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

I see you

Lilly Emma Olive Hall

My sweet Lily Bean January 20 2012

A poem for Lily

I look around and your all I see
Your face in the clouds
Your fingers and hands
Like branches,leaves in the trees
The sunset, so beautiful reminds me of you
The pink of a sunrise
Your lovely soft cheeks
Waves crash to shore
As a smiles alights your face
My thoughts of you surround me
The beauty of nature belongs to you my sweet lily flower.

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Written May 22 2012

By Sheri Hall,  for her daughter Lilly Hall who died 2.5 months earlier.

 

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‘Living in the Bottom of a Well’

**I wrote this 8 years ago (2012) 2 months after losing my 2 month old daughter.

2 months later I was at my Nonna’s funeral, the same funeral officiant was there, my uncle was ” impressed” by our service and asked for her name. I was not pleased with how she missed things we wanted included and focused on things we didn’t but regardless of that, what still bothers me today is that when she saw me at my Grandma’s funeral just 2 months after my daughters she gave no condolences but simply asked how long has it been since Lily died?  I replied 4 months, her response, to which she was clearly proud of or thought revealing to me? Was solemnly, ‘ahh (nodding her head) double as long as she lived’…I just stared blankly and she excused herself.

I knew even though I didn’t want to, what she meant, and I found it immediately after a quick google search upon getting home that day. Many say grief lasts as long as a relationship… However it more references broken relationships not death. And in that, I don’t think I will or can possibly grieve some as long as I have known them. Thats absurd and in that moment, I realized she was a fraud. Who learned to comfort with words but ultimately was paid to speak.

You look up, you see a small circle of light and know that it is the way out.

It is closer than you think. But it is very small; its hard to tilt your head, you don’t want to look up.

You look around at the stone walls that surround you, the cold comfort of a solid unbreakable wall.  Some would feel claustrophobic but not you.
Here is where you can be you. Here is where you feel sad, look sad, be sad without those around you being uncomfortable. Without worry of hiding.

The ones that see you down there might stop and yell. Are you ok?Or how are you? But they dont want to hear the answer- so you tell them what they want to hear- I’m ok or I’m fine and they go on their way.
Some  may bring you flowers and place them nicely in a circle around your well, this cheers them up, this makes them feel like they are being sympathetic. Why flowers? Is it my birthday? Are we celebrating something? They look nice so now when you walk by my well, with me hiding in the bottom curled in a ball, not daring to look up.
You do not feel so sad because you see all the beautiful flowers and think -wow look how many people care! That makes them feel better- those flowers do not cheer me up, I am not celebrating my childs death, when the flowers die I must throw them away, it is a task I cannot do nor want to do.
I look around at my hole I have been thrown down, I dont want to climb out.

Here I am comforted by my pain. Here I am not pretending. Here I am me.
No one wants to go down a well; you may not be able to get out! But when you lose a child, when you hold them in your arms as they die, you fall down that well, at some point you wake up.
You realize what has happened, it may be weeks, months or days, but it hits you like a brick, you are stuck at the bottom of this deep dark well. It echoes your cries, as well as your tears that fall to the cement floor like bombs. You re-live the most painful of memories down there.
You want every one to stay out! This is not a problem since no one wants to join you down there; no one wants to see that pain.
People tend to look at grief and tragedy as though-What if that happened to me? They are not thinking of your pain. They want to cheer you up- they want to cook for you- which is very nice, but hard when you do not taste anything let alone want to eat. You shove the food in your freezer, you say thank you, they feel better and go on their way. People say things like -I didnt want to upset you, as though not mentioning it means you are not thinking about it.
I have come to realize this society doesnt cope well with death, everyone wants to acknowledge it once then for it to go away, some do not say anything at all to pretend like nothing happened, those are the selfish people. I have seen how I have become invisible to some or perhaps they dont want to see me? Because they do not want to think about what happened to me. Some people think negativity breeds negativity- that could not be farther from the truth. Yes negative people are not fun to be around, but negative or more accurately -a tragedy is not caused by anything. 

It is life. Life is full of suffering, we all suffer at different times in life and how we deal with other people suffering really shows our true character.
They want you not to feel uncomfortable when they are being sad- because it is ok to be sad. Unfortunately we live in a world that prefers fake realities and big smiles over having to deal with or accept our feelings & hurts. So we simply do not talk about it. We cheer you up and bring you flowers. If we were able to grieve without being concerned of making others uncomfortable with our sadness then maybe we would not feel like we were stuck in the bottom of a well, one day I will climb out and face the world. Maybe one day when I walk past someone else stuck in a well I will join them,  help them, listen and cry because it is ok to be sad.

Thanks for reading

Sheri

 

International Bereaved Mothers Day 2020

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beautiful mother bereaved moms day

Wishing you a peaceful day as you honor you child 🙏

Sheri

Facebook memories…

A few times a year, every year since it started anyway. Facebook reminds you of something you wrote or a picture you posted, an article you shared. Its neat in a way to be reminded. And its shown me also how much I’ve grown. There has been times when I’ve re read something from 6/7/8 years ago and immediately deleted it thinking, wow, why would I say/share that? Theres the causes some of us promote that make you say oh ya, I attended that protest…

And like I’m sure in a few years when we will all be reminded of the pandemic of 2020, the toilet paper hoarders and quarantined spring break.

 

My daughter’s 7th bday cancelled, on top of our trip to Disneyland. Shes having a hard week to say the least.

 

My sons upcoming track season cancelled. Other sons ball hockey season, which was most likely his last, cancelled.

 

My mom lives in another country and my dad in a home on the island, so if this is our new normal, the borders closed and care homes shut down from visiting. Maybe I will never see see them again?

 

This is a scary time with the world coming to stop. Great for the earth. Bad for the economy. Great to reconnect inside your home. Bad for pretty much all else.

 

Back to Facebook memories though, my timeline is flooded in December, my angel daughter’s bday and traumatic start to life.  January, where she came home for a short time, February when she died. Theres lots and at first it hurt to see them hut now I am grateful. Below is one I got this morning, I wrote it 13 months after she died…

 

Thanks for reading.

 

“My pain is real and I ache for you, I try to be strong, but wanting you back replaces all the logic in my mind, the nights are hard because of the silence, the days are long because of your absence.”

 

-Sheri Hall

 

Comments and sharing always welcome and encouraged.🙏

Pushed to my limits

Today I was at the gym, I just finished an intense tabata class that ended with yoga and I was just so overcome with emotion, I just started crying, not loud, not uncontrollably- until I was safely hidden in the bathroom that is, just tears began to flow down my cheeks, I thought of you. I felt raw; with my body pushed to its limits my brain wasn’t able to ignore the feelings that swept over me, the feeling of achievement but defeat. The feeling of strength but weakness, I can’t explain it although, after I cried I realized this used to happen to me almost daily, after you died.

I realized I missed this feeling, because even though it tortures my heart, it hurts for you, because of you, I miss you and I miss being so broken that at times I cant stop the tears, because after I always feel closer to you. Time moves on but I wish I could go back but I cant and I cant change anything and I don’t want to move farther away from the touch of you. I just want time to stop just for a moment.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Give it time…. 🙄

And other crap we think soothes grieving…

I wrote this 👇 in 2013 exactly 1 year after my 2mth  old daughter died in my arms. A year had passed and most assumed I was “better” because, you know, time heals right? Garbage.

“Don’t say time heals all. Because you dont know that. Time heals nothing, it simply passes and unbearable feelings become bearable – not healed. I am not choosing to be sad. The heart chooses when it wants to hurt. I can tell my brain the logic but it tells me to f**k off. Grief is like a neverending and very narrow spiral staircase, you slowly go up, its hard, its dizzying, sometimes you trip or stumble but keep going forward and sometimes you fall back hitting your head the whole way down. Time heals nothing it just makes it easier to get back up again and again because you have to keep going. All you have is hope that it will be ok.”

Instead…

I tell people who are suffering through the raw fresh wound of loss, who are dealing with grief, that the unbearable pain does lessen over time but the grief you feel is never “healed” as the old adage would have us believe. You can feel better over time but its also ok if you dont. Its also ok if 5, 10, 25 years later it hits you so hard you crumble to the floor. Because the pain, loss and sometimes trauma of death stays in your heart forever. Peeking out for some more often than others because we are all different in how we experience our grief. No time line. I personally found year 2 & 3 so much harder because people thought after all the first year anniversaries without that the 1rst year is the hardest, you are better. But your not. For me the first year was such a blur, a fog, I font remember much or how I functioned. But the 2nd year I hurt, I remembered those last days much more vividly. And also felt like I couldn’t talk or share because people assume after that hard 1rst year of your new normal your fine. So you kinda feel more alone, which of course is worse.

If your in that early stage, I’m sorry. Be gentle with yourself and your heart, its ok to say no if you want to hide. If your in that after the first year stage and feel like your supposed to be better because society tells you to be but your not, know its ok. Take all the time you need, you owe no one an answer.

Big hug, lots of love,

Thanks for reading.

Sheri