Signs…

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This past December 30th 2020, I worked for the first time on my daughter Lily’s birthday, I did try to get it off, but no one is allowed time off over the holidays. I am sure I could have said why I wanted it off and had been granted but I didn’t want to play the dead child card. So I worked, two work friends checked in to see if I was ok, and that meant much more than I previously realized.

It rained that day.

Every December 30 since 2012 her first birthday after she died it has been sunny, we have gone to White Rock the city by the ocean where she was born to throw lilies in the water. It has been a cold but sunny day each year. This past December 30th 2020, her should be ninth birthday, that I worked.

But this year it rained, for the first time.

In the past few weeks since, I have found three dimes, one in a pocket, one on the laundry room floor and one in the garage. I know, I know, so what, but why is it always dimes? Why not pennies, or quarters, or any combination of random coins? Since her death I have kept the dimes, now a pile by her candle that I light, when I feel the need to.

This morning, I woke up to a smashed angel, the angel that sits atop her container that holds her ashes on my mantle. I have around ten random angel statues around in and and out of the house, this is the third I have found broken in the last few years. It doesn’t upset me, but it doesn’t feel right either. The first one was broken in my garden to which no one could figure out how or why, I figure weather? Softened and cracked it…to the pieces it suddenly sat in…the second also in the garden but a different area, had broken a wing suddenly, maybe a bird? and now the third, most likely knocked of by one of the cats, though I never heard it fall even though it was in the still of the night sat broken on the floor this morning. I glued it together as best I could. But its still broken, as she was, my broken daughter who died.

I wore a purple sweater to her funeral, purple because she had this purple knit tuque that she was given at the hospital when she was born, that had a blood stain on it from where they poked her in vain to get an IV in on the day she died. That stain is still there, faded, but there. Now when I see that same lavender purple I think of her, but all purple belongs to her now. Today, as I walked into my closet, the first thing I saw was that purple sweater, that I wore February 18 2012, a sweater I have only worn a few times since and always in her honor. It is not like it sits at the front of my closet but today I saw it immediately and put it on.

In three days it will be February 18, nine years to the day she died. It snowed yesterday. Not odd for many places but odd for the temped northwest. I was given the day (the 18th) off originally but then scheduled to work. I asked three times for it to be fixed, it finally was. I cant work that day. Her birthday in a way is not the worst even though there is no celebration, it is still the day she came into this world and our family. So in that sense not a sad day. But February 18th was the worst day in my life, forever. The hardest decisions were made, the most painful goodbye followed. A day etched in my mind as I become trapped in those quiet white halls of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit all over again. I remember every second of that day as though they just happened. Then it all blurs, the next day, the next week, the next years, all a blur.

On February 18th, in the past, there have been rainbows, butterflies and hummingbirds that have suddenly appeared. I wonder what sign if any there may be in three days…

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Triggers

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This image is from a commercial about insurance? Not babies, but this .5 sec shot caught me, froze me. Sets a series of thoughts, emotions and highlights the post traumatic stress that squeezed my heart in that moment.

I remember her foot in my hand. Her tiny sweet itty bitty foot…

The molds the hospital made for us of our beautiful girls feet and hand. With her purple toque that still has her blood stain.

Her first week home after 1 month in the hospital.
In 8 days, it will be the 9th deathversary of my sweet girl, my first daughter, my third child, my sons first sister. I always wonder, who she’d be today.

It will be the 9th time, I re live your death, those last few hours, days, moments with you. This photo below just 2 days before you went back to the hospital. We had so much hope that morning, so much love. Gone 8 days later on February 18 2012.

Will they ever know how this changed them. As they anticipated their sister but suddenly lost their mother, no warning, no reason, but she was gone, at the hospital for a month. Happy now both mom and sister home. Not knowing what was to come in the next weeks and how the next few years are affected and will change their upbringing. My heart breaks for my boys when I remember the before. And acknowledge the after.

Thanks for reading,

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 Birthday 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,

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

Personal content created by Sheri Hall

I wanted to have all my work in one post, these are all written by me, put on photos taken by me or drawings drawn by me that I created for myself, for growth, to share with my grief community, family and friends.

A poem for my angel on her 4th birthday

Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting.

Happy Spring.

Sheri

Life long grief.

Its not so much that I grieve (her) anymore but that I am shocked at how much it still hurts at random.

This February 18 will be the 9th anniversary of her death.

I am not consumed by grief but still get overwhelmed at times at the feelings and hurts that pop up.

The way they call mom because something fell, the way they look at me as I see her photo frame smashed, the way they say sorry as I quietly carry the remnants upstairs.. again, the rage mixed with pain, I hide as I struggle to control and deal with something I don’t know how to.I had this photo blown up Feb.25.2012 Steve thought it was too big and couldn’t look at it, so I had to put it in a room he didn’t go in a lot… its where the kids play.

The frame has been broken from it being knocked off the wall 3x in the last year during this pandemic. Why this year, I don’t know. Fine and untouched since made almost 9 years ago.I got the photo this big because I wanted her to be lifesize, I wanted to remember every inch and sometimes I wish I didn’t.

But not in the way it sounds but in that I wish it never happened. That had she lived these moments of pain and reflection wouldn’t happen.

Thank for reading.

Sheri

The body remembers

It is her ninth birthday today, I woke up at 2am, the same time I got up nine years ago having contractions and headed to the hospital. Except that today is very different, no hope or anticipation just anguish and darkness, a wish for the day to be done if I can be honest.

This will be the first year I am working on this day. I can hear the rain pound the cement as I lay in bed, the clock slowly ticking, 2:36….3:08…..3:55…4:27….I finally get up at 5 knowing it is hopeless to fall back asleep before my alarm goes off at 5:20.

Its raining, each year on this day we, as a family missing a child and a sibling have gone to White Rock, the place she was born to throw flowers in the ocean and remember her on her birthday, each year it has been sunny. Each year until now, until today, it is raining, and not just a light misty rain, a heavy soaking your feet if you go outside rain. And I am off to work not the beach. Her dad and I fought last night, also a first, usually very quiet and somber in the days that lead up to her birthday. But this year has been different, unequivocally for all and we are no exception.

I am going to be tired today, I am already thinking of going to bed when I get home from work, except that I have three other kids who will need things of me. At some point like all years past I will break but for now, I will be still. Quiet.

My body shakes when I allow it to remember, I hold back the images that haunt me so I don’t fall, not yet. I have to get through the day first. I bought a cake yesterday my daughter Hope was so happy to see it, I asked if she knew why, she is still too young to understand calendars and dates fully, I tell her its Lilys birthday, she nods. Then proceeds to tell me of her new friend named Lily at school who she loves playing with. I know the girl she is talking about, I know of each girl named Lily at their school, many times have I stood frozen as their mothers called them as they unknowingly stood near or behind me. It’s a sweet innocence in that I think she is telling me this as a comfort and it is, but it is because knowing she is happy is what is comforting. So I will go to work, hopefully need to interact very little, do my job and come home.

I will find a moment to reflect and honor in my own space. But as I have learned in the last nine years, time keeps going, nothing stops, not even for grief. But the body remembers…

Thanks for reading

Sheri

December chills

**Trigger Warning: traumatic birth event/description

The thoughts that find the way into our psyche are not always pleasant, I suppose that is what happens when we are triggered by a repressed memory or a traumatic event. We have dark feelings, uncomfortable truths run their scenarios into our heads. My whole body feels tense in December, like clockwork as her birthday approaches, as my body remembers the trauma it experienced on that cold early morning of December the thirtieth.

The anticipation that comes after November, the fear that reared mid december, the stillness and silence that fell into January until the near end on February eighteenth. The warning signals that were ignored because of the preparation of Christmas for the siblings who were so anxiously awaiting their baby sisters arrival. ‘The best Christmas present ever’ was once spoken…now its the haunting that remains for Christmas, the white elephant that sits atop the mantel staring at us all, daring for us to mention the hurt that we all pretend doesn’t hover over every December, every Christmas since…

The reminders are everywhere, as the house is decorated, the things bought before and the ornaments gifted to us after. The memory never to be hidden but also rarely spoken as it stares us all in the face.

My body remembers, I often awake in the night in December in a sweat of confusion, where am I , what is happening, a tense feeling consumes my insides, as I slowly wake and remember, I attempt to self soothe that I am alright, I am not in a living nightmare, though my body feels differently to that when it remembers. The hands with tools scraping out my broken placenta, shredded to pieces inside my uterus, the placenta that failed to nourish my baby girl adequately in the last week before her birth, the piece of flesh inside my body that failed to do its job. They scraped every last bit of me dry as I silently cried, knowing my fears were coming true. The commotion to my right, where she lay, I could not make myself turn my head to look, I don’t think I wanted to see, I could not bear the images as well as the physical pain I was already living in at that moment, I don’t think I was able to handle it, my body or I suppose my brain would not let me look. Those are the memories that haunt me every December as her Birthday approaches, as we attempt a ‘happy’ Christmas time..

It is an average of ten degrees celcius this December, quite warm, temped, but I still get chills everyday, my hands are frozen, as is my heart at times when I feel too much. It is a constant mix of allowing the hurt and ignoring the pain. If it creeps in too much, I worry I cannot hide my tears, my face will reveal my sadness. And though my heart is in a constant state of shivering, it is like my bones are always cold, I am shaking inside and tense outside, it is the moment when you know you can cry if you let yourself.

The urge to light her candle that sits by her picture that remains in the corner year round outside what was her room. The guilt if I have forgotten to or have not lit it in a while. The absurd but consoling thought that she knows if I am remembering. Her eyes follow me around the hall, stare down at me as I sit on the floor folding laundry. I glance up at her photo and as I do, I find myself lighting her candle, touching her face in the frame, and continuing my motherly duties for my living children.

She would be turning nine this December thirtieth. I can’t help but wonder if her little sister, who is seven would be here if she lived. It is a dark thought, a morbid path I go down but rarely allow myself to. But it is always there, I want to think that of course she would be here, I would of had my dream, two little boys and two little girls. But the reality is that Lily’s asphyxia at birth gave her brain damage that would have mobilised her to a wheelchair and a feeding tube her whole life and I cannot say for certain that caring for a disabled child would we have found the time or love for each other to consumate and create our precious fourth child. Who by all accounts and confirmed by many grief books happened in and because our grief. Yes, sex, as well as, over eating, undereating, over sleeping, staying up all night, over drinking, or other forms of self medicating are all coping mechanism in grief.

Ours produced a blessing. That I chose to believe would have been born regardless the outcome. She is our miracle.

Out of that pain came Hope and a gratefulness for what Lily taught us in her short life.

Merry Christmas,

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

International Children’s Bereavement Day

January 2012, Lily 3 weeks old, had a J tube inserted so we could bring her home and await more tests. This was a very exited day for my boys who were three and a half and five and a half. They had been waiting and wanting their little sister for months.

A child’s grief is often ignored, most dont have the vocabulary to express what they feel. They will Expres it as anger or sudden unexplained tears. Adults often overlook kids because they are so resilient and seem to move on from topic to topic faster than adults who over obsess a situation.

My older son was affected much more, being older and understanding better what was happening. He was changed, is changed because of her death.

I was blinded by my own grief to be able to focus and help him better than I did.

Though my boys are what kept me going, I was an emotionally absent mother. I was quiet and I stifled tears. I brought them to school when I should have let them stay home.

Today, 8 years later I see those changes vividly, the anger, the anxiety, the obsessive behavior.

I honor all those who’ve experienced death at a young age.

Some links to helpful resources below.

I hope we all can remember to be gentle when kids have big feelings.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Grief and Loss Books

MY TOP BOOKS ON GRIEF AND LOSS

In the dark hours and days/weeks after someone dies we often lay in the actual dark not able to shut off our minds, only wanting to sleep so the pain is not so real; physical.

Or in the literal, as it is such a mental stress load 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 since read many books on grief in the 8 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.

I read books that were supposed to help you cope, or teach you to let go.

I preferred first hand books, but enjoyed fictional grief as a release and comfort as well.

8 years ago I would have loved to have stumbled upon  a list of grief books, I didn’t, so I will share the top 13 that helped me then and the ones I have read more recently.

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

Teaches you how to deal with and accept death.

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

A classic, that unravels the journey through loss.

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

Offers meditations and actions to help grow through your grief

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

A first person account, heart wrenching read.

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

A very hard read but one with love, hurt and compassion that aims to teach growth through learning and acceptance.

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

A unique insight into the understanding of how we all survive trauma in daily life.

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

A true story based on the horrific tsunami that took thousands in Japan in 2011

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

A true story of perseverance of a woman who learns to cope with the death of her husband.

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

Famed author writes of the death of her son in a memoir.

#10 – “Its ok that your not OK” (2017) by Megan Devine

A great insight into accepting our feelings, while dealing with grief.

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

A twins memoir of her sisters struggle in life and ultimate suicide. A very hard read.

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

A memoir from a widower.

#13 – “Letters to Loved ones” (2020) By Jennifer Rickard, Amberly Wilkes, Sheri Hall, Cecelia Jensen, Tanya Winder, Jenise Williams, Matt B, Courtney Glafke, Vicki Catucci, Mary Kendig.

Based on true losses, letters written after death.

I hope these find you solace as they did me.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Triggered

As I was well into my 4th -9 hour shift of the week, why does this matter? Because I am tired, and I have learned I tend to feel things more when I am more run down.

A supervisor, whome I don’t usually work with, randomly tells me of how he, his wife and son raised and donated over 8000$ dollars to the local childrens hospital. They do it every year.

Wow! Thats awesome and… So amazing! I say. Shortly after and wanting to be a friendly co worker, I say, how old is your son? 17, he said.

Still a kid, I say, because to me, as a mother of 4 whose lived 40 years, with a son only 3 years younger than 17, it is still a kid. Olive branch…? He seemed pleased by my response, said something to which was muffled by his mask.

He continues, he was born with congenital heart disease, I freeze, not obviously, but inside. He says, as we do to most who dont know, its holes on your heart, he (his son) had 4. My Lily had 4.

He continues, he had 3 heart surgeries before he was 3.

I re-live the prayer of begging the universe to let Lily survive to have those surgeries.

I have said nothing I realize, so I say what an amazing kid, what a trouper. He says its just who he is. I get that. Its all he’s known, I say.

The chaos of the truth inside me, the reality that crams itself into my head space.

Do I say, I understand what he went through, having a child born with congenital heart disease, the fear he must have felt every time he was stuck at the hospital waiting for tests and eventually surgery. But then I have to explain why and or how or just that mine died.

I felt triggered. But not in an angry way, in a sad way, in a confused and unexpected way. I once vowed to always speak of her because I thought it was in her honor, and as time has passed, I don’t know anymore. Sometimes her memory and life is something I want to keep to myself tucked away in the pocket of my heart that is hers. Sometimes I bring her up for no reason other than a moment triggers a thought of her.

I am not as comfortable making people uncomfortable I guess…

I always wonder how these stories find me, now in the after but rarely or never in the before…

In the end I am happy to have had that painful triggered memory, because sometimes its ok to re-live that moment unexpectedly.

I once hated hearing these ‘success’ stories, because hers was taken, but now, I honestly am happy to hear them. I am happy they did not suffer the same fate. Where before I said why me, why Lily, why not them? I can say when I hear of these similar starts with different endings, I dont feel angry. I have heart for these parents who know what that potential loss anxiety felt like, I have honest joy in my heart for them and that their child lived. Not something I ever thought I’d feel ever again. But I do.

I am grateful for that.

Last weekend, speaking with a small group of friends, we are talking about our kids, as mom’s boringly do. And one is confused because of other scenarios where I have often brought my daughter Hope with her bff or female cousin out together. This friend who I have only known for a couple years, says wait do you have 2 girls or 2 boys? I am not sure how to answer. All the other friends know, she must too. I say reluctantly, 2 boys and a girl. My daughter Hope says mommy does have 2 girls. A beautiful soul understanding my dilemma in the conversation chimes in, what was her name again? Lily I say, and look at the friend who originally questioned, and quietly say she’s gone. She sort of shakes her head and says, oh I know. Another amazing woman there, who has also lost an infant, speaks up and confirms to Hope, yes she does. Your right. We share a common glance of understanding. She breaks the sudden awkwardness by continuing the conversation. I never know what to do when that happens she says, and recounts a recent time it happened with her and the mention of her son who died to a teacher by the younger sibling. It was so nice to have that open conversation and not have it quickly changed as it often is and though I could still feel some uncomfortableness surrounding it. It was welcomed.

I felt grateful for that moment as well.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving

Thanks for reading

Sheri

This is my 40!

Me at 5am, why am I smiling? No idea, other than I think I look old if I am not… Yet in real life, real time, I rarely smile.

No specific reason, just a tired, busy, often overwhelmed mom whose trying to do her best at raising decent kids, whilst attempting to provide a good home, as well as, try to maintain my own personal well being… yeah, going a bit crazy and 40 seems to have pushed me over the illogical and privileged ledge I live on.

I am up at 5am for work, I’ve worked since I was 15, I was privileged enough to not work for ten years while I had my babies. The last four years I’ve chosen to work, for sanity and extra money, because kids are darn expensive, especially as they turn into teens. I asked for today off, I expected it… I learned my assumed privilege needed to be checked and was denied my day off… I realized, even though I wanted a huge celebration of what I consider a huge milestone, during a pandemic is unlikely and selfish.

I realized that me working during the day, is no big task and many cannot afford to take a day off and I needed to check my issues. I was upset that I wasn’t granted the day off. But now, I am over it. I am almost embarrassed at how I felt.

So, hi ho hi ho off to work I go, on my 40th birthday.

My purpose; raising good humans.
My love; trees, nature, solace, running.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri