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

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A List of Five Positive Things in My Post Loss Life.

April, Jensen’s month, has come and went to very quickly. The fact May will be here next week is absolutely crazy. A mix of the lingering sadness of Jensen turning one and the anxiety to what May brings has almost pushed me over the edge; and I only just got back from vacation.

This morning I was super triggered.

A big thought that circled my head was, I didn’t deserve Jensen and he was taken away from me because I was a failure. This was obviously emotionally charged. I don’t believe any of our babies died for a certain negative reason. BUT that didn’t stop my thoughts from making me feel like the worst mom in the entire world. I cried the entire way to therapy and even when I sat down on the couch to tell her about everything this month held.

She calmed me down. Told me my anti-self was in control right now and I knew she was right. After I spilled everything that was weighing on my heart, she gave me a list of suggestions to help my anxiety. It included laughing, reading out loud, and smiling at myself in the mirror. One really jumped out to me today and I wanted to share it with you all.

A list of five positive things in my post loss life to remind me there’s more in this world than grief, anxiety, and depression.

1. Jensen

Obviously, right?

The most love I’ve ever felt in my life revolves around him, even in death. From the moment I found out he was growing inside me and for the rest of my life (and beyond), I knew he would always hold the biggest piece of my heart. He brings me so much happiness and peace when I think of our time together. I literally use his name for grounding techniques during anxiety attacks. He walks with me through my life and I’m so happy he’s mine.

2. Family and Friends

Every family member and friend I have is as unique as they are to my grief journey. No matter if it’s a text to see how I’m doing or a whole day spent with them, they are so important to my life. They make me smile, laugh, and feel so very supported. Even when they don’t know what to say, they’re there for me. To listen and let me know that I’m going to keep moving forward. Most of all, they let me know Jensen will never be forgotten.

3. Leo and Poe

My two little kitties are such a positive light in my life. When I’m sad, they let me hold and pet them. They will find me wherever I’m crying and just sit there until I stop. Both of them are so different, but each know how to make me smile. Let me tell you, pets are such a stress reliever. It’s actually well talked about and proven that when you stroke an animal, your stress decreases.

4. Nature

The sun, wind, flowers make this heavy air feel so much lighter. Maybe being by the beach has this on the top of my head, but even today in my small, Ohio town, I felt so much peace. Seeing the trees and feeling the sun’s warmth on me relaxes me. Every part of nature is positive and healing to me. I’m so ready for summer to be here though!

5. The Loss Community

Without the loss community, I don’t know where I would be right now, besides feeling like a complete crazy person. Support is necessary and when I’m hurting I can reach out. The projects that take place throughout the year are so perfect and really help an aching heart. Through my tears today, I told my therapist how I was able to look forward to next month and it’s challenges, just because I know my tribe of beautiful mothers will be here to help me along.

Anxiety Adventures: Substitute Teacher Edition.

One of my promises to Jensen was to become a teacher. It was my dream to be able to have a good job and spend the evenings with him after school. Of course I work from home and I’d be with him all the time, but I wanted to become the best version of myself for him (and me).

This past month I was able to make another step towards that dream and received my substitute teaching license. After a friend of mine got me into contact with her principal, I sent my paperwork in, interviewed, and was asked to start as soon as I could. Today was my first day.

At the end of last week, I was genuinely so excited. I couldn’t wait to be able to go into the classroom and help students learn. I know it’s not as impactful as a full blown teacher, but one day could change someone’s life forever. Plus, I was really excited to be able to begin this promise to Jensen. The excitement started slowly swaying to anxiety as Monday started getting closer.

I’m going to do terrible.

The kids are going to hate me.

What am I going to do if I have a mental breakdown?

If I start crying, how do I regain my strength? 

A hundred percent,  you’re going to fail.

Anxiety is not nice to me one bit. These thoughts kept coming to mind and the worst scenarios played out in my head. I could just see myself crying in front of all these children and I storm out of the room to hide away in my car.

Deep down, I know anxiety was the culprit to these thoughts, but I had to do something about it. Being productive helps me fight it off. So I did what any semi-sane person does in this situation: Pinterest ideas about how to be a successful substitute teacher.

Have a goodie bag full of treats for good students. Check.

Bring a clipboard to keep paperwork straight. Check and double checked for Jensen colored washi tape to keep me calm.

Always have pencils ready for you and students. Checked and sharpened.

Pack snacks, lunch, and headache medicine. Check, check, and check.

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Outfit planned and laid out, check.

Sounds silly, right?

I also set six alarms, had my makeup set out and in order, repainted my nails, and even had my cats’ food on the counter so I could quickly get it done in the morning. It would be a foolproof morning for me to get ready and have a successful day. I was still so nervous. Anxiety kept telling me that even when things are so perfectly planned that they can go up in flames. Would it be to the effect of losing Jensen? Of course not, but I just wanted it to go perfectly.

My last foolproof way to make the day go better was to go to sleep early, which we all know it a huge feat for me. I wrote my letter to Jensen and asked God to help me sleep well tonight and for strength to have a really good day for tomorrow. Sleep welcomed me right after I said goodnight to my sweet boy and blew his candle out.

What seemed like seconds after I fell asleep, a buzz awoken me.

We’re on a two hour delay. 

I thought, oh good. This short day will be a great first day of subbing for me. Then an hour later I heard another buzz…

Snow day!

The universe has a funny way of letting me know I shouldn’t always listen to my anxiety.

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