how do you live in a world without your child/children?

June 28, 2014 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, life after loss, Love | 5 Comments
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I honestly do not know.  I feel like after Jake and then Sawyer died I should have some words of wisdom.  . .but I don’t.

I find myself looking at other parents.  Wondering what it would be like to watch all of your children grow up.  I know that everyone has their own tragedies – they are different but difficult all the same.  I know that I am lucky to have the privilege of being a parent to each of my children and to have held them (even if for only a short time).

Time does not make it better – just different.

I do not believe that Jake and Sawyer are in “a better place.”  I do not know where they are but I wish it were with us.

I know that there is not a path to “get over” the death of your child/children.  It is not the same for everyone.   Some of us do not talk about our children at all.  Some of us advocate for a cure for their cause of death.  Some of us write about them.  All of us want our children to be remembered.

quote - teach the world about my child

 

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Unfrozen

February 14, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, life after loss, normal?, Sawyer, twins | 5 Comments
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“Everything is Awesome” has replaced “Let it Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman“at our house.  The snow and ice are gone.  We were really lucky and never lost power.  However, we did follow the advice of the robocall from our mayor and stay home.   The twins watched I am not sure how many hours of television but I know it was a lot.  It does not bother me the way I thought it would (before being a parent when I had all these big ideas about what kind of parent I would be. . .).  Originally, I was going to be one of those parents that did not let their kids watch too much TV but Sawyer’s death quickly changed that.  It seemed much better for the twins to watch Elmo than to watch their mom crying endlessly.  So, on went the TV.

We did make it out of the house yesterday for some sledding.

Today it was almost 60 degrees in Atlanta.   Everything melted, we turned off the TV and went outside.

Happy Valentines Day from our house to yours!

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Unsubscribed & Unprepared

February 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, life after loss, Love | 12 Comments
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The week before Sawyer was born Evan and I realized that we would have 2 1/2-year-old twins at home during the winter with a newborn.  We had not planned to send them to preschool until they were 3.

The twins plus winter plus a newborn at home.  All of a sudden 2 1/2 seemed like the perfect preschool age.  I called around and there were not many preschools with 2 open spots.  We were super lucky and found a school for the twins.  The school started the first week of January – Sawyer had died the week before and I did not want to let the twins out of my sight (but that is a different story. . . ).

I did give my name and information to a few other schools.  I get emails from them now and then.  I have successfully unsubscribed from most but there is one that I cannot get off the list.  I usually just delete the emails without opening/reading them but for some reason I read this one.  This week my 4-year-old and I were invited to Mommy & Me at 10 am on Wednesday.

There is no unsubscribe button!!  What is the etiquette here?   Writing an email that my 4-year-old and I will not be there because he is dead does not seem appropriate.  Luckily, I got the email today that the Mommy & Me will most likely be cancelled “due to inclement weather”.

Is Atlanta unprepared?!  Nope.  Not this time.  It was 50 degrees and clear today but the Atlanta forecast is for snow.  So, school for the twins is cancelled tomorrow.  And, Wednesday.  The twins and I will be home with plenty of time for me delete those preschool emails.

Stuff

January 16, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, life after loss, normal? | 6 Comments
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Quote - things

Very often “get rid of clutter” is at the top of my to do list.  Okay, sometimes I put it at the top of Evan’s to do list.  I am overwhelmed by the piles of paper, toys, laundry, and stuff in general which seems to fill up the world.  However, there is some clutter that I just cannot part with.   The hospital bracelets from Jake’s tiny ankles, the smallest “sunglasses” which covered his sensitive eyes, every little thing that touched his body came home with us.

Sawyer had a lot more stuff.  Right after he died we packed up, donated or got rid of most of the things he never wore or used.  The things he did wear and use stayed on a shelf.  Year after year Sawyer’s stuff did not move.  Except for the sock.

I recently went on a business trip and when I got home Sawyer’s stuff was not on the shelf.  I backed out of the room and went in again.  It was still not there.  I yelled for Evan.  He calmly explained that he moved it.  Just like that.  He moved it to the same place where Jake’s stuff is kept.

Logically, I know that it is all just stuff but these are the only things that we will ever have that were Jake’s and Sawyer’s.  I thought about these things as I threw out garbage bag after garbage bag of stuff as I helped to clean out my grandfather’s home.  Why did I find it so easy, even therapeutic, to throw away his things?

I decided that my lifetime of memories with my grandfather made all the material things not necessary.   I do not need stuff to remember him.

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On the other hand, I had such a short time with Jake and Sawyer.  There are not so many memories or stories to tell.  So, I will hold onto the stuff that I can.

Sawyer and Evan

Reality Bites

January 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, mourning, normal? | 9 Comments
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quote - reality

Today it has been 1 week since I held my grandfather’s hand as he took his last breaths.  He is no longer suffering.  The funeral is over.  He was 100.  His death was not a shock.  Death is part of life.  I repeat these statements to myself several times a day.   So, why do I still feel like I am walking around in an alternate universe?

Evan, the twins and I have returned to work, school and life in general.

People ask “How were your holidays?”  I want to scream, my grandfather died on New Years Day.  Sawyer died the day after Christmas 3 years ago.  I officially hate the holidays!!!  However, I instead take a deep breath and respond, “Fine, how were yours?”

My thoughts are scattered.  It took me less than 1 day to lose the new insurance card Evan handed to me.  I got lost driving somewhere I go almost every week.

I am figuring out another new normal.

Stuck

November 26, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, life lessons, normal? | 17 Comments
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Thank you Brooke from by the brooke for writing about the book, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.  The book is written by Cheryl Strayed, who was formerly the anonymous online advice columnist, Dear Sugar.  The book is a collection of letters written to Dear Sugar and her responses.

One letter is from a bereaved mother, Stuck.  Stuck’s baby died.  I want to share the wisdom that Sugar so powerfully offers.  The following is part of the advice that Sugar wrote to her:

Dear Stuck,

I’m so sorry that your baby girl died.  So terribly sorry.  I can feel your suffering vibrating right through my computer screen.  This is to be expected.  It is as it should be.  Though we live in a time and place and culture that tries to tell us otherwise, suffering is what happens when truly horrible things happen to us.

Don’t listen to those people who suggest you should be “over” your daughter’s death by now.  The people who squawk the loudest about such things have almost never had to get over anything.  Or at least not anything that was genuinely mind-fuckingly, soul-crushingly life altering.  Some of those people believe they are being helpful by minimizing your pain.  Others are scared of the intensity of your loss and so they use their words to push your grief away.  Many of those people love you and are worthy of your love, but they are not the people who will be helpful to you when it comes to healing the pain of your daughter’s death.

They live on Planet Earth.  You live on Planet My Baby Died.

It seems to me that you feel like you’re all alone there.  You aren’t.  There are women reading this right now who have tears in their eyes.  There are women who have spent their days chanting daughter, daughter or son, son silently to themselves.  Women who have been privately tormented about the things they did or didn’t do that they fear caused the death of their babies.  You need to find those women.  They’re your tribe.

I know because I’ve lived on a few planets that aren’t Planet Earth myself […]

This is how you get unstuck, Stuck.  You reach.  Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved, but so you can live the life that is yours — the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it.  The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her.  That place of true healing is a fierce place.  It’s a giant place.  It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light.  And you have to work really, really, really hard to get there, but you can do it. […]

You will never stop loving your daughter.  You will never forget her.  You will always know her name.  But she will always be dead.  Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will.  Nobody can take it back with silence or push it away with words.  Nobody will protect you from your suffering.  You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away.  It’s just there, and you have to survive it.  You have to endure it.  You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.  Therapists and friends and other people who live on Planet My Baby Died can help you along the way, but the healing–the genuine healing, the actual real deal down-on-your-knees-in-the-mud-change–is entirely and absolutely up to you. […]

Yours,
Sugar

I have been living on Planet My Baby Died for 7 years.  I do not know if there is a separate Planet for when a second child dies.  If so, I have been on that Planet for almost 3 years.  Either way, here I am trying to live.

August Again

August 4, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Posted in Anniversaries, Death, Grief, why I write | 10 Comments
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No matter how far the distance you have traveled nor the failures that have gathered, hope would still meet you anywhere.  – Dodinsky

August comes every year.  Right after July.  I have lived through these anniversaries of deaths and births before.  There are happy days this month too. 

Unlike the first year after Jake died not all the days are dark.   I will try my best to take care of the twins, keep busy and smile.  I will not always succeed. 

I have learned that part of my journey since Jake and Sawyer died is that grief at times sneaks up and knocks the wind right out of me.  Grief does not take me by surprise in August.  I know that it is there and I will brace myself for it.

What I Need

April 14, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Posted in Death, life after loss, mourning, normal? | 19 Comments
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I am not always able to adequately articulate my feelings.  Jake and Sawyer’s deaths have often left me feeling alone and misunderstood.  Sometimes I read something and it is exactly how I think and feel.  Reading Four Plus An Angel  by Jessica, often leaves me with that reaction.  Jessica, writes beautifully about her life without her daughter Hadley.

What I Need by Jessica

I need to say her name without bringing everyone to tears.

I need her life to be included in the count of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

I need kindness on birthdays and understanding on holidays.

I need to stay in bed and a reason to get out of it.

I need to talk endlessly and to let the phone ring.

I need an extra hug and respect for my space.

I need someone to ask how I’m doing and want to know the real answer.

I need careful announcements of pregnancies, baby showers and births, mine did not turn out as I hoped.

I need a “handle with care” sticker for my heart, my emotions have been fragile since the day I said goodbye.

I need patience and reminders for my mind, part of it will always be somewhere else.

I need forgiveness for not being the friend, sister, daughter and wife I used to be.

But more than anything I need you…

your support, your friendship, your understanding…

a lifetime is an impossibly long time to wait to hold my child again.

Two other impressive things going on at Four Plus An Angel:

  1. Jessica is also an advocate for autism.  She has a very cool project going on during April, Autism Awareness month.  Jessica is asking for a picture of you or someone you know or love who has autism, holding up a message they would like the world to know about autism. For more details on the project and where to send pictures click here.
  2. Jessica, like our family, supports the March of Dimes.   She is very close to her goal and I am hoping that she makes it.  Click on the button below to donate to Jessica’s team.

Sawyer’s Aunt

April 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Death, Grief | 6 Comments
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On my last post, The Good Cook commented that “It truly does take a village to mourn one lost love.”. We are not alone in our grief. Other family members mourn. Friends mourn. Sawyer and Jake are loved and remembered by many.

Not long after he died, one of Sawyer’s amazing aunts wrote the post below:

This is incredibly sad for me to write.  I hope writing about it helps.

My brother’s baby stopped breathing and died in his sleep, almost two weeks ago.

We were all in terrible shock. Sawyer was a sweet, beautiful little thing, only a month-and-a-half old. We’d just Skyped with my brother and sister-in-law and watched him sleeping contently in his mother’s arms. I’d had the chance to hold him myself over Thanksgiving. Impossible.

And not fair. Especially not for my brother and his wife, who’d already lost their first baby due to medical complications. They then went on to have twins–a boy and a girl–now two-and-a-half–both adorable. But now this.  I can’t imagine having to go through the death of a child once, let alone twice.

I flew as quickly as I could to their place, hoping to support them in any way possible. When I arrived, family was already there helping. Others would arrive soon. There was also a great circle of friends who stopped by to lend a hand and offer condolences.

A neighbor from down the street, came to drop off food and check in on my sister-in-law and brother. She told me she had lost her own daughter to SIDS. She showed me a pendant she wears around her neck always reminding her of her daughter. I was told shocking stories about others who too, had lost children.

I asked her how she was able to handle the grief. She explained she already had other children at the time, and she had to go on living for them. I thought of my brother’s twins and was hopeful that my brother and sister-in-law would be able to do the same.

My niece had been asking where her baby brother had gone. My nephew would run up to his mother, stroke her arm, hug her and say, “I’m so proud of you, Mommy.” She would thank him and try to hold back the tears. Both the twins knew things were out of sorts, and that their little brother wouldn’t be living with them anymore, but at this age, they didn’t fully understand what had happened. A small blessing for now.

We all asked WHY? Why him? Why them? Why now? I thought of what amazing parents they both are. In addition to making sure their twins are well-fed, happy and educated (as educated as 2-year-olds can be) they keep their kids so well protected that I’ve had to ask them to help me get into the bathroom, or turn on the stove because of all the child-proofing they’ve done. It’s clear there’s no lack of love or protection for the children in their house. But no matter how many times we asked why, there were no clear answers, and there likely wouldn’t be for quite a while.

When we finally attended the funeral, on a chilly Atlanta morning, the rabbi conducting the service brought up a question I’m fairly certain none of us had asked.

“As adults we ask, ‘Why?’…What we need to ask is, ‘When?’ “

Ask when? When what?

“Ask WHEN Sawyer is…WHEN is Sawyer,” he said.

I didn’t understand what he meant, but he went on to explain.

Sawyer is when…we’re spending time with family. He’s when…we’re out for a walk on the beach. He’s when…we’re at a ballgame. A bit of him is with us when…we are. Simple.

I understood what he meant.  It brought a small measure of peace.

The sentiment will stay with me always. So will a bit of Sawyer. And I’ll never forget…when.

The Ocean

April 4, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Death, Grief | 5 Comments
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I met a bereaved father the other day. There is an immediate level of familiarity when you meet another member of the club. Bereaved parents all have different stories but we have all walked in the darkest valley of death. We have all cruelly defied the circle of life and outlived our children.

It has been 7 years since his 29-year-old son died. The father went on to tell me an analogy of grieving for your child. I am not sure I can explain it as eloquently as he did but I will try.

Grief is like an ocean. At times it is calm but there are always ripples. Other times the water is rough. The ocean is unpredictable. Out of no where and with little or no warning a tsunami will drown you. Over time the waters will calm down again but they will never be still.

On a completely different but still ocean related note, click this link to hear the twins tell their versions of their great grandfather’s ocean joke.

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