About sheri777

I am a married, working, mother to 3. A writer. An environmentalists. A grief advocate. Co- author of 'letters to loved ones- A journey through Grief'. I am also a bereaved mother. I lost my 1rst daughter, my third child in 2012. I also lost my maternal & paternal grandmothers the same year within months of my daughter. As well as, many friends to suicide, drug overdoses, car accidents and violence. The year my daughter died I lost myself. My eyes were ripped open to a new world. A world where each city has hundreds of parents who lose children every day/week/year. I met too many parents who lost kids to cancer, who have had multiple stillbirths. Dealing with my grief is literally that- how I have dealt with my grief that first year, how I have continued my journey through my grief in hopes of helping others with theirs. Thanks for reading. 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

Coping with grief at work.

Coping with loss and grief at work…

COVID-19

Mental Health Index

Resources for organizations

Toolkit for individuals

AbilitiCBT – government-sponsored mental health program

WellCan – free mental health resources

No one is ever fully prepared for the death of a valued co-worker. You may find it hard to accept that the person is really “gone.” Or you may wonder how your team can function without someone who was such an important or well-liked member of the team. LifeWorks can help you cope.

When a co-worker dies you may feel numb or shocked at first. If you have worked closely with the person for years, you may feel as though tragedy had struck a member of your own family. Here are some ways to cope:

Expect to have many emotions

After learning that someone has died you may have very intense feelings—fear, anger, shock, guilt, confusion, or sadness. You may also have questions about your own mortality or wonder if the same thing could happen to you. Keep in mind that all of these emotions are a normal part of grief and usually ease with time.

Remember that everybody grieves in a different way

Your response to a death may be very different from that of the people around you. Allow your co-workers to grieve in their own way—especially if they didn’t know the person as well as you did. And try not to make judgments about how they or you ”should” or ”shouldn’t” be feeling.

Talk to others about how you’re feeling

It’s normal to feel very sad or have trouble concentrating when a co-worker dies, but if you find that you’re unable to resume normal work patterns after a while, talk with someone who may be able to give you ideas on how to cope—your LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. Also consider reaching out to a friend, family member, co-worker or manager.

Recognize the challenge of grieving from a distance

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives—including how we cope with death. Families are unable to touch or even be in the same room as loved ones who have died for fear of becoming infected. Try to remain in touch with family or friends who share your loss. When you are unable to be physically present, this means phoning them, texting them, arranging a video chat, or sending an email or letter. The coronavirus pandemic won’t last forever, and once restrictions have been eased there will be an opportunity to remember the person you lost with those that are close to you at a commemoration event.

Contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

If you’re struggling with a loss, or any other concern related to COVID-19, your assistance program is here to help. Call to be connected with LifeWorks’ trusted consultants.


Wellbeing and Employee Assistance Program 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at workhealthlife.com 

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/managing-workplace-issues/grief-response

great resources in links above.

Todays world is ever changing; it can be overwhelming. Add death of an acquaintance, co worker, family friend or worse, someone really close to you and your work life balance can be thrown off. We all need to take time for ourselves when we feel overwhelmed.

Take care of yourselves please.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

*parts of this information and tips have been copied from mental health Canada govt site.

Why I Hate September

Edited Sept 2020 to reflect more currently.

Dealing With My Grief

Why I hate September;Fall and Winter….

September is the end of summer the beginning of Fall, the beginning of a new school year, my kids are a year, a grade older, time does not stop, things keep changing. Leaves fall and plants die. The ‘season’ is starting but for me its my season of grief and remembrance. The lead up to what should be my 3rd child’s birthday on December 30th and not what it is which is the lead up to my third child’s death day, February 18th. Christmas was my favorite, now its something to get through. The years gone have made the pain lessen but the reminders and memories are and will always be there no doubt….

Sept 2011– My nightmare begins. I was 6.5months pregnant with my 3rd child. I started having terrible thoughts, feelings of anxiety and despair I didn’t know what was…

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Dont suffer alone- call someone.

Today is National Suicide Awareness Day.
You are not alone, you are important and Valued on this earth.

Dealing With My Grief

If you’re struggling with some tough emotions or feeling lonely, don’t hesitate.

Across Canada

*** call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

***  Kids Help Phone  1-800-668-6868 http://kidshelpphone.ca

*** Canadian Mental Health Association  http://cmha.ca

*** http://www.letstalk.bell.ca

Across BC

Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC

  Greater Vancouver: 604-872-3311
  Toll Free: 1-866-661-3311 

Through the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888   

http://www.vicrisis.ca

CrisisCentreChat.ca   

24 Hour Crisis Lines.

 ***Greater Vancouver • 604-872-3311
*** Howe Sound & Sunshine Coast • 1-866-661-3311
 ***TTY • 1-866-872-0113

http://www.crisiscentrechat.ca

In USA 1-800-273-8255

http://www.suicideprevention.org

suicide line

 

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