As The Wind Blows

As the calendar turns over and we move into November my heart always twinges. This year it wasn’t as obvious. It shows up in irritability, feelings of anxiousness, and a level of sadness. Then all the signs of Teddy appear, I feel him close, his presence is made abundantly clear and it all made so much sense why these emotions are so close to the surface.

November comes with cooler weather, sometimes light snowfalls, the air is crisp and the wind has a different feeling of power as blows around. It is only this year that I am aware all of those things are triggers for my heart when it comes to Teddy’s loss. December was very mild the year he died. It was more like a November.

My heart and body won’t forget these imprints even though my conscious mind often does.

Grief is so interesting. It changes so much as time passes. Four years ago I was so consumed with loving this baby so deeply before his time was over. My heart was all of his. One year later my heart was shattered, I remember so clearly feeling so heartbroken for me, the Mom who endured it all. Each day that passed I remembered so clearly where I was the year before, I couldn’t believe what my heart was expected to live through.

Time passes, and here I am four years later. Day to day my heart and life are filled with so much joy. The heaviness has lifted and an outsider would have no clue all that my heart has endured when they see me out with my three vibrant living children. Time didn’t heal my heart, I did a lot of work to find healing and to lift the heavy blanket of raw grief and time was the gift that allowed that to happen.

So today, I am in our dearest Teddy’s favourite place. I feel him. I miss him and the grief is heavier than it has been in many months, shamefully or maybe proudly I don’t remember the last time when my heart felt this heavy.

Three years ago I never thought the day would come when my heart would feel light and the heavy days were no longer the norm. I didn’t think the day would come that I could allow myself to move through the grief and without guilt, welcoming joy and allow it to be our primary emotion. I am so proud of myself and Ryan that we have done exactly that. Doing so doesn’t exempt us from the days that grief still washes over but it is no longer scary because we know with certainty it is temporary, joy will return.

People talk about grief, you can read about it, but until you experience it you truly have no idea what it will look like. It is ever-evolving, it is unique to everyone and can be unpredictable. I have no idea what this December will feel like this year. I certainly didn’t anticipate how the arrival of November would feel and how so many emotions have surfaced by the environmental triggers.

I don’t know what is to come but today I am holding Teddy so close to my heart, I am at his favourite place, I will feel him in the breeze, I will smell him in the bonfire, I will hear him in the movement of the lake and will see him in his siblings eyes. He is woven throughout each of us and I may argue he the most beautiful common thread within us.

Teddy, the truth is my heart misses you. . .

All the time.

Every second.

Every minute.

Every hour.

Every day.

XOXO Your Momma ❤️

Strength Isn’t Always As Strong As It Appears

Originally posted in Still Standing Magazine

Strength is often talked about when discussing the grieving.

When someone has experienced a significant loss, onlookers or people lining the sidelines often say things about the person’s strength with admiration.

What if this perceived strength comes at a cost?

What if that person you are admiring for their strength isn’t strong?

What if they have the strength to hold it together for appearances and once they are alone they crumble?

Not everyone is comfortable or wanting to be viewed as broken, so they put a brave face on to greet the outside world, yet below the thin shield of armour they are drowning in grief.

This perceived strength often gives those on the sidelines the ability to feel okay with not helping as much as needed.

They see a strong spirited person carrying on as they once did and it appears they are ”doing okay” so the lifelines of community help become shorter and shorter.

The grieving becomes more and more exhausted and feeling more and more alone in their grief.

It is common to feel alone in grief.

Those around you can carry on with life as they always have, yet time has stalled for the grieving.

Routine tasks take considerable effort, and they are often left feeling like the village of help that is needed has disappeared.

People say it takes a village to raise a child, which I agree –

But it also takes the same village to move through life and grief when a child dies.

Regular life is so hard to live when you have been swallowed up in grief.

Don’t always believe that brave face is perceived strength; below it is most likely a person who can use your help.

When my son died, I had no choice but to continue regular life; I had two other boys that needed to live their life and couldn’t do so without their Mom.

From the outside I was so strong, I had it all together, but the truth was I was broken.

My brain wasn’t fully functioning, my body was exhausted, and my heart was so heavy it felt impossible to carry at times.

I did all that needed to be done and appeared strong, and I gave everyone the impression I was okay, but usually it was a farce.

For example, often I would cry my way to the grocery store, I would sit in the parking lot pulling myself together before suiting up in my armour of strength and even slapping a smile on my face.

Living in a small community, it is impossible to go out and not see people you know. A smiling face would often make people less awkward around me.

I could muster the strength to buy groceries, but I didn’t have the strength for other’s awkward behaviour or conversations.

A smile usually avoided those moments and put others at ease.

Strength is a gift and a thief. It helps the grieving move through a day; life doesn’t halt because you are hurting.

It prevents giving the grieving more to cope with such as awkward conversations, making others uncomfortable or seeing the look in someone’s eye when they get uncomfortable knowing you are not okay.

Strength helps the grieving, but it also hinders them stealing support they desperately need.

It gives those who should be fully supporting the grieving a reason not to do as much as is needed. It gives them a reason not to show up.

If you are on the sidelines of a person in grief, show up.

Don’t take anything at face value. If you love them, like them, or know them, then it is your place to show up.

You can’t fix the broken heart, but you can lessen the burden.

Meet people where they are and find your way to be comfortable with the idea that they aren’t okay.

It is okay for the grieving not to be okay, don’t make it uncomfortable for them, love them, and acknowledge their pain.

After all what choice do the grieving have?

Most can’t allow grief to swallow them up and not fight their way through it.

Most of us have jobs, responsibilities, families to support, and regular life that needs to be lived.

Strength isn’t often a choice; we have to dig deep and find some to get through our day. Life doesn’t stop for us.

Do yourself and your loved one a favour, don’t mistakenly see strength as a free pass to forgo offering your help.

They need you to step up, be there, show up and love fiercely.

Find ways to help with simple everyday tasks; it can make a world of difference.