2017 Living not Grieving 


Dear Teddy

April 23, 2016 I wrote “I know how I want the ending to look like. I want the last chapter to describe how I did let go, and how I am able to love you wholeheartedly and how the profound pain and sadness is replaced with peace. I will simply love you, our experience and accept this is all it was supposed to be, and no longer long for more and to be grateful for all I have.”

It has been 330 days since you left. Each day has been different from the next. Somedays have been peaceful and easy and many have been heavy, hard and at times down right ugly. As your birthday is quickly approaching I have been reflecting on the past 330 days and how I want our next year to look like.

I have not 100% arrived at the final chapter but I feel so very close to it. I know my journey with you will be forever changing but I feel so much peace. I haven’t quit wishing things were different, but I think of you and smile rather than having tears pour from me. I have my moments when a feeling of sadness washes over me but it comes, I honour it and it passes. I am okay with sharing space with sadness and I am okay having it leave me.

I spent time holding onto grief. There was a period of time where I truly felt my grief was tied to the weight of my love and closeness to you. When joy overstayed its welcome I would quickly shove it away as feared I was losing you. There was a period of time where the slight notion of having space between you and I would bring me to my knees. As time moved on, I have done a huge amount of work and I am now at a place where joy stays for weeks on end and is welcome to stay forever. I no longer feel desperation to hold on to you. I just know you are always there.

I have chosen as we move into the next year to focus on the love. The love you give me, the lessons of love you provided, and the love that has grown exponentially for your brothers and especially for your father. I am not spending another year grieving, I am spending it living. I want all of our 2017 to be about living in the moment, being present with those we love and being thankful for all we have. I know undoubtedly you will be right beside us each step of the way sending your love and light our way endlessly. You will always be loved and honoured but it will be done in a different way than it has this past year.

I thank you for being so close when I needed you to and for helping me work through letting go. I thank you for teaching me how to love you quietly, and how to be present in each moment. Being present allows me to honour all emotions and let them freely flow through.

I have been so blessed with such amazing support. You being my beacon of hope and love, then our counsellor who has help navigate our marriage, my favourite energetic workers and some of our friends and family have listened for hours, have sat quietly while I cried, have held space when nothing else was needed and have supported us in their authentic way. We have been loved and supported by so many near and far. Without each member of the support network I would never have found my way. Grief can’t be navigated alone, you need a team to help sail that boat.

Teddy, you are my son, today and forever. My love isn’t measured by my tears but by the love in my heart. Only you truly know the weight of my love and it is never ending and forever growing.

Love you always,

Your Mommy

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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 – 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 – Myths 

When I think of myths I think of all the things I may have thought to be true at one time or some experiences I have encountered. So here are a few from my perspective.

Myth #1 – Everything happens for a reason.

Truth – Many positive things come from terrible situations. Many people are given gifts and feel grateful for these gifts that have come because of the tragedy but I am not a believer that EVERYTHING (somethings yes but not everything) happens for a reason. I think we all have the potential for huge personal growth during trying times but that individual has to be open to accepting gifts and do the work so growth can happen. I also believe that challenging times are the biggest teachers but I also believe lessons can be learned in a multitude of ways.

To tell a parent who lost a child in an accident whether it be at birth or years later that it happened for a reason could possible end with hurt feelings. This isn’t a phrase that provides comfort to most I have met and even those that believe their loss did happen for a reason often don’t want it pointed out.

I believe Teddy’s life was meant to be short. I believe he is my greatest teacher and leaves the most beautiful legacy of love. I know in my heart things were meant to be this way for us, but we aren’t everyone.

Myth #2 – With time you will get over it.

Truth – I am not sure what being “over it” even looks like. I don’t have a goal to get over it. I will forever think of my son, I forever will speak his name, I forever will wonder what life would have looked like. I expect I will always have moments that will take my breath away, moments that I wish from my entire being that things were different and moments that bring me to tears. I also have a vision of being able to allow waves of peace to come and stay for very lengthy periods of time, a time when thinking of him warms my heart and makes me smile more than it makes me cry and long for him, and I believe with time this will all feel lighter, the loss will be easier to carry, but being “over it” won’t happen. Not in this lifetime.

Myth #3 – God wanted another Angel.

Truth – God did not want another angel. He has plenty and didn’t need my baby for himself. The God I know would never be that selfish. With life there are imperfections, there are events that are out of God’s hands and during these times God is beside you. He weeps the tears you weep, he holds you tightly and feels what you feel. He didn’t do this to me, he is there to support me and guide me because it happened. I also know he is loving and protecting Teddy until we can be together again.

Myth #4 – It is easier because you didn’t have much time with him. You didn’t really know him.

Truth – It isn’t easier or harder it just IS. I can only compare it to imagining the magnitude of loosing another son instead of him and my heart would feel the same. Memories are only a piece of grief. Many times memories make it easier and times they it make it harder. The grief of a baby is no different to any other being. You see them missing from every aspect of your life. They should have a first birthday party, a first day of school, go on dates, graduate, get married all these big moments, as well as the small ones. I should have three boys to tuck in and kiss at night, I should have three to buckle in the car, three to buy a treat for and a million other moments in a day that should happen but don’t. I notice when it is two and not three. Love doesn’t start when a birth takes place, love starts when the idea of becoming pregnant is ignited. We knew about Teddy for three years before I was pregnant with him. We paid fees every month to keep him safe until we were ready. We talked about him, we envisioned our life and we thought it was intended. Our love was fierce for him the day he was made not the day he was born. Crazy enough, I loved him before Patrick his older brother. (Oh science!! Crazy eh!)

Myth #5 – You are lucky you can always have another baby. Or you are so lucky to have your other kids.

Truth – That is like saying “you are so lucky you still have one leg”. Ahhh ya they probably are but they were meant to have two. They still feel that leg missing emotionally and physically. Having one leg doesn’t make up for the leg that is lost. Or to say when someone looses a parent “You are so lucky to still have a Dad”. Pretty sure that person wanted their Mom as well.

I am not greedy but I wanted all my boys. I am blessed to have two with me but the third should have been as well. My other two can’t replace him, they can’t make up for his loss. Having another baby is also not a replacement and it comes with many emotions. Pregnancy after loss is not a stress free nine months. Once the baby is here you also experience all that you couldn’t with the one you lost. These reminders are bittersweet.

We all have blessings and we all have challenges and I believe if we can honour the challenges for what they are and leave out platitudes people’s hearts will feel respected and healing will be easier.

Capture Your Grief – Who Are They? 

Theodore Rutherford Williams. Also known a Theo, Teddy, and my forever baby. He is a son, a little brother, a Grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. He was a boy who was loved long before he was transferred to his forever home, my womb. He spent 3 years in the freezer and 3 months of that with his brother Jack. He is a teacher of all things to do with love. He has been my biggest blessing and largest heartache. His life was short but full of purpose. Every second of heartache is worth it to have spent 3 years in my heart waiting to be transfer to my womb, the 30 weeks in my womb and the precious 22 minutes after birth. My gratitude for him choosing me as his Mother is unending. He shows me how close he is in a multitude of ways, I feel so blessed.