Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stolen from Natalias's Friends blog
The Language of Grief

By Darcie D. Sims, Ph.D., GMS, CGC, CHT

Once I lived the American Dream. We were a happy family, military by career, parents by choice. And with the birth of our son, our family was to have been complete. We were the American Dream—at least for a little while.
And then, as it happened to you and to so many, it all ended. We learned you couldn’t paint a rainbow on the wall and expect it to stay. The dream came to pieces and we were shattered. No longer the American Dream, we became the American Nightmare. We were bereaved.
We had entered a world we knew nothing about. Suddenly we were strangers in a strange land. We needed help. We needed understanding. We needed someone who could speak our language . . . the language of grief.
We discovered we were grieving, not only the death of our child, but the loss of close friendships, self-esteem, and self-identity as well. We were SO alone . . . left untouched by those around us who must have been afraid, too. Perhaps Death is “catching,” or maybe no one knew what to say. I didn’t know what to hear. But, as the months passed, it only grew darker and we began to wonder if we would ever know peace, joy, or love again.
Eventually, we began to wander and found a few support systems (Thank heavens for TCF!). The Compassionate Friends became a lifeline for us. We found we were not as alone as we feared and we began to struggle through the valley of grief. But as the years went by, I noticed that we and all the other bereaved people we began to know were still struggling with something. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until one day, I listened to the words we were all using to describe our grief journey. As I listened to my own words and those of fellow strugglers, I began to realize it was not the journey we were having trouble with . . . it was the language we used.
So, I want to create a NEW LANGUAGE! Can we speak in terms of HOPE instead of sorrow? I want to create a new language where Denial is a river in Egypt, not a sin in grieving. Maybe denial isn’t really denial but Postponement. Sometimes I’m just not ready to deal with reality. Before you can deny anything, you have to acknowledge it and once you acknowledge it, then you can postpone it until you are ready or able to cope. Postponement just seems to be a more accurate and usable word.
Perhaps we can replace Acceptance and Acknowledgement. Acceptance, to me, means agree with and I Will Never Agree with what has happened to us! But I can work towards Acknowledgement of what has happened.
Maybe we can change the words we use. Change the Language of Grief into the Language of Hope. Let’s get rid of the word LOST and find the word FOUND. People die, but we do not lose them. They are forever threads in our fabric, memories in our heart, love in our being. They are now and always will be a living and loving part of who we are.
And then, perhaps we can change one more word in the Language of Grief. Can we use the word Healing instead of Recovery? Recovery is a medical word, designed to describe broken bones, not hearts. We recover from a broken arm or the chicken pox. But recover or get over the death of someone I love . . . ? We don’t Get Over the death of someone we love! We get THROUGH IT, one moment, one hour, one day, one hurt at a time. Healing is a hopeful word and I want to be hopeful in my journey.
And let’s get rid of Closure as well! There is no such thing as closure! YOU DON’T STOP LOVING SOMEONE JUST BECAUSE THEY DIED. We grieve because we loved someone! And we WILL CONTINUE TO LOVE THEM FOREVER!
If I could just see HOPE. I kept looking for the aisle marked happiness. I thought it was a place. I kept waiting for it to get better and it only grew darker. If I could just see hope . . .
Hope isn’t a place or a thing. Hope isn’t the absence of pain, fear or sadness. Hope is the possibility of renewed joy. It is the memory of love given and received. Hope is you and me and the person next to you and across the room, down the street and in your dreams.
We are each other’s hope and we need a new language to reflect our hopefulness, not our despair. If we could just change these few words, I believe we might be able to make some progress towards healing. I am tired of struggling to accept when acknowledgment is more honest. I am tired of being in denial when I know exactly what it is I want to deny, so how can you say I am denying anything? I just want to postpone it for awhile. When I feel more capable, less tired and have some skills and tools, then I will work on my “denial.”
And nothing, nothing closes at the funeral except the casket! I will always continue to love my child and hold him within my heart, my spirit, and every fiber of my being. I will have an ongoing and continuing relationship with him until I can once again hold him in my arms. If that is “crazy,” then yes, I am! As a psychotherapist and a bereaved mom, I believe it is my right to continue to love my child forever and loving your child should not be considered as mentally unhealthy. Good-bye? You want me to say good-bye? I wasn’t through saying Hello!
I want a new language, a language of hope and healing instead of denial and death. I want to remember my child’s LIFE first! And that is the new language of love!
May love be what you remember the most!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

INDIAN Heartbeat

A beautiful song by the Great Van Morrison. Just feeling a bit melancholy these days.

Oh, won't you stay
Stay a while with your own ones
Don't ever stray
Stray so far from your own ones
For the world is so cold
Don't care nothing for your soul
You share with your own ones
Don't rush away
Rush away from your own ones
One more day
One more day with your own ones
Yes, the world is so cold
Don't care nothing for your soul
You share with your own ones
There's a stranger
And he's standing by your door
Might be your best friend, might be your brother
You may never know
I'm going back
Going back to my own ones
Back to talk
Talk a while with my own ones
This old world is so cold
Don't care nothing for your soul
You share with your own ones
This old world is so cold
Don't care nothing for your soul
You share with your own ones

Monday, November 8, 2010

Uncle Henry & Uncle Louis - POW WWII

Remembrance Day is here once again. I want to introduce you to my Uncle Louis and my Uncle Henry. They are both gone now. I only met Henry twice that I can remember. He moved to the States. 

Uncles Henry (Mannish) & Louis (Red)

He and my other Uncle Louis were in the army together. Henry followed his brother Louis. Henry lied about his age. They were both POW's. I am not sure where Louis was held prisoner or anything about his experience. He did make it out of the war and came back to Sagkeeng where he lived. 

This is my Uncle Henry's friend (on the right in gray suit) Mr. Hudson Chambers. These pictures were sent to my cousin Vince (Henry's son) Fontaine by Mr. Chambers' daughter.
These two men were POW's together.

I really don't know much about my Uncle and his exploits. His time in the army and his experience in the camp. I just know that Mom loved her brother
 "Mannish" very much.   I believe Vince is going to be organizing a Memorial Gathering in honour of his Dad sometime in the future. That is a great thing. My Aunties are going to be really happy about that. Vince looks like his Dad for sure.

My Brother Don, had the DND put up the Military Markers at our Reserve Cemetery for the Uncles Henry and Louis. 

Evelyn LaForte  (my Aunt posted this) Henry served with The Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and Hudson his buddy served with Essex Scottish Regiment. they were captured and became prisoners of war and were made to walk a thousand mile march to work in and underground coal mine in Czechoslovakia. Hudson Chambers who was Henry's buddy died last year after Remembrance day . Rest In Peace!

CHAMBERS, H. HUDSON (September 1, 1924 – November 21, 2012) - Passed away peacefully with family at his side at Sakura House Hospice, Woodstock.Hudson Chambers. Born September 1, 1924 near Bright, Ontario, Hudson grew up during the Great Depression. He served bravely with the Essex Scottish Regiment during the invasion of Normandy, landing at Juno Beach on June 8, 1944, and was captured about six weeks later at Falaise, France. He spent his twentieth birthday as a prisoner of war, laboring in the underground coal mine at Teschin, Czechoslovakia. As the Russians advanced from the east in January 1945, Hudson’s German captors moved the POW’s out of their camps, beginning a “thousand mile march” westwards during one of coldest winters of the century. When Hudson and his fellow soldiers liberated themselves by disarming their German guards near Vienna, he was within days of death from starvation. But the spirit which had kept him alive enabled him to carry on for another 67 years. After World War 2, Hudson returned to Woodstock to become a very successful home builder. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Girl suicides due to Cyber Bullying

I saw this on the North Dakota news channel last night. This young girl took her life. Can you imagine what that feels like? That family must be in a world of pain, anger, sadness, regret, and unanswered questions. I wonder how the kids who bullied her feel? I wonder about this because last week my daughter was upset over some girls saying bad things about her. She got a text to watch her back. She was upset. Now she and that girl are friends.
I wonder when the normal happenings of teen life go over the top. You know the petty drama of kids life? I am in pain for the girl and the family. The states of Minnesota and North Dakota are looking at implementing a law to deal with bullying. I am not sure of the laws in Manitoba. It is a situation that we can only look at say, "could have done this, should have done this..."

Early Thursday, a couple hours before the sun rose in Cooperstown, N.D., 16-year-old Cassidy Joy Andel posted a note on her Facebook page:
“My time has come, and so I’m gone. To a better place, far beyond. I love you all as you can see. But it’s better now, because I’m free.”
She then hung herself in her home, apparently unable to cope with the nasty things being said about her through text messaging and the very social media network used to announce her own suicide.
Sheriff Bob Hook, whose Griggs County Sheriff’s Office polices the 1,200-person community of Cooperstown, said the suicide is being investigated as a possible crime.
“It’s definitely being looked at as a bullying situation,” he said, lamenting in the next breath that North Dakota doesn’t recognize bullying itself as a crime.
“This bullying has become almost an epidemic nationwide,” Hook said, acutely recognizing that the issue had hit very close to home and may be responsible for a local girl’s death.
Several members of the Sheriff’s Department knew Cassidy’s family, and Hook said the entire community 110 miles northwest of Fargo-Moorhead is taking the news hard but addressing it openly and promptly.
Cassidy’s school held an all-school assembly about it Thursday. School officials, the Sheriff’s Department and others addressed students, and counselors were made available, he said.
Bradley Cruff, the Griggs County state’s attorney, who lives in Valley City, said news of Cassidy’s suicide had quickly spread 40 miles to the south, where she has cousins and friends.
“Kids down here were communicating with her on Facebook last night and they’re all devastated,” he said.
Hook said his department is gathering facts in the case and hopes to talk to students who might know more in the coming week.
The nature of the comments or information that was bothering Cassidy are sketchy. A perusal of her Facebook page didn’t reveal comments that were overtly harassing, but they could have been deleted.
The teen, who listed her favorite place as her bedroom and has 730 friends on the social networking site, often posted upbeat comments, even as recently as the day before she died.
But then there was this one posted Wednesday:
“If you don’t like the way I am, then don’t come around me. If you don’t like the way that I talk, then don’t listen. If you don’t like the way I dress, then don’t look. But don’t waste my time telling me about it. I don’t care.”
Sheriff Hook said it’s not uncommon for his department to field complaints about bullying or harassment using modern media. He urged parents to make greater efforts to keep an eye on what their children are doing on computers and phones.
“It’s a trend our kids are going through,” he said. “They communicate behind a screen. They text each other standing next to each other. They don’t always realize that who they are writing to or about is a person.”

Forum reporters Patrick Springer and Amy Dalrymple contributed to this report. Springer can be reached at (701) 241-5522 or
Readers can reach Forum Editor Matthew Von Pinnon at (701) 241-5579 or

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


November 11 - Poncho has woke up and is trying to speak. Great news.

Update: Poncho had a turn for the worse last night and had another bleed in the brain. A different part of the brain so they had to operate again. As of this post, he is still not up yet. The doctors have taken him off medication to see how he will be when he wakes up. This is November 8th. 

After visiting Poncho in the morning I went over to the Compassionate Friends meeting place. They have drop in meeting on Monday afternoons. I went over to eat cookies and drink tea. The people are so understanding and very nice. Some new parents today. Very sad to hear about the loss of their children. Compassionate Friends is a support group for Parents that have lost children. Four of the parents at this meeting had children that passed away due to suicide. Very bad times for them. It is a good place for people to share with no worry of judgment. 

Feeling pretty sad tonight. My brother Poncho is not looking very well. I tried to get him to squeeze my hand. Asked him if he could hear me. He didn't respond. Thinking of how much death is around our community these days. My brother has to hang on and be well again. I don't like it right now. My wife is still struggling with the passing of her Mom and I am not much of a comfort for her. She is quiet and cries softly and doesn't like to burden others with her sorrow. Me I tell everyone that I am in a world of hurt. Well I will wait for him to better. In the meantime I will continue to tease my brother Don, my sister-in-law Jeannie and anyone else for that matter. It is something to be in the waiting room of the ICU. Lot of families waiting for some good news. Me and Don constantly bugging Jeannie about signing the death certificate of Poncho even before he is gone. It is the way to deal with stress and hurt. False humour. Make them laugh. Get them off the hurt. At least for a little while. 

My brother Poncho is the stuff of legends. He is kind of like that guy in the movie Sin City: Marv. Good stories for friends and family to tell. He is one of those guys that likes to help you. He is the type to be always doing something, working. My brother spent most of the seventies and a bit of the eighties in jail. He was not a criminal. He was a drinker.  A guy who liked to have his beer. Never ever did drugs. He doesn't like drugs. He was a bit of a hot head. He would get into fights, get in trouble that way with the law. End up in jail. Do his time, get out and start over. He didn't go to jail for stealing or any of that crap. He was scrapper and a very good one. He was the type of guy that would throw Mr. Bone out of the house by way of the window. He then got one of his cousins to drive Bone to the hospital. Not to worry about Bone, he is not a good guy. He was a notorious bully in the inner city and he even used a knife to cut my friend Earl in the face while his passed out.  Poncho is pretty powerful from working hard jobs and doing time in jail. He likes to laugh. I remember this white construction worker was at the pub in the afternoon giving some guys a hard time. Poncho got called to come over to the bar. I saw Poncho come over and get a beer. He talked to one of the Reserve guys, who pointed out which construction worker was acting up. Poncho walked up to him and the guy gave Poncho the look. Poncho grabbed him, slammed onto the floor, kicked him in the chest. Drank his beer and left. The guy was going around crying about him being set up. That is Poncho. He's old now and doesn't do those things. But a lot of his young life was like that. He is the guy. He is more than that to all of us. He is the oldest brother. The one we look up to. We know he is always the guy who will help us if we need some work to be done. He won't say no.

Well I just got home from the Hospital.

My brother Poncho ended up in the Pine Falls hospital, back home in Sagkeeng. He was not feeling well and his blood pressure was very high. He started to lose consciousness and then he was unresponsive. He had tried to speak to his wife, Jeannie but he could not talk. He could not wake up after that. He was taken by ambulance to the Health Science Centre in Winnipeg. It was learned from a CAT scan,  he had a blood cloth in his brain and it has caused some brain damage.

My brother Poncho just completed his surgery last night. It was surreal. The doctor was talking to us about the choice to make: let him die, or operate. He has underlying health issues. He has Hep-C from the tainted blood he received from the Red Cross. His liver is not too good. He likes to drink and he has high blood pressure. If they operate he may not be functioning. There is brain damage due to a blood cloth in his head. It happened so fast. I stood there trying to process the consequences of each choice. It did seem like the Doctor was pushing for the first option, let him go. My brother Don, just took charge and said "operate, give him a chance". My sister-law Jeannie was in shock so she couldn't make a decision. With Don not accepting the alternative of letting his brother die without a fight,  he voiced for an operation and to "quite wasting time asking questions".  Jeannie also wanted Poncho to have the operation. Rickie, Jeannie's oldest boy was also not willing to let Poncho go without the operation. He wanted the operation right away as well.

Me, I seconded guessed everything but am glad that a choice was made. My brother Poncho is in the surgery recovery unit. He is still out of it, and the nurses want him to have rest and not have so much visitors coming in. Lot of family members crowding around the waiting area and trying to get into see him. In addition lot of his friend and relatives are calling. He is a popular guy that Poncho. The good news is that he has been removed from the ventilator, he can move his arms and legs and has even uttered a swear word at the nurse.

I am talking to Poncho's oldest daughter, Shirley out in Calgary. You can tell she is very upset, being so far from her Dad. I will keep her informed of Poncho's progress.
Poncho and Jeannie have 5 children. They are all worried, but positive.
Me I feel bad that I even considered letting him die without a fight. That kind of decision is made everyday in hospitals all over the world. You never consider being in that situation. Think I will make a living will. I am not sure I want to be in the position not to be able to decide my own fate. I don't want to put my wife and kids through that as well.

The waiting room is a mixture of sadness, laughter, crying, hoping and waiting. I spoke with the father of a young woman (20 years old) that was in critical care. She had been a passenger in a car accident. A young girl of seventeen that may have been drinking, hit a car of young people in an intersection on Halloween night.  There were five young people in the car. One has been critically hurt and two people have died. The father was in a very somber state, but he was hopefully. He said that his daughter had a tube removed from her head. I can only guess it was a tube to alleviate the pressure of fluid in the head. I don't know. I shook his hand and told him I was thinking of his family. He had so much family there to hold vigil.
I do not like the drinking and driving. The poor families and the poor girl who took that route of drinking and driving.

Knowledge Keeper and Knowledge Giver

There are many beautiful things in the world. Of those beautiful things are youth. How beautiful everything and everyone is when they are yo...