Tag Archive | grief

Choices

I began writing this blog over 6 months ago when I lost my beautiful daughter órla so that I could write down my feelings & emotions and keep órla’s memory alive but also to write about my experience planning a funeral, choosing a coffin, preparing her body etc so that if anyone else had the horrendous task of doing this for their children they may be prepared.

When someone dies especially a child we are in so much shock (whether the passing was sudden or not) that we tend to leave most of the planning and decisions up to the funeral director when in fact they are there to advise & help but also to offer choices.

As my daughter had a terminal illness I began researching online about what was involved in planning a funeral and what my options were, I found very
little information about DIY funerals and it seemed that it was viewed as a cheap shortcut way of doing things. To me this was far away from the reason I wanted to be more involved, because órla had autism and I had cared for her up to this point I simply could not imagine handing my baby over for someone else to wash her body or dress her, I could not imagine leaving her body in a morgue if I had the option to keep her at home and most importantly I wanted to be the last person to lift and place her little body into her coffin.

It was important to me that órla’s funeral was not going to be a public affair, and that only the people close to her were there to say a final goodbye. I realised this was quite unusual for a child in a local area and that usually teachers/medical staff/friends/extended family/neighbours etc want to pay their respects but I strongly felt that this was my last seconds minutes and hours with my daughter and I simply was not prepared to share that with just anybody. I had buried my dad two short months earlier and although we tried to make it a small private affair we still found it ending up quite large and of course costly.

Now I mention cost here because although I wanted to give my daughter the ‘send off’ she deserved as a single mom I didn’t have a huge amount of spare cash and I wanted to make sure that whatever I did have was going to be spent wisely on the things that were important to me and more importantly órla.

After making the decision to have her die at home I had to make sure that I had both our local gp and her cf consultants to come visit her every 7 days as if on her passing they hadn’t seen her in that time they wouldn’t be able to sign her death certificate and for a body to be cremated you need to have 2 doctors signatures. Did you know that you have to pay for the death certificate? Or to be exact the doctors signatures, I certainly didn’t and tbh couldn’t quite believe I had to pay the standard charge to each doctor (£75 x 2) so much for the NHS they could visit órla as many times as needed free of charge when she was dying but to actually sign a piece of paper to say she was dead cost me twice.

The coffin was something very important to me and so I’ll write about that in a separate post.

I did not want to use a hearse – I always remember feeling very sad when I would see a hearse pass over the years tradition told us to bow our heads and make a sign of the cross to wish them a peaceful crossing. I didn’t want this for órla, I didn’t want passers by feeling sorry for us or even knowing what we were going through so it was arranged that a van like car would be use and that the person driving wore normal clothes and not the stanch black tie and suit usually worn. I didn’t want any wreaths as again I saw this as a sign of death and grief and I wasn’t able to deal with the fact that she had gone yet. Many of my friends asked if they could leave anything and I suggested roses as they were her favourite flowers and of course she was our órla Rose.

I didn’t want any form of ceremony at all, I wanted her cremation as quiet and calm as her passing. I had already been talking to God for along time so I didn’t feel I had to have a church service I knew my angle was going straight into gods arms. I had a cd of 10mins worth of music that meant something to me. It began with Bette Midlers ‘The Rose’ and ended with
‘Fly’ by Celine Dion on the final
Min of the music the button was pressed to lower the coffin, Again strangely I wanted to see below to the room she was lowered into and to know how quickly her body would remain in that room until she was actually cremated. The thought of her body lying for hours beside other bodies made me shiver. I was fortunate to be told she was being cremated straight away and I got to collect her ashes the following morning.

This is where our funeral director came in very handy. I knew what I didn’t want but wasn’t quite sure what I was allowed to do and his help was invaluable to me. He has become in my eyes an honoury uncle to órla.

The sun shone brightly on the 18th June 2014 and I felt it was órla’s way of telling me she’s ok she’s happy. Two days before órla died my only other child found out she was expecting a baby so emotions were all over the place.

I said my final goodbyes to my childs physical body for the last time.

Although the day was very sad I don’t have any regrets not having people around me I was able to experience my loss without the worry of what I looked like or how I behaved. I was even able to quickly open her coffin lid as she was being lowered for one last look at my beautiful girl but I knew then her spirit was not in this physical form but right there beside me.

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Our 1st Christmas without you

My girlsimageTomorrow it will be your six month anniversary, I thought I was doing well.  I’m on my medications and I’ve continued to see my councillor every fortnight, ive even started to eat healthier and lose weight because I promised you I was not going to waste the life I’ve been given and try and live it to the full in your honour but today it has suddenly dawned on me that you will not be here at Christmas now I know that sounds silly, of course I knew you were gone and Christmas will never be the same again but today it hit me again like a bolt that I’m not going to ever see you open your presents again, im not ever going to hear your questions about S anta again, I’m not ever going to wrap anymore surprises for you.  I can’t imagine ever wanting to decorate a tree again or cook a turkey dinner, I cant imagine Christmas ever to be happy again without you.

Grandma and I decided that it would be easier to be in a different country this Christmas as it’s our first without you and grandad, I’m glad you have each other.  We’ve decided to go visit aunty Céline in Canada and as much as I’m looking forward to seeing them all im wishing it was all over and 2014 was done.  I know you and grandad had a word with God and sent us a beautiful gift to help us look forward and CeCe is very excited about being a mommy, I’m so very proud of how CeCe has coped this last 9 months, she has looked after grandma and I every day and soon baby Leigh will be here for us all.

I really wish I could spend Christmas with you and grandad just one more time.

5 months

Today it is exactly 5 months since my angel gained her wings, in fact to the minute as I’m writing this, 5 months since I’ve heard her voice, 5 months since I’ touched her thin but warm skin or felt her arms around me.  How can it be only 5 months when it feels like years? sometimes I still hear her call me but then realise it cant be.  I still have her drawings and pictures all over the fridge as if nothing has changed and yet everything has changed.

Last night I decided to write to all the cf mommy’s that travelled beside me on this journey explaining how i found it difficult to read their posts about the struggle they are still having with their little ones about how hard it is for me to read how their children are doing.  I would give anything to be still struggling with Órla, to have hope for the future again.

The road I am walking is very lonely with very few passers by, even the closest people do not feel the bumps and turns in the road as I do.  How i wish id never had to walk it but I know that i will not find peace until i have.

One thing I have promised myself and Órla is that I will live the rest of my life to the full and not waste any of it.  After spending the last 15 years in an abusive relationship and fighting for Órla’s rights as an autistic child and then caring for her after her cystic fibrosis diagnosis I felt I lost myself.  I’m still not sure who I am other than the mommy to two beautiful girls but I’m sure a hell gonna try and found out.  Órla and God, i believe, gave me this second chance and I will not let them down.

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