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

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

‘Living in the Bottom of a Well’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading

Sheri

 

Facebook memories…

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Thanks for reading.

 

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

 

-Sheri Hall

 

Comments and sharing always welcome and encouraged.🙏

Pushed to my limits

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

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

 

His name was Cody…

Hi, what are you looking for today?

I need a black bra, for a dress. Person accompanying says for tomorrow.

I’ve lost alot of weight, I’ve had 3 kids and I’m done, my bras dont fit.

I measured her band and cup size, 34B.

I used to be a 38D she says, I immediately question my measurements in my head, I couldn’t be that far off…

I pick out, what is my favorite and most comfortable everyday bra in her new size.

All the while I am entranced by her 10 month old baby who seems to like me as well.

We exchange names, I say I will wait to check her fit.

She tells her mom to wait outside with baby or baby will cry for a feeding if she sees her moms boobs.

The baby is so mesmerizing, I can’t help but play with her, she takes my hand and pretends to toss it then grabbing it again, I smile, genuinely. She makes my heart happy.

I check her moms fit, so much better than what she was wearing before.

Her mom keeps asking if she wants to try the dress with the bra, the daughter keeps laughing and saying adamantly no.

I pause before walking away, I don’t know why and her mom, who is watching her beautiful granddaughter, says her brother died.

My son.

I stop.

I look her in the eyes though she averts them, a tactic I know well. I say I’m sorry.

She says the funeral is tomorrow, he died in a motorcycle accident.

I ask her what was his name, she instantly grabs her phone and starts scrolling, I already know she is searching for a picture to show me.

She says its Cody, she did say the last name but I didn’t hear it clearly. Then she showed me this amazing, strong man in a uniform. She continued, that he has a 10 year old daughter. My heart cracked a bit more, tears filled my eyes. I gave her a hug that lasted maybe longer than appropriate for an employee/ customer/ stranger relationship but honestly, I could have held on longer and she didn’t seem to want to let go either.

His sister, who I helped fit with a new bra, said she needed underwear and proceeded to pick out some, mostly camo design commenting they were perfect. Mom was telling me how she’d decided to wear her sons underwear, overtop of hers of course, she joked. His was the expensive Saxx kind so she didn’t want them to go to waste.

Its nice to have a part of him with you always I said.

Her eyes said the rest.

Before she left I told her that I hoped tomorrow went ok, that I will light a candle for her son. She thanked me. I felt her pain without words leaving her mouth.

I got home and Googled local motorcycle deaths etc, I couldn’t find it, I wanted to do something, know his full name.  He was trying to sell the motorcycle and was becoming a firefighter.

I pray for peace for his family.

people-at-a-funeral-104302966-57e83d435f9b586c356d9645

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

Grief is a Daily Challenge

PSX_20190828_071930

 

I searched and searched the internet, library and book stores after my daughter and then both grandmother’s died all 3 within 4 months.

I needed to understand death, understand why.

How do we live so unabashedly  blind pretending we and others wont die?

In the book:

Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss

By Sumeet Kumar

I found the quote above and for whatever reason it resonates with me.

So I’m sharing it with you.

After I made it into a pretty meme if course.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri