What to Do If You Are Depressed?

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In a previous post about Complicated Grief, you might have read that I had fallen into a depression following the accident. It was probably inevitable given the circumstances of Zackaël’s death, my PTSD, and being in the hospital with my severely injured Adélie.

I eventually plan to write a post about what helped me “survive” the year after the accident: “The 5 things that helped me cope with depression.” This is not to say that I no longer have signs of depression. I am still grieving and suffer from anxiety.

Without disclosing my full top 5 list, I am revealing one today: Something I did that helped me deal with depression was being busy in a positive way. This is even more important during this time of pandemic as we are even more isolated.

Yet, it is also important to give ourselves time and not undertake projects if we are not ready. It took me at least 8 months after the accident to start small projects that I love. In my 23 Myths of Grief post, Myth #3 is “The best way to grieve is to avoid thinking about it too much. The bereaved should get busy by doing other things, such as going back to work.”. It is a myth that the bereaved should get busy right away and do other things. The bereaved first needs the time to be ready to do “other things”. Doing too much after a traumatic event is usually a bad idea. This is why we should first start with simple activities (e.g. taking a walk), before taking on projects.

Small projects shouldn’t be too demanding, and especially not stressful. Ideally, a person who is depressed should work on a project only when they feel like doing so, it should not feel like a chore. Note that returning to work doesn’t fall into this category (of starting a nice project) because it is more of an obligation (for most of us anyway).

Increasingly, numerous studies demonstrate the positive effects of Behavioral Activation.

A more proactive way of breaking the vicious cycle of depression is to increase our level of activity even if we don’t feel like it to begin with. This approach is called Behavioral Activation (BA) and it is a psychological treatment for depression with one of the biggest evidence bases to demonstrate how effective it is. Behavioral activation for depression is about making your life meaningful and pleasurable again.

Source: https://www.psychologytools.com/self-help/behavioral-activation/

As much as possible, we should find projects that bring us pleasure and that motivate us. In a future blog post, I plan to talk about behavioral activation with more concrete examples.

Without going into too much detail, I really think that the projects I undertook over the past year helped me a lot. Some bigger, like this blog, and some smaller. I try as much as possible to choose pastimes that bring positivity to my life. People who have supported my projects (for example, my readers who comment on this blog), have also motivated me to continue them.

This week, I continue with one of the projects that I love. I spoke about it in my last post : The Joey modular couch. With the Joey, not only am I helping the kids to have fun, but it also allows me to use my creativity in many ways! Lastly, I can help other parents (AKA “Roopers”) with their Joey!


The Joey Couch

Many other moms were excited to see this post because I’m revealing most of the colour combinations in one summary table. It all started with discussions in the Joey Facebook Group (CCBR VIP), when I saw that many of us (“Roopers”) weren’t sure which colour to order for a 2nd Joey or the accessories. I was able to help out and I hope this post will be beneficial for many. I also plan in the near future to post our reviews on some of the Joey’s build configurations.

Roopers Q&A

Here is a list of some of the questions I had received on the Facebook group. I share my answers here via a Q&A.

How did you manage to create all those combinations?

I use Photoshop and its “Selection” tool. I first select only certain parts of one couch (for example the pink one), align, and then past them on a couch of another colour. Because of the different angles, I often slightly resize some of the selections in order to perfectly align the two couches into one couch.

Do the combinations below represent the true colours of the Joey?

I work with the photos of Chew Chew Baby Roo (CCBR). I don’t alter the colours, I just “copy and paste” the selected couch sections from a different colour to create the couches with two-colour combinations.

New colours: Mint & Lavender
For the 2 new colours (Mint and Lavender), photos of real couches are not available at this time. For this reason and only for those 2 colours, I used Photoshop’s colour picker to select colours from the CCBR samples. As such, the combinations might not look as realistic as those of other colours. This is because the light effect cannot be incorporated as well. So don’t be discouraged if you are disappointed with the mint or lavender look, because they will likely look better in real life! As soon as I get real pictures of Mint & Lavender Joeys, I will update the combinations below!

I’m afraid the colours in your table below might not the same in my house?

Regardless of the product, it is normal to see various shades and intensity of the same colour. Each of us “Roopers” will have a couch that will appear different in our home vs another Rooper’s home. This isn’t because it’s not the “right colour” or that the colour changed, but rather because the light is not the same from house to house. The reality is that we don’t see the colour that is on the couch, but the COLOUR OF THE LIGHT THAT’S REFLECTED off the couch.

Unquestionably, the biggest factor will be where you place your Joey. Since the CCBR photos are taken with plenty of natural light, they might appear lighter than if the photos were taken in shaded area. As such, if you set your Joey in a basement or bedroom with little light, the Joey will probably look darker in your home. Also, artificial lighting will influences how a colour looks. Lastly, most of us have different cameras (mostly from cell phones) which might not display the colours we see in real life.

Because microsuede is a fabric that reflects a lot the natural light, you will see a lot of depth to the couch and therefore a lot of colour variations. This is why on a sunny day, some sections of the couch will appear much lighter than others.

In the example below, I’m demonstrating how much light conditions can affect colour. Using the Photoshop colour picker, I took 5 different shades directly from the very same couch. See how much box #1 is darker than box #5 even though it’s the same fabric (same colour)! This is the beauty of having a room with lots of natural light; we can see so much depth and colours! If your Joey happens to be in a darker location, you might not see the lighter shades (#4, #5). If there’s too much light, the colour might even appear less saturated or washed out (box #5) on some parts.


Therefore, when considering colours for a new purchase, I suggest looking at the “middle intensity colours”, in this case : boxes (#2, #3 and #4).

Your table displays more colours that what is currently available to order?

I’ve decided to include most of the colours, as many of us have couches with previous colours. Here is a history of when the colours have been available. Note that when colours are withdrawn, it doesn’t mean that they will be gone forever. The Core Colours that will be available of every pre-order are grey, sage and navy.

Pre-order #1: Pink, blue, sage, grey and black.
Pre-order #2: Navy, peach/nude, coral and mustard were added. Pink, blue, sage, grey, black, navy, peach, coral and mustard.
Pre-order #3: Same as #2 but peach/nude was removed. Pink, blue, sage, grey, black, navy, coral and mustard.
Pre-order #4: Same as #3 but teal was added. Pink, blue, sage, grey, black, navy, coral, mustard and teal.
Pre-order #5 (the next one!): Pink, blue, black, coral and mustard are removed. Mint, Lavender and Ivory will be added. Sage, grey, navy, teal, mint, lavender and ivory.

Why are Ivory and Peach excluded from your combinations?

Ivory is a new colour and is a tricky colour to work with. As such, I will wait to have a real picture of a Joey Ivory couch before I work with it.

For Peach/Nude, it was only available on order #2, I haven’t received any request yet. If you bought a peach couch and you would like to see a combination, please let me know.

Could you create combinations with 3 colours?

Absolutely. Because there are 12 colours, and you can mix 3 colours in a set, that allows for 220 possible combinations! As such, I’ve created a poll below on which you can add your choice of 3 colours. Please verify that your 3 colours aren’t already listed if you wish to add them. To keep it simple, please only indicate the colours (and not the type pillows you want in a specific colour). The purpose of colour combinations is to see if the colours go well together.

Do you work for CCBR?

No I don’t. I’m creating this post to help other Roopers with colour combinations. For questions about the products, please contact CCBR.


My Two-colour Combinations Table

I haven’t included all the combos since some of them were never asked. Please let me know if there’s any that are missing that you wish to see because you are considering buying.

POLL : Three-colour Combinations – Which ones would you like to see?

Joey Configurations

Stay tuned for our reviews and diagrams of Joey builds! Our reviews will include tips and videos! Coming later this week or next week!


That’s it for now! Thank you for sharing your thoughts in the comments!

What are you thoughts on the colour combos? Any combinations you like that you didn’t think you would have?
Subscribe to the blog to not miss our reviews on various Joey builds and the three-colour combos!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING MY BLOG!

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Let’s Talk

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We need to talk about mental health more than ever

Last week, during Bell Let’s Talk day, Canadians were invited to join the conversation to support everyone’s mental health. “Talking and getting help is still difficult for some people today. But for me, it’s a sign of strength and it gave me the tools to get through these uncertain times.” said comedian Maxim Martin.

Why talk about our health problems?

A few years ago, I was reluctant in sharing my health problems. I suffered from insomnia and spoke little about it. Insomnia was probably the biggest problem I had, as it lasted almost a decade. I would sometimes tell family members or close friends about it, but not to others.

I remember driving on the highway to work. I already had a headache, having barely slept all night. The daylight was bright and I had to make an effort to stay focused on the road. Sometimes, I would only sleep for 2-3 hours. I even had nights when I remember that it was getting light outside, and I still hadn’t slept yet. It was terribly frustrating and I would not wish it on anyone.

At the time, I was working (I’m an accountant) for a very kind manager. There was no real reason to keep my health problem a secret. However, we are brought up in a “proud” society; our problems, we keep them at home. Plus, maybe I kept it to myself for fear it would become an obstacle in my young career, who knows?

In my late thirties, I started to be more transparent about my insomnia. I mentioned it to my superior (another), which I should have done long before. He reassured me that it was okay if I get to work later after an awful night. Obviously, I couldn’t arrive late if I had an important meeting in the morning. Arriving later wasn’t something I did often, but having this option reassured me. If it happened, I would stay later in the evening to make up for the work. I know this option may not be available to everyone, but sometimes we find some alternatives by confiding our problems.

Even today, I still have problems with insomnia and need to take some medication. The other day, I tried to not take any meds. However, I ended up not falling asleep because I had flashbacks of Zackaël and the accident.

Why did I start talking more?

I think as I got older I started to realize that it is often best to be transparent and real, especially if we have some concerns. I recently read that being vulnerable isn’t a weakness, but rather shows some emotional maturity.

Vulnerability isn’t a weakness

“At some point in our lives, we realize that showing emotion, admitting we are struggling, and asking for help are not signs of weakness but acts of courage. Knowing it mentally is one thing, but going one step further and actually applying it is next-level maturity.” Psychologist Cassandra Dunn,

Why write a blog?

Following the accident, I read everywhere that one way of “healthy grieving” is to share emotions. Keeping our emotions inside is unhealthy. When Adélie was still in the hospital, I was lucky enough to confide in a social worker, who helped me tremendously. However, even after a year, I had to keep talking, for myself and for others.

On that matter, I remember that for months, I felt lonely in my grief. Not alone physically, but alone emotionally. Yes, I had Carl (my husband) in this grief, but it was already heavy for him; he also had his own grief to go through. I was looking for testimonials from bereaved parents online. I had great difficulty finding personal pages of bereaved parents, especially in Canada. They seem more popular in France. I had found a Facebook group, but I wasn’t sure if that was what I needed.

I was invited to participate in support groups. However, I didn’t have the courage to participate. When we lose someone very close, we are not necessarily ready to share our story and hear the stories of many others. We don’t have a lot of energy and patience. Personally, I preferred reading online more. I can do it when I feel like it and not at a specific set time. In addition, it allowed me to be with Adélie who was still hospitalized.

With writing a blog, I thought that it could certainly help other people as well. Blogs allow us to connect with each other, especially during the difficult times of the pandemic. They also allow you to touch in-depth different topics each week while providing a certain perspective. Anyone can read the publications whenever they want, at any time of the day, which is important in times of mourning.

Here is part of a message I received last month from a mom who recently lost a young child:

“Hello Brigitte, thank you for your kind words. A few days ago I was unable to sleep, so I decided to read your blog and it made me feel good. It’s very difficult at the moment, I say to myself “one day at a time”, but I find the days long and very difficult … As for the group of parents that is on Facebook, I find it difficult 😓 to read all this sadness. I no longer know what is good for me, and what is not. “

Why does it help to talk about our problems?

Research from Southern Methodist University suggests that writing about traumatic experiences or undergoing talk therapy had a positive impact on a patient’s health and immune system. The study argues that holding back thoughts and emotions is stressful. You have negative feelings either way, but you have to work to repress them. That can tax the brain and body, making you more susceptible to getting sick or just feeling awful.

Until it happens to you

I’ve heard people say that they are the type to keep their problems and emotions to themselves if difficult situations arise. It may be, but not necessarily. We shouldn’t assume. Statements like ” If something similar would happen to me, I wouldn’t do that” can be judgemental in nature.

For my part, never would I have thought that I would talk about my problems openly. Writing a blog was never a project I considered. But situations change us. We become more vulnerable after certain events, and also, as we age.

If people feel uncomfortable reading my blog or reading about grief, maybe it’s because they have never experienced much grief. If they are uncomfortable supporting those who have problems, it may be because they have never had “big” problems. Or maybe I’m wrong?

Support others

You’ve seen relatives or friends write a post during Bell Let’s Talk Day? Let’s not forget to empathize and support them by responding. We should also be proud of their courage. They demonstrate not only their vulnerability but also their emotional maturity. It’s by talking and helping each other that we can all get better.

Lady Gaga – Till It Happens To You, Live Oscar Performance 2016
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rufPMisw4o

That’s it for now!
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. I appreciate them so much and your private messages!

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Or you can send me a message and I will send you an invitation!

Sources:

https://www.newswire.ca/fr/news-releases/c-est-la-journee-bell-cause-pour-la-cause-votre-voix-compte-maintenant-plus-que-jamais-alors-que-nous-faisons-face-aux-repercussions-de-la-crise-de-la-covid-19-sur-la-sante-mentale-des-canadiens-856370523.html

https://centr.com/blog/show/7180/12-things-emotionally-mature-people-do

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/smarter-living/talking-out-problems.html


Are you more empathetic or compassionate?

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.


Are you more Empathetic or Compassionate?

In my previous post, I briefly described how I felt during the first months of my complex grief. Something I came to realize is that Carl and I are fortunate to be surrounded by people who have been very understanding and patient with our grieving process. Maybe this is because we lost a child and another one was severely injured? Regardless, we are incredibly grateful.

As I write this post, I came to realize that I have a lot to share about today’s subject. This topic is part of many conversations in bereavement support groups. It is something you do not necessarily learn in school, but in my opinion, one should learn more about it. They are said to be a skill and a behavior that are key ingredients of emotional intelligence. I am referring to empathy and compassion.

Empathy and compassion are topics that are important to me. Quite often, it is people who have experienced difficulties who better understand their importance. Admittedly, talking with other bereaved has helped me learn more about these two components of emotional intelligence. Throughout the last year, I was also able to learn a lot from exceptional people who continue to demonstrate great empathy and compassion.

What to Say to a Bereaved Person?

Lately, I was able to participate in online support groups, either through messaging groups or video chat groups. I was also able to interact with other bereaved by private messages.

Upon sharing with them, what I take away the most is that not only do they suffer through their grief, but they feel often misunderstood by others. In particular, one of the comments that frequently comes up relates to the words and actions of others. The bereaved are upset by hurtful comments, such as: “Move on”, “At least you…” or “You should…”. Not only such comments are not helpful, but they also indicate a close lack of empathy for the bereaved.

Being blunt with a bereaved person or trying to tell them what to do are two behaviours that usually do more harm than good. Telling a bereaved person to move on or think about something else will in no way diminish the fact that their person is gone or lessen their grief.

Grief and Depression

Everyone has their own way of coping with grief, and on their own timeline. Some people experience the pain intensely much faster, while for others, the pain comes on much later.

Many factors influence the reactions of the bereaved. The bereaved’s relationship with the person who has died will usually be the most important factor in the extent of the grief, and perhaps depression.

For example, let us compare two mothers: Janie and Pauline both just lost their babies at 20 weeks gestation. At first glance, one would think they are “similar cases”. However, it is incorrect to compare them since there are always underlying circumstances. In this case, Janie became pregnant after 5 years of trying, while Pauline got pregnant immediately. For this reason, Janie will probably go through much more intense grief than Pauline’s. Certainly, after all these years of trying, Janie had developed an extremely strong bond with her baby.

Moreover, other elements are often kept private so people often do not know the whole story. As such, it is wrong to assume that someone who shows symptoms of depression is “weak”. Depression is not a sign of weakness and it is important to be supportive and understanding toward someone who is depressed.

Most of the time, two people will react differently to a great loss. The police officer responsible for our case told my husband Carl that child loss can be exceedingly difficult for a couple’s relationship. Not only that it is painful for the parents, but they also must: live their own grief, support the grief of their spouse, and also possibly support the grief of their surviving children. In our case, the officer warned us: Fathers usually grieve differently from mothers, which often creates a gap between the two of them.

People grieving differently occurs in every type of loss, not only child loss. It is indeed rare for two bereaved to react similarly, even if they have experienced the same loss. Unfortunately, this sometimes creates tension between them since they do not understand each other well.

On that subject, I want to share the story of Célia, who I met through an online group:

Célia lost her mother Rose. Since Rose is in her 90s, those close to Celia were not surprised to learn of Rose’s passing. On the other hand, for Célia, her death was unexpected as Rose was healthy. Coping would have been less stressful if she would have had time to anticipate her mother’s death.

Célia was already having a difficult year. She went through a divorce and her children left her home. Following the death of her mother, Célia is, therefore, more depressed. Celia’s mourning is much more intense than her sister Vicky’s, who also has just lost her mother. However, in her case, Vicky lives with her husband and children, so she is better surrounded.

Celia feels a lack of support from her sister. Her sister is supported by her husband, but Celia has no one left. This becomes unbearable for Celia, who was already overloaded with other issues. In addition, Celia finds that her friends are not there enough for her, even if she needs their support.

It would be ignorant to think that Celia should not be grieving because her mother was elderly. It is even sadder to know that her friends and her sister are not supporting her. Celia feels the need to confide but she is afraid of being judged if she talks about it.

Unfortunately, bereavement is still a taboo subject. People are often uncomfortable “hearing” their loved ones grieving.

Celia suffers more than Vicky because she was simply more attached to her mother, not because she is less “strong” than her sister. Above all, sadness stems from the love (and attachment) one still has for the deceased. Celia needs empathy from her loved ones, but she is not getting enough of it.

What to Do and What to Say to a Grieving Person

 

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to try to understand someone’s feelings, not just feel bad for them. There are two types of empathy: cognitive empathy and emotional empathy.

Cognitive empathy is the ability to recognize and understand other people’s emotions. It is sometimes called perspective-taking.

Emotional empathy is when you feel physically along with the other person. It is the ability to share the feelings of another person. This type of empathy helps you build emotional connections with others.

Some people who are better at demonstrating cognitive empathy can have a difficult time tapping into emotional empathy. With cognitive empathy, a person will simply understand that the other person is feeling pain without feeling it themselves. With emotional empathy, the person will literally feel the other person’s emotions. The two types of empathy come from different regions of the brain.

“The biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit. We are in great need of people being able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.”
— Barack Obama

 

What are the Differences between Sympathy, Empathy, and Compassion?

What is Sympathy?

Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone whereas empathy is as feeling with someone. Some common ways to express sympathy are sending a sympathy card or flowers to the funeral service.

What is Compassion?

Compassion is the ability and willingness to stand alongside someone and to put their needs before your own. Compassion takes sympathy and empathy a step further. Someone compassionate will first recognize that the person is in pain (i.e., sympathy), or feel their pain (i.e., empathy), then they will do their best to alleviate the person’s suffering.

At its Latin roots, compassion means “to suffer with.” Someone who is compassionate, will:

  • not run away from suffering
  • not feel overwhelmed by suffering
  • not pretend the suffering does not exist

Instead, someone compassionate will stay present with suffering. As such, showing compassion helps gain perspective because it puts the person in someone else’s shoes.

To summarize, cognitive empathy can be described as “understanding what others feel,” emotional empathy as “feeling what others feel,” and compassion as “caring about how others feel.”

 

Sympathy vs Empathy vs Compassion

Empathy and Compassion Diagram with examples
Sympathy vs Empathy vs Compassion Diagram with Examples

 

Why are Empathy and Compassion so Important?

Empathy and compassion are needed in everyday life, especially when interacting with others. Without them, it would be difficult to maintain healthy relationships.

Oftentimes, those who are grieving receive more sympathy, than empathy and compassion. Empathy and compassion are both truly needed after a great loss.

It is easy to pretend that we would act differently if someone else’s situation would happen to us. Having empathy is not about trying to figure out all the details of why the person is sad, and why they are still sad after several months. The grieving process is complex and long. It is okay not to fully understand their reaction. This does not mean we should not be there for them.

Helping people usually requires emotional empathy. It is not only the bereaved who deserve empathy: a newly separated person, a sick person, a person with a sick family member, a person who is depressed, or alone and isolated, a person who has difficulties, etc.

Having empathy is not just about showing up once. It is not just about going to the funeral or sending a message of sympathy. This is sympathy, not empathy. For a divorcee, it is not just sending them a one-time message saying, “Sorry about your separation, let me know if you need anything.”

Certainly, a gesture (sympathy) is better than nothing, but to have empathy and compassion is to continue to show that you are caring for them. Empathy is listening instead of talking. “Big talkers, little doers” can have difficulty empathizing. You have to be present in their lives and support them so that they can get better.

Some people can show empathy and compassion. For some others, they will be empathetic but not necessarily compassionate. Others still will show their support by being compassionate even if they are not necessarily empathetic.

How to be a More Empathetic and Compassionate Person?

To have empathy is the ability to sense what is important to others and to be present for them, even for seemingly small things. The first step towards empathy is to put yourself in someone’s shoes without judging them.

To develop emotional empathy requires listening carefully to the person without trying to change the subject and to fully support them.

Having empathy and compassion means not assuming that this person is already well supported. Rather, it is to assume that this person is probably sad, even if it has been months, and that they still need support. It is better to assume the worst than the best when it comes to helping.

Showing empathy and compassion means continuing to send messages, being supportive of their approach, and encouraging them in their projects. It is also offering and being available to meet or visit.

Do not change the subject when the bereaved want to talk about their grief or the deceased. Rather, encourage them to share their feelings and talk about the person who is no longer there. Do not try to fix it; grief is not something that is broken, it is more part of love. Instead of thinking that we have to get out of mourning, we should accompany the mourning. Better to act than to say.

Conclusion

Before I finish, I would like to thank everyone who has been empathetic and compassionate to us over the past year! I have been amazed by how supportive people have been, and I hope you realize it. I should be thanking you more often!

My goal in writing this post was not to get people to be more empathetic and compassionate towards us specifically. Rather, I hope I have provided a different perspective that might help people be supportive of anyone around them who might be suffering in the future, no matter the situation.

Finally, I would like to share this interesting blog article that illustrates 7 examples of unempathetic people.

Did you like my post? Feel free to leave your comments.
Did you know that leaving a comment is an empathetic and compassionate gesture?
If you did not know, now you do! Talk to you soon!

If you would like to receive my next post, you can click “Follow by email”. Or you can send me a message and I will send you an invitation!

*Their real names have not been used to protect their privacy

 

My Complicated Grief

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.


My Complicated Grief

Before I begin, I would like to thank everyone who recently signed up to the blog. Welcome, and I am happy to chat with you!

The holiday season is now over. Despite the severe restrictions imposed for the 2020 holidays, I must say that for my part, Christmas 2020 was much better than Christmas 2019. It is true that last year, I technically had the opportunity to see more people, walk around the stores and do a lot more. However, when we are not in good health, being free doesn’t help much. Being healthy is much more important and I wish you all good health as we begin 2021.

December 2019

Last year, friends and family were suggesting activities that I should do in order to take my mind off things; “You should go see a movie, spend a day at the spa, or go out for a nice dinner!” and more. What they couldn’t realized was that no outing could have brought me any kind of pleasure. A month and a half after the accident was not enough time to be feeling better. No matter the activity, my heart ached, I felt severe pain and a deep void. More specifically, most of the time, I had difficulty standing for more than 5 minutes and literally felt out of breath. Sometimes, I could be okay for a short period (eg. 30 minutes), but it was quite rare and very unpredictable.

Although my sleep was generally adequate with the help of sleeping pills, I was still extremely tired and exhausted. I had trouble answering the phone and would therefore ask Carl to listen to my voicemail messages. This went on for months, which was normal under the circumstances. I’m not saying that today I have no more pain, that I have no heartache, on the contrary. But at least I can say that there are times when I feel like more like myself.

During a dinner over the holidays, someone kindly accepted to be with Adélie at the hospital so Carl and I we could have a nice evening with others. I remember after dinner, it was suggested to me “why don’t you stay a little later to enjoy it and have a little fun?”. Holding on to my tears, I responded “how could I enjoy this? “. It was impossible for me to enjoy anything. Any “beautiful moment” was tarnished by the deep sadness that was eating me.

Even though it was a lovely dinner with loved ones, I just wanted to rest my head on the table in my arms. I was not hungry. My heart ached and I had to catch my breath. I couldn’t stand myself, although I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong. I tried to stay presentable and not appear too sad. People couldn’t tell how bad I felt. After all, there are no lessons on grief in school (unless you study psychology) and grief is a subject that is unfortunately still quite taboo.

Me, as a grieving mother

At that time, I thought I felt this way because of the bereavement; a deep and cruel mourning following the loss of my child. It is true that I was dealing with complicated grief, but I was also experiencing many signs of depression. I had actually fallen into a depression; a situational depression as experts call it, caused by the traumatic event of the accident and the loss of Zackaël. On top of all that, Adélie was still in the hospital at that time. She almost died, and there were many unknowns relating to her health and recovery. She didn’t speak yet, didn’t walk, her right limbs were inactive, she often had fevers, vomited frequently, and so on. It was all too much for my system to take, a grieving mother with a broken heart.

What is Complicated Grief?

Complicated grief is a persistent grief in which the death of a loved one causes suffering for a longer time than typical grief. It is said that about 5%-7% of bereaved people suffer from complicated grief and I would imagine that it must impact the vast majority of bereaved parents.

In general, death of a child is the most difficult kind of loss, and bereaved family members are at elevated risk for depression and anxiety for close to a decade after the loss. In addition these parents are at risk for a range of physical illnesses.

source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK220798/

Now, in 2021, some moms who’ve recently lost a child ask me how I got through it. I am so sorry that those parents have go through such an event. I don’t know if I can say that I “made it through”, but I’m able to say I made it through the first year. And “getting through” doesn’t mean we did it like a pro. It just means that we survived, that we did the best we could, that we are still here and we are trying to improve. Everyone experiences grief in their own way. In truth, the way I lived my grief was very different from the way Carl lived his.

I knew I had to get out of the house in order to avoid sinking into a deep depression. So that’s what I did. Every morning, I would get up and get ready to go see Adélie at the hospital. I went out as often as my weakened body would allow. I talked to people who came to visit. I went to gathering and events organized following the accident, even though I sometimes didn’t feel like it. Despite the fact that I followed everything the books would “suggest” I do, nothing could stop the pain that haunted me. People probably didn’t realize how much pain I was feeling all the time.

Coming back to the question of what I did to “get through”, it’s a subject that I plan to touch on eventually in another post. First, I will admit that I eventually started taking anti-depressants (Buproprion), which I believe helped me with my energy levels. I just couldn’t just go on like this. Sometimes, if you’re not getting better despite doing all the right things… sleep, getting help, going out, essential oils … you don’t have any choice but to try something else. Medication can’t alleviate sadness and grief, but at least it can help with energy and I’m not shy to mention it.

It is often said that the first year is the worst, known as the “Year of Firsts”. I hope so, but I am not sure. In fact, in some groups of bereaved parents, I read that many parents have great difficulty for years, no matter if it is the 1st or 3rd year. This is what complicated grief is, we don’t know if we will be better tomorrow. The loss of a child is far from typical grief. We all expect at some point that our grandparents and even our parents will leave us (at a certain age). But no one decides to bring a child in this world knowing that he or she will die before them, let alone their little body dying in our arms.

We spent most of the 2019 holidays at the hospital with Adélie. In my case, I couldn’t say “holidays”, because really, there wasn’t much to celebrate. I had lost my son, my daughter was badly injured (and with a lot of unknowns), my son was very sad and traumatized (although the extent of his trauma wasn’t as evident at the time as it would later become). Carl and I survived and did the best we could.

Despite all the sadness, we had a lovely family dinner at the hospital on December 26th, thanks to CHEO who gave us access to their meeting room. Adélie could not speak (she had a tracheostomy tube), she did not eat on her own and did not walk. Despite all of this, we were happy to be together as a family with our little Adélie. We had the chance to give her little gifts, to make her smile, and she was so happy to see us all at the same time.

December 26, 2019 – our family dinner at CHEO


We could not have survived without the help of many, especially those who stayed with Adélie. When Adélie was in the hospital, I wasn’t physically or mentally able to spend nights in the hospital. I already felt like a zombie during the day (with the symptoms mentioned above). Fortunately, Carl didn’t have as many physical depression symptoms. He had more energy and was therefore able to spend nights in the hospital.

Our family helped us for a lot of the hospital nights as it was important that we also be with Maxandre at home. Thanks to our parents, Yvonne and Francois, Michael and Judy, my brother Joel and his wife Mylène, Carl’s brother Malcolm and his aunt Margaret for all the nights you spent at the hospital with Adélie. These were not restful nights, often disturbed by our poor little girl’s nausea, her loud cough from her trachea tube, noises from other patients (shared room), and so on. Thank you also everyone who kept Adélie company during the day. To all of you, we will always be grateful for your kindness and generosity.

You might have found this post a little depressing, but I think it’s important to give you the context before I post more about what has helped me with depression. Finally, for those who are interested, I recommend watching this video (French). I relate 100% everything mom says, even her last sentence about being happy.

https://savoir.media/vivre-en-funambule/clip/le-deuil-complexe


That’s it for now!
Thank you for reading this post even if it was a sensitive topic. If you enjoyed it, don’t hesitate to comment :-).

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