Sudden death of a child Savana's story
9:25 am, March 30th, 2009, my life as I know it turned upside down! With the sudden death of my child my perfectly healthy three year old daughter Savanna who passed away in her sleep. I'm making this article to maybe help others that may find then in the same situation as I did on that dreadful day in 2009. I don't claim to be an expert in this field but I can explain from personal experience the emotions and pain I had to pass through in my healing process.
I had been a Police officer for 18 years at the time of her death, I had to respond to a lot of deaths due to this career choice. You can stay disconnected most of the time because its not close to your own, and you have the mentality that IT WONT HAPPEN TO ME. Well one day it did! It was hardest and painful experience of my life. But as you will see the pain and hurt dims with time and support. Always remember though they will remain in your heart everyday as Savanna has in mine. In this lens I'm going to explain what happened to our daughter Savanna. What we went through and maybe what I did to heal will how other people deal with the loss of a child or a loved one.
Savanna Arnatuk, Daughter, Granddaughter, Sister, Friend and Angel
A little bit about Savanna
Savanna was born in Montreal Quebec Canada, on the 16th of December 2005. She had light brown hair and a light complexion. She was healthy and exceeded all the norms for a healthy baby as we were told by the doctors. The nurses just love the fact that her hair was always standing up and no matter what we did it would never stay down.
I was working in the Canadian Arctic at the time my spouse and I returned with Savanna three days after she was born. She wasn't a hard baby, yes she did wakeup at night wanting to be fed but other than that she was a good child. She grew and pretty soon she was walking and getting into everything like all children! As she got older she started to know what she liked. Dora and the wonder pets was her favourite shows. She loved to eat country food as she was half Inuit country food means raw caribou, and fish. Her favourite drink was juice didn't matter what kind of juice as long as it was juice. Even if we tried to trick her and put water or milk in her bottle she would look at it can say "no juice, JUICE!!" She used to love to go for skidoo and ATV rides, she loved to play outside. When she started daycare she made friends very quickly and all the educators there just loved her.
In 2008 we had another daughter and Savanna took on the role of the proud older sister. She just loved her little sister Katsi. she helped out getting diapers or other things, she would come running to us and say "Yuck Katsi Yuck" meaning that Katsi had a dirty diaper. She had all her follow-ups with her doctor and we were told that she was a very healthy child. She was also very loving she wanted to always be close to one of us be it myself, mother or sister. She passed her last birthday in December 2008, I might say she was spoiled with gifts. We passed Christmas with her and had a beautiful holiday season. As the months passed it came time for her three year check-up with the doctor. I took her to her appointment while we were waiting in the examination room she was sitting on my lap. She turned to me and said "Daddy I'm scared" I told her everything would be ok and she felt better. After the exam the Doctor told me that she was a very healthy three year old, I left there happy know this. Alas it was three weeks before she passed away. Her mother had left to visit her parents in her home village for a couple of weeks so I was taking care of the girls. Savanna would always come into my room in the middle of the night to sleep with me, I loved it! Savanna and I were a team for those weeks she was always close to me, but she did miss her "mommy" Mommy returned home five days before Savanna passed away, Now I look back and say I don't know how I would have gotten through the first day if my spouse was not there.
The day before Savanna passed away was a normal Sunday. She played we all went for a drive, she loved slush so when we went by the store where it was sold she was asking for one but the store had closed already and she was not happy. This passed quickly as we went home to make and eat supper. She was so full of energy that night. She was everywhere all over the house. After supper it was the normal routine she didn't really want to go to bed but we said to her that she would have her bath and get ready for bed as she had what she called school (daycare) the following day. This made her happy. I remember going to her room to say goodnight and she told me I love you daddy. This was the last day our Savanna was with us.
March 30th, 2009
and the proceeding days after
At 925 am, I woke up, I found it strange that Savanna had not come to see me as she did very morning to say Good morning Daddy. I went to see Katsi as she had woke up and was crying to be changed and fed. I asked my spouse if she wanted Savanna to go to daycare as it was already 925am and we had to have her there by 930am. She told me to take care of Katsi and she would go and get Savanna ready. A few moments later I heard her scream at me COME QUICK THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH SAVANNA!!!!!! I ran to Savannas room and saw her laying on her stomach with her arms under her head. Savanna sometimes played that she was sleeping and when I would say Good morning Savanna she would turn and laugh and say Good morning Daddy. I said good morning Savanna and she didn't reply I said it again with the same results. I went over to where she was and touched her leg to tickle her BUT! as soon as I touched her I knew from experience that she had passed away! I rolled her over to see if I could do CPR on her but there was nothing I could do. I placed her back in the position she was in, left the room and called the ambulance then the police station where I was working at the time. The ambulance arrived first even though I knew there was nothing that could done for her, but they tried to bring her back. A few moments later the police arrive one of my friends came to see me and said it would be better if we left the house and let them do their job. We took Katsi and went outside in our pjs and waited. Next we saw Savanna being brought out of the house placed into the ambulance and taken away. We followed her to the hospital, where we were not allowed to see her, due to her age it was not normal for her to just pass away.
A police investigation started, we were not allowed to go to our house to get cloths or any other personal items as it was considered as a crime scene. That day Savanna was sent to Montreal for an optopsie. We were met by the investigators and interviewed. That night thanks to a caring social worker we had a place to stay. The results of the optopsie was that there was no cause of death, but they did say it could be Long Qt or sleep apthia. Two days after we were allowed back into our house. Needless to say it was hard to go back there. My spouses family arrived so we had the support to be strong and go into the house. The next few days are a blur but I can say that we had the funeral organized and we buried our sweet little angel. I was in denial that she was really gone, angered at the world because we had done everything to protect and care for our child.
The long road to healing
How I delt with the loss
Everyone is different in the way they deal with loss. What I recommend is to take any and all help that is offered to get you through the ruff road that lays ahead. What I did was to make it a requirement to get closer to my children, not push then away. I took the offered support from social services, friends and family. I'm not a very religious person but I did find some peace in talking to God as a medium to talk to Savanna. I tried not to dwell on the fact that she had passed away but the good times we had shared together. I do not recommend self medicating, alcohol is a depressant and will make you hurt more. Drugs well we know that if you become dependent on them that it will result in more issues in the future. These two things may take your pain away for awhile but the fact will still be that you lost a loved one, so why loose more by using those things to numb the pain. Don't put yourself in a position that the trauma that you have lived, reoccur again this will cause bumps in the road to recovery.
For me I was a Police officer, I decided to stop policing as it would put me in the position of see more people die and this would not be good for myself nor my family. It took me about 9 months before I could bring myself to go into Savannas room for more than a few seconds. In the end I was able to clean her room get rid of some stuff and store the rest, this was also part of my healing. I did get a tattoo on my arm of Savanna so she is always with me this was my way of closure. Don't just sit around and be sad, get out do things with your family. Do new things go new places you never been before all these things have helped me. As I said at the beginning everyone is different in the way they heal these are just afew ways that may help you. I would like to say thank you to the following people for their support: Linda D, Lindia C, Tommy and Annie A. Mom and Richard, Theresa M. Penny and Brian J., Lissa O, Dad and the rest of my family.
A poem for Mommy on mothers day from Savana
It's the busiest day in Heaven
I'm planning a big surprise
To let you know I love you
And that no one ever dies.
Even though you're down below
And I am up above,
I'm sending you these wishes
And all my angel love.
It's really quite exciting
To plan this big event,
For lots of gifts will come your way
And all are heaven sent.
First, I'll take a bubble bath-
My splashes might cause some rain,
But knowing all the fun I'm having,
Will help to ease your pain.
Next, I'll get some pictures
In my halo and my gown,
So when you get to Heaven,
You can show them all around.
I have color crayons in Heaven,
And I will draw some star so bright
And place them in the sky today
For you to see tonight.
Then, Jesus will have story time,
And I will sit upon his lap.
He'll tell me all about you
Just before I nap.
I'll wake up full of energy
And play a game or two,
Before I finish sending
All my love to you.
After snack I'll write a song
For all the birds to sing,
And know I've made you happy
With all the joy it brings.
At nighttime I'll be tired,
But I'll still hold you tight.
My arms will wrap around you
And keep you through the night.
And when you finally slumber,
I will kneel to pray,
Asking God to bless you
On this special Mother's Day.
Love, Your Little Angel Savanna
This is Savanna's last video - Recorded four days before she passed away
I miss you my little Angel.
A little update
More about life after Savana
Its been little over two years now that Savanna has left us. We still think and remember her a lot. The pain of her passing has lessen but I can remember that day like it was yesterday! Savanna's sister Katsi is at the age Savanna was and she is like her twin. She has a lot of the same character as Savanna did, she looks almost identical as well.
She loves Dora the explorer, Max and Ruby, and plays with Savanna old toys now that she is at that age as well. If you look at the picture in this part of the lens of Katsi you will see how she looks like Savanna. We continue to grow and heal each day is different and we always miss our little angle Savanna. Just a reminder if you "like" this lens please "like it" and comment if you feel like it!