Tag - grief

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Doves Of Hope—Honouring Loved Ones Impacted By Cancer
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From Sympathy There’s Gratitude
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Signs Our Loved Ones Are Still With Us
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Life Lessons Learned From Loss
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What Is The Time Limit On Grief?
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When A Pet Dies
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Need Comfort? I’m Probably Not Your Best Bet
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Goodbye
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Levity During Loss—thank you for the flours
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A Message For My Friend

Doves Of Hope—Honouring Loved Ones Impacted By Cancer

Childhood sleep-overs and camping trips, always there for me with a joke; wiping tears of laughter from her cheeks as she attempted (and usually failed) to get to the punch line. My aunt. Everyone has a story to tell about a person who helped shape them into who they are—someone who inspired them to be a better person. For me that person was my Auntie Jan. Jan lived each day thoughtfully, with purpose. Her relationships, her commitment to fitness, her love of the outdoors and putting family first—she lived well by valuing what is important. I sometimes forget. Thinking about Jan reminds me. She used to play this game where she’d make eye contact with a stranger passing by and smile at them. She’d keep smiling until they eventually smiled back. They almost always did.  When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of sixty, far too young and too healthy for the likes of cancer, we were crushed.  Her initial biopsy was on my birthday, but despite her frightening day, she still phoned to leave me a Happy Birthday message. Oh my god her phone messages were the best—veering off topic and looping back again, laughing so[…]

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From Sympathy There’s Gratitude

It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada and there is so much to be grateful for. But with all the awful things—the violence, the tumultuous and surreal (I mean, can you even believe this has been allowed to go on this long?) political climate, not to mention the unnerving actual climate, it feels like we have to squint to see the good. But it’s there.  I’ve been watching it fill my Facebook feed. It feels right and affirming to see all the happy today.  But then I looked out my window and saw the saddest thing. It literally squeezed the air out of my lungs and made me dizzy with sympathy.  My family room window faces my neighbour’s kitchen window. We didn’t have blinds for a few months when we first moved in here thirteen years ago, so our poor neighbours were likely privy to way too much Thornbury in various states of undress. Tall trees, a substantial generation gap, and a language barrier prevented us from becoming close with our neighbours. But they’ve always smiled and said hello over the fence whenever we’re both out in our yards. And they happily throw back the balls and frisbees that ended up underneath[…]

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Signs Our Loved Ones Are Still With Us

I believe in signs. Or at least I believe that believing makes the sad bits of life easier.  One could argue that you can see anything if you’re looking for it, willing it to be there, twisting it into what you need it to be. You could argue that and you might be right.  But yet here we are. Signs all around us, even when we’re not looking for them. When my mother in law passed away she left a hole in our lives. As the years went by (it’s been two and half now) we filled the hole with time and memories.  Then this summer when my father in law sold his house and prepared to move out of the home he shared with his wife, where memories were made and her spirit was felt every time we walked through the door, the hole opened up a little. Sorting through her things brought up feelings. We felt her and missed her.  In an effort to simplify the move my father in law purged and pared down the contents of his home. He gave us their old patio table and chairs. This is the table where we ate dinner with[…]

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Life Lessons Learned From Loss

2014 was a year flanked on both ends by grief. Our family lost close family members in February and December. There was also the death of a pet in the middle (insignificant in comparison, but try telling that to a sobbing child who has only just recently had his first experience with losing a loved one). I’ve written about how death has affected our children. Insecurities, anxiety and fears have been addressed by talking about our feelings honestly, but age-appropriately. For the most part, the kids are coping and moving forward. Our daughter Avery, eight years old, but cognitively closer to age four, is still struggling with the loss of her Grandie. She talks about her daily. When she’s particularly sad, she makes an “I miss you” card to add to the collection whose intended recipient will never see. Avery dreams about her Grandie a lot and the mornings following those dreams are hard. She’ll cry and ask “why?” There’s really no good answer to that. So she’ll squeeze her eyes shut like her granddad taught her and say, “Grandie is in my heart.” And of course, it breaks my heart. Avery answered the phone last week (her new favourite[…]

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What Is The Time Limit On Grief?

The minute you think you’ve come to terms with loss, grief comes back—quietly sneaking up on you as a fleeting pang, or slamming into you like a visceral punch that forces the breath from your lungs, making you gasp amid sobs. My friend Heather said the other day in reference to the loss of her son that, “Grief has no time limit.” She and her family have been through it. They’re still going through it. They will always be in it to some degree. There may indeed be five stages of grief, but there’s definitely no fixed schedule or order to them. My husband’s mom passed away last February. She was more a friend than a mother in law and the close bond she shared with my children was uncommon, I think. My son was ten when she died. She wasn’t sick—her death was unexpected and a shock for everyone. Of course my boy was devastated when she died, but after a month or so, the cloud lifted for him and he claimed he had made peace with it and that he was okay. He later admitted he felt guilty for not crying anymore. “We all grieve in our own[…]

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When A Pet Dies

Pets die. It’s inevitable, but when it actually happens, it’s heart wrenching. Especially when you have kids.   We have two dogs who are getting on in years and we accept that they won’t be with us forever. But our skinny pig Ernie was only ten months old, so when he died suddenly it was a shock. Though he was merely a guinea pig to some, to us he was a beloved pet and sweet friend to my kids Sebastian and Avery. For reasons unknown, Ernie had a massive seizure and died. My daughter has Epilepsy so I’ve done my fair share of research into seizures. But never did I imagine I’d be Googling “what to do when your guinea pig has a seizure.” I was sitting next to his cage when it happened. He suddenly began convulsing in his cage, and was paralyzed and helpless in a matter of minutes. I knew when I picked held him, his head tilted and nuzzled lifelessly into my neck, that he was leaving us. That’s the hardest part about having a pet—they are completely dependent on us for their survival. So when they get sick or hurt or god forbid die, it’s[…]

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Need Comfort? I’m Probably Not Your Best Bet

Shortly before 6 AM on a Sunday morning our daughter came into our room sobbing. “I had a bad dream,” she cried. As she lay with us, the phone rang and we learned that my husband’s mum had passed away at 5:55 AM. Avery and her Grandie were so deeply connected in life, it makes sense to me that they were connected at the end.   When a loved one dies it’s a blessing for them if it’s quick—to go without suffering. But for those left behind, it’s heart wrenching. So how do people get through it? There’s no right or wrong way. Actually, that’s not exactly true. When you’re trying to comfort your grieving husband, there things you should definitely not do. For example, the day my husband’s mum died we sat on the couch exhausted, unable to do anything but stare. Avery wanted to play but we just couldn’t. Then I remembered I’d picked up some movies from the library earlier in the week so I popped one in the DVD player to keep her occupied. When I noticed my mistake, it was too late. The movie I had chosen was Up! If you know the sentimental story,[…]

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Goodbye

Losing someone you love leaves a hole in your heart. When the loss is sudden and unexpected it seems more cruel and difficult to accept.  You go through the motions and make the necessary arrangements, comforting those around you and accepting comfort when you can. You hold your family close when they cry and when you think nobody will hear, you cry too. My husband lost his mother, my father-in-law lost his wife, my children lost their grandmother, I lost a friend. It’s hard to accept that she’s really gone. Our son was extremely close to his Grandie. He’s now struggling with the concept of mortality—hers, his and ours. Avery, our seven year old special girl, doesn’t understand. Not really. She knows Grandie has gone somewhere, but explaining death is damn difficult. She thinks her grandmother has gone to the dentist. We’re not sure where she got this idea. The other night I heard her ask, “Daddy, why you sad? You want your mum? It okay daddy, Grandie is at the dentist.” “You mean heaven?” he asked her. “Yes, the dentist at heaven,” she answered. She was clearly confused about the concept of heaven. Truthfully, even as an adult, I[…]

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Levity During Loss—thank you for the flours

My brother made the drive from Michigan to Ontario to be with us for my mother-in-law’s memorial service. Before he left he called to see what I’d like him to bring. I asked for my favourite flour—whole wheat but made from white wheat kernels—perfect for bread and pancakes, but I can’t seem to find it here in Canada.   When he arrived and offered his condolences, I hugged him as he passed me the two bags of King Arthur. “Thanks for the flours.” I said through tears. And then we laughed. The ridiculousness of this statement brought some much needed levity to an otherwise somber situation.   My brother-in-law flew home from overseas last week and he’s been making us laugh since he got home. His stories about his mom and all the good times has brought both laughter and tears — honouring her this way is helping us begin to heal. My son is having a difficult time accepting that his “Grandie” is really gone. But talking about her and remembering the special moments is helping him cope. He has vowed to keep her memory alive for his younger cousins and little sister. My daughter knows her Grandie is[…]

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A Message For My Friend

  There are so many joyful things in life—a laugh between friends that leaves you breathless is one of them. I can always count on my friend Sarah for one of those laughs. I am thankful she is part of my life. She’s a friend, but also part of our family. Last week her dad died, suddenly and tragically, and way too soon. It’s heart wrenching to watch somebody you love having to face something so painful. Our family stayed with Sarah and her parents last summer in Nova Scotia. Her father Gene, was a warm and funny man. I called him “Gampy Gene.” After laughing hysterically, Sarah corrected me. It was “Grampy.” I liked the sound of Gampy better, so I stuck with it. Gene didn’t seem to mind. When my son heard that Gene had passed away, he was quiet. Then he said, “Gene showed me the deers in his yard. He’s the one who told me what ticks are. You hafta watch out for ticks.” He asked, “Is Sarah sad? Did she cry?” It’s funny how kids gauge the gravity of a situation by how upset adults are and if tears are involved. “Yes. She did.” I[…]

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