Tag - loss

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Great Grandparents
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From Sympathy There’s Gratitude
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Life Lessons Learned From Loss
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Three
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Goodbye
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Goodbyes Are Never Easy
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Miscarriage
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A Message For My Friend

Great Grandparents

One of my grandfathers died when I was little, but I was privileged to have had three grandparents, actively and lovingly participating in my life well into my adulthood. Two of them lived long enough to become great-grandparents.  I lost my last living grandparent earlier this year. He was ninety-seven. But not an old ninety-seven. But rather a witty, knows-your-name-plus-the-names-of-every-one-of-his-childhood-friends, sharp mind, but ailing body, kind of ninety-seven.  This weekend my family spread his ashes, and my grandma’s too (he kept her ashes so they could be together again one day).  My parents were there. And aunts and uncles and cousins too. I regret that I wasn’t able to make the cross-country trip to help honour them.  I am grateful though that I was able to see my grandpa one last time. My daughter and I visited him last spring. It was a special visit. I knew it would be the last.  When I told people my grandpa had died, many were surprised, saying, “Wow. You still have grandparents?” My grandma Fraser died suddenly and unexpectedly in her mid seventies. I don’t think my grandpa ever quite got over the loss. He lived independently for nearly two decades after she had[…]

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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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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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Three

  My mother-in-law believed things happened in threes. If two great things happened, she’d look for the third and always seemed to find it. After two unfortunate events, she’d breath a sigh of relief when the third one finally occurred so we could relax. She truly believed in, and spoke often about the significance of the number three. Shortly after she passed away my son and I went for a walk after dinner. He was struggling to make sense of why his Grandie was taken away so suddenly. I told him about my friend Sandi who lost her father a few years ago. She told me to look for signs. Signs brought her and her family comfort. Sandi told me that her dad sent signs all the time and I shared some of her specific examples with my son. It had gotten dark and the streetlights had come on. As we cut through a parking lot on our way home, we walked under three lamp posts. As we passed, each one of the three lights flickered and went out. One, two, three in a row. Was it a sign? Was Grandie looking down on us, listening to our conversation, and[…]

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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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Miscarriage

  This story is about a baby conceived, but never delivered. It’s about the thrill of finding out that you’re pregnant and the disappointment you feel when suddenly, you’re not. It’s also about chickens and abysmal record keeping. Random, but related… When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, we were overjoyed. I knew I was pregnant only days after conception. I just knew. A pregnancy test confirmed it and I went to the doctor for a blood test to be sure. We told our families right away because that kind of excitement just can’t be contained. We made plans, discussed names, looked at strollers. I couldn’t wait to share the happy news with my class of grade two students, but decided to wait the obligatory three months—which never came. At nine weeks I miscarried. We went through the usual panic—trying to fix it, trying to stop it, trying to save it. Of course, you can’t stop nature’s course. Mother Nature is stubborn. She does what she wants, when she wants, for reasons only she knows. My husband called my work to say I would be off the next day. I needed a day to[…]

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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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