – only 35 years ago the state of Wisconsin becomes the first to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1998 Mathew Sheperd was found tied to a fence and beaten, he later died because of the injuries. in 2000 Vermont becomes the first state to  legalize civil unions between same sex couples. In 2016 a federal court announced you cannot ‘ban’ same sex marriages.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/us/lgbt-rights-milestones-fast-facts/

In 1989 a convention at the United nations discussed and approved the rights of a child and came into effect in 1990.

These rights include protection (e.g., from abuse, exploitation and harmful substances),  provision (e.g., for education, health care and an adequate standard of living,  participation (e.g., listening to children’s views and respecting their evolving capacities) and specific protections and provisions for vulnerable populations such as Aboriginal children and children with disabilities. So up until 27 years ago you could beat a child, not feed a child, not educate a child etc. Does not seem like that long ago to me, that the most vulnerable were not even protected from ill treatment.

 

Children in India only achieved these rights in 1992, the right to Survival – to life, health, nutrition, name, nationality and the right to development – to education, care, leisure, recreation, cultural activities.

http://www.unicef.ca/en/policy-advocacy-for-children/about-the-convention-on-the-rights-of-the-child

The convention was ratified in the year 2000 to include the ban of selling a child and child sex trafficking.

https://www.unicef-irc.org/portfolios/crc.html

What is my point in pointing all these facts on discrimination?

In todays society (2017) people that consider themselves a part of the LGBTQ community are still being mistreated, children in third world countries are still being mistreated, people of color are still being mistreated, so do these ‘rules’ change anything? YES, they prove that those who discriminate are wrong. It gives a voice to those that are ill treated.

We are all humans, we all make mistakes, but one of the most important lessons in life is to learn and grow from those mistakes. To me inclusion should not be a topic we discuss or argue about anymore. To me it is innate that we are different and it is our differences that make us all unique and an asset to each other and the world, as the famous Barbara Streisand once said- What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

barbara streisand

 

 

I am writing this short post on inclusion because of not only what is going on in the US and around the world but because in my own back yard our community has opposing groups toward the teaching of sexual education, specifically allowing the mention of the LGBTQ community in those conversations. I find this a shame, why are we still making these regular people feel like they are not included in the world, like they do not exist?

Why are there still people that think you can catch gay? That telling kids the truth of  some people around them, that that will make them or turn them into something they are not? In turn letting those that do feel that way accepted and not different. But lastly if accepting LGBTQ community and talking about it in school, normalizing it saved one child or teen from committing suicide would that not be the reason alone to be inclusive.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

Moving on from grief; my journey to accepting acceptance

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Moving on from grief; my journey to accepting acceptance

As I walked into my house late, arriving home just before midnight after a long ten hour travel day, carrying my youngest to her bed, whose birthday happens to be the following day, a quiet stress in the back of my mind as I have nothing planned. She wakes in and out of sleep as I place her down asking to watch the Trolls movie before bed , as I shush her that its very late and to go back to sleep. I walk past Lily’s photo that sits outside what was Lily’s room but is now Hopes. I pause for a moment, as a tiny quiver of shock goes through me, why did I enjoy this trip so much? For so long, five years to be exact I cannot remember really enjoying anything, not fully, not appreciating what or where it was we were, we have gone to Hawaii twice and Mexico once since she died, I “enjoyed” those family trips, but if I am honest, I was never happy during them, not as I felt during this trip. Was it not having thought about her as much? No, that’s ridiculous, of course I thought of her, but perhaps the veil has lifted, maybe the dark clouds that I felt attached to my heart lessened their grip. She is always in my heart but during this trip it was not like it is when I am at home surrounded by her memory, her presence, our loss.

Having just returned from an incredibly satisfying family trip, one that was to be underestimated but had over returned; that was fully dreaded, line ups, fast food, adults in costume, ugh, Disneyland. But we planned to see lots of other parts of California as well. Who knew the republic that is the state of California is so beautiful; San Clemente pier, Huntington Beach, Pasadena Ranch, even LA and Anaheim were cool to drive through, which started my pondering……

Guilt approaches my thoughts, but I quickly realize, no, that is not right; I deserve a reprieve from my self-imposed guilt. I am proud for the hard treacherous journey my grief has taken me through, what I have learned, how I have changed and grown. I am happy I was able to enjoy such a memorable family trip with my still living children, to be present for the first time in….well, how long makes me sad for them, my beautiful children that are alive, the ones that have received less of their mother because she has been stuck in a whirlwind of her grief. The one that has yelled too quickly because of their interrupting, poorly timed ways, their normalness, brought noise into my grief, where I wanted so much to simply be alone in silence. I have loved them, fed them, clothes and cleaned them, yes. But the mom that used to wrestle and laugh so freely has been trapped in a broken heart. That realization alone makes me sad for them, for me. I needed my time, I cannot believe five years past in a fog, although, it was thickest the first few years, it is lifted seemingly, I think. I am sure it will roll in from time to time and I welcome it, but I am also happy to feel happy again. I am happy to have a random dance party with loud noise at no notice with my kids. If asked, I wonder what they’d say of the last five years. Probably not much, as we all know, we are all way more self centered then we see. They may not have even noticed my withdrawal, not as I felt it, or see in hindsight. I was harder on them and they loved me more.

My heart now an ache for the time that has past, five years in a child’s life is huge, and the physical, emotional and mental growth that happens. I cannot go back; I can cherish specific moments of course, but am happy to feel other enlightening emotions again. Happy to be the present mother they deserve. I still miss and love my child that died five years ago, but my acceptance of her death has come with the revelation that I cannot change the past, nor need to dwell in its circumstances. But do need to focus on what we had and still have. This by no means that she will be forgotten just remembered differently, without the pain of guilt and remorse; but with love for the luck of having had her for a moment, along with the life lessons she has taught.

It brought me to a conclusion, if only for myself. We are all aware, some mildly, some very familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s five stages of grief. At some point in raw grief after a loss, we want answers we want to understand what is happening; at times we are so lost we want to know if and when it will end. So Ross’s theory of five stages is where we inevitably find ourselves reading about. At first I agreed with them whole heartedly, it makes sense for grief to have a timeframe of stages, all of which also make sense in completing in order to “move on”, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance but what comes with these stages is not a time frame put on them by Kubler-Ross herself but by society, Somewhere, over time, since her now famous book called ‘On Death and Dying’ was published in 1969, society has given the grieving about a year to get through their stages of grief, a few months to mull in each one. This is where I completely disagree with societies standards on grieving, seeing as it has taken me a five full years to get to acceptance, one could say each stage deserves a full year to fully live in and become aware of the stage your are at. For example the first year I was trapped in denial not even aware I was, because it was the shock that took quite a while to wear off, then a denial that I could not really comprehend that this had happened to me, to her, to us. I honestly did not believe it for a very, very long time, combined with the night terrors caused by the PTSD I suffered, it felt like a dream at times, with me not being able to wake up. Then the anger came, but it came at a time when a lot of people thought I should have been done grieving, after a year. And yes, I was angry, at everyone and anyone that dare mention her name, or their grief! The bargaining came in different forms around year three, begging for bad things to not happen, hadn’t I gone through enough? I would do more to help others if only my living children would be left alone. As depression sets in due to the length of time that has passed, you feel confused, others wonder what’s’ wrong because it has been so long, although in reality, is four years that long? So you begin, again, searching for answers, or help, or ways to move forward because you have spent time in the other stages you are ready to deal with this depression, and not that long ago, as I said earlier, the trip I just took with my family was the first I really enjoyed, felt at peace and allowed myself to be happy. Had I reached acceptance? And if I had why did I feel bad about it? Did I assume I would grieve forever? Yes. Was I prepared to grieve forever? Yes. Often when the tears came less frequently just that fact made me sad, like the further away her life moved, the less I felt her in my heart, but that is not true. I can take as many moments I want to remember her and should be thankful the whirlwind does not just snatch me up as it used to, but it is a process of constant awareness, as well as, allowing myself to still grieve if I felt the need, but also to feel happy with what we have and where we are at, without guilt. Everyone’s journey is different but I think if we can all collectively agree that each stage deserves a year and not to expect someone to feel normal until year five the burden of grief will be lessened on the grievers. But also to so mention it is not limited to this time frame, I have met parents that did not feel “normal” until year seven and ten, what I am trying to say is that the notion that grief lasts a year is ridiculous, the notion that it never ends is also silly though, I once believed it would never end, and I still have moments of intense sadness, clearly not as frequent or uncontrollable but today five years later and I am able to laugh freely without shame, enjoy moments without guilt. I am not saying yours will only last five years, everyone’s journey is different and some grief may only last a couple years. All I know is that back in those first six months when I attended bereavement meetings a blubbering mess barely able to string coherent words together, the common sentiment to me from those that had multiple years, some decades behind them and their grief, they said, ‘it does get better’ and I was so comforted by that phrase. And the fact that they saw my pain and came up to me to tell me it gets better in hopes of lessening my pain. I appreciated those words, as I hope you appreciate mine now. It does get better, in your own time at your own pace.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

Ps, I would love some feedback, I started out intending to write a completely different post about my vacation without my fourth child but in following my heart and letting my fingers type, I am surprised at the conclusion and turn it took. If you have a similar experience with grief or writing or any other feedback on my conclusion please comment below. Thanks – much love.

It is ok to be sad

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I feel you rolling your eyes, as I hit post. Another grief post you think! Your pain is no longer because it wasn’t your child you lost, it was mine, so you did feel sad for a bit after, you don’t understand how or why I am still grieving or posting sad stuff about grief. I get it its not your loss, you don’t feel it every day like I do and you don’t want to remember it  as much as I do. You might think I am bitter or want sympathy, I don’t. Just know that my heart hurts when I glance at the spot on the floor where she stopped breathing, that I have trouble thinking of moving because this is where she lived for 2 short weeks. Every time I hear a story of tragedy or a life lost I cry for her. Am I stuck? no I am human. I am a mother that gave birth to a beautiful baby that struggled to live, to breathe, that spent 5 weeks in the NICU, not sleeping, not feeling and slowly breaking. That was almost four years ago I know, you think I must have moved past this pain, I have another little girl right. She is my savior, yes. but also my daily reminder of my first little girl that is not here. Would they be best friends? or Would they fight a lot?  I wonder. And yes that too makes me sad. Immediate grief after a tragedy is overwhelming, its consuming and then time takes it away, little by little the intense memories fade and it is easier to ‘pretend’ life is what it is.

Today is October 15th- International Awareness of Stillbirth, miscarriage and infant loss

A day that makes me sad but grateful to have met and to be a part of a community of women, amazing women, that too have suffered a loss, something that is not openly spoken about but should be, something that people are uncomfortable to bring up, leaving the person(s) that suffered the loss alone. Why are we told not to share a pregnancy until 3 months? in case you lose the baby right, we don’t need to upset people like that! but then we suffer alone with our loss. Not right. After I lost my daughter, after she was born at full term, after she was given a birth certificate because she lived past 21 days (the time the government thinks your baby needs to live to be considered a human!) even though we all know as soon as we see that pink or blue line we have a child in our life, whether they live past 21 days or not, to be deemed a person! Different issue, I move on. The stigma that surrounds uncomfortable feelings needs to stop. People need compassion not shame. I don’t know how to change the world into thinking its ok to be sad, we do not need to ‘pretend’ to be happy all the time. As Buddha says ‘Life is suffering’ I believe we have pockets of happy moments or happy feelings but if you truly look at the world and live true, you see that it is about surviving, surviving tragedy around us, surviving, genocide, rape, famine , disease, homelessness, joblessness, then death. Acknowledging life’s struggles does not make us ‘negative’ it makes us real and if you let yourself feel the sad you will better be able to appreciate the happy.

After I lost my daughter, so many women came up to me and told me about their losses, a women lost her son when he was 21, another suffered multiple miscarriages’ but never told anyone, so many stories, so many women that suffered alone because society made them feel like they had to hide their shame because it wasn’t ‘happy news’ I call bollocks! I will continue to share my grief and encourage others to share because we are here for such a short time, all we have is each other. To help, to love, to pick each other up and hug.

Namaste

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

Moments

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live_laugh_love_posters-rbebe5a45f0184b659ca84c068ff7b17a_a1cd_8byvr_512

 Today I want to take a moment to have special moments, with myself, my kids – individually and with my husband. It feels like with the pressure of societies view that ‘we are all perfect and deserve it all attitude’  life in todays world gets  easily carried away. It becomes a spinning tilt a whirl that you cannot stop, you keep getting dizzy as you pull on the spinner harder to go even faster.

When my kids were babies I relished in the daily moments of laying on the bed making them giggle, we had no soccer to race to, piano to practice, homework to do, gourmet dinners to cook, burn and force kids to eat because at least they have food on the table! I miss the long, slow walks holding their hand stopping to stare at every fallen leaf or magical snail that crawled along.

Life moves fast and as our kids get older it is in a nonstop fast forward motion that makes me sick. I know I will wake up one day in a quiet (clean) house. It terrifies me every night as I will myself to sleep because the kids will be up in 7, 6, 5! Hours. Have I done enough? Have I taught them right from wrong? Have I given them the tools to succeed, to help others, to never give up?

It is so hard to live in the moment when there is so much to be done. But today I will try just a little harder to let the little things go, to make the important things around me smile and to know that one day it will end.

My 3rd child, my 1rst daughter died 43 months ago today  (Feb.18.2012) her death caused us to stop and think, why? why her , why us, why is the world so disturbing in its greed and lust, why cant we stop time or why would we want to…..

You are born and at some point hopefully much later you die. All you have is this moment, to love, to laugh, to live (probably why this picture is so popular as we need to be reminded daily)

Enjoy your moments,  Live, Laugh, Love.

Namaste.

Thanks for reading, Sheri.

 

 

 

 

 

Grief and Loss Books

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MY TOP BOOKS ON GRIEF AND LOSS

In the dark hours and days/weeks after someone dies we often lay in the literal dark not able to shut off our minds, only wanting to sleep so the pain is not so physical; literal, as it is mental in those early days. Consumed with anguish, grief and loss. We search endlessly for books, articles, websites to help us understand what we are feeling, to know we are not alone, to help up cope. I have read many, many books on grief in the 5 short years since my daughters death, the ones that helped me cope were actually the fictional stories of parents suffering though a tragedy, in a very morbid way I was comforted. But I also read many books written specifically to help the bereaved and as I, 5 years ago would have loved to have stumbled upon a list of grief books, I didn’t, so I will share the top that helped me then and the ones I have read more recently to this day, when my daughter should be 5.5 years old.

#1 –   “no death, no fear” , (2002)  by Thich Nhat Hanh

#2 – “A Grief Observed”,  (1961) by C.S. Lewis

#3 – “Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief”, (1994)by Martha Whitmore Hickman

#4 – “The Bereaved Parent”, (1977) by Harriett S. Schiff

#5 – No Time To Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One”,   (1996) by Carla Fine.

#6 – “The Trauma of Everyday Life”,  (2013)  by Mark Epstein

#7 – “Wave”, (2013) by Sonali Deraniyagala

#8 – “Option B”,  (2017) by Sheryl Sandberg

#9 – “A Gift of Hope” (2012) & “His bright Light: The story of Nick Traina” (1998) by Danielle Steele

#10 – “Her”, (2013)  by Christa Parravani

#11 – “A Wind from the East” , (2016)  by Wendy Dartnall

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

11 ways to help someone who is grieving. By Megan Devine

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#1 Grief belongs to the griever.
You have a supporting role, not the central role, in your friend’s grief. This may seem like a strange thing to say. So many of the suggestions, advice and “help” given to the griever tells them they should be doing this differently, or feeling differently than they do. Grief is a very personal experience, and belongs entirely to the person experiencing it. You may believe you would do things differently if it had happened to you. We hope you do not get the chance to find out. This grief belongs to your friend: follow his or her lead.

#2 Stay present and state the truth.
It’s tempting to make statements about the past or the future when your friend’s present life holds so much pain. You cannot know what the future will be, for yourself or your friend — it may or may not be better “later.” That your friend’s life was good in the past is not a fair trade for the pain of now. Stay present with your friend, even when the present is full of pain.

It’s also tempting to make generalized statements about the situation in an attempt to soothe your friend. You cannot know that your friend’s loved one “finished their work here,” or that they are in a “better place.” These future-based, omniscient, generalized platitudes aren’t helpful. Stick with the truth: this hurts. I love you. I’m here.

#3 Do not try to fix the unfixable.
Your friend’s loss cannot be fixed or repaired or solved. The pain itself cannot be made better. Please see #2. Do not say anything that tries to fix the unfixable, and you will do just fine. It is an unfathomable relief to have a friend who does not try to take the pain away.

#4 Be willing to witness searing, unbearable pain.
To do #4 while also practicing #3 is very, very hard.

#5 This is not about you.
Being with someone in pain is not easy. You will have things come up — stresses, questions, anger, fear, guilt. Your feelings will likely be hurt. You may feel ignored and unappreciated. Your friend cannot show up for their part of the relationship very well. Please don’t take it personally, and please don’t take it out on them. Please find your own people to lean on at this time — it’s important that you be supported while you support your friend. When in doubt, refer to #1.

#6 Anticipate, don’t ask.
Do not say “Call me if you need anything,” because your friend will not call. Not because they do not need, but because identifying a need, figuring out who might fill that need, and then making a phone call to ask is light years beyond their energy levels, capacity or interest. Instead, make concrete offers: “I will be there at 4 p.m. on Thursday to bring your recycling to the curb,” or “I will stop by each morning on my way to work and give the dog a quick walk.” Be reliable.

#7 Do the recurring things.
The actual, heavy, real work of grieving is not something you can do (see #1), but you can lessen the burden of “normal” life requirements for your friend. Are there recurring tasks or chores that you might do? Things like walking the dog, refilling prescriptions, shoveling snow and bringing in the mail are all good choices. Support your friend in small, ordinary ways — these things are tangible evidence of love.

Please try not to do anything that is irreversible — like doing laundry or cleaning up the house — unless you check with your friend first. That empty soda bottle beside the couch may look like trash, but may have been left there by their husband just the other day. The dirty laundry may be the last thing that smells like her. Do you see where I’m going here? Tiny little normal things become precious. Ask first.

#8 Tackle projects together.
Depending on the circumstance, there may be difficult tasks that need tending — things like casket shopping, mortuary visits, the packing and sorting of rooms or houses. Offer your assistance and follow through with your offers. Follow your friend’s lead in these tasks. Your presence alongside them is powerful and important; words are often unnecessary. Remember #4: bear witness and be there.

#9 Run interference.
To the new griever, the influx of people who want to show their support can be seriously overwhelming. What is an intensely personal and private time can begin to feel like living in a fish bowl. There might be ways you can shield and shelter your friend by setting yourself up as the designated point person — the one who relays information to the outside world, or organizes well-wishers. Gatekeepers are really helpful.

#10 Educate and advocate.
You may find that other friends, family members and casual acquaintances ask for information about your friend. You can, in this capacity, be a great educator, albeit subtly. You can normalize grief with responses like,”She has better moments and worse moments and will for quite some time. An intense loss changes every detail of your life.” If someone asks you about your friend a little further down the road, you might say things like, “Grief never really stops. It is something you carry with you in different ways.”

#11 Love.
Above all, show your love. Show up. Say something. Do something. Be willing to stand beside the gaping hole that has opened in your friend’s life, without flinching or turning away. Be willing to not have any answers. Listen. Be there. Be present. Be a friend. Be love. Love is the thing that lasts.

Megan Devine is the author of Everything is Not Okay: an audio program for grief. She is a licensed clinical counselor, writer and grief advocate. You can find her at www.refugeingrief.com. Join her on facebook at www.facebook.com/refugeingrief

3 years.

Featured

My daughter Lily was born still.

That’s what would have been my statement had we waited any longer. She was born blue and was resuscitated; because of her beginning without oxygen she suffered brain stem damage, she was frozen for 3 days to help heal her brain damage, the first time I held my baby girl she was 4 days old. But she was alive so I was grateful.

Weeks passed with so many tests, all with a negative conclusion and after having a feeding tube surgically placed into her gastro intestine we were able to take her home. What gets me is that even though they did 3 MRI’s and multiple other scans, they missed what would eventually kill her. That was her trachea. They were so close too, they found the holes in her heart, they found the valve that pumped the wrong way, all of these would need surgeries to be fixed but she needed to be bigger and stronger to endure them, had they looked an inch higher they would have seen her abnormal trachea.

The night Lily stopped breathing and I performed CPR on her plays out as a nightmare in my memory, for the longest time I wanted to move because every time I looked at that spot on the  floor where she lay, my heart stopped, but then we replaced the carpets with hardwood and I was sad that that was now gone too, so I knew I couldn’t leave the one place she had been. When they found out about Lilys trachea, the doctor phoned and told me she would need a tracheotomy to live- that’s a hole in her throat to breathe, he said she would never have a good life, would never speak, would never taste anything and would have a shortened lifespan because of it. That surgery was on top of the other 4 heart surgeries she needed. This one would now be 1rst though. He said I will do it if you tell me to but even on a healthy baby the chance of survival is slim. What the fuck do you say to that!? We had company downstairs that day, I didn’t go back down.

We went back to the hospital 1rst thing the next day probably our 100th drive then. I suffered from ptsd every time I got into the car after she died. 4 days later we signed a do not resuscitate order, they took out her breathing tube and we held her until she died 30 minutes later at 4:55 pm on February 18 2012. I am forever haunted by this. What if we did the surgeries? Most likely she wouldn’t have died in our arms but on a table. What if we accepted the transfer to Canuck Place? We probably would have had a nicer end of her life together as a family. What if she was born still? None of these traumatizing experiences would have happened, we would have still grieved but differently I imagine. The hardest, what if she continued to breathe, what if she was that 5% that survived.

So as life goes on, as we try to understand the why’s of it all, we want to grow, we hope to learn, we try to accept, we continue to live. We chose to remember.

The Angel on your head

Dealing with My Grief

*edited Nov 18/17

Every November Canuck Place Childrens Hospice has a `Remember our Children` event. We attented a few years ago. They do a beautiful tribute, though it is a strenuously emotional day, the lead up, the actual event, the drive home. Our boys attented the sibling bereavement program at Canuck Place, twice a month for the first year after their sister died. We went to a few ‘remembering events’ in those first couple years. But they take a toll, as much as we, her parents needed to know she was remembered it was hard on our boys to understand the grief we felt. So for the first time in over a year we brought our boys then six and eight to this annual event, knowing it would likely be the last.  I have continued to attend  on my own not wanting my sadness to affect their thoughts and lives on…

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Stars can’t shine without darkness

Ankit Mishra

“I used to think the worst thing in the world was losing yourself, but the worst thing is losing somebody you love because at least you have a second chance to make things right, to remember who you are or find who it is you want to be.”

Stars can’t shine without darkness. The darker the night the brighter the star.

Same goes for you and your story.

The darkness, what ever you are going through, is only going to help you shine brighter than before!

So whatever it is you are facing, don’t let it dim your light. Instead use it to shine brighter than you have ever imagined!

We all have hours of darkness in our lives. Hours when we feel alone, hours when we are depressed, hours when we feel like the world has turned against us, hours when we seemed to have run out of luck…

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Why God is not a part of my Grief

 

Nature has been a place of solace for me. Walking amongst the trees, staring at clouds, sunset or sunrise. Feeling the rain on my face. But there are those that maybe have not experienced a great loss and do not see that you find comfort in simpler things perhaps over words.

“They’re with God now”, “God needed another angel”, “it is Gods plan”, “Don’t be sad they are with God”, “it is not meant to be”, “Time heals”, “God loved them more”

Just a few things that people who blindly follow religion or a  church might say, to those who do not, may not or will not understand. Why you would say something so unnecessary or hurtful and confusing.

Do you know my faith? Or have you assumed I am Christian. Do you so boldly state what you believe and that you know my child, parent, sibling, friend is actually with God (your God?),  or summoned by them,  gone because of them… Perhaps a question of how are you may be better. Or offering to walk alongside in silence.

If one accepts it is Gods plan, then there is the following questions that I have witnessed grievers deal with- Why? why would God do this? Why does God cause suffering? If God cared or loved me he wouldn’t have done this! Many people question their faith after a trauma, tragic death or unexpected loss.

I believe in science but I would never say to a women that suffered a miscarriage the scientific reason that perhaps their body could not carry a fetus to term, just as I would not say it was not meant to be, or God had a different plan.

By putting my thoughts, beliefs or opinions on someone elses grief that takes away their right to how they  feel, I am imposing myself and ignoring them. Not allowing someone to feel their own process of grief or thoughts and reasons why is a disservice to their journey.

Many times, at funerals a pastor or minister will say ” do not grieve, do not be sad” immediately taking away the right of the griever with the excuse that God will made this so and therefore you need not “suffer in grief”.  But many know that to move through your grief and loss you MUST feel it. Allow it to overtake you when it comes. It is a process with no timeline. I ran into the women that officiated my daughters funeral, she was officiating my Grandmothers funeral a few months later. She said after a very insincere hello, that I must be doing better because well 4 months had passed since my daughters death and that is double the time she lived. I could tell she was proud of herself for this “revelation” to me, as though I had not considered every possible equation as to the months I carried her, the months she lived, the time that has passed since she is gone. I felt she thought she was comforting me with those words and all I felt was anger. How dare you tell me how I should feel. That because her life was short my grief must be too?

I have just learned a childhood friend has died, he was only 39.  His mothers funeral was the first I had ever been to, she died of a brain hemorrhage when we were kids. He and his sisters had a much harder life, I assume, after that loss,(we moved away a couple years later).  I have thought of them often, how they the ages of 8, 10 and 12,  how they must have felt losing the one constant in their life, entering their teen years and young adulthood without her comfort and guidance. Now he has passed, some will say he is back with her, I think that is what all want to hope for. But no one really knows, so I will just say to his dad and sisters, I am sorry. I am sorry he is gone. Sibling loss they say can be as hard as losing a child.  I look at my boys, they are best friends, each others first friend, comrade, confidante. They have a bond that will only be broken with death.

Rest In Peace Curtis Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

 

Time only gives you space to cope, it does not heal all things.

Aside

Edited.

Dealing with My Grief

Don’t say time heals all, especially to someone that is going through a loss or tragedy you never have or do not understand.

You don’t know.

Time heals nothing, it simply passes, when you wish it would stop. Unbearable feelings become bearable – not healed. You can never fully mend whats broken. Nor do you want to. I am not choosing to be sad. The heart chooses when it wants to hurt. We can tell our brain the logic of a situation but it can reply with more tears.

Grief is  a never ending and very narrow spiral staircase, you slowly go up, it’s hard, it’s dizzying, sometimes you trip or stumble but you keep going forward and sometimes you fall backward, hitting your head the whole way down.

Time heals nothing it just makes it easier to get back up again and again because you have to keep going…

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Come Rest In My Heart

Beautiful poem from a fellow blogger.

sweetdevil69

Looking into your dreary eyes
I feel you bleed, from inside.
By life’s treachery you’ve been victimized
You silently scream you’re traumatized.

Your hopes crumble to the floor
Broken & dead, amidst life’s ruthless roar.
You’re lifeless, behind a locked door
Hiding pain, with sadness your heart soars.

Your soul is tortured & torn apart
Haunted by nightmares, of the past.
But please don’t cry alone in the dark
Come dear, come rest in my heart.

Alone you fought & bled for years
To your teary tales, I lend my ears.
Give my eyes, with your burning tears
& tell me, all your ominous fears.

While you’re depressed, plagued by stress
On my chest, put your miseries to rest
Share the deep seas, of your sorrow
Because, your sorrow, I intend to borrow.

If the night is depressingly long
I’ll hold your hand, from dusk till dawn.
Please don’t cry…

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Standard First Aid- A must for ALL

I spent last weekend doing a 16 hr SFA Course (the highest level of first aid) through the Canadian Lifesaving Society. It was very educational, as to what steps are needed to do in an emergency, how to help others in various situations.

A study done in2012  by the Red Cross states that not enough people are trained in first aid and in the event of an emergency, 2 out of 3 people would not know what to do.

http://www.redcross.ca/about-us/newsroom/news-releases/archives/2012/number-of-canadians-trained-in-first-aid-at-dangerous-low,-suggests-new-poll

I took my 1rst first aid course- it was emergency 1rst aid + Child & infant CPR, in 2010 when my first child was in preschool, a year and a bit later I used it on my 3rd child who had stopped breathing. I have volunteered in preschools and elementary with the confidence that I can help.

I worked this past year at the Langley Forest School not realizing or acknowledging that my first aid had expired, but that in itself is reckless. This SFA course taught not only CPR and how to use a AED but also basic bandaging, slings and wraps, as well as, what to do for shock or choking, burns and heat stroke/exhaustion.

With what is going on around the world today we need as many helpers as we can get. Every second matters when someone has lost consciousness or has stopped breathing, the faster someone initiates EMS and starts CPR is crucial in not only saving a life but preventing  further brain damage.

The hardest part of this course was performing CPR on a baby dummy, I fought back tears those few hours we worked on them. The painful thought only  blink away in my not so distant memory. However, had I not performed CPR on my angel, we would have lost her, in that moment, on my living room floor, not a week later in hospital due to other unknown factors.

I would encourage as many people as possible, not only ones that must for a job to get certified. I told my kids when they are old enough they will all have to take the course.

I have copied some useful links below.

Thanks for Reading,

Namaste

Sheri

http://www.lifesavingsociety.com/first-aid/standard-first-aid.aspx

http://www.emergencyfirstresponse.com/5-reasons-why-basic-first-aid-knowledge-is-essential/

http://www.c2cfirstaidaquatics.com/4-reasons-you-need-first-aid-and-cpr-training/

 

 

A helpful quote with thoughts after Lily’s death.

Popped up in my memories on FB. Four years ago feels like a lifetime. I have transformed many times since. But the pain is still fresh when I re read the moments that are now a lost memory that have since been locked away.

Dealing with My Grief

 A quote I read that I felt made sense when nothing else did….

“Grief is a daily challenge to your assumptions about the world. It demands that you accept that loss is a part of our lives. Going through grief demands that you abandon the notion that you must always feel good…You are forced to accept loss not just intellectually, but with every aspect of your person, your identity.”
-Sameet M.Kumar ~grieving mindfully~
May 2012 –

 

May 04th 2012

My pain is real and I ache for you, I try to be strong, but wanting you back replaces all the logic in my mind, the nights are hard because of the silence, the days are long because of your absence.’ I am having a rough morning, the actual physical pain in my chest is immense, I can’t sleep anymore, I try and I just lay there thinking, I…

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