About sheri777

I am a married, stay at home mother of 4 and an aspiring writer. I am also bereaved & grieving. I lost my 1rst daughter, my third child in 2012. I also lost my maternal & paternal grandmothers the same year within months. I lost myself. Dealing with my grief is literally that- how I dealt with my grief that first year, how I have continued my journey through my grief. Thanks for reading.

Father’s Day and Baby Loss

Father’s Day and Baby Loss

By Tara Shafer

If women feel alone in grief following the loss of a pregnancy or infant, the solitude of the father is both palpable and largely unacknowledged.  “Helping Men with the Trauma of Miscarriage,” published in Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training in 2010, Mark Kiselica, Ph.D, and Martha Rinehart, PhD examined the issue of men following baby loss and concluded that the fathers’ grief was often dismissed by others. In “Psychological Impact of Stillbirth on Fathers in the Subsequent Pregnancy and Puerperium,” researchers found that following a stillbirth, men had elevated rates of anxiety and were at heightened risk for PTSD, in much the same way as their female counterparts.  Many fathers report wishing that they had had more and better access to care.

Speaking in broad generalities, there are a number of factors that may influence how men seek support in grief and which conspire against them. In a medical setting, for example, the health care is administered to the woman, reinforcing the outmoded notion that men are necessarily peripheral to pregnancy. Instead they are relegated to the distancing effect of phones, forced to make arrangements, and “be supportive.”

But wait. Men are now expected to be far more involved in the day-to-day of childrearing. The expectation that Dad will be absent from the delivery room, opting instead to hand out cigars in the waiting room like Don Draper, now seems patently ridiculous.  The role of fathers has shifted over time. This raises the question: why not allow men emotional space in pregnancy, as well as companion grief in loss?  While there is no one way to experience loss, and the spectrum of grief is complex, these men would do well to receive support as they navigate and define their own experience.  It is a mistake to paint the masculine experience of loss with one broad stroke.  This costs more than we know.

The assumption that men are peripheral to pregnancy may unravel rapidly, especially in situations of loss. We have all heard it said that a woman becomes a mother when she discovers she is pregnant and a man becomes a father when he holds his baby.  I am not convinced that either one of these sayings is really all that true, but if it is said enough times one grows complacent and believes some version of this.

Until.  In an instant everything is gone.

Writes Return To Zero writer/director Sean Hanish, whose son was stillborn in 2005,  “As a husband, a partner, a man you are a passenger on the pregnancy express. You can look out the window and watch the scenery go by, her belly grow, her skin glow, and if you’re lucky, catch your baby’s elbow as it presses against her belly like the dorsal fin of some alien sea creature making it more real for you. But you’re not the engineer. When the crash comes you are struggling with your own emotions, grief and loss, desolation and depression, and watching as your wife, your partner, your life jumps the tracks. Twisting metal tumbling out of control in slow motion. Prepare for impact.”

I am reminded of a day several weeks or months after our loss when Gavin came home. He remarked that a lot of people were asking how I was.  We always took this beautiful gesture of concern in the spirit it was given and were, in fact, deeply appreciative of these questions. But we did laugh ruefully (and just a little) at how frequently Gavin was inadvertently left out of the equation, the expressions of concern.

On our website, Reconceiving Loss (www.reconceivingloss.com (link is external)) we collect the stories of loss for the Return To Zero Project. This archive reflects, in part, the lonely experience of men. Artist Louis Hemmings created a video, Goodbye, Au Revoir, Slan that shows the loss of his daughter decades ago through the eyes of his young son. Other fathers have lent their experience to the archive and their words reveal a well of sadness and loss.

As we approach Father’s Day, I call on women and men to support Baby Loss Dads (or dads who have lost babies). We can begin by acknowledging their grief and understanding its nuance. We can remember to ask how they are, not just about their wives or their partners. We can engage them in a dialogue that begins to bear out the idea that we want to know how they are, how it feels to them to be missing something so central. We can acknowledge the role of fathers in childrearing as post-traditional by re-enforcing that they share the loss. This is the dialogue that creates healthier, happier families. And for the future of the men that we love, this is what will be required.

Tara Shafer is the co-founder of Reconceiving Loss (link is external), a site for bereaved families facing baby loss offering premium access to informational webinars, self care videos and much more. She is a contributing blogger for Psychology Today, BabyCenter, the Huffington Post and Still Standing. Her work has appeared in the New York Times and on National Public Radio. Tara has been an international human rights and refugee advocate and holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University.

 

Lost and Found

October 18 2011

 

Where is it all coming from, can it really be simply hormones, is it uncertainty of not knowing

Is it the fear that sits at the back of my mind, guilt of sadness though happiness is all around

Where is the sunshine, the laughter and love for life, we are so lucky yet feel stuck in strife

Trapped down a whole, the dirt pouring in the dust making it harder to breathe

The thoughts of loss, where do they come from, why do I feel this way?



 

November 10 2011

 

How do I share my fear; when my biggest is looking weak

How do I say I’m sinking; when you rely on me to float

Its hard to breathe; yet I am holding my breathe

Waiting to see



 

January 5 2012

 

My life is on hold, my heart is a hole, you are not alone my sweet

My fear is for you but my tears are for me; your smile rarely seen is what I hold on to.

Your strength and will to fight is my way to flow thru life

This is not easy, love is harder but pain and illness, loss and death seem inevitable

We attempt to succeed, we succumb without need

Somehow we survive



 

June 30 2012

 

You are gone and I weep, most nights I cannot sleep

I think of you as I cry into my sleeve, my heart is broken, dreams are lost

My fears realized, faith is shattered

I don’t know how to feel anymore

Your life so short, felt like a lifetime, I wish I could hold you one last time

If only in my dreams



 

February 18 2017

 

Years fly by in a flash, five gone just like that, though they dragged in the moments

They seem vanished in the blink of an eye, my heartbeat painfully slow

Memory falters, though the thoughts never go

Your loss has taught me so much more than you know



 

June 1 2017

 

Hard or week, soft and strong, we wonder where do we belong

You look in the mirror that one odd day, the reflection however does not look the same

Where have you gone, who is this face

The lines show losses, loves, triumphs and defeat

The bags proof of hard sleep

Where has time gone that the reflection has become a stranger


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Lost thoughts suddenly found

 

Cleaning out a drawer, I found this piece of paper tucked into a book, I looked it over, not remembering haven written it, I read the short notes and their dates, it slowly, foggily comes back to me. I cannot believe I wrote these, I do not remember much of those hard months five years ago and am grateful to have scribbled thoughts at random, that I have now found and added two more recent reflections. Hence my title ‘Lost and Found’. The first and second back in 2011 was when I was pregnant with Lily, the third in 2012 was after her traumatic birth and hospitalization the fourth in 2012 after her death and fifth on the five year anniversary of her death on Feb. 18 of this year. I added the last one just as a current thought on feelings and life.

Thanks for reading.

Thoughts and comments always welcome and appreciated.

Sheri

Waiting; a poem about life

Waiting for life, waiting for tests, for scores and results

Waiting for love, waiting for loss, for recovery or the rest

Waiting for kids,  waiting for parents, friends or ‘the best’

Waiting for time to pass, when does it end

Waiting to speak, waiting to share, to post or peek

Waiting to feel, to need and be needed

Waiting till later, not till tomorrow, maybe next year

Waiting, waiting, what is our fear

Begin now, begin today, no more of this wasting away

Life is fleeting, up and down, we sit wondering around and around

 Waiting for until the time is right

Then when its gone we wonder what happened; we sit and ponder

Waiting for an answer to come

We hurry up to wait

We complain about having to wait

But wait, be sure not to rush in, ask a friend

Wait for their opinion until you decide

Wait until you can enjoy the ride

But then its gone and your standing alone

Waiting for the one to come

Times you should have shone

By Sheri Hall

Thanks for reading.

Our Hurting Hearts

The loss of touch hurts so much

My beating heart shudders; feels crushed

Beside each other but alone in the room

Silence outside; feeling gloom

Screaming inside; dreading doom

Tears flow in the dark

Wanting a tiny spark

Wishing you’d extend your hand

Though mine has been frozen in a far away land

Our hurting hearts have shifted apart

I dream to go back to the start

By Sheri Hall

A poem for all forms of the Mother

A mother

She grows you, she finds you, she adopts you; loves you

At any age you came, hers,  yours; irrelevant

The bond is formed in that moment

The arrival  different for all

Once the seed is planted she is mother

Via paper, surrogate, thought

Via birth, via death

Miscarriage, stillborn, disability

Abandonment, fostering, or a surprise

The mother was born the instant the lines formed

No matter how long no matter how far away

She remains the mother since that day

The memories of the mother now gone

Held your hand when you fell

Picked you up with a smile

Gave you shit for your mistakes

Tried to explain the breaks

Though gone now, her legacy lives on, in you

The bereaved mother

They grieve the loss that made them a mother

A painful day to remember the child grown or infant; fetus or disabled

That lived not long enough

Those that celebrate with living children and mother

The grateful ones; a happy day

The mothers to pets or nieces and nephews, cousins or siblings

What makes us a mother to someone lives in the hearts of the care we give

There are those that have lost their mother

Cancer, accident; old age

Mothers day is hard for some in different ways

Some celebrate, some remember

The love stays everyday

Thanks for reading,

Wishing all forms of mothers a peaceful  mothers day

Sheri

mothyers day all

Grief and loss books

I have updated my list adding 3 new books. All great reads to help, understand and figure out grief; as much as is possible.

Dealing with My Grief

MY TOP BOOKS ON GRIEF AND LOSS

In the dark hours and days/weeks after someone dies we often lay in the literal dark not able to shut off our minds, only wanting to sleep so the pain is not so physical; literal, as it is mental in those early days. Consumed with anguish, grief and loss. We search endlessly for books, articles, websites to help us understand what we are feeling, to know we are not alone, to help up cope. I have read many, many books on grief in the 5 short years since my daughters death, the ones that helped me cope were actually the fictional stories of parents suffering though a tragedy, in a very morbid way I was comforted. But I also read many books written specifically to help the bereaved and as I, 5 years ago would have loved to have stumbled upon a list of grief books, I didn’t, so I…

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Bean Salad; a memory

As I make dinner for the millionth time, chilli tonight, I add the six bean medley, stir and pause. Beans remind me of my family, baked beans of my father’s family, the stories of how being one of nine kids to parents that were let’s say busy, he had to open his own can of beans for dinner as a child often to eat straight out of the can. Needless to say as child I never ate a baked bean in my life, only when I asked my mom why because I had them as an adult and loved the flavor, she told me my dad forbade them from being in the house, he was a very gentle man, never said no and surely never forbade anything; too painful a memory perhaps.

But this can of mixed beans reminded me of my Nonnas bean salad we ate as kids, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, green beans, covered in vinegar, oil and salt. Delicious! My Nonna died with many recipes still in her brain unfortunately, her husband (my Nonno who was 91) just (she died five years ago) joined her finally. It is hard to think they are gone, they who taught me to sew and fish, who I stayed with on weekends, fighting with my brothers on who got to sleep in whose room, getting to drink Italian sodas and eating French bread dipped in coffee for breakfast.

All these memories brought on by a flow of beans emptying into a pot.

Earlier in the day my cousin posted a photo of my dad’s dad, my Grandpa Matilda(pictured above) when he was twenty-something; so young. Maybe that is what started this train of thoughts, maybe seeing that photo first things in the morning set off this day of reflection, but oh to be able jump into a photo and ask questions.

The past is so enlightening, I have always loved history, taking History twelve as an elective in grade eleven, yes the nerd I am. But it amazes me to know the lives of others, to understand hardships, to wrap your brain around the thought of no permanence, that there were millions of people before that lived and suffered and millions to follow. It is interesting how a photo or a food, a song or a scent can take you to another place.

I leave you with my Nonna’s Bean Salad recipe below.

Thank you for reading.

Namaste,

Sheri

Nonnas Bean Salad 

(Nonno grew his beans, well all the ingredient’s in his garden of course)

2 cups -Italian Roman beans

-substitute with Pinto or Kidney (or use all 3!)

½ – full head chopped Garlic

Bunch of chopped fresh parsley

3tblsp Olive oil

1tblsp vinegar

1tblsp salt & pepper

Tossed together, let sit in fridge for a few hours, overnight is best.

Enjoy its simple fresh goodness.

nona nono

Bruna & Rino Salvalaggio

Grandpa Robert Matilda

Robert Matilda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on from grief; my journey to accepting acceptance

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Moving on from grief; my journey to accepting acceptance

As I walked into my house late, arriving home just before midnight after a long ten hour travel day, carrying my youngest to her bed, whose birthday happens to be the following day, a quiet stress in the back of my mind as I have nothing planned. She wakes in and out of sleep as I place her down asking to watch the Trolls movie before bed , as I shush her that its very late and to go back to sleep. I walk past Lily’s photo that sits outside what was Lily’s room but is now Hopes. I pause for a moment, as a tiny quiver of shock goes through me, why did I enjoy this trip so much? For so long, five years to be exact I cannot remember really enjoying anything, not fully, not appreciating what or where it was we were, we have gone to Hawaii twice and Mexico once since she died, I “enjoyed” those family trips, but if I am honest, I was never happy during them, not as I felt during this trip. Was it not having thought about her as much? No, that’s ridiculous, of course I thought of her, but perhaps the veil has lifted, maybe the dark clouds that I felt attached to my heart lessened their grip. She is always in my heart but during this trip it was not like it is when I am at home surrounded by her memory, her presence, our loss.

Having just returned from an incredibly satisfying family trip, one that was to be underestimated but had over returned; that was fully dreaded, line ups, fast food, adults in costume, ugh, Disneyland. But we planned to see lots of other parts of California as well. Who knew the republic that is the state of California is so beautiful; San Clemente pier, Huntington Beach, Pasadena Ranch, even LA and Anaheim were cool to drive through, which started my pondering……

Guilt approaches my thoughts, but I quickly realize, no, that is not right; I deserve a reprieve from my self-imposed guilt. I am proud for the hard treacherous journey my grief has taken me through, what I have learned, how I have changed and grown. I am happy I was able to enjoy such a memorable family trip with my still living children, to be present for the first time in….well, how long makes me sad for them, my beautiful children that are alive, the ones that have received less of their mother because she has been stuck in a whirlwind of her grief. The one that has yelled too quickly because of their interrupting, poorly timed ways, their normalness, brought noise into my grief, where I wanted so much to simply be alone in silence. I have loved them, fed them, clothes and cleaned them, yes. But the mom that used to wrestle and laugh so freely has been trapped in a broken heart. That realization alone makes me sad for them, for me. I needed my time, I cannot believe five years past in a fog, although, it was thickest the first few years, it is lifted seemingly, I think. I am sure it will roll in from time to time and I welcome it, but I am also happy to feel happy again. I am happy to have a random dance party with loud noise at no notice with my kids. If asked, I wonder what they’d say of the last five years. Probably not much, as we all know, we are all way more self centered then we see. They may not have even noticed my withdrawal, not as I felt it, or see in hindsight. I was harder on them and they loved me more.

My heart now an ache for the time that has past, five years in a child’s life is huge, and the physical, emotional and mental growth that happens. I cannot go back; I can cherish specific moments of course, but am happy to feel other enlightening emotions again. Happy to be the present mother they deserve. I still miss and love my child that died five years ago, but my acceptance of her death has come with the revelation that I cannot change the past, nor need to dwell in its circumstances. But do need to focus on what we had and still have. This by no means that she will be forgotten just remembered differently, without the pain of guilt and remorse; but with love for the luck of having had her for a moment, along with the life lessons she has taught.

It brought me to a conclusion, if only for myself. We are all aware, some mildly, some very familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s five stages of grief. At some point in raw grief after a loss, we want answers we want to understand what is happening; at times we are so lost we want to know if and when it will end. So Ross’s theory of five stages is where we inevitably find ourselves reading about. At first I agreed with them whole heartedly, it makes sense for grief to have a timeframe of stages, all of which also make sense in completing in order to “move on”, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance but what comes with these stages is not a time frame put on them by Kubler-Ross herself but by society, Somewhere, over time, since her now famous book called ‘On Death and Dying’ was published in 1969, society has given the grieving about a year to get through their stages of grief, a few months to mull in each one. This is where I completely disagree with societies standards on grieving, seeing as it has taken me a five full years to get to acceptance, one could say each stage deserves a full year to fully live in and become aware of the stage your are at. For example the first year I was trapped in denial not even aware I was, because it was the shock that took quite a while to wear off, then a denial that I could not really comprehend that this had happened to me, to her, to us. I honestly did not believe it for a very, very long time, combined with the night terrors caused by the PTSD I suffered, it felt like a dream at times, with me not being able to wake up. Then the anger came, but it came at a time when a lot of people thought I should have been done grieving, after a year. And yes, I was angry, at everyone and anyone that dare mention her name, or their grief! The bargaining came in different forms around year three, begging for bad things to not happen, hadn’t I gone through enough? I would do more to help others if only my living children would be left alone. As depression sets in due to the length of time that has passed, you feel confused, others wonder what’s’ wrong because it has been so long, although in reality, is four years that long? So you begin, again, searching for answers, or help, or ways to move forward because you have spent time in the other stages you are ready to deal with this depression, and not that long ago, as I said earlier, the trip I just took with my family was the first I really enjoyed, felt at peace and allowed myself to be happy. Had I reached acceptance? And if I had why did I feel bad about it? Did I assume I would grieve forever? Yes. Was I prepared to grieve forever? Yes. Often when the tears came less frequently just that fact made me sad, like the further away her life moved, the less I felt her in my heart, but that is not true. I can take as many moments I want to remember her and should be thankful the whirlwind does not just snatch me up as it used to, but it is a process of constant awareness, as well as, allowing myself to still grieve if I felt the need, but also to feel happy with what we have and where we are at, without guilt. Everyone’s journey is different but I think if we can all collectively agree that each stage deserves a year and not to expect someone to feel normal until year five the burden of grief will be lessened on the grievers. But also to so mention it is not limited to this time frame, I have met parents that did not feel “normal” until year seven and ten, what I am trying to say is that the notion that grief lasts a year is ridiculous, the notion that it never ends is also silly though, I once believed it would never end, and I still have moments of intense sadness, clearly not as frequent or uncontrollable but today five years later and I am able to laugh freely without shame, enjoy moments without guilt. I am not saying yours will only last five years, everyone’s journey is different and some grief may only last a couple years. All I know is that back in those first six months when I attended bereavement meetings a blubbering mess barely able to string coherent words together, the common sentiment to me from those that had multiple years, some decades behind them and their grief, they said, ‘it does get better’ and I was so comforted by that phrase. And the fact that they saw my pain and came up to me to tell me it gets better in hopes of lessening my pain. I appreciated those words, as I hope you appreciate mine now. It does get better, in your own time at your own pace.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

Ps, I would love some feedback, I started out intending to write a completely different post about my vacation without my fourth child but in following my heart and letting my fingers type, I am surprised at the conclusion and turn it took. If you have a similar experience with grief or writing or any other feedback on my conclusion please comment below. Thanks – much love.

Capture your Grief Poetry final 5

Express

Your broken heart in a picture; words on a card

Thoughts on a page; heart on your sleeve

Tears on you pillow;  wind in your hair

Expression is always there

Wisdom

From experience it grows inside

For us to find when we lie

Down to reflect of past wins or losses

Wisdom comes from within

Welcome what it has taught us

Some find it hard to see but we need to feel inside

for it to reach us; not to hide

Reflect

The stranger in the window; you have forgotten who it is

Think back to a time when it looked familiar

Who is that face staring back at you

Time changes the reflection of ourselves

The passing of time cause us to reflect

As we reflect on the reflection in the window

Intention

What is the intention; we often ask

Is it pure, honest, real

Do we trust or question ones intention

Research, calculate its truth

To whom does the best intention help

You or me

Or no one

Our intentions can be misinterpreted, misread or misunderstood

Is it why we keep our deepest intentions private?

Sunset

Peace, color, thought

Night, leaving, end

Dark, moon, rise

Red, orange, yellow turn to black

Happy to sad; here to gone

Quiet

Goodbye sun

Thank you for Reading,

Namaste. Sheri

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Why we write; why we share #lost

** WARNING*** may make some feel uncomfortable, especially those that do not like acknowledging feelings or life.

I want to be real for a second or truthful since I try to always be real. I am unhappy, I have an amazing husband, three smart kids with an angel watching over us; a house, a car, free time to work on my body and mind not to mention food whenever I want. I have nothing to complain about really. Except that inside I often feel sad, I feel less than, not good enough. I go to bed with ambitions of what I want to do the next day but wake up every morning with no inspiration or want to do anything. I watch others around me having their first or last babies and think enviously of the beautiful journey they are starting, do I want more kids? No I have birthed four; my selfish mind does not want to put my body through that again. Sometimes I dream that if I had a large sum of money I would open an orphanage or home for kids that had no one, I want to help but do not know how so I do nothing. I have three beautiful kids to care for but they are getting older and in our amazing democratic Canadian system they become less and less needed of me, they are privileged white kids after all and get mostly the best access to fill their wants and needs with so many extras that some can only dream of. Do I have another baby and make that my life? Just keep having babies, no. Why would I not adopt then or take in foster kids, my husband would never agree to that that is why, after being together for sixteen years, we are ships passing in the night with a few lucky but very random moments together to remember why and how much we love each other. I have gone to University thinking that would ‘fix’ this void I have and yes it does feel good to complete a paper, class or essays after researching new topics, it is an amazing extravagance to be able to learn for fun, I realize that perhaps more than I should which is why I feel like I am wasting time when I should be helping others, that’s what we’re here for right? Then I give myself an out, I have kids that are not grown, I cannot just fill my time helping others when they still need me. So I do little things, donate, volunteer when I can but it is never enough to make me feel like I am doing enough. I look at women younger than me that have accomplished so much in terms of a career, god I wonder what it would feel like to live in a tiny apartment and put on pretty business clothes everyday and go to an office, yes the lamest dream ever, I know but when you have been at home with kids for eleven years and you know there are still at least fifteen more to go you dream lame escape wonders. So back to my incomplete self, how do we feel enough when surrounding us is a world in peril. I imagine what a yucky world this will be in a hundred years and am thankful I will no longer be a part of it though I am sad to think that my children and possible grandchildren will have to deal with it; live in it. Maybe it will be better but what I have learned in many courses, classes and workshops, it will not and that’s a sad, hard fact because greed, hate and guns have taken over. So maybe I need to go live in a hut on the beach or a cabin in the woods and become that crazy lady who lives alone maybe then I’d feel at peace. But it is doubtful. Even this, writing to strangers on a blog trying to decipher feelings through words, posting on facebook to get reactions or kind words. Or those that search for fights or arguments to have on social media out of boredom? In reality all we all want is to be heard and understood, to have a connection to one another. I guess it is why we share. Why we write. #lost

 

Thanks for reading,

Sheri