Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Losing AND gaining friends after grief! x

Sometimes, after a life altering event, strangers become friends and friends become strangers…..

It’s like some friends put you in the “too hard basket.”

I am blessed to have all weather friends, and I love them for that.....but I did lose some after Savannah died!

It’s difficult when friends run and duck for cover, avoid us and pretend everything is ‘normal’ when it’s not…… But that’s human nature I guess. It certainly weeds out the people who matter, who didn’t and who never will. And that is sad, but it’s the reality of being a casualty of grief.

As I lost one after the other, after the other, after the other of my family...I saw friends drop off the radar, stop emailing, phoning and making an effort to invite me out. And to be honest, I DIDN’T want to be lured out to trivial birthday or house warming parties where everyone was laughing or drunk…or celebrating some insignificant (to me) ‘happy’ occasion…...

No, I wanted to hide from reality and get through some tough days, or hours, or minutes….where I could curl up under the blankets and pretend the world was different to what it truly was.  It was the only way I knew how to survive.

When Savannah was diagnosed, out of the blue with her fatal illness, I went from a girl who occasionally danced on tables and was the life of the party to someone who’s world had been demolished…shattered! Like a hurricane had ripped through it!  And I didn’t know how I would get through moments let alone days after being told my child was going to die and there was nothing we could do to save her life.

Savannah at Disneyland just after she was diagnosed....we wanted to take her there before she got too sick.  Love this photo!

Life doesn’t get any harder or any more real than that. And I knew, having such a large circle of friends, they would call, some out of pure love and concern, and others out of curiosity…….. And I couldn’t face them!

So at that time, Peter and I decided to send out the email below ….

Peter and I thought we should email our friends and let them know about Savannah's test results. We know people are probably aware she was having tests, and up until last week we did not have a diagnosis.

Savannah has been diagnosed with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD), which we had never heard of until now. Metachromatic Leukodystrophy is a terminal illness caused by a rare genetic fault from Peter and I.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment. Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant is experimental at this stage and we are still consulting with Doctors' as to whether it is an appropriate treatment for her condition.

Savannah is still the same beautiful little girl she always has been, she is just having problems with her walking at this stage.

As you can understand it is a very emotional and difficult time for us and our families. We are trying to come to terms with everything and make decisions on what is best for Savannah.

We just ask that you give us some time and not contact us, as you can understand it is just too difficult to talk about at the moment.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Thank You.

And we did need time out……to sort how we were going to carry on……. And as days turned into months and years I didn’t think ‘some’ friends would take that email literally and NEVER contact us ever again….but that’s how it is.

And I can look back now at all the people who aren’t in our life anymore….some I’ve chosen to cut ties with….who didn’t ‘understand’ that to lose a child is one of the hardest things that life can deal you! And some, have chosen not to stay in touch….and I’m fine with that NOW too! I’m not the same! There’s no going back to who I was……my identity now, has changed.

In saying all that, one friend I love who I did lose contact with, just through moving and life getting in the way, tracked me down me last Saturday…..through this blog!

I don’t have the words to express how thrilled I am that Natalie somehow found me……and we’ve talked, and laughed and cried and talked on top of one another. And the beauty of ‘old friends’ is that you have history with them.

Natalie hugging me at her wedding.....I was her bridesmaid and she was mine! :)

Natalie knew my sister, my beautiful mum AND Savannah……how lovely for me that she had the courage to make that first move and reconnect!

So to any of your reading that aren’t sure how to act around someone facing a challenge….pick up the phone or type that email…. Bonds that are created during hardships are some of the strongest ones…..YOU have the opportunity to really help and touch another….and it feels good, trust me!

And as for Natalie and me, well we’ve planned a reunion.  I promised to dance on a table again…with her …and to hug her and introduce Dempsey to her twins. It will be big! :)

love you Nat! x


  1. I am truly deeply sorry to hear of your loss. I trust you will find comfort in fond memories and in the joy of your rekindled friendship with Natalie, and others who find you through your blog. I am blog hopping today and I'm so happy I found your blog. I look forward to future posts and I wish you happiness. Hugs, Katherine

  2. Thank you Katherine for your words of comfort regarding my losses.

    I look forward to you revisiting! :)

    love Diana x

  3. I have been sitting here for the past hour crying and smiling at the same time as I read your blog and gazed at the photo of my beautiful sister Natalie and you. I am so sorry to hear of your losses. I always knew you were a beautiful person and now your blogs reveal your beautiful soul. My sister has a deep affection for you and I am so glad you have found each other again. Love Karen

  4. Karen,

    Wow, thank you for this special messge....and for taking the time to write it and post it.

    I love Natalie too and am so so happy we've reconnected...I can't wait to hear her infectious laugh as we go forward in each other's lives.

    I can see by your compassion in this message that she's not the only beautiful one in her family.

    with love
    Dee x

  5. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. I don't have any kids, but I lost my dad 2 yrs ago. I completely know the feeling about loosing friends when someone close to you passes away. I had some friends that acted like nothing happened and never talked about it, other friends that just lost touch stop calling, texting or meeting up. While I had other friends that said I could come to talk to them anytime, but when I talked about my dad they would be completely silent and not say anything then change the subject.
    People who truly care about you will be there for you, I found people I thought were going to be there were not and people I didn't except anything from were there for me.
    May your daughter R.I.P and take comfort in knowing now you have people in your life that care about you and have truly been with you thru difficult and happy times.

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