Friday, May 28, 2010

Tainted by grief?

I was waiting in Von's supermarket yesterday, standing in the magazine aisle, surrounded by gossipy rags, which I'll admit I do peruse through occasionally as an escape. :)  I couldn't see where Dempsey was.  For a second I looked, then looked again, she was leaning next to the card stand, picking out cards and reading them.  I smiled to myself, thinking how lovely it was to see her reading all the fun stuff, then I wasn't the birthday cards she was reading, it was the SYMPATHY ones!  I automatically shook my head, thinking "NO!"  And I had to ask myself, has all the death and grief and loss in our family tainted her forever?  Has grief changed her and ruined her too?  My questionable thoughts were answered not by a shrink or a counsellor or a so called expert book, but by my wise beyond her years, seven year old daughter!

I wandered over to her, "What are you reading Precious?"  I asked, trying not to display any sort of emotion so as not to taint her answer, so that she would tell me honestly what she was thinking.  I wasn't sure what would come out of her tiny mouth, but what she told me didn't disappoint, I was so proud of her and who she is....yes, even at the ripe old age of seven! 

"Look at all these cards Mommy, some of them are sad.  I think we should buy this one and send it to Emmy and Charlotte(her cousins, my sister's twins)."  In her hands was a pale pink sympathy card with red roses and a rainbow on the front - "For the loss of your Mother" it said it big bold letters. 

I asked her why we should send it and she said "Because it's so sad that they don't have their Mommy with them like I do."  I put my arm around her and squeezed her tightly with tears in my eyes.  In that instant, I knew that everything we've been through as a family, has changed her too!  However, thanks to grief and what she's been exposed to, she will always be compassionate and thoughtful towards others who are suffering.

Our gorgeous Demps!

Sometimes I get lost in my own pity party and I forget that Dempsey too has missed out on so much through losing her Aunt, then Nannie and of course her sister whom she asks about every few days and who she wishes was here and who she promises me she wouldn't fight with if I could bring her back!  Death and loss and grief rips parts out of your life that other people take for granted......I know I did before I lost my loved ones. 

There was a time when Dempsey would beg me daily for a little brother or sister, increasing my pain and guilt that I couldn't give her the one thing she wanted more than anything else in the world.  But over time, her requests have slowed down, she only mentions it occasionally now, which relieves my guilt just a fraction.  We did try for her, for us, for Savannah, to bring another happy soul into our damaged family, but for some reason it wasn't to be.

For three years Peter and I subjected ourselves to the invasive roller coaster ride of invitro fertilization pre genetic diagnosis testing(where they harvest only healthy embryo's), but for us, for some reason, it wasn't to be. 

And I question why this path in life isn't for our family.  I go over and over the excuses as to "Why NOT us" and I wonder if it's so I can be there for my sister's children, or if Dempsey is meant to have all the attention that she missed out on for the first eighteen months of her life?  But, I have learnt, sometimes there are no answers, or none that make sense anyway, and I'm okay with that now after many soul searching sleepless nights.

We did get some healthy embryos, and we did try, and in the end there came a point where we had to ask ourselves.....When do we give up?  When do we stop trying and be grateful to have HAD two children when some women I met at the clinic had files as big as Bible's...and still no child!  For us, at the time, that whole IVF experience was another thorn in our relationship, another trip down grief lane, more stress and so much heartache, but then that's another story........................................................

The above article was published on the website  they have some interesting and helpful articles for anyone suffering loss or grief.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Mom's story and how it helped me survive my losses!

I opened my inbox today and there was an email where you have to put one word answers to describe things in your life.  One of the things listed was 'your mother' - its difficult to sum up MY mom, but the word that instantly popped into my head was UNFORGETTABLE!

If you think of all the beautiful things in life like a rose bud, the sparkling ocean on a warm day, a newborn baby sleeping or a glowing pink sunset, you will see my Mom.  She was my best friend, confidante, nurturer, biggest supporter and the person responsible for who I am today and for a lot of the reason I am writing this blog to help others.

My beautiful Mom with my nephew Alexander!

Mom had breast cancer when she was forty-five, I was still a teenager and thought I was indestructible, that my mother would always be around.  But as the years passed and I got older and had a daughter of my own I began to dread that her cancer would come back.

When I was pregnant with Savannah, Mom and Dad put their life on hold and moved to Sydney to be with me throughout my growing pregnancy and  birth of our first child Savannah.  They stayed for fourteen months.  Looking back, those days were filled with love and time, something money can't buy!  Time to sit with Mom and just chat over cups of tea....and champagne.:)   I felt privileged to watch her shower Savannah with kisses, raspberries, tickles and love.  Savannah had her second name, Beverley, and they seemed to share a bond, one which I never thought would extend to both of them dying slowly at the same time before my eyes.

As I wrote in my sister's story, after Mom and Dad left us they moved to my sister Tarnia's small country town to help her with her instantly doubled brood after Tarnia had twin girls.  It was only a few short months later that Tarnia was killed and Mom and Dad' became not only grandparents, but surrogate mom's to my sister's four children.  For a long time after Tarnia died, my mother's spirit disappeared.  Tarnia's death brought sadness and grief into her world and I felt helpless that I couldn't erase her pain as she had for me over the years.

Mom never complained however, over time she began to look at the positives in Tarnia's death, how she had loved her and had her for thirty-nine years and how through the children Tarnia would always live on.  She set such an example and gave me strength through the grace she showed while suffering that without knowing it, she would help me survive my greatest loss, the death of my first born daughter too!  

Around this time, Peter was given an opportunity to work in the USA, so we sold our home in Sydney, moved to Tarnia's tiny town to help Mom and Dad before our move to Los Angeles.  It was then that Mom's cancer returned, this time in her ovaries, within a year of Tarnia's death!  I lived in denial of her dying for a long time.  I couldn't accept the fact that one day soon I wouldn't be able to pick up the phone and call her or feel her arms around me in a big bear hug.

And then Savannah was diagnosed, out of the blue with her fatal illness, it was a shock to everyone, no-one more than Mom, who's heart seemed to break all over again.  There was a renewed sadness in her face and we shared many talks on surviving Savannah's death.  Mom set a foundation of steel in my mind that I WOULD cope and and love Savannah and do whatever was in my power to make her last months special, to focus on her 'living' instead of her 'dying'.  She also provided me with a knee to curl up on and sob and warm all encompassing hugs where I felt safe and believed and could pretend everything would be okay.

Mom battled her cancer with dignity and a fierce passion to live, she taught me to appreciate the simple things like a sun drenched morning where the birds were singing and there was dew on her roses.  She taught me a positive outlook can have a tremendous impact on how you face each day, even if it is with more pain.

I helped nurse her in the months leading up to her death.  Savannah, Dempsey and me would visit, squash into her bed beside her and enjoy her encouraging thoughts and laughter.  Savannah seemed to be in sync with her Nannie, fading away into a little girl that resembled more of a rag doll than my energetic toddler from just a few months before.  Those days were tough, like an out of control freight train...not just for me but for my nephews and nieces, brother and father who loved and needed Mom as much as I did and do.

Mom died on a cool Spring night in November, and in her typical style, did it her way with elegance and on her own.  I'd only left her side for ten minutes to nurse Dempsey to sleep when I received my third phone was Dad, telling me Mom had gone! 

As I said my final goodbyes to her, I dabbed her Youth Dew perfume on her neck and lay down beside her, breathing her essence in, and just for a second, it seemed like she was still with me.  The last memory I have of my adored Mom is of her lying peacefully with her hands clasped across her chest.  She was always so proud of her hands!

But this isn't where my Mom's story ends, she will always live on through me and through the wisdom and compassion she instilled inside me.  When I experience a gorgeous sunny day now I think of her and imagine her sitting outside on her favorite cane chair and I think "Mom would love this day!"

And my dear adored Dad, who misses Mom so much too, now has sunshine in his blue cup.  You see two years ago he met a wonderful lady in her seventies, Brenda, who was also a widower.  Last year we were blessed to have a wedding in the family, one where the average age of the guests was seventy!  The new love and passion for life my Dad has discovered through Brenda, our 'new' mom, proves to me again that life goes on and can be extraordinary again, but then that's another story...........

Dad and Brenda's wedding with Demps, and my sister's twins as flower girls!

Note;  one of the things that helps me is to think of five things I am grateful for every night before I go to sleep, you can try this, or write them down in a beautiful journal you can start......its a way that's helped me to appreciate the little things in life that are now big things that help put sunshine in my blue cup! :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our Saturday filled with sunshine!

I thought today I'd try and fill your cup with sunshine if it's blue with some images of 'our' Saturday.........but to post Saturday's images, I have to start with Friday!

Friday night is always 'Happy Hour' at the Doyle's....where our friends arrive through our front gate with crackers and cheese and coolers and hugs and gather around our back Table and catch up on the latest goings on....where we sometimes drink too many beers and red wine and laugh a little too loud and sit up a little too late......but where we all love and support each other.....and for our Aussie friends, it's a safety haven, a home away from home.

So this morning, while gathering up the empty wine glasses and scraping the leftovers from the dinner plates.....and other remnants from the night before......I could hear my favorite sound....Dempsey laughing from the lounge room......yesterday, Peter bought a Wii for the family! :)

As you can see Dempsey is still in her jammies, learning the ropes of the new Wii while her Daddy has parked himself on the couch, relaxing after a late night!

Then it's off to our favorite lunch spot........'Chic-fil-A', where the warm welcome from the lady that cleans the tables started to fill my blue cup today......every week her beaming smile and "How are you today?" Spanish, along with her cheerful attitude makes me smile and warms my heart.

'Michael's' craft store was next for some frames for Dempsey's paintings....then we quickly swung by Toy's R Us for something for Mommy this time!

I think Peter thinks after all that Chic-fil-A and ice cream I need to start working out......and he's right!  :)

So Peter and Dempsey are looking like fools at the moment, yelling at the TV and waving their arms as if they are in a boxing match.....its making me laugh and appreciate 'family time.' today.

And "voila"  here are Dempsey's artwork from school.........I've carefully dated and taped these precious masterpiece's into their new homes and placed them on the mantle above our fireplace.....and next to Savannah's shelf!

Hoping your Saturday is filled with sunshine today! :) x

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Letting go of fears of the "What If's" after loss.

I'll be glad when 3.10pm arrives today, when the gates to Dempsey's school are swung open and all the mom's that are gathered patiently waiting are swamped by noisy kids.  You see today, Dempsey has gone on her first school field trip...........without me! 

For the past few days I've had this terrible knot of fear inside that is swallowing me up and sucking the energy out of me.......and I'm wondering when or if I'll ever be able to loosen the grip of terror of something happening to my child and trust others with the safety of my daughter.  Anyone that's suffered loss and grief often has a feeling of vulnerablility of losing someone else they love.

A few days ago in front of a class of seven year olds, I unashamedly begged her teacher to let me follow the school bus to their destination....not realizing how silly I must have sounded to a sane teacher, another mother, but one who hasn't lost a child and hasn't been to the depths of despair as I have.  I wondered what she was thinking but didn't wait for her answer as I babbled on how I knew she must think I was a paranoid mom, and that I knew all the other children were just as precious as mine......and after getting her blessing...."OK Mrs Doyle, you can follow the bus!"  I dragged Dempsey to our car with tears in my eyes.

I felt foolish and incompetent as a mother, not to trust the system and trust the other moms will look out for my baby like their own.  And I wondered when or if ever I'll be able to let go of my fears of losing her too.  I know in a heartbeat life can change......all it takes is a moment and a phone call.  But I decided I had to tackle my obsessive thoughts and NOT go with her.

Sometimes I wish I was a naive mother, oblivious of the "what ifs" and accept the "what will be's".  I have to learn to trust the universe is unfolding just the way it should be and that I can't change fate no matter how hard I try.  And today I tried, believe me....I made Dempsey memorize our phone number over and over until she told me to "Stop Mommy!", I even wrote it down on the palm of her tiny hand with a sharpie in big bold numbers.  I kissed her goodbye outside the school gate and said a prayer that she'll stay safe today.

However, amongst my fears today was the reinforcement that a small act of kindness from a friend can fill you with warmth and help you get through a tough day.

The phone was ringing when I walked back into our was one of the other mom's that is as paranoid as me, well maybe not quite as bad as me :) inviting me for a coffee to take my mind off things.  So feeling down in the dumps I took up her offer.

Sitting in the coffee shop we discussed my fears, and hers, and I felt so much better, knowing there was someone who reached out to me, offering her support.  It brought me a lot of comfort today....then, amongst the fresh coffee aroma and cinnamon muffins on the table, my cell phone started to be honest, my heart stopped for a second as I heard Dempsey's teachers voice on the other end of the line......"Mrs Doyle, there's someone here that wants to say something to you!"  As my heart beat faster I heard Dempsey's gorgeous tiny voice say "Hi Mommy, I'm having so much fun, we are at a park."  I smiled and swallowed the lump in my throat and told her I was so happy she was having a great time and that I'd see her this afternoon."  "I love you Mommy!"  she said before the teachers smiling voice came back on the line. 

Her teacher will never know how much comfort that one minute phone call gave me and how much I appreciated knowing my fears were acknowledged but that everything was going to be okay.

So today has been a good lesson to me, to acknowledge my fears but try NOT to let them rule my life as they have done in the past few accept the inevitable and try NOT to dwell on the negatives of my demons and spoil my daughter's experiences.  I have to look at the wonderful positive things Dempsey will go through today, like riding on a big bus and delighting in watching her first play, surrounded by her classmates and the sunshine.

I feel blessed to have such compassionate friends and peers that understand how tough some situations can be.......but I'll still be happier when I have Dempsey's warm hand in mine this afternoon as I walk back to my car, listening to the tales of her day, with her dimpled smile and enthusiasm....and also, thanks to others, today, my blue cup will be filled with sunshine! :) x

ps; todays post is for Barb...thank you my friend :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Way's you can honor a loved one who has died.

(Note; today's post is for Sara.....I hope you can do something special in honor of your beautiful baby boy to ease your pain....even if its just a little. x)

Have you ever been on a roller coaster when all of a sudden you panic, you want to get off...but you can' feel scared, there's nothing you can do.....your body is engulfed in fear and it seems like YOU aren't in control anymore....that's what grief feels like to me!

One way that helped me control my grief was to find ways to honor those I've lost in a memorable way.  Doing this created some sense of purpose amongst the chaos that followed each of my losses.....that I was in control of at least something in my life. 

There are many ways you can remember a loved one, the following are just some I've done but may help give you some idea's to help bring you comfort and a feeling of purpose amid your suffering.

For Tarnia, my sister, I asked the funeral director to cut off four locks of her shiny brown hair....I tied each one in a blue satin ribbon for her children.  When they are older, they will have something physical of their mother....especially her twin girls, who never knew her.  I also cut Savannah's hair into a bob before they took her.  I have her golden curls carefully hidden away and don't have the courage to take it out and run my fingers through it....but I will one day....most importantly it's hers, and I'm glad I kept it.

We also planted a cherry blossom tree for Tarnia, one that would bloom around the time of her anniversary each year.

My favourite photo of Savannah taken two months before she died

For my adored Mom, I took her favorite lilac silk shirt and gave it to Dempsey as a security blanket.  Dempsey still has what remains of it today on her bedside table, its ragged and dirty but reminds me of Mom!  I wear her engagement ring with pride and her picture sits where I can see it everyday.....I am able to smile now when I look at it.

And for our angel Savannah, there are so many things I did, and do and will continue to as a legacy to her time here with us.  Because of her death, I'm an Ambassador to The Make A Wish Foundation and volunteer at The Let It Be Foundation....these are other things you can do.  But where to start with Savannah...I guess a few days after she died.......

Savannah's life...and death...had a profound effect on alot of our special family in particular honored her in such a unique way.  The day after she died a huge cardboard box was delivered to our door amongst all the floral bouquets.....inside were two golden frames from the International Star Registry.  Our friends named a star in Savannah's honour.....its impossible to describe in words the comfort that fills my heart when I look up in the heavens at night knowing there's a twinkling star named after our precious girl.

Savannah was cremated, I couldn't bear the thought of not having her in our home so as morbid as this may sound to some, she sits in a princess urn, on a special shelf Peter created in our family room, where I can pick her up and still hold her.......amongst Dempsey's toys and drawings and mess and noise and visitors that come into our home.

I searched everywhere for a special candle for her shelf, which is pink with rainbow glass.  I light it and it brings me peace as I feel her spirit is present......its almost buried now in angel figurines, cards and other special special gifts friends have kindly given me. 

However the thing that brings me the most comfort is my gold locket I wear everyday.  You see the locket to other people is just a piece of jewellery, but to me its healing and meaningful as it is a tiny urn that holds some of her ashes.  I feel that a part of her hangs over my heart always....she goes with Peter, Dempsey and me wherever we are.

                                                                  Savannah's shelf

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we planted a rose bush and other families I know have created glorious gardens where they can sit peacefully and contemplate.  A friend that lost her little girl had teddy bears sewn for her two daughters out of her angel's clothing....her remaining girls get so much comfort out of these.

There's quilts and cushions that can be made from clothing, special photo frames, scrapbooking, jewellery and plaster casts........all these wonderful treasures that can immortalize the person you miss so much.

And the final one I did for Savannah, that was so personal and hurt so much, one I also carry with me where nobody else can see it...its just for me in memory of our daughter...a tiny butterfly tattoo!

So I hope some of these things I've done can give you some ideas and bring you comfort and meaning as you travel on your journey and empower you to feel in control, somehow.  I know my collection isn't finished, and never will be........

Wishing you sunshine if your cup is blue today! :) x

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Mother's Day with my signs from heaven!

I always feel I have two Mother's Day's.  You see Australia is seventeen hours ahead of us here in the USA, their Mother's Day occurs on our Saturday.  So on Saturday afternoon I began gearing up for my battle with enemy, one that lurks in the shadows of the day, lying in wait.  I felt a bit of retail therapy would equip me with some much needed ammunition.  I didn't know what it was I wanted but I knew when I found it I would just know it was right.

Peter, Dempsey and I wandered into our local Target store, and there it was, hanging like a bright beacon in front of me.  A stunning, vibrant orange, ruffled tulle tutu.  It transformed my mood as soon as I saw it.  I had to buy it.  My whole life I always wanted a little girl to dress in a tutu, and here was just the one I needed to help get me through Mother's Day.  It looked cheerful and pretty and I knew seeing my beautiful daughter in it would brighten anybody's mood.  I had my first weapon ready for the following morning's combat.

Before I went to bed Saturday night I sat outside in the darkness and looked up to the heavens, I wished my Mom, my sister and my aunt a Happy Mothers Day, and I asked Mom for a sign, anything!  I watched for a shooting star to streak across the sky, but all I saw was the tiny blinking of an airplane tail.....but wait, what was that I heard.  Seeping through our back fence came calming music, that meant something to ME!  Our neighbors daughter was practising on her recorder...the song, "Amazing Grace", one that was played at Mom's funeral.  I sat there with goosebumps, crying, but also smiling, comforted in my belief it was Mom's Mother's Day gift to me.

Sunday morning I woke to Dempsey hovering over me, waiting patiently to give me her gift.  Her eyes were huge and her smile was beaming as she threw her arms around my neck, "Happy Mother's Day Mommy, I made this for you!"  How could I spoil her happiness with my tears, I took a deep breath and opened the box she handed me.  Inside was a beautiful hand made set of wind chimes....."Look Mommy, I even stamped angels on them for Savannah!"  I grabbed her in a tight hug and swallowed my happy tears.  "Thank you Precious, they are just what Mommy wanted!" was all I could get out.........

Demps with her gift to me!

We went for breakfast early so I didn't have to see other 'happy' Mom's and on the way home I got my second sign...from Savannah! 

When Savannah was sick, so sick she would scream in pain in the middle of the night.  I would sing her the song "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mack....most times it helped to calm her.  Mothers Day morning, there it was on the radio...a song that isn't played too often.  Peter thinks I'm crazy, that its just a song a DJ somewhere chose to play....but I BELIEVE it was Savannah's present to brought me alot of comfort.

And the icing on the cake came in the afternoon, again on the radio, I couldn't believe it!  A song my sister's  husband Tony chose to play at her funeral....I haven't heard it in years, its called 'Bittersweet Symphony'.  I couldn't wait to rush in our door and tell Peter who by now then thought I'd gone completely bonkers!

So my Mother's Day was bittersweet as it always is, filled with tears, love, laughter, gratefulness and feelings of longing for some special people who I can't call anymore.  But it was also sprinkled with text messages, emails and phone calls from my living, loving, family and friends......the message I've posted below made me cry but summed up the day for lucky I am!
Dear Dee,

I just wanted to reach out wish you a peaceful Mother's Day. I know that this day must be very hard for you, but try to find comfort in the fact that when we relinquish emotions of selfishness and pity, we allow love to flow into and out of our being. Also try to find comfort in knowing that your little angel's spirit is shining brightly above us all, and that little Dempsey's spirit is shining right in front of us on this material earth. Take care of your self today and always. I love you very much, thank you for being my friend.

I hope your day was special and not too difficult and the new week can bring you sunshine in your blue cup! :)

                                Peter, Savannah, bubby Dempsey and me!      

Friday, May 7, 2010

The anticipation of Mother's Day - in Joy and Sorrow

Mother's Day is only a few days away and already the anticipation of getting through it is eating away at me.  Every year I hope I'll be different and tell myself....."I'll be better this year"....but the truth is it hurts! 

It should be a day where I feel spoilt and loved, surrounded by my TWO daughters......I know Peter will do his best to make it special.....and Dempsey will fill my heart with warmth until it feels it may burst.  However,  that doesn't make up for it being one of those hard days you have to face each that feels like a band-aid being ripped off a wound......and this morning my tears started, unexpectedly, bitter sweetly, after I read some comments my beautiful family had left on my Facebook page, that meant so much to me, after they looked at some photos of Savannah...... 

I wish my mothers day would be different, but its not going to be......Mothers Day will never truly be complete for me I have to try and look at what I do have and be happy I have two daughters where some Mom's don't even have a child!

Peter reminded me at breakfast this morning to look at the beauty in the world...."Look out the window Dee, the rose bush has gone berserk!"

 The bush isn't just any rose's the one we planted and watered through our tears a few days after Savannah died.......overnight it seems to have gone wild, just in time for Mother's's loaded with tiny white buds and blooming roses, out in all their glory.  I like to think Savannah has arranged for this to happen, that it's part of her Mothers Day gift to me....if only :)  On Sunday morning I'll take the scissors and collect as many of these dainty white roses as I can, fill a vase and place them on Savannah's special shelf.  I'll also put some next to the photos of my Mom and my sister Tarnia.

So for those of you reading this, who are struggling if you have lost a child or your mom, or someone special that will mean something to you on Sunday....I wish you strength to get through the day with whatever you may need.....and even though its tough, try and smell the roses that are in your life.

I write a column for below is my article they posted yesterday for Mother's Day....I hope it can bring you some strength and support that you aren't alone on your Mother's Day! x

Mother's Day brings Joy - and Sorrow by Diana Doyle

Every year on the morning of Mother’s Day I cry.

On this special day I’m greeted with a huge dimpled smile from our daughter Dempsey, who sneaks into our room, usually with a present she has made for me, hidden behind her back. The moment tugs at my heart strings, and I cry.

I cry at how lucky I am to have her in my life and I cry that our other daughter Savannah, who would be ten years old, isn’t with her sister, giving me a huge hug too and climbing into bed beside us.

If I go to the supermarket I cry. So, I’ve learned to stay away from the stores where people are queued at the checkout with colorful bunches of cheerful flowers, boxes of chocolates and cards for their mothers.

I cry when I think of my sisters four children, because they don’t have their mom to spoil. And of their Dad, Tony, who struggles on Mothers Day because his wife is missing out.

I cry when I remember past Mother’s Days when I could simply pick up the phone and call my adored Mom and tell her how much I love her. And then I remember my Mother’s words, her Mothers Day gift to me that can never be taken away – and I find myself smiling!

Her lessons, which she taught me while she was alive… be grateful for the simple things that I’m surrounded with, like love, family, friendships, and the compassion I have for others who are struggling to survive through their Mother’s Day without their loved ones.

My mother celebrated every day she was alive with enthusiasm and gratitude for everything we are blessed with. Like days when the sun streams in through your window or the smell of fresh jasmine. She taught me attitude drives destiny, so I try each Mother’s Day to channel her positive outlook into my day.

It’s difficult not to have a pity party on Mother’s Day, but I find by lunchtime the day gets easier, I put on something pretty, try to put a smile on my face and embrace the irresistible love my daughter showers on me and be thankful that I’ve survived another hard day the best way I could.

Down the street from our house, are cherry blossoms trees, which are in full bloom this time of year. They were my Mom’s favorite, a small reminder of her I carry with me! I purposely drive by them, think of her and know she would be proud that I’m trying to pass her valuable lessons of appreciation on to my daughter for her future Mothers Day!

PS; Today's blog is in honor of those who are facing their first Mother's Day without their loved one....I will be thinking of you and wishing you sunshine at some stage in the day x

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Acknowledging Loss and Learning to live!

Saturday night we went to a friends birthday party.  We stumbled through the front door loaded up with drinks and Dempsey's things like we had just left 'Toys R Us'......upon arriving I was introduced to an attractive lady with a warm welcoming smile, who shook my hand, introducing herself, her husband and  her gorgeous teenage daughter, who had dimples like Dempsey. 

A little while later, a friend took me aside and whispered that the lady I had just met belonged to the same club as, not 'Brownies' or the local 'Mom's Group'.......a club no-one ever wants to be part of.  Like me, she had lost one of her daughters.

I looked at her trying to see if there was any indication of her, there were no visible scars, no big red sign hanging around her neck that screamed "My daughter died and I miss her", she seemed happy, laughing and chatting away like any other party goer.  I wondered how she was coping and wondered if I should approach her and tell her I was sorry for her loss, and that she wasn't alone....that my daughter had died too.  I decided it was the right thing to do, and that if it was me I'd want someone to do the acknowledge my loss!

So I did, and we sat amongst the noise and shared our struggles about life NOW, she, with tears in her eyes, making me aware her grief is still raw and fresh....we talked about how sad it is that we don't get to say our daughters name as much anymore and how somedays you feel like shouting to the world how hard it is.  However, we also laughed and talked about clothes and kids and wine and normal things that women talk about at a party. 

When your grief is fresh, social situations can make you feel vulnerable..."What if someone asks if Dempsey is my only child?"  or like the many times before, if confronted by my story, people clam up, not knowing how to respond.  Before the death of my family members, I would've been one of those people too....but now I know its best to acknowledge the persons loss and show some compassion, even if its just a " I can't imagine how hard it must be." 

As I hugged this new friend and thanked her for sharing her story, I looked around the room, no-one else had any idea about our 'new' identities, how loss changes you forever, but also, how you can learn to laugh again and enjoy yourself despite losing a loved one.  You don't want to be known as a victim but as a survivor.....and she, like me is a survivor.

Meeting her reinforced to me again, that the human spirit is an amazing thing.  We both share something extroadinary in common, however, despite our losses, we can still put on a pretty dress, smile, and be like any other person in the room.  You do learn to hide under a mask of make-up and CAN, again, enjoy every challenge and expereince life continues to throw at you.....even if it is too many red wines, on a Saturday night, with a group of loving friends, simply enjoying life....sometimes thats the best medicine of all!

I hope this post can bring you some comfort and know that you will, and can, have sunshine again in your blue cup. :) x

Dempsey and me, Saturday before the party :)