World Vision: A Night of Hope

Last year was the first year I blogged about the World Vision initiative, a night of hope. I found it important, at a time when the children in our privileged world stuff themselves with treats and have fun pretending to experience fear, to remember the ones for whom fear is a daily fact and occurrence.

World Vision has kindly invited me to be part of their yearly Night of Hope Halloween campaign. This year the focus is the Syrian children and we are all invited to carve a heart in a pumpkin thinking of them, write them a letter telling them we care and make a donation to show them our support.

So, here is my picture and my letter:

10731459_742206259168669_207750622_n“Dear little ones,

I am so, so sorry for the hard times we have been having. I am sooo sorry you had to see things you were never meant to see.

If only I could, I would give you all a tight hug. If only I had the power, I would rewind the time and put you back into your homes, along with your parents and siblings. If only I could, I would stop the violence and make your world ok again.

I am a mummy too, a mummy who has lost a precious boy. Not to human meanness, not to war atrocities but to illness.

So I understand pain. I understand sorrow. And I also know what a difference a small gesture of kindness can make in a gloomy world.

I have another child, a four-year old girl who loves children. She has heard about you all and has helped her daddy carve a heart, showing our love for you, into our seasonal pumpkin. I am sure you don’t have the pumpkin habit in your country. You probably feed them to the hungry animals. But here, we use them to decorate our homes. And this year, we will use ours to remember you all, say a prayer for you and send you a small token of our love.

Be blessed, little ones, be blessed with joy and peace and healing!”

If you want to join in the initiative, all you need to do is text HEART to 70060 to donate £5 to help make Syrian children’s lives a little brighter.

See below how you money will make a difference:

Brioche Pasquier Autumn Picnic

Back in October we were privileged to be picked by Brioche Pasquier to sample and write a review about their lovely milk chocolate rolls and brioche sliced loaf. They were also extremely kind to send us a voucher so we can create an autumn picnic for the family.

The lovely offering came presented into a cute picnic basket and it arrived bang on time as we were heading out for a weekend away to Newcastle. Emma was absolutely thrilled with the chocolate rolls and devoured a good few before we even arrived at our destination!

10721071_10152287253221512_1658591759_nI sampled the brioche loaf the following morning and I found it delightful, reminding me of my mum’s Easter cakes, full of flavour and incredibly soft. I had it toasted with a cup of coffee, bliss!!

We came home and since Halloween was approaching I decided to use our Halloween molds to cut out cute shapes for Emma’s afternoon snack. Winner, once again, the loaf was perfect for shape cutting and Emma enjoyed her seasonal snack to the full!

10724706_749982905081376_694082518_nWe are heading away today so last night I made use of our gifted Sainsbury’s voucher and recreated another lovely picnic. Have a wee look at the bounty of goodies:

10613029_10152331504841512_4192641522794850242_nThank you, Tots100 and Brioche Pasquier for making our times away from home so very special and introducing us to a lovely and yummy range of products we will be buying time and again!

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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