Monday, January 10, 2011

My wall of 'dead people'

**The following article was published on where there are some wonderful articles on surviving grief.....

Do you ever find comfort from a stranger?

I guess people who are the closest to us treat us differently……they mollycoddle us, handle us with kid gloves.....treat us in a different way……..

While in Australia over Christmas I met a girl, an outsider to my world, who knew nothing of my losses. It was interesting to chat to her about ‘my life’……I don’t usually tell new people I meet how I’ve lost so many family members, it blows their minds sometimes.  But I’m glad I did with her!

In our little cottage in Australia I have a wall of dead people! 

That may seem strange to some, but not to anyone reading who is traveling this road through grief, it’s not so odd..  I love my wall. I love that my mum’s photo is there, in her stunning black hat.  Looking elegant and happy on the day of our wedding.  It's healing to have my sister Tarnia up on it, to remind me how precious her children are....and as a reminder to enjoy life!  And then there's Savannah....oh how I take comfort being surrounded by her sweet angelic face!

   My wall in Australia...and if I'm not mistaken, as I posted this I'm sure there's an ORB next to Savannah's baby photo.......maybe it was our Angel wanting to be in the photo!

However, I guess it’s confronting to some, maybe a bit morbid……but it’s no different to having them there if they were alive. It’s just that they aren’t!

Peter and I have decided to build a new home in Australia, overlooking a lake, on a grassy hill where I will be able to enjoy my morning fix of caffeine while drinking in the view and serenity of water. I can’t wait! Well anyway, this girl who is handling our home plans had to meet with us to discuss the changes we’d made to the sketches.

   Our 2 acre block in Australia where we'll build our new home and new memories.

During her two hour consultation we sat in front of my wall. This is how the conversation went…………..

“It’s nice to finally meet you both….What brought you to this little country town anyway?”

I told her about my sister Tarnia, how after she was killed we wanted to be near her children and Tone……. She was shocked of course and offered her condolences…I pointed out the photo of Tarnia I have on the wall and I could see in her eyes that she felt genuinely sorry for my loss. But I didn’t go further as I could’ve......

After a few minutes of her absorbing my bombshell about Tarnia, we got back to business.

“So Peter and Diana, I see you’ve enlarged one of the bedrooms, why was that?”

“That’s our daughter’s room, so we’ve decided to increase her space.”

“Okay, so how many children do you have?”

This is where it always gets tricky!  I'd already traumatised her after Tarnia's story.....should I tell her about Savannah....Mum?

I know from experience people can freak out when you tell them, it's like I've somehow grown two heads!  Some don't know how to react and I notice them shift in their chair, uncomfortable and not knowing what to say with such information……that we HAD two children but one died…… So I decided not to go there, just to say we have one child, Dempsey! We discussed the plans and while Peter stepped outside to take a call she was admiring my photos on the wall…this one in particular……

    Our Family Portrait taken when Savannah was three and getting sicker.  Dempsey was only 6     weeks old.............

I could see her mind ticking over, she could clearly see there were two children in the photo, and I have to admit, I was slightly amused that I knew what she was thinking…..who was the other little girl in the photo? I also knew she wasn’t going to ask.

Because I know how people react when I tell them ‘my story’, I didn’t want to spoil her day… I decided against putting the pieces to the puzzle together for her.

Anyway, a few days later she had to phone me over some house stuff. I guess her curiosity got the better or her and that conversation went like this…….

“So, Diana, Can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, what’s up?”

"I couldn’t help but notice in your family portrait that there are two children……was the other little girl from a previous marriage?”

I had to smile…funny, I never imagined someone thinking that. Especially since I had told her I’d been with Peter since I was a teenager.

So I decided to spill the beans, tell her EVERYTHING…..her reaction was just as I suspected….shock, disbelief, amazement and…………  She went on to ask if I minded telling her what Savannah died of?  How does someone survive that? How do I cope?…amongst other things.  And I found the whole conversation so comforting. Here was a complete stranger giving me comfort that some of my friends haven’t been able to supply….some 'best' friends!

And I found out she has skeletons too, life altering health issues that she felt she could confide in me about. How amazing I thought!

We chatted for almost an hour, not about trivial house plans but about “life” and hopes and our fears. And I have to wonder why this ‘stranger’ could talk to me about all this and some of my closest friends can’t?

I kinda believe it’s because people feel talking about Savannah or Mum or Tarnia will upset me…..that somehow it will remind me of all the sad stuff……. Well you don’t forget….it lives inside you every single day! If only people would take a moment to mention their names sometimes, or tell a story of something they remember… is soothing to the soul of anyone who has lost a loved one. A gift! It keeps their memory alive for us who remain without them.

I also remember meeting my lovely friend Steph. The first night she joined our crew for a BBQ, she took me aside and said she’d heard so much about Savannah….and could she see a photo!  How special that was for be able to introduce and show off our beautiful angel who touched so many lives. I will never forget it!

    One of my wall's here that I had the pleasure of showing Steph!

And my dear friend Lynny, I still read the sympathy card she sent us…pouring over her words. They don’t say “Sorry for your loss”….they talk of a time when we visited her house…and how Savannah loved gooey pizza and the song “Five Little Ducks.” And I love her for that! All these things may not mean much to those living, but they mean so much to us…………..people who are missing their loved ones.

So to any of you reading who haven’t lost a child, or a parent, or a sibling….or somebody special…..I encourage you to talk about our loved ones, it’s like a warm embrace to us. A chance to revisit some memories and say their names again. I love to talk about Savannah but find the opportunities are becoming less and less these days as time marches on, and I find that sad……..

And as for my new friend who is helping build our home….there’ a bond there now. The last conversation I had with her she told me she hadn’t stopped thinking about me, Savannah or our it's changed her priorites.  She also told me she wanted to go to Italy, more than anything....and that she's going, this year now! 

We ended our chat with her telling me she was about to phone her her mother in-law, who was uncomfortable leaving her house and leaving her husbands ashes behind. Kim told me with a smile, she was going to invite them BOTH for Christmas dinner this year………………………..




  1. I was deeply touched by your post, brought to my attention by Marty Tousley's Twitter feed. I'm pleased that you were able to share your stories with an understanding friend. I look forward to sticking around your blog to read more.

  2. I have pictures of Savannah all over my house. And let me tell you something, they will NEVER come down. I have friends and family members whom will NOT come over to my house anymore because of these pictures. But, in times such as ours, you truly realise who will be there for you in the end. (As sad as that has to be.) My Savannah may only have pictures with tape on her face holding the tubes in her mouth in place, but she is my treasured girl. She was my daughter, and SHE was my child. Our loved ones have every right to be on our walls. they live on in our hearts, and we find comfort in seeing their beautiful faces. :)

    I have found comfort in stangers as well...

  3. And also... I noticed the ORB right away. I have a picture of me pregnant with Savannah two days before she was born, and there is a bright glowing ORB right over my belly. They have something special inside of them...

  4. Dear Casey,

    Thank you for leaving your comment, they mean a lot to me. I hope any of my posts can help you if you are traveling through grief.

    Thanks for reading!
    Diana x

  5. Megan,

    I can so relate to your comments.......I'm glad you have your photos of 'your Savannah' in your home. You will always be her mom and she will always be your baby...and now Angel.

    I am definately over worrying about what people think of my photos or shrines as one person told me once. In grief, you do what you have to do to survive...and things like photos bring so much comfort that only someone that has walked in our shoes can possibly understand.

    I could also relate to your comment about who really matters and who is there for you. I lost quite a few close girlfriends after Savannah even told me it wasn't "All about me!" however at that time, only a few weeks after she died, it had to be so I could survive..... Some friends surprise you with their love and support and some disappoint..... I hope you can surround yourself with people who will truly listen, not judge and love you no matter what sort of day you are having.

    I feel good that I culled the energy suckers from my life and now have some amazing friends who I adore and will never be able to repay for their help....still today.

    I look forward to reading your blogs....

    with love
    Diana x

    ps; would love to see your ORB pic, I truly believe they are spirits captured on film! x

  6. A beautiful post Diana and 'Yes!' the ORB is there for all to see.
    I am delighted that you are going to go ahead and build a new home in Australia. Where is your block?
    Like the cancer journey, so too the grief journey my 'new' found friend.
    I love your 'shrine, tribute wall' or whatever you choose to call it.
    Many people that were friends are no longer in my life. It seems, at times, they are afraid of 'catching' something.
    One of my 'friends' actually disclosed that 'SHE' cannot take any more of 'MY' hardships. She was genuine I believe. She simply had no idea how I managed to survive all that has - and continues - to happened to me. Oh well! Life goes on and I give thanks every day for those that remain loyally in my life and especially for the fact that I discovered blogging.
    May the spirits of your loved ones continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those left behind Diana. Love Chez xo

  7. Hi Chez,

    We are building in if you are ever down that way you'll have to look us up!

    It's sad to read your words that you too have experienced 'friends' that put us in the 'too hard basket'....I know I've found great support through blogging too.

    Thanks as always for your comment...

    I hope you are traveling ok and that your health is good!
    love to you Chez
    Diana x

  8. I am a survivor of multiple deaths ~ of significant people so I know of what you speak ~ people really don't know how to deal with death and many close together can be overwhelming ~ I send you lots of healing hugs and keep writing it will help the healing process ~ and know that those you have lost are watching over you ~ hugs and namaste, cz:) (from blogfrog)

  9. Dear Carol,

    I'm sorry to hear you have lost loved ones never surprises me these days. I hope you have some special memories and I see from your site that you are a talented artist! I loved your spirit doll's and will be reading more on your blog about them. I could use one of those carol ha!!! :)

    Thank You for leaving your's lovely to know who my readers are.

    Thanks also for the hugs, they are my favorite!
    with love
    Diana x

  10. You just smile and say "I have 2 beautiful daughters. 1 is in Heaven and 1 is underfoot!

    May God keep your sadness in the palm of His hand.

  11. Di,

    You are obviously a special girl who "gets it."

    Thank you for leaving this beautiful message that has touched me tonight!

    with love
    Diana x

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