Monday, December 23, 2013


I'm sitting in my office, it's 3:30… very few people are in the building today.   I'm one of 4 other people who chose to come in and get some work done before the holiday.  Its cold out today, below 0 in fact.  I have a sweater on my lap, my heater on high next to me and the lights off.  The sun is just starting to set and the glow in my office from the rays of sunshine is very peaceful.   I am in a debbie-downer kind of mood…. or maybe, more accurately, it's the first time this December that I have had a moment of quiet to reflect on me and the ache of my own heart and it hurts to be in this place… this moment that I can't out-run my sadness.  I can't laugh it away by being silly with the kids, I can't zone out of it by reading a book or watching some mindless TV show.  I am stuck facing it.  Which I know I have to do anyway, I might as well do it when I am by myself.  It's funny how over time grieving feels better when I am by myself.  It feels more authentic, more real and true to how I want to feel.  There is no one to ask if I am ok… there is no one to misinterpret my tears… no one to make uncomfortable with my sadness. Just me and my brokenness… the me I try to hide, the me I don't let people see.  The me I am not comfortable with, but am slowly learning to accept.  ME… and no one else… these are the moments when grief can be the most overwhelming.   The moments when my own anger and self-pity gang up on me and try to break me again.   But… true to the way God has surprised me and supported me through this journey thus far, he is at it once again.  When my tears begin blurring my vision and making their slow decent down my cheeks, a song pops on and the words speak to me…and like so many other times, it FITS this moment and reminds me that I am NEVER alone… I am NEVER without Him and his endless love.  The song is called Worn, by Tenth Avenue North… here are the first few verses.

I'm tired
I'm worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing

I've made mistakes 
I've let my hope fail

My soul feels crushed

By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn

I want to know a song can rise
From the aches of a broken life
All thats dead inside can be reborn

Cause I'm worn
I know I need 
To lift my eyes up 
But I'm too weak
Life just won't let up

And I know that You can give me rest

So I cry out with all that I have left

I mean really… how does He do it?  How does he know when I can't take much more?   It makes me wonder if my own little angel is watching and seeing me hurting?  I can envision him tugging at the robes of Jesus saying, 'my mommy needs you.'   What a beautiful picture I just painted in my mind…

Listen for yourself… it's such a great song! 

     Worn, Tenth Ave North 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

His birthday…

So, November 18th was our dear Declan's birthday.  He would have been two… I expected to have a ton of things to say about it.  I expected the day to be something different then what is was.  However, it was a strange day.  It has taken me this long to wrap my thoughts around it.  I had the day off.  I had envisioned Nate and I doing something special, something in memory of him, something to elevate my sour mood… but Nate ended up having to work and I found myself home alone, by myself.   I tried to sleep in, I tried to force my eyes shut, but getting up at 5:15 every morning makes it almost impossible to sleep past 7am, which is sleeping in I guess.  I laid there, wondering what I should do.  What would make the day special… what would make me feel like I was honoring him in someway?  I came up with nothing.  I found myself watching the final episode of Spartacus… blood and guts and gore… At the end, if your familiar with the story, most of the main characters die, a fairly gruesome death that seem unfitting since they were simply fighting for the right to be free.   I broke down at how unfair life is and clearly has always been.  Good people dealing with unfairness and broken hearts… it doesn't seem right.   I found myself sympathizing with these slaves/rebels and thinking to myself if only there was someone I could fight, someone I could blame for the burden I have been forced to carry.  If only I could carry my ax into battle to make someone pay for my broken heart and broken life…but there is no one.  No one did this to us, no one took our sons life… it's the unlucky hand we were dealt.   Even if there were someone to hurl my pain at, it would not change the fact that he is gone from this world.   It would not make my broken spirit better. It would not mend my broken heart.  Anger and rage are easy pits to allow yourself to fall in to, but are not healthy places to be.  I think I have worked really hard at not letting the unfairness of his death, the pain of losing him turn me into someone I am not… I don't thrive in those negative feelings.   I need happy, I need love, I need joy… I need to see the world as a beautiful place and to know that there is still good out there.   I laid there for awhile, feeling sorry for myself…then I realized I needed to get out of bed.  I needed to shower, I needed to get dressed and develop a plan for what to do with myself. I decided to call up a dear friend and see if she would have lunch with me.  She is also a survivor of child loss and has become a huge source of support for me.  We chatted, we laughed and we cried… but she's the type of friend who makes you comfortable with your tears and ok with being a mess out in public!   Late afternoon, an unexpected surprise arrived at our door in the form of an angel… referring to both the cookies and the friend who delivered them!

Specially made for us… with Declan's name on them!  As cute as they are, I expected them to taste bad, but no, there were amazing! They were SO SO good. 

It was exactly what I needed on that day… a reminder that Declan and his life have touched many peoples hearts.    

Friday, November 8, 2013

Giving Back

I have lots of mixed emotions this month…. November 18th will be Declan's 2nd birthday.  I have been trying to imagine all the things little two year olds are into these days.  Trucks, tractors, Thomas the train… he'd be potty training, walking and talking and annoying his big brother and sister…. he would be pulling Murray's tail and laughing at his reaction.  Those are the things we are missing out on…. those are the dreams we've lost.

In honor of our sweet boy's 2nd birthday, we decided to do something for someone else.  We want to give back to the very place that helped us realize how to take the first steps towards healing and acceptance.  A place that we hold so near and dear to our hearts… Faith's Lodge.  People have asked 'what about it was special?' and I honestly can't explain.  I think a big part of it was being with other people who had experienced a loss… and a sense of completely being able to let your guard down because no one was going to be insensitive or say something offensive… I think it was about not needing to pretend you were ok… I think it was about an understanding of perspectives.   Whatever it is, it's not understandable to someone who hasn't lost a child… and for those who have, it is tough to get because it feels so risky to put yourself and your emotions out there, and less face it, it seems almost to "kumbayaish" and not normal.  BUT for us, we had no where to go and nothing to lose… and it was a beautiful experience for us.

Please join us in raising our goal of $500 for Faith's Lodge and the families that visit there who are looking to find a little hope again.

Please follow the link below to our very own fundraising page, called "Declan's Dreamers".   We will be raising funds now until February 16th… Both Nathan and I sincerely thank you for your donation.  I can promise you that every cent earned will make a difference in someone else's journey!

With much love and appreciation,

Friday, November 1, 2013

The struggle…

Often times I get caught up in my own 'yuck'… I let my thoughts drift to, "This is too much for me"  I start feeling overwhelmed and inept at being me… I wonder how I got to this place in my life.  I start thinking about being 'done' with everything… being done with grief,  done with being married,  done with parenting, done with working… done being ME.  There are times when it is just is too much (before you get concerned, I am not talking about suicide!!).  Like I think if I could just take a break from chaotic mornings and busy evenings and escape reality for just a brief bit… my perspective might change.  Maybe…  but maybe it wouldn't.  I am starting to think that grief plays more of a role in my life than I realize.  I wonder and I ask myself… was I always so dramatic and quick to say, "this is too much!" For those who know me well, I am not talking about my tendency to be a drama queen, I know full well I can be one of those!  But lately it feels like any thing that feels stressful or negative almost drives me into hysteria.  I stop and think no one deserves to put up with me… my kids deserve more. Wouldn't you think that after losing one child, I would be the epitome of a good mom! I would be attentive and kind and gentle… pretty sure gentle is not a word my children would use to describe me at the current moment in time… it would probably be more like unpredictable…. I think grief is my biggest problem with all of this…grieving mucks up the mind, plays tricks on your heart and confuses me…  as I have mentioned before I struggle with feeling like I don't know who I am since he passed away, making it hard to feel centered and rational… I struggle with finding myself in this journey.  I struggle coming to terms with Declan's death… I think I might have finally accepted that it is real, but now that means figuring out what life means… moving forward and keeping his memory alive, yet living in the present… it's messy and hard… it is the ugly reality of coming to terms with what death does to the living.   It makes you question everything you thought you knew…

As far as 'being done' with everything… well, what are my options with that?  The only one that works for me is sticking to it, working on what it means to be me and figuring life out again.   Its sucks sometimes… a lot of the time, but I do believe that this will only make me stronger and that it will get easier.  For now, I know that I am ok with just being who I am… whatever that means.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Identity crisis...

You know those moments when you are sitting in church and the sermon literally is speaking to YOU... when you look around the church, wondering if anyone is staring at you, because clearly Pastor is talking about you directly!? It almost feels like a personal invasion at first, like you want to stand up and ask, "how did you know?" well I had that moment last night!  I shed tears on and off through out the sermon (yes, I am that girl who openly cries at church) and left with my mind racing and my heart pondering...

The question was/is "who am I?"  Not 'tell me about yourself... what are your likes and dislikes, where do you live' but "Who.... am... I?!"  Since losing Declan, I have struggled with this... I've been experiencing an identity crisis.  What is true is that I am different.  I have a "before" and "after" version of myself.  If someone had asked me who I was 2 years ago I would have confidently answered "I am an educator, a mother, a wife and a friend."   I would have answered that based on where I spent my time and my energy.   I knew who I was... I knew what I was good at and how to live in a manner that complemented that.  I held my head high and felt like I had life figured out.   I was loud, daring, adventurous and dare I say, even kind of funny.  I laughed easy, smiled frequently and thought I was indestructible.

When Declan died all that changed.  I have felt very much like my identity is wrapped up in his death.  For at least the first year, I had nothing else to say about me... I was a grieving mother.  What else was there for anyone to know?! Why would it matter what I did for a job?  Why would anyone need to know if I have other children?  And yes, I am married... but that DOESN'T CHANGE the fact that my child died.  Everything seemed second to that.... I could not see past his death.  I had no room to be anything else...  His death was who I was....

As I sat in church, thinking about how I would answer that question now, I came up blank.  I don't know who I am.  I don't know how to be me and a grieving mother.   I am a work in progress maybe... still trying to figure out how to move through his death without letting his death be me...  but I am treading in unfamiliar territory... not sure what steps I need to take.

But then Pastor said, "Who am I?" is the wrong question to be asking....we should be asking "whose I am?" What makes me special goes beyond WHO I AM... it's WHOSE I am that defines me.   Once I turn my identity to being a child of God, than the pressure to be the perfect grieving mother, the best mother to my living children, the greatest wife is taken away and I realize that I can be content with being 'a work in progress'. Who I am?? In a nutshell... I am a child of God and everything else is second to that.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine." Isaiah 43:1

* I must give Pastor Heiden credit for being the inspiration for this post.  Beyond my internal struggle in identifying who I am since Declan's death, he helped me put a perspective on this that I hadn't thought about. Thank you Pastor!  :) 

Monday, October 14, 2013

the Wave of light...

In 1998, Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month.  October 15th is the day that grieving families and friends who support them are invited to light a candle in remembrance of our children who left our lives too soon.  As we prepare for tomorrow and how we can honor Declan, I invite you to also light a candle at 7pm.  Light it for Declan or light it for another child... it's up to you. But please, help shatter the silence that surrounds pregnancy and infant loss! One in 4 woman will experience the extreme pain of losing a child. 

Today, for us, it also marks the 1 year and 8 month anniversary of Declan's angel date... 

It is so hard to believe he's been gone that long... that my life has been turned upside down and flipped around for that long.  There are days when I would consider myself 'good'.  There are times when I think I am getting my life is some order that I can live with.  There are also times that I feel my world is crumbling at my feet... days when I can't even begin to comprehend what has happened to me.  Then, to be truthful, there are moments that I can't even remember having had him.... I feel ashamed to admit that... how could a mother ever forget her baby?  I have no answer except that time is my ultimate thief... time steals my memories and makes me feel like I am always in such a rush that I don't have "time" to grieve.  

I knew it would happen that I would forget the sound of his voice... what he smelled like.... if only I had caught his perfection in a video, but I know I would watch it over and over... and it would become something more than just a video, like an idol.   

I wish I wasn't living this life... I wish I was not a grieving mother... I wish our family was just like yours.  If only wishes could come true.   BUT... we are living this life the best we can, we try to live each day to it's fullest.  We try to see the beauty that God has surrounded us with...  I try to hold my head up high, embracing this stupid challenge with grace and dignity.  There will come a point in my life when my children look back and start understanding the 'bigness' of our loss and I want them to see that their mother and father rose above the situation to become something better than they were prior to his death. 

A part of me did die with my sweet Declan... but we are working hard at making sure what we rebuild in its place honors his precious memory and will make him proud! 

Please consider joining us tomorrow night at 7pm, lighting a candle in memory of our son and in honor of all families struggling through the loss of their little ones. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


October is Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month, I've also heard it referred to as SIDS awareness month... either way, I am 'participating' in this....not sure what that means and how I will choose to honor my sweet Boy.... I haven't gotten it all figured out, but I know I will be doing something. 

As part of my journey, I have found great comfort in reading other mother's blogs.  I am comforted by their words and oddly enough, their pain... it helps me to know, I am not alone.  I know of mother's who have no desire to connect with other grieving families, but for me it has been instrumental in my process... I personally see child loss as such a lonely journey... people either don't know what to say to you or how to support you or are overwhelmed with their own emotions and they don't want to "upset" you more.... so finding other mothers who understand what it really is like, helps me.  I enjoy reading a blog called Carly Marie, Project Heal.  She lost her son, Christian in 2007.  She has been sharing her journey with the world through many different projects and one of them is called "Capturing your Grief" and is a photographic challenge to promote healing and personal growth.  So... long story short I will be doing this challenge this month.  To read more about Christian's story and follow Carly Marie, here is her blog link:

Here is my first photo... the sunrise.  It's a little blurry due to how far I had to zoom to really capture these beautiful deer, but the essence remains the same.... A mother deer, with her two babies... enjoying the beans in the field and being at peace with the world.  

The interesting thing about this photo is that I stopped almost in the same place the day Declan died and took a picture of the sunrise.  For many months after he had passed I lost my ability to see God's beauty in my every day life...  my world was bleak and instead of seeing the dancing colors of our magnificent surroundings, I saw grays and muted, dull, lifeless colors... I remember wondering once if I would ever be in awe of nature again or if I was now sentenced to a life of sadness and boringness.   

I have however, recaptured that joy... the joy in the nothingness that is God's splendorous creation. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Finding my JOY

This weekend we celebrated our sweet Coco's birthday.  She turned 4 this past week and I can hardly believe it!  It amazes me how fast time flies.   My living children's birthdays are difficult for me. I still have such a hard time celebrating life when I know all to well the reality of death.   I want so badly to make the day special for the kids, but even with all the bells and whistles, I can't rid myself of the sadness that creeps into my heart.... I continue to think of the fact that I will never be having a party for Declan.

However, I look at my living kiddos and my heart swells with pride and joy.  I am so thankful for them.  I often ask myself 'what did I do to deserve these precious people?'... that is typically followed with an extreme sadness as I remember that I am not able to have one of my children with me physically and that as lucky as I am, I am also so very unlucky as well. 

Slowly, I am moving forward in my journey... slowly I am excepting mine and Declan's fate.  I am trying to embrace this new life... this life with a broken heart, a raw wound sitting right beneath my chest.  I am always trying to see the JOY that God is consistently offering me.  This weekend part of that joy was Coco's beautiful birthday cake, made by a dear friend who I would not know if I wasn't on this journey.  

Another joy was this beautiful smile.... and this sweet little girl.  This momma is so blessed to have her! As much as my heart hurt... as much as I wanted to take a moment to have a good cry... when I saw those blue eyes looking at me with so much joy and excitement, I knew I had to put a smile on this face of mine and keep the party moving!  Enjoying as much as I could as it happens. 

I will always find myself thinking about the parties I won't be having for Declan... the little smile that I should be seeing, but won't be... the squeals of delight as each new present is open that I won't hear...  that immense sadness that I know I will feel is always soothed by three amazing people... My dear sweet loving husband, my goofy, brilliant oldest son Noah and my very own princess, Coco.  Together the three of us are walking this journey side by side... day by day and taking each moment to try and see the JOY that is abundantly supplied to us. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

This thing we call life

Twelve years ago today, Nathan and I said our 'I do's'.  We looked at each other, promised to love each other through sickness and in health and until death parts us.... we walked out of our crowded church, holding hands and beaming with excitement.  Looking back on our special day I admire our innocence... I envy our naiveness... I am jealous of the dreams that we had and the belief that life would always be perfect.  I was 24 years old... I had yet to realize that bad things do happen to good people.  There was no way I could have ever imagined the sadness I would feel because I was so overwhelmed with happiness.  Our future held endless possibilities, endless potential and was the beginning of a bright life together.  We had big dreams... but we didn't want anything out of the ordinary...

Our wedding sermon was called "Minding your Ps and Qs" and although I don't remember Pastor Kevin's exact take on it, I remember him talking about minding our manners... saying Please and thank You to each other... being tender with each other's hearts.... and appreciating our relationship and the people that we are and loving one another through the ugly and dark times.  Complimenting each other freely and expressing our love towards one another often. Remembering to nurture our relationship and never take it for granted. 

However, after losing Declan, our relationship changed.  It had to.  I believe nothing stays the same as it was before.  In our life there is a definite "before and after" when it comes to his death... and although from an outsiders perspective our lives may mirror what and who we were prior to losing our son, trust me, we are different.   In our marriage now, I would say we are more quick to move past anger.  We have more faith in our commitment to each other.   We love deeper and allow each other to be vulnerable.   We hold each other while the other one sobs... stroke each other's back during the bad days.   We also have moments and days when anger comes quickly and hurtful words find their way out of our mouths before we have a chance to think about it.  When our raw, wounded heart can't take another minutes of feeling like it does and it snaps... We need to work more on finding the middle ground again... getting to a point where we can recognize that the hurt is building and needs some way of releasing itself.   But... these moments flee fast and are followed by immense guilt, followed by a flood of tears.  What I am realizing is how important, now more than ever, it is to "Mind our Ps and Qs" with each other.... our damaged and bruised souls need extra love, extra patients and extra tenderness... today, I wonder if Pastor Kevin is thinking about those words... is there anyway he could possibly know what his wedding sermon, 12 years ago, would mean for us today.   I would think that even Pastor would have to admit, that was God preparing our hearts for this unthinkable loss.  

It's been a journey I can't imagine taking with anyone else.... it's been a trip to hell and back... but together, Nathan and I have found what it means to work as a team and put together some resemblance of healing... each day we walk two steps forwards and somedays we take three steps back, but we are walking... one way or other, together we will walk hand in hand, fighting for each other and fighting for this thing we call life.

Happy Anniversary Nathan Lee... everyday you make me a better person than I was the day before. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Letting forgiveness win...

On Monday evening, as Nathan and I were settling into bed, we received a phone call from Nate's mom.  I was vaguely listen to him as he was speaking, but when he started getting angry I started to worry... 'What was going on? Was everything ok?' I caught bits and pieces and put together that something had happened at the cemetery where Dex is buried... vandalism, but no word on our son's grave.  I felt instantly ill... instantly panicked... instantly scared.   We knew so little and I think that is why it was so difficult for me.  We searched through Facebook and found the post that had alerted my mother-n-law to the situation.... there at the end of a lengthy post was the comment that brought me to my knees... 'they even damaged a baby's grave site'.  I knew it was us.  I knew it was our baby they were talking about!  I did the only thing I could think to do, which of course was turn to social media to get prayers going that his stone was not damaged and that we could fix whatever had happened and then I broke down crying!  I could not sleep... I tossed and turned and just wanted to know what was happening, what to expect... I wanted to be there, but it was 10 o'clock at night and it's almost a 2 hour drive.  I felt very unsettled and out of mind with worry!

I woke up easily when our alarm went off at 5:15 in the morning... and wouldn't you know... God was speaking to me right there on the radio!  We requested only two songs to be played at Declan's funeral... one of them being I Can Only Imagine and the other being Untitled Hymn.  When the radio came on it was playing the last verse of the Untitled Hymn... which is the verse that is painted on the bird house at Declan's grave site.  I knew in that very instant that it was God and Dex telling me to calm down... that the damage was only cosmetic and that Declan was not injured... that this wasn't new pain being done to Declan.... that his memory is not tainted because of this and that I needed to get there, clean it up, call our grave stone maker and put this behind me.  He could not have spoken anymore clearly to me if He had been sitting in the chair next to me.  Just when I was at my lowest... He was there, holding me up!

I arrived to find a mess... but I prepared myself for that.  I knew most items were gone and destroyed.  I knew the beloved statue of Jesus's hands holding an infant was damaged, possibly beyond repair.  I know the vandals used the statue as a weapon on his stone... I was prepared....

Here is the site when I arrived.  Lots of small pieces to be picked up... lots of ruined treasures.... lots of "what the heck..." and "Seriously!?" questions running through my mind and the mind of so many others. 

My precious statue of Jesus holding a baby... the main part is intact, but it no longer stands on its own.  My mother (master of the glue gun) is going to try and put it back together... or as much as she can. 

(Photo taken from Daily Globe - Worthington)

After a few hours of cleaning and getting the mess cleaned up, we are back to beautiful.  We have a few chips, scratches and dents on the back side of his stone, but it's going to be ok... I will be ok.... I will once again let forgiveness win and know that what happens to me in this life are just bumps in my road to a better place! 

Losing - Tenth Ave. North. 
There is so much anger towards the children who did this, probably rightfully so... but this song came on my radio as I was blogging and when I listened to the words... well, see for yourself.  It's impactful... these little boys need our support and prayers more than our anger and hate... 

Untitled Hymn - Chris Rice 
last verse is about flying to Jesus and that is what I woke up to on Tuesday morning.  Thank you Declan and Jesus for knowing what I needed to hear!

The tragic event even made the local news! Over a 100 stones were vandalized... 
Child vandals damage Round Lake Cemetery (Daily Globe newspaper, Worthington MN)
Round Lake Cemetery vandalized by three young boys (KWOA 730 News Radio, Worthington, MN)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hope Rocks!

Last summer Nathan, the kids and myself spent some time at a place called Faith's Lodge.   The lodge is a place for families who have lost children to go and relax, reflect, process and immerse themselves in their healing journey.  For Nathan and I it was the first step towards acceptance of what had happened to us and our sweet Declan.   It was an opportunity to be with families who had suffered similar losses and to talk about those first few steps through our living nightmare, that only someone who knows can understand.  The lodge is not all kumbayaish with people sitting around crying, but a place where laughter feels good and the conversation ranges from sports & hollywood gossip to our personal stories on loss.   There is an atmosphere when you walk in that feels good... it's a place where people come at their lowest and leave feeling a sense that life might actually get easier... that healing will find them.  The lodge is partially support through the generosity of people volunteering their time and their resources.  One of their bigger fundraisers is HOPE ROCKS.  Last year, Nathan and I worked at it and had a blast!  Both of us agreed, we would go every year... sometimes as volunteers and sometimes as participants.  This year, we are going as participants.... we have already started looking for our "rocker" outfits and are so excited for an evening of fun that supports an establishment that is so near and dear to our hearts.  Please consider going and seeing for yourself all the goodness this special place has to offer.

It truly is a place where HOPE grows! 

This video is from Faith Lodge's holiday event.... it does a great job of explaining the feelings a person experiences while at the Lodge and I just liked it.... thought I would share it with you.  
*SUDC is sudden unexplained death of a child.  
Declan actually passed away from SUDI.  sudden unexplained death of an infant

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Somewhere over the Rainbow...

Last night, my daughter and I were driving down to Mankato and the whole day had been kind of overcast.  As we were just pulling out of town, Courty says, "I wish I could see a rainbow right now."  When I asked her why, she said (in a matter of fact, 'how dare you ask me' tone), "Because I miss Declan."  I smiled to myself and said, 'yeah, me too.'  But beings that there had been no rain, there was no rainbow.  After finished up our girls night out with a Blondie bar from Barnes and Noble,  we headed home.  As we pulled into our town, guess what was waiting for us.... this beautiful big rainbow!  Both Courtlynn and I were amazed!  It really felt like Declan had sent his sister a gift.  There are those moments when life can really get me down... when I lose my breath remembering my son and his death... when I can hardly believe this terrible event really happened to me.  There are moments when all I need is a reminder that this is not the end... this is only the beginning our journey, a blimp in time compared to our eternity... that is exactly what this rainbow did for me yesterday!  It felt like a deeply personal gift, meant just for me... Thank you Heavenly Father and Declan.  You made my day.

"O beautiful rainbow; all woven of light! There's not in your tissue one shadow of night; Heaven surely is open when you do appear. And, bending thee above, the angels draw near, and sing,"The rainbow! the rainbow! The smile of God is here." ~ Sarah Hale

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What has death taught me...

I randomly read articles from an online magazine called Still Standing, Embracing Life after Loss and Infertility.  Today I read one that I could really relate to... it was about how death has the ability to change people.   I always think it strange that people talk about death as if it is some mysterious thing that only happens to unlucky people or to people who must have done something wrong... but we all die.   I will die.  You will die.  WE all die... I have come to realize that the reason people freak out about death is because it's only suppose to be for old people.   When an older person dies, its expected and most of the time they have lived a good life.  People are comfortable with that type of death... people are not comfortable with death when it happens to children.  People don't want to talk about it, people avoid the subject... maybe because they are afraid to make me sad or more likely, they know it will make them sad... or I speculate that its the grieving after death that really throws people.  No one really knows how to respond to grief.  No one teaches us how to travel down griefs dusty, bumpy, twisty and turny roads....but over the past year and 4 months I have learned that death happens and grief happens and I know without question, it will change you.  This particular article had two sections... one about how death has negatively impacted her and one on how it has positively impacted her and although I could relate to both parts, I wanted to share only the second part.  I highlighted the parts that struck a cord in my heart!  After all this time, I can safely say I would rather have Declan here, but if I have to travel this journey, I am glad I have been able to learn from it and allow his life and death to make me who I am today.

Letting Death be Your Teacher by Rachel Lewis
"... Death has changed me. And sometimes, I hate what it has done. But it has also changed me for the better.

I know death has changed me when I study my daughter’s eyes, and savor every expression that dances across her face as an absolute gift.

I know death has changed me when I remember to loosen my grip on my little girl, and give her the chance to experience all that life can offer.

I know death has changed me when “I love you” always goes with my “good-bye.”

I know death has changed me when someone’s grief no longer scares me, and their tears feel like an invitation to share in the most sacred of moments together.

I know death has changed me when grief crosses all barriers, and binds my heart to another’s whom I otherwise never would have known, befriended, or loved.

I know death has changed me when imagining my death does not strike fear in my heart, but rather motivates me to leave my imprint on the world while I still have breath.

I know death has changed me when a baby is born alive and healthy, and I know what an absolute miracle she is.

I know death has changed me when I see heaven not as a resting place, but as a living place.

I know death has changed me when I choose to fight with God in prayer. I give Him my pain. My betrayal. My anger. And I place my bruised, bleeding heart into His perfect hands. He doesn’t heal my hurt. But He does always hold it for me.

I know death has changed me when I stop trying to be perfect. And instead, just try to be.

I know death has changed me when I have the courage to love a child I know I might not get to keep. Death has taught me that our time together will end. But love never ends. And love is always worth loss.

As often as I revolt against death, hating it for it’s power to change life — to end life — I have learned that death is not just an enemy, but it is a teacher.

Death will change you. But death can also teach you to live."

Monday, June 3, 2013

JOY no matter the circumstance...

Yesterday, I listened to a very wise man talk about joy... about what it means to live a life filled with joy and how some people just naturally seem to gravitate to it.   He said that true joy comes no matter the circumstance... that joy isn't dependent on what is happening in our lives.  Even when life has me down and out, even when I feel crushed and depleted, the joy that I have in my heart is still there.  It doesn't always rise to the surface and bubble up, but true joy is always there.... I don't function well in sorrow, I don't thrive in sadness... shortly after Declan died, I knew I needed to do whatever it would take to move through my grief... not forget it, not avoid it, but move through it with purpose and determination to not only survive his death, but become someone stronger because of it.

There are days and moments when choosing to be joyful is difficult... when it seems like it's the last thing I want to do.  Living joyfully take effort and it takes a change of attitude... but I would say for me, choosing joy doesn't mean I have a permasmile on my face and I am doing flips around the house... it doesn't mean that I am going to start lecturing you about being happy and not letting life's tough times get you down... to me, choosing joy means that I have HOPE that today's troubles and sorrows are merely bumps in the road and that I will find my happiness again.  For me, looking at the death of my little guy, I can find JOY in the promise that I will see him again...  I can rest peacefully knowing that I will hold him again, that I will kiss him again... that I will someday hear him call me 'mommy'!  Someday... until then I will take the bad with the good, I will lean on God to be my support when I am not strong enough and I will continue to CHOOSE JOY... always.  

"And my God will fully supply your every need according to His glorious riches in the Messiah Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:19

Strong Enough - Matthew West

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Finding beauty amongst the pain...

A wild flower, growing
among the dead leaves.

Mother's Day has come and gone (well basically)... once again I am forced to face the obvious, I am a grieving mother.  I am not like most moms... I am not like the mom I once was... I am new to me, I am new to this grieving process and I am trying to be the best mom I can be for my two little living munchkins.  Once upon a time, I enjoyed the 'typical' mothers day... getting dressed up for church in a fancy dress and going out for a fabulous lunch surrounded by loved ones. I got flowers and took pride in the family I had helped to create.  Since losing Dex, that isn't what my mothers day is like.  We attempted to stay somewhat traditional last night... church, followed by Old Country Buffett (fancy I know, but with kids, speedy wins out over luxury!).  However, for me personally today wasn't about me as much as it was about what I am, about what I have and what I have lost.  Today was about celebrating my journey, this terrible process I have been forced to live for the past year and three months.  It was about trying to find beauty in the pain... about looking for more than meets the eye and seeing the blessings that still rain down on me.

My day started with breakfast in bed with an omelet made to order, coffee just the way I like it and looky, looky... a flower and a little present on the tray!  Everything about the moment made me cry.  It was so obvious how much love we have in our often times chaotic home that I couldn't help but shed some tears.  We all hung out in bed, with only a few minor spills and then I opened my gift. Nathan and the kids had picked out a beautiful necklace in the shape of an angel.... it melted my heart!  I love it so much!!  What a blessing... even when it feels like there is nothing to celebrate....
 After breakfast, we went to a local park and spent the morning and afternoon exploring nature, looking for items from our scavenger hunt and trying to remember what we are all about.  When we first arrived we set out to see what was there, what miracles were at our finger tips... we ran into three older guys who were looking for wild flowers.  They looked identical to the brothers from Swamp People... first I was a little scared, but once they started talking to us I realized they were just EXTREME nature lovers! They pointed out a bunch of amazing wild flowers...  and the funny thing is until we ran into them, we hadn't seen any flowers.... makes me wonder if all we needed was a little help opening our eyes to those little beauties... after that we saw them everywhere!  After hiking for a while, we had a picnic and snacked on... what else... peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!  We soaked up the sun, talked about Declan, told jokes and laughed at nothing.  It felt so good to be there, it felt like we were doing exactly what we were meant to be doing.... like some little boy had a hand in making my day so perfect and special.   It's not always easy to see His blessings during the worst storm possible, but when I took time to savor the moment and look harder at what I've been given and still have, I am able to see the beauty amongst the pain.... I am able to grieve with the knowledge that even through this terrible loss... a loss that I will never forget... I have been richly blessed.

My heart melts for these two!

Relaxing and taking a break from our 3 mile hike today! 

Blessed to have a man that can stand strong for me when I am weak...

They may not always get along, but they love each other deeply! 

At the scenic over look.... thank goodness for the bench! We needed a break! 

Always on our mind... and lives on in our hearts! 

Your death doesn't change the fact that you made me a mother (again)... I loved you the moment I found out about you and I will love you until my last breath little man! 


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Being a bereaved mother... who would've thunk it?

It's hard to imagine that I am once again going to be living through another mother's day without one of my children.  Today is actually the International Bereaved Mother's day... who knew there was such a day?  I sure didn't.  But then... why would I've?  I have been introduced to an entirely new world since losing Declan.  A world filled with amazing people and extreme sadness... a world that understands that a smile or laughter doesn't mean your 'better'... a world that understands there is no such thing as 'better', only 'different'.  I have heard people say "I just want you to get better... to get back to the old you."  People always mean well. I know this to be 100% true.  Yet, I struggle with their inability to truly understand life through our eyes... and in reality I am jealous of them.  They say silly things not to be mean but because they have not been impacted by death's sting... they do not know that when your child dies... when your flesh and blood, a child you created is taken from you, there is NO going back.  Going back would be to pretend he never existed... is to deny who you are now... nope, once death has seeped into your life, you have reached the ultimate "point of no return" on the old you... and from our eyes, from our perspective that is ok.  I know I could not go back to the 'old me'.  There was nothing wrong with the 'old me', but who I am today is stronger, more confident, more compassionate, more empathic, more aware of the impact of my choices and the life I live than who I was.  Who I am today, on this international bereaved mothers day, is a direct result of one little man.... one little guy who I would give my final breath to see again, has changed my life completely and forever.  His impact on my life, and hopefully the lives of others, continues to strengthen me and give me hope for the day when I will arrive in His kingdom.  I believe that when you lose a child you come to a crossroad.... you can chose to let death defeat you or you can chose to let it teach you.   I have chosen to let it teach me and take me to places I didn't know existed.  Am I sad today... yes, always... but as I think about being a bereaved mother and all that has become a part of my life since his passing I am thankful that God allowed me to chose the path of teaching... because truthfully, letting it defeat me would have been a whole lot easier.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Getting in touch with grief...

This spring has been tough... work has been exhausting and the weather here has been terrible.  I haven't felt up to writing simply because I knew I wouldn't be able to positive.  When I was new in my grief, I didn't care if my posts were positive or negative because they were just what I was feeling... whether or not it provoked positive vibes from people was not something I cared about.  Just being able to write made me feel better... blogging was a relief I hadn't expected.  And now...  not a day goes by when I don't think to myself 'that thought would make a great post' but my "me" time has been seriously compromised this spring and I don't feel like I have the time or the energy to do what I love.... to do what helps me heal... cuz it would mainly be a big ol' b***h session... Often I hear that life is a balance of work and personal life/family time... which is true... but when you add grief into the mix you have a very delicate balancing act of finding time to "lean into" your grief and focus on healing, work and family.  I am lucky because often my family time and my healing time are one in the same, but still, after 14 months I still need my time to be alone in my thoughts, to embrace my grief and allow it to wash over me... as strange as that sounds I believe it to be important.  
Sometimes the purpose of a day is to merely feel our sadness, knowing that as we do, we allow whole layers of grief, like old skin cells to drop off us  ~ Marianne Williamson
I am struggling with finding that balance right now... I've got the balance of work and personal life down, but am wishing I had more time to focus on me and my healing. Where I can close my eyes and dream about what should have been... what was... and where I am going next.  I have learned that living in grief is truly a moment by moment journey... a day by day excursion through unbelievable pain, confusion and denial... but as time goes by it has been easy to push my sadness away and tell myself "I don't have time for this"... the lesson I am in the process of learning is that it will catch up with you... grief can't be ignored, it can't be denied and it wont be swept under the rug.... no amount of excuses can stand up to grief's need to be dealt with.  I started to realize this around the 1 year anniversary of his passing and I started going back to grief group and am so thankful I did.  I am surrounded by old friends who provide comfort just by giving you a glance that says "I understand" and new friends who I hold so dear to my heart! Grief... you stink.  Death... you suck! But I will not run from you... I will not let you destroy me.  I have to believe that God will give me the ability to grow from Declan's loss, to 'learn' from this tragedy and to come out on the other side of the valley of the shadow of death a stronger person... a person that loves more, laughs harder and appreciates this beautiful thing we call LIFE. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Taking a stand... and being heard

The Sudden Unexpected Death, Data Enhancement and Awareness Act

The Sudden Unexpected Death Enhancement and Awareness Act

Did you know that every year in the US...

  • More than 25,000 Stillbirths occur and half of them have no known cause?
  • More than 4,600 babies die of sudden unexpected infant death?
  • And 200 children, between the ages of 1 and 4 years, die without a specific cause ever found?
You can make a difference! Support this crucial legislation now!
"Serving as the most influential piece of SIDS/SUID/SUDC legislation to date, The Sudden Unexpected Death Data Enhancement and Awareness Act (S 314/HR 669) promises to promote unprecedented, positive change by improving death-scene data collection methods, establishing nationwide awareness and education plans, and expanding support services for families in need.  

Please help give answers to families and save the lives of future generations by contacting your Congressmen today! "

CJ Foundation for SIDS  This link has great resources to help you understand the bill and even provides you with a SUPER easy way to contact your legislators.  You just fill in your zip code and it determines who to send it to and it DOES IT FOR YOU!! 

I know it is easy to think that this will never happen to you... or to anyone you know, but my family is living proof that in the blink of an eye, your child can be gone.   We have meet so many wonderful families who are suffering the same fate as us and are left feeling helpless, lonely and wondering 'what the heck just happened?!'  Please take a moment to support families like mine and contact your legislation today! 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Happiness is..." challenge. Week 3 & 4

Happiness is... watching Noah and his friends being silly and enjoying their time together! 

Happiness is...having an afternoon to relax and spend time with the family. 

Happiness is... celebrating 8 years of life with Noah! Happy Birthday big guy!

Happiness is... an evening out with the gang!  We love Patricks! :)

Happiness is... CoCo Beans 'fierce' face!  She is full of sass and spirit! 

Happiness is... FINALLY being able to put my feet up and relax! 

Happiness is... playing 'house' with Co Co! She loves her babies :) 

Happiness is... NEW friends! 

Happiness is... waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee prepared by my husband! 

Happiness is... listening to Pastor Dennis and Elmo on Palm Sunday! 

Happiness is... preparing for Easter and getting the kids excited about the Holiday. 

Happiness is... making 'resurrection rolls' with the family! 

Happiness is... making sugar cookie cut outs for Easter! 

Happiness is... watching Batman Courtlynn eat her cookies. 

Happiness is... Good Friday service at church.  Cried through the whole thing!  It was amazing! 

Happiness is... spending time with my cousins! 

Happiness is... my family!!