Surviving after Child Loss

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.

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.

We tried to remember what we enjoyed about life when our daughter was still with us and 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.  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

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, and 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 and 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, so 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.

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, as we often found that only one of us would wobble and want to back out of plans.  We worked as a team to persuade each other knowing that it was for the best in the long run.

We planned trips to places we had already wanted to visit but only for a few days at a time, as again 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 as 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.

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 as 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 but every day is tough.  It’s not as easy as “at least you don’t have to arrange a babysitter”.

The Small Things

I used to be a self-confessed shopaholic before I had Violet I loved nothing more than a shopping spree round town getting a new dress, looking at the sales, maybe some new shoes, new toiletries etc. Now I hardly ever shop.

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Violet wearing a new pretty dress in May 2016 & it always cheered her up

Instead losing my children has taught me to appreciate the experiences life has to offer, rather than simply buying stuff. So now we’d rather spend our money on dinner out or save for a holiday somewhere or spend time in the outdoors.

It has also made us more grateful for our friends and family who have been so supportive, throughout these last few years. Yes we have had good friends fall by the way side but many more that have stepped right up to the plate to hold our hands during our lowest ebbs. We are so appreciative of these people, as it makes us realise that as cruel and evil as the world sometimes seems there are good, kind people out there.

There have also been near strangers and distant friends who have been so kind and gone out of their way to help us in small ways that mean much more because of the thought that goes with it.

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From the last party Violet ever went to and she loved a good party!

Some people have gone out of their way to remember our daughter by doing Iron Man contests, swimming Windermere, organising events and other challenges to raise money for her fund helping us to create that lasting legacy for Violet we so crave.

There have been lots of moments of kindness from people that have reduced us both to tears and we love you all so thank you!

Love, Sarah x

p.s. if anyone wants to donate to her fund click here  and tickets for the Violet ball on 29th September 2018 can be reserved here

 

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.

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 when it was snow filled and the hotel we stayed in had a gorgeous fountain outside that was frozen.

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 but 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 and I have to say I loved the handmade organic bath products and the heated tiled floor. Got inspiration for our forthcoming house renovation!

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 highlights for me was the scallop served with green tomato and hogweed juice that tasted a little appley, the 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 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

Tantrums & wishes

Lots of mums and dads dread going out to the shops or to restaurants with their children in case they throw a tantrum or cry, creating a scene in front of others.  I know this as I used to be one of these women, although thankfully Violet was pretty easy going most of the time, preferring to people watch or read books.

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As a parent if your baby cries or throws a tantrum you look around to see other people staring over and you imagine them tutting thinking you’re a bad mother or that you are doing something wrong.  Often you don’t get to finish your lunch and you have to ask the wait staff to wrap it up to take it home with you to join the other half dozen half eaten lunches in your fridge, that you promise yourself you will eat just as soon as baby/toddler goes down for a nap but you’re so busy you never do get round to eating it.

I remember cringing when my baby projectile vomited everywhere in a cafe.  I was mortified.  Now I’d take that any day of the week!

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Now I know, if the other people looking over at you are anything like me today, then they will be looking over not in annoyance or pity but longingly wishing they were sat there with a child that was crying, throwing food all over the restaurant or indeed creating a scene screaming, rolling around on the floor.  I’d happily change places, rather than be sat there having a quiet peaceful lunch on my own or chatting with a friend.

Never imagine you know what someone else is thinking.  You have no idea what they think or indeed what they have been through so next time your baby makes a scene smile at those looking over and I bet like me they will smile back or even help to distract your little one, snapping them out of it.

Love Sarah x