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.

It is ok to be sad

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I feel you rolling your eyes, as I hit post. Another grief post you think! Your pain is no longer because it wasn’t your child you lost, it was mine, so you did feel sad for a bit after, you don’t understand how or why I am still grieving or posting sad stuff about grief. I get it its not your loss, you don’t feel it every day like I do and you don’t want to remember it  as much as I do. You might think I am bitter or want sympathy, I don’t. Just know that my heart hurts when I glance at the spot on the floor where she stopped breathing, that I have trouble thinking of moving because this is where she lived for 2 short weeks. Every time I hear a story of tragedy or a life lost I cry for her. Am I stuck? no I am human. I am a mother that gave birth to a beautiful baby that struggled to live, to breathe, that spent 5 weeks in the NICU, not sleeping, not feeling and slowly breaking. That was almost four years ago I know, you think I must have moved past this pain, I have another little girl right. She is my savior, yes. but also my daily reminder of my first little girl that is not here. Would they be best friends? or Would they fight a lot?  I wonder. And yes that too makes me sad. Immediate grief after a tragedy is overwhelming, its consuming and then time takes it away, little by little the intense memories fade and it is easier to ‘pretend’ life is what it is.

Today is October 15th- International Awareness of Stillbirth, miscarriage and infant loss

A day that makes me sad but grateful to have met and to be a part of a community of women, amazing women, that too have suffered a loss, something that is not openly spoken about but should be, something that people are uncomfortable to bring up, leaving the person(s) that suffered the loss alone. Why are we told not to share a pregnancy until 3 months? in case you lose the baby right, we don’t need to upset people like that! but then we suffer alone with our loss. Not right. After I lost my daughter, after she was born at full term, after she was given a birth certificate because she lived past 21 days (the time the government thinks your baby needs to live to be considered a human!) even though we all know as soon as we see that pink or blue line we have a child in our life, whether they live past 21 days or not, to be deemed a person! Different issue, I move on. The stigma that surrounds uncomfortable feelings needs to stop. People need compassion not shame. I don’t know how to change the world into thinking its ok to be sad, we do not need to ‘pretend’ to be happy all the time. As Buddha says ‘Life is suffering’ I believe we have pockets of happy moments or happy feelings but if you truly look at the world and live true, you see that it is about surviving, surviving tragedy around us, surviving, genocide, rape, famine , disease, homelessness, joblessness, then death. Acknowledging life’s struggles does not make us ‘negative’ it makes us real and if you let yourself feel the sad you will better be able to appreciate the happy.

After I lost my daughter, so many women came up to me and told me about their losses, a women lost her son when he was 21, another suffered multiple miscarriages’ but never told anyone, so many stories, so many women that suffered alone because society made them feel like they had to hide their shame because it wasn’t ‘happy news’ I call bollocks! I will continue to share my grief and encourage others to share because we are here for such a short time, all we have is each other. To help, to love, to pick each other up and hug.

Namaste

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

Moments

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 Today I want to take a moment to have special moments, with myself, my kids – individually and with my husband. It feels like with the pressure of societies view that ‘we are all perfect and deserve it all attitude’  life in todays world gets  easily carried away. It becomes a spinning tilt a whirl that you cannot stop, you keep getting dizzy as you pull on the spinner harder to go even faster.

When my kids were babies I relished in the daily moments of laying on the bed making them giggle, we had no soccer to race to, piano to practice, homework to do, gourmet dinners to cook, burn and force kids to eat because at least they have food on the table! I miss the long, slow walks holding their hand stopping to stare at every fallen leaf or magical snail that crawled along.

Life moves fast and as our kids get older it is in a nonstop fast forward motion that makes me sick. I know I will wake up one day in a quiet (clean) house. It terrifies me every night as I will myself to sleep because the kids will be up in 7, 6, 5! Hours. Have I done enough? Have I taught them right from wrong? Have I given them the tools to succeed, to help others, to never give up?

It is so hard to live in the moment when there is so much to be done. But today I will try just a little harder to let the little things go, to make the important things around me smile and to know that one day it will end.

My 3rd child, my 1rst daughter died 43 months ago today  (Feb.18.2012) her death caused us to stop and think, why? why her , why us, why is the world so disturbing in its greed and lust, why cant we stop time or why would we want to…..

You are born and at some point hopefully much later you die. All you have is this moment, to love, to laugh, to live (probably why this picture is so popular as we need to be reminded daily)

Enjoy your moments,  Live, Laugh, Love.

Namaste.

Thanks for reading, Sheri.

 

 

 

 

 

Grief and Loss Books

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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 will share the top that helped me then and the ones I have read more recently to this day, when my daughter should be 5.5 years old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

11 ways to help someone who is grieving. By Megan Devine

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#1 Grief belongs to the griever.
You have a supporting role, not the central role, in your friend’s grief. This may seem like a strange thing to say. So many of the suggestions, advice and “help” given to the griever tells them they should be doing this differently, or feeling differently than they do. Grief is a very personal experience, and belongs entirely to the person experiencing it. You may believe you would do things differently if it had happened to you. We hope you do not get the chance to find out. This grief belongs to your friend: follow his or her lead.

#2 Stay present and state the truth.
It’s tempting to make statements about the past or the future when your friend’s present life holds so much pain. You cannot know what the future will be, for yourself or your friend — it may or may not be better “later.” That your friend’s life was good in the past is not a fair trade for the pain of now. Stay present with your friend, even when the present is full of pain.

It’s also tempting to make generalized statements about the situation in an attempt to soothe your friend. You cannot know that your friend’s loved one “finished their work here,” or that they are in a “better place.” These future-based, omniscient, generalized platitudes aren’t helpful. Stick with the truth: this hurts. I love you. I’m here.

#3 Do not try to fix the unfixable.
Your friend’s loss cannot be fixed or repaired or solved. The pain itself cannot be made better. Please see #2. Do not say anything that tries to fix the unfixable, and you will do just fine. It is an unfathomable relief to have a friend who does not try to take the pain away.

#4 Be willing to witness searing, unbearable pain.
To do #4 while also practicing #3 is very, very hard.

#5 This is not about you.
Being with someone in pain is not easy. You will have things come up — stresses, questions, anger, fear, guilt. Your feelings will likely be hurt. You may feel ignored and unappreciated. Your friend cannot show up for their part of the relationship very well. Please don’t take it personally, and please don’t take it out on them. Please find your own people to lean on at this time — it’s important that you be supported while you support your friend. When in doubt, refer to #1.

#6 Anticipate, don’t ask.
Do not say “Call me if you need anything,” because your friend will not call. Not because they do not need, but because identifying a need, figuring out who might fill that need, and then making a phone call to ask is light years beyond their energy levels, capacity or interest. Instead, make concrete offers: “I will be there at 4 p.m. on Thursday to bring your recycling to the curb,” or “I will stop by each morning on my way to work and give the dog a quick walk.” Be reliable.

#7 Do the recurring things.
The actual, heavy, real work of grieving is not something you can do (see #1), but you can lessen the burden of “normal” life requirements for your friend. Are there recurring tasks or chores that you might do? Things like walking the dog, refilling prescriptions, shoveling snow and bringing in the mail are all good choices. Support your friend in small, ordinary ways — these things are tangible evidence of love.

Please try not to do anything that is irreversible — like doing laundry or cleaning up the house — unless you check with your friend first. That empty soda bottle beside the couch may look like trash, but may have been left there by their husband just the other day. The dirty laundry may be the last thing that smells like her. Do you see where I’m going here? Tiny little normal things become precious. Ask first.

#8 Tackle projects together.
Depending on the circumstance, there may be difficult tasks that need tending — things like casket shopping, mortuary visits, the packing and sorting of rooms or houses. Offer your assistance and follow through with your offers. Follow your friend’s lead in these tasks. Your presence alongside them is powerful and important; words are often unnecessary. Remember #4: bear witness and be there.

#9 Run interference.
To the new griever, the influx of people who want to show their support can be seriously overwhelming. What is an intensely personal and private time can begin to feel like living in a fish bowl. There might be ways you can shield and shelter your friend by setting yourself up as the designated point person — the one who relays information to the outside world, or organizes well-wishers. Gatekeepers are really helpful.

#10 Educate and advocate.
You may find that other friends, family members and casual acquaintances ask for information about your friend. You can, in this capacity, be a great educator, albeit subtly. You can normalize grief with responses like,”She has better moments and worse moments and will for quite some time. An intense loss changes every detail of your life.” If someone asks you about your friend a little further down the road, you might say things like, “Grief never really stops. It is something you carry with you in different ways.”

#11 Love.
Above all, show your love. Show up. Say something. Do something. Be willing to stand beside the gaping hole that has opened in your friend’s life, without flinching or turning away. Be willing to not have any answers. Listen. Be there. Be present. Be a friend. Be love. Love is the thing that lasts.

Megan Devine is the author of Everything is Not Okay: an audio program for grief. She is a licensed clinical counselor, writer and grief advocate. You can find her at www.refugeingrief.com. Join her on facebook at www.facebook.com/refugeingrief

3 years.

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My daughter Lily was born still.

That’s what would have been my statement had we waited any longer. She was born blue and was resuscitated; because of her beginning without oxygen she suffered brain stem damage, she was frozen for 3 days to help heal her brain damage, the first time I held my baby girl she was 4 days old. But she was alive so I was grateful.

Weeks passed with so many tests, all with a negative conclusion and after having a feeding tube surgically placed into her gastro intestine we were able to take her home. What gets me is that even though they did 3 MRI’s and multiple other scans, they missed what would eventually kill her. That was her trachea. They were so close too, they found the holes in her heart, they found the valve that pumped the wrong way, all of these would need surgeries to be fixed but she needed to be bigger and stronger to endure them, had they looked an inch higher they would have seen her abnormal trachea.

The night Lily stopped breathing and I performed CPR on her plays out as a nightmare in my memory, for the longest time I wanted to move because every time I looked at that spot on the  floor where she lay, my heart stopped, but then we replaced the carpets with hardwood and I was sad that that was now gone too, so I knew I couldn’t leave the one place she had been. When they found out about Lilys trachea, the doctor phoned and told me she would need a tracheotomy to live- that’s a hole in her throat to breathe, he said she would never have a good life, would never speak, would never taste anything and would have a shortened lifespan because of it. That surgery was on top of the other 4 heart surgeries she needed. This one would now be 1rst though. He said I will do it if you tell me to but even on a healthy baby the chance of survival is slim. What the fuck do you say to that!? We had company downstairs that day, I didn’t go back down.

We went back to the hospital 1rst thing the next day probably our 100th drive then. I suffered from ptsd every time I got into the car after she died. 4 days later we signed a do not resuscitate order, they took out her breathing tube and we held her until she died 30 minutes later at 4:55 pm on February 18 2012. I am forever haunted by this. What if we did the surgeries? Most likely she wouldn’t have died in our arms but on a table. What if we accepted the transfer to Canuck Place? We probably would have had a nicer end of her life together as a family. What if she was born still? None of these traumatizing experiences would have happened, we would have still grieved but differently I imagine. The hardest, what if she continued to breathe, what if she was that 5% that survived.

So as life goes on, as we try to understand the why’s of it all, we want to grow, we hope to learn, we try to accept, we continue to live. We chose to remember.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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