Capture Your Grief – My Promise To You

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When we received the news Teddy would die our initial reaction was devastation. Walking out of the Kingston General Hospital was easy, we were on autopilot. Each foot was placed before the other and we found our car and our way out of the parking garage. I think that is what shock feels like. We didn’t make it too far down the road before we had to pull over and allow all the emotions to overcome us. It was messy, it was hard and it is a moment I never want to relive. It was the precise moment who we once were, was forever gone. It was also the precise moment a promise was made. We promised each other we would put our marriage first. We were told how most marriages don’t survive the loss of child. So the promise was made and our marriage will always be priority number one and our boys will be a very close second. If our marriage is solid our boys will benefit tenfold. It was that moment that it became so clear whatever choices we made for the rest of our lives had to be made from love. Love became our driving force for all things. Our promise to Teddy was to Always Choose Love.

With those two promises we have been amazing at protecting our marriage. For us that is an easy one. Our promise to always choose love is easy 90% of the time, but we are human and there are times other emotions take over and we have to be reminded that the choice we are making isn’t the most loving one. For me that reminder can come straight from Ryan, or our boys, Jack is the first to let us know a tone of voice isn’t loving. The reminder can come from a whisper, my subconscious mind will nag me to the point I am forced to reflect on a moment that a better choice could have been made. Finally, I no longer can go to bed without spending a quiet moment going over my day and finding ways I can improve on Choosing Love. I am far from perfect but my promise is made and I will always work towards being able to Always Choose Love, especially when it is hard. I am so aware now, I am so grateful that it has become such a focus in our home. We talk to our boys about choosing love, and giving love to everyone daily. This promise is the greatest gift Teddy gave our family. His life was about loving unconditionally. He is our greatest teacher and without a shadow of a doubt our life is better because of this lesson.

Capture Your Grief – Lemons and Lemonade 

I am not sure if it is always about making lemonade. . . Rather than being open to the blessings and the lessons that hard situations offer. I don’t make the blessings, I don’t create the lessons, they are right there for the taking. In order for me to see them, to be able to appreciate them and claim them for myself I have to keep my heart open, I have to sit in a vulnerable state. Creating a hard shell over my broken heart may potentially protect me from more pain but it creates an impenetrable force around me preventing me to make space to grow and accept the lessons and blessing.

I think to make lemonade is to make something sweet out of a sour event in life. I struggle with this since for me I don’t feel I have made anything. I am just riding the wave, and walking the path this journey has lead me on. I believe in all hard situations if we are open we will see the beauty and we will experience the blessings that come with it. I am just not the creator of that, they are always present regardless if I see them or not.

I also have a hard time thinking anything about Teddy is sour. People have referred to the day he passed away as the worst day of my life. That simply isn’t true. How could the day we met and only time I had with him be the worst? It was the best day. The hardest day but the best day. Teddy is light, Teddy is joy. His absence makes my heart hurt in unimaginable ways but that is only because he is loved so deeply because he matters and because he is so great that even after 100 years it wouldn’t have been enough time. He was born lemonade, he has cleared a path for all things sweet and all things love to be present, so there was no sour to turn sweet.

Capture Your Grief – Surrender and Embrace 

The feeling of having to surrender isn’t new to me. Our first experience as a couple having to learn to surrender and embrace the journey we were on dates back to about 6 years ago when we experienced challenges conceiving a baby. At the time it was all consuming and an emotional roller coaster. Every time I encountered a moment where I felt in control I was quickly reminded I had none. I believe this experience prepared us to deal with health issues of our second son. The path we walked with him and navigating that experience prepared us for the death of our third son Teddy.

The day we were told Teddy had no chance to survive outside the womb was the ultimate test for us in surrendering. We had no control of his outcome. It was going to be as his life’s journey was intended; short but powerful. I couldn’t make him better, I couldn’t protect him or our hearts from being broken. All we could do as a couple was to choose love. We chose to give him all the love he deserved, a lifetime’s worth and embrace the fact our time will be short.

As our journey has progressed and he was born then our goodbyes were said, each step we were faced with a choice and each step we chose to surrender and embrace our reality. It wasn’t always an easy choice, many times I needed to consciously talk myself through it. I do know once I let go it is much easier to find peace. To feel grounded in the journey.

It has been 10 months or 304 days ago that we said our goodbyes and surrendering looked different. I was no longer surrendering to allow for space to fill Theo with love but to give myself grace as we navigated grief. When powerful and heavy grief sets in it can be scary. It can be so overwhelming that you wonder if you will ever feel joy again. At first I felt an urge to fight the feelings and tried so hard for everything to be like it once was. Grief from the loss of a child is so large it resembles a massive wall that it is impossible to push through. After a few waves of peace came through I learned that no matter how heavy things felt that I soon would be given a break and the heaviness would lift and feeling sad would be replaced by joy. Knowing this allows me to surrender to those heavy days. To feel them, deeply and fully. It allows me to emerge with personal growth as I am picked up by a wave of peace.

Recently I have learned to surrender to peace. Not long ago I had the realization that feeling peace for any lengthy period of time made me comfortable. I felt like I was moving away from Teddy. I had to work my way through feeling that my level of grief = closeness or amount of love I feel for Theo. My heart and mind now know this simply isn’t true. Intellectually I knew this not to be true but the connection between your mind and heart can often experience a disconnect. Now that my heart has come to terms with this, surrendering to the peace and allowing it to stay for as long as it can has really helped me be more present in our journey.

Surrendering and embracing to all life’s experiences allows you to be more present in them. To feel them more and to absorb all that they truly are. It isn’t easy but many things worthwhile aren’t.

Capture Your Grief- Support Circles 

In my experience support comes in many forms. I have family, I have friends, I have my Sisters-in-Loss, I have acquaintances, I have strangers, and I have professional help. Each having a place they own on this journey with me. The support from each is different but all equally valuable.

I have a circle who are very good at providing and helping with basic needs, such as food delivered to my door, flowers, thoughtful gifts, beautiful cards and letters or emails.

I have a circle who send messages to ensure I know how deeply I am loved and in particular a dear friend from out of town who religiously sent a text everyday letting me know how loved I was during the early months when days were so hard. I am not sure she will ever know how much of a gift that was. It was a lifeline in those early days.

I have a very small circle that are willing with coffee/tea and a treat in hand to walk through my door and listen to me when it is hard, when things get messy. They can hold space as I cry and feel my heart hurting without getting uncomfortable. They listen, sometimes offer advice but mostly give permission to feel what I am feeling and agree how badly this all sucks.

I have those in my life who aren’t comfortable with any of it and would prefer my old self to return. Or those who think enough is enough we are approaching 10 months in a few days and they are done with asking or talking about it.

I have a circle of online support. Those who I don’t see in person but are always willing to extend love, prayers and encouragement.

The circle of Sisters-in-loss I have are by far some of the most loving, and emotionally giving, kickass women I have ever had the privilege to share space with. My heart is forever grateful to have these woman in my life. To be able to have another Mom who feels what I feel and for them to have space in their heart that is also broken to love me through my journey is a gift from above. These women are heroes.

I have created a circle of professional help that without it my journey would be a mess I am sure. The circle includes my dearest friend and Reiki Master, a Shaman, a Grief Counsellor, our Minister, and newly added personal trainer. Becoming more physically active has really helped recently.

The one man circle I would be lost without is my husband Ryan. He is the foundation of this journey. He is my rock. I have never received love in my life as fiercely as I have since this journey began. He has been so determined that nothing will break our marriage. His commitment to me and our family is something that I believe is so rare in this day and age. My heart is safe in his hands, and he is my protector against all. Our love runs deep. It is something that isn’t easy to articulate but what I know without a shadow of a doubt is it is a gift from God. We both know we were meant for each other and we were destined for this journey. Together nothing feels impossible.

What I have come to learned is that each person no matter what circle they are in deserves a spot in this journey. It is no coincidence that you (yes you reading this), whoever you may be, you were intended to also have a role. No matter how far removed or up close and uncomfortable (or not) it may be, you too were intended to be a part of Teddy’s legacy and journey of love. This isn’t all about me. He called everyone in to learn about a deeper love. To challenge you to choose love especially when it is hard to make that choice.

I have come to love many people for the role they play and I will be forever grateful. This journey can’t be a one man show. It is one of community, one that relies on help, love and support from all, in all different forms.

So thank you for being in one or many of my circles. Thank you for being open to come along for this wild ride and opening your hearts to choosing love even if it was only once.

Heartache & Joy Can Coexist. 

I am not expert on grief. Grief and I have only been acquainted for 9 months. But I have become an expert on my grief, not my husband’s, and certainly not yours, but my own ever changing journey of grief.

This is the thing about grief; no two people have the same journey; not even if two people lost the same baby, or father, or sibling, or pet. The journey will always be experienced differently. It only makes sense to me that this would be true since we have all experienced a very different life leading up to that loss. We all have very different relationships with our support networks and different relationships with those in our lives who aren’t supportive. But mostly it comes down to the fact that we simply have a very different lens through which we view the experience.

Meeting those who have experienced a loss very similar to my loss of Theodore has shown me that as much as we have similar threads woven in our hearts, we are all very much on our own journey. The authentic sharing of our hearts and feelings allows space for these differences. A deeper connection is made when a thread that feels so close to a thread you carry is exposed or when you hold space for a thread that isn’t something that you have experienced or feel but can love that person whole heartedly while meeting them where they are at.

The last few weeks have really made me take a hard look at my journey and all the experiences I have gone through. I have encountered some of the most beautiful people who can surprisingly do all the right things, which often include doing nothing but sending love openly and acknowledging where I am at without judgment. Then there are those who are able to offer love as long as it doesn’t distract from their personal happiness. Experiencing this a few times I have realized our society is very uncomfortable with allowing heartache and joy to coexist. Life isn’t linear. It has many twists and turns, hills, valleys and mountains. It has moments that leave you bursting with love and joy as well as moments that are heart wrenching. It is unreasonable to think that we would all be at the same place at the same time. The only way to fully support each other through real life is by allowing both heartache and joy to coexist in a beautifully open way. One simply can’t distract from the other; allowing both to be present makes it authentically beautiful.

After digging a bit deeper within myself and wondering why people struggle with the notion that heartache and joy can coexist, I found myself returning to the judgment piece. Often people who have experienced a loss of any kind feel judged. Those surrounding a person experiencing loss are often peeking in a window to that person’s world looking for signs of them “getting better”. People love to say statements such as “you are doing amazing” or “you aren’t getting better” or even “you seem to be getting worse”. The truth is all of that is garbage. It is just a judgmental perspective even when said out of love. The truth is “better” or “getting worse” are just your judgmental observations of my grief and have nothing to do with me. I have just been me experiencing my emotions. They may last a minute, a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime and anything in between. I don’t feel better or worse, I just feel. Sometimes it is heavy and may look like it is getting messy and sometimes it is light and beautiful but one isn’t better than the other. It truly is nothing more than IT JUST IS.

Maybe if people can view the hard stuff in life without judgment and accept it for what it is, then it will become easier to allow space for it right beside another person’s beautiful happy moments in life.

Because no two people’s experience with loss is identical it makes it impossible to compare journeys and leaves no room for judgment. The hard truth is you simply can’t fairly judge what you don’t know. It has been said a million times but, there is no timeline for grief. I personally don’t agree with labeling stages of grief. It just is. Meeting a person where they are at, with no judgment, while loving them through it all is the only way to support one another in life.

My only advice to loving a person experiencing grief is to acknowledge their feelings, give them endless amounts of love and recognize that your impressions and judgments about their grief is truly about you and not them. They are just feeling what their heart feels just like you do every day about a million other things.

 

 

Your Thread is Forever 

Teddy playing with his brother last Sunday morning. (Look for the green orbs)
Teddy my sweet,

I come to you today with love and gentle arms that hold you dear. Life has been ever changing since you came and left our physical world. My life has always been forever evolving, I have been given a blessed life in that way. Since you enter my life, my world changes so quickly, sometimes from moment to moment and sometimes in ways that are permanent but it is those shifts I am most grateful for.

I have days that my heart is so heavy I wonder how I can carry this weight for the rest of forever. I also have days where my heart is light, it feels beautiful, I see things that remind me of you and instead of sadness it brings joy. I know I need to walk the path that leads me to joy. To the place you would want me to be, yet walking it is scary; to let go of the heartache, to allow it to slip a way without fear it may never come back. I have been so scared to make this choice as it feels like I am walking away from you. My brain knows this is not the truth but my heart can sure make it feel as if it is. I am choosing to be brave, I am choosing to allow some of the pain shed from my being allowing space for more joy to grow.

You are a thread that is woven into the fabric of our family. A thread that is so important because with it we are stronger. This is a thread that can never be removed, can never be forgotten, and now without it we simply wouldn’t be us. I have had fear people with time wouldn’t see your thread woven into the fabric of our family. I have had fear people wouldn’t see how important you really are or how much you matter. The truth is I know, your Dad knows, your brothers know and those who love us know how special  you are so maybe that is all that really matters. It is enough that only we know and those that are close to us who choose to understand will also always know and maybe it is time for me to be okay with allowing you to just be uniquely you and loved by those close to us just as you would had you lived.

I know as I walk this journey with you I can’t make a wrong turn but I can make better turns. I can make choices that can foster a life with more love and more joy and by doing so doesn’t take away from you but adds to you and your value to our family. I want our family to be woven with a multitude of colourful threads all equally important as the next. Your colour will always shine bright and be visible to our family.

Walking the path to joy isn’t always easy. I have learned that we need to protect our hearts sometimes. We have to take time for ourselves and that is is okay to not put ourselves in situations that triggers heartache. Recently those who truly love us, have been extremely loving as we have chosen to tend to our heart’s needs and we are so grateful for the unconditional love we have received.

Teddy, I am always here, I will always love you. Till the day we meet again you will be loved, this much I know is true.

Your Mommy

PS – Thank you for showing up in our pictures this last weekend. I love it when you show up.