The Ever Changing Tides of Grief

I received this beautiful advice on grief during the holidays from my lovely big sister. Having been widowed when her children were very small, she knows about grief…that we can’t skip it, but have to go through it. She has been a great support to me since I lost the baby.

Hi sweetie,

I know all these celebratory days are falling flat under the weight of your enormous grief. It’s awful and expected and normal. That doesn’t help. Nothing really helps. You have to ride the wave of it. It will wash over you again and again. Sometimes you’ll think the tide is way out there, that you’re safe and far away from it, and yet another wave will cut you off at the knees.

The intervals will eventually get farther apart and yet when a wave hits you, it will feel every bit as intense. That, in my experience, is just how it goes.

The thing is – the waves will send you spinning but they won’t drown you. You’ll keep going because you are tough and resilient and wise and beautiful and have a thousand blessings to offset the struggle.

All my love,
Dymphny

I wanted to post these words today for all others who are grieving, and especially in honour of two of my friends who recently had fairly early miscarriages. My heart is with you as you ache for your babies in Heaven. Your truly lost a little child, just like me. All the potential for a whole life was there in that tiny little being, that new little soul created in love. It is understandable that your heart is broken. This child—with their unique DNA, their individual soul, their mysterious mission—can never be repeated. It is ok that you long for them forever. Forever will come.

May you be comforted by family and friends, and carried by grace through the ever changing tides of grief. And as you keep swimming to that distant shore of peace, know that you will be a sign of hope for others.

A Moment with Mercy

I didn’t write on my blog yet this Christmas because I didn’t want to make people sad, and yet I couldn’t force myself to be unnaturally chipper. So here I am again, crawling out from under the Christmas tree like a grumpy hedgehog with decorations stuck all over, to share with you what it was really like.

I wish I could say Christmas was all sparkles and magic, and that it was filled with Hallmark moments. I wish I could say that it’s wrong that Christmas is hard when you’re grieving, but I can’t. Normally, the manger scene with it’s beautiful image of family, the warm circle of love around a newborn baby, brings me such consolation, but this year it hurt to look at it. I could relate better to the empty manger beforehand, but the sweet statue of the baby Jesus just makes me long for mine.

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This year, before the child came down from Heaven, mine went up. And this bittersweet exchange brings me to tears. God didn’t ask me for anything more than he gave himself, but then, he is very generous, so it was a lot.

My other children had a lovely time with our wonderful family who came to be with us on Christmas Day, and I am so glad, but for me it wasn’t really Christmas until we decorated baby Josephine’s wreath on Boxing Day. Our neighbours who are good friends of ours came along, too. That meant a lot.

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There isn’t much I can do to feel better right now, except to reach out to others in my brokenness, and let them know they are not alone in their pain. As my friend Julia wisely pointed out to me, everyone has some secret burden weighing on their heart. Perhaps me being vulnerable can open the door for others to share their struggles as well, and in the sharing, be consoled.

It has been said that it is in showing mercy that we give others hope, so this is my goal, to spread a little more hope. So as part of my own healing, I am reaching out on behalf of a family in the Philippines who is struggling and needs support, and sharing their story with you once more.

They are my friend Christina’s nanny Mercy’s family. I’ve met Mercy a few times. The first time she came with Christina and her mom Lynne to help me organize and declutter my house. A task equivalent to rollerblading up Mt. Everest, but they did wonders, and took away a van load of stuff. For me this was a great act of mercy!

The second time was earlier this month, to talk about the idea of starting a group funding campaign for Mercy’s extended family (parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, etc) whom she has supported by herself for over 20 years. With shy reluctance, she began to tell me her story. Growing up too poor to own chairs. Eating the cheapest dried fish with her siblings. The region plagued by unemployment. Then, long years away from her home, sending back every spare penny, as she still does.

And now, she has been forced to take her father home from palliative care because the hospital cost too much. A while back, sitting by his bedside, she complained of the heat, to see if he still understood her words. He tried to fan her despite hardly being able to move, because she is still his baby, even though he is dying. Her diabetic mother is unable to visit the doctor for treatment and medicine, again, because it cost too much.

Mercy’s meagre savings were recently drained by her niece Chloe being born very sick and needing a month in intensive care. Chloe hasn’t been able to breast feed, but paying for formula means that the other family members eat less, since it’s about $90 a month. Chloe’s mother is planning to move to Canada as well to help support the family and will have to leave her baby girl behind. What a choice to have to make, to leave your baby, in order to make sure she has enough to eat!

Now Mercy is trying to buy a small piece of land further away from the unsafe volcano base where her family currently lives, and the second half of the payment is due in early January. Her fundraiser has just over a day left. Would you consider helping her out by making a donation or sharing her page with others? Perhaps you could give $10, the price of one fancy New Year’s Eve drink, to symbolically toast the good health of Mercy and her family. Or perhaps if Santa has been generous with you this year, you could give more.

My kids saved up $35 in change by doing extra chores and proudly donated it. I added a little more. Every bit helps.

You won’t believe what a little Mercy can do…

Signs of Sweetness

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Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.
St. Thomas Moore

So many signs of tenderness continue to pour in, along with meals and assurances of prayers, as we grieve the sudden loss of our baby Josephine during labour three weeks ago. We are so blessed by these many signs of sweetness. Thank you to everyone who has shown us such generosity and support. God is finding so many ways to say “I love you” to us every day.
Here are pictures of a few:

Two dozen gorgeous pink roses sent to our door from a couple in our parish:
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A single perfect rose left anonymously at her grave:

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A plant for me to take care of, called a Josephine:

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All who have been touched by beauty are touched by sorrow at it’s passing.
Louise Cordana

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Lend me your hope for awhile. A time will come when I will heal, and lend my renewed hope to others.
Eloise Cole

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When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart. You shall see in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Khalil Gibran

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Josephine Pilar, our sweet little star, we are so grateful for you! We will love you forever!

Sleepyhead vs. the Tummy Bug

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Today my little one battled it out with a nasty tummy bug, using the best arsenal she had: closing those luscious blue eyes and sleeping whenever, and wherever she could, always accompanied by her special beige blankie. She napped on the carpet, on the couch, in her bunkbed, and most sweetly, in her highchair.

Although a few of my kids having fever and stomach flu aren’t the highlight of my week, I’ve got lots of things to be grateful for: my kind landlord who came right away and spent two hours repairing my oven when the oven door handle fell off earlier that day (a tricky task, we discovered!), Ida who gave me loads of lovely bread from Cobbs to feed my little monkeys, Milton who brought us muffins, Maria who come over today and helped me make dinner and clean up, too (using all the courage necessary to face my jungly sink and baby’s banana-covered highchair), and Natalie, who offered to drop off anything we needed, or even just felt like.

Sometimes, when life hands you a little icky flu, you see how surrounded by love you really are.