Loneliness and Despair

Most of us have felt it before, at some point in our lives. A moment of sadness when we hear bad news, a heartbreak when a relationship ends, the loss of a job, a loved one passed away, our family pet dies, illness of some kind and no one to care for you. There are many moments in our lives when it is good to have another human being around to console you, hold your hand, reassure you that it will be ok. It’s good to have support during difficult times. But people are busy, life is hectic.

When Emberly passed away, initially we had support. People dropped off dinners, sent flowers, cards, money, we received frequent texts from friends just checking in. But then weeks pass, months pass, years pass and there are no more flowers, no more cards, no more dinners, no more texts. You are left with your grief and sadness, the moments when tears fall and there is no one to hold you. You are left with your overwhelming sadness, your inability to function, your lack of energy or motivation to live frankly. You feel isolated from the rest of the world, and feel as if no one understands.

The mind knows that in reality you are not the only person in the world who has suffered a loss of some kind, but when you are living it, it sure feels like it.

I remember when my nephew Kenneth passed away. My sister in shock, walking up the sidewalk to the funeral home my sister looked at me with tears in her eyes as I assisted her walking and said ” I can do this right? Millions of parents all over the world have done this.” Her mind knew she has heard of many parents who have lost children. But her heart had no connection to those people.

For months I went to her house almost every day to help her. Whether it was cleaning, making phone calls, sending thank you cards, returning dishes to people who had sent food. People have to work, have responsibilities and commitments. Eventually I couldn’t continue to go see her every day. The visits became less and she, her husband and children are left to deal with their new reality alone.

Some handle the grief better than others. There could be a variety of reasons for that. I’m not sure I understand it, but it’s just the way it is.

Three days after Emberly passed my bereavement period with my employer was up. Time to return to work. Yes, three days. Three days to pick up the pieces of my broken heart. Three days to shed those tears, three days to console my grief stricken daughter. Three days!

I wept a lot, while driving my car to each patient, I wept while treating patients, I wept when typing out case notes that night. Life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

I did what I had to do. But that is all I did. I learned to cope and function at a certain level, bare minimum. Eventually I began to socialize again, but it was surreal. Your there but not present. In the back of your mind there is always a gnawing thought, my granddaughter is dead. You may be sipping a glass of wine with friends, they may be dancing, joking, laughing. You fake your way through. But you know you are only there because everyone thinks you should be there. You don’t want to be there. What you want is for your granddaughter to be alive.

Now, add chronic illnesses as a factor. Clinical depression, anxiety and PTSD. How well do you think someone who is already depressed and anxious about life would cope with such grief?

Depression already causes lack of motivation, overwhelming sadness and lack of self worth. The anxiety of dealing with people in public holding their newborns, or commenting on your baby bump that is still there, a daily reminder of what you have lost. And people can’t resist, they have to ask, “when are you due?” I received countless calls from Amanda, weeping as she tried to get back out into the world. Whether it was a comment about her bump, or watching a mother pushing a baby stroller she just couldn’t handle it.

Her social anxiety grew, she had difficulty going to work, to the grocery store, family outings or even meeting someone for dinner. The anticipation of what she could encounter, that may cause another breakdown. But everyone expects you to get back out there. Because life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

If you can, imagine the most heartwrenching experience of your life, hold that emotion and recall the ache in your heart forever broken. Now add to that your most anxious feeling, when your heart raced and your palms were sweaty, fear gripped you. Add to that the most horrific/tragic experience you have had maybe you witnessed an awful car accident, a fire or wicked storm that did serious damage. Hold all the emotions, fear, anxiety and flashbacks. Then imagine you faced those feelings and memories every single day, that no matter how hard you try, you can’t shake it, you just can’t. Then imagine being alone with those feelings and thoughts. Alone every single day.

She felt isolated and alone as did I. Who else is going to go hold her when she cries? Who else is going to reassure her, it will get better? Who is going to identify with this lonliness and despair? Who else can connect with her on a level no one else can? Who else is going to care enough to drop everything and come to the rescue when she wants to die and end this pain once and for all? Mom.

And I go it alone. I hold her hand alone, I wipe her tears alone, I take her to the hospital alone. I talk my daughter off the bridge alone. Then when it’s over, I drive home alone, I lay down exhausted and cry alone. Life goes on, the world keeps spinning.

It’s horrible to feel isolated and alone. We need human connection and touch. We need reassurance from others. There is no substitute for the human touch, love and compassion.

In writing this, my hope is that today each person that reads this, will reach out to someone in need. Do something for someone else. Bring your love to them, meet them where they are at. Take them a cup of coffee or flowers and let them know they were in your thoughts today and hug them. Let them know, they are not alone.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m not a professional, just a mom. Please like, comment and share my blog.

The Garden Part II

Grief happens in stages and it comes in waves. There is shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many of us get stuck in the depression.

Initially, I was in survival mode just trying to function on a daily basis. I was trying to support my daughter, keep my family together and not lose my job. There was no time to think about my own grief. I just had to keep going! But, I’ve lost my granddaughter and my daughter I feel so helpless and hopeless at times.

We spent 9 months planning for Emberly’s arrival, not for her death! When everything changed, we changed too. Our hearts forever broken, but I was determined as her grandmother to keep the memory of her alive.

When someone you love dies a part of you dies. I loved her, more than I even knew. I loved her for changing my daughter, I loved her for the smile and hope she brought to Amanda’s face. I loved her for the joy and excitement she brought to so many at the baby shower, anticipating her arrival. I loved her for making my daughter a mother and me a grandmother. I loved feeling her kick and roll in my baby girls tummy. I loved listening to her heart beating. I loved her for the hope she brought to our lives, hope for the future and the dreams of what kind of personality she might have. I loved the idea of snuggling with her, dressing her for the holidays in special outfits and babysitting her. I loved her! We loved her and we lost her. It hurts to the core of my inner being. I felt a sense of desperation to do something, I wanted to make the pain stop!

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When those cardinals appeared in the bushes and I decided I wanted them to come back, I knew I had to feed them and create an environment they would enjoy visiting.

It has always been my hope, that healing would happen in the garden for Amanda, myself and our family. I wanted to plant things, nurture them, smile when watching the birds flutter and enjoy the beauty and fragrance in the garden.

Emberly’s bedroom was decorated with sunflowers and owls, I’ve incorporated the theme into the garden.

There was something therapeutic about planning the layout, digging into the earth and watching the progress of seeds and plants growing. My awareness of the weather and how it affects your mood really heightened as well, some days hoping for sun, others for rain.

The sun makes me smile, and as I close my eyes and enjoy its warmth on my skin, I imagine it sinking through the skin into the depths of my soul.

The rain can bring on emotions as well. I stand at the window and watch the raindrops falling on the flower petals, soaking the earth beneath them. Sadness overwhelms me, those raindrops represent my tears, Amanda’s tears and the tears of every parent and grandparent who knows this grief.

The hope we had for a beautiful baby girl and now we have a memorial garden. It isn’t fair. She should be here.

I am learning to embrace the joy the garden brings and the emotions it stirs within me as it is all a part of the grieving process.

Each year the garden evolves a little more, and a variety of birds appear.

I take delight in knowing the garden is my way of connecting to Emberly. Sometimes when I am working in the garden, a butterfly lands on a flower, I acknowledge Emberly in that moment and greet her with a “well hello Emberly” or “fly high baby girl”.

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I look forward to spring each year, planning ways to attract different birds or adding new flowers I think Emberly would enjoy.

This past year while working in the garden, my stepson spotted an eagle. It was surreal to watch and again I couldn’t help but think it was a sign from Emberly letting me know, she likes the garden.

While sitting on the deck we have had an owl land in a nearby tree. We were able to capture pictures of both.

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The garden has become my happy place. It gave me something to look forward to. When I had no control over the loss, no control over death, no way to stop my daughter’s pain it gave me reason to get out of bed and do something.

If you have suffered a loss, I strongly encourage a memorial garden.

I look forward to spring each year, but even during the fall and winter the backyard birds are still around and I take great pleasure in watching them feed and chase one another.

Gardening is a new part of me, It has brought some healing though I know, I have a long way to go in the grieving process.

As always, thanks for reading, be gentle please like, comment and share my blog.

The Garden part 1

You never get over the loss of a child. As a parent watching my daughter grieve her baby girl I feel like I not only lost sweet Emberly my granddaughter, I lost MY daughter too. She will never be the same.

There is such a feeling of hopelessness when you can’t stop your child’s pain. Our children will always be just that, our children.

I will never stop wanting to comfort her, protect her, fight for her or advocate for her.

It can be exhausting, frustrating time consuming. It can wear on your own soul.

At times, I have struggled with my own depression. It is not the same as having major depressive disorder. I have periods of depression. I do not need medication, I am functional. But there have been days I felt like I could not get out of bed, felt lost and hopeless.  Many nights I cried myself to sleep, silently…alone.

Emberly passed November 1, 2015. In January 2016, still deep into raw grief I was standing in the kitchen looking outside over the deck into our bare burning bushes. I felt empty, tears streaming down my face. I cried out to God. “Why!?” After a few minutes I begged Him for a sign. “Please Emberly if you are out there, if you can hear me, send grandma a sign!” Immediately there was nothing. No sign. I wept harder, and anger towards God welled up in me. The tears stopped as my anger grew.

I began to busy myself with dishes and chores around the house. This happens to be one of my coping mechanisms. Later, I glanced out the window again and there they were in the bushes. Cardinals, a male and a female. My heart leaped with joy. We never fed the birds, I had never noticed or so much as paid attention to birds. But these beauties stopped me in my tracks. There it was, a sign.

You don’t have to believe in the sign that gave me hope. It was for me. You can call me crazy, say it was a coincidence, it very well may be. But I took it as a sign, it was my moment with God and Emberly and that is what mattered that day.

I watched them bouncing through the bushes, grabbed my camera and took some pictures. I felt a little smile, a little hope. They didn’t stay long, but I wanted those cardinals to come back, and so the bird feeding began.

I began to research backyard bird feeding. Best location for placing feeders, what kind of food to attract a variety of birds, but most importantly the cardinals.  I wanted them to feel safe and welcome in our backyard.  Soon after the feeders went up, I was impatient watching the feeders hoping the birds would come. It took 5 or 6 days but they came. The cardinals came, the blue jay, housefinches, chickadees, titmouse, sparrows, goldfinch, juncos, woodpeckers, hummingbirds and even ducks!

 

 

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I grabbed binoculars and my coffee and would sit by the window for hours. I continued to read about backyard feeding and spring of 2016 we broke ground for Emberly’s garden. My husband and stepson dug out a small pond that Easter and my therapy, my healing began.

As always thanks for reading , be gentle, be kind. Remember I’m just a mom. Please like, share and comment.

 

 

 

 

Hurt so bad, so sad

Why does it hurt so bad,
Why do I feel so sad?

All my hopes and dreams crash
Like in a fire burning fast

Each day I grab the rope,
With little left I have of hope.

I keep trying, pushing and prayin
In a daze feels like mayhem

Want to stop the chaos, can’t make it
Madness all around can’t take it

Looking, searching for the light
Look to my left then to the right

Which way do I turn, when will I learn
Pursue thy self and life you yearn.

Like the potter’s clay reformed,
Can I too, be reborn?

Broken pieces scattered all around
Love, peace and hope to be found?

Heart longs to feel comfort and console
Yet nothing soothes my empty soul.

Why does it hurt so bad,
Why do I feel so sad?

I own my tears

I own my tears
Created over the years
Grief and sorrow
Not to borrow
I own my tears

Heart pain is real
The loneliness I feel
Lost in the crowd
The laughter so loud
I own my tears

I brought pain to myself
Bottled it up on a shelf
Expressed not the truth
Because it was not couth
I own my tears

Fight myself to stay alive
Self pity will not drive
Love the answer will all seek
Push myself through the weak
I own my tears

I own my tears
Created over the years
Grief and sorrow
Not to borrow
I own my tears

By Sandra Samay

What Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Chronic Pain and Grief stole

My previous blogs have been pretty heavy. Sadly, so is our reality. In sharing such a dark topic, I decided to include some happier thoughts and photos in order to enlighten readers of the affects of mental health disorders and what it has robbed my daughter, myself and my family of.

Amanda’s depression has evolved, there have been various circumstances and traumatic events in her life that have exacerbated her symptoms.

My daughter is beautiful, compassionate, empathetic, friendly, generous, intuitive, passionate, sympathetic and courageous. She has a wonderful sense of humor and loves animals, music, dancing, amusement parks and football. She participated in volleyball, basketball, track, cheerleading and was on the homecoming court in high school. As I reflect, there were signs of social anxiety pretty early on, but I thought it was typical social pressure.

 

Amanda loves to make others laugh, she hates to see others feel sadness or pain. Likely, because she identifies with it. She is a good listener and a loyal friend.

 

Amanda had hopes and dreams of working with animals, she loved her job at the veterinary hospital and she had hoped to work with exotic animals one day.

 

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Major Depressive Disorder is different from Depression. Most of us have experienced depression during a low point in our lives. When things turn around we come out of it. Clinical Depression is different, it is a constant and persistent state of hopelessness and is different for each individual. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain compounded by circumstances and life events.

I learned the word comordity as an occupational therapy assistant student. I remember crying in class because as I was learning how to work with mental health patients and I was recognizing even more of what was going on with my daughter. Comordity is the presence of 2 or more chronic illnesses at once. Such as depression and anxiety, or depression and substance abuse. Later, we would also learn about PTSD, Chronic Pain, Grief and Fibromyalgia. (Actually still learning).

Before Emberly passed away it seemed like there were more good days than bad. Life presented us with many challenges but she was stable enough to care for herself, work and at least manage somewhat of a normal life. Now however, it seems the bad days are more than the good. She requires assistance with basic life tasks such as laundry, dishes, cooking and even sometimes self care. We pray for good days and take advantage of them when they come.

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Please do not judge anyone with chronic illness when those good days come. If they are blessed with a good day and able to smile or laugh or possibly do a little light housework, let them enjoy those moments. Please do not take it upon yourself to decide they are “fine” or “exaggerating”. Take it for it is, a good day. Let them have it. We have to do better as a society to break the stigma. We need to embrace people and show them compassion and understanding. We can not draw conclusions or form opinions on someone elses journey by comparing it to our own. We do not know where they have been or what they have been through.

Mental Illness is NOT a choice. Who would wake up and decide to be so sad and overwhelmed? Who would decide to have all of society judging and criticizing them daily? They are very aware they are depressed, they are aware of their dependence on others. Who would choose to spend so much time in the hospital answering questions over and over about your emotional and physical pain reliving it every single time!?

Mental Illness has stolen my daughter’s joy, her smile, her athleticism, hope in becoming a veterinary assistant, her independence. It has robbed her mother of sharing her blessings and proud moments like the ones I get to watch the rest of my friends share.

Depression and chronic pain go hand in hand, as the mental illness has gotten worse, so has her physical pain. I hate seeing her in pain, I hate not being able to stop it. I hate that doctor’s haven’t been able to regulate her medication because it took 14 years for someone to do a DNA study to determine her meds weren’t working! I hate that when we call various inpatient treatment centers unless she is having a psychotic episode she doesn’t qualify or her insurance won’t pay for services. Do you know what it costs to go to an inpatient treatment center? $10,000 per month and they require a 4 month commitment! So $40,000 out of pocket to get my daughter the help she needs and wants. This journey is not easy. I do not have the answers, but dear God I wish I did!

She is my daughter and I want what is best for her. Doesn’t every parent want that for their children?

The system is frustrating beyond belief. Mental Healthcare is poor. And society is cruel. She and many other people with mental illness need us all to do better! She is my daughter and I love her beyond words and I will continue to hold the lantern for her, and fight for her.

As always thanks for reading,  be gentle, I’m not a professional,  just a mom.

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Angel Emberly Part II

November 1, 2015 I was awakened by a nurse coming into the room to check on Amanda.  Labor was progressing and it was time to get the doctor.  She was administered the epidural.  Labor was a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  The usual excitement of childbirth already overshadowed by death.  How do you even breathe?

I noticed hives on Amandas back,  I had seen those before as she has many allergies.  I brought it to the nurses attention.  I struggle to remember now if it was the epidural or something else they gave her.  Then her blood pressure dropped dangerously low and she almost passed out.  They administered benadryl through the IV.  Her vital signs were not stable.  For a minute as I watched the monitors I was worried and in disbelief watching the doctors and nurses scramble to get her stabilized.  It was scary “please God, Emberly is gone, don’t take my baby too.” I prayed.  I kept my eyes on her occasionally glancing at the doctor.  He seemed confident the situation was under control, he didn’t ask those of us in the room to leave, so the rational part of my brain was telling me it was going to be ok.

She was stabilized and things calmed down a bit then it was time for her to push.  I can’t explain what it felt like to watch your daughter going through something so tragic.  Here she was a young mother who had carried her baby girl for 9 months, just to say hello and goodbye.  She was so brave.  She did everything they told her. With every push knowing,  the end result.

They allowed some family members to stay in the room with us, and I am so glad because if it was just the two of us, I don’t know if I could have done it alone.  My sisters and niece were there.  They encouraged her to keep pushing.  She was crowning it won’t be long now just a few more big pushes baby girl.  You can do this!

She was working so hard, her final few pushes and Emberly Dionne Rumer was born sleeping at 8:30 am.  I saw the cord wrapped around her little neck two times.  That was it,  the reason she died, the cord.  There was no cry,  no first breath,  no congratulations, no balloons this was not a celebration.  It was a funeral.  No one should ever have to experience this.

After a few minutes I felt so overwhelmed with emotions and I had to get out of the room for some air and to breakdown.  I couldn’t be strong anymore and I didn’t want Amanda to see me.  As soon as I closed the door behind me,  I collapsed on the floor weeping.  “God, WHY?!”  As I wept, my sister Linette a grieving mother herself consoled me. “I know”, she said and that is all she had to say.  She did know.

A bereavement nurse took over from here.  She was an Angel.  She assisted with the arrangements.  She took Emberly and brought her back to us in a beautiful gown and blanket made by volunteers for situations like this.  She took Emberly’s footprints, arranged for the photographer and priest,  told us how to hold Emberly and keep her bundled.  We had so many decisions to make, our minds incapable of making a decision, my daughter relying on me to guide her through.  I tried so hard to let her decide what was best for her.

A photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came.  She was also amazing handling Emberly and us with tender care.  As you are in the room taking photographs with such a heavy heart, you don’t smile, you don’t pose the camera is just capturing raw emotion.  It is the most awkward feeling to have someone there for such a solemn occasion.  But you know these will be the only pictures you will ever have of that precious Angel, so you want them.

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After the photographer left we were allowed to just have some time with Emberly, everyone who wanted to hold her did.  Amanda was exhausted and holding Emberly and fell asleep.  Family and friends gathered in the room next to her.  I went to check on her and quietly opened the door to see her sleeping holding her Angel.  Overwhelmed with grief and sadness, but somehow seeing her lying there sleeping  for a moment, there was peace.

Later a priest came and said a blessing over us all and baptized her.  Everyone was preparing to leave and gave their condolences, then it was just us.

Later the bereavement nurse informed us the time had come to say our final goodbye. We wept and wept.  It was surreal.  All the preparation and planning, the excitement and anticipation had come to this one moment.  Goodbye.  The ache in our hearts will neve fade.  There are no words I can say to make her pain stop.  I have nothing as a mother to offer her except to be there.  My daughter had just become my hero.  Only the strong survive.  Fly High baby girl. Fly high.

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As always, thanks for reading be gentle, I’m just a mom.  Please subscribe, like and share my blog.