Five Tips on Making a Prayer Flag for Your Child. 

The Day of Hope – Prayer Flag Project is coming up, in one week (August Nineteenth) to be exact!

This is my second year participating in the project. Last year was definitely a learning process for me in participating with the community and making something that reflected my grief, motherhood, and of course Jensen. I wrote a little post to introduce my flag and explain the meaning behind it, here. This year, I’ve been a little more relaxed with my flag. I had one design in mind, but when I went into the craft store, that idea went out the window and I came up with something so fitting. 

I’m not going to share the whole flag and it’s meaning until next week, but I wanted to show some snippets of the flag while I was creating today. Also, I wanted to give you all some tips if you’ve saw the project, but have been weary of committing. Hopefully this can inspire you to be apart of this great project and day. 


Check Out CarlyMarie’s Page for Information 

CarlyMarie is a beautiful loss mom who has been in the community for ten years now. She does all sorts of projects through the year to helped bereaved parents with their grief and honoring all our children. This page is going to give you the complete background of what the project stands for and how it came to creation. It also gives you a great starting place when it comes to purchasing items for your flag. Such as, the dimensions of the fabric you’ll use and videos of how others have made prayer flags. 

Also, it includes event links and social media hashtags to connect you more to the community and see what everyone else made. 

Get Creative 

The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating a prayer flag for your child. Whatever you can think of, you can create. I know it. 

Last year, Jensen’s ‘J’ initial was the highlight of the flag. Incorporating their name or their initials is a perfect way to add a big touch of them. I also used his colors, blue and orange to focus on. These colors were used in his nursery and for my baby shower. You could possibly use a color you identify your child with or any theme. Another item I incorporated last year was flowers. I always picture Jensen sending me flowers and it was so peaceful adding them. If you get signs from your child, such as feathers or butterflies, add them. This is the fun part of seeing how all our babies are different. 

This year, I’m mainly using his colors and buttons… so excited to share what everything means next week. 


Don’t Overthink Your Design 

I was guilty of this last year. Sometimes (most of the time) I can be a perfectionist; I’m a Virgo, enough said. 

You know your child better than everyone else. Whatever you choose to add to your flag will be perfect no matter what. Everyone is in different stages of their grief too, which will be apparent in each and every project. Listen to that creative voice in your head and jump in. 

Here’s something else not to worry about, if you don’t find an item that you had pictured in your mind, don’t compromise, but don’t let it drag you down. You will be surprised of what you can create. For me, it’s always way better when it’s done than what I had originally planned. 

Have Fun 

The hard fact is we never wanted to be in this position of making a prayer flag for our child. There are hundreds of things we should be doing for them instead. Sometimes projects like these can be overwhelming depending on where you are in you’re journey. Believe me, I understand. 

I urge you to try it though. 

It is so heartwarming to be making something for them. This is one way we can still parent them and show our love. Working with your hands is so healing and, for me, it’s fun to actually hold items that remind me of Jensen. I put on some Jensen jams and rocked away with my glue gun in hand. Try to smile and even have fun while creating. 

Embrace the Community Cheering You On

Whether you decide to share you flag publicly or keep it private, we’re all here for you, always. There are times when we don’t feel confident in what we’re doing, especially after loss. There are people, like me, that are here to encourage you to keep going and just to listen. 

As I mentioned above, there’s usually an event page on Facebook that participants can share their flags with each other. It is such a supportive space to share and hear others stories. I would recommend joining in on this; when I find the event page, I will definitely post on Jensen’s Page. Another social media platform I recommend for the Day of Hope and just with grief in general is Instagram. Last year there were hundreds of moms (and dads) posting their flags and everyone had such kind words.  

Just some ending reminders… 

  • The Day of Hope – Prayer Flag Project is on August 19th. 
  • If you want to know more information, check out the event page, here.
  • There’s still time to participate and make a beautiful prayer flag. 
  • Check out some inspiration on social media. 
  • You got this!

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May We All Heal | Future

We’ve made it to the end of this May journey. I can’t believe the month’s already over, it feels like it just started! Another month of loss and love down and a whole lifetime to go.

Today’s prompt is ‘future,’ but I’ll get to that in a little bit. I want to reflect on the May We All Heal Project and talk about what I took from it. It is so beautiful every time there’s an opportunity to come together as a community and share parts of our journeys. We’re able to learn so much more about each other, our different paths of grief and healing, and (my favorite part) about our children.

For me, there were prompts I loved to write about and others I dreaded the day I saw the prompt list. Even though I spill my heart every time I write, there are still parts I’m afraid to talk about. Hmm, I guess afraid would be the wrong word. Sometimes I’m afraid of opening up a part of my grief that I didn’t know was there. Which sounds absolutely ridiculous, but that’s how it is.

There are always talks about triggers.

I find myself battling a wide range of triggers every day. It was no different this month. Coming off Jensen’s birthday and all the emotions that came with his day, May was hard. I’m exhausted by the grief and really making myself think hard about each prompt helped, but it was draining. In truth, I keep comparing this to Capture Your Grief in October. I loved that project, but I remember right around halfway, I was beat. So many emotions going into the holiday season and being at the sixth month mark, it was hard. For some reason I thought May We All Heal would be easier on me?

Altogether, I think this experience was helpful to me. I was able to connect with different moms than before, which was nice. It’s always heartbreaking to me to know there’s another mom that is in pain, but I’m glad we’re all here to help each other.

That’s kind of my take away for this month.

Now to the future…

As always, I like to plan for the upcoming month. It helps me keep track of where I am. I have a name project I want to do this next month, which will be fun for me. That’ll be here in a few days, so keep your eyes out. Father’s Day is this month, which is different for me since Jensen’s dad and I don’t really talk anymore. BUT I have my family and my dad to celebrate and I know Jensen would want to be there for his grandpa.

There’s also a big surprise I have for you all. I’m not sure when I’ll be filling you guys in on it, but maybe this next month? Very nervous about it, but I hope it’ll turn out well.

As always, I’ll be writing (not everyday) and sharing on Jensen’s page (everyday). No matter what happens in life, I’ll always share this journey with you guys. Jensen is the biggest part of me and I want to continue sharing him with the world. Everyday I live my life for him. I’ll continue taking the steps he’ll never take and that’s how it is.

He is mine and I am his, forever and always.

May We All Heal | Quiet & Light


 

Quiet and light… Two completely opposite words that are used to describe my life after loss.

I hate the quiet. It reminds me of the fullness and nothingness in the room after Jensen was born. The same quiet plagued me in the following weeks and even now of not having my child in my arms. A house that holds a one year old should never be quiet and yet mine is silent at times. I could get lost in the quietness of absence. It almost reminds me of darkness and how alone I actually am.

When I got home from vacation last night, I sat down in my bed with Jensen bear and Jensen’s urn. Everything was silent. I thought I had gotten to a point where the quiet didn’t bother me. Usually, it allows me to think or at least organize my thoughts. Yet, last night was so different. The familiar feeling of dread blanketed me. My thoughts, instead of organized, were flying through my mind, chaotic and without any order what-so-ever.

Then the tears fell… and they kept falling.

This life after loss, it’s not for the fainthearted. There are times where all you want to do is scream, why me? Why is my house so quiet and not full of Jensen’s giggles and footsteps? This isn’t fair.

That’s how most of the night went. When I realized I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon, I went and got my candle-lighter. Jensen’s flame came alive and lit up the room. I saw the flame dancing and a calmness filled the room. The light tore through the quiet, through the darkness.

In my loss world, light and quiet are on two different ends of the spectrum…

The quietness feels a lot like those early days and reminds me the emptiness that’s in my house. 

The light, it leads me. It represents the love Jensen and I have for each other. I search for it when the quiet and darkness wrap me up. 

Light and quiet. Love and loss. Good and bad.

 

May We All Heal | Broken

broken – violently separated into parts, shattered

My world stopped when I heard those words. His heart had quit beating and I was thrown, violently, into a different dimension. When I looked down at my body where he was housed, I didn’t see the brokenness I felt. If I could have looked inside, my heart would have been in pieces. This body would have looked mangled to anyone who saw me. 

That’s the hard part with grief and mental illness, others can’t physically see it like a broken bone. If they did, they would understand. They could see my heart constantly bleeding out and how it’s trying to heal itself too. 

In Japan there is an art form and pottery repair called kintsugi. I’m sure you’ve seen the descriptive picture. It’s when there is broken pottery and instead of hiding it, gold powder is used to mend it. They don’t hide where the pottery is faulted, they show its beauty. 

In the beginning (and even now on my bad days), I didn’t think this pain and brokenness would ever amount to any beauty. How could the loss of my son be anything but horrible and ugly? The immense weight of his loss hasn’t gotten lighter by any means, but I have gradually became stronger. 

The pieces of my broken heart are still being put back together. Heck, there will always be a Jensen sized hole there. Yet, as they are being placed, there is something more beautiful than gold repairing my heart. The love I have for Jensen and his whole being holds and mends my heart. There isn’t bright, shiny gold, but his name and light. 

Yes, I am broken, but I’m also healing. 

May We All Heal | Love 


In Jensen and I’s story, love is such an integral part. It waltzes with the loss and pain in my heart. Both of them trading the lead depending on the day. The dance is beautifully tragic, but such is this life after loss. 

Love has been my light, anchor, raft, glue, and whatever else it needs to be. Without it, I would never have made it this far. 

During the course of the day, I tell Jensen I love him, probably a hundred times. It comes out freely. I have never tried to stop myself from saying it or feel bad once I do. It’s the truth, I love him more than anything. Sometimes it happens when I pass his picture or a flash a blue and orange comes along. Each time I say it, the words escape in the world. It has to listen to our love story. 

Because that’s exaclty what our story is: a love story. Not the romantic one, but the most earthly and natural one; the story of a mothers love. 

We all know how our love story started, the plot twist of it, and how it’s progressed to this point. What we don’t know is what comes next. No one knows what happens next, but if I had a crystal ball, it would be full of love. Nothing that happens in the future can steal away this love I have for my little boy. 

Love is what makes the world goes round. 

Love glued my fragile heart back together. 

Love is what has led me to this point. 

Love created Jensen. 

Love is what continues to tell his story. 

Love never ends, not even in death. 

May We All Heal | Celebrate

We celebrate to honor our children. 

We celebrate our motherhood. 

We celebrate because of the love we feel. 

We celebrate to let others know it’s okay to say their names. 

We celebrate the time they were with us. 

We celebrate because we know they would want us to. 

We celebrate so they’re never forgotten. 

We celebrate because they lived. 

We celebrate our children because after all, they will always be ours. 

To Anyone with a Fragile Heart:

I want you to know you’re not alone.

Since my son, Jensen, was stillborn last April, I’ve found myself living with a heart that has been hastily taped together. There have been so many moments I didn’t believe I would be able to make it to the next. My heart felt like it was going to collapse and it still does to this day.

Lately, I’ve collectively felt what has been happening around the world. This could be you reading right now whose baby has tragically died. I know this journey you’re facing because I’m living it every second. This past few months I’ve seen so much loss. From the tragedy that happened in Manchester earlier this week to the person in school that doesn’t think their life is worth living. Even the people who are being mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexual abused. I feel like I’ve been extremely empathetic to every story I hear.

I’m sorry to each person this has happened or is continuing to happen to. I see you. It breaks my heart that you’re feeling this pain.

I will never be able to take your pain away, but if talking helps ease it, I’m right here. There have been times I’ve felt lost, but knowing there was someone who listened, that wanted to help strengthen my heart made me feel less afraid. Less fragile. It is terribly vulnerable to talk about your demons, but opening up and releasing those feelings can let someone know how to be there for you.

Please don’t ever feel alone in this world.

Here’s a little secret. To some, I’m a fellow loss mom or a substitute teacher or the girl down the street. In each of these roles, I’ve heard your story and feel everything that’s going on in your  life. When I see you struggling with your relationship, loss, or even yourself, I want to run up and comfort you. The worst is or has happened and left you broken. Each time I see you I want you to know you can come to me because ultimately we have lost part of the same thing.

Through each and every of  our difficult unbearable journeys, we have lost a huge part of our innocence. Nothing will ever change or bring that back. We now see this fragile world for how it actually is: broken.

The glue holding the world together is you and me and our relationships we build to strengthen each other. We’re able to help each other pick up the pieces. We are each others shoulder to cry on. when we are connected we become stronger. We fit in this beautifully, fragile community of survivors.

You are never alone.

You are so wanted

You make an impact on this world.

You are loved.

Remember, I’m always here for you.

Love,
Danielle
Jensen’s mom

May We All Heal | Ink


The permanency of his loss will be written in ink in my story.

In the beginning, it felt like God has just taken his pen and broke it over Jensen’s death and the months following. The blackness and finality of stillbirth blinded me. Even though there were moments of light, like I explaining yesterday, the world around me seemed messy and dark.

Just like an ink blot.

I can’t tell you how many times I though, ‘if my life was a book, this part of it would be solid black.’ Would me and everyone in my life only see the mess of grief when we looked back to these pages?

It hurt. I wanted to clean and erase his death. In place, I wanted to rewrite his beautiful birth with him screaming and being put on my chest. Instead of the unending silence and pain, there should have been pages full of how he grew and was thriving outside of the womb. Not this.

My motherhood was so fragile during those ink-filled pages. I tried to use that very ink to make it seem more real, more tangible. Tattoos soon scattered over my body. I wanted him to know he’d alway walk with me through life. Since his footprint has been on mine, he has walked so many steps with me. He has to be seen. My motherhood needed to be seen, so the Celtic knot of mother and child was placed on the back of my neck. But most of all, I want people to ask whose name is scribbled across my wrist, so I can tell them all about him.

I did it and it helped me heal.

Not even God could erase this ink from me, just as I will never be able to erase His.

Being able to feel like he’s physically connected to me made me really look at our story. Instead of just seeing that scattered ink across my book of life, I saw the pages full of Jensen. All two-hundred and sixty-six of them. They are written in beautiful cursive writing full of loops and love. These are my favorite pages in my book.

No one can EVER take those pages from me. Jensen and I have been connected from the moment he was made. His pages will never be erased or forgotten.

It also let me know that the blank pages after the ink splatter are waiting to be written in. Just as I have made Jensen’s mark on me, I can forever continue having pages full of him in my future.

He’s not here, but I won’t allow him to be wrote out of our story. He will always be my son and I’ll continue writing his pages.

The permanency of his legacy will be written in ink.

May We All Heal | Communicate


We used to communicate through kicks and pats on the belly.

Sometimes even through music and feeling you dance to your favorite song.

You heard me whisper how loved you were and how I couldn’t wait to hold you in my arms.

The way we communicated was my favorite.

Then it all went away.

Instead, we had to learn how to talk in different ways.

Writing letters and waiting for you to join me in my dreams.

Seeing you paint the sky blue and orange just for me.

No matter how much we communicate to each other, the message is always the same.

I love you. I miss you.

Please come back home.

May We All Heal | Distance 

The distance between a mother and child should never be too far. From conception to a time we can’t even comprehend, they should always be together. While her child grew in her belly, they were literally connected by an umbilical cord to provide life. This lifeline stay connected even after birth, until someone makes that cut.

Does that cord ever really get disconnected though? When it does happen, is there a real distance between mother and child? Or is that lifeline always there?

Even in death?

I remember the moment he was born. Immediately the emptiness filled my body. Yet, he was right there in the room, still connected to me. It felt like time stood still as the doctors handled his body, covering him in his blanket. They asked Anthony if he wanted to cut the cord and I wanted to scream out ‘NO!’ Please don’t disconnect his lifeline from me. Let it stay, forever. Instead, they cut it for him and took Jensen away. The first moment I was ever distanced from him. It’s a moment that will always haunt me.

There are times I feel the distance between earth and heaven is just too far away. My heart and arms ache for some physical connection to Jensen. I try to hold Jensen bear or go through his hospital folder. Anything to take me back to the moment before we were physically distanced.

Then there are moments where I feel like I can tug on this invisible lifeline that’s connected between him and I.

I can send him messages and tell him I need a sign. It’s our little secret connection to diminish this earthly distance. I can really feel him here with me. He’ll send me a cardinal or blue jay. Or something will just let every cell of my body know that he’s reaching out to me. Everyday I wish I could take this cord and pull him down from heaven and into my arms. That way we didn’t have to talk through this secret, silent language we’ve created. I really wish that.

Each day I try and fail to make this wish come true. Deep down, though, I don’t think the connection between mother and child ever goes away. We are all invisibly connected to them, but, some distances can be seen and others cannot.

But no matter the distance, my heart will always be connected to his.