Ebb and flow of grief…


How do we deal with life’s losses and move forward? People far wiser than I am, said that we never do get back to normal. That a time of numbness, confusion and uncertainty eventually merges into a new “normal”.

I am often filled with profound sadness over what will never be. Vic will never see her boys graduate.  She will never have that mother and son dance at their weddings.  She will never know the joy of being a grandparent.

Jared and I were chatting the other evening and he said “Most of the time I bury my sorrow.  I try not to think how much I miss Mummy.  But sometimes when I lie in bed the tears just start…”

I told him how guilty I feel because at first, in a perverse way, I enjoyed the freedom of snap decisions to go away for a weekend or dinner without having to make elaborate plans for Vic’s care.

The house is too big … too empty … too quiet.  How can one tiny little person leave such a humongous void?

Are we moving forward?  Yes, I believe we are.  We are healing very slowly. We are functioning well in the “other” world.  That world that has no understanding of our world.  The boys are both excelling in their studies.  They have lovely friends.  They have good lives.  But, they do not have their Mummy.  It breaks my heart thinking how deprived they are of maturing under the loving care of their mother.

I read once that healing is a journey, not a destination or a point in time. I know we are scarred.  When we light candles for my beautiful baby girl I know that grief will remain a part of our lives forever. But we will go with the ebb and flow of our grief – it is part of our journeys.

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Navigating the Ebb and Flow of Grief     Posted on June 28, 2013 by Maria Kubitz

Grief is fickle. Unpredictable. And indifferent to whatever mood I’m in. Most days my grief lies dormant under the activities of everyday life. Little triggers will continually remind me its there. A sad news story on the TV. A girl at the park who reminds me of my daughter. But I can go about my regular routines with no interruptions. Other times, the triggers are bigger, and the grief bubbles up and takes over my mood. Tears well up behind my eyes, ready to release at the first opportunity. My patience seems to evaporate and everyday tasks become cumbersome, meaningless, and even difficult. Usually the bursts of grief from larger triggers only last a few hours or at most a few days.

But sometimes it lingers and grows.

What I didn’t expect is that even coming on four years after her death, I still find myself in situations where grief becomes so overwhelming again that it feels like I’ve gone right back to the debilitating early days of grief. Feelings of sadness, pain, lethargy, dis-interest in things I normally enjoy. Going to work becomes a struggle. Even taking care of my kids feels like a burden. I know these periods require extra attention and care, and I navigate through the best I can, asking for support along the way. I just wonder if these episodes will ease over time, or if I should just expect them to become a permanent fixture of my “new normal” life?

If the death of my daughter has taught me anything — and it has taught me A LOT — it has taught me that we have more inner strength than we can ever imagine, and that with time, attention, and support, we can navigate through just about anything life might throw at us.

Unimaginable pain


When my beautiful little girl exhaled her last breath, it felt as if my heart was ripped into a million pieces.

One year and 5 months have passed and my heart is still in a million pieces.  But, the pain is no longer that same raw pain.  Sometimes it is a sharp, searing pain; sometimes a dull heartbreaking pain.  At times I feel so alone, numb and at other times I am convinced that I will lose my mind with grief.

But, the pain is more “refined”.  It is no longer that raw, unbearable pain.

There are times that I feel that my nerve endings are exploding.  And yet, there any many things I can no longer remember.  I read today that it is my body is protecting me… I am grateful for it.  I am glad that I have forgotten some of the horror of Vic’s death.  I am clinging to the good days.

I went away with two friends last weekend.  It was amazing.  We laughed until we cried, we spoke about the death of our loved ones, we loved and supported one another.  The empathy stemmed from knowledge.

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On our first night in the mountains I dreamt of maggots.  There were maggots everywhere.  I tried to kill them, but they kept crawling out of everywhere.  I was scared and nauseous.  I am petrified of maggots!

To see maggots in your dream represent your anxieties about death. It may also be indicative of some issue or problem that you have been rejecting and it is now “eating away” at you. You need to confront it for it is destroying your sense of harmony and balance.

Maggots as true to their characters signify similar emotions in real life if appear in dreams. The strongest emotion the maggots dreamer having is the fear of its own death. You can say it as fear or curiosity related to death but the persistent thought of death can be the result of such type of dreams. Maggots in dream also signify that the person is far away from mental and spiritual peace which can prove harmful for him in many ways.
More:http://www.gotohoroscope.com/txt/dream-interpretation-maggots.html

A very common dream of maggots is to see them gathered around you and you are trying to remove them as quickly as possible. This you are trying to do with vacuum cleaner or burner or chemicals. All the dreams suggest the need of your brain to be free from nay complications and guilt. Your attempt to kill them shows that you want to bring thing back in order. This also means that you are facing some troubles in life and standing on your grounds to let it pass
More:http://www.gotohoroscope.com/txt/dream-interpretation-maggots.html

So, which one is it?

I do not fear death.  I fear dying in pain and indignity.  I fear being a burden to my loved ones.

I have often said that when I am dying I want to be dropped off at a hospice.  My loved ones must kiss me goodbye and leave.  I do not want them standing next to my bed watching me gasp for breath… I want a big sign put up above my bed that must read “Do not touch”.

I am facing difficulties in life.  So much has changed in the past 516 days.  I have lost more than my child.  I have lost being a mother.  I lost my best friend.  We lost our laughter… Judy reminisced this weekend about how Vic and the boys would laugh at night when they said goodnight.  I have lost others that I love because our pain collided.

Yet I am alive.  My life goes on despite the terrible void that Vic’s death left.  The boys are so amazing.  Soon Jared will attend his Matric farewell. Next year he will go to university… firsts that his mom will not be part of…I can just imagine the excitement if Vic had been around.

When you lose a child you get caught up in a maelström of grief.  The firsts never end.  Every morning the pain starts all over again.  The grieving never ends.

At a funeral I attended today the minister said “Grieve hard”.

I do.

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If tomorrow starts without me


This played just before Vic’s memorial service started.  A deadly silence descended in the church as we all sat crying for this precious child of mine.  I listen to this often.  I still cry when I hear the words that Vic could have spoken.  How I miss my precious child.

If tomorrow starts without me,
And I’m not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me;
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things, we didn’t get to say.
I know how much you love me,
As much as I love you,
And each time that you think of me,
I know you’ll miss me too;
But when tomorrow starts without me,
Please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name,
And took me by the hand,
And said my place was ready,
In heaven far above,
And that I’d have to leave behind;
All those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away,
A tear fell from my eye
For all my life, I’d always thought,
I didn’t want to die.
I had so much to live for, So much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible,
That I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays,
The good ones and the bad,
I thought of all the love we shared,
And all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday,
Just even for a while,
I’d say good-bye and kiss you
And maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized,
That this could never be,
For emptiness and memories,
Would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things,
I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you, and when I did,
My heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through heaven’s gates,
I felt so much at home.
When God looked down and smiled at me,
From His great golden throne,
He said, “This is eternity, And all I’ve promised you.”
Today your life on earth is past,
But here life starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow, But today will always last,
And since each day’s the same way,
There’s no longing for the past.
You have been so faithful, So trusting and so true.
Though there were times you did some things,
You knew you shouldn’t do.
But you have been forgiven, And now at last you’re free.
So won’t you come and take my hand, And share my life with me?
So when tomorrow starts without me, Don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me, I’m right here, in your heart.

Jared♡ĶįƦƧƳ.Ș♡(1)

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Vic’s Mother’s Day roses


Iceberg Roses

Iceberg Roses

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Entrance to Vic’s flat. The Iceberg Rose outside her bedroom window when it was still snow white… 14.9.2011

In 2005 I planted an Iceberg Rose outside Vic’s bedroom window.  It looked pretty and gave her great pleasure.

Roses have always held a lot of meaning for me.

   
Red Roses: A red rose is an unmistakable expression of love. Red roses convey deep emotions – be it love, longing or desire. Red Roses can also be used to convey respect, admiration or devotion. A deep red rose can be used to convey heartfelt regret and sorrow. The number of red roses has special romantic meanings associated with them. 12 red roses is the most popular of all which conveys “Be mine” and “I love you”
White Roses: White is the color of purity, chastity and innocence. White flowers are generally associated with new beginnings and make an ideal accompaniment to a first-time bride walking down the aisle. White flowers can be used to convey sympathy or humility. They also are indicative of spirituality. Hence, white roses also follow suit.
Yellow Roses: Yellow roses are an expression of exuberance. Yellow roses evoke sunny feelings of joy, warmth and welcome. They are symbols of friendship and caring. The yellow rose, like the other roses, does not carry an undertone of romance. It indicates purely platonic emotions.
Pink Roses: There are a lot of variations of the pink rose. Over all, pink roses are used to convey gentle emotions such as admiration, joy and gratitude. Light pink rose blooms are indicative of sweetness and innocence. Deep pink rose blooms convey deep gratitude and appreciation. Pink roses also connote elegance and grace.
Orange Roses: While a yellow rose reminds us of the sun, an orange rose reminds us of a fiery blaze. These fiery blooms signify passion and energy. Orange roses can be used to express intense desire, pride and fervor. They also convey a sense of fascination. These flowers rival only the red roses as messengers of passion in romance.
Lavender Roses: A Lavender rose like its color conveys enchantment. It also expresses “love at first sight”. Darker shades of lavender roses (close to purple) convey a sense of regal majesty and splendor. These roses are used to express fascination and adoration.
Blue Roses: A perfectly blue rose is still elusive like the perfectly black rose. Blue roses cannot be achieved naturally so they represent the unattainable or the mysterious. Blue roses therefore embody the desire for the unattainable. They say “I can’t have you but I can’t stop thinking about you”
Green roses: Green is the color of harmony, of opulence, of fertility. It is also a color indicative of peace and tranquility. Green roses (these are off-white roses with shades of green) can symbolize best wishes for a prosperous new life or wishes for recovery of good health
Black Roses: Black is the color of death and farewell. A black rose, like the blue rose remains elusive. What we know as black roses are actually really dark red roses. Black roses convey the death of a feeling or idea. Sending black roses to someone indicates the death of the relationship.
Mixed Roses: By mixing rose blooms of different colors purposefully, you can create a bouquet of emotions. For example, a bouquet of red and white roses would mean I love you intensely and my intentions are honorable. A random mix of roses would convey mixed feelings or send a message: “I don’t know what my feelings are yet but I sure do like you enough to send you roses.”

The white roses symbolized Vic’s pure heart; the love that filled her precious heart… Vic had no malice in her.  She was a people pleaser with an abundance of love.  Vic loved passionately.  There were no half measures in her life.  She loved the way she lived.  She loved her family, her boys, her friends.  Vic loved life.

At Stepping Stone we started a memorial garden.  Symbolic gestures are part of the healing.  Planting a rose in memory of a loved one brings a certain amount of solace…  I see people come back to check on their roses; they photograph the roses.  Is it a way of clinging to something living that represents a loved one?  I think it may be the case.

I awaited Mother’s Day with trepidation this year.  Yet the morning dawned and I was fine.  I spoke at a church on Hospice that morning.  Jon-Daniel accompanied me.  Poor baby.  He sat through an Afrikaans sermon that I am sure he did not always follow.  I stood in front of the congregation and wished all the mommies a happy Mother’s Day.  I had a smile on my face but my heart wept for Vic’s precious boys who did not have a mom to celebrate the day with.  I wept in my heart for me – I was childless.  It was not a happy day for us.

In the afternoon we went to a nursery and bought roses for the memorial garden.  The boys chose a deep pink and I chose a gentle pink.  It represented Vic’s gentle nature, her femininity and “softness”.  The boys said their rose reminded them of Vic’s boldness;  her passion for life.

We bought Steers Burgers – Vic’s favorite hamburgers and that was indeed her last meal.  We picnicked in the Stepping Stone Garden.  We planted Vic’s roses and released balloons.  Gentle tears ran down our cheeks as we sent up balloons filled with love and longing.

Vic's memorial Mother's Day Rose

Vic’s memorial Mother’s Day Rose

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The Boys Memorial Mother's Day Rose

The Boys Memorial Mother’s Day Rose

A week ago I noticed an amazing thing.  Vic’s white Iceberg roses, planted outside her bedroom window, started turning pink…

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Vic’s message of love – white roses turning pink

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My precious little Angel I am so grateful for the reminders that you are with me.  I wish I could hold you but I know that you see our pain, our empty hearts and that you are trying to reassure us that you are indeed our guardian angels.

 

 

 

 

16 months of Hospice and two special angels in Heaven


In the early hours of my Dad’s 3rd anniversary I feel compelled to give some feedback on Stepping Stone Hospice.

Sixteen months ago, with unbelievable arrogance we started Stepping Stone Hospice. What a journey it has been. We started working from my home with a registered palliative care sister, a wheelchair and very little else.

Sixteen months later we have not only moved into a lovely building but we have increased our In-Patient-Unit for 4 beds, we employ 2 nurses, a staff nurse and a team of 13 palliative trained caseworkers. We have plans to extend the building so we can increase the In-Patient-Unit to 10 beds. Every piece of furniture and equipment was donated by the community and to date we have not asked anyone for a single cent. There have been months where we had to pay the nursing staff from our own pockets, but we have never turned away a patient.

We have received beautiful letters of gratitude, established a memorial rose garden and a reputation as a great Hospice.

I am in total awe of the phenomenal nursing staff who go beyond the call of duty. They will go and sit with a family and their dying loved one at 3am in the morning… On Saturdays and Sundays they interrupt their lives to care for the destitute dying in our community.

We have an amazing group of volunteer caregivers who sacrifice their time to guide the families through the final stages of their loved ones journeys. We cry with the families, hold their hands and sing for the dying.

I am so grateful for this amazing organisation and everyone who is involved with it. I am grateful that Vic’s legacy has made a difference to other end-stage Alzheimer patients. I remember my precious father who fought with every fibre of his body to hold onto his memories, his mind, his family….

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Alzheimer’s Patient’s Prayer


By Carolyn Haynali

Wow we actually look quite alike

Pray for me I was once like you.
Be kind and loving to me that’s how I would have treated you.
Remember I was once someone’s parent or spouse I had a life and a
dream for the future.

Speak to me, I can hear you even if I don’t understand
what you are saying. Speak to me of things in my past of
which I can still relate.

Be considerate of me, my days are such a struggle.
Think of my feelings because I still have them and can feel pain.
Treat me with respect because I would have treated you that way.
Think of how I was before I got Alzheimer’s; I was full of life,
I had a life, laughed and loved you.

Think of how I am now, My disease distorts my thinking, my
feelings, and my ability to respond, but I still love you even if I can’t tell you.
Think about my future because I used too.

Remember I was full of hope for the future just like you are now.
Think how it would be to have things locked in your mind and
can’t let them out. I need you to understand and not blame me,
but Alzheimer’s.

I still need the compassion and the touching and most of all I
still need you to love me.

Keep me in your prayers because I am between life and death.
The love you give will be a blessing from God and both of us will
live forever.

How you live and what you do today will always be remembered
in the heart of the Alzheimer’s Patient.

http://www.alzheimers.net/2013-08-20/poem-alzheimers-patients-prayer/

Rest in peace Daddy

486 days…


486 days; 1 year, 4 months; 69 weeks….

Oh dear God, will this pain never stop? Will my heart ever heal? Will I ever be able to look at a photograph without tears welling up in my eyes? No matter where I am or who I am with – I miss my precious Angel Child.

I know your pain is over. Remember the night you crawled into bed with me and I told you that I looked forward to your pain being over? Did you know that night how many tears I would shed for you? Did you know that my life would change forever?

Yes, I know you did. Your words echo through my mind…”Mommy, I am so worried about you. How will you cope when I am gone?”

My stock standard reply was “I will cope baby. I will remember your pain and be glad that it is over”. How stupid of me.

As time goes by I forget how sick you were my precious little one.

Then I look through my photos. I see your pain. I see death in your beautiful eyes.

You knew how hard it would be. In your infinite wisdom you tried to prepare me. You tried to prepare the boys… Sweetie, nobody or nothing in the world could have prepared me for the pain, the loneliness, the void…

Sometimes I wonder how many days it will be until we meet again. I pray it is soon. This is just too hard.