Luck, God or just random shit?

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I don’t know if I believe in luck.  I stopped believing in God as a teenager when I saw the suffering in the world and learnt more about science and history.  I then liked to believe in everything being made from energy and read a lot of books like “The Secret” that talked about putting positive energy out there to get the same back.  Similar to Karma in what comes around goes around.

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I still have a fondness for churches.  Here’s Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland

Energy and Karma

The energy, karma and positivity mantra was the way I always lived my life.  Some people believe in God but I have liked to believe in the ancient energy of mother earth, not in a chanting naked around Stonehenge way, but the idea that we’re all made of energy always seemed more scientific and therefore believable.

Violet is born

Violet came along and we were told at her 20-week scan about her heart defect and that it was bad luck.  She was an undiagnosed breach baby and I had her naturally afterwards we were again told “oh you had very bad luck there”.  Then Violet got her heart fixed by surgeons at Alder Hey hospital and all the time we channeled positive energy.  Other family members and friends prayed for her in a multitude of different faiths.

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The Priory in Cartmel a stunningly beautiful place

Her surgery was a permanent fix.  People told us how lucky she and we were that she survived but we thanked science and the talented people at Alder Hey.  We continued to think in a positive way and raised funds from our belated wedding reception for Ronald McDonald House to thank them for their support of us in providing accommodation when Violet was in hospital.

Violet sick again

Then when Violet got sick again being admitted into Manchester Children’s Hospital we continued to channel positivity and friends/family prayed again for her.  After just over a week she seemed to turn a corner, we rejoiced and thanked everyone, mother earth, God, everyone’s prayers were answered…but then she suddenly died.  When we got her post mortem results, and then over 18 months later an inquest verdict, to be told she was just very unlucky and she died from something so extremely rare that no one could believe it.

Arthur

We then got pregnant again with Arthur our rainbow and were told at his 20-week scan that he had irreparable brain damage and once again told that we were just very unlucky again.

Karma is fake

Now if I was to believe in karma both of these things should have been lucky instead. I’m the person that buys food for random homeless people and sometimes helps them even further, for example I bought a homeless guy a sleeping bag in winter when he was sat sobbing because someone beat up and robbed him.  Over the years I have raised thousands for charity.  I’ve also only ever had rescue animals and do the middle class thing of sponsoring a child in Africa, so whilst I don’t do this as a quid pro quo or usually tell people whenever I do something kind, I should have a lot of good karma saved up right there. So I think the loss of my two children shows this karma thing is pure nonsense as for luck well….

As for God

As for God…I know lots of people who have lost children and are comforted by their faith. I on the other hand can’t believe in anyone or anything that can cause that kind of pain for anyone.  The pain my child suffered in hospital in the weeks before she died, and that of other children suffering in hospital too, means if there is a God then he is a cruel unkind one, so why worship him/her?   I actually in a way admire those child loss survivors who do still believe, as they’re certainly stronger in their faith than I am.

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We still light candles for our babies when we travel just in case – here’s the inside of St Ann’s Church in Manchester the epicentre of the city

Positive thinking

I still try to think positively, as it helps me to cope day to day but I do it more because I think that Violet wouldn’t want me to be upset or negative and me being miserable and negative isn’t going to bring Violet and Arthur back. I also now have the adorable Aurora to care for so need to be the best version of me for her sake.

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An autumnal walk in the park with colds and coughs hoping the fresh air does us good

Kindness and compassion

I believe kindness, compassion and good manners aren’t exclusive to those who are religious and my experiences over the last few years have shown me that often these qualities can be missing just as easily from a religious person as they can be present in an atheist.  I like to treat people with kindness and respect regardless of who they are. Blame my mother for this one as she clearly raised us well.

So to summarize I’m not sure what I believe anymore and maybe as one of my extremely clever friends said, “perhaps life is just a lot of random shit that just happens and if you survive then you either learn to deal with it or you don’t end of”. Not quite as eloquent as Forrest Gump’s “life is like a box of chocolates” but I can really identify with my friends version.  If religion is how you learn to deal with life’s challenges then good on you, it’s certainly better than turning to addiction or not coping at all.  Each to their own and I think child loss survivors need to push on anyway they can.

How do you cope with things or spur yourself to carry on beyond what you used to believe was your limit?

Love Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

Surviving after Child Loss

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Whilst I was sat on a train heading to Glasgow earlier this week I decided to write a few blog posts touching on subjects people have been curious about.

How do you cope with losing a child?

People often ask me about how we coped with losing Violet and about the techniques we employed to try to help ourselves get through this time.

Force yourself to do things

We tried to remember what we enjoyed about life when our daughter was still with us. We focused on making ourselves do these things even though we didn’t want to and certainly didn’t have the motivation.

It all began with us still going on a mini-break to the Lake District only a few weeks after she had died.  A break we had already planned and paid for when our daughter was still alive.  That trip was an extremely hard one for us and we only stayed there for the bare minimum of time. 

We also had lunch at L’Enclume that I had arranged as a belated birthday surprise for my hubby months earlier.  We just went through the motions and returned home early on the final day as we felt lost.

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Cartmel, Lake District

What did you enjoy before?

The things we had enjoyed doing as a family trio were travel. Violet was a true jetsetter and travelled more in her short life then many adults do in theirs. We also liked dining out in new places. 

Admittedly the fondness for dining out was more mine and my hubby’s as Violet disliked food although she did enjoy people watching.  She was always good as gold too preferring to use high chairs to rest her books on for reading. She often got praised by staff for how clean and well behaved she was.    

I work in travel and hospitality PR so my work has always channeled my passion but I felt as though this love had disappeared with Violet.

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Violet watching the Snoopy film on the flight to New Zealand at 7 months old

After the initial Lake District trip we continued to make sure we planned and booked other things in advance. Then we had less chance of being able to back out and change our minds at the last minute.  Don’t get me wrong there were quite a few dinner reservations we made and then couldn’t be bothered going to. Or arrangements with friends we had to back out of as we simply couldn’t face it.

Remember to mark anniversaries

We jointly decided that we should focus on ensuring, despite our misery, that we booked restaurants or mini-breaks for anniversaries and birthdays.  We encouraged each other to make an effort to keep the reservation. We often found that only one of us would wobble and want to back out of plans.  So we worked as a team to persuade each other knowing that it was for the best in the long run.

Book things in advance

We planned trips to places we had already wanted to visit but only for a few days at a time. We knew a big trip would be too much for us.  Places like Florence in Italy for Valentine’s day. Bilbao in Spain to visit the Guggenheim. Montenegro to escape for Violet’s anniversary. Morocco to escape Arthur’s due date etc.

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Sunset in Bilbao, Spain

Slowly but surely after nearly 2 years I can now talk again about travel being a passion of mine without instantly feeling guilty about it. Now I realise that this was also a passion of my daughters and something she would still relish if she was alive today.  I also embraced a new hobby for photography, especially landscape and architecture.  All the photos in this blog are mine.

Always a work in progress

I’ve not yet gotten there with the dining out thing. I’m still fond of food and work in hospitality however we don’t dine out as a couple anywhere near as much as we used to.   I know in time we will and this will be easier too. 

To the “friend” that said to us after Violet died “well at least you can now travel whenever you like and dine out whenever you like”. Well we did travel and dine whenever we liked with Violet. She loved it and we can nearly do this again without pangs of guilt and imagining what she’d have thought of it/been like in these places. Every day is tough.  It’s not as easy as “at least you don’t have to arrange a babysitter” that we’re constantly told by people.

Hang in there with everything in life some things take practice.

Love Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

Anniversary dinner at L’Enclume

It’s important to mark the special occasions when they occur, as difficult as it might be when you’re also grieving.

Anniversary break

Last month I got totally spoilt by my gorgeous husband and taken to L’Enclume in Cartmel in the Lake District, as it was the 5th anniversary of our very first date. Cumbria holds a special place in our hearts, as it was the first holiday we ever had together. It was snow filled and the hotel we stayed in had a gorgeous fountain outside that was frozen.

The room

When we arrived this time and checked into our room my hubby got instant extra brownie points when I saw this photograph on the bedroom wall!

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We stayed in one of L’Enclume’s many guest houses in the village that had clearly been renovated recently, so was luxurious and decked out with modern facilities. The real icing on the cake for me was the attention to detail. Knowing I was allergic to cows milk they had ensured the mini bar had a bottle of soya milk in it and dairy free treats too.

We arrived a few hours earlier than our dinner reservation so there was time for a bubble bath before getting dressed for the restaurant. I have to say I loved the handmade organic bath products and the heated tiled floor. Got inspiration for our forthcoming house renovation!

The dinner

The L’Enclume dinner experience (and I call it an experience as it is more than just having dinner) was amazing and a real treat all 18 courses. The menus were presented to us at the start of the meal in an envelope sealed with branded wax. There were 2 menus in the envelope a “normal” one for my hubby and a dairy free one for me alongside the wine flight details too. 

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The L’Enclume wax seal
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Standard/ Cows milk free menus
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The Wine Flight

Each course was presented and described in detail by the extremely attentive staff.

Here are photos of some of the amazing dishes.

The highlight for me was the scallop served with green tomato and hogweed juice that tasted a little appley. Monkfish was delicious and the grilled potatoes, ramson (which we googled to discover is a name for wild garlic) and smoked eel was one of the tastiest dishes. We could have eaten more of it!

The other delight was the dessert named “Anvil” which was a chocolate mousse dusted with bronze and gold powder set in an Anvil shaped mould.   My hubby’s mousse was white chocolate, whereas mine was dark chocolate orange. They were sat on top of preserved orange and passionfruit.

At the end of our sumptuous dinner we were offered the cheese board, which looked amazing but we literally couldn’t fit anything else in.

Dinner or lunch here is the perfect special occasion treat as it really is an amazing experience if you are a real foodie like us.

The breakfast

The breakfast the next morning in Rogan’s café, that’s also owned and run by the team behind L’Enclume, was probably the best breakfast we have ever been served. Here’s a copy of the menu.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to lunch or dinner at L’Enclume then I would heartily recommend a trip to Cartmel and lunch in Rogan’s, that I’m sure will be more than worth the hour and half drive from Manchester.

For more details of L’Enclume the restaurant click here

For details of the accommodation available click here

For more information about Cartmel and what to explore there click here

Making new memories

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It can be very difficult when you’re grieving the loss of your child to remember those that are living and that you still need to invest time in your relationships with others especially with your husband or partner.

Special anniversaries

One crucial thing we did as a couple was to ensure we planned and booked time in our diaries in advance to mark important anniversaries and occasions.  Making a dinner reservation, booking a hotel for the night or even flights for a weekend away ensured we couldn’t decide to give it a miss when the date came around.  Occasionally one of us would say we weren’t in the mood and the other would encourage and persuade.  

I once even went out to dinner in a lovely restaurant with hardly any make up on and hair was scraped back (as I wasn’t in the mood to try to look nice as it felt too superficial). The fact we did it made the next date we had slightly easier.  The more we forced ourselves the better we actually started to feel about going out and the less guilty we felt about “enjoying ourselves when we had lost our most precious daughter”.

Here’s a photo of me with hubby, minus make up, after being encouraged out last year.  I cheered up when all the lighting was Violet and I was served a Violet cocktail almost as though she planned it!

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Travel

Anyway we still keep this up over a year on and sometimes it can still be difficult for us but we make sure we take time out.  A few weeks ago we celebrated the anniversary of our very first date so my hubby treated us to a night away in Cartmel in the Lake District with dinner, bed and breakfast in L’Enclume.

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Cartmel Priory

I will talk more about the amazing food we enjoyed in my next post but I wanted to share that even though we are fortunate to travel and dine in some amazing places our lost children are never far from our minds.

Before we headed home I visited the amazingly historic Priory at Cartmel that has an 800 year old history and lit candles for Violet and Arthur.  I also took some photos of the amazing building.  You can see them all here http://violet-skies.com/portfolio/cartmel-lake-district/

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Inside Cartmel Priory