Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Grief

We whisper your name…


Some days I sense Vic’s closeness. I sometimes smell her. But I cannot touch her. I cannot hear her voice.

The boys and I light candles for you my precious baby…

We whisper your name

The boys write your name in the sand…

You send us feathers from Heaven….

How we miss your brave smile…

How I miss reaching out and being able to touch you

Holding you my precious child…

Yesterday, today, forever……

I love you Angel Child!

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death of a child, Grief, Vicky Bruce

Precious Gift – adapted



When times seemed too hard to bear and I felt like giving up
I saw your beautiful face, the twinkle of your eyes and things of such
The bond we created from my womb to the day you were born
Is a mother and daughter bond that can never be torn
With the strength and guidance of God and the blessings He pours down from above
I wanted to be the best mom I could be to you and embraced you with all my love
You were as precious as a flower and as gorgeous as a rose
You were specially made to the very tip of your nose
You were as sweet as honey; such an innocent young child
You were brighter than any star in the sky every time you smiled
I wanted you to be proud of who you were and strive to be the best
I taught you to put effort into achieving your goals and let God do the rest
I was always your mother, but also your friend
You are the most precious gift, that I’ve ever been given

With All My Love,

Mommy

Precious Gift © Sherri Lawrence

Source: Precious Gift, Mother Daughter Poem http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/precious-gift-2#ixzz2bezERmvm
Family Friend Poems 

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Grief, Vicky Bruce

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.”
Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Hospice, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

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

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Terminal Illness

A Mother’s Love for her Sons


A year ago I posted this.  As I said in my previous post – Chaka’s 2012 is a separate story.  I am reposting the separate story…

I have been researching the effect of a mother’s illness on her children.  The boys are two beautiful, well-adjusted, honest and compassionate young men.  Vic’s illness has certainly deprived them of a childhood in the true sense of the word and prematurely matured them into compassionate, caring, young men far too early in life.  At the tender age of thirteen Jared was cooking for the family…  This must certainly have an effect on how the boys perceive relationships with people.

Now according to my research the boys have become what is called ‘parentified’ children. These children solve the problem of sick and inadequate parenting by taking care of their

parents. They in effect become     parents to their parents, giving to the sick parent what they need from the parent. Now the roles are reversed. This seemingly creative solution is unfortunately too self-sacrificing to be healthy in the long run.

“‘Parentified’ sons who take care of their sick mothers in order to cope with their inability to parent, struggle to suppress obvious needs for love and feelings of loss. They learn to work hard taking care of the needs of others and living off of the scraps that come in the form of reinforcements for their competence and reliability. Their needs for love are overlooked and overshadowed by everyone else’s needs.”  The boys, especially Jared, falls into this category 100%.  When his little girlfriend was hit in the eye by a hockey ball, he immediately went into caregiving mode,  At the time I thought it to be extremely unhealthy that he already has this caregiving character trait.  He used to always make the tea and offer to do so much around the house and for his Mom.

I have put a stop to this.  I pray it is not too late for the boys to adjust to a “normal” household…

It is however important for them to realize that death is a part of the circle of life and that it is not something dark and something to be feared but rather, if happening in a timely fashion, something that one can embrace. The boys appreciate and respect Vic as their mother.   Vic has raised her sons to be respectful.

“The power of a mother’s strength comes from her heart, from her unabashed, unconditional, and unwavering love for her child. There is, as J.K. Rowling wrote in her Harry Potter books, a magic in that love. No matter what happens, a mother is always there for her child. A mother’s love is never to be questioned, and – though she may not know it at first – neither is her strength.”

Vic literally rose from her deathbed to be there for Jared with his operation on Wednesday.  When my Mom died I related her final moments to someone jumping from a diving board into a deep pool, reaching the bottom and kicking to rise to the surface of the water for one more breath… only to sink again.  This is what Vic does.

Before Jared was wheeled into theatre he whispered into his mom’s ear.  She took his hand and said “I promise”.

Vic, drip in hand, walking with Jared to theater!

The surgeon said the operation would last two hours.  Vic dutifully went back to bed and rested.  One hour and forty-five minutes later she was, IV drip in hand, standing outside the theatre door, waiting for her son.  I begged her to at least sit on the chair, but she refused.  “Mommy, I promised Jared my face would be the first thing he sees when he comes out of theatre!”

It took a superhuman effort, but Vic’s love for her son drove her to keep her word.  It is true that no mother wants her child to suffer in any way, but life is unfair like that. So, we as mother’s do what we can to provide support, comfort, and protection. And we grow strong enough to bear their hurt as well as our own.  As Vic did.  As I do. Motherhood cuts deeply, brings you to your knees most days; but it also brings a strength that may surprise you.

The vicious cycle of anger truly rose to the occasions on Wednesday.  I got angry with Vic because she was not putting her health first!  I KNOW I would have done the same but it was terrible seeing my child do herself harm to be a Mother.  I want to wrap her in cotton so she would be spared that extra day…

Yesterday Vic said she doubted whether she would see the end of the year.  She is however adamant to be at Jared’s confirmation…one more goal…

Go Girl!!!

Well, Vic is home.  I am so grateful.  She is conceding that she is too sore and ill to go to hospital…Saturday Jared comes home!!

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

I am a Shidu… I am a Shidu…


When a parent dies, you lose your past; when a child dies, you lose your future.

 

http://www.sinous.com
http://www.sinous.com

There are more than 100 million single (only) children in China, Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported in February. That translates into more than 200 million parents of single children.

Until 2012, there were “at least” one million families in China that had lost their only child, Xinhua wrote in a separate report carried by the Jinghua Times. About 76,000 families are added to the sad roster each year, it said.

There is a special term for the parents that has lost their only child….”shidu” family.

In the rest of the world the average woman gives birth to 2.75 children.

I gave birth to one.  My only birth child has died. I am a “shidu”

Today I am (again) desperately missing my child.  I feel as if I have lost my future.  I only have my past.  But I know that is not true.  I have Vic’s two amazing son’s to care for; 4 precious stepchildren; 9 step grandchildren that I love like my own…

Many years ago when Danie proposed I asked God for a clear sign.  I prayed so hard so direction… I explained to God that I was so scared of making a mistake that would affect so many people’s lives.  I asked for a clear scripture!

I opened my Bible and the scripture that jumped up at me was Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

I immediately went back on my knees and prayed again.  “God, thank you for the scripture you gave me but what about all the children?”

I opened my Bible and it fell open on page 793 of the Old Testament.  Isaiah 54:1-17 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities. “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. “

My answer was a prophesy…  Not only is my life filled with these precious people but I now also have Izak, Reuben, Nonthanthle and Shekinah to love.  I am blessed.

Does this however fill the void that Vic’s death has left?

I feel ungrateful for being in this well of despair whilst I am not alone.  I am motherless not childless.  The fact remains that I desperately miss my child.  My life is empty.  I have lost my future.

I am a Shidu

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/05/danie-the-wind-beneath-my-wings/

 

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Bittersweet


100_9077I often wondered exactly what went through Vic’s mind in the final months of her life when she felt death sneaking up on her.  I know she was scared and lonely; she was heartbroken knowing that her boys would grow up without her….I am not stupid.  I know that Vic did not share all her fears and thoughts with me.  She was trying to protect me.

Today I read a bittersweet post.  I wept when I read the words.  It was as if I heard Vic’s voice…felt her fear…

Bittersweet
June 4, 2013 by sugarmagzz        | 6 Comments
 
It happens from time to time, I get a glimpse of my “old” life and for a fleeting second forget that I am dying of cancer. These moments are simultaneously wonderful and devastating. I might be out with a friend for lunch, pumping gas into my car, shopping for Owen, or doing dishes at my kitchen sink. It’s always random and for that brief moment I feel free, as though I’m flying and nothing is tethering me down. I feel like I did before, able to live my life without a shadow cast overhead. It doesn’t last very long because reality always comes crashing down, dragging me with it in its vice-like grip. In this moment of clarity — when it all comes rushing back to me — I can’t breathe. I’m ten again and I’ve fallen flat on my back off the trampoline — immobile, breathless, terrified.  This time there is no ground to break my fall, and so I’m left to kick and scream in mid-air with no one to hear me, no one to catch me. Alone and falling, falling so fast — past the memories that were supposed to one day be mine. I reach out to touch them and slide my fingers over their sparkling surface…
 
The look on Owen’s face when he sees Disney World for the first time.
 
The birth of our second child, to see again Andrew’s incredible capacity for the patience and self-sacrifice of fatherhood.
 
Owen’s high school and college graduation ceremonies, his wedding.
Ashlei’s wedding, the birth of her children, becoming an Aunt.
 
Retirement — relaxing on the dock looking out over the lake with him, my partner in life…reminiscing about the early days and arguing over chores, still.
 
Grandchildren.
I will not see these momentous occasions, they will occur without my physical presence.
 
I hope that there is more to this life, and that I can be there in some way, spirit or otherwise. I hope that my loved ones will always feel me near as they celebrate those unforgettable moments that life has to offer, but my sorrow at missing out on them is endless. I am so very grateful for the incredible moments I have been blessed to experience and I will hold them close until the end. When my time comes, I will take my last breath knowing that my time here was extraordinary, that during my brief existence I lived and loved as greatly as I could. I know there will be more wonderful memories to make before this happens, but everything for me is tinged with darkness — all of the good moments are bittersweet. Still I fight for them, even though they are broken and imperfect. They may not be the memories I thought they would be, but they will still be special.

Tonight I am doubting myself again.  I wonder – did I comfort my child enough?  Why was this precious child of mine condemned to a life of horrible pain and suffering?  She never truly lived!  Why did she die and bad people continue to live and prosper?  Why was she deprived of a future???  She was such a good person!!!!!

I want to hold her and protect her.  I want to tell her how much I love her.  That she is the best thing that ever happened to me.  That my life is empty without her.  That I understood her fears.  

I WANT MY CHILD BACK!!!

 

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief

Red Light


This poem is about a teenager who is killed by a drunk driver. Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated is a potential killer!!!! Don’t drink and Drive!!!
images (16)

Red Light

©Brittney Elizabeth

He was the most loved with a million friends.
Football star with so many wins.
He had the cutest smile that you would ever see.
He was the funniest person that you would ever meet.
He had a full scholarship from a college in another state,
but he loved football so he couldn’t wait.
A week after graduation, his girlfriend and some friends had a celebration.
He was excited because it was the last party of the year,
he kissed his mom goodbye as she told him not to drink any beer.
He smiled at her and said, “relax mom, I won’t, I’ll be home around midnight.”
She told him she loved him and to have a good time.
As he cruised down the street he thought of how much he would miss his friends and he thought of his girlfriend and how good things had been.
He slowed to a stop as the light turned red,
but the car behind him didn’t seem to see the stop ahead.
He flew from the windshield and on to the ground.
He could see, but he couldn’t look around.
He tried to call for help, but his words wouldn’t speak.
His heart got slower and his body grew weak.
Family and friends flashed in his mind, he thought about his girlfriend one last time.
The medics worked on him to give him breath,
but he was fading fast
so close to “death”.
His neck was broken, and his bones were cracked….
So hard to be identified because his face was smashed.
Time passed by and he opened his eyes to see a man.
There wasn’t a scratch on him, but he could barely stand.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen,” he said with slurred words.
The officer asked, “have you been drinking sir?”
The man looked at the boy and nodded his head.
And the boy closed his eyes remembering what his mother had said.
A tear ran down his face as the light turned red, and around midnight, he was pronounced dead.

Photo Credit:  Google Images
Photo Credit: Google Images
Posted in Angels, Death, Family, Family Life, Grief, Uncategorized

ALZHEIMER’S – A SPECIAL POEM


The best father in the world...
The best father in the world…

 

My beautiful dad died of Alzheimer’s.  

 This poem is for you Daddy.  You are my hero; the best father in the world.  You loved unconditionally.  you held onto your dignity with superhuman effort….

I was so proud of you.  You clung to your old-fashioned manners and values until death.

I am glad you died with your dignity intact.  I loved you every day of your life and will continue to love you every day of my life.

A special Poem
 
Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
 
I’m confused beyond your concept.
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
 
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different ‘though I try.
 
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’till my life is done.
 
– Unknown
My Dad a month before his death....it was such a wonderful day!
My Dad a month before his death….it was such a wonderful day!
My dad and I on my wedding day
My dad and I on my wedding day
Simply the best
Simply the best
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!
Vic adored her Gramps and he adored her!

IMG_2538 (2)

My hero!
My hero!
Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Hospice, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Palliative Care, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Caregiver Isolation


Alberton-20120625-00559It happened without warning…

In 2002 I was on top of the world.  My career was at an all-time high, financially we were secure and I LOVED my job.  I was able to work long hours and spend time with my friends.  I was on 9 Church Committee’s and very involved with community work in the poor areas.

Then it happened…Vic had her blotched back surgery and our lives changed forever.  I spent 22 days in the waiting room outside the Intensive Care Unit.  My life ground to a halt.

We moved into a downward spiral of hospitals, doctor visits, x-rays, scans, 81 abdominal surgeries, pain, open wounds, hospital bugs, sepsis and wound dressings.  I felt over-whelmed and out of control.  Doctors and nurses prodding and touching my child.  To them she was a commodity.  But, to me, she was my life.

Slowly but surely my life changed…  I became fixated with finding a “solution” to my child’s devastating health problems.  After all, I am a Baby Boomer.  We don’t accept bad situations.  We find solutions.  We sort out problems.  I refused to accept the doctors’ prognosis as I did when she was a little girl.  I was told that Vic would not live to the age of 12 when she was diagnosed as a toddler…  I refused to accept it.  Vic not only outlived the prognosis but lived to complete school, get married and give birth to two beautiful boys.  The ventilators were turned off and Vic continued to breathe, live….

We went from one doctor to the next.  I spend hours every day of my life on the internet looking for solutions and advice; it became a coping mechanism.  I worked longer hours in-between surgeries.  Quite frankly, work became a crutch.  I spent less and less time with my family and friends…I suppose because I felt no-one understood my fear, my despair, my pain…

My fear, despair and pain became my constant companion.  My computer and the internet my trusted friend…

One day, about 7 years ago, Jared asked me “Oumie don’t you love your family?”

“Of course I love my family!  Why are you asking such a question?” I replied

“Because you are never home….”

I had to sit down and reassess my life.  Quite honestly the financial implications of keeping Vic alive and care for her was daunting.  I feared going home because I could not handle Vic’s pain….  I knew in my heart there was no cure.  The mere thought of Vic suffering for endless years were terrifying!  I could not bear to see the fear and helpless desperation in the boys’ eyes.

So contrary to what I have written before, and comments that have been left, I have not been the best mother.   There was a time that I ran away.  I was petrified of the thought that Vic would suffer for another 40 years…be dependent upon me for another 40 years… There were times that I thought to myself “There has to be more to life!”  I felt lost in the in-balance of my life.  No matter where I turned it was work and responsibility!

In 2009 my Dad came to live with us.  He suffered from Alzheimer’s.

Dad and I
Dad and I

Whilst I reached a maturity level where I realized that being a caregiver is a privilege, not a burden, our lives changed.

I started sleeping downstairs many years ago when Vic was so ill.  I was scared I would not hear her if I slept upstairs.  I slowly slipped into a habit of working late on my laptop and then falling asleep on the sofa.  This continued when my Dad lived with us.  I still sleep downstairs on the sofa – waiting for Vic shuffling footsteps down the passage, text messages saying “Can I have something for pain?” or the intercom screeching!  The intercom was the 911 call.

I slowly and inextricably slipped into depression.  My entire life was dominated by my fears for my child.  The caregiving demands steadily increased as the years passed and the situation deteriorated.  It became a dark and difficult period for the entire family.  We could no longer spontaneously decide to go to dinner, go away for a weekend or even a holiday.  Every activity demanded a great deal of planning.  We became more and more isolated as a family.

It is natural for family and friends to drift away when a loved one becomes ill. The longer the illness, the longer they stay away. By it’s very nature, caring giving is draining. It is far easier to stay home and rest than socialize outside the home.  Isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and illness. It takes energy and effort to maintain friendships when one feels tired and discouraged.

My salvation was cyberspace.  I joined an Alzheimer support group, https://www.caring.com.  Without the support group I would never had coped with my dad’s descend into Alzheimer’s.  A year ago I started blogging on Vic’s final journey.  I have found a cyber-community with parents who also lost children, friends with a word of encouragement, a kind words.   I receive advice, support and information from a loving cyber-community.

I however realize that I need re-join life.  There are days that I just want to stay on my sofa with a blanket pulled over my head.  I fear that if I sleep in a bed I will never get out of it.  In the TV lounge there is always people.  Whether it be the boys, Danie or the housemaids.

Today I had tea with an old friend.  For almost 4 years I have not been able to see her.  She has a young son that I have never seen.  Our friendship was reduced to the odd phone call or text message.  Often she would phone and there would be a crisis with Vic.  I would say “I will phone you back” and never get around to it.  I isolated myself from friends.  I was so miserable and totally absorbed with Vic that no “outsider” could penetrate my “barrier”.

My life centred round my sick child and family.

Despite the trauma of Vic’s death and coming to terms with the horrible loss, my life has changed.  I have had tea with my new Magnolia friends and Christelle.  We go out to dinner on the spur of the moment; we have been on holiday and I spent 4 days at a Spa with my sister!  I have watched Jon-Daniel play hockey matches, started gym and started remodelling the house.  I have seen a psychiatrist and take antidepressants.  We have started Stepping Stone Hospice.

How amazing is this?

If the truth be known it is not amazing at all.  I am dying on the inside.  I cry uncontrollably – mostly when everyone has gone to bed.  If the boys were not living with us it would have been so different.  I KNOW I would still have been in bed.   I am consumed with longing for my child.  Last night I replayed 100’s of voicemail messages that Vic had left me….

“Love you Mommy…”

“Love you Baby Girl”

Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Family, Family Life, Grief, Religion in my world

Hamba Kahle Little One…


Friday evening we duly said goodbye to young Izak.  My heart is at peace.  His forever-parents are a wonderful couple.  The Dad refers to Izak as his “first-born” son and the Mommy glows with pride when he does something cute (which is all the time).

I am so grateful that he will be going to a loving home.  The parents are intelligent, sociable and gentle.  The Mommy seemed a little uncomfortable changing and feeding him, but I think she may have been a little intimidated by our presence.  The Dad was born to be united with Izak.  They even look-alike!

The precious little angel was at his best behaviour.  It is as if he knows something is brewing….

Lani is such a kind, gentle soul.  She arranged a “Stork Tea” for the Mommy.  Some of her friends made up little gift parcels, and Lani packed one of each of his cereals, Purity, finger biscuits, medicines etc for the Mommy with detailed instructions.  She also made a beautiful “First Bible” with Izak’s photos in it!  The Mommy cried!

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His Oumie (that’s me) bought him a jean, baseball jacket and in African Tradition – a blanket.  I hope that when he is wrapped in his blanket at night he will feel loved and cared for, even when we are gone from his life.

I did cry when I kissed him for the last time.  I felt good knowing that he has forever-parents that love him and who will cherish him.  I can see he will be their pride and joy!

Tuesday at 1 pm Lani has to kiss baby Izak goodbye.  I know she will be heartbroken.  She has such a special bond with him!  He looks at her with absolute adoration in his bright brown eyes.  I know the girls will be heartbroken for losing their little “brother”.  Tom cried on Friday night when he prayed for Izak and his Forever Family.  I know in his heart he had some dreams of being Izak’s “wingman” on his first night out on the town.

 Take my hand and hold it as if it is my heart....

Forever Daddy – take my hand and hold it as if it is my heart….

I pray that Lani will cope with saying goodbye.  I know how hard it is!

I salute Lani and Tom for making a difference in an incredible baby’s life!  I believe that his abandonment is the best thing that could ever have happened to him.  His birth mom made an incredible sacrifice to ensure a better life for him.  In Lani and Tom’s home he had the best possible start to a good life.  Izak was showered with love by everyone he came in touch with…He won over hearts of stone!

My wish for this adorable little boy is a life filled with blessings, love, care, good health and joy.  Izak has the potential to become president of this country.  I pray that his forever parents will cherish and nurture this potential and guide him wisely.

So my precious cherub who laughs a lot, know that you started life surrounded by love.   Hamba Kahle.  I will miss you little one.  You will always remain in my heart!  (Hamba Kahle means to “go well” or “stay well”, not really goodbye)

Tom, Lani and Girls – I salute you for selflessly loving this precious child.  You have given this little boy a chance in life.  I love and admire you for it.

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Vicky Bruce

My 1st Mothers Day


Today, the 12th of May 2013, is my first Mother’s Day in 38 years without my precious Vicky.

I attended my sister’s birthday party.  I smiled and participated in her birthday and Mother’s Day celebrations.  I know that worldwide millions of other mothers joined me today in quietly reflecting on our grief and sadness.

I know that the family and especially Danie were worried about how I will handle Mother’s Day.  On Friday morning Danie asked whether he could get me flowers for Mother’s Day as he has done for the past 22 years.  I declined.

I know that even though today is dedicated to mothers, entire families will be affected.  Fathers too experience grief and yet the world seems to forget about them.  Maybe it is because men are so stoic in their grief.

I saw this on a Facebook site – Grieving Mothers, and it really shook me…

552833_515481991830996_736572417_n FB GRIEVING MOTHERS

I know that Danie is grieving for Vic.  He is grieving with the boys and me.  He is grieving for us.  I know he fears that he lost part of me…. 

Today I share Mother’s Day with my fellow club members – the grieving mothers of the world.  Tonight I will reread 30 odd Mother’s Day Cards and drawings that I received from my precious child over the years.  I will cry on my own.  I will burn candles for my child and for the moms of Henry, Tommy, Raymond, Phillip, Klysta,Jason, Alex, Matthew, Caitlyn, Morgan, “B”, Jason David, James, Jesse, Steven, Graham, … I will weep for my beautiful grandsons who did not have a mommy to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” today… I will mourn my Mom – a woman of great strength, beauty and love.

Yet I am filled with gratitude and love for my stepchildren and grandchildren; the messages of love and support that started coming through from friends, family, Vic’s friends and even the boys friends mothers…

My phone started pinging early this morning.  I ignored the pings.  Danie sneaked into my TV lounge where I was sleeping on the sofa.  I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep.  Then my phone rang, and I could not ignore the call… It was Lee-Ann.  She said “HI T, I am just phoning to tell you I love you…”  I burst into hysterical tears.  Poor lee!

Danie brought me letters that the boys had written me… Jared wrote “Dear Oumie, I know we don’t have a reason to celebrate mothers day, other than to remember Mom and all she meant to us.  So I have decided that we are changing the name to Oumie’s Day.  We got you a sign that says “HOME” .  That is because this is OUR home, and it always will be.”

Jon-Daniel wrote: “Happy Mothers Day Oumie” It may not be the happiest time of the year for you.  Although your very own child is up in Heaven, you have GRANDchildren.  Nothing will ever fill the gap – Mommy’s gap!  This is the first year you will be celebrating Mother’s Day without the One who made you a Mommy.  It is difficult,you must know I am always here.  After all you are our grandmother.  The word says it all, “grand” – great, awesome, amazing.  And “Mother” – well, no need to describe that.  Everybody knows how special a mommy is.”

Henk, second eldest grandson wrote “Ouma, it was a difficult year but you are always here to help and love.  You always have a smile no matter how bad things are for you.  We are grateful for it, and that is why we love you so much and always will do.”

Yesterday little Simone put her arms around me and said “Thank you for being my Ouma.  Thank you for spoiling us.  I love you very much.  My words are your Mothers Day present.”

I have had beautiful messages of love and caring from all my stepchildren.  It has truly filled me with joy.

I also read a card that Vic gave me in 2000 “We have all changed a lot through the years Mommy but one thing will never change – and that is the love between us.  It is a special bond that keeps us close no matter where we are.  I love you more than words can say.”

I know that today my precious child and Mom are celebrating Mother’s Day together.  I am grateful for all the years we were able to celebrate together.  I love you and honour you both today.  Two amazing mommy’s…

Thank you God that today is over!!!!!

Mother's Day 2008
Mother’s Day 2008
Mother's Day 2012
Mother’s Day 2012

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Posted in A Mother's Grief, Angels, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Vicky Bruce

I am the last mother…


I come from a long line of exceptional mothers.

My Mom died 15 years and 11 months ago.  She was tiny and petite.  I remember my school friends telling me that my Mom reminded them of a fairy princess.  My Mom dressed beautifully, had perfectly manicured nails and hair…. She taught us the finer things in life.

My parents
My parents

My Mom always worked…she was bright and diligent in her profession as a bookkeeper.  She was proud to be a career girl.  Mom knitted beautifully and made glorious tapestries!

The surprising thing is that we did not ever feel deprived because Mom worked.  I was proud of my mom.  As a family, we went on wonderful holidays every single year of our childhoods.  We were always the well-dressed kids on the block…We got new bicycles, and we had a beautiful home.

As a child, I thought we were rich.  Of course, I knew that many of my parent’s friends lived in seriously nice homes, but somehow I never thought those people were wealthier than we were.  Today I realize that I grew up in a middle-class home.  As a child, I felt protected and RICH!  How amazing is that?

My mother was a remarkable lady.  She brought us up to be compassionate, honest people; to never let the sun set on an argument; to love unconditionally, to protect our own… We learnt from her strength, her respect for others, her courage, faithfulness and her love for God.  Mom was around for the happy and sad times.

My mom as a young woman
My mom as a young woman

“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”
― Kristin HannahSummer Island  http://denacronholm.com/

My Mom died after she developed septicaemia post-operatively.  It was two agonizing weeks!  We sat next to her bed willing her to fight, get well…. To die…

When my Mom died I thought my life was over.  The grief was overwhelming.  It was my first “real” death.  My gran had passed many years ago, but that was my mom’s grief… I was young, ambitious and climbing the corporate ladder.  My life went on.  I remember my Mom crying at silly times because she was missing her mom.  I remember thinking “surely it can’t be that bad?  Old people die…”

After my mom died I read these words, A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones. ” ― Kristin HannahSummer Island.  My mom grieved for her mom until the day she died.

I must add that my father was an amazing gentleman.  He supported my mom on every level.  He treated her like a queen and tolerated no less from us children.  I adored my dad!  But today’s post is about my mom and motherhood.

I only understood my mom’s love for us after I gave birth to Vic.  It was an all-consuming love.  I held my tiny baby girl in my arms and knew that she needed me for every one of her needs; she could not survive without me…  My mom and I were so close after Vic’s birth.  We shared a selfless love that only mothers can understand.  As mothers, our children come first; nothing is more important than our child’s comfort, happiness and safety.

Mom, my siblings and I
Mom, my siblings and I

“Womanhood is a wonderful thing. In womankind we find the mothers of the race.  There is no man so great, nor none sunk so low, but once he lay a helpless, innocent babe in a woman’s arms and was dependent on her love and care for his existence. It is woman who rocks the cradle of the world and holds the first affections of mankind. She possesses a power beyond that of a king on his throne.
…Womanhood stands for all that is pure and clean and noble. She who does not make the world better for having lived in it has failed to be all that a woman should be.”
― Mabel HaleBeautiful Girlhood: A Timeless Guide for Christian Adolescence

I know there are mothers out there that really suck…  I know because I have been told by friends that they were never protected or defended by their moms.  I am so sad for people who do not have a good relationship with their mothers.  I was blessed with an amazing mother and that enabled me to be a good mother to my child.  My child was an amazing mother to her sons.  She loved her boys with every fibre in her body.  She suffered excruciating pain and indignity to stay alive… Vic could have given up much earlier in her life.  She fought to live right until the end…why???  It is easy – to bring up her beloved boys herself!

Vic reading to her boys
Vic reading to her boys

I am so proud of the mother Vic was.  She packed a lifetime of parenting into the little time that she had with her boys.  Jon-Daniel’s (14 years) BBM message this morning read “I really do miss you Mommy.  I miss the laughs we had and the time we spent together, and I miss talking to you.  Love you Mommy.”

A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard
A moment in the sun in the Hospital courtyard

The boys are level-headed, clean-living boys.  They have taken their mother’s words to heart “I am your mother not your excuse”.  Academically they are doing well.  Emotionally they are coping.  They are beautiful boys and truly do Vic’s memory honour.

I am the last mother alive…there will be no next generation mother to carry forward this miracle of motherhood.  The boys may become fathers, but I am the last of a long line of great mothers.

I will think of it on Sunday when millions celebrate Mother’s Day all over the world.