You cannot rush grief

Ok ok I’ve made a rookie error. You know this grief business, well you would think I would be be an expert. Losing three children, one would assume I would have this grief journey down. I wouldn’t need the map or sat nav; this journey should be set in my sub conscious, innate directions.

So why oh why am I finding myself trying to rush through to the end. You know the part where you find some acceptance and maybe a little peace. Come on Sara you should know better that this, there are no short cuts and no quick way through. There isn’t even a toll road that costs you a fortune but cuts out half of the journey time. Nope, no chance,not happening.

No matter how much you don’t want it to the pain of grief has to be lived, the reason why is simple , we love.

Right now it’s perfectly ok and right for me to be lost in the pain of losing Daniel. It’s correct for me to find every breathe painful in missing him. My tears should fall and my heart should be broken because I loved my beautiful boy, I love him, desperately.

Changing the sofa around, painting the walls even maybe putting his toy box out of sight may be what I need to do just to calm the waves but a fresh lick of paint won’t erase the memories of Daniel giggling on the sofa, holding him on my lap, snuggling into my chest, nothing will.

There are no short cuts in grief. What is it the Going on bear hunt book says “you can’t over it, your can’t go under it, you have to go through it”.

I know why I’m trying to push through the pain, the truth is I’m scared I won’t survive it. I survived losing Livvy by the love and need of her sisters, I am truly scared I’m not strong enough to survive losing Daniel.

I’m actually really scared of this darkness I feel.

My whole world changed with Daniels death, my identity as his mom, his carer, his nurse, physio et etc all disappearing with his last breath. He was, my purpose, my joy and my reason. My life was planned with him, I still cannot comprehend a life without him. It’s like my mind just won’t go there, a robot stuck moving back and forth “I just can’t compute, I just can’t compute”.

Oh gosh I’ve sat here thinking how better it would be to be a robot with no feelings, no emotions, no grief ; yet I wouldn’t be happy. I’m a person that feels intensely, if you are loved by me, well you get loved my me. I don’t do half measures. I tell myself I will protect my heart again and again but if I had of done that then I wouldn’t have had the gift of Daniel. I got to love and care for my boy for 6 years, I got to wake up knowing cuddles awaited me, that smiles that would fill my heart would bless my day.

I have spoken and walked through child loss with a number of people over the years ( too many ) and the one thing I tell them is it’s ok to feel broken, it’s ok to feel the pain, because you loved. Give yourself time and to be kind to yourself. This wasn’t how life should be.

Missing someone you love will never be easy and it shouldn’t be. This pain, this agony that I feel now it’s worth it, because I got to love Daniel and if I had to live this pain all over again for just one more moment with my boy I would do so.

So right now all I have to do is be, to be whatever I need me to be, to hold on and allow myself to grieve. There is no rushing grief, it sets it’s own timetable just like love does, as it should because grief is the love we cannot give and I love Daniel intensely.

In the brokenness

I’ve never been one to follow the calendar. I often don’t know what day of the week it is let alone the date, this has especially been the case in the last two years due to shielding. I mean who cares what the date is, we aren’t going anywhere. Yet since Daniels death I have found myself coming slightly obsessed.

When April turned to May my heart was aching, a new month that Daniel won’t be part of and today we begin another month that won’t hold him in it, it’s so very hard and feels so wrong.

How do I do this life without my beautiful boy? I really feel the need for direction. Nothing makes sense , the things I loved are now too different without my son. Alan suggested I join him in keeping the house tidy but even thinking about it makes me tired. I mean we are just cleaning up our own things when I’m so used to changing beds because Daniel had peed on the sheets, often literally after I had just changed his pad. That boy loved a clean nappy. I should be cleaning up milk when I forgotten to clamp the tube. Weighing pads, chasing prescriptions and so much more. What i am not doing makes what I should be doing feel so out of reach.

I know it’s going to take time and it should, shouldn’t it. You don’t move on from losing your heart in a day, week, lifetime. I’m just so lost it’s crazy, I think that may be my forever statement. “I’m lost.” Then I think of one of Daniels favourite hymns “ i was lost but now I am found” maybe I will be found or find myself again.

Who knows?

Alan and I are struggling so scared about the future. It’s hard trying to make a life you so didn’t want. Everything is different, everything is hard, everything is missing Daniel. People keep telling us of the holidays we can now take, the places we can now visit, the freedom we now have. I know they mean well but this so called freedom came a high cost. Plus I never felt so free when I got to love on Daniel.

I remember so vividly when we lost our beautiful Livvy my anger, I was so angry that the world continued to turn without her in it. I feel that same anger with Daniel but with an extra element of bitterness, we lost him to what we tried so hard to protect him from. His life was stole by a virus the world wants to forget. He is just one in million statistics that we just have to accept. It’s shocking, it’s cruel and it’s so very wrong.

I’m never going to be the same person again and I don’t think Alan will either. Sometimes the spotlight is too powerful to not see the truth. I don’t want to stay bitter but the brokenness of my heart allows it to creep in.

My wonderful friend reminded me at Daniels celebration of the Japanese art of embracing brokenness, Kintsugi. Kintsugi teaches you that your broken places make you stronger and better than ever before. When you think you are broken, you can pick up the pieces, put them back together, and learn to embrace the cracks. Kintsugi teaches you that your broken places make you stronger and better than ever before. She reminded me that I had once before filled my brokenness with gold and that I will do again.

I’m beginning to think I may end up with a bowl full more of gold than china but that’s ok every crack, every bit of brokenness was made because I was blessed enough to have loved and to be loved.

To be so very loved.

Dear Daniel

I did it again, I pressed my phone to call your Daddy to ask him if he had put you on your milk yet. Why is my body still waking me a month after we have lost you? Why is my normal no longer my own?

Oh Daniel there are not enough words in the languages of the world to explain how much I’m missing you. Even now as I lie here unable to sleep I know I haven’t accepted the fact that you have gone. I’m a mess, a complete utter mess and for once in my life I do not care. My mind isn’t full of wondering, afraid if others are judging me in my sorrow, I don’t give a monkeys it hurts, it’s agony.

The house still echoes of you, our home, your home, your scent still lingers on the air. I’m still using your shampoo as a body wash so I can smell your sweet scent of strawberries all around me. It’s running out, would it be weird to buy it again? Maybe I will search for an actual strawberry scented body wash. Maybe that’s a compromise. How I hate that word right now “compromise” it feels that’s all I am having to do. Grieve whilst trying to move forward. Rest whilst job hunting, always having to give a little when I really haven’t got a lot left anymore.

I don’t have you anymore.

Oh Danny, I know they will call me soon to collect your equipment and whilst I know you are free from the disabilities that made you need them, letting them go is part of an acceptance I have yet to reach. I’m scared of the emptiness their return will leave behind. I know I have to do it at some point, there is so much to sort out. Your wardrobe is full of new summer clothes you have yet to wear. No sorry clothes you will never wear. This sucks!

Your toy box is still in the living room, your book case full to the brim. Talking of books the new book written by Jacqueline Wilson came today, it shocked my heart. I had forgotten that we had put it on pre-order, “ A new adventure of the Faraway tree” do you think Moonface will still be in it ,maybe Silky too. We loved reading the original written by Enid Blyton together, I’m sure we would have loved this one too. Maybe when I get you home I will read to you. Is that a strange thing to do? Maybe I will just curl up under your blanket with Edgar and read it. Yes I’m going to cry, come on everything is making me cry. Do you know how hard losing you has been?

I guess I need to try and sleep, the irony is that now I have no one waking me at every two hours but I’m sleeping less than ever. I am hiding in my bedroom more than I should be, I’m not sleeping I’m just pretending you are downstairs with your Daddy. I know it’s not helping but let’s be honest nothing does.

Hey beautiful boy, I’m trying I promise I am. Giving up would be easy but I know you and Livvy didn’t teach me that way. Your both fought to live; I promise I will try to honour that. You guys need to help though, sprinkle me with some heart healing dust from heaven, how I wish that was a real thing. I remind myself that I “grieve with Hope” well I’m working on the Hope part, but I’ve got the grieving down perfect.

Oh my gorgeous handsome son, missing you is so so hard. Just to hold your hand in mine once more, yet I know once more is never enough, would never be enough.

So it’s been a month my dear boy, one whole month since your took your last breathe this side of heaven as you lay in my arms. As I held your body close to mine your spirit ran to Jesus.

Until my time comes, until I can run to you and Livvy.

I will miss you

Forever heartbroken

Your Mommy

Xxxx

My beautiful boy xx

Job hunting is painful

Ouch, my heart is beating so quick it’s a question a simple question.

Do you care for someone?

Job applications, oh my goodness when did they become so in-depth I mean I’m literally waiting for the question asking me my bra size. How much do employers need to know to see if I’m suitable for a job, why does the number of dependents matter? Are they only after those without. Then the realisation hits, I don’t have any dependents any more. My girls are adults they don’t depend on me. No one does, then to knock the realisation out of the ball park, the final question, do you care for someone?

Ok ok please leave me alone. Isn’t it hard enough that I’m applying for jobs I never expected to have. That my world looks completely different to the one I was in a month ago.

How much more of this pain can I take?

Oh my goodness how hard, too hard.

I know people have told me not to job hunt yet but obviously the bills still need paying and the day the one you care for dies, all payments stop. Giving myself time isn’t a option. Also the truth is time is something I have too much of right now. The days are endless and I mean endless. I swear my days are now made up of 48 hours not 24.

I need a focus, I need a challenge. I’m not the kind of person who can sit still I thrive on being challenged and I love being busy. Yes I have to learn some boundaries for my health and well-being but I need to do something. But what, and who am I now? For the last 13 years I’ve been a proud foster carer but after losing Daniel I cannot do this right now. Maybe in the future but not right now. I need something different, something that doesn’t make the familiar painful. Does this make sense?

But beyond being a foster carer who am I? I’m definitely not the dance teacher I was in my 20’s that’s for sure.

Could I do something in my passion, could I use my words to earn me a living? I would love that but have no idea how to make that happen.

Could I continue to advocate? When I write, speak and fight for equality and against discrimination the words form themselves. My passion allows the letters to fall from my fingers. It matters, I want it to matter.

So who, what and how?

If you haven’t caught up yet the reality is I’m in pain, I’m lost and I really want direction.

Any suggestions?

Any jobs offers?

Pretty please.

Start here

I’ve decided to try and follow a January prompts writing plan. This year is for me to be about learning to enjoy writing again without the pressure of a false idea of perfection.

So here we go.

January 1st : Start here

Start here at the beginning, this should be a time of excitement and anticipation yet I always struggle to start anything. The fear of failure looms above me like the dark cloud on a miserable day. Expectation breeds anxiety inside of me, I’m scared to fail before I even try.

I’ve learned a lot about myself this last year especially. How I have build up false accounts in my mind to protect me. I had convinced myself of so many falsehoods, hiding myself from judgement or the pain of broken promises.

I’m examining these lies I’ve told myself and trying to work out what’s truth from the protective façade.

From simple things like I don’t like craft to places I have convinced myself I don’t wish to visit. Unpicking the pain and brokenness and trusting myself to make my own judgements. Not allowing the past to define my future.

This may just sound vague and that’s ok. Todays not the day to open wounds in a public arena but a day that I start to allow myself to heal.

Trusting myself to feel the rejection and stand strong in my own truth.

Believing that I am ready to finally allow myself to be me.

So here on the first day of the new year, I allow myself to begin to heal.

To begin a journey of new understanding.

Let’s

Start here.

Let’s find me.

Desperate

I woke last night screaming, somehow my sleep had become a time machine and I was there again in the hospital begging my child to wake. Desperate to see her chest rise again, begging the Lord to save her.

How can 12 years just disappear in a moment?

Yet I know in grief, time is only my enemy.

I miss my girlie so much, how I wish I could just hold her in my arms once more, to just breathe in the sweet smell of her hair.

Grief is a complex devil, playing games with your heart moment by moment, memory by memory.

Does it ever end?

Only with eternity I guess.

Oh I never knew the heart could survive such pain. The crushing weight becoming bearable against my wishes.

I don’t want to sleep again, I had to leave her once I’m not sure I could do it again.

Why does your memory invade your dreams?

Is there nowhere free from grief?

I couldn’t pretend for a while, I could not create the facade of being ok in those darkness hours. So I let the tears fall and as my whole soul hiccuped through my body I allowed myself to miss her.

I let the memories swarm my mind like a tapestry of bees as they create their honey, I created my moments again. I held her in my arms, I heard her sweet giggle of mischief on the symphony of the night and I breathed her in deep and I sobbed.

I still don’t understand why I had to lose her, why Rett Syndrome had to win the battle for her life. Yet I know it wasn’t for the lack of love. My Livvy, their Livvy, your Livvy was loved with the depths of so many hearts.

If love could have saved her life she would be here.

No the question still stands unanswered, our hearts still forever broken.

I couldn’t breathe anymore the tears had tore my soul and I did fall into an exhausted sleep.

I wake still desperate to hold my daughter once again.

The new day begins,

I trust, I breathe and I hope.

Until we meet again my beautiful girl, until.

Joining in again with five minute Friday, set your timer for five minutes and write.

Gentle?

Oh my goodness when I read the word prompt for five minute Friday this week I just smiled at the irony, gentle on a day that was far from gentle for our saviour.

He was beaten

He was mocked

A crown of thorns placed on his head.

The nails hammered through his hands,

The spear pierced through his side.

Not gentle, not kind, not right.

Yet this man so gentle and kind bore this pain, bore this torture, died for us.

I struggle through Good Friday, I mean how can you find the words to honour this sacrifice. To breathe life into the holiness of the love Jesus had for me. I often find myself looking forward to Easter Sunday excited to celebrate the resurrection. Yet this time inbetween needs to be felt, this closed tomb needs to be understood.

How often in life do we focus on the good that’s coming. A journey is always about the destination, but is it? Shouldn’t we sometimes slow down and view the world that we pass As we start towards our end. Maybe we would see some wondrous sights or maybe not , yet to look is never a waste, to rush is to miss.

So as we sit in this in between time I often think of those that loved Jesus. How did they feel? Did they know without doubt that he would return? Did they trust? What would I have done, I mean I know I will be reunited with my daughter one day but I still grieve. This time in between feels hard. I know that come Sunday the tomb will be empty but this space is hard.

Yet I know without a doubt that I will hold my girl again.

Because of a gentle man who suffered a horrific death

because he loved me.

Jesus the gentle breath than fills my lungs with salvation. From nail pierced hands to my promise of eternity.

Not a gentle love, a saviours love.

Join in with five minute Friday. Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

Mother’s Day love

Mother’s Day, a day where we come together to celebrate all things that are Mom in whatever form that comes, stepmoms, adopted moms, grandparents being mom and so many more.

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world. The exhaustion of pregnancy, the labour of delivery, feeding, sleepless nights and so much more but yet it’s often the most rewarding role we will ever get to hold.

It’s tough and this last year has been a real struggle , ‘wow’ is pretty much all I can say about the last 12 months. From home schooling to the deep pit of fear that has been in your stomach since the words Covid 19 were first spoken, it’s been a year.

Still if I wish to challenge all moms a little now in fact probably all parents regardless of gender. What do you think is the one thing that is the hardest to cope with when being a parent?

Exhaustion, worry, finances,

Shall I share what I have placed on my heart this week. What God has wanted me to share with you all.

The hardest thing about being a parent

Expectations

These pesky little things that penetrate our minds and hearts.

I should be

I could be

If only

All turn into

I failed

I’m useless

I’m letting them down.

Now I’m coming to you as a mom of a five so a little experience here and also as professional of therapeutic childcare and I just want to state something here and I really want you to hear me.

You are enough

You are enough.

Our children enter this world with only a few needs, to be fed, to be warm and to be loved. Speaking confidently right now I am sure that each of your children are having those needs met. They are either grown and off living lives that you have encouraged and nurtured. They also could be there in your arms snuggling tight or even kicking out in your precious womb. They could be causing complete mayhem running around the house but all done in the knowledge that ‘they are loved’.

You are enough.

Yet we only have to look back the last 12 months and the changes this virus has brought into our lives. Homeschooling, isolation, exhaustion, fear. How many of use have felt lost, that they are failing?

My hands are right up in the air, me me.

I have watched social media posts of moms with beautiful converted classrooms with their children willingly working away. Houses spotless, make up perfect and I’ve literally cried. I have cried as Daniels homeschooling paperwork fell off the printer for the 15th time, cried as he completely ignored me as I tried to encourage him to work, sobbed at the state of my house and as for being perfectly made up, well I’ve had a shower and I’m saying Amen to that.

You see I couldn’t reach the expectations I had put upon myself and that’s ok. Because Covid 19 or not, being a mom is hard.

We mess up, we lose our temper and we suck at patience some days. Because motherhood didn’t come with super hero powers just the responsibility.

Anyway where am I going with this, well I’m leading to something I have personally took a long time to learn.

You don’t have to do this life alone.

As friends and family we are there to walk alongside one another. Reach out to friends, not only those at your stage at life. We have a wide breathe of generational wisdom to tap into.

But most importantly

Reach up, reach out to Jesus and ask him to walk alongside you. Ask for wisdom, hope and a big one for me, for patience.

Ask him to free you from the lies of the enemy that you are not enough. Free you from the untruth binding of expectations. To be beside you as you raise the next generation and to guide you as you walk this pathway of parenthood.

I ask you to look now at your child or if they are not with you bring them into your mind. As your heart swells of the love you feel for them as the love you have warms you to your very core, I want you remember.

I want you to remember

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

He loved us first,

He loved us first.

Remember that Jesus loves us as we love our children, that warmth you feel for your children he feels for you. He loves you to your very core.

and I want you to say this loud

“we are enough. “

I am enough.

It did not end then.

November 7th 2008, should this of been the day Livvy’s story came to an end, the day she left this world for what I believe is a better place.? Should this have been the last ripple she caused on this world? Regardless of what should have been or what could of been, her story did not end there, only here did the next chapter of her story begin. Her promise, her teachings and most of all her hope, the unique new paragraphs of her legacy

If I’m going to be completely transparent as I write here, I have to confess I didn’t see the next page straight away, I stumbled back and forth through the last pages day after day. I questioned the ending, stumbling over the reasons, failing to find the acceptance in what had become. I wasn’t ready for my hero to die, not ready to give up on our numerous adventures and devastated not to have one more of her incredible hugs. I couldn’t see beyond her end. I couldn’t feel beyond the pain of her loss, and grief well it had become my best friend never leaving my side moment by moment, breathe by breathe. 

Right then at that time the only legacy I could see was pain, was loss.

I will not tell you time eased anything because being honest time was an evil that I hated, every day that passed was one more without her. It didn’t ease, time twisted the knife in deeper making her seem farther and farther away. 

Time became my enemy and the past something I prayed for. 

Yet through time I learned that no matter how much your heart breaks the body continues on. 

No matter how you cry out for the world to stop turning, it still spins. 

I will not tell you the next step of my transition came straight away or that I picked up any particular signs but overtime the more I shared my heart about Livvy the more I remembered her fighting spirit. I remembered all the moments Dr’s had given up on her and how she had fought on.

My heart began to feel with her courage, her spirit began to feed through my veins. 

I had to make a decision, a decsion to live,

Determinded to live loving harder. 

I knew In my heart that Livvy had lived loved, she had known a life full of love, security and a lot of laughter. Yet many, many do not know this and this was something I could do, something I wanted to do for others. 

The next chapter was a new beginning, new begining’s for others. Livvy, she may have not been physically here, but my heart held her in every decision I made and in every heart I wanted to heal.

Her legacy is and always will be love.

My children are my reasons. 

When Daniel came into my life she couldn’t have made it more obvious unless she had gift wrapped him with a bow labelled, “send in love from Livvy”. He was ours to love and love hard, he was our gift of joy, heaven send.

Daniel like Livvy is a great reminder of the truth, that life is not measured by days, weeks or years but by the hearts that you make feel whole. Riches are not found in money or fancy things but in the smiles you create. 

Livvy’s story is still unfinished, her legacy is living and loving, right here and right now.

The pages are still being written, chapters yet to be wrote, page by page, memory by memory.

Inspire or destroy?

Last week I was lucky enough to get to listen to the inspirational Nick Barwick. Nick is a motivational speaker who came to a fostering meeting to share his experiences as a care leaver. His story is incredible, he has faced adversity, pain and suffering throughout his life but still found the strength and courage to achieve his dreams, he defied the odds and he overcame.

Nick is passionate about sharing his story, he wants the success stories of life to be shared. We need our children to have hope, that if they are struggling and finding life a struggle they can remember that where they are right now is not where they need to end. This is doubly important for all children within the looked after system, they especially need the reminder that there is Hope in this world.

I took an awful lot away with me after listening to Nick speak, but what has been twirling around in my head since I left the meeting was the impact of ‘words.’

Let me explain a little, as Nick was sharing his story he spoke about being told by some professional in his life that he would not achieve, academically, financially and emotionally, and how these words for a long time became a self fulfilling prophecy for him.

How the words spoken to him became the words he spoke to himself.

Words have power!

They can inspire but also they can destroy.

words

Hearing Nick’s story just hit home how important our words are,

How as Mother’s, as fathers, as teachers, carers, our words have an impact on hearts.

How as a friend, a wife, a sister I need to use my words wisely.

How often have we let words spoken to us bury deep in our hearts?

How what may have been a passing comment has be able to consume our minds.

Someone else’s opinion become our truth.

I know I can look back in my life and raise my hand numerous times for when words spoken in hate became my reality.

“You won’t pass it.”

“I wouldn’t even bother’

“You are not good enough”

“Who would love you?”

How I let these lines of letters sink deep into my heart like an anchor dropped into the ocean, dropping slowing until they find a place to settle and hold, hold on tight.

How I  have allowed hurtful words to crawl under my skin until I believed them completely, burying under my skin into my blood to pump through my veins, straight to my heart.

Burrowing deep until I owed them as my truth.

Thankfully like Nick I had someone in my life who challenged me to question these words. To remind me that my future was mine to create.

That it was up to me to write my own story. 

story-of-your-life

I’m still a work in progress, my story has many chapters left to write.

I’m still learning to throw away the words that hurt, to erase the words that are wrong and untrue.

To protect myself from words that do not inspire or encourage.

I’m creating my own vocabulary and as I do this I hope to create another for my children.

I want their story to be one of adventure, excitement and hope but what I want most of all is that the biggest chapter that they write will always be one filled with love.

I pray that story is one of knowing, knowing how loved they are.