Tag Archive: Dealing with grief


‘I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. The pain is like an axe that chops my heart.’ [The Life of Pi]

Kim

This is my story, but I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.

My friend Catherine asked me on the 9th March 2014 if I would mind writing something for her friend’s blog. At the time I jumped at the idea “Yes! Sure!” thinking yeah, why not? I don’t mind talking about it, it then become something “I’ll get to soon” and I convinced myself that I’m just too busy, turns out talking about it and writing is quite different! But this week, and I can’t tell you why, but it’s been on my mind and maybe now, only now, I can write about it. I’m going to try summarise everything but still give a good picture of what I had and how I’ve gotten to the “now”. It’s hard summarising something so big, feel like I could write a book!

I met Tegan at a Boys High Highland Gathering in June 2008. To be honest I didn’t think anything of it. Couple of weeks later and I’m playing paintball with a bunch of boys and the supporter girls, and he shot me in the face! And by 11 August we were together.

He was a pilot, an amazing, smart and focused pilot. He was doing well, creating a name for himself in the aviation industry. Being the “pilots girlfriend” I learnt quickly that they are not always going to be around, every goodbye has to be a good one and the paranoid watching the clock and working out when I’ll be expecting that “I’m safe” SMS becomes second nature. That’s another story on its own, being a pilot’s girlfriend/wife!

We moved into our own place, life was going well. We had our moments of irritating-ness, of learning to live with each other or just being us. But love always dominated any “problems” we may have had. Tegan taught me to be a stronger person, dealing with situations and the ups and downs of life. On the mornings where I just didn’t want to face the day he would say “you have two options, the easy way or the hard way” and then reminding me the easy way of staying in bed won’t get me anywhere.

Tegan was excited to be taking some rich people to Namibia for the weekend. I had the good goodbye, I got the “I’m safe” SMS, I even got the “quickly look at the moon” message. But something didn’t feel right, my heart was breaking and I didn’t know why.  On the Friday night I got the routine sleep well SMS, telling me how much of a good time he was having. Next morning I didn’t hear from him, I sent him a few messages, no reply. It was the Tattoo at Monte Casino that night, 3 September 2011, me and my mum took the Gautrain and meet up with my dad there. I can remember telling my mum something wasn’t right, he would’ve at least have sent me a message saying enjoy the evening. We got to Monte and getting snacks from Sweets from Heaven my phone rang, it wasn’t Tegan, but his mum calling me from France.

It’s a call that still haunts me.

“Has no one told you?”

                “Told me what? What? Told me WHAT?”

“Tegan’s died!”

That was me, game over. Now, I remember bits of getting home and calling Simon, my best friend, and he was at my house when I got there. For a long time I thought this is a very cruel joke and people can call it off now. I will admit I do sometimes still think that.

Tegan had been in a car accident. The game vehicle rolled down a sand dune. 6 people on the vehicle and as far as I know he was the only one to die. To this day I still don’t know about the others, and to be honest I don’t want to know.

I took a week off work, and dealt with many phone calls and sympathy letters and cards and visits. I was grateful for all of it. And I think I surprised many people when after the week I had had enough and knew I needed to get on with life. Obviously Tegan would want that! I know, how? Where do you start? How do you go back? I’m a teacher, Tegan was a pilot, our work lives didn’t mix, and it was somewhere where I didn’t have to see things that would remind me of him. I had some very strange moments! Thinking back on them I think people must have thought I was mad, I spoke to a crested barbet (bird) almost every morning that I was sure Tegan had sent to shout at me. I would start talking to the moon out loud while walking through the Grove shopping centre “I know you’re laughing at me, stop it” would be heard while running around shop to shop trying to find something I needed.

I was very angry at him for a long time. And I would have shouting matches with him in my head, “how could you?!” “What am I supposed to do now?” I also had moments where I wanted to know that he was there, “If you are there make that flower move…” the flowers never moved. I do, however, know he is around. He shows himself in other ways. And maybe it’s nothing to do with him, but then they are little moments that make me think of him and I’m ok with that too. I don’t need to look out for the signs, they just happen. At the beginning I would feel the need to point them out, and have people give me the “are you ok?” look, I now see them and don’t feel the need to point them out.

My friends were great. But they didn’t always know what to say or do. And at times I felt like I needed to be the strong one. Show that I was ok and keep up an “I’m fine” image. People are important, but I realised I didn’t want too many people. It was easier to cope with small groups than trying to “entertain” lots of people.

I took a group of 40 students to Spain in 2012, I went with three other teachers that were very close to me at the time, but at the end of the trip I turned to Herman, a very good friend who stuck by me all the time, and just said “I don’t think I want to go back” almost in tears. I knew in that moment I needed to get away. I now live in the UK and I’m happier and I have a great life here. Sometimes all you need to do it start again. The move has shown me too who I will always be able to count on in South Africa; It is not easy keeping friendships going when you’re so far away. But there are the people who make it seem easy. And I have all the support from the people who matter too.

Catherine asked me a few questions, and I thought I’d answer them in a paragraph:

Yes, my life fell into a million pieces. I was determined to get above it, not move on, because it is something that is with you every day for the rest of your life. There isn’t a day that goes past that he doesn’t cross my mind. I have a gap definitely, and no one will ever be able to fill it, but people can make it smaller, my amazing friends have already made it smaller, but it’s like a cracked mug, can be glued back together but the cracks are always there and sometimes little bits go missing. Moving on is hard, almost three years on and I still have my “I just don’t want to” moments. Coping on a day to day basis, I get up! I stay busy, something that I think has definitely come from all of this is that I’m braver, I will try new things, jump off bridges, hold creepy animals, experience the world! Don’t let opportunities pass. Grab every chance! There is no point in living going “I should’ve done that”. I wear myself out, and go into hiding now and then, I just decide I’ve had enough and will go up to my room, put music on and close off to the world. But never for too long, and the next day I get up and start again.  I don’t think easier is the right word, I coped, and I still cope on a day to day basis. I am very lucky in that I had and have a wonderful support system.

Advice: something like this can either make you or break you. Whenever I tell someone “my story” now, I tell them that it is something that happened to me, but I never want them to feel sorry for me. It is a huge part of me, but it’s not me, and I refuse to let it be me.

Like I said at the start of this, I feel like I can write a book on the last 5 years of my life. I hope that in me summarising 5 years, that it comes across that I loved Tegan with my whole heart and he truly was the love of my life. I believe things happen for a reason, I don’t know what this reason is, yet, but that’s kept me going too.

[For more stories about Dealing with the Grief of losing someone you love, click here]

sarah1

The death of a baby or child is forever life changing in every way that you can imagine, or maybe you can not imagine.

I must have heard this a million times, “I can not image how you handle this; I would not be able to handle it.” Who wants to imagine the death of their baby or child, No one I know and neither did I. But I found myself in that very real situation on December 15, 2005 when my 11 week old daughter died in her sleep at the babysitter’s house of SIDS.

SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after the performance of a complete postmortem investigation, including an autopsy, an examination of the scene of death and a review of the medical history. SIDS remains the leading cause of death for infants one month to one year of age, continuing to claim the lives of approximately 2,000 babies each year.

This is a life event that I would have rather missed out on and not experienced at all but that was not in my life plan. This one event changed everything for me and changed the way that I saw GOD. I will not lie to you and say I have a strong faith in GOD. It is really the opposite. I have always been looking for a relationship with GOD and have found it very difficult. I’m a believer and at times have had a strong faith and was in a good place when my world was turned upside down.

My daughter Alexandra Gayle was born on September 29, 2005 a health little girl, she was my only daughter and had 2 brothers that were very happy to have a sister. My 1st question to God after her death was how do I explain to 2 small children that their sister is gone. I looked for books and all I could find was books about helping children deal with the death of a pet or grandparent since those deaths make since to the world. No one wants to admit that babies and children die and no one wants to speak about it.

The next thought I had was how does a perfectly healthy little girl who was loved just fall sleep and never wake up. Why would the GOD that I knew let that happen? Why would GOD cause me and so many that loved her so much pain? (Ok that is like 3 questions) But in the days, months and years after her death there has been question after question with little to no answers.

I will admit to turning on GOD at that time in my life. I like to say that I put GOD in a box, locked it, put it in the back of my closet, and locked the door. I was angry and since there was no one else to blame, I blamed GOD, He became the person that was able to be angry with. Most people did not see this side of me since I kept it deep inside. They saw the person that I was showing to the outside world a strong person who was learning to cope. I was dying and my heart was broken.

There were days that I just went through the motions and days that I was not able to make it out of bed. There were times that I wanted to kill myself. They were times that I was happy and that felt wrong. I had 2 other little children that needed me and who were also grieving. I had a husband who was grieving too. There were days that I only had enough to deal with my own grief and had no room for their pain. Somehow I made it though each day one at a time. One minute at a time, then one day at time, then a week or two. Slowly there was a new normal in my life.

My heart remained broken and then something slowly started to change. I did not know what it was at the time and can only see it now looking back but that box I had hidden away was starting to leak. I did not know that you could not put God’s love in a box and expect it to stay there.

There were people that were put in my path that would show me that GOD still loved me no matter how mad I was at him. No matter how much I wanted to hate what I felt that he had let happen. I was not able to see the slow fog that seeped out from under the door. GOD had waited long enough and knew that it was time for me to see what He had in store for me.

It was always painful for me when people did not remember my daughter or know what to say to me when they found out what had happened. So I realized that it was my job to remember her and to make sure others knew it was ok too. It was ok not to know what to say to me and it is ok if talking about her makes me sad. Remembering her is more important then pushing it away.

I knew that it was ok to be sad and it was ok to be mad at GOD. He could handle it and after all He is a grieving parent too. When I realized that I had something in common with GOD. Little me here on earth, imperfect me had something in common with GOD. We were both grieving parents and a parent would never make this happen to another parent.

GOD did not make this happen, it just happened. It was my part of my plan in life. What GOD did do is walk with me though it. He stayed with me even when I did not want Him there. He knew I was not ready and waited until it was time to let me see where this path would take me. GOD saw the big picture that I was not able to see. GOD loved even when He was not loved. GOD grieved with me, cried with me, was angry with me, and he held my hand through it all.

My cross to carry in is life knowing that I was not able to control the loss of my daughter and there is nothing that I could have done to change it. My cross to carry is helping my children learn that death is a normal part of life, young or old GOD calls us home at all different times. How lucky we were to be the ones that were chosen to love this little baby for such a short time. How lucky I was to have carried her in my body to have nursed her and given her nourishment to have loved her to have put her back into the ground and given her back to her creator. How lucky are we to know that she is there waiting for us and always looking after us.

It is not an easy path and it will never be easy. It is a live changing event for everyone that is involved in it. What I have learned is that my path can help others that are dealing with the same kind of pain. That I can tell her story about how GOD took a broken heart and started to heal it little by little. How thru GOD I have learned to see the joy in life and cherish every moment. My relationship with GOD is far from great and it is still a struggle everyday to remember the path that I have been given and that He is always there with me. It is still a struggle to see the love that GOD has for me. But what is important is that I always keep trying and I always keep remembering the little angel that is watching and waiting for me to join her in heaven.

Today, I have 2 more children and have found myself as a single mother of 5 (1 angel). And again I hear how do you handle it but today the answers are very different. Today I can answer that question. It is only with the love and support of GOD that I handle it and knowing that GOD is there with me through all the ups and downs. 

[To read other stories that have been shared of people who have lost a child, click here]

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