Capture Your Grief – Empathy

Wikipedia says Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. 

What an impossible task when talking about infant loss. . . . that seems too much to ask. I would never want people to feel what I feel. Well at least not all of it, this journey has made my heart grow and I now experience love on a whole new level, so that my friends I would want you to feel but never the deep longing for things to be different, the heart crushing moments or a trigger that sneaks up and takes my breath away. 

I remember years prior to my loss I heard about another wonderful woman who had a similar experience to mine. My heart broke for her, I imagined what it possibly could be like but I did not have the capacity to truly be 100% empathetic for an experience of this gravity. How could I? This is the unimaginable. Without a doubt her experience shook me, it made me realize how unfair life can be and recognized the gravity of her loss, but there was just no way by that definition I could have been fully empathetic. 

What this journey has taught me is we can never judge. We can offer love, we can meet people where they are at but we will never fully understand what it is like for that individual in regards to all or any of life’s challenges. I have had the blessing to share space and hearts with many Moms who have experienced a loss. Every single one of us have a different story, every one of us feel different emotions, experience different experiences, we all have different support networks and a million other factors that make our journey so unique. We all have common threads, most feel similar things or share similar thoughts but that doesn’t mean we are the same so this leaves no room for judgement. After realizing this and being a part of the club, how could I ever expect someone who has never even remotely walked a path like this to feel what I feel. Is it even fair to expect them to try? 

I do know that our story moves people. I know when I share my heart it is met with love from so many. I know that people are inherently good and trying to understand how one is feeling as an amazing act of love and community. I don’t expect people to empathize as defined above, but I am always hopeful people will leave out judgement, offer love as we navigate this journey that has no road map. 

There is no way to “fix” this. The only way for us to survive is with an open loving heart. We appreciate when those around us can embrace the beautiful moments, hold space for the moments the look really messy and understand that this isn’t a journey that is smooth and runs in one direction. We are climbing mountains, falling in pits, tripping over road bumps and sometimes we are moving backwards. We are always moving but not always in an expected direction. We are okay; will are going to be okay today, tomorrow and always. We are blessed with the capacity to feel it all, the hardest moments as well as the most beautiful heart bursting moments. We were made for this journey and as hard as it is our love is stronger. 

Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t imagine how we feel. There is no expectation for you to do so. Give hugs, offer love, say a prayer, or show support in any way that is authentic to you but don’t feel like you need for even a second to imagine yourself in my shoes. They are pretty muddy and uncomfortable at times so I wouldn’t recommend it.

Always Making your Presence Known

 


Dear My Sweet Sweet Angel Theo,

I miss you in unimaginable ways. I wish life sometimes would slow down and allow for you and I to spend more time together. I wonder how busy I would have been with you here in my physical world? I have guilt knowing no matter how busy I would have been I would have had to make time for you, yet because you aren’t I don’t feel okay to say no to other stuff so I can say yes to you. I say yes to you in my heart all day everyday yet having to tell others I need space and time feels hard. I am sorry and I will try to be better at it.

There has been so much that has happened since I wrote you last. Your Dad and I went on the radio to tell your story. You have given us a gift of helping others feel not so alone in their grief. You are my favourite topic so talking about you makes my heart sing. You then made the paper! Can you imagine Theo! Your story was told on the radio and then in the local paper all in the same week. I am so proud of you.

We went to PEI to visit your Great Grandmother Pearl or as your brothers lovingly call her GG. We checked into the hotel entered our room and there was an elephant made from a towel waiting to great us. It made me smile, I know you played a roll in that. The boys played with their cousins, we all spent quality time with your Markin, Great Aunt and GG. It was so nice to be there with that side of the family. I feel as though you would have been a perfect Tomilson so full of love and generosity. I spent a lot of time thinking about you while we were there. I wondered how you were getting along with William your Great Grandfather as he passed away years ago and is eagerly waiting for Pearl the love of his life. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but I envision him to be an older version of you; offered so much love, loved by many and so fondly remembered.

You had a beautiful cousin Gabrielle Elizabeth born only two weeks ago. We haven’t met her but have seen pictures and are eagerly waiting to cuddle her at Thanksgiving when the Hewats get together. I cannot help but think how amazing it would have been to have both babies there together.

We are now at Papineau Lake, your most favourite place. I see you missing from everywhere I look. I feel from the depths of my soul I could weep more tears than the lake has water. Since we have been here my whole body screams and my tears cry “I want my baby back”. I feel this often but here it is overwhelming; to be in your favourite spot, a place where our family gathers to enjoy quality time together and you not be here with us makes my heart ache in a profound way.

I see so many signs you are here with us. When we first arrived I noticed your rock I painted at the retreat sitting on a rock. I asked your Dad why he put it there and he said “I didn’t, I thought you did. Well we better leave it there, he obviously wants it to be there.”. I agreed 100% and it makes me smile as we have no idea how the rock even got to Papineau let alone placed in that particular place. I have found 3 dimes, which is totally bizarre considering where we are but again make me smile. At least twice a day if not more when I look at the clock it will be 1:11, or 4:44 or similar to that. Then yesterday I was doing dishes and with such a heavy heart I was thinking about how incredibly unfair this is, we are in a very large trailer that we bought for you making us a family of five and needing more space and you just aren’t here. As that thought left my mind the lights start to flicker. A few moments later I say “thank you, you are right I know you are here” and the lights return to normal.

You see Theo, I will never stop wishing life was different, that you were here with us . Your absence hurts in ways I can’t describe. I know you would have loved the beach with the boys, floating around in the water and being loved by all the family. I see you missing in so many ways and then in so many other ways I see that you are right here with us. Thank you for showing me how truly close you are, especially in the times my heart hurts the most.

Your forever loving Mommy

 

The link to the radio show is below. Scroll to the last hour and that is where we start.

 

The link to the article in the paper is below.

Choosing love: a family’s journey through loss

Happy Father’s Day 


Theo, 

Did you know on Sunday is Father’s Day? Your Father is amongst the most deserving Dads to be celebrated. Sunday is going to a day that will be much like Mother’s Day beautiful and heavy hearted as you can’t be with us. 

Your Dad has the hardest job a Dad could ever have, to father a child he can’t hold. You see Moms are always thought of when a child passes. Every day since you have left our world I have been so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by friends, most of our family and even strangers who check in and see how I am coping day to day. Your Dad is largely alone in his grief. His heart longs for you as much as mine does. His heart is broken in ways that can’t be mended yet because he is a man it is perceived that he is okay.  

When you chose him to be your Dad you sure knew what you were doing. If you were here with us he would teach you to play soccer, help you build Lego towers, take you to the hotel, show you what working hard looks like, teach you tenacity, ensure your moral compass was strong, he would pour endless love into you, he would teach you respect, compassion, and the importance to give back to your community. But you aren’t here. You left us as he met you and his only connection to you is through prayer, his unconditional love that he sends you every minute of every day, and finding comfort knowing you are always with us. He is the best dang Dad to a son he can only love from a distance. 

I am so proud of your Dad. He has loved me through the hardest days of my life. He has been strong when I have been weak and has done nothing but love me more and more as each day passes. To watch your dad with Jack and Patrick makes my heart sing. They are my most favourite trio and yet I so badly wish it was a foursome. I see you missing every time I look at them. Ohh the fun you would have had! 

So as we navigate Father’s Day with love and grace please know you will be on our minds the entire time and we will be lifting up prayers to you.   

We love you endlessly. Because you lived, your Dad is pretty much the best Dad to walk this earth. 

Your forever loving Mommy. 


27 New Sisters

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Theo my sweet boy,

Eli, Jayden, Landon, Knox, Calvin, Heartly, Levon, Luca, Sam, Tiago, Skyla, Halyn, Camilla, Grace, Scanlon, Isaac, Ember, Watson, Poppy, Benedict, Grace, Lauren, Larkin, Paige, Angelica, Lakelyn, Clara are some the sweetest angel friends you are blessed to have. To hear their names is like music to my ears.

Wow! What a week we just had. I had no idea your friends would be so incredible and their Moms would become some of my most favourite people. These ladies are generous with love, gifts, and their talents. These women are all individually so different and every single one of them have qualities that make me smile just thinking of them.

To spend a week with you, surrounded by these women and their babies was an experience I am having trouble to articulate. It was one week of my life where I was guaranteed to be understood, heard, valued, and had the ability to be open without having to consider how it will be perceived. There were no stupid comments, no one with an expectation to be over the loss, and there was no well intended comments that hurt. There was an abundance of love, there were hearts that feel what we feel, there were people who listen and are comfortable with our grief, there were more hugs, tears and laughter in the week than ever in my life.

Women are powerful, strong, and have an endless amount of love for each other. 28 women gathered for five days and the common thread was a lost child and profound heartache. We came from different parts of the world, with different stories, journeys and life experiences, and yet our hearts were broken in the same way. Our hearts carry the same weight, are broken in ways that can never be mended and yet have space to hold for others and a willingness along with pure desire to hold that space for a fellow grieving Mom.

There is something powerful to look into a Mother’s eyes who has a heart mirrored to yours and see her pain and realize how similar it truly is to yours. Without words she feels you and knows exactly what you would say if words were needed.

During this week I knew you were there just as all the Moms knew your friends were with them. I know healing happened for each of us. The signs were always there, from green orbs showing up in pictures, an eagle circling us on more than one occasion, and many other more personal ways you all showed us individually that you were present.

We are all home now and our safety net is gone, many of us are back in the real world where people don’t understand, a place people feel entitled to an opinion about our grief. Anyone who thinks our grief is over or should be shortly, is living a very sad life without capacity to love deeply, and for them I feel sorry. I will pray for them, pray that one day their capacity to love grows and when they eventually love to a deep depth they may at that time have compassion and an understanding on how the heart works but until then I will give them grace because they are ignorant and simply don’t know what they don’t know.

So Theo and my ladies, my sisters in-loss, the woman who get it and make my heart sing, together we are strong and for all the whispers we hear and don’t acknowledge, the comments that sting, and all the other typical bad behaviour because of you I brush it off and know that is about their lack of compassion and nothing to do with us. After being in such a safe environment the reality of the real world seems to sting just that much more as we haven’t fully put our armor back on.

Theodore, please tell your friends how deeply they are loved by me. I feel so blessed to have shared this one on one time with you. Spending time with these ladies was a gift from God for which I will be forever grateful.

Thank you,

Your forever grateful Mommy

 

I am finally rich. 


Theo my forever son. 

Today I have been looking at pictures of your service. Particularly the ones that captured an embrace from a family member or friend. I love these pictures as amongst the sadness I see the light, I see the love we are surrounded with and I see how truly blessed we are. 

As time rolls on and more light is let in, my heart desires to feel love and joy and I start to feel more at ease. I think of where I would have been if I didn’t have the friends that I do. Those who support us from a far and those who are close enough to hold space for us and love us in a more physical way. Theo you and I are so lucky to be loved so deeply by so many. 

Life is about love, and touching the hearts of others. To live a rich life without love is simply impossible. To live a life with deep loving connections is incredible and to be surrounded by those connections in your deepest hour allows you to see purpose. Because you lived, my life is forever rich. 

When I was a little girl and I had visions of my life, one was to be rich and all the ways I would make that happen. I had no idea in my young innocence that to be rich was as simply as loving, truly, deeply and unconditionally. It is because of you Theo I am finally rich. 

I love you, I will always love you and my gratitude for you coming into my life is endless. 

Your forever loving Mommy. 

The Days Roll On


My precious Teddy,

It is 5:22 am, the birds are singing, your brothers and Father are fast asleep and I am awake thinking of you. 150 days ago you entered into the world and left 22 precious minutes later. My heart met yours, my eyes saw the wonder you really were. You were so beautiful to me, and when I looked at you I instantly saw a video reel of an entire lifetime that will never be lived, all that you would never get a chance to experience all that I desperately wanted to experience with you.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, then Monday marks the 5 month anniversary of your birth and passing. It is hard to believe so many days have simply rolled on by. Tomorrow I should be waking up, your Dad and I exhausted from another night with little sleep, seeing your smiling little face, having your two brothers make breakfast with Dad and all of us together in bed laughing and loving each other, feeling so grateful I am the one you three call Mom.

As I lay here I wonder what you would have looked like at 5 months old. Would you have grown super fast and been a big boy like your brothers? Would you have been funny or taken on the roll of being our more serious baby? Would you have been easy going and a joy to take everywhere or would we have struggled to keep a schedule that works for you? The list of things I wonder is endless. What I know and never need to wonder is that I would have loved and appreciated you, I would have accepted you for whoever you wanted to be, I would have supported you in any and all of your dreams and would have provided you with all the tools to become the man you wanted to be.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. . . Tomorrow I will celebrate being blessed with three boys. I will celebrate having the honour to Mother each one in their own personal journeys. Your journey is one I wouldn’t have chosen for you, and I am sure in many ways this is preparing me for journeys Jack and Patrick may take one day that I too wouldn’t have chosen and yet will support. You have given me the hardest job a Mother can ever have and that is to mother a child I no longer hold anywhere but in my heart.

I love you, I know you have been with me this morning and I know this is why I couldn’t sleep. Thank you for choosing me to be your Mom. It is an honour to hold you in my heart and to know with the millions of woman you could have chosen, it was me you wanted. I am blessed and grateful.

Loving you is easy, living with you only in my heart is hard.

It is now 5:55am, thank you for waking me up to spend this time together.

Your forever loving Mommy