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Grieving journey

I haven’t written about our grieving journey for a while.

But I live with grief, as an unwelcome foe that was propelled into my life.

I cannot shake the reality of it.

Oh, how I wish!

I know that I have written before about the do’s and don’ts when it comes to dealing with grieving parents.

Recently, I have felt the need of a new post, to include new strategies for coping with it and also hurtful things you SHOULD NEVER say to a hurting parent.

1. Don’t say “I could become like you by spending too much time in your company.”

I get it, it is depressing and off putting to watch someone mop around over their dead child.

But guess what?

We did no choose to be in this position either and I would give anything not to be there.

Even my own life, to bring my child back and give him a future on this earth.

2. Don’t say: “I do not understand you.”

We know that, we truly do.

As bereaved parents, we learn to act differently around people who haven’t experienced loss. We put up a front and move on with things on a daily basis.

But it is so very nice when people use their empathy skills and put themselves in our shoes, even for a moment.

And then, when they look at things from our perspective and come up with statements that show that they have truly visited the uncharted territory of grief.

When they say: “I get it.” Even if they get it only partially and fractionally.

We are grateful when we are not made to feel like pariahs.

3. Don’t give us all the details

– My baby was seriously ill but you found out you were expecting on the day you visited him in the hospital. Congrats. But I really DON’T NEED to know all the details. I promise I have better things to do than count the days back from when your child is born to realise he or she was conceived around the same time mine was diagnosed with leukaemia, so please why would you be so cruel and say it to us???

It hurts. It makes me reel at an unjust and cruel existence, God and world.

– My baby died but yours has just seen a “miracle” happening in his life. Congrats. But I DON’T NEED to know. Please don’t share your news with me in this way. A private text saying he is doing better than expected was all that was needed and would have been so, so appreciated.

It makes me feel second-class. As if God had favourites and my baby didn’t make it on the list and yours did.

4. Word your statements carefully.

I do not mean tiptoe around a bereaved parent but please be more aware of what comes out of your mouth.

I was reading the other day on another bereaved mummy’s blog about different very hurtful statements people made around them:

“God heals.”

“God didn’t heal your child because of YOUR lack of faith.”

I do not deny that God does heal in certain circumstances. I have been following little Ellis’ story on Journey of Sarah and I am thrilled that she is doing so well. But to date, and I am well into my 30s, this is the ONLY miracle I know of.

So do you think it is really necessary to come up with such a statement around a hurting parent? I think not!

5. Accept our withdrawal

Many times, our withdrawal is simply a coping and surviving mechanism.

I have nothing personal against the 150 people I have un-friended on Facebook at Christmas.

But I cannot allow silent gawking into our private lives.

I have nothing personal against people or social circles from whose companies I have withdrawn.

In some cases, I have considered it was better for all involved, since grief had no place in the rhetoric of the place.

In other cases, I have withdrawn because I felt silently criticised and “lovingly and spiritually” found lacking in whatever it was, as soon as I wrote about quitting the Church. I saw it in the way people withdrew from interacting with my grieving posts almost immediately.

And it hurt.

Because I was at my most vulnerable and all they could come up was holy “tstststs” at me for questioning God,  the Church as a viable institution in the present day and age, the beliefs we were passed on from when we were children…

If I remember well, and it is in that Bible they all carry about with them on Sundays, David, the great David, had similar moments of “weakness” and doubt and questioning. And he became the great leader he became because he had to figure out by himself, in the darkness of despair, what he really believed in.

If he was allowed, why am I not?

In some cases, I have withdrawn because I realised my pain and anger was too much to bear. And I had to pull back to give people breathing space.

So,please, respect that and understand my intentions.

6. Give us permission to be

I am a wreck.

I have not hidden it from anyone.

It takes a simple text to give me splitting headaches and to get my body really down.

I have had the flu four times this winter.

And every time, I came to realise, it has been related to people not understanding.

Accusing.

Guiding my grieving process.

Putting time limits or measures to what or how I can do as a bereaved parent.

Hear me out.

If you only take one thing from this post, let it be this:

Give us permission to grieve the way we need to!

We are carrying very heavy burdens in our hearts.

Burdens that become unbearable when anything else is added.

Please keep your drama to yourselves.

And let us walk this lonely and rough path as well as we can.

Love

Emma’s March reviews

Emma has been very lucky lately and has been gifted, for reviewing purposes, loads and loads of wonderful books and interesting gadgets.

I will start with the Little Tiger Press with whom we have started a beautiful collaboration recently and who have already sent Emma a couple of their brand new and very well designed items:

10946415_348458908681080_1954996932_n9781848959644-04-600x600Both the Animal Jigsaw and the What’s the Time, Clockodile? are aimed at children aged 3-5. I was a bit worried Emma would find the puzzle too easy but as you can see from the picture above, she used it as background for her jungle imaginary play. As for the book, I love the fact that the minutes are marked on the clock, I am assuming this will be a very useful tool in explaining time to Emma and her grasping the concept easily.

Both the puzzle and the book are made out of robust cardboard and are beautifully illustrated and will catch the attention of both young and school children equally.

Emma has also received two wonderful books that have sparked her imagination with regards to a future career and have encouraged her to think outside the box when it comes to men vs. women’s jobs.

11018517_930942180284312_1798738561_nWhat do grown-ups do? is a beautifully illustrated, informative series of seven books written by Mairi McLellan. Emma reviewed the previous books in the series, about Fiona the doctor and Richard the vet and since she did such a good job with it :-), she was offered the latest one, about Gordon Buchanan, the famous Scottish wildlife film maker.

The books are aimed at older children but we were able to scan through and find out a lot of very interesting facts about what life as a wildlife photographer really is like.

The series is recommended as a useful tool in “encouraging children to develop enterprising attitudes” and has won rewards across the country and overseas and Bronze at the Children’s Moonbeam Awards.

Excellent for children with keen interest in learning from an early age about professional opportunities that lie ahead.

Tara Binns’ Eagle-Eyed Pilot is a book very, very close to my heart. “Aimed to raise girls’ aspirations and offer them something inspiring, exciting and adventurous to read,” the book has become well loved in our household. The book offers not only the opportunity to dream about being a pilot but also the occasion to solve problems and come to the rescue situations, which I find very empowering a message for a little girl!

“Giving little girls big ideas” is a good motto and I subscribe to it entirely!

And as ambitious as it may seem, Emma’s (and daddy’s) next project is a bit different from the usual Lego town ones they have been working on since winter.

Emma was sent a hydraulic robotic arm kit to assemble with a bit of help and ignoring the fact that it is classed as a “boy toy”, I will be thrilled to see her having a go at figuring out its mechanisms and having fun with it!

As you can see, we have had loads of fun this month with our reviews. Stay tuned, new things are headed our way this month as well and we will write about them soon!

#Better With Cake

As you know, we left for France for our holidays shortly after Easter.

Unfortunately, the Easter bunny(to read, our mailman) wasn’t on time bringing our lovely Mr. Kipling review cakes before we left.

The good news was that upon arrival we had a lovely parcel full of yummies waiting to be devoured sampled.

924461_955663297807512_944924940_nSince Emma has loved France and the whole travelling experience and is now very interested in anything French, I decided to play up with the theme a bit this morning. I included one of our Mr Kipling French fancies in her lunch box today, alongside the French flag and a Ratatouille water bottle we got in France.

11084656_1431416933821618_811558821_nBecause lunch boxes don’t have to be boring, even if they contain more or less the same thing every day. Because we don’t have to wait for the extraordinarily to happen to teach our children something new and exciting. And because, at the end of the day, life is always better with cake!

This post is an entry for #BetterWithCake Linky Challenge, sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes.

I am going to BritMums!

170X170livThis would be the first year I attend BritMums in London and to be honest, I am both excited and apprehensive!

I am excited I will meet so many lovely bloggers, whom I have been following and befriending and admiring for ages!

I am apprehensive because I am not very good with names, especially now, after losing Georgie.

So the lovely people from Simoney Badges have decided to make things a little bit easier for me and have offered a number of mummy bloggers, including myself, the opportunity to create a personalised badge with their name and the name of their blog.

11142983_2246076345531592_1092451651_nIf you are a blogger attending BritMums this year, please look for the dragonfly badge! Feel free to introduce yourself, give me a squeeze and make friends with me!

Looking forward to seeing everybody there!

Five Travelling Tips

As you know from my last post,  we have been on holidays for a week, seeing family in France.

This is the first time we have travelled by car, as we have felt Emma is old enough to cope with long journeys and fully capable of entertaining herself in the back seat.

Here are five tips we wish we had been given before starting on this long driving journey:

1. Allow for stops along the way.

There has been a hilarious incident on a French motorway involving an emergency lay-by and a little girl who was bursting to go to the toilet! Those lay-byes will forever be engraved in our memories as “pee pee spots” and needless to say, Alex has learned his lesson now and is unlikely to ever miss a filling station or services sign again :-)!

P1000852-664x3682. Allow for ample travelling time and enjoy the landmarks on the way.

As soon as we touched dry land in Cherbourg, Normandy, we wanted to explore. We took a little detour and visited Omaha beach and enjoyed telling Emma all about the history behind it.

11055992_1650615598492970_988332086_nWe spent our first night in Caen and we found it absolutely charming. But we woke up late, had to organise lunch for the long drive ahead of us from the open air market and didn’t have the time to visit the old town. By the way, many thanks to the Moroccan lady who was selling the beautiful chicken stew, it was thoroughly enjoyed a few hours later as a picnic in the sun!

markets_headThe good thing is that we now want to visit Caen again as we know there is still loads more to explore. But it would have been lovely to be able to spend another couple of hours there, taking pictures and making memories.

3. Choose your accommodation carefully.

We enjoyed a beautiful, family run B&B in Caen. It was Alex’s treat to us and we enjoyed nice, comfortable rooms, beautiful and carefully restored antique decor and a wonderful homemade breakfast of French pastries and “chocolat chaud.”

10005247_1375455849451242_908663516_n11137958_812851465475343_1622985511_nAlex attributed his golden find to Booking.com settings and the available option to choose according to customer ratings.

I was not as wise. I had the responsibility to choose our stay in Limoges and I went for Meadow View Gite, a “villa” located in a picturesque village, close to where my brother lives.

Or so the pictures promised.

39644034The reality was disappointing.

After a whole day of travelling we found ourselves in an isolated village in the middle of nowhere, with no swimming pool in sight (it was actually behind the owners’ own residence), as promised in deceiving pictures and a large village house that was clearly not ready for guests. No heating, no hot water, two radiators dragged in from the garage after we arrived. No hosting efforts displayed and only greed as a motivation.

Which leads me to the next tip:

4. Don’t let a rotten egg spoil the tart, so to say :-)

We decided to leave the freezing cold village house behind and after another hour’s drive found ourselves in a superior room in a more than decent hotel in Limoges.

At the same price as the “villa” but with heating, amenities next door (they had a small Carrefour next door, from where we purchased everything we needed for our stay) and a superb location(walking distance from Limoges’ old town and the famous Cafe Paul!), this was definitely a winner.

We ended up enjoying much more than we would have done had we stayed in the remote village I had initially and unwisely picked…

11111488_862139920544590_1020028826_n11032881_579772652125892_404509536_n5. Take advantage of your location

After seeing family and visiting for a couple of days, we decided to make our way back to Cherbourg via Nantes.

10483363_678706302257586_225855155_nWe enjoyed a beautiful evening exploring the local parks and the town. The glorious, warm weather and the sun made everything look magical:

11094510_712963822145964_1841176350_n10684249_1424150297900383_69955124_nWe rested in Orvault, in another excellent B&B, Château de la Garnison, with a lot of history and beautiful, carefully renovated, full of character rooms:

20141120_090615_resizedWe enjoyed their Henry James room and the delightful and discreet company of our hosting family.

11142765_810224909027503_1208753791_n

11116847_835170366565770_1236483555_nThe following morning we decided to take Emma to a very special museum for children, Machines de l’Ile de Nantes.

“Born from the François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice’s imagination, it is at crossroads of Jules Verne’s “invented worlds”, of the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and of Nantes’ industrial history, on the exceptional site of the former shipyards.”

And it is a place we really wanted Emma to experience and enjoy, even for a morning!

We got to see the Grand Éléphant, in all its mechanical splendor, to Emma’s trepidation and delight, as well as the strange and ingenious bestiary of machines:

11142894_1405591396426527_86184818_n10251336_1433724336928475_2010724029_nWe had to be in Cherbourg for early evening but we found ourselves with enough time in our hands to visit Mont Saint Michel, as it was on the way! It was only a quick glance as the weather had turned torrid and the clock was ticking by now but we truly were glad for the opportunity to see such a beautiful place, even from afar:

We spent a delightful week in France and we feel enriched by the experience and ready to explore more of this beautiful country in a similar manner.

Hope you find our travelling tips useful.

For now, we bid you “au revoir”, France, and we will miss your pain au chocolat and your beautiful scenery.

Les Braves

1100px-Omaha_Beach_NowadaysToday, we landed in Normandy, France.

It is our first time in this part of the world. We are here to visit family, to enjoy some time together and create memories.

On the way, we decided to stop on the Omaha Beach to pay our respects to the thousands who died here on June the 6th, 1944.

We did it with reverence.

Having witnessed the death of our precious son last July, I do not take pain, especially a mother’s pain, lightly.

On Omaha beach, the suffering of over 3000 mothers was incurred by machine guns,  vain ambitions and grandomania.

It was almost overwhelming to set foot on the same beach where so many dreams and hopes and lives were shattered in a matter of mere hours.

But what I didn’t know is that the beach is now guarded by Les Braves, a war monument erected in the memory of the thousands of American soldiers fallen there.

11084937_1402212546764099_1644865813_n

Very appropriately, the memorial, as seen in the picture above, marks in its three composing elements Wings of Hope, Rise of Freedom and Wings of Fraternity.

It made me think of our loss, being on the Omaha Beach.

I truly hope that the devastation that death has brought upon us last year will not be the end of the story…

71 years from now, I wish our lives would have been a promise of Hope, a testament of Freedom and a story written in the Fraterity of suffering.

I hope we will be wise and we will not allow the heart-wrenching pain we live with every day to corrode and destroy the hope in the future.

I hope we will never lose sight of the revelation that sorrow has brought upon us and never let a day go to waste. Death has paradoxically freed us of many social and spiritual bonds. I am determined to live in this new found and so very painfully gained new freedom. I am also committed to extend the same grace to anyone around me and be accepting and supportive of anyone in need.

And I truly wish that this story will bring upon the formation of a new Fraternity. The Fraternity of the suffering, the Fraternity of the pained, the Fraternity of the needy.

10729285_843711348998270_906354715_n

Today, on the Omaha beach, where so much suffering and loss was witnessed 71 years ago, we laughed and we enjoyed a moment of freedom.

May our lives and their memories would have left, 71 years from now, a legacy of joy, of freedom and of fraternity.

May our son’s loss not be in vain, just like all those young lives, sacrificed on the shores of Normandy, were not in vain to Europe’s modern history.

Dear Dalriada Doctor

Dear Dalriada Doctor,

I am sorry I inconvenienced you today by phoning twice for a prescription I should have had the consideration to organise before the Easter holidays began.

Mea culpa.

But still, a bit of compassion and respect would have worked wonders, you know?

I get it.

You sounded bored and ready to go home.

Maybe the extra money you are getting for working on a public holiday does not make you happy.

I understand.

Maybe you had been working from 9 in the morning and had had enough of snotty toddlers and drunk youths. Or maybe you were on call last night and you went to see a dying child in the hospice close by your practice. Possible.

But you don’t know my story.

You didn’t scroll long enough through my medical file to see that in July last year, my life changed into a nightmare forever.

I know, it’s been nine months and I should be “over it” by now. After all, my son was only a baby when he died, right, and I can always go and have another one. Like a puppy from a pet shop.

The truth is, and trust me, I did contemplate for a second sharing it with you over the phone, my life is as screwed up now as it was nine months ago.

I still wake up in the middle of the night. Almost every night.

I still forget loads of things. Like birthdays. Conversations. Coffee and lunch dates.

I am still grieving, you see.

Medically, there is nothing wrong with me.

I function, thanks to Fluoxedine and my daughter, who needs me every moment of every day.

But grief makes me forgetful and easily distracted and probably, as you said, disorganised.

I put my family first and end up exhausted and disheveled at the end of the day.

The little energy I have gets consumed easily with thoughts and tears and rage.

On a daily basis.

Yes, I didn’t realise I was running out of pills.

Yes, I should have planned better.

But I think, and correct me if I am wrong, your role there is not to admonish or deter patients but to serve.

I know, I know, I saw the new policy. Don’t use “emergency” services unless necessary.

I was not an emergency.

Not yet, anyway.

But tell me, should I have waited and taken myself off antidepressants and maybe end up jumping off a cliff?

I wouldn’t have been an emergency then either, because I would have been dead…

As I said, I am sorry I have inconvenienced you today.

I will make sure next time I will order my pills in time.

And I truly hope that you will never be at the receiving end of a Dalriada line…

10423270_10152084182716512_293582403789621959_nThis is my son, whose loss I grieve every day. I know you didn’t know. Would you have treated me better if you did, I wonder???