Tag Archive | losing a child

I forgive him

Today my darling Órla I’m writing to tell you I forgive him – your dad

 I’ve spent so much of the last 3 years (and probably before that) blaming him for my losing you.  Now I know that sounds ridiculous as you died from Cystic Fibrosis and your Autism attributed to its decline so it’s not as if he had anything personally to do with it – right?

Although if I’m being factual here both your dad and I had the gene that carries CF and therefore we are both to blame for giving you that horrible disease. 

No I’m not talking factual, I’m talking about the day (or indeed days) your dad promised me he had not been unfaithful and as I didn’t believe him I asked him to swear on your life and he did.  

Of course we know now that firstly,  he doesn’t believe in God and therefore the swear meant absolutely nothing to him, and secondly, it was one of the first of many lies throughout our marriage.  What he did know was how I judged his response on my belief and my faith and him knowing how much I believed.

I suppose I needed someone to blame, someone to feel angry with.  It is said that people turn from God at times of grief but for me he was my only link left to you and I needed to stay as close as possible to him if I was ever to see you again – so I turned on your dad.

From the very second the light went out in your eyes I hated him with a passion, I wanted him to have no part in your funeral, I could barely stand to have him in the house.  I turned my back on him and didn’t see him again in nearly three years.  Years we could of helped each other grieve OR NOT we will never know I never gave him the chance but thankfully I also had family and friends and two lovely therapists to help me get through it.

I now feel it’s time to let go of my anger and to be grateful we both have come out the other side albeit it broken and torn were still here when your not.

It was on your third anniversary that I reached out as I knew no one else in this whole world was feeling as I was during those hours except your dad and I.  I missed you so much it physically hurt every bit of me.  

It felt good talking about you, remembering you together.  You are our precious baby and nobody could love you more than your mom and dad.  I felt a great relief as if you were happy with me, and your dad said it helped him too.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to meet him again and remember the happy times we had with you.  I love you my bubba and continue to miss you every waking moment.

Till we meet again xxxxx

Advertisements

Easter Sunday

Another first for our family without órla, I try to carry on the day as normal preparing the turkey & ham, oh how órla loved her turkey and roast potatoes. I go to mass and see all the pretty children dressed in their smart clothes and the odd Easter bonnet.  I’m trying to concentrate on the true meaning of Easter, of Christ suffering on the cross for our sins, of his resurrection on the third day but all I seem to be able to focus on is the little girl sitting across from me in her mother’s arms.  She offers me a shy smile then cuddles into her mummy for reassurance and security and it dawns on me that I will never cuddle órla in my arms again, never being able to offer her that comfort and security that every child deserves.

I’m aware of the complete irony of that statement as I’m sitting here in God’s house and worrying about my child feeling insecure when I know deep down that she is free from pain and any other physical emotions that are negative.  Of course she misses me but she is with our Lord, our saviour how could she ever feel unsafe or insecure again with God’s arms wrapped around her.

Maybe its my selfishness that I won’t get to cuddle my baby girl again that I can’t give the comfort I so desperately need to give again.  I have to accept that this Easter there will be no Easter egg hunt, there will be no Easter egg buying and there will be no Easter hugs from my ÓrlaRose.  This is my new world.  This is the world I have no choice but to accept from now on.

Happy Easter my brave & beautiful girl.  Mummy misses you so much. Xxx

 

(e)SP_A017xiphone 021

 

My ‘rainbow’ grandchild

Rainbow child  :  A child that is born following the death of a child

In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison.

I’d never heard the term ‘rainbow child’ or ‘rainbow baby’ before I became a bereaved mother, but since reading the many blogs & articles about losing a child I’ve become very familiar with it.

Leigh is my ‘rainbow’ child.  I found out two days before Órla died that my eldest daughter was to become a mother for the first time.  I was so happy to be able to tell Órla she was going to be an aunty. Her response to this fabulous news? ‘Yeah whatever’ now most would think this was because she was so ill and frail but those of us who knew her well know that this was a typical response from Órla when it was something that didn’t really interest her.  I know she thought about the baby because later that evening she said she wondered what the baby would look like.

A day and a half later my baby was gone, never to see or hold her niece/ nephew in her arms, never to hear her name ‘Aunty Órla’ being called.  I desperately searched the web to read about the afterlife and to see if it was possible for órla’s soul to know and see the baby’s soul before it was born.  After all as a true believer we didn’t ‘just die’ it’s only our physical self that dies.  I saw that in Órla’s body, it was just a shell, I knew Órla wasn’t there anymore.  So where was the baby’s soul?

A lot of people believe that a baby’s soul doesn’t enter the physical body until the moment of birth, that the soul stays near to the mother.  I liked this idea, I liked the thought that my dad and Órla got to know and love Leigh’s soul before we did.  They say children see spirits well Leigh  definitely does from day one he looked past my shoulder and now at 5 weeks old he smiles (yes actually smiles) and get very excited looking over my shoulder.  When I hold him he very rarely focuses on my face like he does with his mum and other people but concentrates on a spot over my shoulder.  I like to believe this is Órla’s spirit bobbing around and teasing him just like she would have done if she were here in physical form.

My ‘rainbow’ grandchild has brightened my life without a doubt but it also comes with memories of when Órla was a baby, how Órla slept/took her bottle/did what at what age.  I know we’re supposed to remember the happier times and not the illness but the happier times with Órla are tinged with ‘what if we’d known’ ‘what if I’d said’ ‘ what if she were born here’ ( Órla was born with cystic fibrosis but it wasn’t detected until she was 6 when the damage had already been done).  Seeing my daughter become the beautiful mother I knew she’d be reminds me everyday that my baby’s not here anymore that I no longer have dreams of what she will look like when she’s a teenager or what kind of adult she will become.  My dreams are now filled with seeing her again in heaven, holding her once more hearing her call me mom.

So yes Leigh is my ‘rainbow’ grandchild but Órla will always be my rainbow.

Orla Rose  3 weeks old

Orla Rose
3 weeks old

iphone 090

Leigh Patrick 3 weeks old

The perfect coffin

The title itself is an oxymoron , these two words just don’t go together each fighting against each other. The reality is that when your part of this horrible group that we didn’t choose to join of bereaved parents, we have no choice but to choose a coffin for our child whether they are being buried or cremated.

when my dad passed away two months before Órla, I had the horrible task of going to the local funeral parlour with my mum and arranging my dads funeral.  The lovely lady behind the desk showed us a book of a selection of coffins and caskets all of which were  grouped into price categories starting from around 2000 euros.  We scanned the pages hoping that we would see some name or description that might stand out at us as if dad was giving us a sign to say ‘this is the one’ and sure enough there was The Tara, one of the names of the Stanley cookers my dads company made. We were sure this was the one he would have wanted.

When it came to choosing for Órla I was adamant that it was going to be a lot more personal and not just a spur of the moment choice. We were fortunate to have time on our side as Órla had a terminal illness we knew she was on a downward path. I searched online for my options. I know white coffins are usually used for young children or babies but I didn’t like the idea of her being in a wooden box. I’d also considered the many different natural leaf/grass types which I initially Thought I would choose but I felt that Órla would think I’m putting her into a laundry basket just a bit bigger. I then found a company in England that made bespoke cardboard coffins. This seemed to be my answer but on enquiring I found out that these types of cardboard coffins took 3 -5 days to make and deliver to Northern Ireland where I lived. It meant that if I was to choose this bespoke design I would have to order and pay for it in advance of my daughters death and of course I would also need somewhere to store it. Now I knew Órla’s passing was coming quicker than I had anticipated but there was no way I was going to tempt faith even more by having my child’s coffin stored ‘ready & waiting’. By this time I was getting very frustrated. I realised that to get a coffin within a day or two it would need to originate from Ireland and cardboard coffins were still not allowed to be used in the south for cremation purposes. I searched the Internet and came across a company called greencoffinsireland and a kindly gentleman Colin McAteer who not only arranged for a white cardboard coffin which could be hand decorated by ourselves to be left with a local funeral home who would store it for me until I needed it but also refused any payment. The local funeral director rang immediately and wanted to arrange a meet up. I wasn’t too happy to involve a funeral home as I was very keen to keep this a low key intimate affair but I couldn’t have been more wrong about Paul McEvoy & Sons of Newry not only did he agree to store the coffin and deliver it when needed but he helped me with just about every aspect of arranging a funeral with total compassion and respect and completely out of his own pocket. By the end of that day I really felt God had sent me these two men (Colin McAteer and Paul McEvoy) to help lift my worries, I felt an instant bond with both as if my dad was reaching down from heaven hugging me and saying ‘I’m here’.

Paul walked me through all the details of what was needed, took control of all the necessary forms etc which have to be filled in so I could concentrate on grieving. He agreed to be at my beck and call, night or day.

When the afternoon of the 16th June came órla passed away peacefully at home. Paul as promised dropped the coffin up to the house that evening.

My mum, my other daughter Zoey and myself spent the next day decorating the coffin with special pictures/drawings and words that were important to órla. It was as I imagined very therapeutic, we laughed, we cried remembering the funny things órla would do & say and boy did this child have things to say. At the end we all stood back very proud of the vessel that would take my baby on her last journey, knowing that she would have loved it.

IMG_0817

IMG_0828

IMG_0875

IMG_0852

Please God

Please God help me to heal, I’m trying so hard but these last few weeks I’ve struggled to sleep, I’ve struggled to remember my beautiful baby girl and how she looked and felt before she got really ill, I’ve struggled to remember my reasons for living. It’s been just over 7 months and today it feels like it has only just happened.

Please God help me to remember why my angel had to leave, remind me of the pain she had to suffer, remind me why I begged you to take away her suffering.

Please God give me the strength to fight through this black smoke and help me to come out the other side a better person. Help me to continue to be there for my remaining child and guide her through the birth of my first grandchild.

Please God give me the faith to trust in your word. I know your reasons are good and this is the journey you want me to travel.

IMG_1425

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.

2015/01/img_0884.jpg