Why God is not a part of my Grief

 

Nature has been a place of solace for me. Walking amongst the trees, staring at clouds, sunset or sunrise. Feeling the rain on my face. But there are those that maybe have not experienced a great loss and do not see that you find comfort in simpler things perhaps over words.

“They’re with God now”, “God needed another angel”, “it is Gods plan”, “Don’t be sad they are with God”, “it is not meant to be”, “Time heals”, “God loved them more”

Just a few things that people who blindly follow religion or a  church might say, to those who do not, may not or will not understand. Why you would say something so unnecessary or hurtful and confusing.

Do you know my faith? Or have you assumed I am Christian. Do you so boldly state what you believe and that you know my child, parent, sibling, friend is actually with God (your God?),  or summoned by them,  gone because of them… Perhaps a question of how are you may be better. Or offering to walk alongside in silence.

If one accepts it is Gods plan, then there is the following questions that I have witnessed grievers deal with- Why? why would God do this? Why does God cause suffering? If God cared or loved me he wouldn’t have done this! Many people question their faith after a trauma, tragic death or unexpected loss.

I believe in science but I would never say to a women that suffered a miscarriage the scientific reason that perhaps their body could not carry a fetus to term, just as I would not say it was not meant to be, or God had a different plan.

By putting my thoughts, beliefs or opinions on someone elses grief that takes away their right to how they  feel, I am imposing myself and ignoring them. Not allowing someone to feel their own process of grief or thoughts and reasons why is a disservice to their journey.

Many times, at funerals a pastor or minister will say ” do not grieve, do not be sad” immediately taking away the right of the griever with the excuse that God will made this so and therefore you need not “suffer in grief”.  But many know that to move through your grief and loss you MUST feel it. Allow it to overtake you when it comes. It is a process with no timeline. I ran into the women that officiated my daughters funeral, she was officiating my Grandmothers funeral a few months later. She said after a very insincere hello, that I must be doing better because well 4 months had passed since my daughters death and that is double the time she lived. I could tell she was proud of herself for this “revelation” to me, as though I had not considered every possible equation as to the months I carried her, the months she lived, the time that has passed since she is gone. I felt she thought she was comforting me with those words and all I felt was anger. How dare you tell me how I should feel. That because her life was short my grief must be too?

I have just learned a childhood friend has died, he was only 39.  His mothers funeral was the first I had ever been to, she died of a brain hemorrhage when we were kids. He and his sisters had a much harder life, I assume, after that loss,(we moved away a couple years later).  I have thought of them often, how they the ages of 8, 10 and 12,  how they must have felt losing the one constant in their life, entering their teen years and young adulthood without her comfort and guidance. Now he has passed, some will say he is back with her, I think that is what all want to hope for. But no one really knows, so I will just say to his dad and sisters, I am sorry. I am sorry he is gone. Sibling loss they say can be as hard as losing a child.  I look at my boys, they are best friends, each others first friend, comrade, confidante. They have a bond that will only be broken with death.

Rest In Peace Curtis Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

 

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What 37 years on earth has taught me!

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37th bday  The morning of my 37th birthday. October 2 2017

I’ve always struggled with sleep, as a child I remember making up games in my mind to make myself fall asleep, I would sneak into my parents room and sleep on the floor, as a teen I would read until I passed out. So no surprise on this day – October 2nd – my 37th b-day I was awake at dawn. I tossed and turned desperate to fall back asleep and finally got up to enjoy the quiet of the morning before the chaos began. I poured my coffee and sat down to watch the news.

Well you know by now what I saw. My heart broke, I was in shock, not again. My husband and I have been to LV a least a dozen times in the last decade, we always are on the strip or at a concert or show. Had we been there for my b-day, which was considered, we would have been at the country music festival (we love country music) were this heinous act of  gun violence occurred. We decided not to go because we are going to be running in the Rock and Roll Marathon in LV in November, which is celebrated at the end by a concert. I am not sure we will attend. But we should not let fear win right? Except that in the USA  this year there have been 273 mass shootings (a mass shooting is defined as 4 or more people being killed) last year there was 483! read more in the link below.

http://www.abc15.com/news/data/mass-shootings-in-the-u-s-over-270-mass-shootings-have-occurred-in-2017

So is it safe to travel to the US? We recently- last spring- went to Disney land for the first time, my kids leading up to it did not want to go and I could not understand. The answer came after much interrogation, they did not want to be killed, I said why would you think that? they said everyone has guns in America. Hmmm, yes they have a point. I explained as best I could that there are police everywhere and most places have measures to prevent people bring guns in, although yes there were metal detectors at Disney land most places unfortunately allow guns in the United States, something not legal in Canada. I understood their fear. It is undeniable that America has a gun problem and the debate was proven to be over when 20 babies were killed by an automatic riffle at Sandy Hook 5 years ago and nothing was changed or fixed about their lax or non existent gun laws. It is unfortunate that a country as big and powerful as the USA is more obsessed with their sick gun culture and ‘right to bear arms’ than the right to healthcare or to walk safely in their country without the threat of gun violence.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/us/if-sandy-hook-didn-t-change-america-s-gun-laws-nothing-will-1.2454880

My kids woke up, I turned off the news and wiped my tears away. They came down the stairs singing happy b-day. Bitter sweet. I hugged them and we started our morning.

Houston Trail

Something I have learned after 37 years…

Whenever I have felt overwhelmed by grief, tragedy and heart ache I need to go outside. Walk amongst the trees in the forest and breathe.

I’ve learned that life gets so much more complex as we age, as people die around us the undeniable reality of our obvious and eventual demise can feel overwhelming

Death also gets ignored by many. Some rush through life trying to be successful, creating a fortune, for what? To be buried in a gold casket? I truly admire the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates that spend their fortune helping others, eradicating polio in Africa- a pretty noble thing to spend your time and money on in your retirement years. Or Oprah Winfrey opening a school for girls in Africa, or Facebook founder Mark Zukerburg donating 100 million to education in the US.

I’ve learned that flashy things are just that things. Things that end up in the landfill.

I’ve learned that I’d rather have enough than a feast.

I’ve learned that real people, honest people, even though honesty can be a hurtful or a hard thing to swallow at times, is much better than the fake people.

I’ve learned that no matter how many push ups or chest presses you do, your armpits and under arms will still get flabby ( and so will your knees- no amount of running will stop that ).

I’ve learned that after 35 you finally stop being so harsh on your body.

I’ve learned to appreciate when it’s quiet.

I’ve learned not to take things for granted. Even when your tired and frustrated, a tug at your sleeve for a hug, or an I love you with a smile can be amazing.

I’ve learned education can change perspective and direction.

I’ve learned that you’re never to old to make mistakes and to keep learning.

I’ve learned that kids are pretty darn smart and much more resilient and accepting than adults.

I’ve learned it is ok to let people judge you, as I have learned it really does not matter what they think. Most do not know you well enough anyway.

I’ve learned no matter how hard you give to others they wont assume they need to give back until you ask.

I’ve learned it is ok to say no.

I’ve learned it is ok to yell and get angry, and it is also ok to say sorry and accept responsibility.

I’ve learned that exercise can do more than just keep your body healthy, but your mind too.

I’ve learned too that there are more ignorant people in the world than I’d hoped as a younger person.

I’ve learned we only get one life and don’t know what comes next, so try your best to cherish it and that does not mean be happy all the time.

I’ve learned that music and dance can heal and rejuvenate the soul, but also trick the mind into feeling young again.

So, I went with my BFF to see the amazing singer, dancer, performer, the person I saw at age 10 at the first concert I had ever attended. We went to see Janet Jackson and danced and sang the night away, and I hadn’t  felt that good,  in a long time.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

When a book stays with you…

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I have always been an avid reader, with a few neighborhood friends but not many school friends once I learned to read and discovered this magical place called the public library that let you borrow books for free I was hooked. I will never forget my excitement every summer as we packed up to go to the cabin we would go to the library, there was always so many I wanted to take out but I was always only aloud two, I think my mom was afraid of them getting lost…  I spent many days of my childhood tucked away in my room reading, then as I became a teen reading into the early mornings. as a young adult I continued my affair with books though not as much as I would have liked, having to work, sleep, deal with life as an adult but also have some sort of a life. Then this magical thing called pregnancy happened and I was allowed to read, all the time again, I added the necessary parenting and child birth books to my repertoire along with my novels. who would have known that that would be the last time I loved to read…

Not right away though, after the birth of my first son, I read to him aloud while he nursed, it is very good for infants to hear their mothers voice as well as a large spread of vocabulary, or so I learnt in one of my previously read baby books. But then they start moving and you don’t get to sit still again…

Soon after the birth of  my second son two years later I realized I hadn’t read a book in a very long time, I was too tired. I was haggard and angry with two little ones that needed all my time. My husband worked long days but also traveled a lot, he saw this change in me I suppose it was the beginning of me losing myself into my children. We went to Mexico after our second turned two, I had not read a full book in almost three years. I was feeling very unhappy. A neighbor at the time who is now a very close friend lent me EAT PRAY LOVE by Liz Gilbert, ‘you have to read this!’ she said. So I reluctantly brought it along knowing I would never get a moment to myself to do so.  I will never forgot the one afternoon, my husband said as the kids napped in the room, I have to answer emails, why don’t you go for a swim or something… I was pleasantly surprised, I grabbed my book and ran out the door, not returning for a few hours, finishing from cover to cover this book that I just had to read. I was changed by the words I read, I connected to Liz’s struggle with her life. I too wanted to be a better me. That book stayed with me for a long time, I re read it over and over for the next few years not wanting to stop the feeling of hope it gave me.

eat pray love          secret         no death no fear

Fast forward  a few years, we fell back in love, our kids became easy little humans no more menacing , time consuming, toddlers. life was good. Life was great! We even finally took a solo trip together to Hawaii – were we conceived…

When we got pregnant again all I could think of was why? not now. everything in our life was so good, why did we go and do something so stupid. I cried and I cried, knowing the hard road another baby would bring. Well not to worry, it was even harder than we could have ever anticipated. The pregnancy was “normal”  but my new baby was not, she was born upside down and backwards, not breathing. She spent her first four weeks of life having surgery and brain scans. She came home for two short weeks and almost died on our living room floor when she stopped breathing, I gave her CPR and she was rushed back to the hospital, where we learned she had an abnormal trachea and would never breathe on her own. She died a week later. Life teaches us so many different things through hardship, if we are willing to see them. But at that moment my life went dark.

After she died I only read books on grief, fiction and non fiction. I needed answers to my thoughts, I wanted understanding to my feelings of hopelessness; my grief, a feeling that was so overwhelming. Article after article, book after book. All on death, grief, bereavement, loss, suicide and coping. The one that I read over and over trying to accept my loss was No death no Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh.

My son said a few years later in a very painful way, you used to laugh when I tickled you.

I also used to read for pleasure too…

Today, five and a half years after my daughters death, I have half read a hundred books, nothing could catch me, nothing mattered, they were all dumb stories.

I did finish a few, for I went back to College wanting a change, a distraction, needing to learn. I read Frankenstein, The Watchmen, Tale of two cities, The Road, The Island of Doctor Moreau to recall a few. All great books by equally great authors. But not until just recently have I noticed I can read with enjoyment again, I think my taste is much more ‘real’ than it was but who knows that would not have happened over time with age.

So I share The Secret  Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton, the first large novel I have read in less than two weeks that I did not want to put down, that I have thought about its contents long after I closed its pages. That I think will stay will me for a long time just like Eat Pray Love did/has.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is about a young family that suffers a tragedy and how they come out on the other side by moving for the summer to a small town where their family is originally from and learning about life, death and the earth. This book touched me in a way that has not happened in a long time. It had yes, my need to examine grief checked off, but it had side stories about different forms of grief, a grief for what was, for what man and greed is doing to the earth, how small southern towns still have a long list of bigotries and prejudices, how society in general still needs to find acceptance. With adventure and truth the family slowly heals, though will be forever changed.

If you are looking for a new read I highly recommend this book.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inclusion

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In a world were we have come so far it seems perhaps we have not… if you look at history not that long ago in terms of years (less than 100) where many people were not included. 1920 was when women were granted the right to vote in the USA, and not until 1940 in Quebec(Canada) with other provinces allowing between 1916-1922. not until 1947 were Native Americans given the right to vote, in 1952 people of Asian decent are finally allowed to vote and 1964 is when African Americans are finally allowed to vote. But not without repercussions.

https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2016/us-elections-2016-who-can vote/indhttps://interactiveex.html

In 1961 the state of Illinois was the first to decriminalize Homosexuality, yes you read that right, it was a crime to be what you were born. Just like people of a color other than white were discriminated against simply because of that skin color, but people born LGBTQ were criminals? Until 1973 Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.  In 1982 – only 35 years ago the state of Wisconsin becomes the first to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 1998 Mathew Sheperd was found tied to a fence and beaten, he later died because of the injuries. in 2000 Vermont becomes the first state to  legalize civil unions between same sex couples. In 2016 a federal court announced you cannot ‘ban’ same sex marriages.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/us/lgbt-rights-milestones-fast-facts/

In 1989 a convention at the United nations discussed and approved the rights of a child and came into effect in 1990.

These rights include protection (e.g., from abuse, exploitation and harmful substances),  provision (e.g., for education, health care and an adequate standard of living,  participation (e.g., listening to children’s views and respecting their evolving capacities) and specific protections and provisions for vulnerable populations such as Aboriginal children and children with disabilities. So up until 27 years ago you could beat a child, not feed a child, not educate a child etc. Does not seem like that long ago to me, that the most vulnerable were not even protected from ill treatment.

 

Children in India only achieved these rights in 1992, the right to Survival – to life, health, nutrition, name, nationality and the right to development – to education, care, leisure, recreation, cultural activities.

http://www.unicef.ca/en/policy-advocacy-for-children/about-the-convention-on-the-rights-of-the-child

The convention was ratified in the year 2000 to include the ban of selling a child and child sex trafficking.

https://www.unicef-irc.org/portfolios/crc.html

What is my point in pointing all these facts on discrimination?

In todays society (2017) people that consider themselves a part of the LGBTQ community are still being mistreated, children in third world countries are still being mistreated, people of color are still being mistreated, so do these ‘rules’ change anything? YES, they prove that those who discriminate are wrong. It gives a voice to those that are ill treated.

We are all humans, we all make mistakes, but one of the most important lessons in life is to learn and grow from those mistakes. To me inclusion should not be a topic we discuss or argue about anymore. To me it is innate that we are different and it is our differences that make us all unique and an asset to each other and the world, as the famous Barbara Streisand once said- What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

barbara streisand

 

 

I am writing this short post on inclusion because of not only what is going on in the US and around the world but because in my own back yard our community has opposing groups toward the teaching of sexual education, specifically allowing the mention of the LGBTQ community in those conversations. I find this a shame, why are we still making these regular people feel like they are not included in the world, like they do not exist?

Why are there still people that think you can catch gay? That telling kids the truth of  some people around them, that that will make them or turn them into something they are not? In turn letting those that do feel that way accepted and not different. But lastly if accepting LGBTQ community and talking about it in school, normalizing it saved one child or teen from committing suicide would that not be the reason alone to be inclusive.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

Standard First Aid- A must for ALL

I spent last weekend doing a 16 hr SFA Course (the highest level of first aid) through the Canadian Lifesaving Society. It was very educational, as to what steps are needed to do in an emergency, how to help others in various situations.

A study done in2012  by the Red Cross states that not enough people are trained in first aid and in the event of an emergency, 2 out of 3 people would not know what to do.

http://www.redcross.ca/about-us/newsroom/news-releases/archives/2012/number-of-canadians-trained-in-first-aid-at-dangerous-low,-suggests-new-poll

I took my 1rst first aid course- it was emergency 1rst aid + Child & infant CPR, in 2010 when my first child was in preschool, a year and a bit later I used it on my 3rd child who had stopped breathing. I have volunteered in preschools and elementary with the confidence that I can help.

I worked this past year at the Langley Forest School not realizing or acknowledging that my first aid had expired, but that in itself is reckless. This SFA course taught not only CPR and how to use a AED but also basic bandaging, slings and wraps, as well as, what to do for shock or choking, burns and heat stroke/exhaustion.

With what is going on around the world today we need as many helpers as we can get. Every second matters when someone has lost consciousness or has stopped breathing, the faster someone initiates EMS and starts CPR is crucial in not only saving a life but preventing  further brain damage.

The hardest part of this course was performing CPR on a baby dummy, I fought back tears those few hours we worked on them. The painful thought only  blink away in my not so distant memory. However, had I not performed CPR on my angel, we would have lost her, in that moment, on my living room floor, not a week later in hospital due to other unknown factors.

I would encourage as many people as possible, not only ones that must for a job to get certified. I told my kids when they are old enough they will all have to take the course.

I have copied some useful links below.

Thanks for Reading,

Namaste

Sheri

http://www.lifesavingsociety.com/first-aid/standard-first-aid.aspx

http://www.emergencyfirstresponse.com/5-reasons-why-basic-first-aid-knowledge-is-essential/

http://www.c2cfirstaidaquatics.com/4-reasons-you-need-first-aid-and-cpr-training/

 

 

Life is short, turn up the music

hope you

I love having dance parties with my kids, more so my daughter because she too loves to dance too, its harder to get my boys even the biggest (dad) one to dance, whenever music is on I move and cannot help it, my subconscious reminds me of my love of movement, it reminds me how I for…. 4 years? From 17 to 21 spent three nights a week a dance club; loved EVERY minute of it. I was in a dance contest with Sir Mix-A-Lot at an iconic bar( to the locals of Delta BC) called Cheers (demolished in 2016 after 40 years) and yes who could shake it the best, it’s a little harder for a skinny white girl with no butt, but I won anyways 😉 or at least I remember being one of the last ones on stage. I danced many a nights and problems away. But then I had kids, at twenty five, thrown into solitary confinement.

I grieved my old life like you wouldn’t believe, don’t get me wrong I cherished my new world of diapers and unconditional love from this thing I grew and needed me to feed it. But It was a drastic change; freedom to isolation, so sudden. You go from doing whatever you want to doing almost nothing when you want to. We had no close family, or local family to be correct. I remember the first time I went out with a group of moms, seven years after my first was born, yes it took me that long, and maybe why I was a little bitter. I remember not knowing how to move, or talk or act even. I, who normally was a quick witted person (at least eight years before pregnancy I was) had nothing to say or if I did it came out not making much sense.

I remember trying to awkwardly dance and feeling so stupid. I went home and cried. I cried for the me that I had lost; the one who used to dance and have fun. Fast forward to eleven years after my first born, somewhat comfortable being a stay at home mom, although I never thought I would be, I always thought I would go back to work, I worked usually six days a week for years before having kids, I loved picking up shifts and making money, I loved socializing. But when you don’t have other childcare and have to pay more than half of what you make for it you may as well stay home. And dance anyway.

I do enjoy being with my kids more than I ever thought I would, I learned an incredible amount from them mostly how to let go because things are constantly changing and the bonus is the dance parties with my girl. Its like they say or I think there is a saying like this, – life throws obstacles at you but you have to dance anyways. That’s a saying right? So go and turn up the music and forget the rest because life is too short.

I hope you dance today.

Thanks for reading

Sheri

dance

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


poems.png

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

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.

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