No next stage…

November should have been such a happy month in our household!

It is Emma’s birthday and she will be turning 5, which means it is time for me to start looking for deals on booster car seats((I found a good range on Tesco Direct).
Today, Georgie should have been nine months too.

At five, Emma gets to move into a “big girl” car seat, which she has been looking forward to forever!
At nine months Georgie would have progressed in to his toddler car seat, the group 1, front facing, easier to make eye contact with mummy one.

I have been pretty good at avoiding things that make my heart sore.

I have found myself avoiding baby clothing websites and nappy aisles as soon as he passed away. But the car seat remains a landmark in my mind, seared in my memory.

Emma gets to move on, as any child should naturally do. She has grown so fast over the summer and fits well into 5 to 6 year old clothes and shoes.
Georgie should have been here now too. He should have grown into the next car seat, the one I have lovingly kept and had ready for him. He should have progressed, developed, evolved and not remain at a forever 5 and a half months mark.

It grates at me, like a million other small but significant details, milestones, dates, reminders.
It makes me happy, hopeful, sad and angry and at the same time, seeing Emma grow and develop into such a little madam and knowing that the memories I have of Georgie will be forever static, forever the same.

It is one of those things I will have to learn to live with, I suppose. Not having my baby here comes a web of ramifications and a million of stings and reminders: nappy aisles, car seats, unused toys, clothes he will never grow into and holidays he will never enjoy are only a few things that are still hard, so very hard to get my head around.

I choose to go on living for Emma’s sake, I choose to enjoy living because of my surviving child but part of my heart will stay forever bruised, forever sore because a beautiful baby boy is not here to do the very same.

Disclaimer: we were offered a small incentive in order to mention Tesco in the post. I am not selling my grief, I am trying to live with what has been handed to us.

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31 Days of Grief: Explorative Gratitude

Where am I in my grieving journey and how do I practice gratitude each day?

I am at the beginning, this is all I know. I do feel at times I am in totally uncharted territory. Grief is a deeply personal journey in which you have to allow yourself to go down deep into your emotions in order to find your way out.

I do have days when I think avoiding pain would be easier. But then I also know that I am only cheating myself. Pain is there and avoiding it will only make the outburst more violent, as pain was not meant to be held in. Pain was not meant to be. Full stop.

So I try and grieve a bit each day. Release those pent up emotions as they surge. Talk about them. Cry about my loss. Write a blog post. Shout at God.

It feels almost like looking for the pain in your heart, pulling it out from where it is hiding, the dark corners in which it is most comfortable, and bringing it to light. So that I might live. So that I can learn to live with it, exposed and raw and ugly as it is.

And I am grateful each day. For sunshine. For coffee. For friends. For family. For seasons. For change. For Heaven. For Jesus.

Some days, I need to look for those reasons to be grateful, along with the pain. Drag them out into the light as well.

Some days, even being alive and breathing is reason enough to be grateful.

Some days, it is hard, almost impossible to see any good in the day.

But then, I see Emma. I remember Georgie’s smile. I find the strength to decorate the house for Halloween.

And life carries on.

In its tangled mess of emotions, of pain and sorrow and gratitude and joy, all rolled up together in a big, huge ball of…me.

The light and dark coexist in a grieving parent's heart.

                                                 The light and dark coexist in a grieving parent’s heart.

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31 Days of Grief: Community vs. Retreat

I am running behind with this writing challenge so I will most likely write in clusters of two from now on, especially since we will be travelling to Greece this weekend and will be away the whole Halloween week.

Last week we remembered, as a community of bereaved parents, our lost children. It was a bitter sweet evening, seeing the Internet light up with candles and the realisation that so many beloved souls are away, waiting for us in Heaven.

We also took Saturday evening to spend with local bereaved families, get to know them and their surviving children and remember together our babies, gone too soon. I am so grateful for this community to which we were only introduced this September and I am so thankful that we do not have to do this journey alone. The pain of losing a child is terrible but carrying the burden alone is equally painful. I am also grateful for the fact that Emma has found friends among the children present there and she now understands that we are not alone in having lost a precious baby.

10703651_10152307465366512_63361641477484324_nLast weekend proved very emotional for me. Then came the two unkind emails I wrote about. So this past weekend I decided to shut off completely. I didn’t go to church, I didn’t get out of bed early on Sunday, I spent Saturday afternoon in complete bed rest and I ate a lot of crap. Time to recoup, regain strength, look after myself.

This doesn’t mean my mind has had a rest but. The reality of our baby gone too soon is always there. It’s just that some days I need to be left alone with my pain.

Mummy loves you, Baba Boo. She never stopped loving you, thinking of you, missing you, wishing you were here! You are always here, in my thoughts, in my heart, in my empty arms! Love you, now and forever more, Georgie boy!

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Silent Sunday-19/10/2014

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31 Days of Grief: Dark/Light

This post was supposed to be about the dark and the positive sides of the grieving process.

But I have decided to write instead about the negative people that come into your life during your grieving process, how you identify them, how you mute and eventually remove them from your life, if the negativity becomes unbearable.

As you might know, if you have been following my blog for a while, last week I got quite a nasty email from a relative telling me how to grieve, trying to make me feel guilty about the way I choose to remember “my second born” and how my grieving, in all its mess and intensity, is affecting my family. I decided to blog about it in the hope that it will be a lesson, first for the person in case and then, for relatives who are genuinely trying to help a grieving parent but don’t know what are the wrong or the right things to be said or done in such a sensitive situation.

I hoped this episode will end with my reply and possibly with my blog post.

But oh well, surprise, surprise, it hasn’t…

So, here is what I learned and encourage other grieving parents to be aware of:

1. Some people just have to make EVERYTHING about themselves. No matter that your child has died and you want to be left alone, you will receive unrequested advice, shoved down your throat in the “most loving of ways” and when you politely reply denying any assistance, you will be told that YOU are playing the victim. That you “hold on to your grief as a badge of honor and’ you’re suffering more than Christ himself, and more than His mother'”.  Yes, she really said that…

2. Some people just have to have the last word. It doesn’t matter if that word cuts you to the bone and leaves you for dead. So, again,  quote from “Hemingway, who had many tragedies in his life worth noting: “Forget your personal tragedy; We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously.  But when you get the damned hurt use it-don’t cheat with it.”  So, yes, if you can’t get your point across, just destroy people’s illusions of being gifted as writers, as they are not Hemingway, at the end of the day, so bitch it!

3. Some people never grow up. You would be surprised to know this email doesn’t come from a teenager in body. But hey, in my perception, some people never mature in mind and experience so everything that life throws at them, they approach it as they did as teenagers. Full stop.

4. Some people are so miserable they have to make your life miserable too. Or imply your life is as miserable as theirs. We haven’t seen this relative for a whole year and a half or so. She lives nowhere near us. And yet, and yet, she knows how I live, how I treat my family, the ins and outs of our privacy. Psychic gifting, I suppose.

5. Some people just can’t handle themselves around pain. So they will avoid it at any price. Even relationships get traded in the equation, as it is easier to be lonely and self-righteous rather than open and vulnerable and accountable for hurtful outbursts.

6. Some people need to “fix” your life. And diagnose you. And label you. And degrade you. From a distance. And it says so much about you as a person, right?

This is the second time this happens to me with Greek women. I know not all Greek women are the same. And that it is most likely a personal trait, rather than a cultural one.

But hey, what’s with the labeling? How do you know I have “self-destructive” relationships, how can you tell “I allow my grief to toss me about and drive me to make choices that do not free me-do not allow my grieving to help me and heal me-it’s almost like you want to harm myself“, when we don’t even live in the same country, when you don’t know my friends, when you haven’t even talked to my husband in months? How on earth can you tell? Oh, the psychic gifting again, of course…

7.Some people feed, live, breathe controversy. They like to create waves. Antagonize people. Stand out. Hurt others for the sake of getting their own voice heard.

8. Some people just make everything into a general lesson of life. If I let you read the emails received, you will notice that the advice given is very general. It is from a text book for a text book person. Not acknowledging in any way that grief and its expression is very personal and very varied.

10001545_10152760715304246_2821366481192034504_nNow, let me tell you this, grieving parent, mourning includes anger, pain, depression, shouting, giving off to God, feeling sick with life and with people. It is okay to feel all of these at once, for a long time, or separate. It is okay to express them as well. Cry, shout, throw things around, go and get counseling if you feel like it, ask for anti-depression pills if you think you need them, fill your house with reminders or strip it of them, as you see fit.

Because let me tell you something, grieving parent. You are entitled to wear your pain in any way you need to. As a badge. As a shield. As a banner. As a starting or finishing line.

Don’t let people feed crap into your life. Your pain is enough crap to be handled for a lifetime.

Free yourself from people who just don’t get it and surround yourself with people that do. My next blog post will speak about them, the wonderful support network I have created and am very grateful for.

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#EarlyBird Challenge

Ever since we lost Georgie my emotions have been all over the place. I have days when I am doing well but I have days when all I want to do is pull the covers over my head and hide in bed all day.

The latter option is not really a viable choice since I have Emma who needs to get up, dressed, fed and into school before 8.45 every week morning.

So I have had to come up with incentives and things that make getting out of bed each morning a bit easier.

Here is some things that are working for me at the moment:

1. Choosing what to wear from the night before and always going for bright colours when possible!

10311121_1530845587149471_1112397206_n2. Going for a treat-size breakfast once in a while

10707171_1558942527662127_998924835_n3. On grumpy mornings, choose favourite flavoured coffees or teas that entice and awaken my senses

923815_716446421783620_1861944923_n4. Get myself motivated and ready to face the day with an inspirational quote that reminds me that life is beautiful and worth living

10727571_981784798503889_1737738822_n5. Have fun preparing Emma’s lunch box (this week’s theme has been Halloween, obviously!)

10724132_826857210679296_465509999_n6. Set myself a walking challenge once Emma is in school and capture the beauty of the day/place in pictures.

10706865_374412919376205_1897132389_n7. Once in a while, do something spontaneous like driving up to the top of the hill on a sunny morning just to take pictures and enjoy the view

DSC_0610 8. Take time and enjoy each other’s company at the weekend

DSC_05899. Learn to appreciate the beauty of small but significant things, like a sunny and bright morning

DSC_062210. Learn to see beauty in everything, even in the ordinary and in the “weeds” of life.

DSC_0592This blog post has been encouraged by the #EarlybirdChallenge Campaign, organised by the FreeOfficeFinder, that encourages people to reclaim their time and make the most of every minute of the day.

Seize the day, enjoy every moment, life is precious!

31 Days of Grief: Season

Carly Marie’s prompt for today for our Capture Your Grief journey is season.

What season do I associate Georgie with?

When I think of Georgie the expression “tender shoot” from Isaiah 53:2 comes to mind: “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” The verse is a prophecy and refers to Jesus. But I do think God brings it to my mind as a comfort, as a reminder of the One who died as a Son so I know I have the understanding of the Father.
So for me, Georgie is associated with spring. He was young when he passed away, like a wee little lamb. My wee lamb, my sweet boy, my fragile yet so strong in the spirit fighter.

I do have this image of him last spring. He was tired and he was sleeping while we went to visit a local farm. For some reason, this image is very precious to me as is it one of the very few I have of him out, free of wires and medical devices. My gorgeous baby boy resting…Resting now in the arms of his shepherd.

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