Isolation has stripped me ‘open’

Flashback, 2019 was a disastrous year for me and my family and all loved ones.

Then came  2020, a new year, new beginnings. I blogged about 2020 the year of the Rat hoping to make a start towards healing, living and be at peace again.  Our grief and the missing of those we loved will last forever.  Time does not lessen grief.  There will be days where you may just be having a passing thought while other times the minute you opened your eyes, the realization that she will never come back brought tears, agony, and sorrow and made you withdrawn and that could last for days.

The ups and downs of grief are like swimmers swimming with the tides.  At times, the incoming tide may flow calmly.  At other times, it gushes in at you with full force.

Imagine you are having a dip or a swim at the beach and the incoming tide, calmly coming in.  These calm days are when we could think of our beloved daughter, Bom with sweetness and reminiscence the times we shared and forever thankful she was born our daughter.

Contrary to this, the rough sea and incoming tides just keep pushing you out of proportion and you lose your balance in the water.   You need to be calm not to panic but relax lying down in a backstroke position or stay still and keep your head above the waves. The moment you open your mouth, you swallow mouthfuls of seawater.  Those times are times when we allowed grief to overtake us, swallowed us into depression, that we lost control of the present.  Grieving for the dead and ignoring those alive is not healthy.  Learn meditation to get out of this zone.  (In reality, I am aware of this but hard to control and I am still learning.)

2020 Lunar New Year, the whole country (with Wunan first) was infected by Covid19 or Corona Virus.  It spread far and wide.  26 March 2020, New Zealand closed its borders and started our lockdown.  We were told to stay home, be safe and be kind.  We could still take walks around the neighborhood for exercise,  Look out for the teddy bears sitting on window sills.  Just something to bring smiles for the young and old.

I would never have written all the facts and the dates and the whole medical record detailing the last month of my beloved daughter’s life if not for being in isolation.  I searched, reflect and finally got the courage to write my findings.

It was hard to ‘open’ up but I just did, putting my thoughts into words, printed out and knowing where to go from here. 

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Five months later …

Grief is a pain that lasts forever.

It may not be a physical pain but it is an emotional pain inside your heart, the feeling that your heart is torn into pieces yet it continues to beat as life goes on.  It is not a pain that could ease with a painkiller or any form of medication.  It just stays with you every moment of your life.  In bad days, you grieve as soon as you wake up till you go to bed at night.  It doesn’t disappear when you sleep because the brain stays awake and you dream of your loved one and some nights you see the trauma of your loved one dying right in front of you.

You miss her more and more each passing day.  Time does not heal, in fact, it makes the missing feeling stronger and knowing that she will never come back.

I believe that one can only be at peace once you have accepted your loss and do your best to live on with it.  One day, I may be able to accept that Bom is gone but only when I get her the justice that she was gone sooner than she would have been with proper medical care.  She could at least have spent some quality time with us during her end days but that was robbed from us due to the lack of specialist care she received at the hospital.

Before that, how does it sound to you that the company she worked for made her resign without going through all procedures to find out why a productive employee suddenly became so slacked in her work?

My beloved daughter suddenly passed away on 29 October 2019 after a short sickness.  That was only six weeks after being made to resign.  Losing her job must be a huge blow and stress for her.  She lost her dignity and she deteriorated so quickly.  Her death was totally unexpected.  We knew she was terminal but being diagnosed on 4 October 2019 and died on 29 October 2019 was something we cannot accept.  If she had been under specialist care to the very end, we would never have got a discharged certificate with her cause of death as “Patient died from a suspected hemorrhage while waiting for treatment”.

Five months later, we are still grieving badly.  I had three children and they were all very close to each other.  My daughter and my son lost their sister.  It was terrible for my elder daughter, Jo.  She lost her confidant, her friend, and only sister.  I lost my baby girl and her father too lost his baby girl.  This creative daughter of ours, our star just suddenly stopped shinning and disappeared into the dark clouds.

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As we stay strong trying to heal from our loss, it doesn’t get any easier as the world fights Covid 19.  Such an extraordinary and frightening pandemic.  Limiting our movements and staying at home makes me miss my Bom more than ever.

Losing Bom was the ultimate tragedy.

Nothing can be more devastating.

Why is this happening to us?

Five months on, I have no answer to this.

On a positive note, I can only say to Bom, “thank you for being born my daughter”.

May the Rat of 2020 be kind to us

I am thankful that I am alive making through to 2020 and entering the year of the Rat.  In my heart, however, I wish I was dead but that is the devil talking.  I do believe I have to be strong and carry on as the mother of our family.

2019 was cruel to us.  We were just ordinary happy people living in our warm comfortable homes with the people we love until 29 October 2019 happened.  We could never imagine that our family was torn apart so quickly in a short span of 6 weeks (mid-Sept to 29 Oct 2019).

On 22 Aug 2019, my pet dog Toby suddenly passed away from hemangiosarcoma.  It was heartbreaking for me.  He died two days after his 10th birthday.  I lost my buddy.  I grieved so much for Toby but when Bom got sick, my grief for Toby turned into my care for Bom.

No one knew that Bom was sick.  She was made to resign from her job.   How could someone so capable and productive suddenly became so lacking?  From then on, she deteriorated from someone so creative, intelligent and caring to become just a shell.  At that time, we did not know that my grief for my pet dog could turn into my grief for our beloved daughter in a space of two months.  2019 was indeed cruel to us.

On 29 Oct 2019, my precious daughter Judith aka Bom was taken away from us so quickly and suddenly by the deadly Grade IV Glioblastoma.

Everyone in our family grieved and grief indeed is the most painful feeling anyone can experience.  Although it is not physical pain, it is like your body inside out is cut and broken and bleeding everywhere and your heart is broken into pieces.  You live each day like that because a broken heart still beats.

It is so hard for me personally because her dad (I cannot speak on how he grieve) and myself were present when she just suddenly died on us!  Literally, it was unexpected and a whole group of doctors not knowing what to do as she was no longer in specialist care but in a standard ward ‘while waiting for treatment’.

This blog is not to look back at how she died and all the sadness around it.  It is just in fact a journal for me to pen my feelings and perhaps in the midst of doing that, I can slowly get over the pain and start living again.

So we are now in the year of the Rat but there was no celebration for me this year.  Without Bom, there was no Christmas, there was no new year 2020 and there was no celebration for the year of the Rat.  I lost my Dragon (Bom was a dragon 1988).

This post is from a grieving mother who lost her child.  My two other children are both grieving in their own ways.  Her father as a man does not speak out freely but I know his heart is as broken as mine.

I do not know what 2020 holds for us but I can only hope that it can be a year of healing for my family.  We may need many more years but as long as there are no new traumas we can cope and grief with hope.  At this time of grief, we are sort of alienating and withdrawn from each other but I know that blood is thicker than water and we care for each other, even though unspoken.

Acceptance and healing

I have been questioning myself.

How can God be good when he took away my beloved dog of 10 years so suddenly?

Isn’t he cruel that two months later, my beloved daughter suddenly died from a brain tumour only diagnosed three weeks ago and died without even knowing she was going to die???  Neurosurgeons assured me that her life was not at risk though of course with that deadly tumour, her life was terminal.  Everyone was in shock.

Questions, questions, questions. ???

Today, 21 January 2020, I am feeling more alone than ever.  My family had been around me to comfort me while we went through the deep grief and pain of Bom’s passing.  Bom’s Dad left for Kuching today.

A little voice told me, again and again, that I will never heal.  I can never accept that Bom is gone.  I am angry with God, angry with the hospitals for the way they handled Bom’s treatment which cut her life even shorter.

As I have my quiet time today, my mind is telling me that I can never heal unless I first accept her death.  I must learn to appreciate the saying that those who passed away are like the wind.  They are still with us, they are present, we cannot see them but we can feel them.

I had been a Christian though never devout.  When my daughter was sick, I prayed desperately for a miracle.  God did not give us a miracle but he took Bom without her having to go through the agony of radiotherapy and chemotherapy plus the torture of counting down the days of when she will die.  Glomastoma is the deadliest of brain tumour.  We are grateful yet it is still hard to accept that my young beautiful daughter had been taken away from us.  So innocent, so young.

My whole bedroom is full of her photos and also photos of Toby (my pet dog).  The two angels I loved to bits.  Displaying all their pictures in my room is my crying to show they live on in my heart forever.  People may say it isn’t healthy to live in the past, some may say put their photos elsewhere.  To me, their photos soften the grief, the pain, re-live the memories seeing their beautiful faces every day.

This blog is just to pour out my feelings, having taken the first step to want to heal and to try and accept that Bom and Toby are now in heaven.

I want to take away my grief but in spite of thinking that God is ‘cruel’, I still believe that only through prayers for strength and talking to God, can I heal.

Sherri Burgess, the author of Bronner: A Journey to Understand wrote :

God doesn’t do these things to hurt us. Scripture tells us we are refined in the furnace of affliction and that sorrow is better than laughter because it scours the heart. It specifically tells us it’s better to go to a funeral than to a party because you might learn something at a funeral. You’re not likely to at a party. Suffering melts away the dross of worldliness, pride and self-reliance and makes us reach for something greater than ourselves. It teaches us the only hope any of us really has is God.

During Bom’s funeral, our Paster’s message was on ‘Grief with Hope’.

I hope I can come back to God and start to pray for healing.

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A life so beautiful but far too short

Words cannot describe the grief when a mother has to bury her child.  My daughter was an adult kid but because she was still a single woman, to me, she was still my ‘baby’.

From the agony of losing a ten-year-old pet dog who died from an aggressive heart tumor to losing a child to a brain tumor. Pain after pain ……… indeed, grief is the deepest pain I know.

It was only on 22 August 2019 that my pet dog and loyal companion left me just two days after his tenth birthday.  A deadly heart tumor, hemangiosarcoma took away my companion, a four-legged friend, so much a part of me.  He was diagnosed on 8 August 2019 and died fourteen days later. Toby was my everything.  I cried for him every night so much so that I thought I might die from a broken heart.

Toby was the reason this blog was created.  This blog has expanded in the most painful way to include my daughter Bom who passed away on 29 October 2019.  From hemangiosarcoma to glioblastoma.

In mid-September, my precious daughter was diagnosed with severe depression.  I rose from someone about to give up on life to someone so strong putting in all my love and energy caring for my beloved daughter.  It wasn’t that I no longer cried or grieved for Toby but I had to be strong for the living especially for a sick child.

In the last two (probably three) years, my daughter grew very distant from me.  When she moved out in March last year, I saw less and less of her.  I was so hurt that she was never there for me.  I had no idea that my daughter was sick and lost her personality and emotions.

I became my daughter’s carer from 20 September 2019.  It seemed that Bom was giving me those precious times to make up our lost time when we were disconnected.

On 4 October 2019, Bom was admitted to Tiaho Mai Mental Hospital in Middlemore.  We walked into the hospital with hope of her recovery.  On the second day, a nurse mistakenly gave her 25gm of Aripiprazole when the prescribed dosage was 2.5gm.  Instead of getting better, Bom became a zombie and on the fourth day, we were called into the hospital.  The news was heart-wrenching, so devastating that even the psychiatrist fought back tears to disclose.

My sweet Bom, so young, so innocent was wrongly diagnosed with severe depression.  Instead, they found a huge deadly tumor at her right frontal lobe.  It affected behavior and emotional changes; impaired judgment, motivation; reduced mental abilities, memory loss amongst others.  She was transferred to Auckland City Hospital and the tumor was later found to be an aggressive Grade IV Glioblastoma and was not able to be operated on.  Sadly, Auckland City Hospital transferred her back to Middlemore Hospital with no neurosurgeons to monitor her sickness.  She passed away while waiting for radiology.  On her death bed, doctors and nurses were still questioning each other, looking up her file and medical record.  It was an extremely sad setting where someone is dying and no one knew what to do.

The doctors reassured her dad and me that we were probably the most important people in that room right there and then.  Thinking back some thirty-one years ago also in a hospital though in a totally different mood, with a medical team that knew what they were doing vs a confused medical team, the room setting was about the same.  She came into the world seeing her Mum and Dad.  She left the world peacefully seeing her Mum and Dad too.

All these happened in six weeks.  Immediate family and friends continue to live in disbelief.  Her passing was and still is so unreal.  It hurts really bad and I cannot disagree with my son (her brother) that God is cruel.

I encountered three deaths in such a short time.  First, my beloved father left us on 29 December 2018.  I was sad I was not at his bedside when Dad breathed his last.  Sad that this kind man who gave me life was gone forever.  Every now and then, memories of his warmth engulfed me.

Then on 22 August 2019, my Toby died.  People said you can get another dog.  They told me time heals but that isn’t true as of now or maybe ever. Losing Toby who was my everything was like my left arm had been cut off.

When Bom got sick, I was like a human being without a left arm, with a slit throat but full of energy doing what I could to make her comfortable.  When she passed away so quickly though peacefully, I felt like my head had been chopped off.

My heart is broken into pieces. My pain is like living with a body without a left arm and without a head.  I continue to live on because a broken heart still beats ………………

To those who have read till here, I am sorry for such violent descriptions and for making you sad. It is hard but let us continue to be strong and constantly remind ourselves that …..

I thought long a hard about publishing this sad story. My aunt (foster mum) and my mum are old and we are keeping the sad news of Bom’s passing from them till I am strong enough to share with them in person and comfort them.

On the other hand, I want to publish this story as I honor and weep for my losses and I want to be able to grieve openly.

Thank you all for reading and being there for me wherever you may be.

 

Updated 19/12/2019 :  We are now able to celebrate Judith’s life openly now as all my elders are informed that we have a new young angel in heaven. 

My heart chills as December Chills on the other side of the world, thank you, Terri, for allowing my sad story to be honored and flow amongst your beautiful photographs on Sunday Stills.

 

 

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