Why God is not a part of my Grief

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rest In Peace Curtis Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

 

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Instant memories

A flash of  light, lightning in the sky taking you back to a time you forgot, the whiff of a scent instantly transferring you to a moment lost, a picture, a cloud, a breezing wind, a fallen tree random memories show you in an instant. Be they happy or sad they come with no invitation just a reminder tugging at a memory in our subconscious.

Like when I saw a 92′ Mustang yesterday and it reminded me of a childhood friend that was beaten to death in 2002. Or every time I pass an ambulance I think of the time my daughter was taken away for the last time in one. Or when my 4 year old lays on my chest, I am reminded of a favorite memory of mine, when my first born was 2 years old and I was pregnant with my second and he would lay on me as we both napped, I remember thinking it would be the last time it would be just he and I. When I see a lily flower or a rainbow, my daughter pops back in an instant, with a pang in my heart and a glaze in my eye. A lake brings me back to my childhood summers, carefree and swimming.

Every time I eat spaghetti or need to sew something I am reminded of my Nonna that passed away the same year my daughter died, who taught me to sew and fed me the most delicious of Italian cooking. The thought of fishing reminds me of my Nonno who joined her this year. Every time I hear the hideous word cancer, I think of the dozen or so family and friends that have died from various types of that disgusting disease in the last ten years. Or hear of another celebrity that takes their life, via suicide or overdose, I am reminded of the few lost souls of my past that have suffered the same fate. There was three of them, all boys 2 overdosed, 1 suicide, all within a few years of each other.

Thoughts can be so random, but the ones that creep up on you in an instant because of something you see or hear truly amaze me, in that our brains keep everything we have seen, heard or felt, unless shock or trauma have hidden them, but there are still those unfavorable memories we wish we could release from the time capsules in our head. Others we wish we could relive and savor forever.

The smell of a flower, or soup; the look of a stranger or rhyme in a song all triggering instant memories.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

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.

 

Capture your Grief Poetry 11-15

Altar

Christening

Marriage

Funeral

Service

To rejoice

To love

To cherish

To remember

To dread

Or

Is an altar a business based on your feelings

Or

 A need society has imposed

By Sheri Hall

Music

Fills your heart with a memory

Clears your head from thought

or

Floods your head with memory

Hurts your heart with thought

By Sheri Hall

 

Season

Sparkles in their eyes while a different kind shines in yours

Memories to be made while ones haunt you from before

Laughter becomes forgetfulness if only for a moment

A season can bring many things to light

A summer breeze drawing a calming breathe

A winter chill forcing us to hug tighter

A fragrant bloom making us smile

A falling leaf reminding us we all die

By Sheri Hall

Dark; Light

The dark part of you mind that you run from to find the light

The brightness that makes you cringe and want to hide in the dark

A light chat about the weather can turn into a dark chat about life

A dark sorrow shared can turn into a light weight lifted

Without one there can not be the other

By Sheri Hall

 

Community

Surrounds you; crushes you

Feels you; sympathises you

Feeds you; helps you

Loves to leave you patting themselves on the back

Helps the struggling; counsels the lost

Paid minimally; unappreciated  by their boss

Government; society; a mixed up bunch of ethics

Want versus need gets ignored through greed

Community can mean so many different things

All becomes irrelevant; traveling into the wind

By Sheri Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

f0c47d1320fb2fe769d047d5fc34df45Up next 16,17 & 18

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with Grief

I want to share some thoughts on the grieving process and hope you will share your feelings and thoughts as well.

I have encountered many types of loss over the last ten years and as I am an analytical person I tend to look for similarities, differences and coincidences or circumstances in things.

For example when I first attended a bereavement group, after trying individual counselling (with four different counsellors- two women, two were men, neither helped, because in my mind, though they had been trained in psychology and counselling they clearly had never experienced a raw grief circumstance, I am basing this on their comment and reactions, anyways, at the bereavement group I met a lot, too many, parents that had lost children and babies of all ages to all sorts of circumstances, in the two years that I attended and I will never forget the first time I went. I shook the whole drive there, I cried the whole time being there, blubbering my way through my reason for going. I felt so comforted, in a morbid way I guess to hear their stories and know that I was not alone in my feelings. Fast forward to a few months in and I had gotten to know quite well a few of the moms and dads that regularly attended as well as listened to a few random people that came and went every week, ones son was killed by a drunk driver, ones child fell out a window, shocking and troubling to listen to, when you feel the pain in someone’s voice. But after listening to the ones that had older children die, I started to feel like maybe I was not deserving to feel the grief I was, after all some of these parents watched their kids suffer for months, some years with terminal illness, some were so in shock at their healthy 3 or 4 year old being suddenly diagnosed and dying immediately, it was so very heartbreaking. I was living in a bubble of other people’s pain and you know it was easier than focusing on my own pain. But I also remember feeling like, wow these people deserve to grieve more than me because of their loss being more prominent than my two month old dying.

As I lived through the fog of raw grief which in my opinion does not start until after the shock wears off, which can take a few weeks or months, for me it was almost six months when it hit me, when I allowed myself to re live what we went through in such a short time. And I was suddenly stuck in raw grief; I was back at that first meeting as a blubbering fool. I remember one of the dads telling me after a long rambling of me sobbing and saying what’s the point to life when this stuff happens, when there is so much suffering, I kept saying why, why. And he came to me after and said that his wife (who was not there that night) had said such similar things not long ago, they had been going a year before me so this was over a year into their loss and seven or so months into mine, I was sad to know that she felt the same but also in knowing my thoughts were not random, were not crazy, I felt comforted.

Then comes the realization of firsts, around a years’ time, the first Halloween, Christmas, Birthday. And this is when most people think that after the first you should be done grieving and moving on.

This is so wrong.

Grief is a struggle to live through and learn from without the judgment of others.

But you find yourself pretending you’re “better” because you don’t want them to think you’re stuck because unfortunately that is what some think. Because for example when their high school friend died in a tragic car accident they remember being really sad for a few months but after that first year it didn’t really affect them anymore and they relate this loss to your loss.

I too have lost many acquaintances and friends from high school, a few cousins and few close friends, and a few co- workers. It sucks, yes, it’s hard, yes, it’s sad, yes, you feel for their lost life, their family, but it’s not the same as when you lose your mom who is your best friend and she dies suddenly after fighting breast cancer. Or when your child of seventeen gets diagnose with terminal cancer, or any ones child dies, or when your spouse gets killed in an accident or when your best friend or sibling that you cannot live without suddenly dies. I am not saying these people have a right to grieve more, I just believe that their grief is very different than the other. It is very different when someone dies of old age then when someone dies tragically from suicide or murder or a genetic malformation but sometimes we lump loss together, and ‘sympathy lasts longer than grief’ but someone living with or through their grief will often tell you they do not want sympathy, they simply want to be allowed to grieve in their own time, they want to feel sad when they feel sad and they want not to be judged or ignored. It is a different type of grief it is still grief and I am not trying to dumb down one to the other, I just feel that those that think you should be ‘done grieving’ are the ones that have experienced only the preceding types, the ones where you feel sad for a short time, I think that is called empathy not grief.

I invite you to share your thoughts on grief.

Thanks for reading.

Namaste,

Sheri

The underside of my heart… or bunk bed.

bunk-bed

 

This is the underside of my kids bunk bed, this is what I have looked at, often fallen asleep staring at while holding my little babies as they too fell asleep. A memory that will forever be in my heart. Let me explain, all three of my kids have slept in this bottom bunk, the upside down Spider-Man on the right was placed there by my oldest when he was two and a half, he loved spider man. He went through three different Spider-Man costumes from the ages of two to five because he wore them as a daily uniform. The Scooby doo sticker placed there by my second born who to this day still loves Scooby, often wearing Scooby doo t-shirts and watching it on TV or reading Scooby books at night. The Barbie sticker placed by the recent occupant of the bottom bunk my fourth child, my princess, my hope. Who is the girlish of girls that loves all that is pink or sparkly. She loves it when I wear heels or jewellery, which is rare.

But why is the underside of this bunk the underside of my heart?

I have spent eight years laying here holding, comforting, reading to and staring at my beautiful children. I have spent nights beside them when they have been sick or scared from a bad dream. I have escaped to this bed after an argument with my spouse to hold their tiny bodies as a comfort myself. I have cried many times staring up at these stickers, wishing time would stop, wanting them not grow up anymore. But also it is my heart because I spent over a year holding my second born, while my oldest was on the top bunk reading aloud to them both, then singing aloud to them both all the while thru tears, pausing to breathe between the shaking of my breath, I was lucky I suppose they were too little to notice I was crying. Certain books got me, like Robert Munsch’s ‘Love You Forever’ or my kindergarteners favorite ‘The Kissing Hand’ which taught him to kiss my hand every time I left him at school and he needed one on his palm in return to hold until the end of the day or a certain lullaby, most have references to babies in them but mostly it was right after I lost my third child at two months old that I cried every night I put them to bed. I cried because I was wasn’t putting her to bed, I cried because I was terrified of losing them too. I cried because I always end my string of lullabies with a song that has her name in it. I was and am still comforted that I had those moments, as hard as they were, they consoled my grief, being able to be with them and not be alone with my thoughts. The physical pain in those early days was excruciating to bare, but I would go back to feel it in a heartbeat.

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

A Poem that Hurts

A poem that hurts

 

Devastation shock loss

Confusion at it all

Tired thoughts only want rest

No one knows what is best

Stay silent send flowers

Condolences put to rest

Hard thoughts and unwillingness to feel blessed

Shame guilt anger grief

Bitterness bleeds

Hidden tears fake smiles

Uncomforting bothersome others

Faucets of the heart turned on high

While life continues to fly by

Sadness settles in a calm cold chill

Forever wanting to be still

No more thoughts

No more sleepless nights

No time to prove who is right

Struggling to continue while wanting to stop

Annoying hum of a ticking clock

Worlds turning never stops

Must continue whispers the voices

But at what cost

Sanity fairness vanity even

What is left of life’s dreary lessons?

 

By Sheri Hall

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five

I cannot believe you will soon be five.

You should be turning five that is.

It hurts to re-live that night five years ago, when you were born and all there is, was silence.

No beautiful wail escaped your body.

I shook in my own tears as I was expecting this moment, as if I knew it was to happen.

Throughout my pregnancy I was terrified something was wrong. It just didn’t feel right. Then it happened, first with excitement at your arrival then with shock as you were backwards folded in half turning blue on exit. The doctor and nurses worked so hard to get you to breathe as your dad held your hand begging you to try.

I was in my own shock; all was silent. I heard nothing, I only assumed you were dead. when the doctor told me they inserted a tube finally helping you to breathe but you needed to go immediately to the NICU, that I couldn’t see you. My mind could not wrap around what was happening or why. That was the hard beginning to your short beautiful life that has changed me forever. As a mother, as a human being who vows to live empathetically and compassionately helping others. I thank you for your time in my life my beautiful child.

I wish you a happy fifth birthday this Dec 30th  wherever you are my sweet angel.

Love always and forever.

mom.

The Forever Dream

The Forever Dream

By Sheri Hall
Walking on a rainbow; she smiles
Floating on a cloud; she laughs
Whistling of the wind; are you ok? She asks
When my nose is cold; I think of you
Her eyes as dark as the moon is bright
Look into my heart; soothing the chills
Her stare holds me in an embrace
My eyes puddle; at a chance to see her face
As the sun comes
I reach out my hand; but she is gone again
Thank you for reading
Namaste,
Sheri

As I Drive

Where my mind goes as I drive, I think back to those long torturous drives that I had grown to detest, anticipating the anxiety that arose as I approached my destination. I have grown to hate the radio because of those long drives, angry at its insistence to play happy annoying songs, angry at its ignorance of my need to hear sad songs or silence because the music or talk it emits draws upon too many emotions that at the moment I cannot focus on. All I can focus on is my arrival at her side. I circle the building, over and over looking for free parking, I could park in cozy and safe underground parking but at fifteen dollars a day times forty two days so far is not realistic, so I circle, praying for someone to leave, desperate. Finally I find one a bit further away but I do not care. I need to get inside. I need to see her. I exit my car, often forgetting all that I will need for the day and eventually having to run back to get them. I run, my legs ache it feels as though I am not moving very fast, I push the doors open and begin my agonizingly painful walk down the long, white often empty corridor, trying to avoid the smells that surround me, wanting desperately to just magically appear at her side every morning; but having to endure this long routine of getting to her. I finally reach the room; I rush to scrub my hands, remove my rings, and sign my name on the visitor’s sheet although they should know who I am by now. I drop off the extra snacks I have brought for the kids of other families that visit in the adjoining family waiting room. I remember the first time I brought my other children here, in shock, not prepared for them to whine for food and having none. I did not want other new comers to have to feel that, I wanted to help. I wanted someone to help me. I felt so lost, so confused, so scared. Finally I get to her side, I see that they have been poking at her again; I hold back my tears as I stroke her beautiful little face, that is splattered with dried blood from their obvious failed attempts at finding useful arteries. Why. My mind so often wonders why. Why me, why her, why does this happen to anyone. I try to pick her up but it is so hard with all the tubes and IVs, so I lay my head on her tiny body, the body I grew inside my own, the body that grew unable to breathe on its own, the beautifully perfect on the outside but so broken on the inside body, that now has become mine as well. Broken; my heart is broken, my mind, now broken, unable to understand the jargon being spoken to me by doctors, specialists and surgeons. I am unable to function I just want to hold her and have everyone else shut their mouths. Stop talking to me; stop telling me to leave her so we can have a meeting about a future no one knows for sure. Stop making me drive all the way here every day, getting stuck in traffic wondering if when I get here will she be the same, will she still be there. The panic that has grown in me over these last few weeks is almost unbearable I say almost because I am still here. I just want to take her home; I just want her to be normal, to be able to breathe on her own, to not need multiple surgeries to fix the problems with her heart. I just want to stop feeling scared and sad. I often think back to all those times I knew something was wrong, all those appointments with my doctor where I could not stop crying nor could I explain why I was crying, I just knew something was wrong because of the morbid, guilty thought I often had was if I have a miscarriage that may be better. Then she came, it was traumatic to say the least. She was folded in half, I needed a caesarean but it was four in the morning and no anesthesiologist was on so I was supposed to wait till she got here, but I could not wait, not anymore, I was already two weeks late. I kept pushing, another thought that will leave me riddled with guilt, what if I just waited, what if I did this to you. So out she came, folded in half, not breathing and turning blue. The room went silent. Hours passed before someone came back to talk to us. I did not even know until months later that your dad was asked to hold your hand and talk to you as they tried to resuscitate you. A moment he is haunted by today. They told us you were being transferred to the neo natal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital. They told us we should follow. They told us I would be admitted there. That they had to insert a tube so she could breathe but with an unknown amount of time without oxygen that she most likely had brain damage, there is even a name for it: asphyxiated birth- birth without oxygen. One of many new words I was forced to learn very unwillingly. That they would do what they could for her but that there were no guarantees. This was the first of many long, silent drives down to the hospital, to see my daughter that was born not breathing my daughter that we also later would find out was born with congenital heart disease: three holes in her heart, an abnormal trachea and needed a feeding tube. Her first surgery was when she was just 5 weeks old. But I knew none of this on that first drive. I was in shock, in denial, a part of me assumed that when we got down there, she`d be fine. The brain is funny that way. That was the first drive until 52 days later we made the last. We did not know it was the last of course, not until we got there and learned of the results from the latest scans, I did not know that was the beginning of my anxiety that surrounds driving now. We learn that the chance of you surviving, being so small and so fragile already, that the chance of surviving the surgery needed to fix you was slim if any chance of survival at all. We were told they would operate if we asked them to. But did we want to lose you on the operating table or in our arms. It is quite odd to have people speak to you this way, so matter of fact, about your child. That is going to die. They offered to move you to hospice but did not know if you would survive the transfer. So we held you, right there in the pediatric intensive care unit as they removed your tubes, always in the back of my mind was the thought -what if she breathes on her own, what if. A saying that will haunt me forever: what if. But you did not breathe on your own. Your dad and I held your amazing, precious little body until we could not. We walked silently back down that cold, white corridor for the last time and drove in silence for the last time that long treacherous drive home; never to see you again. Never able to drive again without thinking of the first, the last and the fifty lonely drives` in between trying desperately to see you.

That is what I think of as I drive.

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri