7th Birthday in Heaven

Child loss is devastating. It is undoubtably the most pain I have ever, and will ever, experience in my life. It’s something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It breaks you. Changes you. Over time, it molds you as you grieve to become someone your old self doesn’t recognize. It’s a continuous cycle of gathering up the pieces of your shattered soul only to have a storm come through and tear the pieces from your arms. Over. And over. And over again.

This is the reality of child loss, although there is hope in the darkness. The space between the storms begins to grow and, for the most part, they weaken in strength. The mess the storm leaves becomes easier to clean up. Your soul remains shattered, but all a grieving parent can do is make an effort to focus on the beauty that is born from the brokenness.

The beauty in grief are the love and the lessons. Looking for positive elements is one of the most helpful factors to healing. My grief has taught me many lessons and I hold on to the these valuable gifts.

This month we celebrated what would have been Bella’s 7th Birthday. Just because she is no longer in a physical body does not mean she is not here. Her presence was felt strongly as we celebrated her essence and I trust she appreciated the cake and all the love sent her way. This year, I spent Bella’s Birthday reflecting on all she has taught me.

My daughter’s death has taught me how to be grateful for the difficult times I endured with her, such as when she had colic and I was struggling to cope. 9+ hours of screaming every day was horrendous, but I am now grateful for those many endless days she spent in my arms. This is also where she slept for the first 15 months of her life. It wasn’t always easy, but it was where she felt safe and I am comforted knowing I was able to provide her this security.

My daughter has taught me the value of a moment and the treasure of a memory. She has shown me that nothing is permanent, and that there is something to be happy about every day! We would look for the happy moments in every day, and on darker days when those moments were less obvious, we would be happy on purpose to create a moment to  be captured in a photograph. I have hundreds of these mementos, all of which are priceless treasures.

Then there are the hard lessons, which I will continue to learn as they resurface from time to time. I have had to learn to accept what happened to my daughter, to forgive myself for being a less than perfect parent, and to let go of what will never be. I’m not certain I will ever fully recover from this, and I am learning to accept this.

I was given the opportunity to create such an incredible life and nurture her every day she lived in her physical body. Every moment I had with her is one I will cherish until the end of time.

Grief changes you. It’s inevitable, but you get to decide HOW it changes you. You do this by choosing where you focus your energy and what you give your attention to.

7 years ago, I gave birth to a little girl who I held in my arms for 19 months and will continue to hold in my heart for the rest of my life. This magnificent soul changed every aspect of me. I continue to learn how to be her mother, just as Hudson and Aria continue to learn how to be her sister. Even if that means blowing out her Birthday candles for her.

final 2

Happy Birthday Bella. We love you more than life. XO

The Healing Power of a Mother’s Love

It breaks my heart that my 6 year old son knows so much about death. Tonight he was playing innocently with his Legos asking questions about “Baby Carl” (his nickname for his new sibling). I would expect normal questions about birth and where babies come from. It may not be “normal” for children to ask about babies and death, but his questions did not surprise me.

The other night we were driving home from dance class and Hudson asked me how Baby will come out of Mommy’s belly. I admit that I wasn’t prepared for him to ask such a question (as I’m sure all parents feel when it inevitably comes up). I took a deep breath and answered him the only way I know how. Honestly!

What I find surprising is that the abnormal questions my son asks that are related to the trauma our family has endured are the ones I find easiest to answer. Discussions about grief and death are now second nature. And as always, when these questions are asked, I answer my 6 year old with pure and wholehearted honesty.

A child should not fear what may happen if his sibling dies before he/she is born… But mine does. He should not worry about what will happen if Mommy dies before the Baby is born, and what would happen to Baby if Mommy’s heart stopped beating. I reassure him that everything will be alright and these things won’t happen. Yet, as experience has taught me, bad things DO happen and CAN happen at any time.

I consciously choose to be open with my son about death because I know that by helping him understand, I am helping him cope. Unanswered questions often leads to fear. By answering his questions, I am helping him feel safe. By answering honestly, I am establishing trust. Thankfully it’s rare that a child sees his sibling die. But mine did. And I am coping with it the only way I know how.

Some people have warned our family to be careful what we expose the children to, that what they see or hear may traumatize them. Others have told me not to cry in front of my son. But what I have learned is that there is nothing more healing than LOVE and honesty. Yes, there are things you should protect your child from, but it’s necessary to be open to the healing powers of LOVE. We allowed the children to say goodbye to Bella, and seeing her didn’t cause harm because they were prepared for what they would see. Crying in front of my son teaches him that it’s okay to be sad. Communicate with your children and build that trust. Because a bit of LOVE and honesty go a long way.image

July 13, 2014

Yesterday was a bad day. I stayed in bed most of the day and didn’t feel like moving. A lot of thoughts were running through my mind, mostly about how much I miss Bella and how torn up I am that Hudson lost his baby sister who he loves so much. I haven’t been missing her as much as you may expect because I have been feeling her presence and energy (which has been so strong), but yesterday I didn’t feel her the same way that I have been.

I finally found the photos I’ve been looking for to start Project Life, so that’s coming very soon. I also watched recent home movies of her. It’s starting to hit me that she’s gone. I’ve been too strong and need to be break, just a little bit. All that strength people are sending may be a little too effective so at this time I’ll ask you to stop, just long enough to let me feel the pain. It’s something I need right now. In order to help my heart heal, I’m going to need to feel the pain.

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott

#StayStrong