Dealing with my son’s sudden illness while grieving my daughter’s sudden death

Experiencing one of my children falling suddenly ill has revealed much about how grief has impacted me, as a mother who is grieving the sudden death of another of my children.

Last weekend, my son scared us. The anxiety and fear flooded back in and we fought with everything we had to hold it together.

Losing Abi was the worst thing imaginable

When we lost Abi, we were reassured by the doctors, as best they could, that her brain haemorrhage was a one-off, a rare and unpredictable bursting of blood vessels in her brain stem. There was nothing they or we could have done to detect it or prevent it.

It started on 6th February 2013. Abi blacked out at school momentarily and fell down against a handrail. She laughed it off initially, as she wasn’t a clumsy child, but she had hurt her back when she fell. I picked her up from school when she text me to tell me her back really hurt (she brushed off the faint as it was so short). It was unusual for her to complain about anything so I was happy to go and get her.

After an uneventful day at home, I just assumed she needed a day off school to get over any bruising. She seemed OK until about 8.30pm when she suddenly said she felt terrible, it was like she was coming down with ‘flu. By 9.30pm she was in a coma on our bed and we were performing CPR on her. Terrified. Four long days later we turned off her life support.

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A dog’s sense

I read last night this fascinating look at dogs’ way of communicating with us. I saw many similarities with our loopy Lab, Darcy, who is now 10 years old. Here’s a picture of him taken last week on a walk…

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I was also reminded of the post below which I wrote not long after Abi died. I can still remember this very clearly as though it were yesterday. Have you had a similar experience with your dog offering you comfort or picking up on your distress?

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First published 19th May 2013

I’ve heard numerous stories of dogs sensing illness and death, and pining for their lost masters. But it wasn’t until I experienced this for myself that I realised the true bond that dogs share with their human family, and the effect death has on them also.

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How I found faith in church after losing my child

Picture the scene: It’s Sunday morning. Our church holds three morning services. Early doors for the quiet ones, 9.30am for the traditional worshippers (organ and choir) and 11.15am for the ‘modern’ worshippers and those with children. With three children, you can imagine which one we go to!

We rush, ever on the side of being late rather than early. Our older children are dragging their feet, having been forced away from the comfy sofa and electronics. Our toddler is charging ahead, keen to get to the toys!

We enter to smiling faces from the welcome team, people who volunteer to say hello and help visitors when they arrive. The church is bustling, so much so that I think there must be an event on! There are familiar and new faces mingling together. The last of the coffee is being served and our three head straight for the biscuit barrel (a bit of bribery on the way!) and each choose one before taking their usual seats.

My hubby busies himself with coats and chatting to another dad about football. We are seated with other families with children, old and young, and new parents with babies in prams. There are also couples soon to be married seated somewhat nervously at the back, waiting to hear banns read. There are couples who’ve been married for decades, there are single people and friends sitting together. There is a pretty even spead of men and women, and the congregation includes people from many different backgrounds and heritages.

I take in the mix of people attending this service and it is pretty humbling and also uplifting- especially having read only a few days before how church attendance is dwindling as the elderly population die off! To see the range of ages was really encouraging. The people in this place were not ‘strange’ or ‘a minority’, they were there simply to be with like-minded people to worship the God of creation, to take time to reflect on their lives and situations. It didn’t feel ‘religious’, it felt natural.

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