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

December chills

**Trigger Warning: traumatic birth event/description

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas,

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

International Children’s Bereavement Day

January 2012, Lily 3 weeks old, had a J tube inserted so we could bring her home and await more tests. This was a very exited day for my boys who were three and a half and five and a half. They had been waiting and wanting their little sister for months.

A child’s grief is often ignored, most dont have the vocabulary to express what they feel. They will Expres it as anger or sudden unexplained tears. Adults often overlook kids because they are so resilient and seem to move on from topic to topic faster than adults who over obsess a situation.

My older son was affected much more, being older and understanding better what was happening. He was changed, is changed because of her death.

I was blinded by my own grief to be able to focus and help him better than I did.

Though my boys are what kept me going, I was an emotionally absent mother. I was quiet and I stifled tears. I brought them to school when I should have let them stay home.

Today, 8 years later I see those changes vividly, the anger, the anxiety, the obsessive behavior.

I honor all those who’ve experienced death at a young age.

Some links to helpful resources below.

I hope we all can remember to be gentle when kids have big feelings.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Grief and Loss Books

MY TOP BOOKS ON GRIEF AND LOSS

In the dark hours and days/weeks after someone dies we often lay in the actual dark not able to shut off our minds, only wanting to sleep so the pain is not so real; physical.

Or in the literal, as it is such a mental stress load 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 since read many books on grief in the 8 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.

I read books that were supposed to help you cope, or teach you to let go.

I preferred first hand books, but enjoyed fictional grief as a release and comfort as well.

8 years ago I would have loved to have stumbled upon  a list of grief books, I didn’t, so I will share the top 13 that helped me then and the ones I have read more recently.

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

Teaches you how to deal with and accept death.

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

A classic, that unravels the journey through loss.

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

Offers meditations and actions to help grow through your grief

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

A first person account, heart wrenching read.

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

A very hard read but one with love, hurt and compassion that aims to teach growth through learning and acceptance.

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

A unique insight into the understanding of how we all survive trauma in daily life.

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

A true story based on the horrific tsunami that took thousands in Japan in 2011

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

A true story of perseverance of a woman who learns to cope with the death of her husband.

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

Famed author writes of the death of her son in a memoir.

#10 – “Its ok that your not OK” (2017) by Megan Devine

A great insight into accepting our feelings, while dealing with grief.

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

A twins memoir of her sisters struggle in life and ultimate suicide. A very hard read.

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

A memoir from a widower.

#13 – “Letters to Loved ones” (2020) By Jennifer Rickard, Amberly Wilkes, Sheri Hall, Cecelia Jensen, Tanya Winder, Jenise Williams, Matt B, Courtney Glafke, Vicki Catucci, Mary Kendig.

Based on true losses, letters written after death.

I hope these find you solace as they did me.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Coping with grief at work.

Coping with loss and grief at work…

COVID-19

Mental Health Index

Resources for organizations

Toolkit for individuals

AbilitiCBT – government-sponsored mental health program

WellCan – free mental health resources

No one is ever fully prepared for the death of a valued co-worker. You may find it hard to accept that the person is really “gone.” Or you may wonder how your team can function without someone who was such an important or well-liked member of the team. LifeWorks can help you cope.

When a co-worker dies you may feel numb or shocked at first. If you have worked closely with the person for years, you may feel as though tragedy had struck a member of your own family. Here are some ways to cope:

Expect to have many emotions

After learning that someone has died you may have very intense feelings—fear, anger, shock, guilt, confusion, or sadness. You may also have questions about your own mortality or wonder if the same thing could happen to you. Keep in mind that all of these emotions are a normal part of grief and usually ease with time.

Remember that everybody grieves in a different way

Your response to a death may be very different from that of the people around you. Allow your co-workers to grieve in their own way—especially if they didn’t know the person as well as you did. And try not to make judgments about how they or you ”should” or ”shouldn’t” be feeling.

Talk to others about how you’re feeling

It’s normal to feel very sad or have trouble concentrating when a co-worker dies, but if you find that you’re unable to resume normal work patterns after a while, talk with someone who may be able to give you ideas on how to cope—your LifeWorks Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. Also consider reaching out to a friend, family member, co-worker or manager.

Recognize the challenge of grieving from a distance

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives—including how we cope with death. Families are unable to touch or even be in the same room as loved ones who have died for fear of becoming infected. Try to remain in touch with family or friends who share your loss. When you are unable to be physically present, this means phoning them, texting them, arranging a video chat, or sending an email or letter. The coronavirus pandemic won’t last forever, and once restrictions have been eased there will be an opportunity to remember the person you lost with those that are close to you at a commemoration event.

Contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

If you’re struggling with a loss, or any other concern related to COVID-19, your assistance program is here to help. Call to be connected with LifeWorks’ trusted consultants.


Wellbeing and Employee Assistance Program 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at workhealthlife.com 

https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/managing-workplace-issues/grief-response

great resources in links above.

Todays world is ever changing; it can be overwhelming. Add death of an acquaintance, co worker, family friend or worse, someone really close to you and your work life balance can be thrown off. We all need to take time for ourselves when we feel overwhelmed.

Take care of yourselves please.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

*parts of this information and tips have been copied from mental health Canada govt site.

Why I Hate September

Edited Sept 2020 to reflect more currently.

Dealing With My Grief

Why I hate September;Fall and Winter….

September is the end of summer the beginning of Fall, the beginning of a new school year, my kids are a year, a grade older, time does not stop, things keep changing. Leaves fall and plants die. The ‘season’ is starting but for me its my season of grief and remembrance. The lead up to what should be my 3rd child’s birthday on December 30th and not what it is which is the lead up to my third child’s death day, February 18th. Christmas was my favorite, now its something to get through. The years gone have made the pain lessen but the reminders and memories are and will always be there no doubt….

Sept 2011– My nightmare begins. I was 6.5months pregnant with my 3rd child. I started having terrible thoughts, feelings of anxiety and despair I didn’t know what was…

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10 years ago…

Ten years, a decade, a century has ten decades, different generations between each one.

My daughter and I were sitting in the Costco check out line. She looks at my member card that she is holding waiting for it to be scanned. She asks me how old I am in the photo on the back. I look at it, it says the date taken, so I know it was ten years ago…

So many thoughts rushed through my memory, so many emotions brought to the surface with one innocent little question.

She asks again, but how old are you, I say it was ten years ago, so ten years younger than I am now. Wow. I am thirty nine. The huge difference between twenty nine and thirty nine are endless but its not that that sticks to me as a shock to the heart. As I ponder her question. She looks at me curiously, and repeats herself, but how old are you here? I say I was twenty nine, she says then how old are you now, I feel a tiny bit annoyed that she wont do the math herself. I am ten years older I repeat, not wanting to say out loud how old I am for some reason. But she persists and I answer I am thirty nine now. This appeases her curiosity.

My mind wanders, where did the last ten years go, I look at the picture, I remember taking it, I remember thinking after that I should have taken my hair out of my ponytail or at least the ugly headband off. Ten years ago was in the before time…

Before my daughter who just asked this question that stirred uncomfortable thoughts was born. Before my daughter before her, whose short life and traumatic events changed me forever. It was when my dad’s dementia was only beginning and his memory of us still good. When both my maternal grandparents were still alive and I saw them every Wednesday for lunch. That created the eternal memory for my then two and four year old boys who call the soup that we always ate there, a simple can of chicken noodle soup, nonnos soup. The mint they’d have after a nonnos mint. To this day we still refer to those two specific items as such. Before I knew grief was embedded in everything. Before I had met dozens of other parents who lost children of various ages to various diseases or tragedy. Before I lost a few years of my boys life to a quiet depression that kept me a moving, walking, doing, zombie. Before I was old. Before when I thought I would still finish my arts degree. When I thought I’d still go out dancing one day. Before when I thought I would go back to work. When I still had hopes and dreams because I was only twenty nine. Ten years later I have a fourteen and a twelve year old, an 8 year old who lives in my mind and a seven year old who amazes me daily. Which always causes the question in my head, had Lily survived would she be here, they would be so different, I can’t dissect those thought too much without immense guilt and eventual tears. Ten years ago I was in the thick of toddler hood, just me and my boys out happlity at the park searching for slugs and worms on a daily basis. Before the racing around to multiple after school activities started. Before life became too busy. When it was slow and I was ignorantly happy. Before my life became consumed by grief and aware of the possibility of tragedy in everyday life. Before my eyes were opened.

Ten years is a long time that passes in an instant. In reflection it was not a wasted ten years just gone so fast and the moments in between so large and life changing. We will see what the next ten will hold. If only we could stop time, just for a moment.

 

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

What is a mother    

What is a mother 

A mother is love

A mother is tears

Happy , sad, scared tears, tears for the unknown.

A  mother is worry for their health, kindness, calm. joy, hope and faith.

A mother is not caring so much about how I look but how I react, not caring so much about how clean everything is as long as we had fun making the mess.

 A mother is wanting to always keep a child safe while not sheltering them from the real world, wanting them to learn on their own accord at their own pace.

A mother is not always blood

A mother is wanting them to laugh, not the cause of their cries.

A mother is taking a moment to breath, when you want to scream.

A mother is letting go of your trauma to make good memories  for your child.

 A mother is not afraid of saying no or being hurt when they get mad for saying no.

A mother is security

A mother is offering a hug before an interrogation.

A mother is pain

A mother is safety

A mother is you being there for a child no matter how far they stray

A mother is letting them go though you want them to stay


 

Written (2010) while watching my own kids grow, Edited (2020) for the things we both have learned along the way.

 

*Dedicated to the memory of George Floyd, a black man who screamed for his mother while being suffocated to death at the hands of a white police officer.

art for blog

*Palestinian-American artist Shirien Damra’s illustration paying tribute to George Floyd.

 

 

Thanks for reading

Sheri

 

The end?

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I’ve been married for 13 years (7/7/7)…

 

Together for 19 years (08/18/01)…

 

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And today we hate each other.

This was the last picture we took together (below) a night in Whistler, something I had been booking and planning for the last 10 years, once a year for us. T be able to get away together… Why he’s never planned one is not lost on me. It started for my  30th knowing he wouldn’t plan anything… This year I turn 40, I know he again will not plan anything…

 

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We have 4 beautiful kids together, 7,12,14 and a should be 8 who died at 2 months old.

 

View More: https://preciousmomentswithelissa.pass.us/sheri

We have lost grandparents, all 4, as well as friends and other family to life;death.

It’s hard to see at first that you’ve grown apart until you realize you have been trying too hard to concede. Or at least I did.

We disagree on all things from how the homeless should be treated to the proper way to address the issue of importance in front of our kids. From what he thinks is acceptable in regards to racist or sexist jokes to what I think is me drawing the line.

My kids have been my life. I have spent countless hours awake, scared, crying while he laid snoring beside me.

Planning, organizing, preparing, juggling.

10 years ago I wanted to leave, we went to Mexico with our 2&4 year olds, something I had been begging for. I read Eat Pray Love by Liz Gilbert while there, it resonated do deeply. I was encouraged to try.

I worked on myself and I did manage to become happier.

But not because of him, because I did things for me, I applied to University and got in and loved my first classes. I felt like me again. I was learning.

It was me willing to work on myself that made me happy, not him. But 10 years later, I still feel lost and alone.

Not to say he hasn’t tried and I haven’t reciprocated but for him its about sex and for me about growth.

I have been trying to graduate from post secondary school since we met really, but in the early days was busy working to pay my rent, and when I could finally, I was with kids, and then when they were in school, I re applied and got in but got pregnant, with a my 3rd who later died. When I had the strength to reapply, I was pregnant again.

My kids have been my everything and he does not get it.

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I was recently accepted to a program that only takes in 38 students a year/ program. We are going through the Covid 19 pandemic.

Everything is shut down. I can pay 500$ and risk losing it if nothing changes. I worry that if my kids who have not been in school for 3 weeks goes until next September when it starts. He says you should just stop caring about regret and do it then. But that was after he said why would you apply now then?

I applied 3 months ago before this started, I was ready to do it full time and sacrifice without “regret” this year of being there for my babies…

We argued, he yells criticism and confusing testaments that make me wonder if he ever listens. Its always been this way.

Why do I stay? What am I waiting for? Why am I so scared?

Something has changed slowly over time. Neither of us care as much. Neither want to try anymore.

When do you concede defeat?

When do you say it’s the End?

Sheri