It is ok to be sad

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

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

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

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

Namaste

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your moments,  Live, Laugh, Love.

Namaste.

Thanks for reading, Sheri.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 8 Grief and loss books.

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MY TOP 8 BOOKS ON GRIEF AND LOSS

In the dark hours 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. We search endlessly for books 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 3 short years since my daughters death, the ones that helped me cope were actually the fictional stories of parents suffering tragedy, in a very morbid way I was comforted. But I also read many books written specifically to help the bereaved and as I 3 years ago would have loved to have stumbled upon a list of grief books I didn’t, so I will share the top 8 that helped me to this day, when my daughter would have been 3.5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#7 – “Wave”,  by Sonali Deraniyagala

#8 – “Her”,  by Christa Parravani

wings

Thanks for reading, Namaste. Sheri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 years.

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My daughter Lily was born still.

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

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

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

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

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

Capture your Grief Poetry 11-15

Altar

Christening

Marriage

Funeral

Service

To rejoice

To love

To cherish

To remember

To dread

Or

Is an altar a business based on your feelings

Or

 A need society has imposed

By Sheri Hall

Music

Fills your heart with a memory

Clears your head from thought

or

Floods your head with memory

Hurts your heart with thought

By Sheri Hall

 

Season

Sparkles in their eyes while a different kind shines in yours

Memories to be made while ones haunt you from before

Laughter becomes forgetfulness if only for a moment

A season can bring many things to light

A summer breeze drawing a calming breathe

A winter chill forcing us to hug tighter

A fragrant bloom making us smile

A falling leaf reminding us we all die

By Sheri Hall

Dark; Light

The dark part of you mind that you run from to find the light

The brightness that makes you cringe and want to hide in the dark

A light chat about the weather can turn into a dark chat about life

A dark sorrow shared can turn into a light weight lifted

Without one there can not be the other

By Sheri Hall

 

Community

Surrounds you; crushes you

Feels you; sympathises you

Feeds you; helps you

Loves to leave you patting themselves on the back

Helps the struggling; counsels the lost

Paid minimally; unappreciated  by their boss

Government; society; a mixed up bunch of ethics

Want versus need gets ignored through greed

Community can mean so many different things

All becomes irrelevant; traveling into the wind

By Sheri Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Up next 16,17 & 18

 

 

 

 

 

Feb. 14 2012

I was naïvely hopeful, ignorantly wistful, my baby had a setback, that was all. We would be discharged very soon and back home to deal with our new reality. I was so focused on what had to be done to live with and take care of a child with multiple disabilities that I had no room for any other reason or facts. I needed to deal with the very arduous task of the hard future, ordering machines, thinking about lifts or special classes or needs necessities. I was blindsided.

She was admitted on Feb, 12 2012 after turning blue in her fathers arms, he screamed for me, I yelled to call 911, I gave her CPR, the attendant told me to lift her neck, a rush of quietly gasping air rushed out, oh ya. I forgot that part; guilt saved for later. She was breathing; gasping. the ambulance came within minutes. Amazing.

The next day a blur, the day after that Valentines day. I walked to the store, down the hall from the PICU in BCCH and bought these three, with so much hope. I bought Lily the little grey elephant thinking it represented her so well, her brothers got what also represented them and they still sleep with them on their bed until this day. I knew or thought, naïvely, at that time, that I would buy her a big one just like her brothers got the next year. I wanted her to pick the one she wanted. Except that did not happen, the next Valentines with her never happened. Forever a heart holiday, just now a broken reminder of one. Not the hopeful ending that everyone is comfortable with but the truth.

lilys-elephant

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Capture your Grief Poetry Days 8-10

 

Resource

1 800 grief; if only it were so simple

Wanting for a space for it to be free

Holed up in your soul crying; banging on your heart to be let out

Book after book, searching for answers

If only there was a number to call

The other end knowing  all

By Sheri Hall

Memory

Those eyes pierced in mine

A memory that fades over time

Her smile etched on my heart

Harder to see the longer we’ve been apart

Memory is a funny thing

The ones we wish to stay linger at the edges

The ones we wish to forget

Haunt us; dredges

Our souls cry for the memory of a last touch

Our mind remembers the last breath

To jump into a memory for a moment would be bliss

A painful fall; willing to risk

By Sheri Hall

Support

Awkward glances, wayward looks

Silent pity

The imaginary hallway that forms as you move pass

A parameter appears where there seems to be a shield

Forcing the uncomfortable ones aside

It is ok, their support will come

A time appears when you look others in the eye; again

You see their shy smile

 You understand over time; they want to support but did not know how

They gave you space; that was their support

Others came in unabashedly

Some even annoyingly

The support you appreciate most after all is the silent ones

The quiet notes left behind

The understanding nods

The support we do not always see

But after time we feel it

We learn it was there all along

By Sheri Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Up next 11,12 & 13

Capture your grief Poetry

Journal

It holds your private thoughts

Can carry your hidden dreams

A permanent record of you

The innocence of a first diary entry

Becomes the necessity of exploring your world in writing

By Sheri Hall

Books

Filling through page after page

Searching for answers

Looking for new ones to feed the need to know

Discovering a new topic or writer

light turns to dark and you just cannot stop

Fallen asleep with the spine on your chest

Waking to dried tears on a page

Underlining words that give you pause

The pile of precious books that never leaves your night table

You’ve read them over and over

They have taught you

Some have carried you

The love of a certain book is a private space

That if you allow you will fall in love with the solitary companion

That is a book

By Sheri Hall

Sacred Place

Quiet or loud

Near or far

Bright or dark

Our sacred place is always in our heart

We feel peace

We feel pain

We feel light

That sacred place hears our plight

To escape

To feel

To remember

Even if not a  physical place

Our sacred place is there

In our heart

In our mind

In a forest

On a bench

On a beach

On a boat

A temple

A church

A walk

Your place of worship

Yours to chose

Your sacred place you will never lose

By Sheri Hall

Thank you for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Up Next # 8, 9, 10

Poems on the Heart, Before & Now

Heart

I felt my heart break

 As the words I did not want to hear filled the silence

Your child will die

Even as I write about her

I feel my heart beat so violently

As my hands begin to shake on the keyboard

Remembering that moment my heart broke

Feels it is cracking a little more

At the memory

Her heart was broken when she was born

That is why she is not here

Now we share a broken heart

Though I must live with mine

By Sheri Hall

Before

Ignorance was bliss

Death a distant thought

Problems petty

Always enough time

Free to complain

Love to whine

Future filled with dreams

Undetermined life to complete

All the space to be free

Before is now a category

No longer a dream

A reality

That never came to be

By Sheri Hall

Now

I look for signs

A flower unsuspectedly growing where one was not planted

A cloud shaped like a heart floating by

Hummingbirds buzzing at the front door; never seen there before

A sudden star beaming from the sky

The song at just the right time on the way home

Unprovoked thoughts

 Sudden tears

Overheard words

Irrational fears

Guilt claims a space

Regret moves in next door

Reality sets in

The new normal

Must begin

Now

By Sheri Hall

 

Thanks for reading

(up next #5,6 & 7)

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Namaste,

Sheri

Dealing with Grief

I want to share some thoughts on the grieving process and hope you will share your feelings and thoughts as well.

I have encountered many types of loss over the last ten years and as I am an analytical person I tend to look for similarities, differences and coincidences or circumstances in things.

For example when I first attended a bereavement group, after trying individual counselling (with four different counsellors- two women, two were men, neither helped, because in my mind, though they had been trained in psychology and counselling they clearly had never experienced a raw grief circumstance, I am basing this on their comment and reactions, anyways, at the bereavement group I met a lot, too many, parents that had lost children and babies of all ages to all sorts of circumstances, in the two years that I attended and I will never forget the first time I went. I shook the whole drive there, I cried the whole time being there, blubbering my way through my reason for going. I felt so comforted, in a morbid way I guess to hear their stories and know that I was not alone in my feelings. Fast forward to a few months in and I had gotten to know quite well a few of the moms and dads that regularly attended as well as listened to a few random people that came and went every week, ones son was killed by a drunk driver, ones child fell out a window, shocking and troubling to listen to, when you feel the pain in someone’s voice. But after listening to the ones that had older children die, I started to feel like maybe I was not deserving to feel the grief I was, after all some of these parents watched their kids suffer for months, some years with terminal illness, some were so in shock at their healthy 3 or 4 year old being suddenly diagnosed and dying immediately, it was so very heartbreaking. I was living in a bubble of other people’s pain and you know it was easier than focusing on my own pain. But I also remember feeling like, wow these people deserve to grieve more than me because of their loss being more prominent than my two month old dying.

As I lived through the fog of raw grief which in my opinion does not start until after the shock wears off, which can take a few weeks or months, for me it was almost six months when it hit me, when I allowed myself to re live what we went through in such a short time. And I was suddenly stuck in raw grief; I was back at that first meeting as a blubbering fool. I remember one of the dads telling me after a long rambling of me sobbing and saying what’s the point to life when this stuff happens, when there is so much suffering, I kept saying why, why. And he came to me after and said that his wife (who was not there that night) had said such similar things not long ago, they had been going a year before me so this was over a year into their loss and seven or so months into mine, I was sad to know that she felt the same but also in knowing my thoughts were not random, were not crazy, I felt comforted.

Then comes the realization of firsts, around a years’ time, the first Halloween, Christmas, Birthday. And this is when most people think that after the first you should be done grieving and moving on.

This is so wrong.

Grief is a struggle to live through and learn from without the judgment of others.

But you find yourself pretending you’re “better” because you don’t want them to think you’re stuck because unfortunately that is what some think. Because for example when their high school friend died in a tragic car accident they remember being really sad for a few months but after that first year it didn’t really affect them anymore and they relate this loss to your loss.

I too have lost many acquaintances and friends from high school, a few cousins and few close friends, and a few co- workers. It sucks, yes, it’s hard, yes, it’s sad, yes, you feel for their lost life, their family, but it’s not the same as when you lose your mom who is your best friend and she dies suddenly after fighting breast cancer. Or when your child of seventeen gets diagnose with terminal cancer, or any ones child dies, or when your spouse gets killed in an accident or when your best friend or sibling that you cannot live without suddenly dies. I am not saying these people have a right to grieve more, I just believe that their grief is very different than the other. It is very different when someone dies of old age then when someone dies tragically from suicide or murder or a genetic malformation but sometimes we lump loss together, and ‘sympathy lasts longer than grief’ but someone living with or through their grief will often tell you they do not want sympathy, they simply want to be allowed to grieve in their own time, they want to feel sad when they feel sad and they want not to be judged or ignored. It is a different type of grief it is still grief and I am not trying to dumb down one to the other, I just feel that those that think you should be ‘done grieving’ are the ones that have experienced only the preceding types, the ones where you feel sad for a short time, I think that is called empathy not grief.

I invite you to share your thoughts on grief.

Thanks for reading.

Namaste,

Sheri

Capture your Grief in 18 days

February 1 2017

In 17 days on the 18th of February it will be 5 years since my daughter Lily died unexpectedly in my arms, I say unexpectedly not because we did not know something was wrong but we were so surprised at what we were suddenly going through and although we learned of many complications in her tiny body that made it impossible for her to live, we learned those in the matter of a week, the last week of her life, after many scans and x rays, until that point we had a healthy pregnancy followed by a traumatic delivery that was to leave her with a disability, the seriousness of it to be determined as she grew. But she did not grow, she died. She died after they told us she would never breathe on her own, after they told us she needed a tracheotomy and 3 heart surgeries but was not nearly healthy enough to survive 1 surgery  let alone 4 and so we allowed them to remove her breathing tube and she died in our arms. I remember that day like a dream. I held her so tight praying for her to breathe on her own, I remember not wanting to look at her in case her face was blue; not wanting that to be my last memory of her. I remember walking down an incredibly loud hallway that was filled with silence, back to our car, not to return to that hospital for a year but that time to see her memorial tile that now sits outside the NICU. Numb with the shock of what just happened.

So in honor of the 5th year of her lost life I will be writing my grief in poem or short story form with Carly Marie’s Capture your Grief as a guideline ( photo below).

I will post them like the poem writing challenge of December, in groups of 3, although feeling overwhelmed today I may just be able to do 1. -Sunrise

Thank you for reading,

I hope you enjoy and implore you to write for yourself, to heal yourself, to help understand your grief or life changes that leave us feeling lost and confused.

Namaste,

Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45

 

Sunrise

The dawn of a new day

The first light seeps in

the thoughts come rushing back

the ones that kept me awake

praying for morning to come quickly

The memory of the previous week

was it all a dream

can I disappear into the sunset

and return with you in the sunrise

I wish I did not have to open my eyes

I sat for hours on a bench

 watching the sun come over the tree tops

 wondering where you have gone

dreaming you were watching this morning sky with me

But alas there will be many more without you

The beauty of them has not left me blind

so I assume I will be okay

the words it paints across the sky

fill my heart with hope

that tomorrows’ sunrise

I will be fine in time

By Sheri Hall

 

 

 

The underside of my heart… or bunk bed.

bunk-bed

 

This is the underside of my kids bunk bed, this is what I have looked at, often fallen asleep staring at while holding my little babies as they too fell asleep. A memory that will forever be in my heart. Let me explain, all three of my kids have slept in this bottom bunk, the upside down Spider-Man on the right was placed there by my oldest when he was two and a half, he loved spider man. He went through three different Spider-Man costumes from the ages of two to five because he wore them as a daily uniform. The Scooby doo sticker placed there by my second born who to this day still loves Scooby, often wearing Scooby doo t-shirts and watching it on TV or reading Scooby books at night. The Barbie sticker placed by the recent occupant of the bottom bunk my fourth child, my princess, my hope. Who is the girlish of girls that loves all that is pink or sparkly. She loves it when I wear heels or jewellery, which is rare.

But why is the underside of this bunk the underside of my heart?

I have spent eight years laying here holding, comforting, reading to and staring at my beautiful children. I have spent nights beside them when they have been sick or scared from a bad dream. I have escaped to this bed after an argument with my spouse to hold their tiny bodies as a comfort myself. I have cried many times staring up at these stickers, wishing time would stop, wanting them not grow up anymore. But also it is my heart because I spent over a year holding my second born, while my oldest was on the top bunk reading aloud to them both, then singing aloud to them both all the while thru tears, pausing to breathe between the shaking of my breath, I was lucky I suppose they were too little to notice I was crying. Certain books got me, like Robert Munsch’s ‘Love You Forever’ or my kindergarteners favorite ‘The Kissing Hand’ which taught him to kiss my hand every time I left him at school and he needed one on his palm in return to hold until the end of the day or a certain lullaby, most have references to babies in them but mostly it was right after I lost my third child at two months old that I cried every night I put them to bed. I cried because I was wasn’t putting her to bed, I cried because I was terrified of losing them too. I cried because I always end my string of lullabies with a song that has her name in it. I was and am still comforted that I had those moments, as hard as they were, they consoled my grief, being able to be with them and not be alone with my thoughts. The physical pain in those early days was excruciating to bare, but I would go back to feel it in a heartbeat.

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

Living with the right regrets; letting go of the rest.

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Dealing with My Grief

Living with the right regrets; letting go of the rest.

I know I will always have the one regret of not holding you enough.

You came home for the first time two years ago today, if I knew you’d be going back in two weeks and then gone in three, oh god how I would have done it differently. I would have taken us all away for those two glorious weeks to be together just us, I never would have let you go, carrying you everywhere, I would have bathed you every day, and cuddled you all night every night. I’m sorry none of that happened, almost the opposite did and I will live with that regret forever.

‘Your regrets aren’t what you did, but what you didn’t do. So I take every opportunity.’
-Cameron Diaz

When I was in my early twenties I regretted a lot of things I did in my teen years, when I was in my…

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Fear; Why?

Why do we fear the unknown, change makes us nervous, our differences concern us, the similarities bother us; we fear it all. To some, fear strangles them to be motionless; others it pushes them forward. The great Franklin D. Roosevelt, the thirty second president, the only president in American history to be elected four consecutive times, famously said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Instead we fear death, we fear life, we fear truth, we fear consequence and it all makes no sense.

At a young age we are taught to be afraid. Watch out for cars, do not talk to strangers, have a fire escape plan, an earthquake plan, get your annual eye, teeth and body checkups, we need to make sure your not dying of some unknown or hidden cancer. We learn to be afraid of the dark or being alone. Some put their trust or faith in God and others are perfectly happy without that, but what when you do not have faith, have you lost hope; you have become afraid of everything because of the endless supply of hardships that happen in life. Because the news tells you everyone is out to get you. Perhaps had you not been afraid, had you chosen a different path things may have gone differently. Now you are skeptical and nervous of change. Maybe you took the easy path and live in wonder, guilt or regret. Sometimes the road you take is the one you followed blindly, but ended up suffering anyway because it was your journey to take in order to see things differently. The hard road can sometimes be the more rewarding one, even if it is scary with an outcome unknown.

I do believe life is suffering, it is the first of four noble truths taught in Buddhism, life is filled with misery and pain when we accept that and know the fear is only in our mind. We become free. We learn to let go of what we cannot control. We can appreciate the simple, happy moments, but also learn to accept that it is not always that way, nor does it need to be that way. Life is hard, as young children we are taught to be cautioned by all around us. Marketing tells us we need things, shiny cars, big houses and expensive clothes to be happy. Media tells us to be afraid; look at all the bad things out there via the news. But what we need is quiet reflection, inner peace and acceptance of self and of death, as well as, letting go of our fears. I tell my kids all the time there is nothing to be afraid of because it wastes your time to worry or be scared. Usually if you assume the worst but hope for the best you should always be happy for just having done. Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher, journalist and poet said “always do what you are afraid to do.” The point I am trying to make.

When you see death first hand you see life being ripped away, unfairly, tragically, when you understand suffering throughout the world around you, you learn compassion, and to feel sorrow and grief can teach us to appreciate the simple, fleeting happy moments. When you can see there is nothing to fear; then you can just live. When thinking not of you but of others and not of their opinion but of their well being you can help them and appreciate more. Dorothy Thompson, an American journalist and radio broadcaster has instilled in me her words “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

We are afraid to tell the truth, but we are afraid of lying. We seem to be afraid of living, so what if our honesty makes others uncomfortable. Is it better to bear grudges in the confines of our homes as to not upset anyone but ourselves? We have learned to smile, nod and pretend everything will be ok, that no one is going to die so long as we don’t talk about it and as long as we take all the necessary precautions to be afraid enough to stay alive. Get that giant rug and sweep all the unpleasantness under it, take our happy pills and wonder secretly if were addicted or why can’t we just be happy on our own. And one day when we lay on our death bed wondering why we wasted so much time being afraid, not taking risks, and trying to fit into the mold of others. Or we can acknowledge that life is hard it is not always perfect. We can see life’s struggles and its misery at face value. We can accept that in accepting our fatality I believe we can let go of our fear.

I tell my kids that nothing is free, most things are not fair and everything will be hard but that there is nothing to be afraid of. You have to learn, work hard and never stop trying. You have to keep learning and keep trying until you die. I choose to respect my kids growing brains and allow them to digest the truth. Hopefully they will understand hard work, accept death, let go of fear, work through frustration and live in reality not regret. But also appreciate the tiny happy moments because we do not know when the next one will be. Lastly, as Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence said “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom”. If we can be more honest with ourselves and each other, about the reality of life, about the unobtainable expectations, understand that there always will be an unknown factor but that knowing would not change what we should do if we did things honestly. We cannot erase the unknown but we can ignore the fear it brings.

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri