The holiday season has arrived with all the preparations and celebrations in full swing. This time of year comes with its own excitement, energy and stressors. For those living with the loss of a child, the complexities of emotions and preparations can be amplified.Read More
This Fall Lily, once again so unassumingly surprised me when she brought home her happy helper poster. Not only did she share with the class her love of pizza and pears but also shared that she has two brothers :> It was very natural for her and she did’t even recognize it as a big deal. I don’t really have the words to describe how I felt inside that moment when I read it.Read More
This article was written by my beautiful, loving and kind mother for the Tiny Footprints Gala this year. It brought tears to my eyes from the opening line and I am so proud of her for sharing her intimate perspective on this journey. The loss of a child has far reaching impacts and shapes the lives of ourselves and those around us. Sharing different perspectives acknowledges the truth and deep roots of loss. Empathy for ourselves and for those who ache, grieve, grow and remember with us.Read More
I had only experienced some of her delicious recipes second hand but one glance at her instagram posts of her journey through child loss took my breath away.Read More
Self care and taking time to slow the pace of life seems logical and I am sure we all agree it is important. I think it becomes even more critical when healing from personal loss or tragedy. Yet, it seems as difficult as ever to “make time” for some quiet time. Not only do we typically fill our days to the point of exhaustion, I have also found that making time for quiet reflection can sometimes lead to alone time with grief. Finding that balance between enjoying the freedom of unplanned thought and being cautious of where those thoughts might lead.Read More
We have all been here and continue to be. The most innocent and well intended question that sends my mind in a frenzy and my heart sinking into the pit of my stomach. I keep thinking that the more time that passes the easier this question will get, but it doesn’t seem to.Read More
Cathy Decker shares her intimate and moving words recently presented at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Annual Memorial Celebration.
“I found it impossible to find the right words to describe to my friends and family how I was feeling. Words do not exist to describe how a parent feels when their child dies...
My only option is to parent her in a new way, keep her memory alive, and do things to make me feel close to her.
When I think of the person Avery was, the words “loving” and “kind” come to mind first. I want to create a legacy for Avery. I want to honor her by spreading love and kindness in her memory”Read More
“Today we are here to talk about peace my brothers and sisters”. He asked us to look past peace as a means to describe a lack of war or battles, but to focus on peace within our hearts. He asked us each to pray for peace within our own hearts and for peace within the hearts of others. And that is exactly what I did.Read More
A bustling building full of people, hallways, lights and learning. The first and only planned appointment of this past Tuesday was in the late morning with the unforgettable Lori Ives-Baine, (RN, BScN, MN (CPB) Grief Support Coordinator, PACT, Pathways Grief Support Program) Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) in Toronto. Lori is a lifeblood of the hospital and has been working there for almost 30 years. As I waited in the hallway for her to find me I realized I had no idea what she looked like or how I would recognize her. I messaged her that I was wearing black (common suspect) and she messaged back I couldn’t miss her. She was a bright rainbow of colourful hair, wrapped in a brilliant fuchsia scarf, with an inviting smile on her face.
We didn’t have long, but in the hour we spent sharing stories and talking about some difficult subjects, we were both able to have a brief glimpse into each other’s worlds. Lori is another heroic member of society who shows up everyday to support families at The Toronto Sick Kids. As a nurse, Lori found herself gravitating towards caring for critically ill children and their bereaved families. She has been working in grief and bereavement for 25 years of her career with the majority in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) . Over time the bereavement program grew beyond the NICU, extending to other units and then across the entire hospital, which Lori has now been supporting for the past five years, so that everyone that has lost a loved one can have access to the same support, compassion, dignity and care. Her talents and work in this area have brought clinical expertise, programs and processes to the various units throughout the hospital. On some days, her compassionate care program extends beyond the hospital walls to reach and support children who were formerly Sick Kids patients but may have passed elsewhere.
When I began to ask Lori questions I shouldn’t have been surprised by her brief but impactful answers. Her knowledge and expertise were evident. She shared of the beautiful and varying memorial services the hospital hosts throughout the year. Thoughtful gatherings from releasing butterflies at picnics to hospital wide candlelight celebrations. It made me glad to know that for a moment these families would be part of something so special as they courageously celebrate the life of their lost little loves surrounded by others that have walked their path.
What would a typical day look like for you? I asked. To which Lori replied “there is no such thing as a typical day. They are all different”. When she reflected on what her high level plan is for everyday she shared that “her job is to make sure that the parents have no regrets at the end of the day.” A powerful and touching response that struck a chord deep within me. She shared her hopes that if her job is done right “parents are aware of all the options” and have the ability to make the hardest decisions of their lives. Whether it be “one last walk in the park or having a TV brought in to watch one last hockey game together” Lori works hard to make sure she can help these families to the best of her ability. She smiled as she shared that “LOVE” is the most common theme across the families, “a love so strong that they can let them go”. She also shared, with great respect, the RESILIENCE she sees in all of them.
As her phone was going off, she apologized for the abrupt but necessary departure. I was grateful for every minute and felt a little guilty for stealing her time. As we quickly finished our coffee, tea and said our goodbyes, the grave reality of a day in the life of Lori set in. As I was heading out for an unknown afternoon, Lori was making her way upstairs to meet with the medical team to deliver the news to a long time family that end of treatment was near. My heart just sank and again I felt the shock and isolation of knowing another precious life was about to be lost while the cafeteria and hallways bustled with noise. It was only noon, but this was not the first loss of the day. Lori did not share names, places, or any details further than I have shared here but with that sliver of information I left Sick Kids with a heavy heart and a racing mind.
As I left the doors of the hospital, my afternoon took a path I hadn't planned nor ever expected. Stay tuned for PART 2, where I share a beautiful twist of events that lead to a very synchronistic day.
Countless grieving families know Patti Walker as a gentle, talented and compassionate caregiver. What some might not know is that Patti’s path to supporting others has been paved with multiple tragic losses, both of the families she supports and of her own.Read More