Grief Recovery

Successful Book Launch of “Fallen Cradle”

book launch fallen cradle“[tag]Fallen Cradle[/tag]” is a book of 22 stories by parents who have a lost a child. It was formally launched today at Powerbooks Greenbelt Makati. What can I say? The Book launch was a huge success. The initial 150 books set for the launch ran out. Anvil Publishing rushed to get more stock from the warehouse. My story on Luijoe, My Angel is on page 29. A lot of people say he’s such a handsome boy. I know. We chose that picture because he exudes so much charm.

The first few sentences of my story goes this way:

““If I die, Mama, will I be alive again?” Luijoe asked. My six-year-old was lying on the bed, flipping through the prayer books piled on his tummy.

It was Holy Week, a month before that fateful day of May 27, 2000, the day he drowned in a beach resort in Cebu.

I turned my body to face his and stroked his cheek. How could I explain the mysteries of death to a little boy? ““When we die, Lui, we will live forever, through eternal life in heaven,” I said the lines I’d memorized from the teachings of our Catholic Church.

Of course you have to buy the book to read the rest of the story.

This book paved the way to the positive resolution of my [tag]grief[/tag] journey. During the second blueprint in November 2005, Agnes Prieto invited me to be part of the book. I have never written my loss much less how Luijoe died. Writing Luijoe’s story turned out to be very difficult, often bringing tears as I recalled the painful events. These events were buried deep in my heart and I had to reach out to my innermost feelings. My sister, Myrna L. de Vera helped me a lot with the writing style (Thanks dear sister) and the editing work. Writing Luijoe’s story culimnated into the renewal phase of my grief journey. I submitted the final edit of my story on November 27, 2005. On the same day and inspired by my transformation, I wrote The Compassionate Friends International Council if I could start a Philippines Chapter. That was how The Compassionate Friends Philippines started. Reaching out to other bereaved parents is a living tribute to my son . Luijoe is never entirely gone.

fallen cradlefallen cradle butch
I’ve only attended two book launch events in my lifetime so I can’t really compare if today’s event was a tremendous success. I just said it was a hit because they ran out of copies. Agnes Prieto prepared a touching rose and cradle ceremony with a powerpoint presentation of each child represented in the book. A short anecdote taken from each story and our child’s photo flashed on the screen. The parents picked a single white rose from the table and placed it on the vase by the baby’s cradle. The toys surrounding the cradle belongs to Luijoe. Yes, all these years I’ve kept them in a sealed box. Butch , my dear hubby was a substitute for the absentee parent contributors.

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Color my Grief

1.jpgCreatively-challenged me had a great time at our monthly Compassionate Friends meeting. Instead of our usual sharing sessions, we turned it into a family activity involving [tag]art therapy[/tag]. Cathy arranged a special session with Color Me Mine Philippines just for our group.

laur0.jpgFor this meeting, I also invited my daughter, Lauren. My other daughter had a singing performance so she begged off. Lauren brought her boyfriend along to the meeting with us (We allow a bereaved family member to bring a friend to the first meeting ).

She giggled as she sat down:
Wouldn’t it be funny if someone will approach us and ask how we lost a loved one?“.

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Preparing for life and death

When I first saw the accidental drowning photos from Sidney’s My Sari Sari Store, it looked surreal to me. For some reason, the photo of the dead boy didn’t shock me. Yes, I felt a twinge of sadness. Not that I’m a cold hearted person. That’s because I’ve seen the death of my own child. What is the worst photo or image one could possibly imagine? The image of my son’s limp body haunted my mind for at least 3 years after his death. Sometimes I prayed to God to give me amnesia to stop these images from playing over and over again.

Today I can look back at that exact moment when my son was given CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) without the raw pain wrenching my heart. How did it feel like?

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Grief support in the Philippines

Grief is not exclusive for those who have lost a child , a parent or sibling. In life we experience so many losses such as loss of job, money, health , a love affair and other things. The grief process is universal to us all. We go through stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

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As a bereaved mother, I reach out to other grief support groups and counsellors in the Philippines. There were no support groups or grief therapists in the year 2000. I tried to start the Compassionate Friends that year but the USA group appeared lukewarm to my email. On hindsight, I was not ready to be an effective organizer considering that my pain was still so fresh and new.

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my music playlist

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This is the music playlist I am listening to right now:

1. Mirror, Mirror- M2M
2. Never be the same again- Melanie C
3. Feeling so Good- Jennifer Lopez
4. Oops I did it again – Britney Spears
5. Bye Bye Bye- NSync
6. Northern Star- Melanie C
7. Dear Lie- TLC
8. How can I not love you- Joy Enriquez
9. Be with you- Enrique Iglesias
10. Never Let You Go- Third Eye Blind

Sounds old right? and teeny-bopperish? Hmm…

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Creative ways to remember a loved one

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The topic of yesterday’s meeting with The Compassionate Friends was “The Creative Ways of Remembering our Loved one”. Why do we want to remember? Some well-meaning relatives or friends think that doing this will just bring more pain. On the contrary, we never want to forget our loved one. Luijoe continues to live in my heart and I never want to forget him. I am truly amazed at the various creative projects that some of our compassionate friends have undergone:

  • Migi’s Corner in over 11 hospitals, a play area for sick children
  • the Maningning Foundation in honor of Maningning Miclat
  • Calendar of drawings from an 8 year old boy
  • Poems written in a scrapbook
  • Mosaic of photos into one big photo

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