One of my fears is that one day Amelia will take my grief as that she is not enough. That having her in our lives is not enough to make us completely happy. That having her is not enough to fill our hearts. I know she is too young to understand this now, but I have written her a letter for when that time comes.
To my sweet daughter Amelia:
Mommy cries because she misses baby sister.
Mommy is sometimes not patient because the grief exhausts me and breaks me from time to time. Mommy asks you to be extra careful because she now worries more than before.
Mommy needs some alone time every now and then to focus on learning how to live her new life.
My hope for you is that you always remember your baby sister. That even though you never will get to play dolls together, sneak out of the house, or get into fights, that you will know her. That you will know how strong and brave she was. That you will know her love. She will always be there for you when you open your heart and listen. When you get older and times get tough she will always be there to listen and guide you.
My hope is that you will grow up a more faithful, empathetic, strong, and loving person because of your grief for your sister. This has changed who you have become and it has strengthened you.
Amelia, mommy heart is broken and mommy is sad. Mommy will always have a big part of her heart missing because a mommy’s love for her children is something that can never be replaced or repaired.
As you grow up I know there will be some struggles. You will have more questions and difficult questions about Adelyn. Someday you will grieve and it will hurt. Someday you will be sad and you will be angry.
I want you to know that now and when that time comes that…
When mommy cries because she misses baby sister, you are the sunshine that brings back my smile.
When mommy is exhausted from the grief, you are the breath of fresh air that gives me new energy. When mommy asks you to be extra careful she is an awe of how wonderful of a little girl you are.
When mommy is having her alone time you are always on her mind.
I want you to know I will always miss and grieve the loss of your baby sister because mommy loves her just like she loves you. Someday when you are a mommy you will feel how powerful that love is. Even though mommy’s heart is forever broken the love I have for you fills it.
My sweet Amelia I always want you to know how much I love you and that you are more than enough.
My life is now divided – before and after.
Before Adelyn I was genuinely happy, maybe naively happy. I lived life carefree, my glass half full and loving life! I was thankful for by blessings. We enjoyed life and loved it!
After Adelyn I am not going to lie there has been some very dark times. I don’t think that should surprise anyone. Some days early on I wouldn’t want to go to bed at night because I knew I would have to get up and doing it all over again the next day. Days leaving work I would cry the entire way home as all day long I held it together.
After Adelyn I feel physical pain. It is so hard to describe it if you have not experienced it but I literally feel my sadness. I cannot tell you exactly if it is in my heart or my stomach. My heart is broken but the best way I can describe it is always having a pit in my stomach. You know that feeling you get when you are nervous. Sometimes it also does literally take my breath away.
After Adelyn I question if I will ever be as genuinely happy as I was before. I look at pictures of before and I look at my smile and eyes and question if I will ever get that completely back. Yes, I still smile and yes I am still happy but that carefree, 110% happy – I don’t know.
But, I am ok with that because….
After Adelyn my relationship with God is the strongest it has ever been. We talk multiple times a day and in my darkest days he is there for me. He shows me signs frequently that she is with him and they are with me. I cannot encourage you enough if you do not have a close relationship with your faith find a way to build it.
After Adelyn my life has purpose. Holding our baby girl as she earned her wings I quickly realized how fragile life is. We now how purpose to serve God and to serve others. We are now more generous with our time and our blessings. We get up in the morning to accomplish something specific and not just go to work and come home, to repeat it all again the next day.
My life will always be divided but do I ever want the before back? Never, even with all of the pain and suffering I love the life I have now and it is all because of our little angel. I am now a better mother, a better Christian, and a better person.
The whirlwind of grief is the perfect storm. One minute the sky is a beautiful blue, the flowers are slightly swaying in the wind, and the birds are singing in the background. The next minute the ugly storm clouds fill the sky and they cast a dark shadow over the entire land, and those birds that were beautifully singing have disappeared. So long story short grief is a lot like the Nebraska weather.
I am certainly no expect when it comes to grieving. I will not author anyone else’s journey down this hilly and windy road but I am the author of mine. Losing a child brings way more questions than answers. Immediately the logistics of planning a funeral you have never fathomed are your first questions. I remember after Adelyn died I asked the Chaplin, now what? Through that process there were many people along the way to help. Now, days and weeks after the funeral you face alone.
Do not interrupt that, that we did not have support. That is the farthest from the truth. However, the reality is you always feel alone. No one can say anything to take the pain away. No one can bring your baby back. No one can help. It is a journey you travel alone. Even being married we do several things together to remember Adelyn. We share stories, we cry, and we pray. But, we grieve alone.
Many people ask what they can do to help. This is such a loaded question because it depends on the moment, the minute, and the second. The emotional swings of grieving remind me of being a junior high girl…DRAMA!!! It is amazing how you can feel so many different emotions throughout the day and it is exhausting.
I have learned a lot about myself over the past five months and I want to share a few things that have helped me along the way. Please feel free to comment and add anything you would like!
Prayer: Like I have shared before my faith was not the central part of my life before Adelyn. The power of prayer and church has been amazing and life altering for me. God has provided and answered my prayers in so many ways. I look back to the day that Adelyn died. We prayed for God to grant us a miracle or if he wanted her in heaven to take her soon and less than 24 hours she earned her wings. We are not mad at God for not giving us the miracle we prayed for. The very special ones belong with him.
Sleep: This is sometimes easier said than done but sleep has been so important to me. I definitely find I am more emotional and irritable when I do not get enough sleep.
Routine: I am a very structured person so I am not surprised that this has helped me. I find I have my best days and weeks when I stick to a very strict routine. I believe due to the emotional swings, my body is acting a bit like a child’s and I need to know what is coming next.
Coffee: I LOVE coffee and I feel if it is the worst bad habit I have, I am doing ok. No, but seriously it has helped me so much. Days I wake up and just don’t have pep in my step I treat myself to something I love and that is coffee! I tell myself, you deserve this!!
Journaling: I have never been much of a writer before but since Adelyn died journaling has helped me so much. There are so many times I just want to talk and to share and I have found great relief in just me, my computer, and my thoughts.
Finally, one piece of advice I received was to just slow down and take one day at a time. This is difficult for me but that is what I am focusing on. When my emotions get a little crazy I just find something that will bring me back to the present. This is something that I am trying to be more aware of not just in my grief process but just everyday life. We are so busy running the race called life that often times we don’t take the time to stop and enjoy the moment. I encourage you to do so because these are the moments that five, ten, or twenty years down the road we would do anything to have back.
Children can teach us a lot of we are humble enough to learn from them. Through our experience Amelia has taught me so much.
“It will be ok.” Amelia got to meet her sister on the day she died. All we had communicated to her was that baby sister was very sick. Amelia sat on my lap and we held Adelyn as she was earning her wings. The way that Amelia looked at Adelyn was with so much love and she just keep touching Adelyn and telling her, “You will be ok.” (The love for her sister was captured so perfecting with the attached pictures. They were taken after Adelyn had passed away by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.)
Amelia showed me true love. It was so raw, so natural, and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. In that moment Adelyn did not look good. She was very swollen and Amelia looked right past that. Not once being scared, saying anything about the way she looked, and didn’t even ask any questions. She just kept touching her, kissing her, and telling her “you will be ok.”
I remember telling Amelia, “you are right, she will be ok.” Even though I was not prepared to say goodbye, I knew she would be ok. She would be better than ok. Adelyn had to fight since the day she was born and she was finally going to be free. Free of wires and cords, free of pokes and needles, and free of pain. She was going to be in heaven and that is better than ok!
“Why are you sad mommy?” Shortly after Adelyn had passed way we took Amelia back to the cemetery. It was a difficult day for Brian and I and we both were crying. Amelia asked us why we were sad and we told her we missed baby sister. She replied, “Yeah, we all do but we don’t need to be sad.”
Amelia you are so right but it is so hard. It is so hard for me not to be sad. It is so hard for me not to feel like I have a part of my heart missing. It is so hard for me not to think, I would do anything to have her here with us. All of those thoughts are so selfish and Amelia is right, we shouldn’t be sad.
We should be celebrating and rejoicing that Adelyn is in heaven. I will always be sad. I will always have a hole in my heart, a part of me missing. I will always wish she was here. BUT, I am trying to celebrate and rejoice. With Love Adelyn we are doing this and we are going to bring moments of joy to many people!
I often think about how different of a person Amelia is going to be because she has an angel. She already asks to go to the cemetery to talk to baby sister. Even though her sister is not here they are going to have such a special bond – one on heaven and one on earth!
Let’s get this out of the way now – these blogs won’t be perfect. There will be typos, bad grammar, speling errors (that one is a joke), and oh yes– bad humorJ. What they will be is real. I am not a blogger. I am a mother of two children, one on earth and one in heaven. I am sharing my thoughts, feelings, and experiences to help me heal all in hopes to help others do the same.
Through the loss of Adelyn I have learned that a lot of people have questions about our experience but they are too afraid to ask. They want to be supportive but they don’t know how. They care but they don’t know what to say. Before our “experience” I was HORRIBLE at empathy. I was an avoider because I didn’t know what to say or how to act around those going through a difficult time. If God wanted to teach me anything through this experience he has taught me empathy.
So for my first blog I want to write a little bit about how to help support someone who is grieving.