Posted in A Mother's Grief, Bereavement, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief, Jared, Vicky Bruce

Mother and Child


In the 206 days since Vic died I have never missed her as much as now.

My UK daughter-in-law and her three girls are visiting. The poor little poppets have all had a gastric bug. The girls are amazing and I love them with every fibre in my body and they love me too. What struck me once again this week is that incredible bond between a mother and daughter. When a child is ill they want their Mommy. There is no substitute for a Mommy.

Dr Christiane Northrup, author of the book Mother-Daughter Wisdom (Hay House), says: “The mother-daughter relationship is the most powerful bond in the world, for better or for worse. It sets the stage for all other relationships.”

No other childhood experience is as compelling as a young girl’s relationship with her mother. Mothers impart on their daughters how she feels about being female, what she believes about her body, how she takes care of her health, and what she believes is possible in life.

Jennie Hannan, executive general manager of services at counselling provider Anglicare WA, agrees. “How a woman sees herself, how she is in her adult relationships with partners, and how she mothers her own children, is profoundly influenced by her relationship with her own mother,” she says.

When Vic was ill she wanted her Mommy. Last year, when she had her arm operation, she was so distraught in ICU that the staff asked me to stay with her around the clock. With each and every major surgery she ever had (excluding one knee operation), my face was the first she saw. Vic knew that I stayed outside the ICU until she was released into the ward. More often than not, I was not allowed to sit with her all the time but she knew I was there.

I am not exactly gifted in sewing or knitting… (It was the only subject I ever failed at school) yet I knitted Vic a massive blanket in 2007 sitting outside ICU and next to her hospital bed. I only ever knitted at hospital and I am a very slow knitter. If we had buried Vic I would have buried her wrapped in her blankie… My life ground to an absolute halt when Vic was in ICU or hospital.

Witnessing this incredible bond the past 2.5 weeks has brought back incredible memories of Vic sitting on my lap, her little arms curled around me and her head nestled into my neck. That incredible trust and reliance between us.

My daughter-in-law and I sit and chat into the early hours of the morning. She has a happy disposition. Her life revolves around her family. She has an easy laugh and great sense of humour. If ever I went into a Quiz Show and there was show business section I would want her next to my side. When she goes to bed she gives me a hug. I love this woman for her kindness and compassion.

I realised how much I have missed that companionship, our chats into the early hours of the morning. Somehow it truly made me realise that my child is dead and I am alone.

Jared, Vic’s eldest has come down with the girls’ gastric bug. His dad brought him home early because he wanted to be home…. He got straight into bed. I sat down next to him and asked him how he was feeling. I could hear the tears in his voice when he said “really ill…” I could hear the forlornness in his voice; his longing for his mother to be sitting on his bed.

Dear Mommy…                                                             Words could never explain what you mean to me…It always meant so much to me that no matter how bad you felt or how sick you were, you always went out of your way to do anything and everything you could for us… Always going out of your way to make everyone’s life easier especially mine…

You were always my hero… No matter how sick you were every morning you woke up and got dressed. Even if you didn’t do anything you always looked your best…

I love you so much mommy… You made such an impact on everyone’s life that you will never be forgotten…you will forever live in our memories as the bravest woman and best Mommy of all time…

No one will ever be able to replace you…

Jared

Jared is alone today. Jon-Daniel lit candles for Vic when he arrived home. Jon-Daniel is alone today.  How can such a tiny, sickly person leave such a horrific void in our lives? A mother and a child cannot be substituted or replaced. It is as simple as this.

Precious Vic, we miss you so much!!  We are all feeling miserable without you.  We miss that incredible bond we had with you.  We want you back at home.

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

That flight…


Aarthi Raghavan has once again honoured Vic and I with a beautiful poem… Aarthi is a brilliant poet whose work I love! This poem moved me to tears
I honestly know nothing about Aarthi. I do not know whether Aarthi is male or female, single or married, childless of parent…All I know is the heart of this amazing poet.

Aarthi has a pure and compassionate soul, is giving and soulful…Thank you Aarthi for these beautiful words and remembering my precious child.

You have a Gift! And you share it!

After I read this post I printed it and went outside and sat on the swing in Vic’s Angel Garden. The sun was gently setting and the air was cool. I felt Vic’s presence next to me. I feel stupid to write this but I spoke to her out loud. I told her how much I missed her and how huge the void is in my life without her. I read Aarthi’s words to Vic.

I felt her presence in the breeze, I heard her whisper “I love you Mommy” I felt at peace.

Thank you Aarthi for remembering Vic and honouring her with your beautiful words!!! You would truly have adored her.


that flight.

by ART


Vic and Tersia.. they occupy many of my thoughts, day, night, or times when I look for inspiration.. not words.. just inspiration.. that can make me smile, make my heart beat soft, constant and in comfort… I wish to dedicate this poem to a wonderful mother and her amazing daughter, for I know they are inseparable :)

often she smiled
thought to herself
why she had to deserve
all that which was unfair

she thought about her mom
her tears, her smiles
her heart beating in worry
and out of care, out of deep love

she lived her life like none of us
she smiled for special reasons
not fake, real special they were
for they reached your heart

they tried so hard
to seek happiness together
make memories forever
loving all that was on offer

even in the middle of
uncertainties
they managed
to share their stories

they made me wonder
of the beauty of love,
motherhood
of all things truly beautiful in this world

that flight
which she eventually took
must have been beautiful
freeing her from a lot of things

making her ever more precious
in our hearts
in our memories
in our thoughts
in our lives…

i wish i could have seen her
in person
made her smile
and then had a chance
to smile with her

it would have been bliss
indeed
to have a friend like her
to have been happy as her
for she is truly special…

:) I love you guys.. and I love your words Tersia… I will forever be glad to have met you.. even if it were through words…

http://citystone.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/to-vic-and-her-wonderful-mom/

http://citystone.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/that-flight/

https://tersiaburger.com/tag/httpsickocean-wordpress-comauthormysticparables/

http://sickocean.wordpress.com/category/poetry/

http://citystone.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/even-if-i-write-it/

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, Death, Death of a child, Family, Grief, Palliative Care, Religion in my world, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Compassionate friends say…


Sixteen years ago today, my beloved mother lost her battle against the septicaemia ravaging her tiny little body.  I woke up this morning thinking “well at least this year Mom has Dad and Vic with her…”

Christmas many years ago...
Christmas many years ago…
Vic and her Gramps and Moekie
Vic and her Gramps and Moekie

It was very hard for me to come to terms with my Mom’s death.  I spoke to her every day of my life regardless of where I was in the world.  I was a real “Mommy’s Girl”.  Mom adored Vic.  They were so close.

I was cruising (I know “surfing” is the correct terminology) the web looking at bereavement sites when I saw that on the 9th of December 2012  it was  Compassionate Friends 16th Worldwide Candle Lighting.  The 9th of December is my birthday.  It was a special birthday – my last with my precious child.  Worldwide bereaved parents were lighting candles for their dead children…This year I shall join them in sorrow – lighting up the world.…

I found a section “To the Newly Bereaved”.  It is now 4 months and seventeen days or 137 days since Vic died.  Am I still a newly bereaved parent or am I becoming a seasoned bereaved parent?

When your child has died, suddenly it seems like all meaning has been drained from your life. When you wake in the morning, it’s difficult to get out of bed, much less live a “normal” life. All that was right with the world now seems wrong and you’re wondering when, or if, you’ll ever feel better.

We’ve been there ourselves and understand some of the pain you are feeling right now. We are truly glad that you have found us but profoundly saddened by the reason. We know that you are trying to find your way in a bewildering experience for which no one can truly be prepared.

When you’re newly bereaved, suddenly you find yourself on an emotional roller-coaster where you have no idea what to expect next. Here are thoughts on some of what you may be experiencing or feeling (many of these will apply to bereaved siblings and grandparents):

Psychological

  • You’re in shock from what has happened and a numbness surrounds you to help shield you from the pain.   I thought I was going to lose my mind when Vic died.  The pain was unbearable.  Now numbness has settled in.  It is a survival mechanism.
  • You find yourself in denial. Your child cannot be dead. You expect to see your child walk through the door any moment.  No – I have passed this stage.  Vic is dead.  She will never shuffle down the passage again.
  • You see your child in the faces of others walking down the street.  No – Vic was uniquely beautiful.  I wish I could see her face on a walking body because that may erase some horrible memories from my mind.
  • You wonder how someone can feel this much pain and survive.  Absolutely!
  • Thoughts of suicide briefly enter your mind. You tell yourself you want to die—and yet you want to live to take care of your family and honor your child’s memory.  Absolutely!
  • You want to know how the people around you can go about their day as if nothing has happened—don’t they understand that your life—everything that meant anything to you—has just ended? Your purpose in life is gone.  Absolutely
  • You are no longer afraid of death as each day that passes puts you one day closer to being with your child.  Absolutely yes!!!!
  • Thoughts of “what ifs” enter your mind as you play out scenarios that you believe would have saved your child.  Yes
  • Your memory has suddenly become clouded. You’re shrouded in forgetfulness. You’ll be driving down the road and not know where you are or remember where you’re going. As you walk, you may find yourself involved in “little accidents” because you’re in a haze.  Absolutely
  • You fear that you are going crazy.  I fear I am…
  • You find there’s a videotape that constantly plays in an endless loop in your mind, running through what happened.  I try very hard not to think about it
  • You find your belief system is shaken and you try to sort out what this means to your faith.  Yes
  • Placing impossible deadlines on yourself, you go back to work, but find that your mind wanders and it’s difficult to function efficiently or, some days, at all. Others wonder when you’ll be over “it,” not understanding that you’ll never be the same person you were before your child died—and the passage of time will not make you so.  Absolutely correct!
  • You find yourself reading the same paragraph over and over again trying to understand what someone else has written.  Yes – it is scary.  I watch TV programs and cannot remember the show afterwards.

Emotional

  • You rail against the injustice of not being allowed the choice to die instead of your child.  ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!!!
  • You find yourself filled with anger, whether it be at your partner, a person you believe is responsible for your child’s death, God, yourself, and even your child for dying.   ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!!!!
  • You yearn to have five minutes, an hour, a day back with your child so you can tell your child of your love or thoughts left unsaid.  No, I have no unspoken words or emotions.  I just want her back with me!
  • Guilt becomes a powerful companion as you blame yourself for the death of your child. Rationally you know that you were not to blame—you most certainly would have saved your child if you’d been given the chance.  Thank God this phase has passed.
  • You feel great sadness and depression as you wrestle with the idea that everything important to you has been taken from you. Your future has been ruined and nothing can ever make it right.  My life will never be the same again.  I wonder whether I will ever experience true happiness again.

Physical

  • Either you can’t sleep at all or you sleep all the time. You feel physical exhaustion even when you have slept.  Have these people moved into my home?  This is absolutely true.
  • You no longer care about your health and taking care of yourself—it just doesn’t seem that important anymore.  Maybe….
  • You’re feeling anxiety and great discomfort—you’re told they’re panic attacks.  No
  • The tears come when you least expect them.  Absolutely
  • Your appetite is either gone or you find yourself overeating.  Oh yes! 

Family & Social

  • If you have surviving children, you find yourself suddenly overprotective, not wanting to allow them out of your sight. Yet you feel like a bad parent because it’s so difficult to focus on their needs when you’re hurting so bad yourself.  I am petrified of not being with the boys all the time.  I hate not being with them!  I am stressed when they are with their father or friends.  I am terrified of leaving them to go overseas…
  • You find that your remaining family at home grieves the loss differently and you search for a common ground which seems difficult to find.  Yes
  • You’ve been told by well-meaning people, even professionals, that 70-80-90 percent of all couples divorce after their child dies. You are relieved to find that new studies show a much lower divorce rate, from 12-16%, believed to be caused by the “shared experience” aspect of the situation.  We have gone through a very rough time in our marriage.  We have worked through it.  But I can see that it is a distinct possibility in a newly bereaved situation.
  • Old friends seem to fade away as you learn they cannot comprehend the extent or length of your grief. No…they faded away when Vic was ill and she did not die soon enough
  • Things you liked to do which seemed so important before now seem meaningless.  Absolutely correct
  • Others say you’ll someday find “closure,” not understanding that closure never applies when it is the death of your child.  Darn right! 
  • Fleeting thoughts of pleasurable activities bring about feelings of guilt. If you child can’t have fun, how can you do anything that brings you enjoyment?  Maybe
  • New friends come into your life who understand some of your grief because they’ve been there themselves.  Absolutely!  I have also opened up and made myself “accessible”.  Before, Vic consumed my life.   http://www.compassionatefriends.org/Find_Support/Personal-Note/To_the_Newly_Bereaved.aspx

Tomorrow I will share  “Finding the ‘new me’…”

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/12/10/another-birthday/

http://www.compassionatefriends.org

Posted in Humour, OI Treatment, Vicky Bruce

Mirella cannot do PT…


 

Gr 2 year.  Vic's birthday party
Gr 2 year. Vic’s birthday party

I read this lovely post that truly brought a smile to my face. – Thank you Kate!  This post brought a smile to my face and a lovely memory moment to my heart.  I am not going to spoil this funny post by telling you what it is about as I would encourage you to pop over and read it personally.  I cannot do it justice.  http://kateswaffer.com/2013/05/28/tuesday-humour-is-god-a-woman/

For one or other reason this post reminded me of a funny incident when Vic was in Gr 2 at a Convent.

Vic was a very bright little girl and a natural-born leader.  She was an excellent little speller.  Vic was never allowed to participate in any Physical Training lessons at school.  The poor little poppet had to sit and watch her little friends running around, honing their developmental skills through exercise.

It is not clear what the reason was, but one of her little friends decided that she would join Vic on the benches – just watching.  Maybe she forgot her PT clothes at home, maybe she wanted to keep Vic company – who knows?  Mrs Bowling was the PT teacher.  The kids were pretty scared of her… She had a booming voice and intimidating stature.

When I arrived at school that afternoon I was taken aside by Vic’s class teacher, Sr Norbitt.  In a hushed tone she told me that I had to see the principal… There had been an “incident”.  Dear Sr Norbitt’s face had a disapproving scowl on it, but she did assure me that Vicky was not ill or hurt…

I was asked to take a seat in the principal’s office.  I was really very concerned that something serious had happened.

Mother Superior proceeded to tell me that Vic’s little friend had presented a letter to Mrs Bowling excusing her from PT.  She took out the note and I immediately recognised Vic’s baby handwriting…big, perfectly rounded letters saying…

“Dear Mrs Bowling
Mirella can not do PT.  She is sick.  She has X-Rays
Mirella Mommy”

When the girls were confronted with this very obvious forgery, they admitted that Vic had written the letter because she was the best speller in the class and knew about diseases because she was always sick…  Vic wanted to really impress the girls but the only “sick” word she could spell was….. X-Rays!

They were given a week’s detention.

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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

Johannesburg-20110828-00176_2

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

A Mother’s Love Quotes


In honour of Mother’s Day I would like to share some of my favorite Mother quotes.

Pilgrim Peace  “Pure love is a willingness to give without a thought of receiving anything in return.”

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No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a MOTHER’s love.  It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star. ~Edwin Hubbell Chapin.

Vic and her boys 1999
Vic and her boys 1999

A MOTHER is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.~Washington Irving.

A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest. — Irish Proverb.

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The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.  Jessica Lange.

IMG_8395       IMG_8444

MOTHER’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.   Agatha Christie.

A mother_s love

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his. –Oscar Wilde,The Importance of Being Earnest

When your mother asks, “Do you want a piece of advice?” it is a mere formality. It doesn’t matter if you answer yes or no. You’re going to get it anyway. –Erma Bombeck

i-am-a-parent

Motherhood is neither a duty nor a privilege, but simply the way that humanity can satisfy the desire for physical immortality and triumph over the fear of death. –Rebecca West

A mother’s love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking. -Helen Rice

A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s. –Diana, Princess of Wales

Vic and I in healthier days
Vic and I in healthier days

The hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world. -W. R. Wallace

Vic and her boys on the beach.
Vic and her boys on the beach.

Mother’s Love for Her Very Sick Child

I know that I would do all things for you.

My spirit would always take care of you.

And when I die and leave this world behind.

You can be rest assured that my love will stay behind.

Even though sometimes we’re far apart.

You have always remained right here in my heart.

I will forever whisper in the wind

Unconditional love that’ll forever stay within.

If only I could go wherever you go

So I could do things I need to do for you.

Since I can’t, the best sacrifice I can give

is keep you in my heart and allow you to leave.

I’m lifting up the burden in your heart

‘Cause I know that you don’t know where to start.

I’m transferring all the pain inside of you

Into my care, into my heart, and now it’s through.

I love you so much and I know that I can bear

This greatest pain to let you go, I swear.

Know in your heart that my love will forever stay

Even though I would seem so far-away.

I’ll be your strength that’s why I’m relieving you

Of all the pain and tears inside of you.

No need to worry for all your pain will be gone.

It will be with me now, and I shall carry on.

You may think I’m letting you go without a fight.

If you only knew how I fought for you each night.

Just remember that there are signs everywhere.

So look around and acknowledge that they are there.

God said to me that love will always prevail.

And each day there is a tale for you to tell.

If you could already see the signs before your eyes.

Embrace it now. Let it stay. It is your guide.

God said the signs may be a word or two

When you least expect it, it is said to you.

It may also be the people that you have met.

Places, names, or things that you kept.

God told me to tell all these things to you

So happiness would set in and peacefulness, too.

I’m always here, and I’ll always love you.

I never wanted you to be in pain. It’s OK for you to go.

Read more: http://authspot.com/poetry/a-poem-about-a-mothers-love-for-her-very-sick-child/#ixzz1zxfdNb9o

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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.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Angels, Death, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

3 Months Ago


Every day I go to Vic’s Facebook page to see whether someone remembered her… I leave her messages… Today at 14:18 I dialled her mobile number out of habit.

Exactly three months ago I knew my child’s life had been reduced to hours…I knew that her little body could no longer fight whatever infection was raging in it.  Her temperature was off the chart… the thermometer only registers temperatures up to 106 °F (41.5 °C) and then goes onto “HI”.

It was this time, three months ago, that Vic’s breathing changed.  Three months ago it was Vic’s last night of breathing.

Earlier that day I fell asleep next to Vic – my hand on the pulse in her neck.  I was so exhausted I could not think or function.  I just needed to be with her every second of her last hours.

IMG_2092 1

The boys came to say their goodbyes…

I no longer allowed visitors.

I remember lying next to her recalling a discussion we had when I had flu and was running a fever.  I am a terrible patient.  I am such a ninny.  I remembered saying to Vic “Sweetie, when I am dying please don’t let people touch me…”

“I won’t” she promised.  “My skin also hurts when I am running a fever…”

“Why didn’t you tell me?  It must irritate you when I stroke your hand or hair when you are sick?”

“Because I know you need to touch and hold me when I am sick…” she said.

“I will never to it again.  So next time you are running a fever know I want to hold your hand and stroke your hair…”

“It’s okay Mommy.  You can hold my hand.  I don’t mind.  It hurts but makes me feel better…”

“That’s an oxymoron if I have ever heard one in my life!” I laughed and Vic joined in

That night, three months ago, there was no idle chatter or laughter in the house.  Just the sound of Vic’s breathing.

Tonight, three months later, everyone has gone to bed.  There is no sound of laughter or idle chatter in the house.  Earlier tonight there was.

I keep imaging that I am hearing Vic’s footsteps shuffling down the passage. The boys have lit extra candles for their mom.  I know that they are sad.

I am aware that the dynamics of my grief is changing.  I am starting to function, smile and look “alive”.  The numbness has gone.  The pain is real now.  My sadness is constant.  I go to sleep with tears in my eyes and wake up with tears running into my hair.  My grief has become “mine”.  It has become a constant companion.  I do not want to share it.  I want to embrace it.

I know there is so much to be grateful for, I know I wanted Vic’s suffering to end, I am grateful that she is no longer fracturing vertebrae from vomiting, crying with pain… I KNOW all of this on an intellectual level.  I try to tell my heart to be happy or at least grateful, but my heart won’t listen!

I don’t want to sleep tonight.  I want to lie awake and remember my beautiful baby girl, her warm smile, her tiny little hands and her pure soul.  If I fall asleep I pray that I will dream of my baby girl…

Posted in Angels, Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

We were one


24.12.2012
24.12.2012

I had my first counselling session with the Hospice psychologist.  It was terribly difficult and emotional.

So often when Vic and I chatted Vic would say “I am so worried about you Mommy…”

In November last year when Dr Sue, Vic’s palliative care physician, broke the news to Vic that her organs were failing Vic’s first words were “Oh Mommy, I am so worried about you – How will you cope?”

When our housekeeper went on leave late December, Vic said to her that they would not see one another again…that she was dying…. Vic asked our Betty to look after me because she was worried about me…

My standard answer to Vic was “I will be okay baby!” 

Vic would say “I know, but I worry about you.  Promise me you will see someone professional after I am gone?”

“I will be fine.  I will be grateful that your suffering is over…But I promise I will!”

I did not know what I was talking about when I said I would be fine… Vic knew me better than I know myself.  Nothing could have prepared me for the tsunami of grief that hit me, the void in my life…

So I walked into Alan’s office this morning.  I noticed the strategically placed box of tissues, the crumpled ones in the little wastebasket next to the chair…I crossed my mind that he only deals with grief.

We spoke briefly about the boys, but Alan firmly said that today we would focus on me… 

I bravely started talking without waiting to be prompted.  After all, that is why I was there.

“I knew that I would miss Vic after her death but nothing could prepare me for this” I said

“Vic was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta at 18 months.  The doctors said she would not live to be older than 12 years.”. 

I spoke clearly and succinctly about Vic’s medical history.  It was familiar territory.  I have share this information with many doctors, research centres, medical professionals… I spoke about Vic’s blotched back surgery and the devastating effect it had on the rest of her life.  I ranted about Drs S + V.  I articulated my hatred of them, my anger at their arrogance.

I spoke at length about how I fought doctors, tried to find solutions, cures… How I would not leave Vic’s side when she was in hospital or ICU.  I told him about the ventilator been switched off and Vic starting to breathe on her own again…

I sobbed my way through Vic’s uncontrolled pain; the doctors telling her that she was a morphine addict…The doctors refusing her adequate pain control post-surgery because of her so-called morphine addiction…

I battled to tell him of Vic’s incredible will to live – sobs wracked through my body.

I share with him my guilt at being the one who administered her sedation at the end of her life.  It took me a couple of minutes to get Vic’s final words of “Mommy, I love you…” out.

I saw Alan look at the clock on the wall.  I knew our time was almost up. 

He sat forward on his chair, his elbows on his knees.  His voice and eyes were gentle with compassion.

“Tersia, it is normal to grieve.  Vic has taken up all your time and energy for 38 years.  You never separated from her.  In your mind you were one…”

That is so true.  That is why I feel as if part of me has died.  Vic and I were so close.  She always remained my baby girl.  I never became Ma, Mom or anything but “Mommy”. 

On the 9th of October 2012 I posted these words

https://tersiaburger.com/2012/10/09/is-there-pain-after-death-post-2/

As a family we have lived with Vic’s pain and her excruciatingly slow journey towards death for the past eleven years.  For eleven years we have heard her scream with pain, moan with discomfort, we hold her hair back when she is doubled up over a toilet bowel, vomiting until she fractures a vertebrae.  We have nursed open wounds, changed colostomy bags…. We have watched our daughter and mother suffer the most horrendous symptoms.

So baby, if you read this post, know that we will miss you.  We don’t want you to leave us behind, but we want your suffering to end.  We will continue to love you until we are reunited one day.  You have to trust us that you will always be “my baby” and the boys’ mummy.  But know that we will be grateful when your little body is freed from its pain and suffering.  You will be at peace…  You will not suffer more pain after death.  We will mourn you, but we will also be at peace…  We will think of you and smile…

It is okay to let go my angel child.

Vic and I discussed this post… We cried then, and I cry now.

I pray that I will find peace.  

Posted in Angels, Death, Death of a child, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

My Angel Child
My Angel Child
So many of my cyber friends have lost their children…these women and men have supported and guided me on my journey with Vic and held my hand in the early days of my grieving and heartache… They KNOW my pain.  I found this poem on a bereavement site and would like to share (and dedicate) it to all the angel moms and dads out there.  Thank you for your support, advice, encouragement and love.
 
My other cyber friends have done their best to understand and love – thank you all.  I appreciate your compassion and continued support.  I pray that you will never experience this pain.  I pray that you will never become Angel Parents…

Angel Moms

We have shared our tears and our sorrow,
We have given encouragement to each other,
Given hope for a brighter tomorrow,
We share the title of grieving mother.

Some of us lost older daughters or sons,
Who we watched grow over the years,
Some have lost their babies before their lives begun,
But no matter the age, we cry the same tears.

We understand each others pain,
The bond we share is very strong,
With each other there is no need to explain,
The path we walk is hard and long.

Our children brought us together,
They didn’t want us on this journey alone,
They knew we needed each other,
To survive the pain of them being gone.

So take my hand my friend,
We may stumble and fall along the way,
But we’ll get up and try again,
Because together we can make it day by day.

We can give each other hope,
We’ll create a place where we belong,
Together we will find ways to cope,
Because we are Angel Moms and together we are strong!

Judi Walker

http://www.muchloved.com/gateway/bereavement-poems-and-funeral-readings.htm

Posted in Angels, Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

Mothers and daughters


Vic proudly pregnant with Jon-Daniel
Vic proudly pregnant with Jon-Daniel

Oh God, I am drowning again.  I pray that I will go to bed tonight and never wake up.  I know it I stupid because it would kill the boys and cause others that love me so much pain, but I cannot face life without my child.

I was looking at posts on “The Grieving Parent”, a Bereavement Facebook page for parents (https://www.facebook.com/TheGrievingParent ) and it just made me feel so inadequate and weak.  Bereaved parents speak of the healing they have experienced….I don’t know whether I ever will heal.  Tonight, like yesterday and the 82 days before tonight, I fear that my life is over.

All parents love their children.  Some have a closer bond than others.  The mother /child relationship is the closest relationship anyone will ever find.  There is a bond between a mother and child that cannot be broken or destroyed.

Vic’s death cannot “remove” her from my life.  My love for her is never-ending and all-enduring.  For 9 months I nurtured her in my womb. For 38 years I nurtured her in life.  My life revolved around Vic.

Did we have a perfect relationship of never arguing, fighting or being angry with one another?  Hell no!!  We went through the different stages as all mothers and daughters do.

As a toddler and pre-teen Vic loved me with unshakeable conviction.  By the time she entered her teens we reached the stage where we disliked one another…  We always loved one another, but we certainly disliked one another at certain stages of our lives.  It was a tumultuous swing in our lives…

Vic was extremely headstrong!  She wanted to go to boarding school and that she did…She married early in life, against our wishes…Not because we disliked Colin but because she was too young.  Vic got married 6 months after her 21st birthday.  Six weeks later she fell pregnant against ALL doctors advice.  She had two children at the risk of losing her own life and passing on the Osteogenesis Imperfecta disease and/or gene.

Vic also refused to die.  Vic refused to be “sick”.  She got dressed into normal day-clothes every day of her life.  She refused to hand over the responsibility of her children’s upbringing to anyone regardless of how ill she was.

Vic did what she did when she wanted to.  If she believed in something she would defy anyone and everyone.  She was driven by her need to grow up and live her life to the full.  The relationship shift from child to adult was very difficult for me to accept.

Our relationship changed after Vic had the boys.  Maybe because then there was a greater level of understanding, by Vic, of the enormity of the responsibility that a mother has to her child…..

Vic was not a saint.  She was a difficult teenager and a fiercely independent young woman. Yet our mother-daughter relationship was ultimately fulfilling. I was certainly not the perfect mother.  I failed Vic on many levels.  We were so different that we found it difficult to understand one another’s choices and needs.

Despite conflicts and complicated emotions, Vic and I loved one another unconditionally.  We complemented one another perfectly.  Vic so often said “God knew what He was doing when He put us together….We are such a good team!”

I am grateful for the time we spent together.  I wish I had spent less time working and more time playing…I wish I had been less concerned about Vic’s financial care.  I wish I had been there when she took her first steps…I got the hospital time.  Her healthy time I spent working – playing catch-up for her hospital time… I wish Vic had grown up in a home with a mommy and a daddy…

In her later life Vic became a child again.  She was totally dependent upon me.  I did not have to “compete” with a spouse to take care of her.  In the final months of Vic’s life she had panic attacks when I was away from her.  In a weird, sick way my life was perfect.  My baby was home.  I could love and nurture her…

I wish we had more time…

Vic writing the boys final letters six days before her death.
Vic writing the boys final letters six days before her death.

In the final days of her life Vic cried “I want to live.  Mommy I don’t want to die… If only I could live for one more year…”

I would give everything I own; every second of my remaining life; everything I love and cherish for Vic to have lived just one more year.

Posted in Angels, Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

1977


Vic as a baby
Vic as a baby

Yesterday Jon-Daniel and I went for a long walk on the beach.  The water was freezing but my feet adjusted to the temperature.  It was great feeling the sand between my toes.  Families were playing in the sand – very few people were brave enough to swim.  There were quite a few surfers braving the cold water.  The sky was clear and for the first time in many, many months I felt totally relaxed.

I thought back to Vic’s birth!  I remembered a beautiful baby girl born with a mob of black hair.  I remembered the rush of love that I experienced when I first saw her.  I fell in love with Vic the second I lay eyes on her.  When she curled her perfect little fingers around mine I was lost in the wonder of her perfection.

Vic was born 3 weeks early.  She weighed in at 5.6 lbs. (2.54kgs).  She was tiny but perfect!  From the first breath that she took she ruled my life.  Her first little outfit was a baby-pink jersey that a cousin knitted for her.  Her clothes were doll-sized.

My Mom bathed her for the first month of her life.  I was too scared!  At 6 weeks Vic had one feed a night only…. She was born an angel.  Vic had her first known fracture at 6 weeks… She started walking at 18 months; Vic built her first puzzle before she could crawl.

I remembered her gurgling and laughing.  The minute she opened her eyes she would have this huge smile on her face.  Her smile reached her eyes even then….

Vic never stopped smiling.  She was a ray of sunshine.  She never complained.

When I think of the cards the poor little poppet was dealt I realize more than ever what an incredibly strong person she was.

We were driving back from the first athletic meeting when she was in Grade 1.

“Mommy I want to ask you something” Vic said

“You know you can ask my anything you want…” I replied very upbeat.  I had won the parents race and felt pretty good about myself.

“I know what you are going to say …” Vic said

I looked into the rearview mirror and saw silent tears running down her little cheeks.

“What’s wrong Angel?” I asked

“Mommy, why can’t I run like the other children?” she replied.

Vic was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta at 18 months.

I was in total denial that there was anything wrong with my perfect child.  My Dad was the only one who was brave enough to continuously tell me that there was something with Vic.  The sclera of her eyes was blue and she fractured easily.

The grandparents conspired with Tienie (her father) and took her to the Freestate University.  A professor assessed Vic and diagnosed Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

The family decided that Tienie had to break the news to me.  I went mad with fear.  OI is a very rare disease and in the pre-world wide web days, a library was the only source of information.   I went from doctor to doctor begging for a cure or even a hint of hope that there was a cure in sight.  The doctors told me I should wrap Vic in cotton wool and wait for her to die

Whilst all of this was happening Vic kept fracturing bones.  She would bump her little sandal against the step and fracture her tibia.  Whilst in Plaster-of-Paris she would re-fracture in the Plaster–of-Paris…  We were treated like child-abusers at hospital emergency rooms and our neighbours reported us to Child Welfare.

Every living moment I would talk to Vic about how special she was; how frail her little bones were and how careful she must be.

When Vic was 3 years old a colleague mentioned a homeopath that worked miracles with rare and untreatable disorders…  a Professor Majorkenis.  I immediately made an appointment to see him.  He practiced in Johannesburg, and as a small town girl I was petrified.  Johannesburg was Sodom and Gomorrah!

The Professor was of Greek descent.  He was of a short stature and spoke heavily accented English.  His brown eyes were wrinkled, warm and gentle.  His handshake was firm and reassuring.

He spent a long time examining her, measuring her electronic fields and all sorts of weird and foreign tests.

He made no commitment.  He merely told me that he was on-route to Europe for an International Homeopathic Association conference and would discuss it with his fellow doctors there.  (He was President of the International   Homeopathic Association.)

I received a phone call from France a week later.  It was the professor!  The connection was poor and with his heavy accent I managed to hear that he was prepared to do experimental treatment and wanted to start in two weeks!

Without any discussion with anyone I resigned my job, phoned a colleague who has relocated to Johannesburg a couple of months earlier and asked him whether he knew of any vacancies in the glass industry and went home to break the news to my husband and parents!

The family went into high-energy planning.  Vic and I would travel by train as I was scared of driving on my own and getting lost.  Tienie would drive my car to Johannesburg two weeks later so he could celebrate Vic’s 3rd birthday with us.  I would live with my parents-in-law,  who had recently relocated to Johannesburg, and Tienie would live with my parents.  He was still at University and could not relocate.

We gave up the flat, packed up our furniture and belongings and put everything in storage.  Vic and I said our goodbyes to all our friends and then it was time to leave…

I remember my fear with crystal clear clarity when we boarded the train.  I cried hysterically and clung to my Dad.  My mom sobbed, and my dad wiped tears from his eyes telling me I must be strong and look after the “little one”.  We would speak on the phone every Sunday…

The train slowly pulled out of the station, and I held my sobbing baby girl close to my heart.  Her hair was wet from my tears.  Vic was totally distraught.  My parents, siblings and Tienie faded into the night as we sped towards a cure.

 

Posted in Chronic Pain, Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Terminal Illness, Vicky Bruce

The boys and their grief…


Vic and her beautiful boys
Vic and her beautiful boys

Today, Jared (16) was called in by the school psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist spoke to him at length about the stages of grief.  Jared loves facts.

Thanks to Google I am well versed in the stages of grief and constantly try to monitor where the boys are in the process.  I did not stop to think that knowing the stages, in detail, would give them a sense of comfort.

Ten years ago we were told by the doctors that Vic had maybe 5 years to live.  The boys were then 6 and 4 years old.

At the age of five, a child may have thought of death as a deep sleep from which the person would eventually awaken, (like the princess in Sleeping Beauty).  At seven, the child may believe that only grandmas and grandpa’s and other elderly folks can become ill and die—but not little kids or their parents. Age 12 they know that death can happen at any time…

Jared developed a sugar problem at the age of 6…due to the stress of Vic’s illness.  Over the years he has developed a weight problem as he stress eats.  His school marks have dropped and he has lost interest in sport, his friends and life.  He is a Type 2 Diabetic.

On the surface Jon-Daniel appears to be coping far better than Jared.

He excels in school and has immersed himself in sports or hobbies. I think what may really be at work here is a defence mechanism known as sublimation. I believe that Jon-Daniel has over the years subconsciously channeled his strong feelings of grief into a more “socially acceptable” outlet. He directs his attention solely to areas where he feels comfortable.  It is his way of regaining control over a world that has been jolted out of orbit.

Having the intellectual capacity to grasp the implications of death doesn’t necessarily equip teenagers to cope emotionally with the tragedy. Adolescents typically appear to feel grief more intensely than adults, especially if one of their parents has died. The Adolescent Life Change Event Scale (ALCES), which mental-health specialists use to help quantify the events that are the most stress-inducing in teenagers, ranks a parent’s death as the number one cause of adolescent stress. Second is the death of a brother or sister, followed by the death of a friend.

The stress started years before Vic died.  The boys grew up knowing that their Mommy was ill and in a lot of pain.  The realization actually only hit home with them in 2007 when we told the boys on a couple of occasions that Vic was dying.  In hindsight it would have been better if we never told them but at the time I believed it to be the right thing to do.  I could not lie to the boys and tell them Vic was doing well when she was fighting for her life on a ventilator and the doctors were turning off the ventilator.

It was clear with Jon-Daniel over the years that he harboured resentment towards Vic when she was in hospital.  In his eyes Vic abandoned them…his way of coping was to “harden” his heart.  He would literally ignore her or act up when she was ill…  Over the past year he however “softened” his attitude towards his sick mom.

Because adolescents are so sensitive about their “image”, they may feel self-conscious or outright embarrassed by displays of grief and struggle to suppress their emotions. This can also be a means of protecting themselves.

As a family we experienced “anticipatory grief”.  During the past year especially we resorted to black humour. There is no “right way” or “wrong way” to mourn.   Jared told me today that he asked his Church councillor last year whether you can mourn someone whilst they are still alive….

Grief is often expressed in one of the following ways:

  • Depression
  • Changes in conduct or acting-out behaviours
  • “Perfect” behaviour
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Refusing to attend school
  • Turning to alcohol or illicit drugs to numb the emotional pain
  • Seeking solace through a sexual relationship
  • Overeating or under-eating
  • Sleeping more than usual or not getting enough sleep
  • Physical symptoms

It is said that a teenager who loses a parent is also subconsciously mourning the end of the childhood he’d led up until now.  However in the case of Vic the boys have potentially regained a childhood…I just hope and pray it is not too late for them to have a childhood.

Five Stages of Grieving

Shock / Denial

This is a protective mechanism that helps the person to function for the time being. With denial, the person may refuse to believe what happened. For instance, one teen was waiting for her friend to come to her graduation party and kept texting him to see when he would be there. Finally, she got a call from his sister telling her that he was killed in a motorcycle accident. She refused to believe he was dead, however, and reacted by telling the sister she was lying. Of course, his friend was experiencing shock. During shock, the person can function as though nothing happened, but may feel like she is in a surreal world or place.

Anger

Often there is blaming others for the loss or lashing out at people. Sometimes people act out their anger in other ways. The mother of  a teen realized she was blaming her son for causing his own death after she began telling his friends, “Please, don’t do this to your mothers.” In essence, she was saying to her son, “Look what you’ve done to me.” The anger needs to be processed, though. The mother began to realize that her son was a teenager and that teenagers take risks. Teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed in the area of judgment, so they don’t gauge risks the same way as an adult. Also, there were other factors that contributed to her son’s death besides his risk-taking behavior. Working through the anger helps a person to move through the other stages of grieving.

 Bargaining / Magic

This often involves either cutting a contract with yourself, asking your higher power to take you out of the situation or fantasizing that this is some sort of dream and tomorrow you’ll wake up and it will never have happened. This stage helps the person to feel some control over the situation. For example, when one mother saw her son in the hospital emergency room lying dead in a body bag after all attempts of resuscitation had failed, she laid over his body begging God to breathe life back into him, praying for a miracle.

Depression / Grief / Sadness

This stage involves a lot of “what ifs.” The person now turns the anger inward and blames herself for the loss. Often this is false guilt, though, and the person really had no control over what happened or no real way to prevent it. This stage provides an opportunity for the person to grow spiritually and perhaps further develop spiritual beliefs as she searches for the meaning or purpose of life, death, pain and suffering. Even if the person is somehow at fault, perhaps the person’s actions or shortcomings are being used as part of a greater plan.

Acceptance / Forgiveness / Resolution

Accepting the loss doesn’t mean you like what happened. It does mean that you are trusting that life can be good again in spite of the hurt and pain the loss has caused you. Sometimes we need to forgive the loss or perhaps someone who has directly caused our pain or grief. Forgiving means letting go of bitterness and revenge, which only harm us and not the offender. To be unforgiving means we are not moving on and letting go, but continuing to allow ourselves to be hurt by the other party or the loss.  We feel more powerless when we keep wanting something from others that they cannot give us. Perhaps this is an apology or maybe a change of heart. Nevertheless, we can always grow and move on without seeing any change in the other person or getting back what was taken from us. We take back our power in the situation when we begin reversing the negative consequences in our lives and perhaps by finding new purposes and meanings for our lives. http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/service/s/surviving-teens/stressors/grief-loss/

Grief never ends, but it does change in character and intensity.  Grieving is like the constantly shifting tides of the ocean; ranging from calm, low tides to raging high tides that change with the seasons and the years.  I know this from my parents and BFF deaths.

We will meet with the Hospice councillor that the boys saw last year – they connected with him.  Maybe it is time to start Jared on an anti-depressant….

We love the boys so much.  I wish we could wrap them in cotton and protect them from the world.  They are so beautiful and have these AMAZING personalities.  They are not difficult or rebellious teenagers.

I wish I knew what to do.

Posted in Death, Death of a child, Family, Family Life, Grief, Vicky Bruce

I want to be an eagle


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My late father was pretty advanced in his journey with Alzheimers when I read that AD patients respond well to animals.  We got my Dad a little Maltese Poodle and it was love at first sight.

My Dad absolutely adored Tiger.  He carried Tiger everywhere and Tiger sat with him, ate with him and slept with him.

One day my Dad and I were chatting and I asked him: “If you could be any animal what would you be?”

I fully expected him to say a Lion – he loved the magnificence of lions…I love eagles.  I don’t think Dad quite understood what I was asking and said “You go first…”

“I would want to be an eagle…” I said

“Why?” he asked

“I want to soar high above the sky and experience that total solitude and quiet…” I replied

“Oh” Dad said.  “I would want to be this little guy”

Dad did not remember the name of his beloved dog but he knew that the dog was loved, nurtured and spoilt!

I have always equated the turmoil of teenage and parent relationships as an “Eagle” relationship.  The following is an extract from a site –  http://www.eagleflight.org/cyberstudies/actions-and-attitudes-of-a-growing-church/157-with-eagles-wings.  I have changed some of the headings and removed text that is not relevant but basically the content below belongs to http://www.eagleflight.com

Location is very important to the eagle and it’s young. If possible, eagles build their nests on the face of cliffs. They don’t build a nest in a tree unless they absolutely have to, because a nest in a tree can be easily accessed. They don’t build it on the top of the cliff, either, because on the top of a cliff it can be violated, too. Eagles build their nests in some inaccessible place.

The nest is built with consummate skill—not using little twigs, but great branches woven together in an immensely skillful way. If somehow an eagle’s nest is loosed from its moorings and falls, it rarely comes apart. In fact, eagles’ nests are so big, they have weighed in at half a ton! They’re comfortable, too. Their centers are carefully lined with feathers and leaves, and the eggs are placed there. When they hatch, the mother begins the process of feeding the babies.

After the eaglets get to a certain size, or maturity, everything changes! One day the mother eagle comes back from being gone, but this time there’s no food in her beak, and she doesn’t land on the edge of the nest. Instead, she hovers over the nest.

You may not know this, but an eagle can do almost what a hummingbird can do. Even though they are great birds, they can remain almost motionless in midair with those great wings just undulating in the breeze. They do this about three feet above the nest. I’m sure if little eagles could talk to one another—and maybe they can—one would certainly say, “My, what strong wings Mommy has.”

Why does the mother do this? She is demonstrating that those curious appendages on the babies’ backs have a useful function. Eagles, of course, were meant to fly, but they don’t know that. If we take an eagle and separate it at birth from its parents, it will never learn to fly. It will just grovel around in the dirt like a chicken. It might even look up and see eagles soaring overhead and never guess that it was meant to soar in the heavens.

Eagles have to be taught, and that’s the mother’s job. So first she just demonstrates.

The next thing she does is come down into the nest and surprise her young. One can imagine how warm it must normally be for the little eagles to snuggle with their mother and be enshrouded with her feathers, but this time she puts her head up against one of the little ones, and pushes that little one closer and closer to the edge of the nest. (“Hey mom, mom, what are you doing?”)

All at once she pushes the little one out of the nest, and the eaglet falls down the face of the cliff, surely to be destroyed. But not so! In a flash the great mother eagle flies down, catches the little one on her back, and flies up and deposits it in the nest. (“Whew! Mom, that must have been an accident.”) But it wasn’t an accident. The mother bird pushes the little one out again, and again, over and over.

Why would a mother do that to her young? Does she hates the little one? Not at all. It’s just that those little birds were made to fly, and they don’t know it, so she is going to push them out of the nest. She never lets them hit bottom, but she does let them fall, because they have to learn something they don’t know.

The next time the mother bird comes back she decides to clean house, and so she stands on the edge of the nest. The first things to go are the feathers inside; she drops them over the edge. Then the leaves go over the edge—heave ho! While this is going on, she’s not very talkative, either. (“Mom, what are you doing?”) She pays no attention. Since she built the house, she knows how to take it apart.

Next she decides to take the sticks out of the middle of the nest, and with her great strong beak and feet, she’s able to break them off and stand them straight up. (“Mom, it’s not comfortable in here anymore.”) Then she takes certain key sticks out of the nest and throws them over the edge. (“What are you doing, Mom? You are wrecking my room.”)

She seemingly pays no attention to the concerns of her young as she prepares to pull the nest apart, for she is determined that those little ones will fly, and she knows something they don’t. She knows they will never fly as long as they remain in the nest.

That is why teenagers and mothers fight…so they can learn to fly and “escape” home!

We all go through this stage with our teenagers.  Most of the time we don’t even realize the process….  But Nature is great and takes over from us.

I was never able to let go of Vic.  I wanted her close where I could hear her breathe.  The movie “Terms of endearment” shows a mother who walks into the nursery and climbs into the cot to make sure that her baby is breathing.  When the baby starts crying she promptly climbs out, marches out and says “That’s better…”

That is the mother I was!  I mothered (smothered) my precious baby until her last breath.  I do not regret that she never learnt to fly.  Hell, she never even learnt to ride a bike!

As a parent we can only do our best.  We love and nurture and then we set them free…

I just feel so lost and empty.