All posts by sheriroaf

Sheri Roaf is the mother of four wonderful children who turned to blogging after her 17 month old son Bennett passed away unexpectedly. Through her writing she has found a way to help herself and her family move forward in the face of tragedy.

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The worst part of child loss for me was feeling alone. I had a very hard time finding others. My village if you will, which is why I started blogging.

I have started a Sunshine, Angels & Rainbows FB page. It’s a closed group, so you can feel free to share whatever, o ly those in the group will see the postings. Please join us.

Sunshine, Angels & Rainbows

 

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I Finished A Book

This may seem silly or trite to some, but last week I read a book. A whole entire book. From start to finish. I even read the novella that followed.

Yes, it was a book that I’ve read before and yes, I was technically on vacation. But I did it! I actually read an ENTIRE book!

This is a huge deal for me. Since Benny died four and a half years ago, I haven’t been able to finish a book. At all. Which is a big deal because I used to be an avid reader. I would stay awake until the wee hours of the morning following some characters on a journey. I have always loved to read.

It’s killed me. I have not been able to finish a book. I would start, but not be able to finish anything. My nook account has been collecting dust instead of new titles. I now troll Facebook or Pinterest until I’m sleepy.

I don’t have seem to have the focus to be able to read. I don’t have the follow through to be able to finish what I’ve started. I’m distracted. All of the time. I’m on edge.

It makes me mad when I start to think about all of the other things that I’ve lost through grief. Friends, family members, peace of mind. It’s amazing how much it has shaped my life and who I have become. I’ve lost so much of my former self.

This made me happy. Gave me a glimpse of something possible. Even if it’s the only book I read all year. I still read a book.

 

 

A Father’s Day Card

We picked it out in the store, the girls and I. It was a funny Father’s day card about doing work around the house. Very appropriate given all of the projects my husband takes on at my request.

We were running around after kids, trying to get dinner into their bellies and their sunscreened bodies into the shower. We knew tomorrow would be hectic so we celebrated our Father’s day today. The kids gave their dad the presents that they made. We gave him the card from the kids that we had hurriedly signed in the back of the car.

We rushed through tubs and bed and got everyone tucked in. I scrambled to get everything packed so that we could head out early in the morning to see my dad for Father’s day.

I brushed my teeth and got into bed when my husband thanked me for the gifts. That’s when it dawned on me that there were only 3 names on his card. How on Earth could I have screwed up so bad?

He smiled and said it was ok. But it wasn’t. Not to me. Tomorrow I will add Benny’s name to that card. And then take a deep breath. I am not okay with this.

 

Happy 6th Birthday Buddy

Benny Bear,

Wow. I cannot believe you would have been 6! A whole hand and 1 finger! You would have been nearing the end of Kindergarten. That just blows me away. You were so young when we lost you.

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-29,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Of course I’m nearly a month late in writing to you. This year has been HARD. But you probably already know that. I’m just sitting here for the first time digesting the whole idea of a 6 year old you. I’m at a loss.

It used to be so easy to picture you older. I used to be able to paint the picture in my mind of who you would be and what you would look like. But you have so many siblings now. You are all so different and so similar. And seem to change from day to day.

Perry seems most like you. Super laid back and ready for the next adventure. She needs constant stimulation, good thing she has Fletch and Darcy to keep her entertained. I’m scared she will be like you as a toddler. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And maybe a bit excited, you sure kept things interesting!

I love watching Darcy and Per as sister’s, but it makes me miss you that much more. I imagine you and Fletch would make me a bit crazy together. We were at a friend’s house recently where he was playing with another boy and oh the laughter! The crazy boy energy and rough and tumble time we spent made me long for you that much more. Fletch doesn’t even know what he’s missing, but it kills me.

We drive by the cemetery regularly now and Fletch always says hi to you and blows you a kiss. His heart is so big and if he can’t grow up knowing you, at least he will grow up with the idea of you.

The more time that passes, the further you get from me. The more my time with you felt like a dream. Or another life. I suppose it was. So much has changed. I’ve changed.

We did our yearly celebration for you. Darcy wrote a story all about you and read it to all of her friends. I was so proud of her. She’s struggling still, but we’re working on it. Day by day.

All of the kids painted kindness rocks to leave around for someone else to find some day.

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-29,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

You’re still spreading smiles even though you’re not here.

Happy 6th Birthday buddy. Miss you like crazy.

Love,

Mommy

Rainbow Baby Woes

I hate that feeling that something bad is going to happen. Because the unthinkable has already happened to us, it shouldn’t again, right? Or is it because it has happened to us that I know how quickly things can fall apart?

A sniffle, a bump, a fall. I panic. Instantly. I Google everything to make sure I watch for symptoms of what ‘could happen.’ There’s always this little niggling voice in my head saying something can go wrong. They can get sick. They can get hurt. They are not invincible. Your children can die.

Maybe it’s because the baby is so young still, I now worry the most about her. Maybe it will get better once she crosses the 18 month mark. There are three of them to worry about and it’s exhausting sometimes.

I can’t sit here and say, ‘oh, that will never happen to us,’ I no longer have that naivety. I miss it. The pure ignorant bliss of thinking my children will always be ok.

I wish I didn’t over think the way I tend to. I wish that my family didn’t have to know tragedy. I wish that Benny was still alive.

 

Self Care

‘Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.’

This airline safety speech was read to us at the first grief group we attended with The Compassionate Friends. Their point in reading this was to push us to remember that in order for us to take care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first.

Self Care is tough, especially when dealing with grief. The last person that I cared about after Benny died was myself. I was so concerned with how Darcy was doing and how Parker was coping. And I was devastated.

I didn’t have time to think about me. It was easier to focus on everyone else’s wants and needs so that I could ignore the impending emotions. As a mom, I was used to putting myself last. I fell into old habits.

I grew up in a house where we didn’t show much emotion. We would get into trouble for crying. I began to see tears as weakness. At first I didn’t care about crying, I didn’t care about much of anything. But as the weeks passed I started to turn internally.

I was lucky to have a lot of people looking out for me though. People checking in constantly, taking me out, calling, and sending me to therapy. It took me awhile, but I started to realize that my grief matters too.

A month after Benny’s death we started seeing a therapist. It felt so good to just get everything out to an impartial party. It felt so good for me to offload everything that I had started to hold in.

I started writing. A lot. I couldn’t keep it all inside anymore. I never intended to share this blog with anyone. I was using it as a tool to help myself. It ended up as so much more. Through sharing my blog I have met so many other amazing people. I have gleamed so much hope.

I started yoga. I had done yoga before to get in shape, but this time was different. I wasn’t interested in just getting physically fit, but I also wanted to work on healing my mind and soul. Well, as best as I could.

Joining a grief group at first was hard. I was so overwhelmed at the idea. Benny’s death had been so public. I hated the idea of people looking at me, knowing who I was. The first group I went to wasn’t for me and that’s ok. I found my tribe at a different meeting. I look forward to my time with these ladies who also know my pain. It’s easier to be amongst those that understand my heart.

Those are all big self care items that worked for me, but how about some basic ones too? Like showering, getting sleep, getting your body moving, etc. I was reading an article recently that talked about ways to help steer you in a positive direction. It was a check list for you to use if you started to feel like you were headed for the ‘upside down’ if you will. It said things like ‘did you shower today? Did you go for a walk? Did you hug someone?’ All very simple things. But I realized that when I stop doing these things is when I feel at my worst. Such simple advice. I need to carve time out for myself so that I can be there for when my husband and kids need me.

Keeping all of this stuff going is HARD! Four years later and I still often slide backwards into sloth ways every once in awhile when things get truly overwhelming. I just have to gently remind myself that I know how to fix it and get myself headed back in the right direction. I have to remember that in order to be the mom and wife that my family deserves, sometimes I have to deal with my own stuff too.