Grief Loss and Bereavement

What You DON’T See

Memories...

Memories…

Today I’ve been reminded again that there are so many situations that GRIEVING PARENTS are dealing with, time and time again, weeks, months and years after the actual loss of their child. Even a picture of a place can carry so much memories…

I read Paul’s beautiful piece about Letting Go and Carly’s article Easing The Pain For Bereaved Loved Ones This Holiday Season  on Still Standing Magazine.

Just the other day in my previous blog I posted about ‘The Things that Are Just Mine’ and there are so many challenges bereaved parents go through on a daily basis which mostly they don’t share. Articles like Paul’s, Carly’s and all the other authors on Still Standing Magazine AND all the authors of their personal blogs are helping those who might be lucky enough NOT to belong to this ‘club’ of GRIEVING PARENTS but touched enough because they know someone or support someone close to them.

Thinking about the book (GRIEVING PARENTS – Surviving Loss As A Couple) I’m reflecting on the challenges a couple is facing post loss. These are mostly challenges you (the public) won’t see. In the light of the last post of openness and allowing vulnerability by sharing, let me share some of the challenges I have experienced:

  • different forms and time lines of grieving
  • being emotional in all forms: sad, angry, moody… (you name it) and projecting it onto my partner
  • impatience, with myself, with my partner, with our surviving child, with everything and every one – to the point of my partner not understanding why
  • being unrecognizable to myself and finding nothing ‘normal’ in the ‘new normal’
  • sadness over not having another child
  • sudden outburst of _____ (you name it)
  • not being able to multi-task (as I was before), like listening to my partner while feeding my child
  • physical challenges like overbearing tiredness, inflammations, head aches.

What are the challenges you have experienced post loss that you are free enough to share?

The Sunshine Award

sunshine-award

The SUNSHINE Award

Thank you A Mourning Mum – with an ‘oh’ of surprise I found Living Without My Twin Sister nominated on her blog for the Sunshine Award. I have seen these kinds of awards in a few places but never really understood how they work and didn’t bother finding out. But today, I will 🙂

I found many images but not really a page explaining it so I’m going on what A Mourning Mum has said: “After looking into more information about the award it is a virtual way to connect bloggers who are talking about the same things and want to acknowledge each other.”

Given you are reading my blog posts, you might have found that even though there is the sadness of having lost my daughter, the purpose behind my blogging is to bring more LIGHT into the matter of parental bereavement and other grief. So – a bit of ‘sunshine after the storm’, as the title of the recent book of grieving mothers says, is a welcome change and a continuous endeavour with the changing November weather in Switzerland (and I can tell you WE can ALWAYS use some MORE sunshine here).

I am honoured and pleased that you (or anyone) have found my blogs helpful, supportive and inspiring.

Rules of the Sunshine Award:

  • Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post.
  • Link the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award.
  • Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

10 Questions about Me:

  • Why do you blog?   It is my desire to bring light to other grieving people. I want people to know they can and should mention Amya and my mother. Not because or how they died should hinder anyone to speak about them, they exist, not physically in this world but nevertheless they exist. 
  • What is your favorite movie? Avatar
  • What is your favorite food? Zwetschgenwähe (a kind of prune cake), swiss chocolate, raclette (Swiss melted cheese dish) 
  • What is one of your favorite quotes? -:: “Every being you meet is an angel in disguise.” ::-
  • What do you do to relieve stress? write and sleep, would love to do more exercise (yoga and pilates) but a toddler keeps me ‘running’ 
  • Who or what inspires you? Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and my friends and musicians Deva Premal and Miten
  • What is your biggest fear? My daughter Ananda Mae dying 
  • What is your biggest dream? Having my book ‘GRIEVING PARENTS – Surviving Loss As A Couple’ published and being read by people who are then helped through their process of grief
  • What is your best piece of advice? Listen to your heart, follow your heart
  • What are you most proud of? My daughters Ananda Mae and Amya Mirica and those souls that I had with me/inside of me who I was not able to carry through the whole pregnancy

My 10 Nominees

I did chose some blogs of other grieving mums but also other blogs, which have inspired me lately.

  1. A Mourning Mum – a mum growing up with 2 children here and 2 children in heaven
  2. Carly Marie Project Heal – Carly is such a beautiful humble person who is an amazing artist with a huge heart
  3. Return to Zero – The blog with stories of people’s loss
  4. Lori Does Maryland – Lori is a really grateful and inspiring mother
  5. Chasing Rainbows – a touching story of Kate’s family
  6. No Holding Back – Katie’s blog about her journey through motherhood & loss of a twin due to Twin-to-Twin Transfusion (TTTS)
  7. The Matt Walsh Blog – especially the blog post “You’re a stay at home mom? What do you DO all day?”
  8. Adam Cahill’s post on Still Standing Magazine – a father’s perspective and beautifully touching words on child loss
  9. The Conscious Heart – Janet is an amazingly insightful women, here is her blog on femininity, sexuality, relationship etc.
  10. From Passion with Love – my daughter’s blog, she was PERSISTENT begging me on her knees to be in! 😉

My 10 Questions

  • Why do you blog?
  • Who is your role model?
  • What is your favorite holiday place?
  • What is one of your favorite quotes?
  • What or who inspires you?
  • What is your biggest fear?
  • What is your biggest dream?
  • What is your best piece of advice?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • If there was one thing I could give to the world it would be…?

Thank you A Mourning Mum – you have made my day with your raw of SUNSHINE!

Everyone Wants To Write a Book

Want to OR Write a Book?

Want to OR Write a Book?

According to a study, 80% of the people interviewed said that ‘they wanted to write a book’. Besides the question about who they were interviewing it seems something I have heard a lot lately from people I know.

So here I am too: I am writing a book! 

I first wanted to write a ‘book’ when I was 12 and started writing a story in a notebook. I didn’t get far. I knew how to write a story but had no clue ‘how’ to write a book and given that ‘a’ story does not make a book, I gave up.

After many assignments and essays during my studies I started writing articles and currently I have published an amazing number of 467 articles. I have to say I’m impressed at myself, given that English is my 4th language.

Again, writing article does not make a book but here I’m NOT giving up.

Why am I writing this book?

As many grieving people have experienced, we receive some tremendous support, sprinkled with some more and some less helpful tips and some tremendously inappropriate clichés.
In order to process all my tumultuous time following my daughter’s and my mother’s death, I personally was led to write many blog posts. While I shared the deepest and rawest of my emotional roller coaster I also shared practical suggestions on how I felt best supported. So in response to what was not helpful, I also wrote about what WAS helpful and what COULD be said instead of those clichés which in fact are often just well meant attempt to ‘say something’ at a time when no words do justice.

I also had people asking me for help in their process of grief, which came naturally for me given my profession but also my personal experience.

Through all of this I have been encouraged to write more and in specific a book.

GRIEVING PARENTS BOOK – CHALLENGES TO FACE AFTER LOSS

First I didn’t know how or when or for whom really? Now I do: Grieving parents and the challenges they face as a couple in the aftermath of loss

Following weeks of research I found the perfect match between my professional experience working with clients, especially in the area of relationship challenges and grief, as well as my personal experience of the challenges in my relationships, especially the couple’s relationship following our grief. Given my research, there is plenty of material for grieving mothers, supporting children in their grief, dealing with grief in general etc. but so far I only found very few dealing with the couple’s relationship post grief, especially when losing a child as it affects both parents in some form or other. Given my personal experience I know how challenged I have and still am at times in my relationship with my husband.

What is the book about?

So here we are and this is where I need your help: If you are or know someone who is a ‘Grieving Parent’ I would LOVE you to answer my questionnaire in research for my book. A book is only as good as readers think who have READ the book. So you tell me what you want to have in the book! Here is the survey: https://de.surveymonkey.com/s/RMTP7WW

Not Dead But Still Grieving

Letting go

Letting go

In the past few weeks I had 3 conversations with close friends about the grieving for the ‘not dead‘. While attending Bill Coller’s workshop on ‘The grieving process‘, he also extensively spoke about this topic.

Most of you have experienced grief for a relationship that broke apart, which also means that the person hasn’t died. But this was more about people, specifically family members who my close friends hadn’t ‘broken up with’, they were still somehow present in their lives but there was also the experience of huge grief.

He no longer is what he was before

Bill Coller mentioned that the grief about the son ‘who no longer was the son’ the parents were used to as a challenging form of grief. He recalled an experience of a family whose son had an accident and was still alive but paralysed and unconscious right after the accident. The person he was before would never be coming back.

Given that we associate grieving with someone or something that ‘no longer exists’ it often feels strange (more…)

Unexpected Visitor: Grief

~ hello again ~

~ hello again ~

Waves and surges of deep sadness from the depth of my soul vibrated through my being when I chatted to a friend who lost her niece. In a split second I was back in the midst of my maternal grief I felt 2 years ago, feeling with the mother who had just lost her daughter.

I don’t know this woman and her daughter, besides from the photos that were shared with me. What I do know is the path of a mother who has lost her daughter, the past of grief & loss. I know that deep sadness that renders the brain and physical being incapable, barely functioning on auto-pilot, waiting to wake up from what seems like a nightmare. ‘This can’t be true’ and ‘why did this happen’… among tears streaming, just streaming endlessly. Every waking moment spent thinking about this being that no longer is alive, the daughter who was meant to live past her mother’s days.

The sadness is deep.

I think the most difficult thing in life is to accept the things inevitable, the things we can’t change no matter how much we wish it were different. Acceptance can feel harsh and cold and cruel. How ironic that acceptance, then, is the very thing that liberates and brings happiness. The only way out, is through.
~ Femke Stuut

The sadness is deep. And it needs time and space. Not to heal. But to present to. To honour the love for this being, our daughters who passed before our time.

So be sad. Be sad now and then. When ever.

Are You Ready To Meet Your Grief?

Grief is universal – everyone has it inside of them, it’s just dormant, if you’re not dealing with having ‘lost’ someone or something.

Here’s your chance to get in touch with it:

Meet Zach Sobiech, who says: ‘You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living’.

Watch his story here.

‘While his music became a hit, it was his incredible message that touched millions: do not waste another second before you start truly living your life.’

Zach’s song ‘Cloud’ here…

I Remembered…

You Never Know When It Next Hits You – Grief…

I’m not shy to expose myself to the stories of families grieving for the loss of their children.

Some of you might think: ‘Why expose yourself to that?’  

The answer is simple: Grief, the emotion felt when remembering the loss of Amya is there whether I meet it or not. It does not just go away because I don’t feel it for a moment. One father in a support group of parents dealing with the loss of their babies pre or post birth once put it poignantly: ‘Why would I want the pain to end? The pain is the very connection to my daughter.’

Today I read the story of a family who lost their 4 year-old son. Today I met my own grief. It doesn’t happen every time I read stories like theirs, but it happens when a memory gets triggered. Heather, the mother of the boy, described the last bath they gave to their son and suddenly I remembered.

~ precious memories ~

~ precious memories ~

I remembered her last and only bath.
I remembered my first time giving a bath to my baby.
I remembered her tiny body in my hands.
I remembered her head covered in dark hair.
I remembered her tiny hands and fingers.
I remembered the soft pink color of her face.
I remembered her tiny red lips.
I remembered the gentleness with which we stroke her skin.
I remembered the sorrow of knowing that this will be the only time.

Responding to Grief

~ I'm thinking of you ~

~ I’m thinking of you ~

There are lots of words written about what NOT to say in response to grief but not enough about HOW to respond to grief. This is my experience about what could help when in grief. It specifically is my experience in relation to the death of my 3-day-old baby and the suicide of my mother, it may however also be the case for other people’s grief in different circumstances.

Asking Questions

Inquire how I’m doing, what I’m feeling. Don’t tell me ‘it must be hard’ or ‘you must feel so awful’. Ask me, don’t tell me. Ask again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Be gentle when asking, it needn’t be an interrogation.

I’m So Sorry

This is the simplest and most appropriate sentence. It bridges any ‘I don’t know what to say’ or ‘I’m lost for words’ moment, any awkward silence that you might be tempted to fill with clichés. Don’t. Just say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’.

Show You Care (more…)

Stages of Grief

~ you will never be forgotten ~

~ you will never be forgotten ~

I’ve been reading a lot about the stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, bevor the death in my family and also after. Her book ‘On Death and Dying’ is a must read for anyone who has no choice but having to deal with death and who’s interested to understand more about the topic.

She talks about the 5 stages of grief:

  1. Shock / denial
  2. Anger
  3. Depression
  4. Bargaining
  5. Acceptance

Rather than stages where, once gone through them you’ll return to a ‘meaningful life’ I’ve come to understand grief on a personal and professional level as a grief cycle: We go through the stages again and again. Sometimes it seem that we haven’t progressed at all, as we are yet again facing anger, for example. It still means progress because the anger will have changed, not necessarily become easier to deal with but you will have gone deeper in the process of grieving.

I guess I have become less social due to my process of grieving and some people find it hard to just be with what is in the moment, which adds to the social alienation.

Just recently I read a post from another grieving mother on Facebook, which I found very useful, especially in the case of loosing a child:

The 10 stages of a mother who has lost a child.

1. Shock- You don’t know what is happening
2. Comprehending -what happened to my child
3. Questioning-why my child
4. Lose Faith-Am I being punished for something I did wrong
5. Blame-If only I would’ve done this
6. Guilt- Why am I alive and my baby’s not
7. Acceptance- My child is gone
8. Depression- I can’t cope
9. Grieve-Repeating steps 1-8, maybe all in one day, maybe in a
different order, maybe some more than others
10. Bereavement begins
Steps 9-10 have no limit, it could possibly be a lifetime of healing.

Grief is Personal

amwinter3I’m being reminded how personal grief is lately. My father has removed things that reminded him about my mum. Someone’s blog I follow is reliving a miscarriage from a year ago. Yet another person apparently went back to work a week after a stillbirth and does not want to think or talk about it.

Some talk, some don’t. Some cry every day, some don’t. Some pray to God, some have lost faith. Some ‘spiritualize’ their experience and some don’t. Where I think we go wrong is when we tell someone else how to live with grief.

Grief is ever changing. Since I’ve held my daughter in my arms while she left her body and subsequently buried my mom less than 4 months later my grief has changed and is still changing constantly. Monthly anniversaries are changing. Everything has to do with the meanings I’ve changed (or they changed themselves) around those things.  (more…)