A mother’s eulogy by Beverley Pomeroy

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by Beverley Pomeroy

(posted with permission from author)

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Sophia (photo courtesy of Beverley Pomeroy)
Well, it’s a difficult thing to have to write a eulogy for your child.  Where do you start?  How do you end?  How can you possibly sum up your beautiful child’s life in 8 minutes? Do you get up and read it yourself…or do you get someone else to because it’s a difficult thing.
 
But Sophia is my best friend and was my happy companion for 16 years, 4 months and 29 days.  And they were the most extraordinary 16 years, 4 months and 29 days.  And it is my honor to come up here today and be Sophia’s voice, to share my heart, to share our loss.
 
I knew from the moment Sophia was born, much like with her brothers, that life would never be the same again. I realized just what an under statement that may have been when I found myself sitting in the back of an ambulance less than 24 hours after she was born…Sophia was on her side, in an isolette (like an incubator) with just a little diaper on…the paramedic and I sitting next to her.  That entire ride to Neonatal ICU Sophia just looked at me…stared, with these big wide beautiful eyes.  There was a wisdom in those eyes right from the beginning.
 
Anyone who knew Sophia in her early years, may recall Sophia didn’t really talk much, she rarely cried even though we relentlessly poked her little toes and fingers, gave her shots in her legs, put tubes up her nose.  She was so good, so patient, so enduring. 
 
Sophia, despite all her medical and physical hurdles, is and was a typical child and teen…and, yet, at the same time, she was so    much    more.
 
For years, and even now that she has passed, people have come up to me and said how Sophia is a miracle, how she has surpassed everyone’s expectations, how she’s lived longer than anyone anticipated.  The thing is, while Sophia may have outlived everyone else’s expectations…she didn’t outlive her own.  She lived large, she lived boldly.  She is courageous.  She had big dreams and big goals of a life full of joy, full of laughter, full of music and full of people…
 
Sophia loved people…early on she would sit contently in your lap, curl up in the croak of your arm, be plunked on the counter at the nurses’ station.  She was so tiny that up until she was about 3 ½ I would carry her around in a little bunting bag but always facing out…never facing in because she loved people, and she longed to observe the world around her.  She just wanted to be part of the action.  It didn’t matter how she was feeling, whether she was in ICU, or a music concert, or at school, camp, home…she wanted to always be with people.
 
As her health started to change this last year and she couldn’t go to school anymore, her iPad became her life line to the world, to people and those around her.  For those of you who were Sophia’s Facebook friend…you know what I am talking about.  Sophia liked everything on your Facebook feed.  She loved Messenger and FaceTime.  And it didn’t matter if you were working, in the car, at school…she would bombard you with calls and messages until you finally succumbed.  I know her cousins that are here can certainly attest to that.  Right, Kimmy? And my brother, Bill, who set a FaceTime date every evening with Sophia.  Where she would end her night laughing and giggling at his antics.
 
As Sophia became a teenager and as her health declined, she definitely became more discerning.  She had a preference…young, pretty, female.  I’m not sure how my brother fit into that, but she did make exceptions.  And you knew when you were in, if you suddenly felt a little tickle on your leg, or under your arm.  It was Sophia’s way of saying, ‘Hey, I think you’re cool, I want to be your friend’.
 
But when you were in, you were in.  Sophia loved you no matter what.  You will notice the buttons that were handed out, and on the schedule for today…has, in Sophia’s own handwriting, Love Sophia.  Every time Sophia posted to Facebook, or sent you a text, or message, or even in her communication via iPad with her nurses, she always signed ‘love sophia’.  It started to get autocorrected to LOVED Sophia…so every time she signed off, the last words she said were LOVED SOPHIA.
 
And it fits…loved Sophia.  She loved large, she loved boldly, she loves courageously. 
 
Everyone here today has in some way, been touched by that love.  Either as a volunteer, a clinician, a nurse, through school, as a peer, through her brothers, or through us as her family and friends.  There are a lot of people here in this space, and Sophia shared her life and her love with each and every one of you.
 
And while she lived large and lived boldly…the last few years, her world became smaller.  Sophia’s body was being impacted in ways she did not like.  And this past year, when she went blind her world became even smaller.
 
But what kept her going, beyond sheer determination and stubbornness, was her ability to see and feel the joy in every day, in any moment, with whomever she was surrounded by.  And it’s why the auto correct LOVED Sophia resonates…she was loved, she was joy.  And everybody here today loved her and contributed to her joy.
 
The last three weeks of Sophia’s life were difficult.  There was not a lot of joy.  But there was a lot of love.  And even when she was screaming ‘I don’t want to be here”, “I’m done”, “I hate you” to those around her…she was loved, unconditionally, tenderly.
 
And one of the most important and hardest things I’ve ever had to do as Sophia’s mum was help her let go.  She held on because she loved, and in the end she was able let go because she was loved.
 
We have all learned something through our touch point with Sophia.  For myself, as her mum…as her caregiver, her companion, I have learned that despite the pain, despite the discomfort, despite the world changing around you or maybe your body failing…you love.  And that love will turn into joy, into laughter, into courage.  You will live large; you will love boldly…
 
Sophia is my best friend and it is my privilege to love my beautiful daughter and to be loved by her.  There isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t miss her terribly, longingly.  I am forever changed.
 
Her remarkable legacy will continue…in me, in her brothers, in my brothers and sisters, her cousins…and in everyone here today, who Loved Sophia.
– Beverley Pomeroy, January 28, 2017
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Sophia Summer 2016, photo courtesy of Beverley Pomeroy
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Beverley’s shoes for Sophia’s Celebration of Life!  Photo by Beverley Pomeroy

 

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Portrait of Sophia (Katarina Thorsen, 2016):

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Mind mapping creates, hears, discovers, gathers, teaches… #graphicrecording

What is mind mapping?

A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. The Mind Map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance. – TONY BUZAN


I use mind mapping in all my facilitation work (one-on-one, in group, with youth, in organizational meetings), in my work with cultureofcare.ca, or in my creative projects in order to:

create participant engagement, capture dialogue, make discovery, educate, gather data in order to write reports, address needs, develop customized workshops, deliver tools, and plan projects.

ENGAGEMENT

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cultureofcare.ca
DIALOGUE

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Beverley Pomeroy’s Living Grief Workshop, cultureofcare.ca
DISCOVERY

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cultureofcare.ca
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EDUCATE

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Big Draw Vancouver

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Big Draw Vancouver
DATA

ADDRESS

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WORKSHOPS

TOOLS

 

PROJECT PLANNING

 

Mind maps integrate both right-brain and left-brain thinking by capturing your stream of consciousness in a structured way. – Jennifer Lee

 

For more information on my services

CONTACT: EMAIL

 

Check out:

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Partnering to Create a Culture of Care.

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I am happy to announce a new site: my collaboration with Beverley Pomeroy!

CULTURE OF CARE

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Earlier this year, Bev and I were invited to facilitate a pilot project with the upper management of a national independent living brand and operator.  

Little did we know, that we would become deeply involved in developing and advocating for a culture of care in community and community living sectors for aging adults.

A culture of care, in our definition, is the quality in a person or society that is providing what is necessary for the health and well being of ‘someone’, in this case, ‘someone’ being an older adult or senior, through developing communication, building respect, mitigating risk and fostering growth.

Read more: WHAT IS A CULTURE OF CARE?

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We know our communities of care are being effected by a rapid and changing environment.  

We understand that developing a culture of care with front line staff is a high leverage point for communities and commodities in order to attract, retain and grow the brand as well as address the transitional needs.  

We provide front line staff, supervisors and managers with deep, rich learning experiences that translate into immediate benefits and build capacity.  

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Read more: SOLUTIONS

Workshop Examples:

Inter-Dependence of Community Engagement (Care, Concern and Belonging)
• O.W.L. – Observe, Wait, Listen (Team Training)
• Core Values, Esteem Heart (Team Training)
• Reflective Listening, Effective Management
• Living Grief: 5 Phases of Family Caregivers Profound Journey of Ongoing Loss
• Older Adults’ Behavioural Management (Aging in Community)
• Older Adults’ Creative Engagement Workshop: Living Grief and Sock Monkey Therapy (Residents, Caregivers, Staff, Train the Trainer)
• Mind Mapping Techniques: Project Planning and Communication Techniques (Train the Trainer)
What to know more?!  
For more information on our services: CONTACT
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SOME PORTRAITS OF GRIEF.

For me, it is impossible to quantify grief.  To qualify it.  To define it.  It comes as a surprise. It comes as a wave.  It comes suddenly.  Or it comes on slow.  It can feel like nostalgia, anger, sadness, gratitude, drowning.  It can be triggered.  It can be low grade.  It can be reassuring.  It can be overwhelming.


Journal entry: November 3, 2012 

The emotion of missing.  What is it?

Saudade is a unique Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English.  Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves.  It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return.  It’s related to the feelings of longing, yearning.  Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again…  It can be described as an emptiness and the individual feels this absence…  In fact, one can have ‘saudades’ of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future. source

As the numbness wears off after Dad passed away on October 25, I find myself longing for that numbness again.  Now I feel the familiar sense of fear- sort of like walking on a unsteady pier or a balance beam that wobbles or a tightrope over a waterfall.  I am flooded with thoughts of doubt.  Did I do enough?  Should I have been more aggressive in getting treatment for Dad earlier?  Should I have taken him for more walks in the electric wheelchair?  Was he lonely and scared at the end?  These are expected thoughts.  I know that.  They are not to be avoided or feared.  It’s the process we all experience as we walk through grief.  I get it.  I dare to look.  But it hurts.

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My various experiences of loss and experiences of grief are not like yours, or hers, or his or theirs.  Mine takes up a different space, shape, beyond time. Shifting, eternal.  Each one of our personal truths are unique.  Profound.

And as saudadic waves wash over me, I find it healing to explore:

SOME PORTRAITS OF GRIEF

Beverley Pomeroy:

August 2, 2016: Living Grief is the profound journey of ongoing loss; where we can neither grief nor celebrate. Yet, our loss is palpable. We feel it wrapped around our throat choking back vulnerability we’ve not ever experienced before. We journey through acceptance, make friends with physiological depression, butt up against anger, bargain with whoever or whatever holds our conscience…ultimately, finding the sweet spot of denial where we can see and be what ‘is’ and live in the joy of where we are at on our journey with our loved one.
My gorgeous daughter, Sophia, turns 16 tomorrow…16 years more than we expected to have her, 15 years later with a palliative designation. Tomorrow I will be swallowed up in denial…and will let joy breathe for me, filling up my lungs until I can cry no more and the melancholy rocks my broken heart to sleep.
It is like a play…and even though we know there will be a final act, we so desperately cling to the idea of it being never ending, no matter what.

Beverley is a passionate advocate, social intrapreneur, Community Engagement Strategist, LGBTQA speaker, author of Living Griefbeverleypomeroy.com

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Patton Oswalt:

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… If you spend 102 days completely focused on ONE thing you can achieve miracles. Make a film, write a novel, get MMA ripped, kick heroin, learn a language, travel around the world. Fall in love with someone. Get ’em to love you back.

But 102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel “wiser.” You will not have “closure.” You will not have “perspective” or “resilience” or “a new sense of self.” You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe. And you’ll also realize that 102 days is nothing but a warm-up for things to come.

And…

You will have been shown new levels of humanity and grace and intelligence by your family and friends. They will show up for you, physically and emotionally, in ways which make you take careful note, and say to yourself, “Make sure to try to do that for someone else someday.” Complete strangers will send you genuinely touching messages on Facebook and Twitter, or will somehow figure out your address to send you letters which you’ll keep and re-read ’cause you can’t believe how helpful they are… Read more

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C.S. Lewis:

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear…

For in grief nothing “stays put.” One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often — will it be for always? — how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”? The same leg is cut off time after time. – A Grief Observed

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Shakespeare:

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,

Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,

Raze out the written troubles of the brain

And with some sweet oblivious antidote

Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff

Which weighs upon the heart? – Macbeth Act 5, Scene 3, Page 3

My study of Munch’s “Puberty” (china marker, oil pastel on wood)

William Cowper:

Encompass’d with a thousand dangers,

Weary, faint, trembling with a thousand terrors… I… in fleshy tomb, am

Buried above ground.

Fleshy Tomb

Cat Webb:

There will be a moment where a memory will hit, or a milestone day, or just a moment of being overwhelmed with something seemingly unrelated… and grief pops up again. AND THAT IS OK!!! More than ok… this is normal… your sadness about your loved ones death is normal… Your grief is normal and essential for your healing. There is no wrong way to do grief other than to pretend it isn’t there… Denying grief is the same as trying to convince your subconscious that there was no love here, no good times to remember, and this person meant nothing to me.  READ MORE

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“Psychopomp” for Cat Webb

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Kay Jamison:

There is a sanity to grief… given to all, [grief] is a generative and human thing…it acts to preserve the self.

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Roar Thorsen:

Adjust yourself.

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There are no easy answers.  There is just process.  And breathing.  In and out.

Study of Picasso’s Guernica

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Visual facilitation is #visualstorytelling w. felts and paper

Many of you know, I love mind mapping.

If you say, can I talk to you?

…you know that I will first pull out felt pens and paper before saying- talk to me.

I usually work either one-on-one or with small groups, in order to facilitate deeper dialogue and connection, as well as help with personal and project planning.

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It is the best way to engage right and left brain to create the big picture.

Mind maps integrate both right-brain and left-brain thinking by capturing your stream of consciousness in a structured way. – Jennifer Lee

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I find myself lately visually facilitating much larger group discussions and workshops!  And I have to say, it feels like home!

For example:

• Community Engagement in Retirement Living

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Large mind map created live during workshop facilitated by Beverley Pomeroy

The graphic recording/visually storytelling/mind map process engages participants in a friendly and whole-brain way and, most importantly, allows all voices in the room to be heard and visually recorded.

Whole-Brain thinking provides you with a strategic road map for creativity, problem-solving, innovation and transformation. These processes can be used to develop creativity and innovation capabilities within the individual and organization. – Linda Naiman

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There is something absolutely profound and magical that happens when participants feel heard, visually!  The process creates an overview of the big ideas; themes and key phrases naturally form in real time.  Mind mapping facilitates dialogue and reflection.   The resulting map also serves as a guide for subsequent reporting and recommendations.

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The process itself feels like a dance between the key facilitator, the graphic recorder/visual storyteller and the participants.

SPECIAL NOTE:

It is such an honor (and a blast) working with author and community engagement strategist, Beverley Pomeroy.

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And during our first workshop, we were joined by artist, Emily Cowan, who enriched the experience for participants by drawing a portrait of the group during the event:

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Bev and Kat by Emily Cowan
Kat and Bev by Emily Cowan

What a delight for everyone involved to be captured by Emily!!!

• Think!Well

A little less than 2 weeks ago, I was asked to visually record youth voices during:  Think!Well– an evening to explore youth mental wellness, get connected with youth and community resources, and talk about the importance of taking care of our minds.

What a treat to spend 5 hours visually storytelling and developing a large mind map for the youth as a take away!  This map serves as a real-time art piece, celebrating the profound dialogue during the evening and all the hard work and leadership exhibited by the youth facilitators and support staff.  The art will hopefully now act as a springboard to further youth-run workshops around mental wellness.

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Large mind map created live during Think!Well youth conference on mental wellness at Burnaby Neighborhood House

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This visual storytelling is not new.  Nor unique.  It’s been going on for a long time by many practitioners.  But there is so much of it happening in the world of graphic recording, visual facilitation and visual storytelling right now.  I am LOVING being part of the current movement!!!

And I am also excited about the opportunities that are unfolding!  Cheers to the power of felts and paper!!!  Cheers to what lies ahead.

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