To God


“To God, I hope you look after Auntie Vicky. She is very sick. Love Chloe Alexa Burger” My precious 5 year old UK granddaughter wrote this…her mommy found it in her school satchel last week.

To God

Dear God, hear the words of a five-year old.

What am I doing?


This is one of the most heart wrenching posts I have read in a long time.  I read a lot of blogs written by grieving mothers.  Why did this post affect me to this extent?   I don’t know.  Maybe because this mother’s grief feels as real as my own grief.  Maybe it is because I am doing the same.  Writing and desperately trying to keep my Vic alive…hugs and tears Gatito.

My Bright Shining Star

What am I doing Kaitlyn? What am I trying to do by my endless blogs about you, the photo albums, the posts on Facebook, the printed out version of my blog, the printed out comments by your friends after you died on your Facebook, in my private messages and by email, the posts I made on Student Doctor Network warning them of what could so easily happen if they don’t heed the warning within them of depression, for posting about you In the off topic sections of forums I belong to that are about motorcycles, RVing, and cats. Posting on suicide survivor forums. Posting every video and song that remotely has to do with what you were and I am going through. Making DVD slides of you. Going through all you music CDs, going through all your recent things, old things, things I put up long ago, things that are…

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US legal system fails it’s citizens


Raymond's brave mom - Shirley
Raymond’s brave mom – Shirley

A dear blogger friend of mine, Shirley, has had to come to terms with the death of her beloved son Raymond.  Independant toxicology reports clearly show high levels of barium and selenium – both lethal chemicals, in his system.  Yet the legal system has failed Raymond and family.

His widow was jailed for a couple of days for falsifying his will.  His murderers walk free…

I am an avid follower of Law and Order, Special Investigation Unit, CSI, NCIS etc…. Having followed Shirley’s blog it is clear that the amazing forensic work in these TV shows are as futuristic and far fetched as a Star Wars movie.

I am reblogging one of Shirley’s latest posts.  Please pop into her blog and support this brave mother!

Shirley, you are an example and inspiration to many!  I wish I could do something to help you!

Remember “The dead cannot cry out for help – it is the responsibility of the living to do so for them.”

 Raymond Marc Zachry
March 5, 1960 – September 25, 2007

We will never forget, we will never give up
until we have solved the mystery of the
source for the two lethal chemicals that
were listed in Ray’s toxicology during
autopsy.

Barium and selenium are both lethal
according to CDC reports

Death investigation industry gone wild…  http://justiceforraymond.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/death-investigation-industry-gone-wild/

 

At the web site http://denied-justice.com is posted the laboratory toxicology report from the autopsy that was furnished to my physician and another that was furnished to an attorney on my  behalf.  The  two reports are strikingly different.  However both confirm the presence of a lethal chemical in the blood sample furnished by the coroner of Montgomery CountyPennsylvania.  Both of the reports are altered, but by whom?  No one will answer these questions…one report redacted the quantity that was probably more accurate than the one that was later furnished to Coroner at her faxed request…(also posted on this web site).  What to do?

This story posted at http://pathologyblawg.com/pathology-news/lab-chemist-accused-faking-test-results-tainted-40000-drug-cases/, further documents the ailing death investigation industry where coroners have been found to steal body parts that they sell for huge profits.  Where does the money go?

Enough!

“Lab chemist accused of faking test results may have tainted 40,000 drug cases”  According to the president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the:  lab analyst in question had unsupervised access to the drug safe and evidence room, and tampered with evidence bags, altered the actual weight of the drugs, did not calibrate machines correctly, and altered samples so that they would test as drugs when they were not.

Ms. Dookhan, who apparently also falsely claimed to have a Master’s degree in chemistry, had a reputation for being the most productive tech in the lab; she would routinely process more than 500 cases per month, when an average tech could only process 50-150 cases per month.

She was also a darling to prosecutors working on drug cases.  This may be because she would reportedly work on cases out of order for some prosecutors when asked, deliberately report negative tests as positive and report results for cases she never even analyzed.

While the impact this one chemist has had is incredible, the state’s public defender is worried there may be more than just one tech who have “cut corners or falsify results.”

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Where is Auntie Vicky’s skin?


Those of you that follow my blog will know that my UK grandkids are visiting. They are the cutest, brightest and busiest little girls in the world. They are a source of immense pleasure and joy in my life.

They left South Africa exactly two years ago. I cried for a week. In the two years I have seen them 5 times. In terms of international travel it is a lot but in terms of a grandmother’s heart it is not nearly enough. When they lived in South Africa we saw them at least once a week.

Osama (the eldest terrorist) is 5.5 years old. She is bright as a button and full of tricks. She told me, in confidence, that when she turns 6 she is going to marry her “boyfriend” Freddy… I tried to use the impending marriage as a bargaining tool to encourage her to help tidy up her room.

Me: “Sweetie if you want to marry Freddy you will have to learn to tidy your room. What do you think his Mommy will say if she sees your toys lying around? He won’t marry an untidy girl…”

Osama: “That’s okay Oumie. Then I will marry someone else…”

This little girl has a mind of her own. She is heartbreakingly beautiful. Her eyes sparkle with the joy of life and intelligence. She is also kind and caring (a little manipulative as well). She has me twisted around her little finger! She also has an amazing memory!

She was 3, 5 years old when they left South Africa.

She was so excited to visit South Africa and kept sayings things like “I remember your big (dining room) table; where will I sleep? In my old room?” She always throws in the odd “Do you remember….?” She remembers their South African home and her school. She remembers the sunshine. She remembers Vic.

“Oumie….why did Auntie Vicky die?” is her daily question.

Her mommy and daddy have told her that Auntie Vicky’s soul is in Heaven with “Baby” Jesus… She is happy that Auntie Vicky is no longer sick. The big question is however “Where is Auntie Vicky’s skin?”

This is a difficult question to answer honestly. If I told the little poppet that her precious Auntie Vic is lying on the antique sideboard table, in a little box with a brass plate on the lid, she would be distressed… So I sort of implied that she was buried…

“Is Auntie Vicky’s skin in a box (coffin)?” she asks

“Yes” I would say. “But remember, Auntie Vic does not need her skin anymore. She has a new skin and beautiful angel wings in Heaven.”

“Is Auntie Vicky a Zombie?” – She shivers and says “Oooohhhhhh, I am so scared of Zombies!”

“No sweetie, she is an angel.” I said

I am sharing an excellent guide to help

the young, understand something that most adults battle with! http://www.hospicenet.org/html/understand.html

Children’s understanding of Death is provided by Hospice of Southeastern Connecticut Bereavement Program. This chart is meant to be used as a guideline and not a checklist. All children develop at different rates and it is important to remember that the parents know their own child the best.

Newborn to Three Years
Child’s Perception: Infant/Toddler can sense when there is excitement, sadness, anxiety in the home; can sense when a significant person is missing, presence of new people

  1. No understanding of death
  2. Absorbs emotions of others around her/him
  3. May show signs of irritability
  4. May exhibit changes in eating, nursing patterns, crying, and in bowel and bladder movements
  5. Depends on nonverbal communications; physical care, affection, reassurances

Providing Support:

  1. Keep normal routines and structure whenever possible
  2. Be verbally and physically affectionate and reassuring
  3. Provide warm, loving caretaker when parent is not available
  4. Exhibiting healthy coping behaviors

Three to Six Years
Child’s Perception: Child thinks death is reversible; temporary, like going to sleep or when a parent goes to work; believes that people who die will come back

  1. “Magical thinking”; believes their thoughts, actions, word caused the death; or can bring deceased back; death is punishment for bad behavior
  2. Still greatly impacted by parent’s emotional state
  3. Has difficulty handling abstract concepts such as heaven
  4. Regressive behaviors; bed wetting, security blanket, thumb sucking, etc.
  5. Difficulty verbalizing therefore acts out feelings
  6. Increased aggression – more irritable, aggressive play
  7. Will ask the same questions repeatedly in efforts to begin making sense of loss
  8. Only capable of showing sadness for short periods of time
  9. Escapes into play
  10. Somatic symptoms
  11. Hungers for affection and physical contact, even from strangers
  12. Connects events that don’t belong connected
  13. May exhibit little anxiety due to belief that deceased is coming back

Providing Support:

  1. Keep normal routines and structure whenever possible
  2. Provide opportunities to play, draw
  3. Read books on death & loss with child
  4. Help to verbalize feelings and fears
  5. Help to identify feelings and reactions
  6. Be honest and tell a child if you do not have an answer
  7. Explain in specific, concrete language – not euphemisms; explain what has happened giving specific explanations about physical reality of death
  8. Gently confront magical thinking
  9. Make sure child does not feel responsible for the death
  10. Be tolerant of regressive behaviors
  11. Modelling healthy coping behaviors
  12. Avoid clichés; “At least you have another brother”, “You can always get a new pet”
  13. Use specific, concrete words – not euphemisms; Avoid “Mommy has gone to sleep”, “God has taken Grandpa”

Six to Nine Years
Child’s Perception: Child begins to understand the finality of death; some do and some may not.

  1. Sees death as a taker or spirit that comes and gets you
  2. Fear that death is contagious and other loved ones will “catch it” and die too
  3. Fascinated with issues of mutilation; very curious about what body looks like
  4. Connects death with violence and may ask, “Who killed him?”
  5. 3 categories of people. who die: Elderly, handicapped, klutzes
  6. Asks concrete questions
  7. Guilt – blames self for death
  8. May worry how the deceased can eat, breathe, etc.
  9. Continues to have difficulty expressing feelings verbally
  10. Increased aggression
  11. Defends against feeling helpless
  12. Somatic symptoms
  13. School phobia (especially if single parent)
  14. Continues to have difficulty comprehending abstractions such as heaven, spirituality

Providing Support:

  1. Talk with child
  2. Ask questions
  3. Make sure child’ does not feel responsible in any way
  4. Identify specific fears
  5. Provide opportunity for play, drawing, art
  6. Normalize feelings & fears
  7. Address distortions & perceptions
  8. Be honest and tell a child if you do not have an answer
  9. Help to cope with impulse control
  10. Help them share bad dreams
  11. Help them with positive memories of the deceased
  12. Model healthy coping behaviors
  13. Avoid clichés; “Don’t worry, things will be O.K.”, “You’re such a strong boy/girl”
  14. Use specific, concrete words – not euphemisms; Avoid “Grandma went to sleep and is now in heaven”, “Grandma was very sick and the sickness made her die”

Nine to Thirteen Years
Child’s Perception: Child’s understanding is nearer to adult understanding of death; more aware of finality of death and impact the death has on them

  1. Concerned with how their world will change; with the loss of the relationship, “Who will go with me to the father-daughter banquet?”
  2. Questions have stopped
  3. Fragile independence
  4. Reluctant to open up
  5. Delayed reactions – at first seems as if nothing has happened, then grief reaction May show strong degree of affect
  6. Beginning to develop an interest in rituals (spiritual effects of life)
  7. Disrupted relationships with peers
  8. Increased anger, guilt
  9. Somatic symptoms
  10. School phobia
  11. Self-conscious about their fears (of own death, remaining parents)

Providing Support:

  1. Encourage discussion of their concerns
  2. Provide & encourage expressive experiences such as writing or drawing
  3. Address impulse toward acting out and allow opportunity to identify their feelings
  4. Allow for regressive behaviors
  5. Be honest and tell a child when you do not have an answer
  6. Gently relieve child from attempts to take over adult responsibilities
  7. Model healthy coping behaviors
  8. Avoid clichés; Avoid “You must be strong so I don’t have to worry about you”, “Big boys don’t cry”

Thirteen to Eighteen Years
Adolescent’s Perception: Adolescent has adult understanding about death

  1. Death is viewed as an interruption. Death is an enemy
  2. Bodily changes emphasize growth and life. Death is a contrast
  3. Increased vulnerability due to many other changes and losses simultaneously occurring
  4. A sense of future becomes part of their psychology
  5. Increased risk taking in effort to reduce anxiety or to defy fate
  6. May intellectualize or romanticize death
  7. May act indifferent to death of someone close as a protection against feelings
  8. May show full range of affect or almost no affect
  9. Wants to grieve with her/his peers not adults
  10. May need permission to grieve
  11. Suicidal thoughts
  12. Represses sadness, feels anger, depression
  13. Escapes; drives fast, uses drugs or alcohol sexually acts out
  14. Denial – tries not to think about it, doesn’t want to talk about it
  15. Difficulty with long term plans
  16. Somatic symptoms
  17. Questions religious/spiritual beliefs

Providing Support:

  1. Don’t assume they can handle themselves and their problems without help, support
  2. Be available, but don’t push
  3. Help them find peers who will support their feelings
  4. Or find other trusted adults
  5. Give permission for regression
  6. Be honest and say when you do not have an answer
  7. Assist in relieving adolescent of burden of adult responsibilities
  8. Help impulse control toward reckless behavior
  9. De-romanticize death
  10. Discuss feelings of helplessness
  11. Model healthy coping behaviors
  12. Avoid clichés; “You’ve got to be strong to help your mother”; “You seem to be taking this so well”, “Now you’re the man of the house.”

200 days


Today we lit candles in remembrance of Vic dying 200 days ago. My mind keeps crying “No! It is not true!” The void in my heart and life shrieks “Yes, it is!”

I met with a new Hospice patient today. She is in her early 60’s, petite, bright, friendly, positive and so unbelievably brave! She is also in denial and dying.

“I believe I will wake up one morning and I will be healed!” she said

Her skin has discoloured from the chemo, her eyes are turmeric yellow and her belly is very extended. Her feet and legs are dreadfully swollen. I believe that she is close to death. Yet this incredible woman is determined to go to the office from the 12th of August until the 27th of August as her replacement is on leave then…. I doubt that she will live that long!

I sat there and it was déjà vu… It was as if I was listening to Vic planning next week, next month and next year…. I heard her husband encouraging her to write letters, finalising her will. I shared with them how Vic had labeled every piece of her jewellery, given strict instructions on what had to happen to her possessions, planned her own funeral…

“Am I correct when I say that I hear you saying your child died?” the patient asked.

“Yes” I said. “200 days ago today”

“I cannot believe that you can talk about your child’s death! You are smiling and look so normal” she said. “When our son died we could not talk about it. We cried all the time…”

“Death is not the enemy. I prayed for my child to die…” I said.

“It is okay to cry” they said

“I cry every day” I said

The whimper


I am in such a bad place.  I have been trying to write a post for 4 days.  Words elude me.

Very dear friends of ours lost their son and two granddaughters on Thursday.   It is a family murder/suicide and my heart is breaking for the family.  Our friend, the father of the son who committed suicide (and murder) phoned on Wednesday night to hear how I was coping with Vic’s 6 month anniversary… On Thursday – on Vic’s 6 month anniversary I sympathised with him and his wife on their devastating loss….

I am in shock (as is the entire community) and heartbroken for our friends, his parents and the grandparents of the two beautiful girls.  I fear for the mother of the girls.  Her life is out of danger, but I cannot imagine her pain or imagine her recovery and healing…

I have been thinking about how different our grief is but I will write later.  Now I have to cry.

Reposted from http://reneejulene.com/2013/07/11/the-whimper/                                                   There is a sound that somehow I had forgotten.  I don’t know how I forgot it because it is a sound that I am all too familiar with.  It is the sound of a broken heart.  It is the sound of the leveling of the soul.  It is the sound of exhaustion.  It is the sound of anguish.  It is the noise made after there are no more tears.  Losing a child is not loud, forceful and superficial.  It is quiet, deep and profound.  It is the saddest sound of all.  It is the whimper of a mother who has lost a part of her very being, her child.

http://www.toms-travels.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3candles.jpg
http://www.toms-travels.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3candles.jpg

 

My funeral


http://www.toms-travels.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3candles.jpg
http://www.toms-travels.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/3candles.jpg

I am writing this through my tears. A dear cyber friend of mine is dying from congenital heart failure. She is a wise and terribly brave person. She posted this today…

“so here it is and then i am off to sleep.  when my sister was here we started talking about cremation.  of course she is the only person in my family that i would have this discussion with.  may i add we laughed although not all would find this humorous.  when cremated how do they separate the human remains from the ashes of the container used?  if no container is used why do they charge for it?  i have looked online for the answer and didn’t find it.”

This post jerked me back to Vic’s death bed. The memory of Vic sitting in her bed with an open file on her lap was burnt into my mind…. The folder – “My Funeral”

“Mommy, these are the hymns I want for my funeral…”

“Amazing Grace” and “How great thou art” were Vic’s hymns of choice…

“Mommy, do you think I can have candles? Lots of candles?” Vic asked.

In May 2012 Vic asked whether I would deliver her eulogy… She asked me to thank Jared for taking care of her and Jon-Daniel for making her laugh.

“Remember to make a list of everyone that we need to thank Mommy. I would hate for us to leave out anyone… “

On the 2nd of January, 16 days before she died, Vic double checked with me whether I remembered which hymns had to be sung at her memorial service.  She cried when she (again) named her pallbearers; she requested that her minister be called to administer communion.

“Please don’t let me lie in a refrigerator for a long time Mommy…Let them cremate me as quickly as possible”

I still feel the despair I felt then knowing that death was on the forefront of my child’s mind. I felt her fear of death; her terror of the unknown. I felt her desperate sadness and her reluctance to say goodbye… On the one hand her pain filled, little body was so diseased and weak. On the other hand,her will to live was so strong!

I was helpless. I was praying that Vic would die – that her suffering would end. I was bargaining with God to spare her. I tried negotiating with Him – my life for hers.

I still feel the madness that I felt then.

My dear friend is going through the same fears and emotions that my precious child did. She is making the same decisions. I wish I could reach out and hug her. I wish I could grab her from the claws of death.

I am thinking of you tonight my dear friend. In my thoughts you are well and safe. I wish I could spare you this journey. Lots of love and hugs.

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/02/13/the-process-of-preparing-for-death/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/04/28/seasons-and-reasons/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/04/25/it-is-okay-to-let-go-my-angel-child/

https://tersiaburger.com/2013/01/02/sisters-by-heart/

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/12/20/i-dont-want-to-die/

http://thedrsays.org/2013/07/16/quick-question/