Sunday, 17 November 2013

Grief Doubled

When Noah was nine weeks old we were told of his diagnosis and knew then that his life would be short.   When you have a child with a life threatening illness, death is always on your mind.  We chose to give Noah the best life that we could, but that didn't stop us thinking about the time when we would have to say goodbye to him. 

The weeks following Noah's death were not what I imagined them to be.  I thought that I would be constantly crying, not able to get out of bed and just overwhelmed with grief.  But it wasn't like that at all.  Instead we were just so busy making funeral arrangements, having visits from people, organising memorial services and gardens, and reading hundreds of beautiful cards and letters from so many people.  Of course there were tears, but at the same time we were so busy that we were distracted enough from feeling the full force of grief. 

When Aaron passed away it was the same.    I didn't know he was going to pass away, and we were in so much shock.  I was so busy just getting through every day.  Of course I cried, but I tried to hold it together as much as possible because I was too scared that if I broke down then I wouldn't stop.  I also knew I just had to hold it together for the boys.   They were so scared and traumatised by what they had been through over the past three months, and I just had to get them through it, so I felt like I had to put my grief on hold for them. 

I now think that the full force of my own grief hasn't been put on hold, but more like it was set to slow motion for the past two years. I was just so busy trying to hold things together that I couldn't let it overwhelm me.  I kept busy by going back to work for the first time in fourteen years.  I made huge decisions like selling our house.  I planned trips and special things for us to look forward to as a family and it all helped.  It got me through a very hard couple of years.  

But then it all caught up with me.  Looking back I can now see when anxiety and grief turned into depression.  I wasn't aware of it at the time because I thought it was just grief, but I now know the difference between grief and severe depression. 

Right now I'm feeling 'okay'.  I'm not suffering from the severe depression that I was, but I'm just so, so sad.  Things are easier in so many ways, but how I feel now is how I imagined it would be after Noah passed away.  For the first time in two years I feel like I can really cry, without being scared that I won't ever be able to stop. 

I have cried more in the past two months than I have in the past two years, and I think it's a good thing.  I feel like my grief wasn't totally put on hold, but just came upon me as much as I could deal with at the time.  I didn't feel like I could really cry for a very long time, but now that has changed. 

I now cry whenever I hear a song that makes me think of Aaron or Noah (almost every day!).  I cry when I see photos on Facebook of smiling families with Mums and Dads together.  I cry as I'm walking Milly and feel like a crazy woman as I'm wiping away the tears, so that people driving past can't see. I cry when I see certain ads on TV.  I cry when I leave Aaron's school, because I'm wishing he was on the microphone at his school's athletic carnival.    I cry when I read about children getting wishes granted through Make a Wish.  I cry when I get home from work because I just want Aaron to also walk in the door after work, and to tell me about his day.  I cry because I want to tell Aaron about the things that have happened at school.  I cry because I want to talk to him about the boys.

The boys don't like seeing me cry, but they don't get as anxious about it now.   The other day I was very teary and Kobe asked me what was wrong. I told him I just felt really sad and he put his face right in my face and gave me the cheekiest smile ever, trying to get me to smile back at him.  I smiled back and he said 'I 'wuv' you Mum' as he knew that would also make me feel happy and he just wanted me to stop crying. 

Sometimes I feel frustrated because it's been two years since Noah passed and I feel like I should be feeling so much better.  I have heard many times 'there's no timeline for grief' but when you're in the middle of it, you just wonder when it's ever going to get easier. I have wondered if having Noah and Aaron pass away so close together has doubled my grief or whether it will take double the amount of time to feel like I'm getting on top of my grief.  Now I believe that it's just going to take a lot longer than it normally would to feel on top of it, but then I've never experienced grief just for one person at a time (that I can remember, as I was only six when my brother Daniel passed away).  Maybe grief is the same no matter how many people you are grieving for at the same time? 

For the first time in two years I feel like I can actually separate my grief for Noah and Aaron a little bit.  When Aaron passed away that just took over all my thoughts for so long.  I have found myself thinking about Noah more and more over the past few months and although it makes me so sad because I just miss him so much, it's nice to not have thoughts of Aaron taking over all the time. 

I always wonder if people are getting sick of hearing about how hard it is without Noah and Aaron, but then remind myself that it's just how it is and writing is my therapy in a lot of ways.  I wish I could just blog about happy things and we do have a lot of happy things happen, but there are also many sad times and other things which I don't share because there's a lot that I want to keep private for my boys.  But hopefully by keeping it real I'm not only recording family memories, but helping someone else somehow. 

I look forward to getting out of bed and going to work, and catching up with family and friends and doing things with the boys, but it's so hard to shake the sadness and loneliness that overwhelms me right now.   People always tell me that I'm strong, and I do feel strong considering what we've been through, but grief always catches up with you, especially when it's doubled. 


  1. Yes, keep it real. One of the reasons I read your blog is to understand what it's really like living with loss and grief. So don't worry about readers 'getting bored', because it always interesting to follow your journey, through happy and sad (no matter how long it lasts). Thank you for being willing to share with us :)

  2. I can't tell you it will be ok, because it never is, but I can tell you things will be different. The good, the bad, the ugly, In the end, the real end, you will know the why's, and see the results with different eyes. I pray the Lord will open up glimpses with those different eyes for you and your boys. Be easy on yourself,

  3. just keep writing and we will keep reading (and rooting for you from all around the Globe!). When my Dad passed away (9 yrs ago), my Mom was physically sick from grief. She was sure she had something terribly wrong in her stomach. She takes on little pill every day for her depression/grieving (Paxil) and it is what saved her. Most people don't have to take it for that long, but whatever it takes, I say! She KNOWS it helps her, and she/we are fortunate that it's the only RX she takes. I've said it are amazing and your boys need their Mum.

  4. I love that you write so openly and honestly. I doubt we ever understand what someone else goes through unless we, ourselves, have been through it. We can imagine what it is like, but we never truly know the depth of the pain and grief unless we experience that.

    I think writing is so therapeutic and I know that reading what you are going through helps me to put things in perspective. You are a truly amazing person. Thank you for your words.

  5. Just keep breathing. You have enriched the world around you, and are providing stability, love, an safety to your beloved sons. Just keep breathing.

  6. You have kind thoughts coming to you from all over the world.

  7. Lots of Love, Dineke

  8. We aren't your 'readers'. We are your friends even though we may never meet you and live all over the world. You just write whatever you want, whenever you want. xoxoxox

  9. Lisa - I wanted to tell you that you have made a BIG difference in how I am dealing with my own grief over the loss of my son Jonathan (almost 21 months ago). Some days I am so sad, I honestly don't know what to do with my grief: hold it in, let it out, hide it from everyone....especially at this time of year. You help me to realize that I am NOT going crazy - that my sadness is real and justified and that people who tell me to "move on" don't get it at all! I hope you never ever stop writing about Noah and Aaron. It is lovely to read about them and the wonderful things they brought to your life. I wish I could just go into a deep hole from Thanksgiving thru Christmas and not come out until January 2nd ---- but I know that isn't good for me.

    So - from one grieving mother to another: thank you.

  10. Sending love and hugs from Connecticut, USA.

    I truly think you are an inspiration to many more people than just the ones that comment. Continue to be true to who are you are!

  11. Thank you for writing. My Dad unexpectadly passed away 15 months ago and my one sister told me how she's so proud of how "well" my Mom is doing. My Mom said, I'm glad you tell people that and feel that way because I just cry everyday. My Mom's kids are grown so she's all alone in the house, which I hate as well but your words are good to know and I hope to be able to gain wisdom reading your blog as my Mom and I discuss life sometimes. Thank you for writing about it. It helps so many people as we learn (in our own different circumstances) from you and can read how the emotions we go through are what others feel. I don't know what I'm trying to say because I can't find the words but thank you. Thank you so much for sharing such personal life lessons.

  12. I will never get sick of hearing how things are. I have enjoyed you being willing to share this journey with so many.
    A book I think you would enjoy is This Is How We Grow by Christi Hibbert, she is a psychologist who had to deal with a lot of grief all at once as well. This book isn't a "This is how I dealt with it and how you should too." But rather a journey of a woman and her insight gives so much meaning to the fact that everyone grieves in their own way.
    Prayers and hugs sent your way!

  13. Dear Lisa,
    You are an amazing, strong, inspiring beautiful woman...
    All the love you have for your boys, in heaven and in earth is so real and so powerful,
    and your writing helps so many people around you ....thank you for being so open and honest and for sharing your blog with the world...Im sure Aaron and Noah are watching you and your boys, and they are so proud of you!!
    Much much love from California

  14. Lisa, there is no timeline for grief. It takes as long as it takes. Yesterday, November 17th, was the third anniversary of my dear David's death. I had flowers on the altar at church in his memory. Also, one of the ladies from my church celebrated her 100th birthday, and that was a very happy occasion. Her nephew invited me to join them all for lunch, and I had an enjoyable time with lovely people. Instead of the day being sad, it was a happy day. A friend of mine, who now lives in France, has suggested to me to keep on keeping on, and that is what I am doing. I am sad at times, but not like I used to be. I feel that I have turned the corner, and for that I am grateful. A woman who had lost her husband suddenly, also with a heart attack as you did with Aaron, told me that "it gets softer". He had been gone for 6 years. I didn't understand what she meant then, but I do now. I'll always miss David and will always love him and have wonderful memories of all that we did together. Your Aaron was so young and to be taken away so soon after Noah is something that I can't even comprehend. You are a strong person, and you had to cave in sometime because you tried to keep going for the sake of the boys. They are having a hard time as well. I'm glad that you were able to see someone, have medication to help you through that rough period, and that you are feeling much better. And it is o.k. to cry. I don't as much as I used to, but there are times when something will trigger a thought and I'm off and running. Thank you for sharing your experience, as I am sure it will help many of us who are grieving for our loved ones. Sending you love and hugs from Massachusetts.

  15. I know that reading your blog is helping me.
    My daughter was very much like your Noah. She passed away 12 weeks ago at the age of 15. She was my only child, so I don't have the issue of keeping going for other kids, but it definitely left an enormous hole in my life, going from 24/7 care to nothing.
    Reading about your experiences is definately helping me to feel that what I am experiencing is "normal". Thank you!

  16. My one year mark of losing my sweet son was two days ago. I can't even tell you how much your blog has helped me. Has helped me grieve, and helped me feel normal.
    I pray for you often. As I know how heartbroken you least to some extent. I can't imagine how you are feeling. But I can tell you, you have so much faith, and its extremely beautiful to read. Reading your posts makes me stronger, makes me feel okay if I have a day where I cry.
    Some day it will get better.
    In the mean time, know that your blog, you sharing your thoughts and feelings are literally saving peoples lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Love, Donna.

  17. My name is Daniel Shelton; I am a social worker and grief counselor for a hospice in Las Vegas, NV. I have a Google Alert set on my computer for grief and grieving and recently your thoughts popped up. I am always looking for personal thoughts and experiences that might prove useful to those I serve and wanted to thank you for having the courage to share your difficult experiences. I wish you the best of luck in your personal healing and if there is anything I might be able to do to assist please don’t hesitate to ask.

    PS Not sure if you are LDS or that is just where the service was held but I am also of that faith and it has helped me through some very dark days as a result of my own grief.


    Daniel Shelton, LSW, MSW
    Family Home Hospice
    Bereavement Counselor/Coordinator
    8655 S Eastern
    Las Vegas, NV 89123


We are so grateful for everyone's love and support, and appreciate your comments xoxo

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