Friday, 26 August 2016

A Dad's Thoughts on Father's Day



As we approach Father’s Day, Sands Volunteer Parent Supporter, Chris Tsockallos reflects on what Father’s Day is like for him.

Eleven years ago, my wife delivered twins at 19 weeks gestation and our lives were completely shattered. After many years of fertility treatment to achieve this pregnancy, we didn’t even know if we could get pregnant again. We didn’t know if we would ever be parents to a living child. Our feelings of grief and loss were so overwhelming in those first few weeks and months, we needed to take time to physically and emotionally deal with what we were going through.
We first heard about Sands through the hospital. We attended a number of support meetings and I spoke to bereaved fathers at the meetings who were very supportive. I got to hear about their journeys through this difficult time.
Sometimes men may find it harder to open up as they feel they may need to be strong through this difficult period. In a lot of cases the father may be the financial provider and he may need to return to work.
Significant days like anniversaries, holidays, and Father’s Day can bring up very mixed emotions. For bereaved fathers, Father’s Day is a challenging day which may bring up feelings of great emotional sadness.
Each father deals with their loss in different ways. I like to spend part of my day on my own with my thoughts of my children who are not here with me on the day. Each Father’s Day we visit our twins at the cemetery. Although I think about our twins every day, on Father’s Day I like to be as close as I can with them and to reflect on my love for them and the place they hold in my heart. To me this is a time when I feel the closest to them.
Father’s Day is a day of emotional contrast for me. I get to celebrate the day with my ten year old daughter while at the same time reflect on my children who are not with me.
Some fathers may like to keep busy and active through physical recreation or surround themselves with family. Each dad has their own way of dealing with Father’s Day.
The one thing I have learned through grieving for our twins is not to be afraid to let your emotions out. If you need to cry or feel sad do it. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your partner. Let her know how you are feeling. If you have a family member or friend who will listen, talk to them about how you are feeling.  Please also remember that Sands has a dedicated Men’s Support Line where you can speak to other bereaved Dads who have a level of empathy that others males may not have. Talking to someone who has gone through a similar experience can be of huge help.
It is also important to communicate with your partner and be there for each other.
Every day I think about our twins. I wonder what they would have been like. I feel sad that they are not here with us. However they are always in my heart. While I am saddened by our loss, at the same time I feel thankful for our daughter who has brought so much joy into our lives.
Chris Tsockallos
If you require support after reading this blog please contact 
Sands on 1300 072 637
Eleven years ago, my wife delivered twins at 19 weeks gestation and our lives were completely shattered. After many years of fertility treatment to achieve this pregnancy, we didn’t even know if we could get pregnant again. We didn’t know if we would ever be parents to a living child. Our feelings of grief and loss were so overwhelming in those first few weeks and months, we needed to take time to physically and emotionally deal with what we were going through.

Sands were extremely supportive to my wife and myself after the loss of our twins. We attended a number of support meetings and I spoke to bereaved dads at the meetings who were very helpful. I got to hear about their journey through this difficult time. Speaking to them was invaluable.

Now it is time for me to give back to Sands. As a Sands Volunteer Parent Supporter I think I can help other dads through such a difficult time.

You can read more about Chris here.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Am I A Grandma Yet? by Glenda

I wrote this poem, "Am I a Grandma Yet?" after I had been out one day and had about five people ask me "Are you a Grandma Yet? I started to dread being asked that question because it is difficult to answer without going into the whole story.  You don't want to answer no, because you do have a grandchild even though they are dead and you don't want to say yes, because then they will ask how old etc, etc. So I went home and wrote this poem to try and help me decide what I was!!




Am I a Grandma Yet?
Am I a Grandma Yet?
Sometimes I don’t know what to say
When people question me,
“Do you have any grandkids yet?”
And tell about their three

I should say ‘yes’ and skite a bit
And tell about our boy,
I should take out some pic’s to show
Him playing with his toys

I’d love to talk about his looks,
Ask if he looks like me?
I’d point out where our features matched
And hope they would agree!

I’d tell about the funny things
That are uniquely his,
The mess he makes, the way he hugs
The blessing that he is

But I don’t know what I should say
When people I just met
Ask me that thing I hate to hear
‘Are you a Grandma yet’?

Because…

My grandson should be just past one
And full of life and spunk
He should be toddling round the house
And filling it with junk

He should be wriggling on my knee
While I read him a book
He should be laughing out with glee
When helping me to cook

But nothing now disturbs the peace
It’s quiet as can be
Cause on the day that he was born
He was stillborn, you see

His lungs took in no air that day
He did not blink his eyes
His lips stayed closed, he did not move
He never even cried!

So how to answer, what to say
To people I just met
Please tell me what you think I am
Am I a Grandma yet?

©Glenda McClintock

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Charlie's Tenth Birthday.


It’s coming up to Charlie's 10th birthday on the 2nd September.
Today I hid in my daughters’ wardrobe and cried.
One of those silent cries because you don't want your children to ask what's wrong.
I knew it was coming. How could it not?  It never comes when I expect it too.
It waits until my heart can't take anymore.
Today I was putting my 7 year old’s clothes away. A simple chore.
I held the door so tight with one hand while my other hand covered my mouth to stop my screaming.
This year Charlie would have been 10. Double figures.
Wow, I would have had a son who was not far from becoming a teenager.
His sister Neve would have been 9.
The pain is still so raw, the pain of not holding them.
To watch friends’ children turn 9 and 10. To see what they are doing, seeing who they are growing up to be.
I have had to learn to not ask the what if's. There will never be an answer. I think sometimes the what if's are what hold me in this emotional rollercoaster.
Today as I stood there letting the tears flow and trying not to scream out, I had to give myself permission to let go, to not try to be the strong mum, friend or wife.
Today I can't do it. I can't be the mum that plays or laughs. Today I don't want to ask my husband how was your day.
Today I don't want to listen to a friend.
Today and probably for a few more days, I want to lie in bed and be cared for.
I want to be held and fed and not be all those roles of mum, wife and friend.
That's hard to ask for help, for me especially.
Today I told my husband i need to go to bed and not be a mum. He reply was to remind me he will support me and hold me and to allow me to stop my roles.
As he kissed the top of my head and held me he said
" you can cry and go to bed if that's what you need"
I so wanted to crawl into that bed. To allow the darkness to sweep over me like it has done so many times before.
Yet I didn't. I heard my two children playing and laughing downstairs.
My first thought was, how do I explain to them I can't be your mummy today?
They don't understand, how could they? They know about Charlie and Neve. We have always talked about them.
They need me, regardless of how I'm feeling. They need feeding, homework needs to be done, talking about their day. To them,  I'm their world.
I can go to bed when they do.
So today I didn't go to bed and hide. It doesn't mean tomorrow I won't. For 10 years I have battled.
10 years without our first son. I still remember his birth and seeing him for the first time. Those beautiful long legs. The way he looked just like his daddy.
I remember holding him whilst singing twinkle twinkle. The smell of his skin as i kissed him.  The tiny hand that gripped my finger.  The look on my husband’s face as he held him as he took his last breath. He was born alive at 23+5 weeks.  He lived for 2 minutes. He was not a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Our son lived. I hope in those 2 minutes Charlie knew just how loved he was and still is.
I have those memories of him. Those memories I have every single day.
When Neve was born sleeping we lost that time of feeling her heartbeat of her grasping our fingers.
I remember her everyday as a chubby curly haired baby who was perfect.
Time they say is a healer. Not for me.
For me it’s just more time without them.  More time for remembering.
So today when I cried in the wardrobe I was crying for the 10 and 9 years of missing and remembering.
It's always so bittersweet.
So today I chose not to hide in bed but to allow myself to feel and to cry.
It's never easy, there isn't a magic wand to wave.
Today the choice I made was to keep going with support. Tomorrow maybe another choice.
Tomorrow  is another day.




For Charlie and Neve the love I have for you grows every day.
Kristina Riley


Thursday, 7 July 2016

After The Miscarriage by Therese

I look back at a time while in hospital recovering from my miscarriage and after they had operated on me and wonder why? The powers that be thought it a good idea to show me the neo natal ward!

I remember walking around the to the ward wondering why they had sent me here and what I was supposed to feel when I got there? I still don’t know the answer many years on. I do remember feeling more overwhelmed than I already did, sadder than I already did and for the rest confused. Here were these very much alive babies. Yes, some were very ill but many were not just premature but otherwise healthy. As I write this I now feeling a new emotion – anger! How could the staff have been so cruel in this way? Up to this stage I had felt the nurses were wonderful as was the doctor but now they were making me face what? My loss? I already was! I was devastated. I was in shock even though I had known for a while that I was to lose this precious being inside of me but I had always had hope. That hope was now gone and now these supposedly caring people wanted me to see babies that were alive, albeit some in distress.

Now I think about it, I feel this was a very cruel thing to do to a newly bereaved Mum. Yes, I was a Mum to two children but still a Mum to these lovely baby I had miscarried. Would the medical profession work this way now – I hope not and there are more supports for those who want and need it. There was no such support then – I had to “grin and bear it”.

I had nowhere to turn. I couldn’t talk to my husband except to share that the babies in the neonatal ward were indeed precious. But my baby had been precious too. Why didn’t anyone recognise this? Thank God for my one true friend at the time who knew what I was going through for she had been through this twice but she had least got to see her babies while I had not. If I hadn’t experienced it, I wouldn’t have believed it had happened to me. The staff in their wisdom told me I couldn’t see my baby by the time I was coherent enough to ask for it was too late; anyway your baby didn’t have a heart I was told. How could I have carried a baby for 16 weeks without a heart – I felt its heart; it had been beating. Were they lying to me? I will never know, another thing I had to live with while battling this raw thing called grief. Please God let no other mother have to go through this, no other father either. It is too devastating and still bring tears to my eyes when I hear another person has lost a baby. I have gone through it and so have some family members gone through still birth and miscarriage.

To those who read this and are looking for support and love, please talk as often as you want to about your loved lost baby, talk as often as you need to and to whom you need to. Find someone who will listen as SANDS will and peace and blessings to you all.


Therese Murphy 
If you require support after reading this blog please contact 
Sands on 13 000 72637


About Therese 

Therese has worked in the field of counselling and community development for over 20 years. She has worked predominantly in the health and welfare field. She has worked in the primary school sector counselling children through a range of loss and grief and traumatic experiences.

Therese has also delivered a number of conference papers on the theme of children’s loss and grief and articles on stress management too. She also worked as a Sessional teacher in the TAFE system and the Private Sector in the Community Services area, including Mental Health Welfare for over 20 years. She is also an experienced Supervisor.

Therese has as a small business conducting Reiki, Inner Child Therapy, Meditation and similar therapies. She is also works as a Group Facilitator and teaches stress management and relaxation techniques within the local community as well as running workshops in the areas of trauma and loss and grief and related areas.



Therese is a published poet and has three children and four delightful grandsons. She enjoys nothing more than a good cup of coffee and the occasional glass of wine or bubbly. She is passionate about climate change and the environment, wanting a clean world for her grandchildren to grow up in and one where any type of violence is not tolerated.



Thursday, 23 June 2016

Dreaming of Being a Mum by Kristina



When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a mum and all the happiness it brings - like you see in the movies,  all laughing and full of love.  I have four children: Charlie and Neve are my angels and Maya and Zack are my rainbows.

So part of my dream did become reality, but not like in the movies.  To get my rainbows I had to endure a horrific nightmare which I never thought I'd come out of.   At times I'm still stuck In that place.  I had to endure not bringing two of my babies home. I became a statistic. I had to bury them. I had to endure darkness I never knew.

I still have very dark days. Days I want to stay in bed and not be a mum, wife, daughter or friend.  Sometimes I can tell when the darkness Is coming,  normally around Charlie and Neve's birthdays. The months of August and September are months I hope pass quickly every year.

Sometimes like today it hits without warning. It starts with waking through the night and feeling I have lost something, I don’t know what It Is I've lost.  Then I remember in that split second that I've lost two beautiful babies.  It continues with me feeling tired and teary all day. If an advert with a baby comes on I will be In tears. If a song we played at their funerals is on the radio I'm a mess.

These days used to last weeks. I've had to teach myself it's ok to have one bad day. It's ok to feel sad.  It's not something to run from anymore or to try and hide. I have to allow myself to stand In this pain.  It's pain I need to feel to be able to process why I'm feeling like this.

Sometimes it can be as simple as hearing their names being called in a shopping centre. That hurts every time. 

Sometimes It can be because I feel like a bad mum to my two rainbows. That I'm not a good mum, that I could do better.  That I focus too much on the past and not see the present.  I used to run from my feelings and in the end I was a big ball of stress and anxiety and so angry.  

I ended up in counselling twice because of my running.  They taught me that it's ok to face it, to understand it, as to understand the pain iIs to allow It to pass.   I had to learn to let myself grieve Instead of focusing on others. To put me first. That was hard - to put me first.
I hadn't done that since my mum was sick.  For so long the pain would take over my body, with my body showing signs of stress and all these aches and pain In my shoulder.

Once I understood the pain was my body trying to tell me something wasn't right. That all the tests showed nothing. That no amount of massage or acupuncture eased the pain.

I began to realise the pain was grief.  Grief I refused to feel. Once I allowed myself to feel it, I noticed the pain slowly went.  When it comes back I have to stop and ask myself am I denying grief again.  Most of the time its yes.  Somebody once told me that the grief and pain will never disappear, you just learn how to live your life with it. 

I never thought I would get to this point.  Yet here I am 10 and 9 years later. Still standing and still breathing.  Sometimes still it's all too hard and I want to hide under the covers.  It's been a long and difficult journey, it will always be bumpy.

The darkness still comes. I guess I have just learnt the signs and know what it Is that I need to do to let the sun back In.

The only advice I can anyone on this journey with me is to allow yourself the space to feel. That's its ok to stay in bed all day and not want to see anyone.  Just make sure it’s not every day. If iIt starts to feel this way ask for help. Seek some counselling.  The grief will never stop just as the love you feel for your children will never stop.  Yet somehow you do learn to live with it and keep breathing.

Don't run away.
                                                                Kristina 


If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 13 000 72637

Kristina Riley

Kristina is a children's nurse and a counsellor.
She has four beautiful children.
Charlie and Neve are her two angels who are the  inspiration for raising more awareness about stillbirths and pregnancy loss.
Her two miracles Maya and Zack are the reason she keeps moving forward on this journey of grief.
Her husband Curt is also her inspiration to raise awareness for fathers and their grief.

There needs to be more awareness for us all.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Wonderment And Confusion Of The Loss Of A Baby by Therese

It often occurs to me still after thirty plus years, what would this darling baby I carried and then miscarried have looked like? Would he/she (because I never found out) have looked like my other children? I think that not knowing the baby’s gender has in part led to this sense of wonderment and sometimes confusion, not that it really mattered whether it was a boy or girl.

Why was I never told? The only thing I remember being told was: “your baby didn’t grow; it had no heart”. I wasn’t told why my baby had no heart. I carried this bub in my womb for 16 weeks! Why didn’t he/she have a heart? So many unexplained questions to which I never had answers to. This too, I think, led to the wonderment and confusion of losing this little angel. These feelings I think also left me feeling dissatisfied with this lack of knowledge and angry too. As much as I loved/love my three children, this sense of not knowing enough about my lost baby has left me with an empty feeling, a not knowing who this little person was.

I think now Winter is coming, I am reflecting much more about what was and what is. This may sound strange but I am sure there are many out there who get this just as there are many out there who do not! One can’t really explain these feelings as they are so personal, a fact in itself I feel adds to this feeling of wonderment, confusion and dissatisfaction.

“How can you feel like this after all this time”, I hear some people ask? I say I just do, that is it! I can’t explain it, it just is; so if you feel confused, think of me and all the other mothers who didn’t see their babies, didn’t feel them in their arms, didn’t see another part of themselves grow up and be parents themselves. Give us a break and show some empathy. If you can’t say anything of a supportive nature, don’t say anything. No words are better than the wrong words. We don’t need to be judged! Not that I am good at modelling this for myself sometimes! The part of me that comes from my critical parent ego state, a part I often don’t like, says “get over it and move on.” Then I get sensible and release myself from the burden of “having to get over it” and say “it is what it is and it is all okay.” In other words, I give myself permission to grieve still even if it is 30 plus years since my miscarriage. I can only imagine what it must be like for women who have had multiple miscarriages. Just love these women as that is all you can do.

I wrote these words as part of a poem some years ago but they still hold true today:

Little angels are here today,
As we wonder what might have been.

(Taken from Little Angels 2011)

Yes, I do wonder what might have been and yes I still feel an emptiness that will never be erased. I will continue to wonder and be confused from time to time, so bear with me and other Mums please especially at those times that are special to us.

Therese 

 If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 13 000 72637

About Therese


Therese has worked in the field of counselling and community development for over 20 years. She has worked predominantly in the health and welfare field. She has worked in the primary school sector counselling children through a range of loss and grief and traumatic experiences.

Therese has also delivered a number of conference papers on the theme of children’s loss and grief and articles on stress management too. She also worked as a Sessional teacher in the TAFE system and the Private Sector in the Community Services area, including Mental Health Welfare for over 20 years. She is also an experienced Supervisor.

Therese has as a small business conducting Reiki, Inner Child Therapy, Meditation and similar therapies. She is also works as a Group Facilitator and teaches stress management and relaxation techniques within the local community as well as running workshops in the areas of trauma and loss and grief and related areas.

Therese is a published poet and has three children and four delightful grandsons. She enjoys nothing more than a good cup of coffee and the occasional glass of wine or bubbly. She is passionate about climate change and the environment, wanting a clean world for her grandchildren to grow up in and one where any type of violence is not tolerated.



Thursday, 26 May 2016

Tired of Grieving by Dani



I took my rainbow Harrison (3) to a Kindy event today – an under 8’s day. It was supposed to be fun, supposed to be a family event, with an animal farm as well, until a little girl in his class grabbed my other hand and said ‘my mummy couldn’t make it can I walk around with you and Harrison.’   And of course I said yes, but just like that the grief washed over me. I shouldn’t have a spare hand to grab, they should both be taken, by both my boys, but only one is still here on Earth.

I’m tired of knowing that there are simply more of these painful moments to come. I lost my first-born, so at that time I never really knew all the things I would miss out on until Harrison came along, and now, as he does these things, they are things I am also missing out on with Jasper. I can’t make people understand – and nor would I want them to – it’s soul destroying and you cannot make people understand that your heart will physically ache for the rest of your life. Before Jasper, I didn’t even know a heart could ache. And yet still I hear that I should be grateful for what I have, when in actual fact, the loss of Jasper has made me able to appreciate happiness and joy more so than before – to really appreciate what I do have. But no matter what, the empty room is always empty, and nothing brings back what you have lost, and what you can never have. I will never get mementos, hold his hand, argue with him, meet his first girlfriend, get tired of him arguing with his brother, watch him get married and see his children. All of that died the day he did. And yet I watch his younger brother achieve what was robbed of him every day.

And I realised – I am so sick of grieving. It’s been almost 7 years and to some I am a veteran and to others I am still so new on this journey. Some things have gotten easier but not the things I miss out on... that Harrison misses out on. I’m sick of still feeling like that – sick of still feeling confused, still feeling guilty, still feeling like I could have done more, still feeling angry, feeling sad and above all feeling discouraged in myself that I haven’t done better.

I’m tired of my grief. I don’t want to feel sad. I don’t want to have an internal breakdown when one of my son’s friends wants to join us to look at the farm animals. I don’t want that hole in my heart to be pierced open at the drop of the hat. And I was asked today – if you could spend only 15 minutes with your loved one in heaven, would you? Of course I would. I’d do it in a split second just to hold my baby boy in my arms again. To tell him that I love him one more time. To make sure he is happy. The explosion of grief would be terrible, but I live with grief every day, so why wouldn’t I just to see him again?

For the most part I enjoy all the beauty in life and am grateful for what I do have. Every day with my rainbow is a blessing and I often get comments of how clear the love we have for each other is. But you can’t control emotion and it crashes down on you, drowning you like a wave and all you can do is try and stay afloat until the wave recedes.



Tired. At the moment it is a word that sums up my life. Tired of grieving. And knowing that the road is stretched out in front of me, never-ending, is one of the most tiring things.
Dani
If you require support after reading this blog please contact 
Sands on 13 000 72637


Danielle Hall

Wife to Corey and Mumma to two boys: Jasper Rhys in heaven and Harrison Phillip Robert in her arms. Jasper passed away after PPROM at 23 weeks and birth at 26 weeks, surviving for 10 hours in the NICU unit. Currently completing a Master of Social Work with the goal to aid in the safety and protection of all children, because all children deserve to feel safe and loved.