Life long grief.

Its not so much that I grieve (her) anymore but that I am shocked at how much it still hurts at random.

This February 18 will be the 9th anniversary of her death.

I am not consumed by grief but still get overwhelmed at times at the feelings and hurts that pop up.

The way they call mom because something fell, the way they look at me as I see her photo frame smashed, the way they say sorry as I quietly carry the remnants upstairs.. again, the rage mixed with pain, I hide as I struggle to control and deal with something I don’t know how to.I had this photo blown up Feb.25.2012 Steve thought it was too big and couldn’t look at it, so I had to put it in a room he didn’t go in a lot… its where the kids play.

The frame has been broken from it being knocked off the wall 3x in the last year during this pandemic. Why this year, I don’t know. Fine and untouched since made almost 9 years ago.I got the photo this big because I wanted her to be lifesize, I wanted to remember every inch and sometimes I wish I didn’t.

But not in the way it sounds but in that I wish it never happened. That had she lived these moments of pain and reflection wouldn’t happen.

Thank for reading.

Sheri

The body remembers

It is her ninth birthday today, I woke up at 2am, the same time I got up nine years ago having contractions and headed to the hospital. Except that today is very different, no hope or anticipation just anguish and darkness, a wish for the day to be done if I can be honest.

This will be the first year I am working on this day. I can hear the rain pound the cement as I lay in bed, the clock slowly ticking, 2:36….3:08…..3:55…4:27….I finally get up at 5 knowing it is hopeless to fall back asleep before my alarm goes off at 5:20.

Its raining, each year on this day we, as a family missing a child and a sibling have gone to White Rock, the place she was born to throw flowers in the ocean and remember her on her birthday, each year it has been sunny. Each year until now, until today, it is raining, and not just a light misty rain, a heavy soaking your feet if you go outside rain. And I am off to work not the beach. Her dad and I fought last night, also a first, usually very quiet and somber in the days that lead up to her birthday. But this year has been different, unequivocally for all and we are no exception.

I am going to be tired today, I am already thinking of going to bed when I get home from work, except that I have three other kids who will need things of me. At some point like all years past I will break but for now, I will be still. Quiet.

My body shakes when I allow it to remember, I hold back the images that haunt me so I don’t fall, not yet. I have to get through the day first. I bought a cake yesterday my daughter Hope was so happy to see it, I asked if she knew why, she is still too young to understand calendars and dates fully, I tell her its Lilys birthday, she nods. Then proceeds to tell me of her new friend named Lily at school who she loves playing with. I know the girl she is talking about, I know of each girl named Lily at their school, many times have I stood frozen as their mothers called them as they unknowingly stood near or behind me. It’s a sweet innocence in that I think she is telling me this as a comfort and it is, but it is because knowing she is happy is what is comforting. So I will go to work, hopefully need to interact very little, do my job and come home.

I will find a moment to reflect and honor in my own space. But as I have learned in the last nine years, time keeps going, nothing stops, not even for grief. But the body remembers…

Thanks for reading

Sheri

December chills

**Trigger Warning: traumatic birth event/description

The thoughts that find the way into our psyche are not always pleasant, I suppose that is what happens when we are triggered by a repressed memory or a traumatic event. We have dark feelings, uncomfortable truths run their scenarios into our heads. My whole body feels tense in December, like clockwork as her birthday approaches, as my body remembers the trauma it experienced on that cold early morning of December the thirtieth.

The anticipation that comes after November, the fear that reared mid december, the stillness and silence that fell into January until the near end on February eighteenth. The warning signals that were ignored because of the preparation of Christmas for the siblings who were so anxiously awaiting their baby sisters arrival. ‘The best Christmas present ever’ was once spoken…now its the haunting that remains for Christmas, the white elephant that sits atop the mantel staring at us all, daring for us to mention the hurt that we all pretend doesn’t hover over every December, every Christmas since…

The reminders are everywhere, as the house is decorated, the things bought before and the ornaments gifted to us after. The memory never to be hidden but also rarely spoken as it stares us all in the face.

My body remembers, I often awake in the night in December in a sweat of confusion, where am I , what is happening, a tense feeling consumes my insides, as I slowly wake and remember, I attempt to self soothe that I am alright, I am not in a living nightmare, though my body feels differently to that when it remembers. The hands with tools scraping out my broken placenta, shredded to pieces inside my uterus, the placenta that failed to nourish my baby girl adequately in the last week before her birth, the piece of flesh inside my body that failed to do its job. They scraped every last bit of me dry as I silently cried, knowing my fears were coming true. The commotion to my right, where she lay, I could not make myself turn my head to look, I don’t think I wanted to see, I could not bear the images as well as the physical pain I was already living in at that moment, I don’t think I was able to handle it, my body or I suppose my brain would not let me look. Those are the memories that haunt me every December as her Birthday approaches, as we attempt a ‘happy’ Christmas time..

It is an average of ten degrees celcius this December, quite warm, temped, but I still get chills everyday, my hands are frozen, as is my heart at times when I feel too much. It is a constant mix of allowing the hurt and ignoring the pain. If it creeps in too much, I worry I cannot hide my tears, my face will reveal my sadness. And though my heart is in a constant state of shivering, it is like my bones are always cold, I am shaking inside and tense outside, it is the moment when you know you can cry if you let yourself.

The urge to light her candle that sits by her picture that remains in the corner year round outside what was her room. The guilt if I have forgotten to or have not lit it in a while. The absurd but consoling thought that she knows if I am remembering. Her eyes follow me around the hall, stare down at me as I sit on the floor folding laundry. I glance up at her photo and as I do, I find myself lighting her candle, touching her face in the frame, and continuing my motherly duties for my living children.

She would be turning nine this December thirtieth. I can’t help but wonder if her little sister, who is seven would be here if she lived. It is a dark thought, a morbid path I go down but rarely allow myself to. But it is always there, I want to think that of course she would be here, I would of had my dream, two little boys and two little girls. But the reality is that Lily’s asphyxia at birth gave her brain damage that would have mobilised her to a wheelchair and a feeding tube her whole life and I cannot say for certain that caring for a disabled child would we have found the time or love for each other to consumate and create our precious fourth child. Who by all accounts and confirmed by many grief books happened in and because our grief. Yes, sex, as well as, over eating, undereating, over sleeping, staying up all night, over drinking, or other forms of self medicating are all coping mechanism in grief.

Ours produced a blessing. That I chose to believe would have been born regardless the outcome. She is our miracle.

Out of that pain came Hope and a gratefulness for what Lily taught us in her short life.

Merry Christmas,

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Letter to my daughter

Dear Lily,

I am so sorry for what happened to you.

Every day since I have lived with guilt and  regret. Regret for not advocating that I knew something wasn’t right. I feel guilt over not holding you enough. Guilt that maybe it was something I did or didn’t do to make you so incomplete.

Had we done the surgeries would you have survived?

I was so scared to have a severely handicapped child but I knew I was strong enough to do it and I was willing to learn, but I was also sad knowing none of our lives would ever be the same. After the seizures started and more tests were done we learned that there was so much more wrong with your tiny perfectly imperfect body. That you would never breathe on your own, taste food, drink through your mouth. I didn’t know what to do. On one hand there was the doctor saying you won’t survive the multiple surgeries you needed but on the other hand saying he’ll do them if we ask. I held you, I cried. What I hated the most was the feeling of just wanting it to end.

Your brothers so little didn’t understand why mom and dad were always gone, why you couldn’t come home, why you were born with so many broken pieces. I go back to that day in my mind and it tears my heart out over and over. I remember praying for you to breathe, I remember begging god to let you live, that I would deal with whatever came next that you needed. But you didn’t and I was too afraid of seeing your face after you stopped breathing, I was scared of having nightmares if I looked so I didn’t, I gave you to the nurse and ran out of the hospital. And that is my biggest regret. I should have stayed and I am so sorry. I love you and you will always be my first daughter, my third child.

I honor you as much as I possibly can.

We hang your stocking at Christmas we have balloons on your birthday and plant flowers at the cemetery every February 18. I light candles by your picture whenever I feel you, I stare at the maple tree in the front yard that I planted when I was pregnant with you, knowing it is the age you should be. I will always wonder who you’d be today. I can’t wait to see you again, somewhere over the rainbow.

Love mom

 

 

poor baby

 

 

 

*** My daughter was born frank breach at 41 weeks and lived for 52 days. She had congenital heart disease, a damaged brain stem from birth and needed a tracheotomy to breathe as well as a tube in her stomach to eat. She needed multiple surgeries but also needed to be healthy to survive them.  We took her off life support hoping she would breathe on her own but didn’t.

Rest in peace my angel

Lily Emma Olive Hall

Dec.30.2012- Feb.18.2012

Featured Image -- 2868

 

 

Thanks for reading

Sheri Hall

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

 

What should be…

It should be your 8th birthday today.

We should have cake and balloons.

You should be smiling as you open gifts.

We should be celebrating.

But.

It will be the 8th anniversary of the traumatic start to your short life.

It will be the 8th night I relive giving birth to a  blue baby.

It will be the 8th day I remember the silence as they resucitated you.

It will be the 1rst day of your 51 days of life for the 8th time.

 

 

2 months

2 months or 58-61 days (make up most 2 months stretches) or 1430 hours in 2 months of the 8544  hours in a year, its about 6% of the time in a year, seems so little to be so heavy. I carry it each year. I carry it with the grief of other losses but hers has affected me the most.

Just let it go… I’m sure they wonder and I have, the whole  first year I carried a heavy grief and it was the hardest, the following years it was around 6 months of each year, around year 5 it was heavy for 3 months. I’m ok with accepting how her memory these 2 months are like a weighted bag tied around my shoulders, the weight will lift as I’ve learned it does by the spring. Not to say I dont think of her as often it just doesn’t hurt as much the rest of the year.

I dont ever want a day or time when I don’t feel the weight of my grief for her.

You get used to carrying it.

I  think of her at the very least every 2 minutes each day of the year since her death in 2012.

I always wonder if I had just 2 more minutes what would I do. Hold her of course. Smell her hair, touch her cheeks.

These 2 months (Dec.18 – Feb.18) belong to you, not that I obsess but I find I cant escape. The pain is stronger as are the memories and reminders.

I dont like to wrap presents anymore, what a waste of paper. I used to love Christmas music, I collected all my favorites and played them on rotation for weeks, now I change the station.  Walk around and look at lights? I cant remember why that was fun. I do still love looking at my tree with all the special ornaments and the memories they hold. I love my 3 kids excitement at the school break and wonder of gifts or will it snow. I smile for them though I spend most days fighting back tears.

Her birthday is in 2 weeks,  she lived almost 2 months

She’s going to die all over again in my heart and mind in 2 months time.

I think of you, sometimes in awe, sometimes in pain. But your always just a thought away.

A date, a memory, a month. A commercial, a song, a regret. Your forever at the back of my mind but front of my heart.

20191218_192653-COLLAGE.jpg

Lily Emma Olive Hall

December 30 2011 – February 18 2012

Thanks for reading

Sheri

7 Years of Grief

‘Angel Number 7  … Number seven is one of those figures. It symbolizes every positive and valuable matter in existence like prosper life, happiness, renewal, and perfection. Some numerologist even believes that number seven is so perfect and powerful that it represents a connection to the universe.’

 

7 days in a week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

If you were born on a Thursday Oct 2nd it will return every 7 years for that exact date to come back around, every 7 years Halloween is a Friday, or New years a Saturday or Christmas a Sunday, what I am getting at is 7 years seems like a cycle, a full circle back to the beginning.

Your 0 when you are born, 7 on the exact same day 7 years later. Age 7, grade 2; been in the school system for around  3 years already not a little kid anymore but still a child. Perhaps you have experienced loss of a pet, divorce or death of a family member but you are still innocent enough to believe in the good of the world you still laugh more than older kids and adults, finding the silliness in things everywhere.

The next cycle brings you to 14; only 7 short years later and you jump from a carefree kid to an anxious, nervous, pubescent teenager! There was warnings and hopefully parental help and guidance from good role models. 14 is scary a scary time, your no longer a ‘child’ but still not an adult…

Another 7, 21! Oh the places you can go and the things your allowed to see, not all equally good things.

I will stop here with hopes that we all, at least those that can read know their 7 time tables…

I have very accurate memories of being 7, 14, 21, 28, 35 but not so much other years,  I find that interesting. Maybe I have tried harder to remember and retain them or maybe it is a coincidence or maybe its a part of the greater purpose in life… ‘A greater connection to the universe’

Every 7 years is a major milestone in life if and when you reach them you look back, you reflect on the knowledge you have acquired through your growth which in turn helps you to keep growing, keep learning; moving forward. It is said that when someone experiences trauma of any kind they may become ‘stuck’ at a certain age, mindset or maturity level, this makes sense to me with people I know and have observed.

When I was 7, I was attending a french school in a neighbourhood we had just moved, I was shy and didn’t fit in with the affluent kids that occupied this school, I watched my brother get bullied and often played alone in the forest beside the school, something that would be forbidden and for good reason in today’s world. That same brother grew up to become a drug addict that has lived on and off the streets his whole life.

At 14 my parents were in the middle of starting the divorce process, we had just moved again, I had just started high school. I won’t go into the unnecessary behaviour that came about at 14 but looking back I wish I had a role model, an adult who cared enough to help me navigate through being a teen. I was smart but wanted friends more and being pretty it is easy to fall into the wrong crowd they showed attention, I sought it. 

21, 14-21 were the hardest in terms of growth  and growth setbacks but by 21 I returned to school to graduate, I bought a condo, I regularly went to the gym. I also met my now husband and father to my 4 children at 21.  But the 7 years between 14 and 21 a friend had been murdered, 2 others overdosed and 1 died of a freak accident. I watched my dad fall deeply into his alcoholism after my parents divorce which was followed by the death of his dad. Eventually losing our house, we were all on our own well before 18. I was in a car accident that had me in the hospital for weeks and unable to walk for months… But by 21 I had come out the other side, I had been working full time since 16, having to drop out of school in grade 11 to pay rent, I did many things I was finally proud of by 21, I felt like I was maturing, growing, taking care of myself.

By 28, I had gotten married had my first child was about to give birth to my 2nd boy, I had lived in 4 different cities, worked 3 different places.

35! That’s a big one I think, when you reach 35 you are officially, no excuses, 100% an adult. Now, I have lost all 4 of my grandparents, a dozen friends to car accidents, suicide, drugs overdoses. I have also watched many of my friends divorce or watch their parents die of cancer. But the biggest thing that happened to me was the birth and death and my 3rd child, followed by the birth of my miraculous rainbow, my 4th child and living through the process of deep, raw grief with my husband. How we survived the roller coaster of child loss is beyond me. But we did.

I am now 39 and in 2 years will be 42 and another cycle will have passed. But the reason 7 years was stuck in my thoughts is because it will be 7 years since the incredibly traumatic birth of my daughter who lived only 52 days.

This Monday December 30th 2019 it will be 7 years since Monday December 30th 2011 that the thing that has scarred me, changed me, hurt me and forced me to grieve undeniably lines up. The year ahead, 2020 all the days will line up with that time 7 years ago…. Me attending a PAC meeting on a Tuesday in February only to be called home to give her medicine and eventually CPR with her returning to the hospital, 3 days later its Friday, its valentines day, I buy her a purple elephant with the hopes of giving it to her when she comes home again. 7 days later  on Tuesday February 18 2012 she dies. This Tuesday February 18 2020 will be the 7th anniversary of that death. The feels flood back as do the tears, the headache the pain, but it is less painful 7 years later. the grief is not raw, it is not every minute in agony, but it exists inside me and when I need to know, to feel the pain I just sit in my mind with memories.

We look for patterns in grief because we are constantly trying to understand it.

What I am wondering, is: Does it take a full cycle, a full 7 years to go through the grieving process? I would say I feel most like me again though I will never be the same, I am definitely not the ghost I turned into the immediate following years. I learned through my grief , I grown with it and I think finally accepted it. 7 years of Grief later.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

***********************************************************************************

Some interesting reads on Seven 7 in links below:

 

Every Seven Years (7) You Change

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201506/seven-reasons-we-are-captivated-the-number-seven

 

https://www.betemunah.org/seven.html

 

Its not about me…

‘His sister died when he was 6’ I recently had to explain to the principal of my older son at school in regards to an issue about behavior and something that had occurred between him and another boy. The call went silent, no I didn’t know that…

‘Its his sister, who died 2  years ago’ I explained to my other sons kindergarten teacher after he asked about a drawing my younger son had drawn that included his sister and that he couldn’t explain to the teacher, who thought he was seeing ghosts or had an imaginary friend, it came from a concerned place I believe…

‘He lost his little sister in kindergarten’ which can explain why he is a quieter kid I said to the vice principal when asked about any issues they should know about as he was starting a new school for grade 3…

Not to forget the mass emails I had to send out to coaches and current teachers(at the time), their friends parents about my boys losing their sister back in 2012, when they were only 4 and 6. How I had to explain typing through my own hand soaked tears about what happened and to please be easy with my children in these difficult times and upcoming days and weeks…

How every time I had to mention it, include it or divulge this piece of my broken heart, I always did so with their best interest in mind, in hopes that gentler gloves could deal with them if issues arose, hadn’t they been through enough? ‘Losing’ their parents right after Christmas when they went to the hospital to have their little sister not to return for days then for the next 51 days being driven around by neighbors and friends parents as their own parents were suddenly gone at the hospital all the time. Our house became quiet those dark weeks that turned into months, our children had gone from happy innocent children, to those that not only lost their baby sister but the parents they knew forever, because we were never the same again. I wanted people to understand my kids didn’t need to suffer anymore. It wasn’t about me.

So I shared and it made people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to be around me but its not about me…

Every time I had to fill out a form asking for any necessary reasons for concerns the pen hovered, do I mention their loss? do I say they may say her name, do I recall painful details? Does it matter to them? or this situation? I did get to a point years later where I stopped filling it out, thinking time enough had passed I didn’t need to, until a couple weeks ago I go a call that my son was in trouble at school. We talked briefly, my son had apparently jokingly said he was going to kill someone, in his defense his young, undeveloped brain of 13 did not understand that saying this is equal to saying you have a bomb on a plane in today’s world, especially with school shootings and such, but lesson learned he will never speak like that again, joking or not…

This boy in particular had recently lost a family member and was feeling a bit touchy, and was acting out at school, when prompted he said what my son had said to him which set off a firestorm of ‘rules’ that needed to be followed. Long story shortened the 4th call with the principal, I felt the need to tell him about how my son had lost his sister when he was 6, he had gotten into trouble in kindergarten because of his grief and anger at school and people did not tell me about it, it was shielded from me so to speak. when I found out I was so upset, upset I could have been there for my little boy, upset at having that teachable moment taken from me, that even in our own pain we do not physically fight with others, that if he felt a certain way all he had to do was call me or ask the teacher to call me and I would have been there. I didn’t say this to the principal but what I explained was that my sons never been in trouble, not since this incident in kindergarten and now 6 years later, he is in grade 7 and was crying as the school (police) liaison officer spoke to him about his “threat” I was not there. I see I have made the principal uncomfortable, because since this incident when I see him in the hallways it is different, as it was back then after someone found out…

The time I had to explain my middle sons drawings to his kindergarten teacher, the same thing happened, he looked at me with pity, as soon as I mentioned he lost his sister he said but stopped himself mid way ‘so you lost a’… I kept talking about my son, it was not about me…

Or the time my oldest was in grade one, so the same year she died, his teacher at the 1st parent teacher interview, says to me so I know about lily, I said oh? she says H(my son) talks about her a lot, I explain we/he goes to group therapy at Canucks Children Hospice and is encouraged to talk about her, she says its OK but that he seems tired a lot. Yeah, me too I thought. Grief is tiring, but it wasn’t about me…

Or the time when my oldest was in grade 4 and wrote this on his jump rope for heart heart…

Hayden gr 4

Or 2 weeks ago when I dropped off my middle sons violin, who was 4, in preschool when his sister died and is in grade 5 now, I found this on his desk…

** Every year elementary schools in Canada participate in the Jump rope for heart campaign.

logan gr 5

 

So as I have said, felt, voiced since 2012, yes my heart broke when I lost my daughter, my third child but my heart broke even more witnessing what my sons went through, still learn to grow through. So no, its not about me…

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

Capture your Grief; Educate & Connection

Day 13* – Educate : A resources guide to bereavement help

https://www.nicuhelpinghands.org/resources/resources-for-bereaved-parents/

http://www.frazerconsultants.com/2016/07/youre-not-alone-resources-to-help-bereaved-parents/

https://sunnybrook.ca/content/?page=wb-nic-gresources

https://www.dyingmatters.org/page/resources-coping-bereavement

https://www.hoag.org/specialties-services/womens-health/education-resources/pregnancy-infant-loss/resources/suggestions-from-bereaved-parents/

https://www.bereavedparentsusa.org/about/for-the-newly-bereaved/

http://grievingchildren.org/grief-resources/

http://www.virtualhospice.ca/en_US/Main+Site+Navigation/Home/Support/Resources/Programs+and+Services/Provincial/Ontario/Bereavement+services.aspx

http://webhealing.com/links-to-grief-resources/

http://www.bereavedparentsofmadison.com/resources.html

https://hopeforbereaved.com/about/hope/

http://www.debra.org/bereavement

http://www.mygriefangels.org/grief-support-directory-.html

*For this days topic I have decided to post links to educational resources for bereaved parents, back in 2012 when my daughter passed away I found very little in the way of help or sites to access, so I know someone will appreciate this list. I am amazed at how many sites there are today compared to 6.5 years ago. It gives me hope to know the stigma around death and grieving is fading.

 

Day 14 –  Connection

In those first raw moments of loss there is no feeling of connection, if anything there is a huge feeling of disconnect and betrayal from the world and all around you. That moment you feel a connection again with someone is incredibly meaningful because after death meaningless relationships become obsolete and unwanted. Though unfortunately we are fortunate to meet other bereaved parents and that is typically the first again connection. the painful loss that connects you. The shared pain of a similar experience that is traumatic and very hard to deal with in the aftermath, these parents who have experienced a similar loss are the connections you needed to seek out. I can name the child and their age at death and or diagnosis and death of every single child of  the beautiful loss moms and dads I have met. Their stories stay with me. I ache for their loss as I do and have my own. That is a connection.

 

Thank you for reading,

Sheri

 

 

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