Tag - loss

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When Your Child’s First Pet Dies
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Living With The Fear of SUDEP
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Great Grandparents
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From Sympathy There’s Gratitude
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Life Lessons Learned From Loss

When Your Child’s First Pet Dies

There are many life changing things about including a pet in your family. When you have a child with disabilities, pets can make a marked difference to their quality of life. Pets are more work in a “get off the couch and walk these ding dongs and change that litter and fill that food bowl…” sort of way, but I can’t imagine life without an animal by my side or under the covers. (Even though they should be in their crate. I know, I know…) The only true downside to pets, aside from mild annoyances like the occasional whining to go out for a pee at 5am, or fur on your favourite black yoga pants, is the ultimate downside which is of course the death of your best fur friend.  That’s the part that almost makes me never want to love an animal again. We become attached and they become family. Watching them go is hard. If you’re a pet person, you understand this completely.  Some losses are harder than others. When our guinea pig Ernie died from a seizure we were sad, but we’d had him less than a year and our connection wasn’t as deep as it was with other[…]

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Living With The Fear of SUDEP

SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy) When a child in our community dies suddenly, the world closes in around us. Having to explain to our daughter that her ten-year-old friend died unexpectedly was hard. It’s tough enough to make sense of it as an adult. For a child, it’s incomprehensible. The sorrow we feel for this beautiful family goes beyond sympathy. We feel a level of empathy that only other epilepsy parents would know. When a child is lost to SUDEP all parents of children with epilepsy receive a jarring reminder that this can happen. No child is exempt.  We are devastated for the family. It hits close to home as we direct some of the shock inward by recalling our own children’s worst seizures. We relive the panic. We hear the ambulance sirens and repeat the silent prayers and promises to the almighty or whomever is listening to “Just please, please let her be okay.” When an otherwise healthy child dies without warning or explanation, it shakes us to the core. For me, post traumatic stress has brought up memories from our daughter’s first violent seizures at the age of three when we came very close to losing her. SUDEP—(sudden[…]

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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[…]

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