Here we are again. Beginning the holiday season 2017-2018. It’s a time of joy and happiness. We had our thanksgiving this year. Just the three of us. We made our homemade pumpkin pie, turkey and all the sides. We watched Macy’s parade and sang along with the songs we knew. Grace lit up when Santa ended the parade. Then we sat at our beautifully dressed table. White table cloth, cloth napkins, roses in a vase, and all our creations. As I sat down, I couldn’t help but see the empty chair beside me. The grief floods over on days like this. He would’ve been right here next to me. Holding my hand and saying our thankful for this year. Grace held my hand and she wanted to say grace this year. Then, she began to recite the pledge of allegiance. I couldn’t help but smile. He would’ve done the same thing. She went on to say she was grateful for her family, the universe and heaven because her brother is there. This made my heart both proud and sad. This little girl, just seven, has the knowledge of personal loss that no child should have. She holds it with grace and reminds me to be thankful for the little things like love of family and the pledge of allegiance. I miss him daily but during the holidays the loss is palpable. It’s right in your face saying “I’m missing”. The joy and sadness are overwhelming at times seeing that empty chair. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am grateful that I am here today. I am grateful that I am his mom even if he is not with me. I am grateful that I have my Grace to hold my hand.
May every sunrise hold promise. May every sunset hold peace. -unknown
The sun has set on this years project. It has brought me peace and comfort. I am looking forward to another year full of blessings of the small things that I enjoy. Thank you all for listening to me all these days of pain and love. The fact that I have so many people cheering me on makes me keep getting out of bed in the morning. It’s amazing when you feel supported what you can accomplish. All my love until next year!
It’s been a long month of reflection for me. I both look forward to and dread this month of reflection daily. I open up my grieving heart to anyone that will listen (well, read) my long posts. It is part of my gift to myself each year. October is the month of pregnancy and child loss. I coincides with Zachary’s birthday and my birthday each year. Those days are hard enough as they are but to chose to write my feelings is difficult but rewarding It’s not easy to let others into your pain. The worry on how it will be received is tempered by my need to emote. The new me here in the after cares more about my feelings then how it is received. I have received both positive and negative feedback but it hasn’t stopped me. The positive support drives me to write more and worry less.
In 2014, I set out to write something each day of this capture your grief project and I accomplished it. After that accomplishment, I set out to do it each year I could and this is my 3rd year running.
I have learned about my grief through this daily mindful practice; The good, the bad and the horribly ugly. I quietly read and examine my grief in my self privately the rest of the year. It’s safe. This project is difficult because it is my writing in all its vulnerabilty and imperfection on display. I have learned through my Brene Brown obsession that vulnerability is necessary and beautiful. As Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
I am strong. I can continue this journey for another year.
Life is upside down after loss. Nothing feels the same. The things that brought me joy now bring sadness. Finding my footing in this upside down world has not been easy but I am learning. I find the joy through sadness for the times we had together. I am learning that what I worried about before is trivial. I gained the strength to walk again, upside down, with true friends who walk with you through the pitfalls and triggers. Day by day, I continue to find my way in this topsy turvy world in the after. New joy in self care and appreciation for the opportunity to spend time with the ones I love. Man, I miss this little man so much it hurts.
In my life after Zachary’s death, the colors disappeared. Everything was shades of black and gray. One day flowing into the next with no joy. It was survival, not life.
Now, years later the colors have started to return. They are muted but starting to return. The question of today is to talk about what you are passionate about. I can say I am passionate about supporting my friends, family and patients. This has always been my passion to be present with these people. Be a light in the darkness. One of the reasons I went into speech language pathology was to help people one at a time.
Experiencing my own broken journey of loss physically and emotionally has created a new depth to my heart. I have had the experience of truly being dependent on others – for pain medication, tolieting, showering, drinking, and moving. It was a humbling experience. It was difficult to keep my dignity when I was in a dependent place. I relied on others to give of themselves to help me. I had to trust. I had to stop pushing and let go in order to progress.
The same can be said about my emotional journey. Stop pushing and let go. Stop running from the wave of emotion and let it happen. Let the tears flow as the emotions overtook me. Like my mom always said, “tears are like a shower for your soul”. The wisdom of my mom helped me understand that tears were not weakness they were necessary to heal and grow.
This universe is miraculous and full of wonder. Taking a few moments to appreciate the beauty of the universe and all things in it. Time lapse photography of the night sky or the Great Barrier Reef (attached link Milky Way time lapse and Great Barrier Reef) and you will see the miracles that surround us.
I look to the sky for answers to why, where is he now, and how did this happen. The answers have not come. The miracles that surround us give me comfort that there is a God and heaven. How could something so beautiful be anything more than made by God? It comforts me as I watch these videos of creation evidence that surrounds. There is peace. There is love. There is a “happily ever after”.
Zachary was a miracle. He was my heart living outside my body. He brought me more joy and love then I ever thought was possible. How could this universe and beautiful boy not be a miracle?
Charles R. Swindoll says “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
Like many people, I have had more than my fair share of horrible things happen to me. The worst thing was the car accident that took Zachary’s life. Since that day, people have told me “you are so strong” and “I don’t think I could deal with this like you”. I didn’t plan on being “strong” or “deal with it” at all. It was what happened to me. My choice is the reaction. That is what I had control over.
So I reacted. I lost it. I thought I was crazy at times. The grief was overwhelming. It drown me. The strength that others see and comment on has been built over time. It’s the endurance built during this grief journey.
The uncontrollable tears.
The take your breath away depth of your soul ache.
It happens over and over.
Somehow, I still get up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other. The waves of grief and inconsolable moments are fewer and further between giving me time to breath and love again. I have grown strong enough begin to carry this grief instead of falling with the weight of it. Don’t get me wrong. The heart wrenching, tear soaked moments still happen and will keep happening. It’s part of this love/grief journey. It will not break my spirit.
Tonight at my support group, we talked, cried and even laughed (ok mostly because I make crazy comments but come on it’s me). It’s healing. It’s moments like this that help to soothe my aching soul. I am not alone.
My heart has a huge hole right through the middle that hasn’t broken completely. It’s supported by all the love and support of those around me that help give me a moment of space on this journey. A moment of respite as we continue on our individual paths. A moment to realize the resilience of the human heart and spirit. Like a bench on a long hike, we find that moment of rest to continue moving forward again with new strength.
Capturing a moment is like holding sand in your hand. The tighter you try to hold onto it, the more slips away. You need to be careful with a moment and put it in a solid place – photo or journal- to keep it as safe as possible.
I have found that I treasure the small things more now then ever. I know that it is fleeting and no one is promised tomorrow. I take photos and write to capture moments in my life. They could be silly videos or long articles. I mostly enjoy documenting each little thing that makes up the bigger life picture and helps me keep moving forward another day. There are moments when I find a forgotten picture of Zachary and it brings me to tears with gratefulness and longing. Like the picture below, nothing exciting just a regular daily moment. Captured now forever and it means the world to me!
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted” – Aesop
Simple acts of kindness can make someone’s day. I know they make mine better. I have had the opportunity to be the recipient of some this past week with people wishing me happy birthday, coffees, homemade goodies, smiles and hugs. It truly made me happy.
I love doing simple acts of kindness. I smile and say hello to people at work. I pay it forward when someone pays for my coffee. I pay the toll of the person behind me. I give kindness to my patients and their families by listening when they need someone to hear their story. I have been asked, “how can you smile and be so kind/nice constantly?”. My answer is because it’s kind. Kindness costs me little to nothing but can mean a great difference to someone else’to see that humanity is not cold and uncaring.
I feel I get more out of being kind then the receiver does. It lets me show appreciation and love to this world that I still live in. It allows me the gift of giving love. I know that I gave and received love and kindness from Zachary every moment I could. I hope that everyone can experience kindness and love as I did with every hug, smile and kiss he gave me.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” I hope that it is never too late but for today I will show love because you never know who needs it and how long you have to give it.
As parents, we often forget self care. We are task masters for our children, family, and work. Nourishing yourself is an after thought, if at all. As a bereaved mother, I forget to take care and nourish myself. I have children, family and work and now have added grief and sadness to this repertoire of daily tasks. These daily tasks are completed while holding the 50 pounds of grief on mine back. There is no time for self care when you are constantly doing for everyone and trying to keep your mask of grief from falling down.
I have recently found that self care nourishes me to keep holding it. Time for myself and my husband has slowly become a priority. Tonight, my husband treated me to a birthday dinner at the Bellwether. It’s a beautiful hotel overlooking bellingham bay. We spent some one on one time enjoying the moment and the view. I feel wonderful and enriched to face my daily tasks again after this date night.