The absent Birthday

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Lost:  disappeared, forfeited, mislaid, misplaced, missed, missing, strayed, vanished, wayward, abolished, annihilated, demolished, destroyed, devastated, eradicated, exterminated, obliterated, perished, ruined, wasted, wiped out, wrecked, absent, absorbed, abstracted, distracted, dreamy, engrossed, entranced, preoccupied, rapt, spellbound, taken up, adrift, astray, at sea, disoriented, off-course, off-track,   bygone, dead, extinct, forgotten, gone, lapsed, obsolete, out-of-date, past, unremembered  


 

The words above, the  many synonyms for the feeling of being lost, mentally, physically, emotionally; lost.

Not in everyday life however, not anymore. I will concede that the terrible raw heartache that follows a death does ease over time, though I will not agree that ‘time heals all’ because that is a relative saying. Relative to the events that occurred to cause your grief. But the pain does subside, the confusion and frustration do ease. The longing pops in and out unannounced and at times you feel overwhelmed again. The missing never goes away. But it does get easier.

Having said that, there will always be times throughout the year that are hard, that I/we feel lost. A moment of reflection triggered by a memory. A dream that causes confusion for a short time upon awaking, a place that reminds you of that feeling of devastation, even if for a second. It is there buried in the memory, the past.

I should/ would be in a flurry of busy today and the days leading up to tomorrow. Days leading up to a child’s birthday tend to be filled with excitement and planning. making a cake, putting up decorations, easing the enthusiasm at bedtime for the upcoming event.

Instead, a fog rolls in filled with desolation, the feeling of feeling lost settles. What to do today; nothing, says my body and mind. Do we make a huge extravagance at our loss, over and over, year after year while most secretly wonder why are they not over it…

Do we pretend it is just another day, that  would inevitably bring feelings of guilt and shame that are in themselves hard to live with just to avoid others un-comfortableness.

Should we remember in silence to avoid unease, sometimes anything can feel like too much but nothing also feels wrong.


 

Happy 6th Birthday to my angel Lily Emma Olive Hall

I miss you

I live for you

I will love you

I will remember you

 Everyday until I die

 

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Thanks for reading,

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

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

Tangled in knots

The other day I was in charge of coordinating, organising and physically carrying out a lice check from Kindergarten to Grade 5 at our school. Simple enough task…

We got through the youngest ones, I was starting a grade 5 class, these kids roughly 10 turning 11 years old by the end of the year. They are newly aware of the changes in their bodies and brain functions causing them to re think, overthink or over analyze their own reactions and behaviors. A time when we unfortunately become increasingly aware of our surroundings as well as how those around us may perceive us…

I started at the front of the first row, we decided going up and down each row in class with our tools better (faster) and less disruptive to instruction than calling each child out individually into the hall.  I noticed a girl, more than the others were, watching me. I could feel her anxiety. I try my best to make the kids comfortable, I ask them their name, comment how nice their hair color, length, girth, style etc…  is.

I finished the first 2 rows , she was still watching, waiting, I walked past her desk to put the wooden hair separators I had used already into the garbage and grab clean ones. she came close to me and said I have to tell you something. I looked at this beautiful dark skinned girl that was staring at her hands and smiled. She continues, as she is pulling the hood off her head, “you see, I used to have braids (her hair; very tightly curled black hair) and when you take them out its a bit of a mess…” She sort of points to the back of her head. I smile again and say ‘shall I just check quickly now, you have beautiful hair, it will be fine’. I grab my stick and easily separate some hair at the top, but as she warned at the base it was very much a large dreadlock hard to seperate. In that moment so many things flashed into my mind.

How nervous she must have been feeling, but brave she was to approach me, how different than the mostly white and asian students in regards to hair she obviously feels, the anxiety the notice of this lice/hair check clearly gave her as she tensed as soon as I entered the room. How I wanted to take her and spend the hours needed to detangle her hair, though I don’t even know if that’s possible, I felt naive to understanding what ‘black people’ need to deal with in regards to their hair. The shame society has placed on them because of it. She had it hidden after all under a hood. My heart hurt for this little 10 year old girl who deserved nothing but an education in a safe space but clearly felt judge and worry as well.

It also reminded me of the most embarrassing moment of my childhood. The reason I make my kids wash and brush their hair(because my mom didn’t). My mom, a mom of the 80’s whose motto was basically, “they(you) will figure it out” however vague and spread out in options that meant for us…

I was away at Girl guide camp (in grade 5 coincidentally enough) and it was a special weekend, I don’t remember specifically, mothers day, or easter maybe anyway, one of the leaders offered to give all the girls in our cabin of 6 girls french braids to go home in! We were all so excited at how nice we would look! I will never forget the feeling of shame and embarrassment when she got to me. All the other girls looked so pretty in their braids, she could barely comb to the middle half of my head because my hair was so knotted in tangles, she couldn’t or maybe didn’t want to bother, but I remember it was so easy and fast for all the others and she sat there for an hour trying to brush my hair and eventually settled on the top quarter being braided and tying the rest back in a ponytail. After the fact I remember analyzing, were they all laughing at me behind my back? Did she chose me last because she had already noticed my hair was so gross? I don’t remember if it taught me to want to wash and brush my hair more but it did teach me that my mom didn’t care enough about me to not keep me from being so embarrassed.

This girl who tracked my steps around her class, nervously waiting for me to check her knotted hair, I hope I calmed her nerves in how I reacted. I pray she felt relief.

It is an interesting thing in life to have random moments bring us back to old memories, good or bad.

I do believe kids need to learn on their own but they also need constant reminders and help and a little push especially if they don’t want to things they should like bathe, or wear climate appropriate clothing, eat vegetables etc. However, I have a feeling with this girl its not her fault her hair is so tangled.  I really hope she didn’t feel shame that day. I was curious what it takes for  her so I googled it and wow! Here is the link to what I see as an incredibly hard task on top of the rest of your life to deal with every day.

https://www.wikihow.com/Detangle-African-Hair

I have always thought black womens/girls hair is so beautiful and after finding out the lengths they need to go through for it to look that way! I am in awe and admiration. I thought I would include a few other links about detangling hair.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

7 Easy Steps To Detangling Natural Black Hair Safely

https://www.allure.com/story/single-strand-knots-natural-curly-hair

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/g26325730/best-hair-detangler/

 

 

Rescued

Today I am sore, I cannot lift my arms above my shoulders, my hands are cramped and wrists painful to move. I have taken dozens of slivers out of my fingers and finally washed the dirt, moss and leaves from my hair.

I feel as triumphant and proud as I did defeated and broken only 24 hours ago.

I felt all the feels and emotions yesterday, last night as I finally dozed from exhaustion of mind and body.

My 13 year old son was given a beautiful tort kitten for his 12th birthday, something he longed for and babied upon receiving.

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kitten  This was her as a kitten, smaller than our 7lbs chihuahua. He named her fireball because she has streaks of lightning along her face and a white tip at the end of her tail that looks like a flashlight.

After she was spayed, got all her shots and after she turned 1 we started letting her out for short periods of time, never going to far from our front or back yards and always coming back.  Until yesterday, well the night before now.  I had not seen her all day and had a funny feeling about it but hoped she’d return by nightfall. my son went out looking for her 3x before going to bed that night and I knew something was wrong. I prayed we didn’t find her hit by a car the next day or worse eaten by coyotes.

best biddys  George, our chihuahua her best friend also knew something was wrong, she was restless and paced the house seemingly barking at the wind.

The next morning (yesterday)  still no fireball, my son opened the door to call her name all night long, I even walked out back at 2am hoping she would be there. I drove them to school and promised I would go look for her, I wanted to go to the gym, Christmas break just ended but I followed my gut which said to go look. I walked less than 5 minutes calling her name when she heard me and started to meow the loudest cry I had ever heard, in fact that cry would draw many neighbors and spectators through out my ordeal to rescue her, it was that loud. I followed the cry to a revine by our house, I looked down and new to go in there I needed supplies. I ran home, put jeans on top of my yoga pants, pulled on my hunter boots grabbed the biggest jacket, some gloves and a hat because it was raining pretty hard. This is where I had to navigate through to find her following her cry. I got to the tree, it was surrounded by prickly bushes, out I went to run back home to get clippers and a blanket.

. the path

I went through so many emotions in that first hour of finding her. As I hacked away at the prickle bushes making an entrance to the base of the tree, getting caught up in my haste and needing to constantly untangle myself, my jacket. I felt relief at finding her, joy, she was okay, then dread when I saw how high up she was, determination to rescue my babies baby, defeat when I couldn’t climb the tree. Hopelessness after 3 hours of cutting brush away and listening to her sad long meow. Worry, was she hurt, fear, will she die up there, what will I tell my son. I called the fire department, they dont help for this I was told. I called the city because it was a protected ravine habitat that you were not suppose to enter, they also were not going to help but recommended a tree service to  help. I called animal protection, posted on facebook, someone please help! no one could. I was told to put white blankets at the base for her to see, I was told wave treats to coax her down, she was at least 40 to 50 feet in the air from under the tree you could not see her but needed to stand at a distance to see her. Way up in this evergreen!

treeee.jpg

 

I felt hopeless, no one was going to help me, I couldn’t climb the tree, I didn’t know what to do. I felt lost. Not to mention cold and wet, I had gone through 3 pairs of pants and 5 pairs of gloves by now. My hat and hair soaked through.

I just kept talking to her, asking her to please come down, I cursed the bushes that were stabbing me with their tiny knives, I begged her to come down, I cried as I hacked away, here is my clearing job, I am pretty proud of it though I am painfully paying for it today.

the clearing

 

I was giving up hope, I was waiting for the tree services people to call me back, I had learned from one of the people passing by that the night before she saw a couple of young coyotes on the path, they most likely chased her up the tree. Now I was worried she was injured too. I left my ladder, my clippers and blankets and went back home feeling defeated, willing to pay someone to get her down, though I had no idea how they would. The last time I went back to check on her to plead with her to try to come down, another person stopped and said she heard the cat and came to see and saw me, she asked if it was my cat, I said yes, I said no one will help me and that I was waiting for tree people to call. I turned and she was gone.

I went back home and waited, I stared at the wall worrying, what to do and finally they (the tree services people) called, the man nonchalantly saying -get your cat yet? I felt so dismissed, it’s not just a cat, she’s not even 2! she is my first born sons precious kitty. She was chased by coyotes 40 feet up a tree in a ravine and was up there all night in the wind and rain. Why did no one care! He said he could send someone in a few hours, I begged sooner, he said it was going to cost, I said fine whatever. I was about to leave for the bank when a knock at my door. Standing there was the last women I saw looking at me from when I was in the ravine that asked if I was ok, she said I have your cat. I was in shock, for real, I hugged her and said you do!? how? she said she loves cats, she climbed the tree and got her, she’s in her truck. I walked to her truck down the street and there was fireball, wet and scraggly. She said she was working in the area and heard the cat and saw me struggling. She finished her job and came to help, I wasn’t there so she tried and successfully climbed the tree. I still don’t know how, I couldn’t make it half way, I am a very fit person. I work out 6 days a week, I’ve done tough mudder, rugged maniac, many adventure races, 10ks you name it. If I couldn’t climb it how did she?

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I felt so grateful!! Someone helped me rescue our cat, a part of our family that we would have been devastated to lose.

I had felt so many things in the span of 5 hours, exhaustion, pain, physical struggles and mentally drained. And today I am very sore but filled with relief and gratitude.

As I relive the moments of joy, defeat, stress, fear, worry, determination and helplessness, I feel so grateful to this women that helped me. I feel proud for having experienced all those emotions and kept going. I was scared but I wasn’t going to quit.

What a day! One I will never ever forget. And another reason my goal in life is to help others the way this angel/stranger helped me.

the tree

This is her, cold, wet, obviously shaken up by her adventure, she hasn’t meowed in the 24hrs since she’s been home, I think she did enough for 5 hours straight when I tried to rescue her.

My husband said I can’t believe you found her, like a mother, he joked. I said I felt like I was rescuing a baby and I kinda was, it was my sons baby and I knew he would have been devastated to lose her. He knows grief, he lost his sister when he was 6, his hamster when he was 9, not to mention he was just starting with the unmanageable teenage emotions coming up to his 14th birthday. I wanted to protect him from feeling that pain again and I was going to get his cat back. Miraculously an angel helped me after I felt so defeated, there she was with his cat.

A parent will do anything for her kids.

A good person will always help.

 

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Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

What should be…

It should be your 8th birthday today.

We should have cake and balloons.

You should be smiling as you open gifts.

We should be celebrating.

But.

It will be the 8th anniversary of the traumatic start to your short life.

It will be the 8th night I relive giving birth to a  blue baby.

It will be the 8th day I remember the silence as they resucitated you.

It will be the 1rst day of your 51 days of life for the 8th time.

 

 

2 months

2 months or 58-61 days (make up most 2 months stretches) or 1430 hours in 2 months of the 8544  hours in a year, its about 6% of the time in a year, seems so little to be so heavy. I carry it each year. I carry it with the grief of other losses but hers has affected me the most.

Just let it go… I’m sure they wonder and I have, the whole  first year I carried a heavy grief and it was the hardest, the following years it was around 6 months of each year, around year 5 it was heavy for 3 months. I’m ok with accepting how her memory these 2 months are like a weighted bag tied around my shoulders, the weight will lift as I’ve learned it does by the spring. Not to say I dont think of her as often it just doesn’t hurt as much the rest of the year.

I dont ever want a day or time when I don’t feel the weight of my grief for her.

You get used to carrying it.

I  think of her at the very least every 2 minutes each day of the year since her death in 2012.

I always wonder if I had just 2 more minutes what would I do. Hold her of course. Smell her hair, touch her cheeks.

These 2 months (Dec.18 – Feb.18) belong to you, not that I obsess but I find I cant escape. The pain is stronger as are the memories and reminders.

I dont like to wrap presents anymore, what a waste of paper. I used to love Christmas music, I collected all my favorites and played them on rotation for weeks, now I change the station.  Walk around and look at lights? I cant remember why that was fun. I do still love looking at my tree with all the special ornaments and the memories they hold. I love my 3 kids excitement at the school break and wonder of gifts or will it snow. I smile for them though I spend most days fighting back tears.

Her birthday is in 2 weeks,  she lived almost 2 months

She’s going to die all over again in my heart and mind in 2 months time.

I think of you, sometimes in awe, sometimes in pain. But your always just a thought away.

A date, a memory, a month. A commercial, a song, a regret. Your forever at the back of my mind but front of my heart.

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Lily Emma Olive Hall

December 30 2011 – February 18 2012

Thanks for reading

Sheri

7 Years of Grief

‘Angel Number 7  … Number seven is one of those figures. It symbolizes every positive and valuable matter in existence like prosper life, happiness, renewal, and perfection. Some numerologist even believes that number seven is so perfect and powerful that it represents a connection to the universe.’

 

7 days in a week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

If you were born on a Thursday Oct 2nd it will return every 7 years for that exact date to come back around, every 7 years Halloween is a Friday, or New years a Saturday or Christmas a Sunday, what I am getting at is 7 years seems like a cycle, a full circle back to the beginning.

Your 0 when you are born, 7 on the exact same day 7 years later. Age 7, grade 2; been in the school system for around  3 years already not a little kid anymore but still a child. Perhaps you have experienced loss of a pet, divorce or death of a family member but you are still innocent enough to believe in the good of the world you still laugh more than older kids and adults, finding the silliness in things everywhere.

The next cycle brings you to 14; only 7 short years later and you jump from a carefree kid to an anxious, nervous, pubescent teenager! There was warnings and hopefully parental help and guidance from good role models. 14 is scary a scary time, your no longer a ‘child’ but still not an adult…

Another 7, 21! Oh the places you can go and the things your allowed to see, not all equally good things.

I will stop here with hopes that we all, at least those that can read know their 7 time tables…

I have very accurate memories of being 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 but not so much other years,  I find that interesting. Maybe I have tried harder to remember and retain them or maybe it is a coincidence or maybe its a part of the greater purpose in life… ‘A greater connection to the universe’

Every 7 years is a major milestone in life if and when you reach them you look back, you reflect on the knowledge you have acquired through your growth which in turn helps you to keep growing, keep learning; moving forward. It is said that when someone experiences trauma of any kind they may become ‘stuck’ at a certain age, mindset or maturity level, this makes sense to me with people I know and have observed.

When I was 7, I was attending a french school in a neighbourhood we had just moved, I was shy and didn’t fit in with the affluent kids that occupied this school, I watched my brother get bullied and often played alone in the forest beside the school, something that would be forbidden and for good reason in today’s world. That same brother grew up to become a drug addict that has lived on and off the streets his whole life.

At 14 my parents were in the middle of starting the divorce process, we had just moved again, I had just started high school. I won’t go into the unnecessary behaviour that came about at 14 but looking back I wish I had a role model, an adult who cared enough to help me navigate through being a teen. I was smart but wanted friends more and being pretty it is easy to fall into the wrong crowd they showed attention, I sought it. 

21, 14-21 were the hardest in terms of growth  and growth setbacks but by 21 I returned to school to graduate, I bought a condo, I regularly went to the gym. I also met my now husband and father to my 4 children at 21.  But the 7 years between 14 and 21 a friend had been murdered, 2 others overdosed and 1 died of a freak accident. I watched my dad fall deeply into his alcoholism after my parents divorce which was followed by the death of his dad. Eventually losing our house, we were all on our own well before 18. I was in a car accident that had me in the hospital for weeks and unable to walk for months… But by 21 I had come out the other side, I had been working full time since 16, having to drop out of school in grade 11 to pay rent, I did many things I was finally proud of by 21, I felt like I was maturing, growing, taking care of myself.

By 28, I had gotten married had my first child was about to give birth to my 2nd boy, I had lived in 4 different cities, worked 3 different places.

35! That’s a big one I think, when you reach 35 you are officially, no excuses, 100% an adult. Now, I have lost all 4 of my grandparents, a dozen friends to car accidents, suicide, drugs overdoses. I have also watched many of my friends divorce or watch their parents die of cancer. But the biggest thing that happened to me was the birth and death and my 3rd child, followed by the birth of my miraculous rainbow, my 4th child and living through the process of deep, raw grief with my husband. How we survived the roller coaster of child loss is beyond me. But we did.

I am now 39 and in 2 years will be 42 and another cycle will have passed. But the reason 7 years was stuck in my thoughts is because it will be 7 years since the incredibly traumatic birth of my daughter who lived only 52 days.

This Monday December 30th 2019 it will be 7 years since Monday December 30th 2011 that the thing that has scarred me, changed me, hurt me and forced me to grieve undeniably lines up. The year ahead, 2020 all the days will line up with that time 7 years ago…. Me attending a PAC meeting on a Tuesday in February only to be called home to give her medicine and eventually CPR with her returning to the hospital, 3 days later its Friday, its valentines day, I buy her a purple elephant with the hopes of giving it to her when she comes home again. 7 days later  on Tuesday February 18 2012 she dies. This Tuesday February 18 2020 will be the 7th anniversary of that death. The feels flood back as do the tears, the headache the pain, but it is less painful 7 years later. the grief is not raw, it is not every minute in agony, but it exists inside me and when I need to know, to feel the pain I just sit in my mind with memories.

We look for patterns in grief because we are constantly trying to understand it.

What I am wondering, is: Does it take a full cycle, a full 7 years to go through the grieving process? I would say I feel most like me again though I will never be the same, I am definitely not the ghost I turned into the immediate following years. I learned through my grief , I grown with it and I think finally accepted it. 7 years of Grief later.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

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Some interesting reads on Seven 7 in links below:

 

Every Seven Years (7) You Change

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201506/seven-reasons-we-are-captivated-the-number-seven

 

https://www.betemunah.org/seven.html

 

His name was Cody…

Hi, what are you looking for today?

I need a black bra, for a dress. Person accompanying says for tomorrow.

I’ve lost alot of weight, I’ve had 3 kids and I’m done, my bras dont fit.

I measured her band and cup size, 34B.

I used to be a 38D she says, I immediately question my measurements in my head, I couldn’t be that far off…

I pick out, what is my favorite and most comfortable everyday bra in her new size.

All the while I am entranced by her 10 month old baby who seems to like me as well.

We exchange names, I say I will wait to check her fit.

She tells her mom to wait outside with baby or baby will cry for a feeding if she sees her moms boobs.

The baby is so mesmerizing, I can’t help but play with her, she takes my hand and pretends to toss it then grabbing it again, I smile, genuinely. She makes my heart happy.

I check her moms fit, so much better than what she was wearing before.

Her mom keeps asking if she wants to try the dress with the bra, the daughter keeps laughing and saying adamantly no.

I pause before walking away, I don’t know why and her mom, who is watching her beautiful granddaughter, says her brother died.

My son.

I stop.

I look her in the eyes though she averts them, a tactic I know well. I say I’m sorry.

She says the funeral is tomorrow, he died in a motorcycle accident.

I ask her what was his name, she instantly grabs her phone and starts scrolling, I already know she is searching for a picture to show me.

She says its Cody, she did say the last name but I didn’t hear it clearly. Then she showed me this amazing, strong man in a uniform. She continued, that he has a 10 year old daughter. My heart cracked a bit more, tears filled my eyes. I gave her a hug that lasted maybe longer than appropriate for an employee/ customer/ stranger relationship but honestly, I could have held on longer and she didn’t seem to want to let go either.

His sister, who I helped fit with a new bra, said she needed underwear and proceeded to pick out some, mostly camo design commenting they were perfect. Mom was telling me how she’d decided to wear her sons underwear, overtop of hers of course, she joked. His was the expensive Saxx kind so she didn’t want them to go to waste.

Its nice to have a part of him with you always I said.

Her eyes said the rest.

Before she left I told her that I hoped tomorrow went ok, that I will light a candle for her son. She thanked me. I felt her pain without words leaving her mouth.

I got home and Googled local motorcycle deaths etc, I couldn’t find it, I wanted to do something, know his full name.  He was trying to sell the motorcycle and was becoming a firefighter.

I pray for peace for his family.

people-at-a-funeral-104302966-57e83d435f9b586c356d9645

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Grief is a Daily Challenge

PSX_20190828_071930

 

I searched and searched the internet, library and book stores after my daughter and then both grandmother’s died all 3 within 4 months.

I needed to understand death, understand why.

How do we live so unabashedly  blind pretending we and others wont die?

In the book:

Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss

By Sumeet Kumar

I found the quote above and for whatever reason it resonates with me.

So I’m sharing it with you.

After I made it into a pretty meme if course.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

 

 

 

Some days….

Grief poems, thoughts & rituals.PSX_20190827_072120

 

Made my first meme with a poem I wrote 6 years ago for my daughter…

That is what I love about writing, keeping journals, diary posts etc… You can go back to exactly how you felt at a certain moment in time be it happy or sad.

Sheri