My blog posts for Still Standing Magazine

As a contributory writer for the excellent grief resource, Still Standing Mag, I have listed here links to the posts I have had published on the site so far. Writing these each month has been a great way to keep my blog writing going and also seen much more widely as they have a fantastic following of writers and readers. Simply click on a link below to read them.

Sept ’18 – How to avoid burnout when supporting grieving friends

Aug ’18 – Don’t hurry to ask me why my child died

July ’18 – Hypochondria, anxiety, and grief: what comes after loss

June ’18 – Overcoming grief sabotage

May ’18 – Why her, God? Why not me?

April ’18 – 5 tips for using social media when you’re grieving

March ’18 The strength of a grieving mother

Feb ’18 – Don’t be sorry that you’re not grieving

still standing

 

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GUEST POST: 2 ways fundraising helps you heal

There are numerous ways to set up memorials for loved ones, and Beautiful Tribute has successfully provided one way to do that online. An online tribute is a simple way to remember someone, and because it is accessible anywhere it can be seen and contributed to by other people who also take comfort from it.

Set up by UK-based founder, Sandeep Sekon, this website also offers a fundraising option to help people raise memory of their loved one.

Victoria at Beautiful Tribute wrote this blog post especially for Chasing Dragonflies to share ways that fundraising helps comfort the bereaved.

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When we deal with the death of a loved one, the emotional pain is so intense that we feel it may never end. For some people this might be the case. However, for most people it can take around two years to understand how to cope with these emotions. Even when we’re aware that over time we will heal and the feelings will lessen, it is mentally challenging to accept this in the initial grieving stage.

So, instead of trying to alleviate this pain and sorrow, why not try to channel our feelings – in a more positive way? Fundraising in memory site Beautiful Tribute has seen just this. People are increasingly honouring the memory of loved ones by creating memorials online and fundraising in memory. It is clear that given the opportunity, we can find comfort in personalising memorials by including pictures, having a favourite song play in the background, sharing loving videos and stories. Fundraising for a personal event or a charity is also an important part of this. Not only is this an effective way to pay a tribute to a loved one, it also creates a sense of healing by uniting those affected by loss and branching out the support system.

Fundraise for a personal event

We have hurt and cried and now it’s time to celebrate – celebrate the life of our loved one! Give them the beautiful tribute they deserve! Family and friends are collecting funds and taking part in events, personal to their loved one, to commemorate them. The rising trend in in-memory funding has proven that it has a positive effect. So ask yourself: What were their hobbies or favourite holiday spots? Did they enjoy skiing? Or rocking and rolling to a Michael Jackson concert? Whatever it is, this is exactly what you can do! What’s more, you will find peace within yourself in doing so.

Yes, it may feel like there are one too many things to consider. And of course, it isn’t easy to think about planning an event when you’re simultaneously trying to accept the loss of a loved one. However, you can remind yourself that this is a positive and essential step towards healing, so you will need to be brave. Try to focus not on how, but why you are doing this.

Fundraise for a charity

When someone dear to our hearts passes away, it is easy to feel lost and without purpose. We may find that acting in good cause can help us to feel slightly better. We get a sense of purpose and satisfaction from helping others and this is exactly what we need during a time of bereavement. One way to go about this is by fundraising in memory of a loved one towards a charity. Whether the charity has supported you or your loved one through a difficult period, or whether the purpose of the charity is to help fight against a specific medical condition, creating a fundraising campaign can see you through a tough time. Not only are you honouring someone’s memory by helping others, you’ve also turned what is often a dark and depressing time into a genuine act of kindness.

Try to see the silver lining

We all deal with death differently. Even though some of us cope with our emotions easier, or heal quicker than others, what remains is that we all grieve when someone close to our hearts dies. While we can’t lessen this pain completely, we can attempt to heal in a healthy way. Try to see the silver lining in fundraising in memory of a loved one. Whether you fundraise to plan a personal event, or for a charity, you are sure to feel uplifted and will find yourself better coping with your emotions.

 If you’d like to create an online memorial for someone, please visit www.beautifultribute.com 

Image credit: Beautiful Tribute

Guest post: Thoughts of loss and hope at Christmas

I was pacing the landing with my teething baby at 3am last night and all I could think of was you. As anyone who has been bereaved knows, the build up to Christmas is never easy. If you have children you try to retain the excitement, the magic, the wonder of Christmas. Yet behind the smiles, lies an anxiety, a dread, a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach that represents the gaping void left by loss. This Boxing Day marks 20 years since you were cruelly snatched from us that bitterly cold morning. Twenty years! The same length of time that you were married to my mum. I was 14, you were just 45. 

When you experience a traumatic bereavement, whether as a child losing a parent or a parent losing a child, your world is irreversibly changed. The wounds are deep and the scars only partially heal. I was reminded of this only three months ago when we experienced two close family bereavements and the scars were reopened. Old memories were reignited and the full force of raw emotion came crashing down once again. 

Yet there is also the possibility for reflection and growth, heightened empathy and compassion, and a greater understanding of the fragility and precious nature of life.

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My journey: a mother’s testimony through grief

I’ve got to know Vicky through our mutual journey through loss and faith, and our blogs. We both write about our emotions and thoughts as a way to process our experiences. Vicky’s story is very different from mine; however, our views are very similar.

Vicky has shared her faith testimony on her blog which I would encourage you to read, especially if you are dealing with, or have dealt with, the terminal illness of a loved one. Vicky blends her relationship with God so movingly into her story, and while her daughter Leah’s illness and passing is so heartbreaking, I also felt encouraged by her words and very grateful for her transparency.

Vicky’s faith was strong and had been part of her life for many years before her loss, and what her testimony demonstrates is the help and comfort knowing God gave them all during the most difficult time of their lives, something I wish I had at that the time I lost my own daughter.

Vicky’s testimony features some of the many Bible passages that helped them. What struck me, reading this, was when she said this:

I really appreciate this Bible passage (Isaiah 43:1-2) about walking through the fire, as some Christians seem to have this erroneous idea that if you have enough faith that you will live a long and happy life – that you can just command your troubles in Jesus name to disappear and they will go. I have read the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation and that’s not what I have read.

This is an important part of our faith which is very difficult to understand. We can live the most holy life dedicated to God yet still suffer and die, yet some who never bother with God can live long, healthy lives. It doesn’t always make sense. God never said we would not suffer and lose, but He promised He would love us through it all – that life is far more than just our mortal lives here on earth.

As times of sorrow, it’s so important to hear the words of mothers like Vicky, who share their stories so that others can feel perhaps a little less alone.

Please read My Journey here.

 

 

Guest post: Born sleeping – 10 years of missing Amy

I’m sharing this post on behalf of a lovely friend, Louise, who lost her first child, Amy, 10 years ago. Louise has offered me much emotional support since my own loss and I have been inspired by her strength. Please read and appreciate the years of love and loss in these words and images.

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Thursday, 17th March 2016, marks the 10th anniversary of the death and birth of our daughter, Amy. She was stillborn at 39 weeks, following a textbook pregnancy, and with no logical explanation.

Having happily carried her for nine months, to then endure labour and birth knowing there would be no positive outcome is certainly the hardest thing I have ever experienced and I truly hope never to surpass it. I know, my husband, Jason feels similarly about having to helplessly watch it happen.

It took me a long time to begin to face my grief, but even in my darkest days I started to write about it. This poem took me years to complete (and I am still editing it as I re-read it!) but I thought, a decade on, I might dare to share it.

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Losing Amy

“It’s not there, sweetie”.
Those words I’ll never forget.
The words of a consultant,
Searching for a heartbeat,
So strong for nine whole months,
That now had ceased to be.

Disbelief so whole,
And pain so numbing.
We held onto each other, as our world collapsed.
To leave that room was to accept it.
I couldn’t move.
I kept repeating, “NO!”

I had felt so joyful,
As I nurtured our first child within.
I had taken great care,
And yet our daughter, Amy,
Our little ‘Bean’,
Was born sleeping.

Although so cold,
Her skin was soft,
As it should have been.
We caressed her face, her perfect hands,
And took our birth day photographs
Of our precious girl.

I felt broken.
So sad and lost.
I gave birth to her
And yet I didn’t feel like a mother.
I treasured the memory of her kicks.
Poor Daddy had nothing to remember.

Three years passed and, despite two beautiful sons,
I was feeling desperate.
I had confined Amy’s photographs to a box
my grief alongside them.
But now the lid was about to blow.
I was losing control.

I reached out for help
And someone grabbed my hand.
Rachel. A bereavement counsellor.
A rock to cling to in the whirlpool of grief.
She helped me find my way out of the dark
And I am so thankful.

Ten years on and my grief persists.
Sometimes it washes over me like a wave.
Occasionally, it still bends me double with its force.
But I don’t attempt to control it now.
I accept it has a place in my life
And our darling Amy, a place in my heart.

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We sadly know we are not alone in our experience and were thankful for the support given by SANDS (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity). Their work provides an essential resource to grieving parents, so if you would like to donate in Amy’s or any other baby’s memory they would welcome any support. Please click this link https://www.uk-sands.org/donate Thank you. x

Guest post: Returning to dust

My Great Loves is a blog I came across on WordPress Reader. This military wife and mother lost her darling first born son, ‘Gift’, age 12 in a tragic accident. She blogs anonymously about her ‘loves’ – her husband and children, her grief and family life. I have been moved by her touching honesty and the way she blogs about how her faith has been her strength. I find her faith inspiring and she kindly agreed to write something for me about how death is not the end.

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Guest post: Forever 12

This guest post was written by my friend Sarah, whose son was in the same school and year as Abi. As her son turned 13 this weekend, Sarah reflects in this moving and inspiring post on what it is to be forever 12.When my eldest reached the milestone of his teenage years last week, it was a chance for me to reflect – on his life so far and on his life still to come – his journey through GCSEs, A Levels and girlfriends to adulthood. But it was also a chance for me to reflect on my friend Kelly, who blogs at Chasing Dragonflies, and her daughter Abi.

Because Abi will be forever 12.

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Guest post: The ways my heart is broken

I met (on Twitter) a remarkable woman who tragically lost her darling son Hugo in March this year. He was born at just 24 weeks and lived 35 days. I gave birth to my son on 24th February, just four days after Leigh had Hugo, and her story really struck me and again reminded me how fragile life is. Leigh is a woman after my own heart, she wants to break the taboo surrounding baby loss and ‘start a conversation’ about it. Our babies, no matter what age, are all very special and deserve to be remembered.

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Guest post: Saying goodbye had to be perfect (for you)

This personal and deeply moving guest post was kindly written for our blog by The Tangerine Owl Project. It recounts a grieving mother’s determination to plan a beautiful memorial for her baby daughter who lived for just 27 days. 
As I recall the days in the NICU and the loss of Delilah, I often wonder how I made it through in once piece.Usually I attribute this to my children and my husband. My husband was my partner who was also grieving and wasn’t afraid to talk about her or to let me feel however I was feeling without question or instruction. Our children were 3 and 4 at the time, and had come to see Delilah a few times at the hospital during hand-off between our parents and us. When we found that she was too sick to make it, we called everyone to the hospital and told them there that her condition was deteriorating and we were going to turn off the machines that afternoon.

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International Bereaved Mother’s Day

I thought this a little strange at first, we bereaved mothers feel our loss every minute so is it wise to focus on a day for our grief?… but I missed the point.

Now I get it… take a look at this page to find out why this day is needed.

http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/2012/05/international-bereaved-mothers-day.html