If you’ve ever lost anyone and especially if you’ve lost a baby or child then you will know more than most that life can give you almighty curve balls.
These sudden changes in circumstance if it involves the loss of a significant other or a child can feel like the curve ball is an asteroid sent for total destruction. If you have somehow managed to survive this mother of all apocalyptic curve balls then you will understand now why the curve ball of a virus leaves me shrugging saying “meh”.
Yes I’m in a high risk category because of my heart op recovery and if I catch the dreaded COVID-19 then could be very poorly. I’m self employed and my business is travel and hospitality. These industries are currently in free fall and I have mortgages to pay. I also have a house overseas again with a mortgage that I rent out to holiday makers, again that will be hit by this epidemic. People I’ve spoken to expect me to be far more stressed out and panic stricken than i actually am.
I think I’m so calm about it because you know what I’ve already been to hell and I lived there for a while. I’ve already had the very worst thing happen to me. This virus isn’t the very worst thing. I’ve lost 2 children and still I’m clawing my way back into a new reality.
I’m not overly worried because you know what? I’m a survivor. My family are survivors. We will get through this new challenge the way we have gotten through all the other sh*t that’s been thrown our way, over the years, and yes we’ve had a lot.
We will get through this new challenge with as always compassion for others, the adaptability to be able to seize every opportunity and by looking after ourselves to ensure we avoid taking unnecessary risks to our health.
This too eventually will pass and then people will be travelling, shopping and partying again until then please be kind to others.
In the words of the poet Bon Jovi “keep the faith” and wash your hands people!
So I have spent the last few years writing this blog about how to survive child loss and I’m pleased to say I have survived so far but then I saw the interview that HRH Meghan did when she was in Africa and still an HRH. Something she said in that interview really resonated with me and don’t get me wrong I’m not a huge royalist fan at all although I did love Suits!
Meghan said in that interview –
“it is not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. “You have got to thrive”
This resonated with me as I suddenly realised that I owe it to my daughters (one an angel and one very much alive and thriving) and son’s memory to not just survive but to thrive.
Over the past few years the notion of enjoying something or loving life felt abhorrent to me. How could I do that when my daughter and son are dead? This abhorrent feeling has now been challenged by my rainbow baby who, as anyone who has met her will tell you, is larger than life and lights up a room as soon as she enters it; truly as her name means a Goddess of Light. How can we not strive to now enjoy life with her? I know Violet would want her sister to have a wonderful life and for us to enjoy our time with her too.
Now my heart is finally fixed it is surely not enough for me to just survive life?
It made me think that the last few years have been about me working hard to continue on with life, to go through the motions and to try to rebuild my confidence, by to a certain extent, doing the same things I used to enjoy and have always loved doing.
I’ve re-evaluated a little now and thought about the things in my life that despite childloss I actually enjoy. I love photography. My hubby bought me a camera for Christmas after we lost Violet to try to encourage me to take photos of landscapes and architecture, which were something I enjoyed. Check out some of my photos in my gallery here.
Confidence loss is real after child loss. A friend a few years ago suggested my photos were good enough to be exhibited (I laughed it off), another friend offered to display my photography for sale in a boutique hotel (again I laughed it off as felt it was certainly not that good) and then more recently another close friend and client suggested I really need to do something with my amazing photos. Even just typing this now a little voice of the old me (pre-child loss) is screaming in my head “take every opportunity” as the old confident me used to seize every moment and opportunity that passed her way.
I suddenly realized and recognise that I need more confidence in my abilities again. That I should invest more time in this hobby that I enjoy and that people seem to think I have a talent for. I’m now doing a Diploma in Photography to improve my technique and confidence. Another friend has now offered to feature my work on the front covers of his magazines. Wow just wow I’m blown away and for the first time I’m going to seize this opportunity rather than just brush it away as I have in the past.
Travel is another biggie for me. I’m a travel PR at heart and I have a real passion for this industry. A friend told me about a new type of business where you can qualify as an Independent Travel Agent working from home and fit the training in around your current lifestyle and work. So I decided in my new “thrive” mindset to go for it so I have now qualified as an Independent Travel Agent and this I feel will be a game changer to my family’s long-term happiness. We love to travel. We don’t travel anywhere near as much as we did but I love travel. I love talking about it. I love planning it so why not utilize my passion to help others?
We have family and friends all over the world so why should we not be able to earn commission whenever we travel to see them. I love travel and have been to nearly every continent on earth so why should I not share my passion with others. If I can help them to plan and book their dream trip then this is amazing. If I can help them to do start this business too so they earn commission from their own travel also amazing. This is a business that neatly weaves in with my PR career and my photography passion too plus I get to take the family along for the ride.
I’m going to try to write a little more in my blog about motivation and health too as now my heart is fixed as I need to get active and back into shape again. Don’t get me wrong I won’t be running any marathons anytime soon but would be good to get healthier.
Also going to continue to renovate our home hopefully to make it a nicer place for my daughter as she grows and my hubby.
I plan to work further on charitable causes too to build a legacy in my son’s memory so watch out for something happening Spring 2021!
Thought I’d post this cute video just because….
I’ve now had a spring clean of my life. How about you what do you hope to change or build more of now spring is here?
If you want any advice or to share your hopes then I’d love for you to get in touch or post on here.
Always Violet Skies xx
If you’ve enjoyed reading this then you might also enjoy these posts –
So at the start of this week I was supposed to be attending a family funeral in support of a close family member but we had a dreaded bug that floored all of us including my poor mum who had come to try to help. That was the first of two funerals for this week, the second was earlier today for a dear friend and business mentor.
In light of these I thought I’d write something about grief and try to give some advice to anyone who is trying to support a loved one through their heart ache. I hope this might help at least one person.
Grief initially is all consuming and you can literally feel as though you are drowning (read more about the shipwreck analogy here). It is like you are on a sinking ship so you might panic (panic attacks are common), you may have great despair and feel as though you have to fight just to keep your head above water. The feelings can be very different and unique to everyone especially depending on who it is who has passed and their relationship to the one grieving. Also timing plays a huge part in how severe grief can be too, whether it is how someone died (was there time for a goodbye), did they die far too soon or if the passing coincided with an anniversary or special occasion then that can heighten painful feelings.
Seven pieces of advice
My seven pieces of advice for anyone with a friend or loved one who is grieving is this –
Listen – always listen to what they are telling you. If they say they don’t want something then listen, regardless as to whether you think what you are suggesting would benefit them. They know what is best for them at that moment in time.
Check in – regularly check in with them so they know you care about them and tell them to let you know if you can do anything. Often the person is so consumed by grief that they can’t think of what to say and may answer, “I don’t know” so maybe suggest to them what you would like to do for them. For example “would you like to go for a walk?”, “would you like me to bring you dinner?”, “can I take you our for a drink somewhere?” or “would you like a spa day?”. All yes or no answers these closed questions are the best ones to use.
Ask first – If you’d like to drop them a meal round or call to see them ask first as it might not be a good time for them. Don’t just drop in.
One week – Ideally make a note to contact them a week after the funeral as this is the period after which many others will have been in touch and now the person is truly on their own. It is at this time the grief stricken one feels forgotten and as though the entire world has just returned to normal while they are still in pain.
Flowers – If you would like to buy flowers for the service then please check with your loved one as they may just want donations to charity instead. If you feel you’d like to buy them flowers personally then ask them first if this would be ok or take them a plant instead or if not suggest you bring them wine or chocolates instead. Some people when grieving hate flowers.
Change of mind – remember at the moment they are not thinking straight at all and their emotions are everywhere so give them leeway to change their minds. That’s why continuing to check in with them is so important as one day they might say they are fine and don’t need anything but on another day they might just need someone to go for a walk with or have a cup of tea and a chat.
Fresh air – don’t forget the benefits of exercise in the fresh air if your loved one has been cooped up inside then suggest you get wrapped up and go out somewhere for a walk.
So there you are my top tips for you for trying to navigate support for someone during the early stages of grief.
Please remember that with everything everyone is different and so grieves in a very unique way. They also will grieve differently depending on the person who has passed and their relationship to that individual.
I hope this is helpful to some of you out there. I hope so anyway.
Back in 2016 I felt the worst pain I have ever felt when I lost my beloved daughter Violet and then the following year I lost her brother Arthur at 22 weeks of pregnancy too. I knew then exactly what people meant when they described a broken heart. I have never felt a pain like it.
Ironically after I had lost Violet in early 2017, before Arthur, I sought medical advice for dizziness and lethargy that I’d had on and off since I had had Violet. When she was alive I was told it was probably because I was sleep deprived with a new baby and being a busy mum but when these symptoms continued after she had gone I got it checked out again. I was diagnosed with having an ASD or hole in my heart that will have been there since birth but possibly enlarged during the pregnancy and birth of Violet.
The hole it turned out was pretty large nearly 2cm in diameter and without a repair my symptoms would probably have got worse and I was at higher risk of clots and stroke too. So I have been waiting for a repair since early 2017.
I still remember that first diagnosis of a broken heart and laughing saying “well I know this already as my daughter has just died”.
So now it feels odd when I tell people I had a broken heart but now it’s fixed as though it means I am over the grief of using my children. I find myself having to say physically my heart is now repaired but of course emotionally it isn’t.
What’s great is that when I came round from the anesthetic I asked was there a window open as the air felt so fresh, like it does at the seaside or in the country when it’s full of oxygen. Of course there was no window open I just now have the ability to absorb more oxygen from the air so even today when I breathe in the air feels clean and fresh (yes even in Manchester).
I can’t wait to visit the seaside or countryside as I feel it will blow my mind the amount of oxygen I will have.
The other major difference already is that I don’t get out of breath as easily just walking down the road and my muscles don’t burn after even slight exercise either. I felt like the bionic woman initially!
It will take a few months hopefully before I feel the full affects of the operation as one side of my heart is still very enlarged so will take time for the pressure to dissipate but I’m hopeful that by spring I will certainly have a new lease of life.
I will never run a marathon but looking forward to having more energy to spend quality time with my rainbow baby and family alongside of course juggle work, charity and this blog too.
So at a time when lots of people have resolutions about losing weight or stopping smoking I am trying to remain as healthy and stress free as possible in order to give my heart a fighting chance to heal and recover properly.
What are you hopeful for this year?
Do you have resolutions or hopes for the decade ahead?
So today in 2018 was our son Arthur’s due date but he was born sleeping on 1stSeptember 2017. I don’t therefore know what you call today “a scheduled birthday that should have been”??? A Due Date Anniversary?
It feels odd being sad today because if all had gone to plan and he had been born today happy and healthy then we wouldn’t have our little girl Aurora as she was also born later on in 2018.
It is a confused situation entirely. Arthur doesn’t even legally exist as he was born sleeping at 22 weeks old so 2 weeks earlier than the legal requirement for human life however if he had drawn a breath at birth than he would have lived so then would have a birth and death certificate. He never drew breath so he has neither certificate.
Legally he never lived
Even though in the eyes of the law he didn’t exist to us he did. I felt him moving constantly inside me kicking over and over. We saw him somersaulting on scans and constantly moving even if no one else did. We knew him a little and met him whilst he was sleeping. He looked like a miniature version of my hubby with a thick head of dark brown hair. His name sits now underneath his big sisters name on their headstone at her grave. We interred his ashes with his sister Violet so she can look after her baby brother.
Their baby sister is continuing to light up our lives here living up to her name “Goddess of the Dawn” and certainly keeps us on our toes.
Rest in peace my little rocket man; keep kicking those legs making those rainbows up high.
Someone asked me recently what my plans were for the next 5 years. I laughed and said ideally I still want to be alive and I hope my family are all still alive too. Then I’d like us all to be healthy and happy. That’s about it.
A 5 year plan?
Not sure that was the answer he was after as he said I meant professionally and for your business. Well it’s not much use wanting anything work wise if I’m not here is it was my answer?
Maybe they shouldn’t ask parents of loss who have a heart defect that will hopefully be repaired before Christmas that question?
I used to be a planner
I used to be into forward planning years ahead at least as far as work, holidays and home went but these last few years have taught me that there’s no point putting too much effort into future plans when something could happen unexpected at any time that can change your world in a heartbeat.
Now I try to live in the present
It much better to live in the present as much as you can and also to try not to dwell too much in the past either as there’s nothing that can be done with that now.
Don’t get me wrong I still plan a little because I have to with work or family plans but i only tend to plan a few months ahead at a time.
How about you? Are you a planner?
Always Violet Skies
If you enjoyed reading this perhaps you might like to read these articles –
November is here at last and I say that not because it is a favourite month but just because October is finally over. This year it was particularly tough.
I was supposed to be visiting Lisbon last week for my mum’s birthday treat but had to pull out and left her with my sister as my little rainbow baby was poorly so I couldn’t leave her at all. The illness of my daughter combined with Baby Loss Awareness Month was the main reason October was super stressful and a tough month for us.
A poorly rainbow
Our rainbow baby was the same age as Violet was when she died and she contracted pneumonia twice, which was exactly what happened to Violet before she was admitted to hospital never to return. This is why this past month has been so fraught for us resulting in hardly any sleep; stress levels beyond belief, emotional meltdowns on a frequent basis and the consumption of a vast amount of comfort food/drink on a regular basis.
We also managed to still juggle work commitments, the organisation of a surprise birthday party for my mum and even had a drink out baby free for an hour or so for a friends birthday before hot footing it back to soothe a poorly baby.
Health wise my daughter is luckily recovering well but we’ve decided to keep her away from nursery until the new year at the earliest to allow her lungs to fully recover and to ensure her immune system is back to full strength too. We will continue to juggle work commitments and childcare thanks to the support from family and friends. There’s no way we will risk losing this little girl too.
New parenting territory
It sounds strange but today I feel a little relieved because yesterday our rainbow reached the exact same age Violet was when she died so today she has surpassed her sister’s age by one day. It makes no logical sense why I feel relief at this but my stress has lifted slightly.
Is this normal with rainbow babies? Anyone else feel this way too? Or am I just odd? Please let me know.
So now we’re on totally new parenting territory as we have the oldest living child we have ever had and it’s all fresh new sailing for us from now on.
Never mind Halloween please light candles on 1stNovember to mark the first All Saints day today “Día de los Inocentes,” a Mexican catholic tradition that honours deceased children and infants. They are remembered on this day when the veil between worlds is thought to be the finest.
All Hallows Day
In Mexico, All Saint’s Day also known as the Feast of All Saints, All Hallows’ Day or Hallowmas is celebrated with the first day of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) known as “Día de los Inocentes,” honoring deceased children and infants. The 2nd November marks a second day for all deceased. Some religions and cultures call November 2nd All Souls’ Day and this is the day that is often chosen for the Day of the Dead parades and celebrations.
Catholics traditionally take flowers to the graves of loved ones and Saints who are innocents on these days. Perhaps you’d like to light a candle at home instead to remember those babies or children who have died on the 1stNovember and then again for any adults on 2ndNovember too.
If you enjoyed reading this then you might enjoy these articles –
These last few weeks have been especially difficult for us as our rainbow baby is sick. We had to take her into hospital where she was diagnosed with pneumonia, which is what her sister died from. Back at home now luckily and she’s responding well to antibiotics but it is unbelievably stressful anyway without our history with her sister.
Lack of control
I realised a key reason for the stress of having a poorly child or loved one or heaven forbid their loss is the lack of control over the situation (unless you’re a murderer of course but that’s a different story!).
The fact you had no control in the end over whether they survived or not. You did everything you could possibly do but even that wasn’t enough and it is the acceptance that at the end of the day we really don’t have control over these things.
When our children are sick, again, it is the control issue that makes us super stressed. We can do everything we can possibly do to look after them. Give them antibiotics, fluid, pain relief, and take them to the doctors or to hospital. Listen to the “experts” and follow their guidance. Other than that there isn’t much more we can do. We are powerless and have to do our best then simply hope.
Regaining control on life
I think that is why after the loss of Violet and then Arthur doing things I have control over helped me to regain a little of my sanity.
Managing a house renovation and extension project was something I could control. Rehabilitating a German Shepherd from being a working dog into a family household pet again I could do and get some comfort from. Setting up a fund in Violet’s memory and organising a charity ball again was something I could control and work at organising. We have now raised a total of £42,860 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
More of a control freak
Yes I admit I am probably more of a control freak in some respects than perhaps other people but after speaking to a few others who have had to endure looking after sick children or unfortunately baby or child loss it is this loss of control that is a tricky one to deal with.
My advice is to try to do other things you can control to try to balance out those things that you simply can’t.
Big hugs and lots of love
Always Violet Skies xx
You might be interested in reading these other posts –
From the age we first start school we are conditioned into the fact that September means new beginnings so much so that as adults, even when we have no school age children and are no longer in education ourselves, September can often still seem exciting as we prepare for autumn with new clothes, new stationary and a renewed focus for the future. This has always been the case for me. I loved school even more so a new notebook, accessories and clothes that came with it!
A New Beginning no one wants
September equalled new beginnings. I could always look at this month in a positive way until 3 years ago when that new beginning first came to equal a negative “new beginning” no one wants to ever face. That new beginning was the loss of my daughter and the new beginning that year was trying to carry on with some semblance of life without her in it. No one ever wants that kind of new beginning and this has become my biggest on going challenge to date. It’s tough really tough and never ending. Yes it was nearly 3 years ago but it feels like yesterday one minute and like a scene from a movie about someone else’s life in the next.
Another horrendous September
Then the following September after our annus horribilis we faced another “new beginning” to add to the stress of the one the previous year. This was the loss of a much-wanted son that came out of the blue with shocking news for me accompanying it and so we had to arrange a second child’s funeral in our second stressful September “new beginning”.
Bringing control back
So last September I organised the Violet Ball to take back control of my Septembers and that year’s “new beginning” was a black tie charity event for 200 people to raise funds for Alder Hey children’s hospital. Which as an experienced PR is the kind of event I have organised before but this time with a 6-week-old new born baby in tow event organisation wise that was a first for me!
An exciting New Beginning
This September we decided not to do a charity ball as we agreed we needed a summer to relax and decompress rather than run around finalising an event. I was dreading finding out what this year’s “new beginning” for September would be. But you know what this year’s is actually a positive (hopefully) and challenging one as I got asked to become a part time Associate Lecturer at MMU Business school teaching marketing. New starts and exciting new beginnings that are positive is exactly what I needed and I might treat myself to a new notebook.
Hope your September’s have been successful and less stressful ones too.
Always Violet Skies xxx
You might be interested in these other blog posts –