Rainer's Blog


Emmaline died on the first day of winter and yesterday was the first day of spring. The turning of the seasons feels good. It was a lovely sunny day and Christian, Nelleke, Anouk and I harvested the French salad mix that Em had sown in the garden way back in May. We made the greens into a big batch of pesto. Harvesting, cooking and eating something that Em had grown gave me such a strong sense of connection to her. 

Earlier in August we went for a road trip up to Mossy Point to plan Emmaline's memorial service. We chose a tree on Broulee Island, where we'll hold the service and spread her ashes. After Mossy Point we kept going on our road trip and visited Em's cousins Amy, Morgan and Clem, and parents, John and Donna. It felt lovely to be on the road and connecting with Emmaline's family. I took the opportunity of being away from home to start looking after both Nelleke and Anouk at night. For a long time Christian and Donna have been doing such a wonderful job of looking after Anouk at night, but I've been feeling the need to take it over, to bring the girls together and consolidate out little family unit. During Em's treatment we were in a constant "state of emergency", and one consequence of this was having many people looking after Anouk. Now it feels like we are slowly coming out of the emergency into a new mode of everyday. There were quite a few nights while we were away where I only got 2-3 hours sleep, but overall it was a success. And now that we're back home both girls are sleeping well in the same room. It's a big step for me and them.

On 11 August, Nelleke, Anouk and I went back to Caritas Christi, the hospice where Emmaline died. Christian and Nelleke had made some clay figures on the morning that Emmaline had died, and we picked these up. Caritas also has a memorial wall, where families can set a tile in  memory of their loved one. So we sat down with the art therapist and Nelleke painted a tile for the wall. Around the edge of the picture we made impressions with shells from Broulee Island (where Em's ashes will be scattered). Nelleke, Anouk and I each placed a fingerprint down the left hand side. The tile will be fired and placed up on the wall with a memorial service on 11 October. Nelleke is really keen to go back to Caritas to make more clay pieces, and again I'm really grateful for their wonderful service.

The expression "being in a fog of grief" is an apt description of my general state of mind - even if three whole months have passed since Em died. I'm putting all my non-grieving energy into parenting, and don't have much left for anything else. Often I don't get much sleep. I feel like I'm being followed by a trail of things-not-done. I'm hopelessly forgetful and scatty, and think I've done things when I haven't. It's hard to look into the future and hard to look back. Mostly people are sympathetic, and sometime's they're not. Often it feels like the best thing I can do for me is just to be still and breathe.