Family dynamics after the death of a child

We have just returned from a holiday in the New Forest, in Hampshire, UK. We went last year our first proper family holiday since Abi died, and found it to be a very healing place to go. We found the thought of visiting our usual holiday spots simply too difficult without Abi with us.

A big part of grief is realizing that so many favourite places become out of bounds, at least for the first few years. In fact, the whole concept of ‘holiday’ has changed for us now. We find it hard to plan ahead, to choose destinations, to get excited about going anywhere without all our children with us.

This year, we invited one of our daughter’s friends with us. She’s a lovely girl who has been friends with my daughter for many years through primary school. Even though they now go to different secondary schools, they have remained close. Continue reading

Advertisements

Why we watched the solar eclipse, 20th March 2015

Losing a child changes you. It’s changed me certainly, and my thoughts and opinions about ‘what matters’. The solar eclipse wasn’t something I’d bothered to get excited about (it’s hard to be excited about anything these days), but I was surprised about how that opinion was turned around.

However, when yesterday, the day before the eclipse, my daughter came home from school and told me that her teacher would be keeping her class inside for an extra five minutes so that no one looked at the sun (and potentially damaged their eyes), I felt a knot of irritation rise up in me. This event (which in my eyes was a bit of a reminder from the heavens about just how amazing the universe is) is one of those one-offs that is unlikely to occur in my lifetime again, or even my children’s (though don’t even get me started on what I now term a ‘lifetime’; living to old age is something I don’t take for granted anymore, for anyone!).

My daughter asked if she could stay home to watch the eclipse or at least to experience it, as she’d be trapped in a stuffy classroom with no view. It was due to happen between 8.30am and 9.30am, and I thought, why not! I agreed that, if the sky was clear in the morning, both my daughter and son could stay off school to watch/experience the eclipse and I’ll take them in straight after.

I must admit I was kind of expecting a cloudy start so it’d be a fuss about nothing, but no, the sky was beautifully clear first thing and the sun was shining away. We all got ready and my daughter began to have doubts: ‘what if I get into trouble for not going in?’, ‘will they believe me?’, ‘will it be awkward going late into lesson?’. So then I began to waver too (being decisive in grief is near impossible, I’ve known myself to deliberate far too long over even simple decisions like whether to have jam or marmalade!).

I could see other families and people going about their daily routine. Other than a rather excited Brian Cox and some weather women scattered about the country, people around me seemed to be unfazed by all the hype.

But then this event is incredibly rare. It’s our moon casting a shadow over our earth, blocking out our sun. Who cares about school rooms and offices? (Although I did say that if my house was on fire, I’d very much rather the firemen were at work rather than sitting around watching the eclipse!)

My son decided he wanted to get to school on time. By 8.50am, the eclipse wasn’t really visible and was taking its time, he wanted to be at school. So I took him and came back to my daughter. She was scrolling on her phone, clearly getting bored by the ‘non-event’, so I told her to put it away and watch the facts that the people on TV were telling us about what we were seeing. He did some useful demonstrations about how the eclipse occurs and why in a million years from now we won’t have eclipses anymore as the moon will move further away from us (strange thought!). We also discovered we could use a colander to view the sun safely, so we grabbed one and went into the garden.

Again, not much happened for a while but then a patch of very light cloud came over the sun and the sky seemed to go dusky. The birds all went a bit crazy and flew back to the trees. Everything felt very still and peaceful.

We were able to take photos of the eclipse and could view it through the images on our screens, and with the cloud over the sun it was easier to look at (although we were very careful!). Our pictures weren’t amazing as we were totally unprepared but I think we managed to capture the moment well enough.

As soon as we’d got a few pictures and the eclipse started passing over, I took my daughter up to school with a note to explain why she was late. She was a bit self-conscious, after all, it’s not a usual reason to get out of class, but then I wasn’t about to make up something just because the school couldn’t be bothered to use this event as a way to educate all the children on the wonders of our solar system.

I vaguely recall the last eclipse, in 1999. I had just got married and my husband remembers going up the hill to watch it, along with a number of other people, all with special specs in hand. I didn’t go. I can’t even remember why. I was probably working. I probably thought ‘what a load of fuss and nonsense, I’ve got deadlines’.

Says it all really, doesn’t it.

I hope that in years to come my daughter will remember the morning she went in late to watch the eclipse with her mum and baby brother in the garden. It’s not the most amazing life-changing moment, but it’s far more memorable than being sat in a dark IT classroom pressing buttons on a keyboard.

DSC_0495

The bright blue skies became dusky and still

Eclipse 2

The moon and the sun in almost perfect alignment, looking rather magical peeking out through the clouds

Eclipse

A memorable moment when the skies changed from bright to dull

Valentine’s Day – using loss to celebrate love

Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love that’s turned into yet another excuse to waste spend money on stuff, just like Easter is all about chocolate and Christmas about presents.

St. Valentine was the patron of love, young people and happy marriages – not of supermarkets and card shops (or abusive relationships if watching ’50 Shades of Grey’ is on your ‘to-do’ list this weekend!). Continue reading

And then our world fell apart

It is already the second anniversary of this horrible day. Two years of trying to live a new life without Abi with us, yet she still feels so close. I wanted to reshare this as it sums up the day our world fell apart.

Chasing dragonflies

It is exactly a year ago today that Abi came downstairs looking pale and complained she felt really ill. Exactly a year since our world was turned upside down and inside out.

IMG_3734

I never really imagined what this day would be like, despite people telling me ‘all the anniversaries will be hard’.

Anniversaries? Anniversaries are a time to celebrate or commemorate something. A time to think of only that person or event, which you can forget about the rest of the year.

It’s not an anniversary of a year without Abi, it’s an anniversary of the day our entire world was shattered by something so totally unpredictable and traumatic.

View original post 1,058 more words

As the sun sets on New Year’s Eve, I see hope for tomorrow

As per my post earlier this month, most people will understand that this time of year is very difficult for me and trying to cope with Christmas festivities without Abi is something I (and my family) have again had to bear and get through.

New Year’s Eve is equally painful. I don’t even want to wish others a happy New Year as it feels so hard to say when I feel such grief that Abi isn’t here with us. I want to turn off all the social media updates. But I do wish us all not just a happy new year but a joyful one. One where we can all, despite our various problems and sorrows, see some joy in our lives this year.

Continue reading

Coping with Christmas after the death of your child

I’m aware I’ve not written since Abi’s birthday, and there’s a reason.

Like last year, I’ve found myself lost in a blur of grief and unable to write at all. It’s almost like there is so much to say that it’s impossible to write clearly. Sometimes I find that life is back in focus and I’m getting on with things, but then I’m reminded – constantly, what with the coming of Christmas and my duty as mum to make sure my other children feel able to ‘get excited’ – that my darling Abi is dead. That she’ll never open another present. That her Christmases are memories to me now.

Continue reading

You are my sunshine – a birthday poem

My darling Abi,

I recall you lying on your changing mat when you were a tiny baby
Those early months just you and me while Daddy was at work
Finding my feet with this miraculous little person
Who had grown inside me for nine months

I found I would sing ‘You are my sunshine’ to entertain you
It came so naturally to sing that song, it became ‘your song’
I know why now…

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
you make me happy, when skies were grey,
you’ll never know dear
how much I love you,
please don’t take my sunshine away….

You were my light and my joy, but now you’re gone
The light has dimmed.

Continue reading

Halloween just got scary

[I didn’t post this blog about Halloween at the time, I suppose to avoid offending anyone or to put a damper on the fun, but reading back on it, it’s certainly worth sharing. It’s not a major worry for me now, and who knows how I’ll feel about it in the years to come, but it’s a classic example of how trauma and grief can distort things.]

Continue reading

THIS is all I want for my birthday

Today, I turn 38. Thirty-eight years since I was born. It feels surreal. I don’t feel this age… in many ways still young, but equally old before my time. I question why I should be allowed to live this long and yet my child already be in heaven?

I’ve never been hugely into birthday celebrations, having a birthday at the end of the summer holidays was never ideal, and that’s even more the case now. It’s just another day, but I’m thankful for each day I have now.

My hubby gave me a beautiful emerald eternity ring for our wedding anniversary this year and that has doubled as a birthday gift too. To be honest, I don’t want anything. Possessions mean nothing.

THIS is all I want for my birthday.

My family back.

image

The best birthday ever, with my three babies, Menorca 2011

This photo was taken in 2011 on my birthday on holiday in Menorca. The children were sneaking around in the morning and then all jumped into my bed and gave me cards and balloons. It was so memorable. So special.

This is my second birthday without Abi. Now, instead of the joyful wake up, I’m perpetually reminded of the loss of her. That my tired lips don’t get her fleeting kisses in the morning anymore; she always woke me with a kiss.

Now, I’m visiting her memorial, leaving HER flowers…

image

I chose fiery orange roses for Abi

…with a new baby who seems to know so much already. He looks on at Abi’s place with such peace and wisdom. He knows too.

image

My baby quietened and stopped fidgeting for some time as he looked at Abi’s memorial

It’s a horrible day, an emotionally stressful time of year that I’d like to get through as quickly and with as little fuss as possible. I’m sorry darling, I know it’s not what you’d like, but my heart won’t ever stop breaking for the loss of you.

image

My hubby and baby sharing a moment with Abi at her special place

 

Keeping memories of Abi close on holiday

While debating where to go on our first summer holiday without Abi, I posted about the memories we had of so many places we visited regularly with our ‘Abi family’.

The Isle of Wight was one of them. Our last holiday together had been to Shanklin and we’d had a fabulous and very memorable time.

Continue reading