Capture your Grief; Relationships

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Day 16 – Relationships

Relationships and Grief:

Grief from a death, loss of job, divorce, betrayal of trust, there are so many ways that can be the cause of our discomfort of our grief, as well as, secondary factors that those have led to such as anxiety, sleep problems, claustrophobia, distrust, anger.

To manage so many forced emotions due to one uncontrollable action or many unforeseen events that occurred can be daunting, exhausting, unwanted. So for many we take it our on the relationships closest to us. We yell quicker, we hurt with less care of the result, we ignore or become aggressive to them. Grief can be a major destruction to relationships. It can force us to see someone in a different light, with the new forced lens of our new reality. It can force us to appreciate different things that maybe did not matter before therefore changing how we view a relationships importance to a specific person. Relationships are very complex, that of mother/daughter, father/son and vice versa, that of our spouse or partner, our relationship with our children or nieces and nephews, aunts or uncles. All are very different from each other and can and will be impacted differently by grief.

I think the only advice is to take your alone time, time to walk independently in your own thoughts and not others opinions or judgment. Space away to help figure out emotions without feeling the need to change them for certain people which results in having us begrudge them. Everybody wants to fix you and that in itself is what causes the problem within relationships after an event that causes grief. Distance from those people can help to figure out your own boundaries and navigate each specific need towards dealing with the grief and or situation that has caused it.

An odd fact told to me and my husband after we were told if our daughter survived and lived with all her disabilities is that the divorce rate among parents with disabled kids was higher. Gee thanks? After she died, it was repeated but because of the different reason. I found it, still find it odd that people let alone a doctor would find this information useful let alone necessary. What worked for us was distance, distance from others to live and be in our sorrow without facts or statements from others. People will assume you are withdrawing but no, we need space and time to learn how to navigate on our terms for the new normal we live.

Take your time. You will need it to preserve the relationships that matter.

Thank you for reading,

Sheri

 

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One thing after the next…Keep going.

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Today is my 38th birthday and upon reflecting over this last year these past few days, as we do leading up to the day our form came to be however many years ago.

38th bday

38th Birthday 10/02

 

I was reminded of the post I wrote last year.

https://dealingwithmygrief.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/what-37-years-on-earth-has-taught-me/

And oh how so much can happen, change, shift in 365 days!

Much of last year I felt at peace with the things and goings on of life at 36 into 37th year, so it was the opportune moment for this thing called life to turn mine upside down, toss a wrench in it so to speak!

Shortly after I turned 37 last year,  my brother who is an addict and has spent his life on and off the streets, performing one con after the other with minute breaks of sobriety and actual honest work, decided I had helped him out a lot but not enough for him to appreciate. So he attempted with the help of his then girlfriend, I do not know if they are still together because I have cut all ties.

They attempted to steal my identity and create fraudulent accounts and credit cards in my name, they were successful a teeny bit until they dumbly tried with the actual bank I do business with and my bank called me to confirm my new address to send checks to, ironically the same address my low life brother had just sent me because I wanted to send him a Christmas gift… it was stupid how easy it was to find out it was him. I then spent six weeks leading up to Christmas not preparing my own home or enjoying family time, creating memories but going  physically the six big banks here to clear my name and close any fraudulent accounts that may have been successfully opened, there was one- how someone can open an account on line and over the phone with not showing any identification is clearly wrong and should be impossible but he had my full name and correct birthdate and knowledge of my mothers maiden name, so apparently that was sufficient! Those days visiting the banks was on top of the countless hours spent on the phone with online creditors, who also apparently do not need real identification to attempt to open and gain credit cards with, the common question I was asked- ‘was your wallet stolen?’ I replied with why? did this person show you ID? No. It is sad and frustrating that companies and banks are more willing to help their growth and con artist than do their job and protect people with proper background checks. But I digress, it happened, we caught it early before any real damage, I filled a lawsuit but after a short investigation learned that I, me, the victim must travel to where he lived because it was not in the same Province to file charges with the police where the crime was committed even though it was online to banks and to me who live here not there, I had to go to them, to him, to file suit! that is absurd! This caused major stress on me and my family for a few months and still bothers me immensely when someone brings up my brother, my own flesh and blood, someone I always helps when he asked. Now dead to me.

So yeah that was the beginning of the very trying year I just had leading up to this day, my 38th birthday.

That was last November and December that I was dealing with issues do to the fraud, daily. My daughter’s, what would have been sixth birthday on December 30th was tainted by the anger I was dealing with over being victimized.

Christmas with my other three still young enough to love Christmas was also damaged. But hey, it was a new year, the start of 2018.

Low and behold two weeks into the new year my husband lost his job, his job of fifteen years, a job that was his life, that left me alone for many days, weeks, months during the newborn years of our first two kids lives. A job for a company he grew and helped become even more successful tan it was before. A job that moved us three times causing me/us to lose and remake friendships  in three different cities in one decade. He was shocked, he was hurt, felt betrayed and stabbed in the back. Our marriage already having survived the death of our daughter (a feat not many do) had survived all the moves, the sleepless nights of babies, the long hours alone. Death of the pets we got together when we first met, as many long term relationships, our going on eighteen years, has had many struggles and ups and downs. And now this.

us

17th Anniversary

I didn’t know what to do, or how to help, so I got a full time job, I was lucky I was hired a week after he was let go it all happened so fast and the thing I feel for is my kids, yes they suddenly had their dad at home all the time, its not like they were alone, but I, their mother who had always, 24/7 been there, since pushing them out of my loins was suddenly gone. He had to learn how to care, the constant never ending needs of the children and what that entailed or how it consumes all of your time.

I had to learn to let go. It was very hard, I had the guilt, I had the frustration of things not being done my way anymore, my kids over a few months adapted and seemingly needed me less. It broke my heart. All the while my husband was getting increasingly helpless with his job search, angry with is new life of stay at home dad, though now, in hindsight, I think he appreciates the time he was forced to experience with them, actually, I know he does.

Every summer for the last ten years we have vacationed at the same place, the beachfront on Osoyoos British Columbia, but this year we couldn’t, having lost his company car, we couldn’t, it is also the same week each year that is our anniversary and his birthday and this year happened to be his 40th!

Osoyoos BC

Osoyooos BC

 

so we decided to go to Mexico, summer is the cheapest to go there, as its very hot and more popular in the winter months but off we went.

We landed, it was hot, we got to the hotel, it was hot, we checked in, I unpacked the kids things, went to change myself, unzipped my case and found, it was identical to my case, but not my case. Someone grabbed my luggage and left me theres. I know it is this way because we took the second bus off the plane and when we arrived at baggage our cases or the five remaining cases, the ones we took, was all that was left on the carousel. Now what, Oh and they were having an election the next day so all was closed until Tuesday, we landed on Sunday.

We spent our first day in Mexico trying to get a hold of anyone that could help us from the airline or airport that spoke english. It was even more frustrating because as the mom, in my case was all the toiletries, the kids toothbrushes, the sunscreen. Off we went to buy overpriced shampoo and sunscreen, I swam for the first two days in my husbands boxer shorts and the sports bra I had on since leaving for the trip. I had many moments of anger during this trip because I felt like I was being punished this year and this was my tipping point.  I had no idea what for. I help others as much as I possibly can, I always do the right thing with the options presented, I teach kindness and empathy, I show love to all. Why were all these things, these unfortunate events happening?

On day four I had accepted my things were gone, I had decided I would make the best of it, we may never be able to travel back to Mexico, I need to put my big girl undies on and move forward! I had a sort of awakening, I realized all these things were happening because I was too comfortable in life or at the point I had reached thus far. I was being taught to accept over and over, taught that no matter how much control we think we have, we have none.

case

End of Day 4 They found my suitcase!!

 

 

Here I am a year later from when all the crummy things that bottomed out and unraveled over the last year have hopefully come to a close. who knows what the next year will bring but I know I can handle whatever life throws at me because I have so far! Bring it!

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

wosdomolder

 

The age of realization

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The age of consent, the age of mortality, the age of majority, the age of deceit.

The age of realization. When you realize what is happening around you. What perils occur daily that you cannot ignore.

Is there an age that we suddenly see things differently, we become more aware of events around us.

Children are very self centered, as they need be, they are learning for the very first time, some with little guidance on the ways of the world. Don’t point, use an inside voice, say please and thank you, we don’t hit or bite. No running in the hallways or with scissors. Look both ways before crossing, don’t talk to strangers unless they’re in uniform. So on and so on…

As we grow and age certain things may happen to affect our judgment, faith or trust whether we have good support on how to navigate the hard waters of adolescence is unfortunately left up to luck. Were you lucky enough to have parents that cared, that noticed, that taught right from wrong, that disciplined, that loved.

I have reached an age were I notice mostly other peoples hurt because of a death. A loss. Grief. Tragedy.

However, I am not positive that it is because of my age, it could be my circumstance or perhaps even my psychological  hurt. Maybe I have an overly empathetic heart and over sympathetic mind. Whereas many it seems in todays world go through the growth of maturity but yet stay self centered or have been taught to look out only for number one; themselves. Don’t worry about others seems to be the way of America.

On my FB dealing with grief page people randomly contact me after having lost someone and as painful as it is to hear their stories I am happy to talk to them, to listen to them to console them. Not because it makes either of us feels better, I am often left in tears after a conversation with someone who lost their husband in a truck accident, their nephew by suicide, their son to an overdose, their mother to cancer, it goes on and on. The one constant is the need to be heard, to be felt. To tell the world we are in pain, that this terrible thing that happened is not fair and we don’t know how to deal with it. It is such a unique human reaction,  the one we have to death and loss or tragedy.

The stages of grief have been attempted to be explained by many doctors or physiologists, Khubler Ross has the most commonly know five stages of grief, which are accurate in that you do feel at some point, denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance, some more than others and some much longer than others but that is why we say all losses are different.

The hardest for me at the moment is suicide. Trying to understand why someone can feel so lost, alone, or even hated that they would rather be dead. That they cant understand or know what them taking their own life will do to those around them who love them.

Mostly I am heartbroken at the amount of teenage suicide that happens in todays world.

Globally 160 000 teens annually take their own life, suicide rates in males aged 15-19 rose between 1979 and 1996. Suicide is dominating the country (USA) so badly that it has bumped up to the third leading cause of death in youth aged ten to twenty-four.

This terrifies me, not only because I work with kids who will soon become teenagers that I hopefully can help or pay attention to but also because I have three of my own, one of whom used to yell that he wanted to kill himself whenever he was angry and is almost a teen. My fear is that with such strong emotion as a child, it will lead to emotions so strong the ability to cope will be lost. I am scared.

When I was 15 I took about 10 Tylenols hoping it would kill me, I made myself throw up after 20 minutes because I realized I didn’t really want to give up yet. I look back and remember feeling so lost and alone. My parents were divorcing, I had no real friends but a few acquaintances, I was teased at school constantly, people writing on my locker or screaming names at me like whore or slut. The worst was being called to the principals office and was told to cover up- I was wearing a tank top with slacks? He said my teacher also a male was concerned the boys in class were distracted by me. I hated going to school. I hated being at home, with no parents or family around to care. The point is, is that most 13, 14, 15 year olds go through a hard adjustment and unfortunately today combined with social media and online bullying as well as the highest rates of mental issues to deal with, ADD, ADHD, OCD, Bipolar, anxiety kids have a lot on their plates and we as a society need to recognize and fund more resources for them. We need to teach compassion, mindfulness and techniques to cope with stress if we taught in school lessons on empathy and the importance of helping others instead of pushing our kids to compete with each other to be the best perhaps we can stop this epidemic. As we grow we see the world differently, we realize the people from high school don’t matter and as an adult the only other time I felt so desolate that I wanted to die was when my daughter was born blue with multiple congenital issues. I bargained with ‘god’ or whomever had the power, to take me instead, in the days leading up to her death. But the reason I never considered taking my own life after she died was because it would have left my other two children without their mother and that alone forced me to keep going in those dark days. Today I just want to help others to know they are not alone. Which is why I talk to grievers online, why I started my grief blog and FB page. When I searched for someone to talk to about grief back in 2012 I found nothing. Today there are so many sites, blogs, pages when you Google for help with grief and I am grateful there is so much now and that I can be of help, hopefully, to those that stumble upon my page or blog in their dark days.

Some helpful links:

http://www.futureofpersonalhealth.com/prevention-and-treatment/recognizing-warning-signs-and-finding-students-who-need-mental-health-support?utm_content=buffer2e031&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

https://mentalhealthscreening.org/


Suicide is an epidemic in todays society that gets ignored far too often. Here are few stories that stuck with me. I share them to honor their memory. To acknowledge their suffering.

Amanda Todd 15

Amanda_Todd_-_01

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/amanda-todd-suicide-rcmp-repeatedly-told-of-blackmailer-s-attempts-1.2427097

 

Libby Bell 14

libby bell

https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/libby-bell-adelaide-dies-by-suicide-after-cyberbullying-and-physical-abuse/

 

Amy Everett 14

Amy eliott

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/10/australian-girl-face-iconic-akubra-hat-commits-suicide-aged/

http://www.voiceonline.com/ramandeep-bains-commits-suicide-by-jumping-off-alex-fraser-bridge/   *

*I couldn’t find a photo of Ramandeep Bains but she was 25 and had only been in Canada for 5 years, she left behind a 3 year old son.


This past spring a 15 year old boy named Mitchell David Slater  called his mom to say sorry but he couldn’t take it anymore he hung up and jumped off the Alex Fraser bridge in Delta -05/26/17

The story of Mitchell broke me yesterday after his aunt recounted what happened to me. Mitchell was a smart, handsome boy. Around 900 people showed up to his funeral, he had a girlfriend for 2 years, a loving and supporting mother and aunt. A month before Mitchell jumped off the Alex Fraser bridge they went on a family vacation and all seemed fine. Mitchell is the nephew of a friend I went to high school with, I wrote this post for them.

Mitchell is the smiling boy in the middle. My heart is broken over and over when I think of the pain his mother and his aunt and the rest of his family feels. Mitchell suffered from mental health issues. Suicide phones were installed on the deck of the bridge he jumped off after his death to hopefully help anyone else that finds themselves in that position, hopefully a way out.

mitchell


The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds”.

If you’d like to donate to help mental health initiatives please do so here:

 

The Canadian Mental Health association and British Columbia division

https://cmha.ca/donate/                              https://cmha.bc.ca/get-involved/donate/

 

Mental health foundation of Canada

http://mentalhealthfoundation.ca/ways-to-give/

 

The American foundation for suicide prevention

https://afsp.org/

 

Brains and behavior research center in NY NY

https://www.bbrfoundation.org/

 

Help is only a phone call away

 

suicide line

Thanks for reading and please share you never know who may need it.

Sheri

 

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

 

6

 

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

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

Capture your Grief 2018 : SUNSET

Day 31; Sunset

I took and wrote this back in 2012 during the epitimal raw first year of my grief for the death of my third born child, my first daughter. Lily Hall. Dec 30 2011- Feb 18 2012

I have edited the poem below to how I feel I prefer the end.

Sunset is the last of the days in the Capture your Grief Writing challenge, it makes sense, a sunset, the day is saying goodnight to world through the reflection of the sky.

Good night.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

Sheri

 

 

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SUNSET

In awe of the sunset that reflects off the water

In sadness of the heart that reflects of you

In love with the beauty of you

Sheri Hall

Capture your Grief 2018

Day 28; Shadow and Light

Thoughts dance behind the trees, the flowers sway in the breeze, dewdrops and sunlight alight the minds eye causing wonder to pass by. The shadow and light hold many secrets and stories, some to bold to be seen while others never unseen. We need the light to see the shadows and to feel the shadow to embrace the light. One without the other like night without day.

Day 29; Release

Let go of the hurt the pain feel its release into the universe, let go of the anger and hardship see it float away. Let go of the unknown, the regret, the guilt, to see it for what it is; unnecessary. Let go and live again.

Day 30; Gift of Life

We are given one life, that we know of, we know not our purpose or its meaning but we must do what we can to help, to heal, to grow, to teach and learn. The gift of life is not given to all some a minute, a few hours or weeks, maybe years but not a guarantee of a full one to all. The gift of life should not be taken for granted though it often is. The frugality of our presence overtaken by greed or want, by looks and feels over needs and deeds. The gift of life can feel like a burden to some, not a gift. Life is what you make it. I hope you chose a gift, if not to yourself than to others.

 

 

Thank you for reading,

Sheri

 

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Capture Your Grief 2018

Day 23; Mortality

NOUN

  1. the state of being subject to death.
    “the work is increasingly haunted by thoughts of mortality”
    antonyms:
  2. death, especially on a large scale.
    “the causes of mortality among infants and young children”
    synonyms:
    death · loss of life · dying

 

Day 24; Courage

What forms our courage? Is it our mothers encouraging hand, fathers stern insistence. Is it our ability to bear witness to tragedy and overcome the trauma. Do we learn courage through our mistakes or maybe because of our successes. Being courageous can mean standing up for someone when no one else is but it can also mean getting out of bed to face the day when you want to hide. We are all courageous at many times throughout the day we simply need to notice our own bravery at perhaps not always doing the easy thing but the right thing.

 

Day 25; Who

WHO

Who decides what lives and what dies

How does he or she who decides live with the consequences of their decisions

Who is rightful to grieve and who determines whose loss it really is

When do we know what to say, how to say, who to say it to

Who is the owner of your grief?

Is it the departed or the remaining

Who should we fear; is it who decides who lives or dies

 

Day 26; Beauty

The beauty held in your dark eyes, the long vast endless corridor of dark; the unknown The beauty of the unknown. The beauty revealed in the tiny smirk that you rarely showed and preciously received. The beauty behind your legacy. The lives you left behind forever changed because of the few beautiful moments with you.

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Day 27; Memory

A sound, a scent, a photograph. A movie, novel or painting. A memory held in a frame at the back of our brains waiting to be remembered at the drop of hat. A memory tucked away inside our heart only to be revealed at long last of searching the soul  in hopes for it be re lived. Wanting desperately to be remembered, it comes at long last in a dream or a flicker of a deja-vu rekindling a past thought, triggering that memory to the fore front. The brain holds our memories in a staggering way, we tend to remember the really bad or the extremely exciting, the unforgettable moments that are happy and sad, that have shaped our being. We tend to forget the every day even though we do that more often, we forget the repetitiveness and remember the tragic and the magic, making our memories all that much more unique to how our brain perceived a moment in time for us.

 

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

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Capture your Grief 2018

Day 20; Death

Death

Gasping for air; Breathless in the end

Unable to move; paralyzed from the neck down

Shock to the system;  thoughts fade

Eyes flutter; head drops

You can still hear the sounds and voices around

  Knowing you cannot respond

Eyelids are heavy, chest stops moving

The bright light; you enter holds you in a hug

Unable to fight anymore

Death; is the release of your struggles

And the beginning of their pain

 

Day 21; Myths

What do you believe or is it all just a myth, passed down through centuries of stories. Heaven and hell, myth or fact, most would say fable or hope. In death some see God or a light, how do we know this? or do we wish it to be so. We reunite with those already gone, after death the pain and struggle is over, but is it? Who discovered the myths of the world. Do we really know others truths enough to judge them as untrue. Who are we to decide what does or does not happen, in life or death. I have gone swimming after eating and not suffered a single cramp, gone outside with wet hair and not gotten a cold. Simple myths can be easily debunked but what about the bigger myths of God and enlightenment. I you believe you will achieve yes. I suppose no one will ever truly know what the real myths of life and death is/are/will be.

 

Day 22; Empathy

Empathy is the ability to share someone else’s feelings and/or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s shoes. To feel for someone, to empathize with their pain or hardships, not to feel sorry for but understand it is a struggle. To listen without judgment, to truly hear and feel with someone and not simple half listen and be immediate to offer solution, or want to ‘fix’ the issue, sometimes there is no fix. To be empathetic is an incredible part of being a compassionate and understanding human. It is my wish for the world to be more empathetic to one another. Perhaps it could be a more gentle world.

 

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

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Capture your Grief 2018

Day 17; Gratitude

To be grateful, what is that? Are we grateful of a good deed, grateful for our life, for money, for food, for love? How do we express our gratitude, do we express it only after being reminded, or as a reaction. Is it an innate trait in some but not for others?  To be grateful for a day without tears, or a day without physical pain, can be a simple relief of our everyday stresses. Gratitude is highly underrated and underused but overtly expressed when called out. Could gratitude be taught in school perhaps, teaching expressions of gratefulness for simple things every day. Can we grow our gratitude by being aware our actions and reactions. If we can empathize more with others, show compassion instead of judgment will we feel more honest gratitude. I wish for hat to be true. I wish for a future of empaths and gracious warriors who feel and appreciate the small and necessary over the large and obvious. Today I am grateful to be in a safe place, to be alive, to be able to express myself through writing. I am grateful for today.

 

Day 18; Joy

When someone we love dies suddenly it seems the joy gets sucked out of every aspect of our lives. Food turns bland, colors dull, feelings hurt. The joy of rest turns into dread, dread of the quiet space forced upon our brain to dwell in the pain of our loss. Joy is such a simple word but encompasses so much. The joy in a genuine smile, the joy of laughter between friends, and the joy of a meal shared with family. The feeling of joy disappears and you wonder if it will or is it possible for it to ever return. I think it does very slowly as in years later you may realize you are smiling or laughing and wonder how that happened, you may feel a sort of joy but regret at feeling joy, you may simply experience a lesser joy but joy nonetheless.  There must always be hope for the joy to return.

 

Day 19; Learn

Learning to live a new normal, learning to grieve and accept the loss that is the cause or your discomfort and pain. To re learn a different life without someone that was once pivotal in the way you once lived. Grief or absence of a person can force us to learn things we never had to navigate before, or maybe we decide to learn a new skill to cope or distract. Learning never stops and grief can be an important teacher in our journey of life. Bu only if you allow it to teach you. If you allow the feelings that hurt to be felt, you can learn how to best handle them. For me I learned to garden and grow things and how much I loved it. How it made me feel attached to the mysterious earth that enraptures our bodies and souls. To watch something you plant grow out of nothing, to bloom, to die and re grow can be an amazing tool in accepting the circle of life.

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

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Capture your Grief: Wave of Light 2018

October 15 is international stillborn, miscarriage, infant loss awareness day also known as, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

http://www.october15.ca/ mine

 

At 7pm around the world starting in Australia parents and friends and families will light a candle in honor and memory of a loss, be they from miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. This wave of light carries through the day and countries around the world. At 7pm in your area please light a candle for a baby who died too soon or never got the chance and continue the wave of light.

http://nationalshare.org/?event=wave-of-light-2018

 

Thank you for reading,

Sheri

Capture your Grief; Educate & Connection

Day 13* – Educate : A resources guide to bereavement help

https://www.nicuhelpinghands.org/resources/resources-for-bereaved-parents/

http://www.frazerconsultants.com/2016/07/youre-not-alone-resources-to-help-bereaved-parents/

https://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=wb-nic-gresources

https://www.dyingmatters.org/page/resources-coping-bereavement

https://www.hoag.org/specialties-services/womens-health/education-resources/pregnancy-infant-loss/resources/suggestions-from-bereaved-parents/

https://www.bereavedparentsusa.org/about/for-the-newly-bereaved/

http://grievingchildren.org/grief-resources/

http://www.virtualhospice.ca/en_US/Main+Site+Navigation/Home/Support/Resources/Programs+and+Services/Provincial/Ontario/Bereavement+services.aspx

http://webhealing.com/links-to-grief-resources/

http://www.bereavedparentsofmadison.com/resources.html

https://hopeforbereaved.com/about/hope/

http://www.debra.org/bereavement

http://www.mygriefangels.org/grief-support-directory-.html

*For this days topic I have decided to post links to educational resources for bereaved parents, back in 2012 when my daughter passed away I found very little in the way of help or sites to access, so I know someone will appreciate this list. I am amazed at how many sites there are today compared to 6.5 years ago. It gives me hope to know the stigma around death and grieving is fading.

 

Day 14 –  Connection

In those first raw moments of loss there is no feeling of connection, if anything there is a huge feeling of disconnect and betrayal from the world and all around you. That moment you feel a connection again with someone is incredibly meaningful because after death meaningless relationships become obsolete and unwanted. Though unfortunately we are fortunate to meet other bereaved parents and that is typically the first again connection. the painful loss that connects you. The shared pain of a similar experience that is traumatic and very hard to deal with in the aftermath, these parents who have experienced a similar loss are the connections you needed to seek out. I can name the child and their age at death and or diagnosis and death of every single child of  the beautiful loss moms and dads I have met. Their stories stay with me. I ache for their loss as I do and have my own. That is a connection.

 

Thank you for reading,

Sheri

 

 

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Capture you Grief; Love letter, Honor, Just Breathe.

Day 10 – Love Letter

Dear Lily, I’m sorry is all that always comes to mind first, I’m sorry and I love you. I miss you. I wish I could hold you, to go back in time and never put you down, to bathe your tiny, beautiful body, and caress your hair and touch skin to skin. I’m sorry we never had those sweet moments, I remember the one morning I took you into my bed and cradled you, your head in the curve if my neck. the weight of your tiny body on my chest. that was my best moment with you and I wish there were more. I wish I wasn’t so scared of your tubes falling out that I had held you more. Your soft newborn skin, you freezing cold tip of your nose, and big beautiful eyes. I love you. I wish they could have saved you. I wish my body had made you properly and not missing things you needed to live. I love you and I’m sorry.  Love mom.

 

Day 11 – Honor

I honor you in the garden where I plant the narcissus and stargazers, I honor you in the love I show for others, for all, I honor you by being truthful, helpful but above all brave. I honor you in kindness, in hope, in volunteering. I honor you. I honor you in writing, in sharing, in memory.

 

 

Day 12 -Just Breathe

Just Breathe

                                               The pounding in my chest; just breathe

The blue of your lips please just breathe

The long walk down the cold hall; just breathe

The confusion, commotion and pain; just breathe

The panic, the pumps, the tubes please just breathe

The ache of the memory; just breathe

The swell of the tears; just breathe

The hidden glances, the averted eyes, the look of pity

Just breathe

 

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

 

 

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Capture your Grief; Wisdom/Support/Transformed

Day 7 – Wisdom

Wisdom comes from growth, wisdom comes from pain over happiness, wisdom comes from knowledge and experience. Wisdom cannot come from ignorance, nor can it be born our of prejudice. Wisdom does not discriminate however those who discriminate cannot earn wisdom.  Wisdom comes from acceptance. Wisdom cannot be earned with money nor rewarded with patience, wisdom comes through living in others shoes, empathetic growth teaches wisdom and a life of non judgment  can bring wisdom. When we chose love over hate, our wisdom well gets filled with the many accepting pieces of history that hurt. When we chose knowledge over power we earn the wisdom of self reflection and not obedience. Wisdom can be held in a tall oak tree if you stare and imagine long enough, its view and many visitors. Wisdom is a gift not given to all nor does it come with age but with observation.

 

Day 8 – Support

A gentle smile

A thoughtful wave

A needed hug

A helping hand

A pat on the back

A tap on the shoulder

A meaningful look into ones eyes

A door held open

A bag  helped carry

A card in the mail

A call on the phone

A walk in silence

 

Day 9 – Transformed

One day you wake up and jump pout of bed without noticing you didn’t struggle to get up, the day is half done before you realize how easy it was to get to this point in the day when at another time, the hours dragged for you to move, to shower, to dress, to not get back into bed. This day when it happens, comes as a surprise, when, how did you get here, this day is the beginning of your transformation. Something inside you shifted and wanted more, to keep going, to survive. It can take years before the transformation happens but have faith in yourself, you can get there. One day. You will transform. Your pain into growth will guide you. Be open.

 

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

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