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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31 Days of Grief: Music

This is the song that speaks to my heart most when I think of Georgie.

I can only imagine the joy, the giggles, the cuddles, the love…I can only imagine…

31 Days of Grief: Altar

I do not have an altar dedicated to Georgie as I simply do not think I need one. I do not worship his existence, nor his passing away but a living God. But I do have a lot of memories of Georgie throughout the house, his memory wall, and two corners dedicated to him. One in the kitchen/living area, where we spend most of the time as a family and one in our bedroom.

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As the time passes, I expect that I will remove some of the reminders but not all. Georgie will never, ever be removed from our home nor from our memories. Simply because he has been engraved in our hearts and he will remain there forever.

In both remembrance corners I have two cards that were sent by his nurses. We got loads of cards but these two are extra special as are from two nurses who were so crucial in his care and his hospital journey.

This is what the cards read:

“Georgie was a beautiful, beautiful boy with his gorgeous smile. He had more nurses wrapped around his wee finger than most boys could hope for in a lifetime. It was an absolute privilege to care for such a fantastic wee boy.” (Hannah)

“It was a joy to nurse your son, George. I will always remember Georgie’s smile, soft nature and the effect he had on all the girls. He truly shone.” (Sarah)

And this is how I choose to remember you, darling boy. A happy, shining with happiness and love boy!

Mummy loves you, now and forever more!

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Depths of Perception

imageThis is my entry for the Depths of Perception Ocean Waves Photo Blog Competition.

It is imperfect, just like me as a photography blogger( hence the finger shade in top right hand side corner) but it shows the majestic fierceness of the ocean surprised last December on the Antrim Coast, Northern Ireland.

It was our first and last holiday as a family of four. How very eloquent and relevant for the year that lay ahead of us…How little did we know of pain and suffering and the fierceness of love that goes beyond the grave…

31 Days of Grief: Support

We did receive and feel a lot of support from our friends and church during the months of Georgie’s hospitalisation, his stay in the children’s hospice and after his passing. People were overwhelmingly kind. Getting meals ready. Looking after Emma. Getting people to clean our house or doing it themselves. Sending us flowers. Putting money together to see us through the rough months. Paying for our rent. Buying wee mementos in Georgie’s memory. But unfortunately not all people got it, our need to grieve at our own pace, once Georgie passed away. Surprisingly, it was family members doing or saying the wrong thing that shocked us. And also, members of certain churches who live under the “prosperous Gospel” doctrine who literally ran away as soon as Georgie passed away. Too much of a dose of reality for them, I suppose. I woke up on Friday morning to a shockingly upsetting email from a relative. I will not shame the person or myself by putting it here, the message that was sent to me. But I will link in my reply, in the hope, and only in the hope that people will learn. Learn to respect other people’s pain, even if they are your relatives and you think you are somehow entitled to give opinions by the mere blood connection. Learn to respect that people mourn very differently and very messily. Mourning cannot follow timescales, relationship rules or precepts. Mourning is the complete unveiling of one’s soul and should never, even be criticised or directed, as it is a very personal and intimate journey back to a new “normality”. So, here goes: “Dear Nosey and Insensitive Relative, You clearly speak from the perspective of someone who read a lot of books, knows all the “right” answers but hasn’t experienced the loss of a child. Without wanting to generalise, this has been the attitude from the “strong” side of the family ever since Georgie passed away. Ignore. Dismiss. Don’t acknowledge the loss. Don’t acknowledge the pain. Give unrequested and unnecessary advice and personal opinions and views. This hasn’t helped. Not one bit.

Did it not occur to you that “guided grieving”, read not a single flipping mention of our baby boy and his passing away, can lead to dangerous patterns of behaviour and harmful relationships? Because, dear relative, ignoring pain instead of expressing it, leads only to repressed feelings, anger and later on a very toxic and literally life-threatening explosion of emotion.
I don’t even know why I am writing this email. I know you will not allow it to break your wall of defenses and “I know betters”. I know it will not help you grieve for Georgie as in sitting down and actually allowing the realisation of his passing devastate your world. I know you will most likely rationalise your pain and push it aside. And that is ok. It is your choice.
But dear relative, MY baby died and I have the right to grieve in any way I choose to, without anyone attempting to mould and “guide” that process. And make me feel bad about the way I relate to the rest of my family during these very fresh stages of grief. I still function. My first child still gets washed and fed and taken to school. My husband still gets his warm dinners on the table and his laundry done. I grieve alongside living, as any healthy individual does.
Have a lovely day.”
My next blog post will reveal how precious my baby was, in the eyes and perception of the ones who knew him and looked after him, his nurses and our friends.
10308353_10152050475116512_8966196071248220921_nGeorgie was so loved, so very loved by everyone who met him.
How can anyone choose to ignore his existence and tell me to “move on” is beyond my ability to comprehend.
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