Wednesday, October 31, 2012

To everything, Turn turn turn

It was Ian Airey's funeral. His son Daniel is part of our church's youth group and youth band.

Arthur Warner, our Ministries Pastor celebrated his 60th birthday this week. 

Today, at  Mt Albert Baptist Church,
We had to stop our ESOL class early.
There was a funeral.
For a 40 something man.
I saw family and friends coming.
There were some very old people.
Almost double the age of the deceased.

Then I went to the church office.
I was invited to a celebration.
Our pastor turned 60.
There was one thin symbolic candle.
Arthur said he had another cake with 60 candles.
2 kids helped him snuff the candles out.

Snuff out,
Who would use such a word.
This person's life was snuffed out.
I am invited to the opening of the Sands Office.
The invite is black.
How appropriate,
Black is the colour of death.

Tomorrow is the night for Sands parents.
They are the bereavement club,
They have pledged to pay for the rental of the office.
This song came to me,
A time for everything,
A time to be born,
A time to die. Its Ok to cry

Sands New Zealand
The Byrd's song, Turn Turn Turn, from Ecclesiastes 3:1-14.

There Is A Season - ABAC Concert Choir

To ev'rything
Turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time for ev'ry purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To ev'rything
Turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time for ev'ry purpose under heaven

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A newest Sands Mum.

I just got off the phone with a friend from Church. Her baby just died this afternoon. She had not known that I had Andrew and I shared my experience with her. Her baby lived for a week. I told her it's OK to cry.

Right now, she feels relieved, and I told that that it is normal to feel this way when the baby has been very sick.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Kalanchoë thyrsifolia / Crassulaceae  flat red mother plant dies after flowering.

This is how a bereaved person feels like sometimes. Don't hasten her demise by saying words that hurt rather than heal.

Not just for bereaved parents , but for all bereaved. Please don't tell us to move on. It's me who have to live day by day without the person I lost. Please I rather you say nothing than say words that upset me. Please just sit, hold my hand.
Just these 2 days, I heard people say to me and another bereaved person, Move on. Don't rush us, You have not experienced my bereavement. You will never know.
~Author unknown

I won't say, "I know how you feel" - because I don't.
I've lost parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends,
but I've never lost a child.
So how can I say I know how you feel?

I won't say, "You'll get over it" - because you won't.
Life will have to go on.
The washing, cooking, cleaning, the common routine.
These chores will take your mind off your loved one,
but the hurt will still be there.

I won't say, "Your other children will be a comfort to you" - because they may not be.
Many mothers I've talked to say that after they have lost a child,
they easily lose their temper with their remaining children.
Some even feel resentful that they're alive and healthy
when the other child is not.

I won't say, "Never mind, you're young enough to have another baby" - because that won't help.
A new baby cannot replace the one that you've lost.
A new baby will fill your hours, keep you busy,
give you sleepless nights.
But it will not replace the one you've lost.

You may hear all these platitudes from your friends and relatives.
They think they are helping.
They don't know what else to say.
You will find out who your true friends are at this time.
Many will avoid you because they can't face you.
Others will talk about the weather,
the holidays and the school concert
but never about how you're coping.

So what will I say?

I will say, "I'm here. I care. Anytime. Anywhere."
I will talk about your loved one.
We'll laugh about the good memories.
I won't mind how long you grieve.
I won't tell you to pull yourself together.
No, I don't know how you feel - but with sharing,
perhaps I will learn a little of what you are going through.

And perhaps you'll feel comfortable with me
and find your burden has eased. Try me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From SANDS to Sands

You probably have noticed the inconsistency I had been in using the words SANDS and Sands. I did notice it sometimes but didn't investigate further. 

Tonight, I found out that SANDS has been changed to Sands. I wanted to edit it, but Facebook won't let me edit in my new page, and I don't know why. 

To satisfy myself why I made these irregularities, I went back to my original file from 1990 when I first joined SANDS,  it was SANDS. Then I went away, and was involved in Child bereavement in Singapore. 

I will try to remember it is Sands in my future writing.

Thank you Sarah.

1986 - Here is the story of how Sands first got established in New Zealand, in the words of the person who started it all, Rosemary Westley (formerly Willams) ...

After many months of research I was finally satisfied with my work and in 1988 I published the booklet " S.A.N.D.S: A caring guide for parents of stillborn babies and babies that die shortly after birth". Over 3000 copies were printed and they were sent all over New Zealand. That is now 20 years ago a

2007 - From SANDS to Sands - we re-branded! A new logo, new colours and new support packs were introduced. A new pamphlet on the transporting of a deceased baby was also developed and launched. The sixth national Sands conference was held in Christchurch; the theme was 'Living, Loving, Remembering'.

Sands New Zealand

Sunday, October 14, 2012

jizo: stone remembrance for deceased babies in Japan

Jeng Kallang's photos

My niece went to Korea and she saw these tiny stone monuments. I think I recognise what they are.

  • Ann Chin wonder if this is like the Japanese baby stones. Bereaved Mums like me make a stone baby 

    when  their babies have died. 
  • Jeng Kaleh we were told they stack them up and make wishes
 Perhaps they are what the Japanese have. Jizos. My friend went to Japan and saw these.

When parents lost a child, they put a stone cylinder shape and often dress bonnets and bibs.and children's clothes. Jizo is the protector of children, expectant mothers, firemen, and travellers.

He is the protector of deceased children, including miscarried, aborted or stillborn infants. In Japanese folklore, Jizo hides the children in his robes to protect them from demons and guide them to salvation.

Anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby is invited to join an international ‘Wave of Light’ on Monday, 15th October, as part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The event encourages people all over the world to light a candle at around 7pm and leave it burning for at least one hour, either at home as a private moment of remembrance, or as part of a group or an event, to remember all the babies who have died during pregnancy, during labour or after birth. Wave of Light concludes Baby Loss Awareness Week, which takes place from 9th -15th October.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bereaved mums mutually helping each other.

When I wrote my book, and joined the Sands, I had the motivation of using my own heart wrenching experience as an older Sands mum to help newbie Sands mums. Besides, it was a therapeutic journey for myself.

I used Facebook to communicate and help other mums who didn't have the eloquence to write what they want to write.  Little did I know, today, during the time of Baby Loss Awareness Week, and the period when Andrew was dying in the hospital, I would be comforted by a newbie bereaved mum.

I had posted here excerpts of my book that while I sat in the hospital for 55 days, all I did was sit and look at Andrew, and help hold the nasal feeder while the nurse poured the milk into the syringe. 

I had been questioning myself what was I doing just sitting there. I did not bath him, I did not change him. I was just there, sitting there being a redundant piece of furniture. 

Then one day, I was bullied into, " What are you doing here? You give your baby a bath." I can still remember her face, the relief nurse. " I will help you." But when I bath Andrew, she wasn't there to help. 

Catastrophe  happened, Andrew died for half a day, and then he rose again. This was the worst that can happen to anyone. I had murdered him, perhaps I dunked him in the bath and tried to drown him.

Since then, I told myself, it was better being a redundant piece of furniture than being a murderer.

After Andrew died, I did not dress him or bath him. It was usually the last thing a mum could do for her dead child.  I left it on the pretext that he was going for his autopsy. I didn't even buy him his burial clothes. 

The doctor told us the hospital would give him a white gown, and treat him with respect. I asked Olwyn to ask Daphne to let him have the lemon woollen knitted jacket that the other terminal baby L had pass me down.

I am on Facebook everyday, and on one of those quotes  I just read was as we move on, we leave behind things that don't matter to us, and pick up new things that make us happy. I have picked up Sands Manukau. I have not met Sarah, but she is like an old friend.

Sarah does incredible things. She goes to meet newly bereaved parents and helps prepare their angels. Had Sarah been around 23 years ago, and had Andrew not have an autopsy, Sarah would be there to help me do what I couldn't do.

I took the liberty of posting this Facebook thread. Thank you Sarah.

Thank you also for Rangimarie. You wrote the words I had in my heart and  always wanted to write but never did.

Hi Sarah & Lisa..

I just wanna thankyous for helping me try & move on to what happend to my 

babygirl! Thank's heaps for giving her her first & last bath.. & for putting her pretty 

clothes on for me! I wish i couldve bathed and dressed my beautiful baby but i felt 

so lost & empty.. I was happy yous gave me and my partner memorys to remember 

our daughter by, i'll never forget the time she crossed he

r little fingers after she got 

changed!! Thankyous so much for everything, and for being there for us, and taking 

us step by step with whats gonna happen, you made it sound so understanding.. 

You & the bereavement team; i can't or don't know how to repay you's! I cried 

when i saw yr guys page.. Simply because yous have filled my daughters life with 

memorys for me and her dad.. xxxx

♥ i'll never forget you guys!! Always in my heart..

Like · 
  • 4 people like this.

  •  thank you so much for sharing this. And 

    there is no need for thanks - at all. Those 

    crossed fingers were so special smile It really 

    was an honour meeting you all. Yes, we 

    could see just how lost and empty you 

    were feeling - will.never forget that. We 

    are just so glad you called us in to help 

    you create these memories. I just realised 

    now I didn't send those photos. I am so, so 

    sorry Rangimarie - I will get them on the 

    courier to you tomorrow. Thanks again for 

    commenting here - and do keep in touch. 

    xxxxx.See More

  • Thankyou that'll be cool!
  • Ann Chin "I wish i couldve bathed and 

    dressed my beautiful baby but i felt so lost 

    & empty.." 

    Dear Rangimarie, it is natural 

    to feel this way. I was just like you. So 

    glad for women in Manukau Sands.
    49 minutes ago · Like · 1

    Saturday, October 13 at 7:15pm in 

    UTC+13 at Manukau Memorial 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

International ‘Wave of Light’ on Monday, 15th October

Nini Tanzania was my saving grace
 when I was mourning for Andrew.
I was knew Nini Tanzania at NTU when I first arrived.
Nini gave me this set of cross stitch 
which is 1/2 meter by 1 meter.
I hibernated in the air conditioned room
 and finished it in 1 month.
People normally took months and months.

It was good seeing Nini again during this trip.
Nini had gone to Australia.
 and I had not seen her for years.
She couldn't recall this.
 This is for you, Nini. 

I put this at the corner of my living room. Most people who come to my house, ( There were many people when I was in Nanyang University in Singapore), They wow at my cross stitch. Sometimes, I tell them about Andrew. My candles for Andrew are lit in my heart. 

This is also my silent way of witnessing that God is Love despite the many trials and tribulations in my life. Life is not problem-free. You’re either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or about to go into a crisis.” 
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

excerpt of my book.

Chapter 36 -       August 1990-July 2006

August 1990-July 2006, friends in Singapore

Genuine friends,
Are rare gold nuggets in a rushing stream.
They stand by you,
Rain or shine.

We lived in a maisonette apartment block. Kay Chiew, who later became my best friend, helped me ease the transition from temperate New Zealand. It was in the middle of winter when we left New Zealand.  It was very hot in Singapore. During the early days and months, I hibernated in an air-conditioned bedroom.

Kay introduced me to other faculty wives and I joined their coffee mornings and playgroup. My friend Nini showed me her cross-stitch. Hers was the Indonesian version where instead of the expensive cross stitch material, they use mosquito screens. The end results were the same. I admired her big beautiful pieces of finished work which took months to do and cost a few hundred dollars to frame up.

Nini offered me a medium sized set, complete with the pattern and embroidery threads. This was a counted cross stitch with a printed paper pattern.  One had to count the threads across in accordance to the pattern, to place the stitches in the correct place and order. It looked very complicated. I declined because I told her I would not be in the mood to do it, and I would be wasting her pack if I left it after doing just a few stitches. She persuaded me to take it. It had the pattern of a candlestick with three candles, a Holy Bible and the words, “God is Love”. God must have inspired Nini to choose this pack out of all the packs she had. There were scenery landscapes, fruits, flowers. But Nini had to give me this pack.

I took the pack, and started to do the cross stitch. I had never done one before. I was in the girls’ bedroom. I stitched and stitched, as if there was no tomorrow. Soon I became a voracious sewer, and the more the patterns were appearing, the more I wanted to stitch.  The netting broke sometimes, and parts of the pattern were very finicky. That didn’t faze me. I couldn’t sleep at night. Chen Onn did not call me to bed. It was as if I was a maniac sewer.  I remember it was like that when I made a queen-sized quilt one weekend.

Nini and her other friends were shocked. What people normally took six months, I took one month. My brother-in-law, Chin Fatt got it framed for me in Malaysia. He didn’t want me to pay for the framing. It would have cost $600 in Singapore. I said it was going to be my heirloom. It was going to be my testimony to hang up in my lounge that the “God is Love”. Though at that time, I didn’t have that deep conviction. It was coming up to Andrew’s first birthday and anniversary.

Anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby is invited to join an international ‘Wave of Light’ on Monday, 15th October, as part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The event encourages people all over the world to light a candle at around 7pm and leave it burning for at least one hour, either at home as a private moment of remembrance, or as part of a group or an event, to remember all the babies who have died during pregnancy, during labour or after birth. Wave of Light concludes Baby Loss Awareness Week, which takes place from 9th -15th October.