Thursday, December 13, 2012

The story behind...

... "When the Unthinkable Happens: The Death of a Child"

It was 1999 and we have already lost three children and had a blighted ovum pregnancy.

I was grieving so hard and had so many shattered dreams that I did not know what to do with myself. I was teaching US Law, but the rest of the time, I wallowed. 

I spent my time teaching and volunteering for the MISS Foundation, but I truly needed something else to look out of the grief-bubble I was living in.

My dear husband, knowing myself more than I do, told me that he would make a financial effort so I could go back to school. I decided to enroll in a Master program which would help me help others in grief. I was accepted to the Master in Family Sciences program at the Pontifical Institute John Paul II for the Study of Marriage and Family.

On August 1999, I went back to school! I had classes every Thursday and had lots and lots of reading and research during the rest of the week. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of it, though I confess that I had some trouble with psychology. My favorite subjects were theology and philosophy, bioethics and, obviously, law.

In late 2000, we were directed to begin working on our dissertation. By that time, I knew I wanted to write about child death, a topic close to my heart. Not only because of my personal experience, because reaching out to others in grief became my life-line during my worst moments.

I had read many, many books on parental grief by then, all of them in English, but none in Spanish. The lack of validation of my feelings, emotions and thoughts, in my own language was definitely a strong reason to sit down before my computer for hours at a time, after spending many, many hours reading and researching. Thus my self-help writing journey begun.

I began writing about life and death: when does life begin and what are the signs of death. Then I did write about grief and its "stages". The theory of well-define stages and the true mess real grief is. 

I tried to explain to my target audience - bereaved families: moms, dads, siblings and grandparents - what to expect after a child died. I tried to validate all the craziness and the excruciating pain and the deep sorrow and the numbness and the rage and the guilt. 

Then, I tried to tell society in general and extended family, friends, medical personnel, teachers, priests and pastors and rabbis what does help and what does not help the bereaved. Here, I did not only used the extensive biography I had read. I used my experience as a MISS Facilitator, a HOPE Mentor and as a bereaved mom.

I learned along the way that, though society gives parents the "right" to grieve depending the age of the child at the time of death, no matter the age or the cause of death, parental grief has more similarities than differences. I have learned that the bereaved community is compassionate and caring and supporting. 

I have learned so, so much from each and every bereaved mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend that I wish I had the opportunity to thank each one, individually, for being the best of teachers.

I know I say this a lot, but I am truly honored and grateful that I have been given the chance to reach out and share the love and the pain and the MISSing and the remembering of each MISS member and bereaved parent I have met along the way.

Each child has a special place in my heart and I hold each family close in my prayers for gentler days, as it is the only thing, other than listen and be present, that I can do for them.

This book was finished in 2001. Though it spent most of its time since then in a drawer and in my computer's memory, I have added to it now and then. I am finally able to publish the Spanish version on December 2012 and I hope soon, I'll be able to publish the English one. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Time flies...

The original Angel of Grief in Rome.
The original Angel of Grief in Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite” 

Yes, time does fly when we are busy. 

No, time does not heal all wounds, just ask the bereaved.

This is a lesson I learned early in my own grief: it does not matter how many days, months, years pass after the death of a loved one, what matters is what we do with the time we are given.

Grief equals love, that has been the key for me. 

Paraphrasing Cassandra Clare, if love is infinite, grief is infinite.

Am I taking anyone's hope away? I hope not. 

What well-used time in grief does for us, is to help us learn to live with the physical absence of our loved one.

The pain will lessen - most days. Going on with our daily life will become easier - some days. It may even come a day that we will forget our grief for prolonged periods of time.

Do not be surprised if suddenly, WHAM! Grief rears its head and floors us, because I repeat, grief and pain equals love. Embrace your pain, don't fight it, acknowledge your loss, take deep breaths, work through your feelings, emotions and thoughts and remember the good, peaceful, gentle days that have come your way after the tragic death of your loved one.

You may wander, why is she writing about death and grieving after two fiction posts? 

Easy, my Aunt Karen has been gone for five months and she is deeply loved and MISSed, may she rest in peace.

To my beloved cousins A & S, just remember that no matter what, you are not alone. I love you!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Heart Race

Elizabeth Bennet is a veterinary nutrition researcher who might innovate the horse food industry by creating new formulas that improve the animals' speed, height and strength.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is owner and CEO of Pemberley Ranch, the world's premiere horse breeding facility.

She and her research team need his grant to get the patent that would make her work self-sustainable. He needs her expertise to increase his horses' potential.

This is how they meet.

Heart Race
©Carla Roel de Hoffmann


Elizabeth Bennet arrived late to her office. She was in her filthy jeans, with dirty boots and a stained T-shirt. She’d been detained at the outdoors lab getting the latest results of her new horse food formula. Her “trial subjects” were doing better than expected: more muscles and less fat. They were alert and healthy and ready to run faster than ever.

She was proud of herself and her team, but now she was in a hurry. The Dean had finally pushed her to make an appointment with Mr. Darcy.

He was the owner of the best horse breeding ranch in the world, whom would be able to give the money the University needed to make the final tests on Lizzy’s new formula and get the patent they were yearning to be self-sufficient and prosper. Life would change for the best for their School if Lizzy had anything to say about it.

Earlier that day, she had left a nice, elegant, light blue dress with all the right accessories at her office to change as soon as she got the latest data. If not for Cool Night Dash’s difficulty to get into the scale, she would have been ready by now.

She Wi-Fi the new document with her latest data she was giving to Mr. Darcy as part of her presentation to print, when she heard a knock. Damn it! I won’t make it if the Dean comes by to chat, she thought as she said, “Enter!”

The door opened and a tall, handsome man came in. He was dressed in a dark suit with a golden tie and a white crisp shirt. His black shoes were impeccably clean and polished. His eyes fell on Lizzy.

“I am looking for Dr. Bennet, do you know where I could find him please?” He said arrogantly.

Just another chauvinistic pig, as if women did not have what it takes to have a Ph.D. Lizzy thought but replied, arching an eyebrow, “And you are?”

“I am Fitzwilliam Darcy, and I have an appointment with Dr. Bennet. I hope you are able to get your mentor here on time, as he is not here and we have many things to discuss.” He answered in an emotionless tone of voice.

Lizzy lifted her chin proudly, squared her shoulders as if she was wearing the designer dress she intended to, held out her dirty hand to him and said, “Good morning Mr. Darcy. I am Dr. Elizabeth Bennet and as you can see, I am on time for our appointment.”

Mr. Darcy looked uncomfortable for a moment and then extended his hand to shake hers, “I am sorry, I was expecting somebody completely different…”

“Yes, I understand. We women are not capable of holding high academic degrees and be successful in our field. Do not worry Mr. Darcy, I am used to deal with men like you. Please have a seat.” Now and again, Lizzy was treated as if, because of her gender, she was less in her field. She had worked hard to make a name for herself and get where she was.

“Miss Bennet, if you would…” Fitzwilliam said.

Lizzy opened her palms dismissively, interrupting him and exclaimed, “It is Dr. Bennet to you sir, and I know your time is precious, so please, let us forget anything else but the purpose of our meeting. Here,” she said handling him the stack of papers she prepared ahead, including the newly printed new data that made her unable to change, “may I get you anything to drink before we start?”

* * *

Fitzwilliam Darcy woke up early, excited about the prospect to finally meeting the elusive Dr. Bennet. He took care of his appearance and finally arrived at the University of Merryton early in the morning. He had an appointment with a Dr. Bennet.

He thought himself lucky because, according to the Dean, Dr. Bennet rarely met with entrepreneurs, so dedicated he was to his laboratory and its tests.

He had read about the Dr.’s success in horse food technology. As owner and CEO of Pemberley, the most recognized horse breeding ranch in the world, he wanted to know this person and get him on board so his horses would be even faster on the tracks.

Horsemen from around the world praised and coveted his horses. They had won all Racetrack Derbies and Classics. His horses’ blood went way back to the fastest horses in history and maybe, just maybe, Dr. Bennet’s food formula would improve their performance.

He got out of his gray Aston Martin and walked to the building that housed Dr. Bennet’s office.

We walked the long corridors until he got to the door that held the sign:

“Dr. E. Bennet
“Merryton Foods”

He knocked the door and nobody answered. He was able to listen to the sound of someone working inside. A printer maybe? He knocked again and he heard a strong, impatient “Enter.”

Cautiously, he opened the door and took a peek inside. He found a young woman with no make-up, her hair held in a ponytail, her dirty, informal attire made her look young, and showed her curvaceous body in full glory. Putting some papers inside a folder, she turned his way and stared at him.

Her fine eyes and the lovely face they were set in, took his breath away. His treacherous body getting aroused at the sight before him.

Trying to disguise his arousal and shifting from side to side to alleviate the pain he experienced, he said, “I am looking for Dr. Bennet, do you know where I could find him?”

The beautiful woman before him narrowed her eyes and wrinkled her nose before answering, “And you are?”

Fitzwilliam was surprised by the harsh tone of her voice. She certainly was one of Dr. Bennet’s interns. The kind that took care of the mentor they worked for and worshiped the floor he stepped in. Maybe this dirty vision - but vision nonetheless - was protecting this genius from interference. He replied, “I am Fitzwilliam Darcy, and I have an appointment with Dr. Bennet. I hope you are able to get your mentor here on time, as he is not here and we have many things to discuss.”

The lady arched her brow and a glint of mischief crossed her eyes. She stood straighter and walking towards him, she extended her hand and replied, “Good morning Mr. Darcy. I am Dr. Elizabeth Bennet and as you can see, I am on time for our appointment.”

Fitzwilliam was embarrassed beyond anything he had felt before! Why had he assumed that Dr. Bennet was a man? Did he read it in some of the food engineering magazines he devoured? No, not that he could remember, but he was positive that in none of the extensive material he had gone through, he had seen a picture of this beautiful, intelligent woman before him. He shook her small, warm hand and said, in a low voice, “I am sorry, I was expecting somebody completely different…”

Dr. Bennet interrupted his apology, anger changing the look in her eyes, “Yes, I understand. We women are not capable of holding high academic degrees and be successful in our field. Do not worry Mr. Darcy, I am used to deal with men like you. Please have a seat.”

Fitzwilliam needed to apologize, to make her see that he did not dismiss her success because of her gender, that it was an honest mistake, no discrimination on his part,  “Miss Bennet, if you would…”

She put her hands on her hips and tapping impatiently her right foot, she looked at him as he was beginning to apologize and raising her hand to silence him, she sputtered, “It is Dr. Bennet to you sir, and I know your time is precious, so please, let us forget anything else but the purpose of our meeting. Here,” she said pushing forward a green folder filled with papers, and asking brusquely, “may I get you anything to drink before we start?”

Fitzwilliam shook his head in the negative and took the seat she indicated while she sat behind her desk.

While she conducted the meeting effectively, he was having a hard time concentrating. Not ever had he been so moved by a woman and he had never been so ashamed as well.

He knew he had insulted Dr. Bennet, but it had been impossible for him, so far, to apologize to her. She had interrupted his attempts and now was talking about her chemical discoveries in the mixing of grains and soy to increase the muscle mass on horses and how her trial results came to be, depending on the type of horse and the activity they were expected to do.

Quarter Horses were faster and stronger, those horsemen using Dr. Bennet’s formula exceeded in every competition, no matter if it was racing or barreling.

The warmblood horses were doing better in their timing and the height they used to jump, obviously, they were stronger as well. He knew for a fact that the Olympic champion used the food mix developed by the woman before him.

The results on Race Thoroughbreds was simply amazing. All of her trial subjects were able to improve their speed index significantly. He could not believe how much difference her food formula made.

He could feel her eyes on him as she explained how she came to the current formula and how she measured the success in each type of horse.

If he could get her to work with him on Pemberley horses, he would be able to change forever the world of race horses. He knew he had the best bloods, but the sheer muscle power this food formula brought, was overwhelming.

Dr. Bennet’s care for detail was amazing! The dark haired beauty before him was the best researcher he had ever encountered. Not even the genetic genius he had hired for Pemberley was as meticulous as she, and Fitzwilliam was sure Dr. Bingley suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the highest degree, though he was not complaining.

Please let me know what you think...

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Promise

I am sharing with you the first chapter of the Pride and Prejudice Variation I wrote last April.

You can download the entire story @

I am thankful beyond words for all the readers that have purchased it. I am honored that you allowed me to share a part of me with you.

This is a work of fiction. Please respect my rights as an author. Do not copy any part of my creation without my written permission.

©Carla Roel de Hoffmann, all rights reserved.

Chapter One

Fifteen-year-old Lizzy Bennet couldn’t believe her luck! Her aunt and uncle had invited her on a trip to the Lake District. After a week of travels, they were staying in a beautiful town, where her aunt had lived in her youth, Lambton. Her relatives were visiting old friends and had let her wander by herself. She walked outside the lovely town, towards some wilderness and a churchyard.

As she came closer to the walls, she heard someone sobbing. Her heart broke at the sound! Lizzy couldn’t help herself and went to find the source of such sadness. She found a little girl, no more than ten years of age, dressed all in black, clutching a beautiful doll, also dressed in mourning, and crying her eyes out, leaning on the wall of an old and crowded graveyard.

“What has happened to you?” Lizzy asked the blond little girl.

“My father died some weeks ago and my brother and I came to say goodbye before we travel to London.” The little girl responded while a river of tears ran through her cheeks and she frantically searched for a handkerchief from between her doll’s dress.

Lizzy handed her handkerchief to the girl while saying, “I am very sorry for your loss, is your mother traveling with you as well?”

“No, my mother died after my birth. It is only my brother and myself now…” and she began crying in earnest again.

Lizzy couldn’t resist the urge to console this fragile, lonely girl. She kneeled before her and hugged her while rubbing her back gently. After some time, the girl regained some composure and let go of Lizzy’s embrace.

She blushed as she saw the dampness her tears had left in the kind lady’s dress. “I am so sorry, please forgive me”, she uttered.

She followed her eyes to the front of her dress and laughed, “Do not fret, I have three younger sisters and I am used to looking like this after they have hurt themselves if I am close enough to assist and hug them. As you see, I am quite used to embracing crying girls who are unable to find their own handkerchiefs.”

The girl’s lips curled upward a little and she met the older girl’s eyes. “Thank you for your generosity. You do not know me and here you have spent quite some time listening to my sorrows and trying to comfort me.”

“Are you by yourself?” Lizzy asked while turning around and not seeing anyone close.

“No, I came with my brother… but…” Tears ran through her cheeks again, “I couldn’t stand a minute longer without crying... next to him in front of our parents’ graves… so I retreated… so I could cry without making my brother sad… I am not sure if he noticed me leaving…”

“You walked here?” Inquired Lizzy.

“No, our carriage went to town to pick up some things my brother needs to take to London while we…” sighing the girl’s eyes welled up again.

“Oh… are you going to live with someone else, some relatives? Is that why you are going to London?” asked Lizzy.

“No, my brother is my guardian along with our cousin, the Colonel, he and I… We will live together, he has some business to attend now that everything… I just couldn’t stay by myself now… I begged him to allow me to accompany… I don’t want him to be alone…” The girl uttered.

“You are a good sister indeed, I am sure he feels better knowing you are taking care of him.” Lizzy’s eyes softened as she complimented the girl.

“Georgiana! Georgiana!” The worried voice of a man came to them.

“In here Fitzwilliam!” the young girl yelled, then lowering her voice, she added, “Oh dear, he is worried, I hope he is not mad…”

“I am sure he just wants to know where you are. See, he noticed you were not by his side.” Lizzy winked at the girl and she giggled.

A young man came hurriedly from between the graves, his face etched with grief and worry. As he saw his sister, his face relaxed, but the sadness in his eyes remained.

“Are you well dear?” He ran and kneeled before the girl, taking her hands in his.

“Yes Fitzwilliam, thank you… I was overwhelmed and needed to…” Her eyes went to the lady standing aside.

He noticed the young lady and stood straight and bowed. His eyes met hers. The look of compassion and understanding that he saw in her eyes took his breath away.

She curtseyed and looking into his red-rimmed eyes she said, “Sir, I am very sorry for the loss of your father.”

“Thank you,” he murmured while swallowing the lump on his throat.

The sound of a carriage startled the group. Lizzy has never seen such an elegant set of horses and means of transport!

“Dear, are you sure you want to come with me all the way to London? We can go back to Pemberley and you can stay with Mrs. Reynolds. I will be back in a fortnight.” The man asked gently.

“Yes Fitzwilliam, I am sure. I do not want to be alone after…” Her eyes welled up again and he hugged her.

“All right then dear…” He said, leading his sister by the elbow, as the carriage stopped on the other side of the graveyard’s walls and a footman jumped off the carriage and opened the door for them to climb up.

Georgiana was almost at the door, when she suddenly turned and ran to hug the lady that stayed behind, witnessing the love and devotion and sorrow those two siblings were feeling.

Lizzy’s arms came around the little girl in surprise. As Georgiana let go and looked up, Lizzy smiled at her and told her in a small voice, pointing to the doll, “Take care of your brother and take care of that beautiful lady. May you introduce us please?”

“Oh, she is Anne, as my mother. Anne, may I introduce you to…?” Georgiana asked.

“Elizabeth Bennet” she curtseyed, “I am glad to make your acquaintance Lady Anne and Lady Georgiana.”

Georgiana smiled and hugging her again said, “Thank you.” She finally let go and ran to the carriage where an older lady was waiting inside, as she sat, Lizzy heard the woman admonishing the young girl for God knew what.

Fitzwilliam was shocked by his sister’s reaction. She was always shy and reticent with strangers. Had she hugged and talked to a stranger and smiled?

He met Lizzy’s eyes, bowed and murmured “thank you”, turned around and climbed onto the carriage. As soon as the door closed and the footman sat aside from the driver, the horses were leaded forward and they were gone.

Lizzy watched the carriage go with tears in her eyes, her heart breaking at the sight of those two sad, lonely, bereaved siblings. Looking frantically for her handkerchief as the tears rolled down her cheeks, she began to laugh. Georgiana had taken it with her! She had no other choice to use the back of her hand and return to the inn to get another one.
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In memoriam, Karen Roel (1946 - 2012)

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  ~From a headstone in Ireland

Karen Roel, was the 5th and only girl in a family of 6. She was born of César Roel, a successful Mexican lawyer, and Josephine Schreurs, and accomplished violinist.

Being a child of a violin player, she grew up surrounded by music and creativity. Two of her older brother were rock stars in the late 50's and 60's. 

She recorded her own albums, but she made a career on composing music for commercials and movies. Along with her younger brother, Eduardo, she won an "Ariel" (the Mexican equivalent to an Oscar) for the score of "Rojo Amanecer", a movie portraying the tragic events occurred on Tlaltelolco on October 2, 1968. Her work since then, had been nominated for several awards.

Her pride and joy were her two daughters: Amanda and Sabina. Her best gift in life, her beautiful grandson León, with whom she shared birthday.

Her husband died of a massive heart attack 27+ years ago, so she had to face being a single mother since her girls were 8 and 5 years old.

Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Lymphoma. She fought hard to continue living. She didn't want to loose a day with her daughters and grandson.

After her second round of chemotherapy, she was declared in remission. At the beginning of April, she was rushed to the hospital due to complications to her liver and kidneys.

As the fighter she was, she put all she had to get well. Sadly, will is not what she needed to recover as her body began to shut down.

She died peacefully at 10:20am on Tuesday, April 17, in the arms of her beloved daughters and in the presence of one of her sister-in-law, her younger nephew, two of her nieces and a dear friend of her girl's.

I was honored to be chosen -by life, by her and by God- to be present at that powerful, life-changing moment, once again witnessing the greatness of love, as it conquers death.

As her oldest niece, I can say that she was a loving aunt. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She was always nice and caring.

I saw her frustrated, annoyed, happy, sad, worried... but never angry. Maybe I was lucky, but I don't think so.

I consider myself lucky to have spent many days of my youth at her house, listening to her play her piano. 

She was gracious enough to help us with our school projects when they involved music, I remember many happy hours at her recording studio.

When my grandma died, I spent many hours with her, cleaning the house and reading letters and papers and stuff. Those moments, alone with my aunt, at grandma's house, are treasured memories I will always hold close to my heart, as we were able to share many family stories among us.

Dear aunt Karen, thank you so much for being an important part of my life. Please know that you will be always loved and MISSed...

... Until we meet again,


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A personal perspective on grief and clinical depression

Ivan Kramskoy- Unconsolable GriefIvan Kramskoy- Unconsolable Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no excuse for the lack of compassion...

First of all, lets get the terminology out of the way, just to know that we are standing on firm ground:

Depression is defined as "a biological-based mental illness that can have lasting emotional and physical effects, such as feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or indecision; difficulty concentrating; change in appetite or sleep habits; loss of energy, interest, or pleasure; loud, violent, troubled, agitated, slowed, or anti-social behaviors; drug or alcohol abuse; and difficulty with interpersonal relationships."

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism.
  • You feel that life is/has been "passing you by"
  • You don't want to see people or are scared to be left alone
  • Social activity may feel hard or impossible
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
  • Persistant sad, anxious or empty mood
  • You feel exhausted a lot of the time, with no energy
  • You feel as if even the smallest tasks are sometimes impossible
  • You spend a lot of time thinking of what has gone wrong, what will go wrong or what is wrong about yourself as a person.
  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  • You feel a burden to others
  • You sometimes feel that life is not worth living
  • You feel no confidence in yourself
  • You have difficulty sleeping or waking up
  • You have changes in weight, significant loss or excess gain
  • Restlessness, fatigue
  • Physical aches and pains, sometimes with fear of being seriously ill
  • Thoughts of death and suicide
  • Increased Heat beat
  • Poor concentration, memory or attention

Grief, on the other hand, is the internal process we go through after a loss.

It is the internal part of loss, how we feel. The internal work of grief is a process, a journey. It does not end on a certain day or date. It is as individual as each of us.

Grief is real because loss is real. Each grief has its own imprint, as distinctive and as unique as the person we lost. The pain of loss is so intense, so heartbreaking, because in loving we deeply connect with another human being, and grief is the reflection of the connection that has been lost.

It does not have a clear beginning or clear end. It is a reflexion of feelings surrounding the loss. As we don't get over the loss of someone, we have to learn to live with that loss. Eventually, we will be able to remember and honor our loved one without feeling pain.

We shall grief as long as we need to.

The difference between mourning and grief is that the first is the external part, the actions we take, the rituals and the customs we have when someone dies. Grief, instead, is the internal part of the loss.

Ok, now why are all these people - including annoying me - raising their voices and filling your FB, Twitter, email and another way of communication, with words such as "DSM", "APA", "Bereavement Exclusion", among others?

The crux of the matter is that the members of the APA (American Psychiatric Association) are revising the DSM, which is the catalog of mental illnesses and disorders and are seriously considering getting rid of the bereavement exclusion.

Up until today, a physician would wait to diagnose someone with clinical depression if their patient had suffered a loss. That is what is called the "Bereavement exclusion".

The proposal to the new edition of the DSM, its 5th, indicated that a person should be treated as clinically depresses just after TWO WEEKS, yes that is correct, just FOURTEEN DAYS following the death of a loved one.

Remember the differences between mourning and grief? It might be the case that the DSM V committee confusing both… That is something to consider.

Now lets get to my story... The story of my illness and my personal and professional experiences with death and loss and the bereaved, so you may get why I chose to use the words "personal perspective" on this post:

When I was eighteen years old, I was diagnosed, for the first time in my life, with clinical depression, or "major depressive disorder" as it is listed on the DMS IV.

Sadly, it is a trade that I share with several family members and thankfully, I had received the appropriate treatment since then.

I was taught, back then, to accept my depression and to learn to live with it. I have been living with my illness as any diabetic lives with his/hers. I am not different from anyone. I just need to be careful with my mood swings and my energy level.

I have consulted many, many doctors over the last twenty three years of my life. I have been lucky enough to find the right psychiatrist at the precise moment of my life. I am grateful beyond words for them and the use of their knowledge to help me deal with my depression.

Let me tell you something more about my illness:

My symptoms at one time or another, had included each and every one of those enlisted above... yes, I did contemplate committing suicide at one point.

Extreme fatigue is the symptom that dominated my depression. It is still my depression demon.

When I was not treated, just getting out of bed and brushing my teeth, took away all the energy I had and still, I inevitably, had the rest of the day ahead of me. The effort of daily activities put me in a foul mood, not because I was angry at anyone, simply because I lacked the internal battery I needed to fulfill them.

The medicines I have taken over the years, had been extremely helpful in balancing my energy level, remember my diabetes - depression comparison?

Of course I get tired, but I am able to get throughout the day and the rest I get at night is enough to charge my batteries as a healthy person does.

When I was in my late twenties, my husband and I lost three children prior to their birth due to a balanced maternal translocation. In just two years, we had to deal with their deaths.

At that moment in time, I was already in psychiatric treatment, getting the antidepressants that I have needed to treat my symptoms, do you remember me telling about extreme fatigue as my depression demon? That is what I am referring to.

My psychiatrist was compassionate enough not to treat my grief as clinical depression, she still is. She knew well enough that I had reasons for feeling as I was.

She never medicated me to make me feel numb. She never urged me to get over the intense pain I felt over the death of my children. She sat down with me, twice a week and listened. She is a good example of what a doctor should be, according to the Hippocratric Oath she took when she became one.

After a couple of years and working very hard though my grief, both within the MISS community and with my psychiatrist during our therapy sessions, I began volunteering for the MISS Foundation.

By then, I was able to reach out to other bereaved parents. I got certified as Support Group Facilitator and working with the bereaved was the reason behind the Masters in Family Science that I earned at the beginning of the century.

I have been honored to walk along with many, many bereaved parents through their grief journey and to know their children through their loving eyes. It does not matter the cause of death or the age the child had when he/she died.

I have met and worked with bereaved parents under medication, given just after the death of their child. Do you want to know what happens to them?

Their grief gets relegated to be dealt with for a later time. The medication they get is unnecessary.

Why? Because they are grieving, they are not depressed!

They have to work through their feelings, emotions and thoughts, they have to reconsider the plans they had for their life, they have to live with the daily reality that their child has died and will not come back.

They have to understand that there won't be kisses and hugs, long talks and arguments, graduations and weddings, nor will there be grandchildren from that particular child.

Do see the depth of their situation? Can you understand the magnitude of their suffering? Do you truly believe that medication will integrate the death of their child?

Bereaved parents, as any bereaved person, need time. First, to let the reality of the tragedy sink in on their brains. That takes between three weeks and two months.

Then, the grief process really starts... Its continuum is a roller coaster of emotions and feelings and thoughts, which may appear similar to some symptoms of depression, but are not. They are normal and natural and expected within the grief journey these parents embarked without their will.

“Compassionate Human Contact is what they need, not medication!”

How do I -and every HOPE mentor, Support Group Facilitator and Online Support Group Moderator with in MISS- work with these families?

Well, I give them my time, freely. As I will never get it back, I know how important every minute I am before a grieving parent is. I am willing to listen and sit with them as close or as far away as they need me to be.

I am willing to sit along with them in that dark, pit hole grief takes us once in a while and wallow with them, and then, holding hands get out to the world again.

Was I able to explain the difference between grief and depression?

Was I able to make clear the difference between compassionate care - from you physician, your social worker, your clergy person, your family, your friends, your support group - and medication?

I hope I had... After all, I am not in the mental health business, I am a lawyer!

I have said what I needed to say.

Please think about what you have read, and let me know what your thoughts are.


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