This post has been sitting in my Drafts since the 23 of November 2014. This morning I was told that my grieving is isolating me from the world… So be it. I lost my child and she deserves to be mourned. If people cannot cope they must simply just stay out of my life. I will not invade theirs… So if I offend someone it is tough. Once you have walked my journey you are welcome to criticise. Remember to hug your children – I never thought Vic would die. Shit happens.
It is 671 days since Vic died.
I have not blogged in a while. I stopped because I felt too exposed. People were reading my blog and “using” my emotions against me. My public grief became a weapon to be used in dealing with me.
I have received a number of emails from some of my blogger friends asking me whether I have started a new blog. I haven’t. I have missed blogging.
Blogging to me provides me access to a network of people who have experienced the loss of a child. If one has not lost a child you will never understand the pain thereof. It is grief that no one can begin to understand. I read other mothers blogs and their words are my words.
We have had a number of milestones.
I have thrown myself into Stepping Stone Hospice. I have grown as a person. My heart has been broken by the deaths of precious patients’ and the pain of their families. I have made new friends only to lose them weeks later. I have stood next to close on a 100 death beds this year.
Jon-Daniel turned 16. Vic left a box of party goods to be used for his 16th birthday. I opened the box, for the 1st time after her death, and found the polystyrene “Happy 16th birthday” lettering; party poppers, balloons. Vic was always very set on being fair. What she did for the one she would do for the other. She set up Jared’s 16th birthday party. She left the same for her baby.….. A final act of love for her precious son.
There are no further birthday boxes prepared for the boys. She has left 18th and 21st birthday gifts; Jon-Daniels confirmation candles and their 21st keys. But no further party goods.
On the 17th of October 2014 Jared attended his Matric Farewell (prom). Exactly 22 years after Vic’s Matric Farewell. He wrote on his Facebook that it was hard to be excited about
He was so handsome and his little girlfriend looked beautiful. Vic would have been so proud of her son! I know that she was there but I also know that Jared would have given anything to have her physically presence…. He would have wanted her to straighten his bow tie and flaff with his hair. She would have cried and insisted on 100’s of photos.
I vividly remembered Vic’s farewell and how exquisitely beautiful she looked. I remembered how careful I was when I helped her dress because her skin marked so easily and we did not want red marks spoiling the evening for her. I remembered her and Gia giggling whilst they were getting ready for the Big Event. I remembered my pride looking at my little princess…
I slept very badly that evening because I actually remember that his mommy was very hung-over the morning after her farewell…. He arrived home in the early hours of the morning and he was sober! I could not have been prouder.
Now Jared is writing his school exams. I remember how I fought with Vic to study hard and get her marks up. I remember the frustration of knowing that Vic was not performing to her ability. She only did enough to pass comfortably. I realized then that all she ever wanted to be was a mommy. It was hard to accept. The dreams that I had for her were exactly that – my dreams.
Vic had no ambition to become a doctor or an advocate or even politician. She started thinking up her children’s names when she was 4 or 5 years old. When she was old enough to draw she “designed” her wedding gown. It was hard to accept.
Vic and I were so opposite to one another. I am ambitious and driven. Vic was content to live…
So, here I am on my knees again hoping and praying that Jared’s marks will be good enough for him to gain university entrance. I gave him the letter Vic wrote him…the letter to be given to him just before his final school exams. I was petrified that it would upset him and affect his mental state adversely. He was thrilled and quietly said that it was so nice getting a letter from her and being able to read her words. He said that he missed her little notes… and her hugs.
When I heard his words I felt his pain and loss all over again.
As time passes it is becoming more difficult. Maybe because people are “fed-up” with my grieving. They are impatient with me and want me to forget and accept. They become frustrated because I try and find every excuse to mention Vic’s name. Their empathy has switched to impatience.
And, I don’t care!
My soul is grieving for Vic. The pain has travelled so much further than my heart. It has filled my body and soul to the core. I want my child back. I want to hear her laugh. I want to see her smile. I want to feel her hugs. I want to hear her voice. I want to be a mommy again. I want to be a grandmother again. I want my life back.
Time to say Goodbye is a beautiful song and I especially enjoy the André Bochelli and Sarah Brightman version. It was the boys and my theme song on this holiday. A Time to Say Goodbye and heal….
As we toured Europe we lived Vic’s dream. It was her dream to go to Italy, stand in the Cistern Chapel, drink cuppachino’s on the streets of Rome, wander through the Christmas Mart stalls savouring the smell of Gluhwein and melted cheese….
I am filled with profound sadness every time I think of my child. Even if she lived Vic would never have been able to make the trip. The flight would have been too long, the cobblestone streets impossible for her wheelchair, the bus trips too long…
I cried when I saw the Pietà in the Cistern Chapel. This beautiful piece of art in a convoluted way symbolised Vic and my lives…
Both Mary and I were child brides. She was much younger than I was when she gave birth to Jesus – it is written that Mary was 12 years old at the time of her Son’s birth. Her child filled with wisdom and teaching as was mine… I once again realised, on this trip, how infinitely wise Vic was. She knew that I would have to remove myself from everyday life to heal.
She made me promise to do this trip with the boys.
Looking at the Pietà I saw a mother holding the body of her lifeless child. Tears filled my soul when I remembered holding the body of my lifeless child. For a fleeting moment I felt the heat that radiated from her fever wracked little body. I could hear the thundering silence from her breathing that had stopped…
I stood there and realised that it will never change. I will always be isolated in my grief and longing for the child that I lived for. No one in the world could possibly love her the way I did. She was blood of my blood.
She loved her boys the way I loved her. She loved her boys with every fibre in her body. Her thoughts, fears and sorrow centred on her sons until she breathed her last breath. The blood of her blood. Her future…
Standing in front of the Pietà I realised that the closest bond is the bond between a mother and a child. Not a child and a mother…. Children move on and live for their children
Walking the streets of Europe I was filled with an all-consuming anger. Anger at God, anger at careless doctors; angry at a horrific disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. I was angry at the fact that my child was robbed. Robbed of a life with her boys. That I was robbed of a lifetime with my child.
As the old Year is edging towards the New I am filled with trepidation and horrific sadness. Not only for my Vic but for the many who crossed my path this year and who are enfolded in their own grief.
So much pain, longing and sadness as we look to starting another year without our loved ones.
I have survived my birthday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Jared’s birthday. I have cried on my own, in the shower, in shops. I have been filled with rage and despair when I saw all the Christmas cards “For my Daughter”… I will never buy another card for my precious child. I will never be able to open gifts with her under the Christmas tree. Nothing will ever be the same again.
In three weeks’ time it will be Vic’s 2 year anniversary. Two long years without my child, my best friend…
I read that it gets worse as time goes by. It does get worse. The raw sadness has dissolved into a steady all-consuming pain. The longing to hold her one more time overwhelming.
And, although I know that it is Time to Say Goodbye I know I will never move on.
New emotions are raw and intense. Think back to when you fell in love for the first time – the butterflies, the beauty in everything….. Colours were more vibrant and life soared through your veins. In a new love we are more forgiving, nicer, gentler… One’s whole life revolves around the other person.
As time marches on, the balance is restored. We settle down to realising that nothing and nobody is perfect and/or everlasting. Sadly life forces the big picture back into our lives, our minds, our vision….
It is the same with grief.
Time heals as the seasons change. Reason does not heal.
When Vic died my entire existence was filled with pain, tears and longing. There was guilt and self-recrimination. It used to echo through my mind “what could I have done different?” Madness lurked in my mind.
Four hundred and seventy-four days later I still grieve. I still cry. I still feel as if I am losing my mind at times…
The intensity that I experienced immediately after Vic’s death has started diminishing and become softer, gentler… I often sit with a gentle smile on my face remembering Vic as a cute baby, a funny toddler, a difficult teenager and a precious friend, daughter and mother of my grandchildren. I page through old photos and sometimes I laugh out loud at the memories.
Life has started re-emerging. My grief is not less – I have just become used to it. My grief has settled into my heart as snugly as old slippers settle around tired feet. I have grown accustomed to the void in my life.
Heartache has become a part of my life. I feel the sadness in my eyes and smile. Yet I have learnt to laugh again.
Life has gone on… The seasons are changing – again…..
It is finally 2014. I am so grateful that 2013 officially in the past. I also get to say “My daughter died last year”
2013 was filled with tremendous loss. Not only did I lose my child, other loved ones but I also lost myself. 2013 was filled with lessons. Painful lessons…
I have learned that grief is a solitary, unique experience. I have the learnt the difference between grief and sadness. I have learnt that grief is never-ending. I have learnt that it takes courage to grieve. I have learnt that the depth of loss depends on the depth of the relationship that has been severed.
In this process of grieving for my child I have lost me…I have become a stranger to myself. Vic and I were always “one”. I am battling to function with half of me gone. I miss the other half of my soul…
Once I was an organised person now I have become totally disorganised. My house and filing is a mess. My time management sucks! I battle to read and complete tasks. I no longer trust my judgement. I have trusted people who have scorned my love and trust. I have become forgetful. I have hidden my jewellery somewhere and for the life of me I cannot remember where. I have hidden the boys Christmas gifts – I cannot remember where. I have missed appointments, mislaid my keys…
I am preoccupied with Vic’s death. Everything that happens, I relate back to Vic’s death. In unguarded moments I relive her final moments, the vision of seeing her being loaded onto a gurney… I hear her final words echo through my mind and body “I love you Mommy…”. I relive her fear of dying, her desperation at saying her final goodbyes…
I have become impatient and intolerant. I am on the defensive. I feel isolated in my grief. I truly feel that only my WordPress friends, who have also lost a child, understands. My real world friends and family do not. How can they? They have never lost a child. They get to hold their children….They can rest their heads on their children’s heads and smell their freshly washed hair, feel their soft skins….
I have lost interest in things that used to fascinate me. I no longer enjoy decoupage, scrapbooking, painting or baking. Life has taken on a different meaning. I have new responsibilities. Vic entrusted her beloved sons to my care and tasked me with Stepping Stone Hospice.
Because grief is primarily a personal experience it certainly takes its toll on relationships. Partners can try to understand someone else’s grief but they can never experience it or take on the burden themselves.
On the surface it appears society is accepting of this unbearable sadness and people are supportive and open to talking about it. I’ve been surprised by people’s genuine kindness and empathy as much as I’ve been repeatedly shocked & disappointed by their lack of it.
Although friends and family have been supportive, there is a mandate as for how long their unwavering support, patience, understanding, concern and empathy lasts. The truth is, the situation is so unbearably sad that it becomes incredibly emotionally draining on the other person.
The realisation that they can’t fix your sadness sets in, the frustration builds because not even they can see an end in sight, then gradually it starts to impede on the happiness in their life. They haven’t lost their child so why should they spend all their time sad about yours?
I cannot expect anyone, who did not truly witness and live the horror of seeing my beautiful child die, to understand my grief.
What frustrates and angers me most is that people, in the misguided perception that they are guiding or comforting me, insist on how I must be feeling! Who gives anyone the right to decide whether my emotions are “right” or “appropriate”. Please don’t give me advice. Don’t pretend to understand and keep your criticism to yourself. Please just be there if I invite you into my private space.
I am so tired. I am tired of living without my child, tired of trying to justify my grief, minding my words…I am tired of being hurt. I am tired of the hurt.
This morning I read the Facebook status of a brave young woman who lost her two precious daughters last year… “God has added one more day to my life. Not because I need the day but because someone else needs me. So I will get out of bed…..”
So, on the third day of 2014, I was inspired to make a decision. I will fight back against this terrible grief that is threatening to destroy me. I cannot bring back my child. I cannot make people understand, love or accept me. I will try to take back my life this year. I will start writing Vic’s book. I will focus on those who care for me; I will disregard my detractors… I will change my eating habits, exercise and sleep in a bed. I will lose my vulnerability. I will honour Vic through my life.
On the 18th of January the boys and I will do something special to celebrate their Mom’s life. Our lives will become about celebrating Vic’s life – not her death.
My brave child’s words to her boys are ringing through my head – “I am your mother not your excuse”.
I hear Vic’s voice loud and clear “I am your child – not your excuse”.
I hear you precious child. I promise to continuously remind the boys too… I miss you so much. I will honour you through my life.
I am sitting in the Vicky Bruce dignity room. The boys bought some wall decorations that they put up earlier this week. It is not perfectly positioned on the wall, but it was part of their healing process. I think it is beautiful.
Everybody has left, and I am alone here. The energy of the “living” have left the building. It is quiet and peaceful, and I can feel Vic’s presence.
Today I read a sad blog. It is a mother’s anguished cry about her grief for her 29-year-old daughter who died 33 weeks ago. Thirty three weeks says it all. She is still counting the days; the weeks dreading the heartache that she knows still lies ahead. http://forjuliaruth.com/2013/11/10/what-about-grief/
Compared to Dru I am a veteran at the grieving thing. Vic died 43 weeks ago. Ten weeks do not sound like a lot, but it is a lifetime in the life of a grieving mother. Dru’s pain is raw. So is mine I suppose. I think it has become such a part of my life that I cannot remember what it felt like to be happy and carefree.
I also read a heart wrenching blog written by a grieving father. http://kerrichronicles.com/2013/11/12/the-miracle-of-his-short-presence/ John wrote the following “I ran into the room and Anita was holding Noah, lifeless, with no tubes or machines hooked to him. I cried out “No No No” as I rushed over to him and held onto him with all my life. We both cried for an eternity. I ran my hands through his hair and begged God for this not to be happening. ”
These words catapulted me back to the 18th of January 2013 when I clung to the lifeless body of my precious child. I still feel the heat of her fevered body against mine. I remember how beautiful her hair looked. I remember holding her and kissing her head.
Will the pain ever subside?
I don’t think so. Well-meaning friends and acquaintances tell me it will. But quite honestly they have never lost a child.
Tomorrow it will be 302 days since I held my child. 302 days of raw longing. 302 days without my beautiful Vic. 365 days ago I realised that Vic had started dying. Vic’s nausea was relentless. Her little body started shutting down. Her organs had started failing. Vic knew that day that she was dying. https://tersiaburger.com/2012/11/14/a-night-out-of-hell/. The Doctor put up an intravenous line to try to stop the nausea. Vic was fracturing vertebrae from vomiting….
My poor precious baby girl. Why did you have to suffer the way you did?
Would I turn back the clock? To have another five minutes with her I would. For one last hug, one last “I love you”, one last “You will always be in my heart” and one last “You made my life worth living…”
I love you baby girl.
“To God, I hope you look after Auntie Vicky. She is very sick. Love Chloe Alexa Burger” My precious 5 year old UK granddaughter wrote this…her mommy found it in her school satchel last week.
Dear God, hear the words of a five-year old.
I don’t know whether I ever posted this. I know that I was desperate to remember everything. Today I know I did not write enough, I did not take enough photos, I did not spend enough time talking to my child.
So I don’t forget…
Lucinda commented today “Again, I can’t add anything on to what others have said; I don’t know how you have the courage to make these posts.”
I sometimes wonder why do I blog? My whole being screams “so I won’t forget”. I want to remember every day, every spoken word, every unspoken word, every feverish touch. My friends have lifetimes ahead with their children…I don’t. They have many more Christmases and birthdays to look forward to. The chances are that their children will bury them… As a family we lived one day at a time. We were grateful for every morning when we wake up!
We have friends who lost their 17 year old son almost 17 years ago. I have not seen her in a couple of years. When I last saw her she said that it does not become easier with time. One just learns to cope with the pain and the loss. My friend had to walk away from her son. He was declared brain dead after a drunk driver drove into the car transporting him to a rugby match….
She said “I touched his big feet. I lay my head on his chest and I could hear his heart beat …. I walked away and his body was warm…” Steven’s heart beats on in another person’s chest. They, generously in all their pain, donated his organs and saved the life of another mother’s child..
Joan never had the opportunity to say “goodbye forever” to Steven. She said “Goodbye, have a good game. Love you!” Joan treasures the last hug, kiss, laugh… She holds onto it.
I want to hold onto every memory I possibly can. As hard as it is, I write so I will remember everything.
A lot of what I write I don’t post. It is too raw.
I hold onto Vic’s last words to me…”I love you Mommy”. I hold onto the memory of her beautiful smile, her brave battle, her devotion to her sons and family. I hold onto the purity of her heart and the kindness in her heart. I hold onto her gentle memories.
Never has the pain been as raw and the loss as real as now. For a couple of weeks I arrogantly thought that a scab was forming over the pain. Then it was cruelly plucked off.
In a weird way I am glad the scab was plucked off. I am glad that I am feeling that intense pain again. I am relieved that the tears are running over my cheeks blurring the words as I type.
I want to remember. I don’t ever want to forget. I want to remember my beautiful, precious angel 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.
Grief becomes a shadow. It finds you and follows you. At times the shadow is small and then at times it is big.
Your shadow is a constant companion. It keeps up with your pace… It will run with you but it will also crawl with you. When you stop it will stop.
It follows you into the valleys of despair and will climb mountains of triumph with you. Grief is a constant companion.
When you are in the deepest valley your shadow is there. When at the heights of the highest mountain it is still there.
A shadow is a dangerous thing. If offers a wonderful hiding place. A place to lose one self. At times the shadow invites me in and I get lost in my shadow of grief. In the shadow I am invisible and no one can see my pain, my sense of loss, my loneliness. My shadow is a safe haven where I get to become one with my grief.
The boys are a light that draws me out from my shadow. Hospice and my faith is a light that draws me out from my shadow.
The grief of losing a child is not only on high days and holidays. Grief follows you on bad days, good days, every day… It gets into bed with you and awakens with you.
It even permeates your dreams.
Today it is 8 months since Vic died. Not a single day has passed that I have not been acutely aware of the shadow of grief that accompanies me on my journey. Has it become a journey of recovery? No, I doubt it. I think it is too soon. I do have better days…Then I have days where I walk into a supermarket and see Vic’s brand of deodorant or shampoo. I will put out my hand to touch a @$*# tin of deodorant and tears will well up in my eyes.
For heaven’s sake! A stupid tin of deodorant now has the ability to reduce me to tears!
Today I stood outside the Hospice building. It is nearing completion. I experienced a profound sense of achievement. Pride and satisfaction welled up in my heart but disappeared into that massive, gaping hole left by Vic’s death.
“This is because my child died” it rushed through my brain….
Of course someone would have started a Hospice. That I don’t doubt for one second. Maybe the rest of the team would have been involved. Maybe the financial backing would have been better – who knows? The fact remains that the reason I got involved is because my child died and I promised her that her death would not be futile.
Lady Antebellum – Never Alone Lyrics
May the angels protect you
Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when its time to go home
May you always have plenty
The glass never empty
Know in your belly
You’re never alone
May your tears come from laughing
You find friends worth having
With every year passing
They mean more than gold
May you win but stay humble,
Smile more than grumble
And know when you stumble
You’re never alone
Chorus: Never alone
I’ll be in every beat of your heart
When you face the unknown
Wherever you fly
This isn’t goodbye
My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you’re never alone
I have to be honest
As much as I want it
I’m not gonna promise that the cold winds won’t blow
So when hard times have found you
And your fears surround you
Wrap my love around you
You’re never alone
May the angels protect you
Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when its time to go home
And when hard times have found you
And your fears surround you
Wrap my love around you
You’re never alone
My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you’re never alone
This is a very emotional time in all our lives. It is 8 weeks and 2 days since Vic died. We have all lived on our nerves for a long time and although we thought it would be a relief that Vic’s suffering was over, the grief has been overwhelming. Not only for the boys and I but also others that loved Vic…
I know the family is concerned about me. I know their concern stems from love.
I however need to blog. I need to hear from other bereaved parents that I am not going mad. That my grief is normal and that it is okay to grieve for my beautiful child.
I have subscribed to several blogs or sites for bereaved parents and it is not working for me. It is other parents words.
I will however borrow these words from another grieving parent
I would like to share with you my pain but that isn’t possible unless you have lost a child yourself and that I wouldn’t want you to have to experience. So with that being said, I would like to say this. I will try to my best to understand you if you try to understand me. I lost my child. My life will never be the same. I will never be the same again. I will be different from now on. I no longer have the same feelings about anything. Everything in my life has changed from the moment my child left to go to heaven. I will, on some days be very sad and nothing you say will changes that so don’t feel like it is your job to make me feel better on those days, just allow me to be where I am.
When you lose a child you not only lose your reason for living, you lose the motivation to go on. You also lose your sense of self. It takes a long time to come to some kind of understanding for why this has happened, if ever. Of course we who have lost children know we have to go on but we don’t want to hear someone else tell us too. Especially from someone who has not lost a child. It makes me and anyone who has lost a child want to say who are you to tell me that? Did you bury your child? I don’t want this to sound like I don’t appreciate everything you say because I know you mean well, but I just want you to appreciate where I am coming from too. I want you to understand that some of the things you say hurt me and others like me without you really knowing it. I know it must be pretty hard to talk to people like myself, not knowing what to say. That is why I am writing this letter.
If you don’t know what to say, say nothing or just say I’m sorry. That always works for me. If you want to talk ad say my child’s name feel free I would love to hear his name anytime. You not saying his name didn’t make me forget it, or what happened to him. So by all means say his name. When special dates come or holidays come please forgive me if I’m not myself. I just can’t keep it up on those days. I may wish to be by myself so I can think about my child without putting on a front. Most of all I want you to know I’m having a hard time with the death of my child and I am trying my very best to get back into life again. Some days it may look like I have accomplished that, and other days like I am at square one.
This will happen the rest of my life periodically. There are just no words to explain the living hell this feels like. There are no words that could ever do it justice. So please bear with me and give me time and don’t put your own timetable on my grief and let me be the person I am now and not have to live up to the person you think I should be. Allow me my space and time and accept me for me. I will try my best to understand you.
Love, Your Friend in Grief https://www.facebook.com/pages/Whispers-from-Heaven/604565892890783
So, if you are going to read my blog read it through my eyes and see my heart. If you are unable to handle the rawness of my words know that you are reading my soul. Remember that I don’t easily verbalize my emotions and this blog is my coping mechanism.
I have found hundreds of notes and journal entries in a file called “Our Story.” Vic loved my blog and wanted me to share “Our Story”. It was her wish. I will continue to do so.
So, love me in my time of sorrow and allow me to cope whichever way I can…. I love you too and appreciate your caring.