Thankful for my Grief
Sometimes it gets very heavy. It is heavy to carry, heavy on my mind, and a burden on my heart. Sometimes it feels like it is sitting on the middle of my chest, making each breath more difficult than the last. Sometimes heaviness finds my heart and brings me such pain and deep sadness one cannot explain it with words. Other times it is heavy on my mind causing me confusion and uncertainty about everything around me.
Then in the blink of an eye the heaviness can disappear and emotions of joy, love, and gratitude fill the cracks of my shattered heart. Then as quickly as it turned from darkness to light the journey continues and my peace can be broken and stolen. Once again looking like anger, loneliness, darkness, and unrest. Then back again like the dawning of a new day is my peace, at one with my journey, my crosses, and my trials. My view turns from, “how can I handle this” to “bring it on”.
Through the peaks, valleys, dead ends, and open roads of grief one thing that is certain is it is all because of love. That is why our crosses are heavy and why our emotions are so strong. We grieve deeply because we loved deeply. Because of that I am blessed and thankful. To have no grief would mean to have no love, no moments to miss. Today I am thankful for my grief because I am so thankful I was able to love someone so special.
Memorial Day 2020
Mother's Day 2019
Oh Mother’s Day. You were intended to be a joyous holiday, one to honor moms and everything that encompasses motherhood. But hidden in your good intention are trigger points, many…many…trigger points.
To the mom who celebrates with a piece of her heart in heaven
To the woman who yearns and prays numerous times a day to become a mommy
To the little girls and grown women who miss their mamas and would do anything to be able to celebrate with them…..together one more time
To the single moms who battle every day for your kids and for you
To the new moms, working moms, stay at home moms, moms to toddlers, teenagers, and grown children, to mom swho battle mom guilt, who compete with Pinterest mom, who are Pinterest moms, who scream at their kids, and then cry when they are sleeping so sweetly
I mean come on…who knew one little three letter word that is the same front or back could engulf so many emotions. Maybe it is because motherhood is a dream but also oh so very trying at times.
If there was a job description for motherhood it may read:
Happy Mother’s Day from our family to yours
I never imagined that asking for pictures of moms who have been impacted by Love Adelyn would be so emotional for me. This little project was only intended to build awareness and show the faces behind our impact. We wanted to highlight moms because we are promoting a fundraiser to help provide mom’s with care packages around Mother’s Day. (Visit www.loveadelyn.com to learn more.)
As the pictures were messaged to me or simply shared on Facebook, each and every one of them left me overwhelmed with emotions. I found myself just sitting and looking at pictures of these beautiful and strong women in awe.
With the exception of one woman, these women are really strangers to me. Some of them we have met a time or two, others only through social media and emails. Yet, my heart feels so connected. We are connected because of the love for our children and the crosses we were asked to carry.
Really what had the most impact on me was looking at these mother’s eyes and smiles. Then reflecting on how as women we are so quick to judge and shame, many times to make us feel better about our insecurities. These women are great examples and true examples of every woman (and man) we encounter….we all have a story, we all have crosses, and we are battling every day.
What if we lived in a world where we built others up versus tearing them down?
What if we loved each other – meaning truly wanting what is best for each and every person we face, even those who have wronged us?
What if every day we went out of our way to put others needs in front of ours?
What if each and every day, despite what crosses we are carrying, we approached the day with zest for serving others and for life alone? (Yes, even on Mondays.)
It is so easy for us to get caught up in dishes, homework, soccer games, bad days at work, frustration with family members, AND OH YES showering, makeup, wondering if a shirt you bought in 2001 is still in style, and occasionally remembering to shave your legs. It is easy for us to get wrapped in our anger and frustration towards others because honestly on the surface that can seem easier than forgiving. It is easy for us to…….ok you get it and we just need to STOP IT!!
Our journey with Adelyn made our world stop. During that time as the rest of the world continued on our lives stopped. All those things that seemed so important before all of a sudden were not. God had slapped us right in the face with our cross, asked us to carry it with strength and great love, and we walked away broken but stronger.
Now as the day to day pressure of our culture and lives has creeped back into our everyday, I struggle with everything listed above. But the pictures of these women remind me to keep fighting every day to put others first, to continue serving, and to love everyone that my path crosses. Thank you Marla, Jen, Rachel, Karen, Kristin, and Ashlee for being amazing moms and for inspiring me!
Blessings in my Brokenness
Last night as my husband and I were going to bed, I asked him what he was thinking about. He said, “I am just looking at the picture of Adelyn and you.” As our conversation continued we talked about the what might have beens, the wish we would haves, and how it seems like yesterday but at the same time so long ago. We talked about our sorrows, feelings of guilt, and being at peace. We said our goodnights and went to our normal sides of our bed.
As I drifted off to sleep my thoughts this time did not go to my brokenness but to my blessings. While just here on earth I will never know God’s plan but I do know he has one. I strive every day to become more like Jesus so I can spend my eternal life with Adelyn and understand his plan. My faith in our heavenly Father gives me the strength to look to the sky and see the stars instead of the darkness.
My blessings are many and many have come from my brokenness.
My faith is stronger than ever before. It took tragedy in my life to understand the power of God’s love and only he can fill the emptiness in my heart. Many books, articles, and even our culture will try to tell us that other things can make us happy, but only God’s love can lead us to true happiness.
I feel blessed for the understanding and compassion Amelia has for life and for death. Many times the fact that she had to experience such sadness angers me….really infuriates me. Amelia is not shy to talk about it, which I believe is a good thing, but it can be hard to hear. For example, when Amelia shared with her class the hardest time in her life is when her sister died, because it was the first time she saw her mom cry. The fact my seven year-old has to tell her class that story upsets me. Yet, it is times like attending our grandfather’s funeral and seeing Amelia feel 100% comfortable approaching the casket, and even kneeling beside it to pray that I count as a blessing.
After Adelyn many have heard me say, “My give a sh*t meter is pretty low.” This doesn’t mean that I don’t care about life or that I don’t work hard. I find the blessing in our loss of Adelyn that a life lesson of not worrying about the small stuff was taught and learned. Witnessing firsthand how fragile life is and how quickly it can be gone, has put life into perspective for me. This I am incredibly thankful for as it has really changed my life.
I will end with the lyrics I have shared before by Matt Maher’s song As Good as It Gets.“You take my eyes off of the future. You lead my heart out of the past. You are the promise here in the moment where I find my rest. You are as good as it gets.”
Tomorrow will I be able to see the blessings in my brokenness, no promises. Even after four years on this path dark times do overshadow my hope from time to time. Today…today I see my blessings so clearly, today I am at peace. This song has taught me the power of being present and to embrace the moment, embrace that this moment is as good as it gets.
New Year...New Beginning
The New Year brings a new beginning. It is a chance for some to start fresh and to take a step forward leaving behind the not so great memories of the years past. It is a chance for others to take a stab at a new resolution that usually involves being more of someone we want to be.
The New Year is very interesting. Nothing really changes from December 31 to January 1 but for someone reason it seems like a fresh start, a new beginning.
Our life is filled with lasts and new beginnings. When I think of my children it brings tears to my eyes thinking of these: the last time nursing, holding them during church, sitting on my lap reading stories, and dancing like crazy people in our living room. (Always the one downstairs so our neighbors don’t see.) Milestones like these we don’t often think about but these small moments will all have an end. One day as we walk out of church they will never again sit on my lap because they have grown too big, too old. (Their mom will be begging them for one more time!)
But with every end becomes a new beginning. The last time having my daughter sit on my lap means she is now big enough to ride her bike without training wheels. The last time rocking her to bed at night means she is big enough to start walking and exploring the world. Even though I would do anything to keep these moments from ever ending, it is so amazing to see them learn and grow.
The last time we held Adelyn as she earned her wings it was a new beginning for all of us. She got to leave behind her broken heart and body and sit with God brand new and healed. We were forced to start fresh and start a new life, as our life changed forever. We gained perspective, we deepened our faith in God, and we got to work!
The power of God is amazing and he allows us to start each day new. So in 2017 don’t try to be perfect but simply everyday try to better then the person you were yesterday. When you fall…get up. When you hurt someone, apologize. When you hug, hug longer. Be kind, be you, and everyday thank God for the new day.
Writing our ending
We don't do what we do to inspire. We do what we do to survive and to thrive. Grief takes you on a journey. The journey is like a book with only the first chapter completed. Many people have a similar first chapter but everyone writes their own ending. Our book is not completed yet, only God knows the ending.
Two years on our journey now I am stronger than I have ever been before but in the next breath I am crumbling. My heart is overflowing with the love and joy for my husband, girls, family, and friends but in the next beat my heart is broken into tiny pieces.
You may not see it every day but many days I fight a battle. We fight a battle. The loss of a child is so deep...one day she was just taken from us. The depth of the pain a grieving parent feels is unexplainable and I hope you never have to experience it.
I don't share these emotions so you feel sorry for me. I share my journey because I know there are so many others on the same journey. When you have not lived the pain you cannot understand. Many days you feel crazy, you feel alone, and you are tired. Many days people with good intentions deepens these wounds by saying too much or not saying anything at all.
Grieving and helping someone who is grieving is just as personal as your thumbprint. Everyone is different and everyone needs something different.
Those of you going through this difficult time of year even though you feel alone you are not. So many people love and care for you, they just don’t know how to help, what to say, or what to do.
To those of you who don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to help start by saying that. Start by saying our angel’s sweet name and ask how you can help. You don’t have to have the perfect words, we don’t expect that. We don’t expect anything but we need to know you remember, you care, and you are there.
I never would have guessed this is the book I would be writing but I am. This is my life and my journey. I will be the author and together with God I will continue to write my story.
(Below is a great example of a way to help! Two years ago when we lost Adelyn my sister left these little notes around the house for me. These are two that I still carry in my wallet everyday!)
These words are often spoken to us when going through some hard times. We see quotes, sayings, and poems about “being strong”. But what does “be strong” really mean?
As a grieving mother these words mean something very different to me now. It does take a strong person to put one foot in front of the other when their world has been shattered. It does take a strong person to find a way to put those pieces back together. It does take s strong person to breathe each day as their life has been forever changed.
In our society I feel that the words “be strong” have such a negative meaning to them. Seriously, take a second and when you hear the words “be strong” what do you think? I think of be tough – don’t cry. This can be the case depending on your situation. However, to me those two words now mean….
Be strong enough to let others see you cry.
Be strong enough to let the world see your heart is broken.
Be strong enough to ask for help.
Be strong enough to have bad moments and bad days.
Be strong enough to admit it is hard.
Be strong enough to be weak.
To face grief head on you have to be strong enough to be vulnerable. You have to let it be part of your life, including the ups and downs. If you are not strong enough to be weak you are just hiding from your grief. It will forever be a shadow following you around and one day it will win.
So next time stop and think about what these words mean before you say it to someone. Maybe being strong isn’t the best thing for them at that time, at that moment. Maybe they need to be weak and vulnerable and they need you to be their strength.
My Daughter, My Strength
There are so many days and times I sit back in awe and wonder and watch our daughter Amelia. She is now four and I am just so amazed by her. The love and admiration I have for her words cannot describe.
Every mother loves her child. The love between a parent and child is not understood until you experience it. This love and bond changed when we lost Adelyn and as we continued on this path together as a family.
There have been some very difficult moments and difficult conversations. As parents we decided early on to be honest and straight forward with Amelia about Adelyn. I don't know if this is right or wrong - only time will tell. Because of this we have had to talk about death more than your normal household does. As I am sure you can imagine this brings up some interesting conversations sometimes. Even though I don't believe she fully understands some of her comments have been difficult. One comment a few months back she said to me when we were going to bed, "Mom some day I don't want my baby to die." or another time she made a comment to me "Well, mom you know you won't be here forever, you will die."
Those are just words that shouldn't have to come out of our four year olds mouth. There are times that it angers me that, this has happened to us and that we have to talk about it. We just take it as teaching moment and to talk about Heaven and God.
Then there have also been just amazing and powerful moments. To have Amelia pray at night for the sick babies and their families. To have her be part of helping me make blankets and how excited she gets that they are going to the babies in the hospital. These moments I hope will shape her into being generous, compassionate, and caring.
My love for her has changed so much because she has been my strengths and my rock. Who knew a three/four year old could help her mommy through the most difficult time in her life. I am not saying I love her more than any other mom, but it is a different love and a deeper love. I don't feel I will every be able to express to anyone or her how thankful I am she is in our lives. I don't know if I could be where I am at without her. She is four...she is sassy..but she is my blessing from God!
Thank you baby girl. You are an amazing little girl and you will be an amazing big sister to our next addition!
To be Young Again
Some days I feel like I would do anything to be young again. Not to be able to relive certain moments or to have a “do over”. I would love to be young again to be naïve, innocent, and simple. When you biggest worry was how to break up with your boyfriend or where the party was that night. (Sorry..those were my worries – maybe I partied too much but that is a different blog!)
The past several months there has been so much tragedy, loss, and sickness to so many people we know. I sit back and wonder if this is just part of growing up and unfortunately I think it is.
When I hear of these tragedies I just wonder why. Why them? Why now? Why? Why? Why?
I don’t believe God made my baby girl have a heart defect.
I don’t believe God choose to give cancer to our loved ones.
What I do believe is God is there to help us understand the why. Does he necessarily send us a message and one day it is clear, no. He helps us heal so we stop wondering why and we become at peace.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn life lessons without having to go through so much pain? In all reality I don’t think it is possible. I feel we have to be broken to be fixed.
Tragedy and difficult times will strike everyone at some point in their life, and unfortunately some more than others. We can never be prepared and we should not live life scared of when or where.
What we should do is make sure we are not too busy making a life that we forget to live it.
We need to make time to build or relationship with God just like we do our family and friends.
We need to stop worrying about the small things.
We need to wake up every morning (even Monday’s) and thank God for giving us another day.
We need to enjoy everything about those we love.
I am still trying to live life that way. It is hard. It takes effort each and every day and honestly some days I don’t have the energy too. I am trying.
Would I really do anything to go back being young again? Sometimes it sounds amazing. Other days I look back at what a different person I am now than before Adelyn and I thank God for the growth and changes he has made in me. When I think of where I was then and where I am now…I change my mind and wouldn’t go back. Those times may have been easier but these times are much more fulfilling.
Where my heart has been broken God has helped fill the cracks. I have found God. I have a purpose.
One Year Later
One year later…
I have been thinking about this milestone for a while in anticipation of how I would feel. A large part of me was very nervous. I feel that we are in a good place, very much at peace in our lives. I was nervous that this milestone may set us back.
Where we have come from is somewhere I never want to be at again. It is so hard….literally no words can describe it. It is hurt, sadness, and pain that makes you physically ill. I remember for the first 3-4 months I walked around every moment of every day with a pit in my stomach. I woke up every morning heartbroken that it wasn’t just a horrible dream. I cried several nights on my way home from work because I toughed it out all day and could not fake it any more.
That part of our journey as hard and as difficult as it was has helped us learn so many life lessons and a few of those are below.
We have learned time does heal. (But please don’t ever say that to someone that is grieving…not what they want to hear!) We will never get “over” missing our baby girl. We will always have a piece of our family missing and she took a piece of our hearts with her to heaven.
We have learned how to live our new life. How you pick up the pieces and how you live after going through a difficult situation is a choice. Everyone does it differently and there is no right or wrong way. We still are not perfect but we are starting to figure it out again. We are trying to get used to our new “normal.”
We have learned how much people care. The success of Love Adelyn in our first year is mind blowing. When we started brainstorming ideas, we never would have dreamt it would take off so fast. In a society filled with so much negative news we sometimes forget how amazing the majority of people really are. So many of us want to be a part of something larger than ourselves, we want to make an impact, and we want to help others.
We have learned that is ok to grieve the way we want to. Such a large part of grief is guilt. We are now very much at peace that it is ok to smile, it is ok to laugh, and if we don’t cry that is ok. Your mind can do many tricks on you and the guilt can be so powerful. We have given ourselves permission to be happy. This doesn’t mean we lover her any less.
We have learned that God is great. Like we have said many times our faith is stronger than ever before. We have learned to slow down and to be aware and you never know when God will speak to you. It is such a comforting feeling to have faith.
We have learned that we will always morn, we will always wish it could have been different, we will always wonder “what would she be like”, we will always be her mommy and daddy and she will forever be our baby girl.