Shrapnel of Grief

44 days ago we welcomed Zooey Helen into the world. 688 days ago we welcomed and then said good bye to our dear Teddy. Exactly 100 months ago Ryan and I consciously started trying to create our family. 3 days ago we had our final midwife appointment for our lifetime. It marks the last day of the family growing stage for us and sent us off lovingly into the family raising stage of our life. Having spent 100 months creating and growing a family this final appointment left me reflecting back on all those days, all the moments of being broken, being brave, all the joy, all the love and everything in between for us to be walking out of that office on Tuesday with a full heart and arms.

Those aren’t just numbers that represent a day passed, they are numbers that represent the most changing time of our life. The numbers are a representation of the time which allowed for growth and for a total rebirth of who Ryan and I are today. The last few days has had me reflecting on relationships. How they have evolved, how new ones have emerged, how some have been lost. Going through fertility challenges and then experiencing a loss of a child I see how many common threads they share and how they equally can put a strain on many relationships in your life. It is hard for everyone. I see how true the saying “people are in your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime” and I see throughout the years how some have fit into a category.

For the most part I am totally at peace with how relationships have evolved even the ones that didn’t survive the storms or the ones intended for a season. I do struggle with how people have been effected by our personal struggles. There is one person in particular I haven’t been able to shake how everything has changed, how so many days I wish I could go back in time and we could be who we used to be to each other. It was always easy, being together was always good for the soul, leaving feeling better than you arrived. It felt safe, she is always loyal. She always has good advice, and ear to listen and heart full of love. Time together never felt like enough, we could talk for hours over a simple cup of tea. She would be the first at our door when life once again handed us a shitty deal and always the first to celebrate when life was being kind and the first to meet our babies. I can’t stop wishing she wasn’t hit by the shrapnel of my life, my grief.

Moving through grief your perspective is narrow. It is hard, so hard to see all sides of situations or even at times when you do, your heart hurts so much it is easy to feel angry anyway. It makes it so hard to be a good friend. To be the person you once were, the person who had room for problems others faced. With this particular friend two things happened which I can see so clearly now. Life wasn’t always light for them, but as many people they weren’t able to bring their problems to me when my plate was so full. By not doing so shared moments were passed, and space between us was created. Someone else filled the void created by not being the person they went to for support. It changed the landscape of the friendship, I missed out on parts of their life. Being a person that I care deeply for, it was so easy to be hurt by them, even when they didn’t do anything wrong, the layers of grief changed our day to day interactions.

There was moments I became so angry, which was just deeply hurt feeling because I felt like I lost so much when Teddy died. There was loss in every aspect of my life, from close family members, to friends and basically everything in life as I once knew it. Everything changed and at times it was so hard to accept.

This friend had the most beautiful baby boy only months before Teddy was born. We shared our maternity leave when my second son and her daughter were born. It was amazing and when we found out we were pregnant again together we were so excited to share this experience once again. We were going to have two boys within a few months of each other, we both were looking forward to the life we would all share throughout the years. Then my baby died and it was simply impossible to do so. It was just one more layer of loss.

Being 100% honest I so desperately wanted to still be included, but I couldn’t and it was so hard to accept. As more time rolled on and the time we should have spent together drinking tea and talking about life was turned into me being swallowed up in grief and her no doubtably feeling our absence but also building closer relationships with others. Teddy was meant to be her son’s best friend, that was the way we intended it and she also lost that. She felt his loss deeply, I know this to be true. Our friendship was set up to be rocked purely by the situation we were presented with. I was so mad at her at times, but it was never her. It was real life. I wanted her to be drinking tea and sharing baby time with other Moms, I was just so mad and hurt I no longer belonged. I was so tired, I couldn’t ask for what I needed. I just wanted my friend back, I just wanted to be the friend I once was again. I wanted it all to be light, and to be easy but it just wasn’t possible.

I remember the day before Teddy’s first birthday I popped by the baby group as the group leader wanted to hand out Teddy’s Choose Love cards in celebration of him. I arrived and the four girls I should be with had Teddy not died were drinking tea, chatting and all four of their baby boys were there crawling around. They looked so happy, as they all deserved to be. They didn’t see me. I left with such a clear visual of what I desperately wanted and was missing. Unfairly I was hurt by this friend, she did nothing but kept living the life she deserved and the one I wanted for her. But sadly of the four girls it was her my heart chucked daggers at, because it was her my heart was truly connected with and missed deeply. I became angry my baby was dead, and I didn’t get to spend my morning with friends, instead I was driving around alone distributing cards in memory of him. It felt so unfair. I wanted my baby to be alive as well. I wanted the life we had envisioned.

At the time it was so hard for me see it all as it really was. Intellectually I always knew but my heart was broken and this was a layer of it and emotionally was not capable of seeing it clearly. I am so grateful for perspective. I see how much she loved us through it all, I see she was given an impossible hand to win with, I see she felt our loss deeply, I see she loved Teddy as well, I see she also felt his absence and I see she too probably wished I could be the old me and for everything to be different. She lost her friend as well, her #elsupremo.

Grief is so powerful, it doesn’t have mercy on those around it. Shrapnel flies and so many people get hurt. I know in this process many people have been hit by our shrapnel. I am so sorry for each of you and in particular this friend I speak of. Grief is messy, holds no boundaries and is unforgiving. Time though allows for perspective, it allows the fog to lift and clarity to be regained. If you have been hit by someone’s grief shrapnel please give them time, give them grace and give space if needed but just hold on if you can, clarity will come once again. You may never receive the loved one you once had, they are forever changed but maybe just maybe together you can find your way to building a stronger house than the one that had blown down if you still have the foundation remaining.

I am grateful that the foundation to this friendship is still there. I am grateful and hopeful she will be in the category “for a lifetime” and that with time we will rebuild our house. It might not be the pretty tea house it once was, but I have faith it can be stronger. I have moved through the heaviest parts of losing my son and am now in a space where I can once again be a friend, one who can help carry the load of others because mine is once again lighter. I look forward to helping carry some of her load when needed as time moves on. I will be forever grateful she didn’t shut me out, she always stood by even if it was at a distance, I know being hit by our shrapnel has caused pain, and I am so sorry for that. She chose to love us even when it wasn’t easy. #alwayschooselove

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Thanksgiving Reflections

Happy Thanksgiving,

Thanksgiving is my most favourite holiday. It is a time family gathers and focuses on sharing fellowship and good food without material gift giving involved. The fall is my favourite season, not because I love winter and it is around the corner but because you can feel change, the change is fresh, the air is clean and crisp, the leaves are so beautiful and makes the most beautiful crunch as you walk across them, and then for many it is another stage in life with going back to school, starting school, never returning to school after a graduation. It is an opportunity for a fresh start, an opportunity for rebirth. I love that Thanksgiving is a time that people reflect on life and the blessings they have received. For some this isn’t a regular practice and it brings to the forefront what there is in their life to be thankful for. Even on our darkest days there is gratitude to be found.

Long before Teddy I started a gratitude jar, and every evening I would write something I was grateful for the day and put it in the Jar and at the end of the year or when I really was feeling down I would read through them all changing my vibration and lifting my heart from where it was sitting. After Teddy I stopped writing on those little pieces of paper, not sure why, maybe because I was writing so much more on my blog and in my notes section of my phone, maybe I was simply far too exhausted, but I never stopped using gratitude as a way to remain in good or increase my mental health.

Teddy’s journey pointed out how very important the practice of gratitude really was for me. Through him and our experience together I learned quickly to articulate how I was feeling and then ask myself “okay so what is the gift in that?”. Seeing that my feelings held purpose allowed me to honour them exactly how they were, even the super heavy dark ones that felt so hard and uncomfortable, it allowed me to feel okay with them just being as they are knowing that they will change, nothing was forever and a wave would come and carry me for a rest soon enough. Through it the purpose was served, a lesson was learned and I was forever changed by the growth.

This year our Thanksgiving looks a lot different. We have so much to be thankful for. But so much of my gratitude comes from the lessons I learned through Teddy’s death and having to live without him. He changed who we are as a family. But what I didn’t know was who would I be as a Mom of a newborn after experiencing such a loss. I now know I am a Mom who has slowed down, who truly knows how quickly these newborn days go by and as hard as they are I find gratitude for them daily. I am a Mom who has made hard choices because when asking myself “what is the most loving choice for everyone involved” the answer didn’t line up with what I personally truly desired but without wavering honoured the choice that put love for all first. I am a Mom who now knows what it feels like when our family is complete. It is the most satisfying feeling to feel whole, knowing all members of our family are here and accounted for and now we all can just love each other through our intertwined journeys in life. I am a Mom who watches my two oldest boys love in a way that makes my heart sing. They have always had copious amounts of love for each other so it shouldn’t be surprising that the love for their sister would be endless, but it is the tenderness that truly gets me. Everyone should be loved so softly and intentionally as these boys love Zooey. So my gratitude this weekend is for the family we have created, with a huge emphasis on remembering Teddy for all he has given us, to bring us to where we are today. My heart would never have known a love so deeply if it weren’t for him. He is loved, he is missed, and he is remembered. He is LOVE.

My wish for my boys is to grow up knowing the value in gratitude, to know the healing power it holds and for them to incorporate it in their everyday life not only on Thanksgiving. Every day is a day to give thanks, even or maybe more so on our hardest days.

One Thankful Momma