Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween ramblings.

My three boys get to celebrate Halloween this year.  Gabrielle will not join us and we miss her.  We carved a big heart in her pumpkin and we have been remembering all of our Halloween's with her.  James said this morning on our way to school, "Mom, it feels different this year.  It doesn't feel like Halloween."  Life is just so different when you lose a little person you love so much.  It takes so much time to adjust.  So many tears, so much sadness and so much reflection on what matters in life. We know that Gabrielle wants us to make the most of our time on earth together so we are doing our best to keep going everyday, being grateful for health, love and for all the wonderful things we have in this life.

Gabrielle: you gave our family the most amazing gift ever and we will always honour what you taught us.  Your spirit is alive and big in our hearts and in our family.  We love you little angel.  Keep looking out for us Gabrielle... until we are together again.

I love you.

Our last Halloween with Gabrielle - 2012.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Connected, But Alone?

Not since "Do Schools Kill Creativity" have I been so engaged by an online talk. Since Gabrielle was born, we have definitely been "connected" to friends and family, but we have felt very much alone. Maybe you have too. I recommend taking 20 minutes out of your day to watch this.

And, in the same vein, but less academic and more funny, Louis C.K. shares his views on how cell phones rob us from the full spectrum of human experience. I kinda agree, and worth a watch. (Note that I wouldn't share this one with your youngsters).

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy B-Day Gabs, You Woulda Been 3

At the end of the day,
You would have been three,
No way to twist it,
I want you with me.

A day to be thankful,
I'm not in the spirit,
You should have lived more,
There was no way to cure it.

I think back on our time,
The rush that it was,
You shoulda been more,
There's no damn because.

I think of you now,
Not sick but alive,
Skipping and dancing,
The things I contrive.

Sweet girl you are missed,
Each day marches on,
The pain and the bliss,
We hate that you're gone.

At the end of the day,
You would have been three.
You live in our hearts,
And taught us to see.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Suggestions for Your Relationships with Bereaved Parents

Here's a helpful list for whatever it's worth (with the help of Amy and a good friend who also lost her beautiful, beautiful boy to cancer):

Unless you've lost a child, I strongly recommend not saying the following things to bereaved parents... it's exactly the same as someone without kids offering parents parenting advice, or someone who's never been married offering marriage advice. So here it goes:

* Do not say to bereaved parents that their very dead child is somewhere better, or with God, or whatever. It's insulting. You want your child back. Screw heaven. The bereaved parent wants to say back to you, "Oh, really? Would you put your put child there today?"

* Do not say to bereaved parents with surviving children, "At least you have ____ kids." Is that a consolation prize?

* Don't wince and scrunch your face up all sad like when you see them. It looks forced. It looks condescending, and it makes the bereaved parent want to offer you ex-lax.

* Do not ask bereaved parents how they are doing. You know the answer: they're doing shitty. It's a lazy question.

* Do not say to bereaved parents it will get better. It makes the bereaved parent want to say #### you.

* If you know the bereaved parents well, do not—the first time you see them after some time—pretend that nothing's happened. It's their life. It's on their mind 24/7. You can choose to not bring it up if you don't want to, but it would be like not bringing up the birth of a new child or any other major event.

* Don't compare the bereaved parent's loss to the loss of a pet. Furbabies are special and they are a part of your family. But they are not your child.  You did not carry your pet in your womb, birth them etc.  It's just not the same. The bereaved parent will be thinking OMG, you're talking about a ####ing pet!

* Don't ask the bereaved parent if they are "over it."  They will never get over the death of their child. They will always be searching for any sign of them. Their life is a describable journey of survival. Two parts: The part of when their child was with them, and the journey they have to take without them.  They will never be over it.

* And, with all due respect, and if you can, do your best to not complain about your first world parenting problems—healthy problems you have with your healthy kids are things a bereaved parent would kill for.

To be constructive, here's some advice for your relationships you might have with bereaved parents, for what it's worth:

* Know that nothing you can say or do will make anything better. Their child is gone. It's the worst. If you want to maintain your relationship with them, drop that thought as soon as you can. The company and support is all that's needed.

* Share a memory of their son or daughter. Just hearing their child's name and hearing that they are alive in other people's mind will make their day.

* Give them a hug and say—if you are—that you're so sorry for their loss.

* Remember their child on holidays and, if you send them a card or something, include their child's name on the note.  Bereaved parents are reminded every single day that the world goes on... very much without their child.  It is so nice when friends and family help keep their memory alive.  Especially during holidays or special days.

* Cry. Don't be uncomfortable if you cry or if they cry. Losing a child sucks. Crying is love. Tears are not bad. They are beautiful. They are real.

* Be tender to bereaved parents and acknowledge their loss, but let them feel normal. Run with a topic switch. Laugh if they want to laugh. Let them bitch about the traffic, or whatever.

* Be patient. When a child dies, so do their parents. The only difference is they have to climb back into life. It's a long, long process. And support and open arms are always welcome. Patience—patience in listening and in not having expectations—is welcome and wonderful.

* Show up.