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!

Advertisements

Grief Stares Back. 

I broke down in the shower this afternoon. 

There wasn’t any specific trigger, besides just missing him. No one has said his name out loud to me, there hasn’t really been a reason for everyone to mention him today. I was just standing there, letting the hot water pound on my back. Then I realized how long I’d stood there. This wouldn’t have happened if he was still here. 

That’s when I lost it. 

It’s these moments in grieving that people don’t see. Where I’m sitting on the shower floor and I  can’t differentiate the water from my tears. No one sees me trying to stand up and wishing I never had to. Then when there’s enough courage to stand, I feel like there’s so much weight on my shoulders. The tears didn’t do anything but put sadness more in my head. All I keep repeating in my head is why. 

Somehow I get up and look at my mirror. Instead of just wiping off the steam, I write his name. I take it in and say it out loud. 

His name deserves to be said. It’s such a strong, sounding name. He fit it perfectly. Then I look at it all written out.  I take in the curves in each of his letter, then savor this moment. The calm in the storm. 

As it slowly evaporates, I’m faced with myself: a bereaved mother. My eyes are all puffy and there’s some mascara left under my eyes, even with the heavy stream of water I just was under. I wish I could smash it to pieces and never have to look at myself after a breakdown again. It’s painful to see myself in such distress. I feel it constantly, but rarely see it staring back at me. 

This is grief. 

The Curiosity of Dreams.  

I had a dream.

Honestly, I was afraid to tell a lot of people because I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazier than I already am. It was two nights ago and although it was comforting for me, I tried not to look at it as a sign. In it, I dreamed about a man who told me Jensen was happy, always with me, and loved laying in bed when I was there. The man was so real and sure of what he was saying, I have never met him before, but I trusted him. When I woke, I remembered every detail of what I dreamed, the room I was in when he told me, what he looked like, and most of all his words.

As I laid in bed thinking of what had just happened, I finally decided to check my phone to see what was going on in the world. I saw that I was tagged in an Instagram post and checked it out.


@thefivefacetsofhealing

Now, I try not to go looking for every sign I think I get, but this was too coincidental.

They are never far from you, no matter where you go. 

The man in my dream had told me Jensen was always close. I always knew he was near, but it was just some sort of validation I needed this month. Maybe another birthday gift from beyond. I went along with the rest of the day and didn’t really think about it more, until this morning.

Last night, one of my best friends and I went out to celebrate and just be in the moment. As I have said, it’s my birthday month and it’s just nice to go out and savor the night for what it is. She ended up sleeping over since we got back so late. This morning, she wanted to tell me about her dream. She kept saying it felt so real, like it happened just as we were talking.

In her dream, she dreamt we were having a sleepover with her daughter. It came to the part of the night where we were laying in bed and we started taking pictures. Her daughter was on her and we were smiling and laughing. After we were done taking pictures, she flipped through to see them and noticed another smiling face laying between us. She saw Jensen and instantly knew it was him. He looked to be around sixteen months old, just enjoying the sleepover like we did. It was him laying in bed with us, like the man said he liked to do.

I got cold chills. The man’s voice repeated what he said in my mind. My second validation that Jensen was letting me know he’s happy with his smiles and was laying there with us.

Jensen always seems to let me know he’s okay; this month especially. I feel like he’s been cheering me on and wanting me to have the best birthday I can possibly have. Sometimes I think the signs he brings me makes me insane, but I know deep down he wants to me to know.

Our children gone too soon can reach out in amazing ways.

If You Were Here Today, You’d Be Sixteen Months Old. 


The fifth of every month weighs heavy on my heart, this month is no different. 

I didn’t know if I wanted to write today, maybe this would be the first fifth I didn’t write on. For the whole morning and most of this afternoon, I laid on the couch crying. Sixteen months. Time hasn’t soften the loss of you like everyone thinks. In fact, it’s done quite the opposite. I hate that there’s this distance between the last time I felt him, not knowing when I’ll finally see him again. 

Those thoughts are haunting. They take me to a place I don’t like to travel often. I get lost in them, trying to figure it all out and wonder where I go from here. 

As I sat there, I didn’t want to write and tell you all this. I want everyone to know this hurts and it’s not how it should be. 

If he was here today, I’d make him funfetti cupcakes to celebrate another month of growing. He’d have blue frosting all over his face and just laugh. People would think I was crazy for celebrating each month and maybe we wouldn’t if I didn’t know what losing him was like. I do now and if I had that knowledge, we would celebrate. 

It’s a dreary day, but no rain, so we would have went to the zoo to walk around. He would know what sounds the animals made and mimic them. I can imagine him pointing then making their noise, then look back at me with that look. The look that only children give their parents. A look I so desperately wish I could’ve got from him. 

I would buy him an animal book to read for bedtime. He already has so many books as is, his collection would have only grown in sixteen months. That book would be read at bedtime, after our nighttime routine. On the drive home and listen to music he’d dance in his car seat to, until he fell asleep. Then I could shut the music off and listen to him breathe as I drove. That would be my most favorite noise in the world. 

Maybe we’d stop by grandma and grandpa’s house to show him our adventures to the zoo. Who knows, maybe they would have been the ones to take us, but we would all be together. A family should always stay close. 

When we got home, we would be together. He would tear through the house and want another cupcake that I would probably give him. Sixteen months is something to celebrate. After his face was all blue again, it’d be time for a bath. All his favorite toys would be brought in to help him get clean. He’d get dried off in his little robe, then into his pajamas. Slowly, he’d grow more and more tired until it was time to read the animal book we got earlier that day. With each word, his blinks would get longer until dreamland welcomed him. I’d lay him in his crib, shut off the light, and tiptoe quietly out of his room. 

As I would prepare for bed, I would get ready for the next day. There would be no worries, no death, no grief. Just him and our life. 

That’s how this day should be as he turned another month older. 

This post was inspired by the ’30 Day Writing Challenge For Stillbirth Mothers‘ day five prompt. 

The One Thing I Wanted to Teach You. 

I wanted to teach you everything.

How to walk, talk, read, count, ride your bike, drive a car, talk to girls, and everything else in between. In a lifetime, you would have learned so much from me, maybe even a few things I didn’t want you to like biting nails and the occasional bad word. Seeing you soak up all the information you possibly could, would give me such joy. 

When you were in my belly, I thought about this often; the basic things to teach you. I did this by reading to you and making sure I was constantly talking out loud. Yet, I daydreamed of you holding my hand as you stumbled across our living room floor and how you wouldn’t quit talking once you found your voice. Honestly, I thought we would have so much more time. I didn’t expect you to be gone before I got to do any of these. 

As I look back on the sixteen months without you, I realized what the most important thing I could teach you…

There is no greater force to know and feel than love. 

Of course you would have known how loved you were. You knew that from the thirty-eight weeks you were safely tucked inside my belly. All you ever felt was love. But, this is something different though. I would want to teach you how it feels to be loved by someone who means the world to you. That no matter what the circumstance you’re in, that love will be your saving grace and nothing could ever take that away. 

It took me twenty-two years to completely grasp how it felt. My parents always loved me like that, but you, my sweet son, opened my eyes and showed me what I was blinded to my whole life. 

You taught me the very thing I wanted to teach you. 

I’m sorry I didn’t get to teach you this and all the other things too. In your short life, you already had so much wisdom that I couldn’t possibly understand. For that, I thank you. 

This post was inspired by the ’30 Day Writing Challenge For Stillbirth Mothers‘ day nine prompt. 

How does a person eat an elephant? 


I vividly remember being asked this question while planning Jensen’s funeral. Flabbergasted, I sat there and stared at the pastor who I had only met that day. He was looking at me, not with pity or sadness, but in a way where he really wanted me to learn from this moment. 

‘One bite at a time.’

Then he explained his story, it’s not mine to tell completely, but what I can say is he’s experienced child loss and being a widower. His words, at that time, felt like a lot to carry. I was in so much pain and didn’t understand how people can carry this grief for so long. It’s overwhelming to think of living the rest of your life with such a tremendous loss. 

Just as it would be if someone placed this huge elephant in front of you to eat. 

A grieving person doesn’t have to take their whole life at once, just one day (sometimes moments) at a time. Maybe some bites are easier than those others, but it’s still a lot. Grief is heavy, it always will. 

Then when we look up to see how far we’ve come, we really do see healing. Even in the worst days, I can see how I’ve healed. In the beginning I thought healing was bad. I didn’t want to feel anything else but the pain that drowned me. If I didn’t that way it  would make it seem like his loss didn’t matter. Of course we know this isn’t true. That elephant is always there. 

Sometimes, I wish I could go thank him for the elephant inquiry. It’s one constant question I’ve asked myself during this time. When he first said it, I didn’t get it. I mean how could I when just two days before I found out my son had died. He knew I couldn’t possibly grasp in the meaning in that moment. Maybe we never truly understand, but through life after loss we can continue learning about our grieving process and how to live our best for those who have gone. 

One. Day. At. A. Time. 

Never all at once. 

I was made aware of one part of my healing today. Last year, I posted this. It was a time where I was terrified for time to pass, I still don’t like it very much, but I know it’s the way of the world. Yesterday, I was relieved July was going to be over; it was a painful month for me. Then this morning when I woke up, my body welcomed August. 

Jensen met me in my dreams last night and was playing with balloons. It’s my birthday month, I’ll be twenty-four on the twenty-third. I think he wants me to celebrate me this month, hence the balloons. So, that’s what I’m going to do. 

There will be a few people sharing Jensen and I’s story this month and my first article on Still Standing will be out. I’m planning on writing frequently, since it’s my go to self care. With that, I’m going to do something special for myself each and every day this month. Maybe I’ll make a list and share it on here to give all you amazing moms (and dads) some self care inspiration.  We deserve it so much and our children think so too. 

Hello August, I’m going to take you on one bite at a time through grieving, loving, and celebrate. 

Allowing Myself to Feel Whatever I Need. 


I’ve been staring at a blank screen for an hour. There’s so much to say, but the words can never accurately describe the madness inside. Sometimes I wish I could let this pain consume me from the inside out, that it would eventually take over and be in charge for good. 

It’s been six weeks. 

Instead of wanting to drink my sorrow away, I should have a happy sixteen week baby bump. I wouldn’t know he was a boy yet, but I would be happy to find out soon. I looked in the mirror this morning, thinking of the grey shirt that’s hanging in my closet. The one I used to document his short ten weeks. If things went differently, I’d be wearing it today wondering if my anatomy scan would go more smoothly this time around. 

This isn’t fair. Six weeks ago, I still had hope everything was going to be alright with Huxley. He had his big brother watching from above. 

Miscarriage hurts. 

Damn it, it’s more than hurt. I’m drowning over here in what could have been. My longing for Jensen is even more intensified, I’ve never squeezed his Molly Bear more than I have since I miscarried. I’m literally gasping for air and it feels like my head is continually being pushed under. 

I’m supposed to be ‘strong.’

I should just get pregnant again to mask the pain. 

At least I’ve already went through the worst part of my life. Miscarriage should be so much easier after having Jensen. 

Focus on the good in your life, not the pain. 

It’ll get easier. 

I don’t want to be strong. I don’t want to feel anything but how I’m feeling right now. Another pregnancy does not take away that they lived and they matter. You’re right, I have lived through the tragedy of having my full term child die before he was born. I’ve cried everyday for him and it hasn’t gotten easier without him. 

Why does our society diminish pregnancy and infant loss of any gestation or age? It’s not easy and I know grief and death is uncomfortable, but this is my life. 

I should have a sixteen month old baby boy and be sixteen weeks pregnant today and because they’re not, I’m allowed to feel whatever I need to get by to the next moment. 

My Collection of Drawings. 

Tonight is a bad night. 

My heart feels so heavy and all I want is just one more moment with him. Maybe just one picture I haven’t ever seen of him. I want Jensen here with me. 

It might be the influx of rainy days we’ve had here or the anticipation of the beginning of my Jensen anniversaries, but it’s hitting me hard. The silence feel more real than usual and the sound of rain drops are coaxing my tears. I just want to sleep and never wake up again. Dreaming is the only time I get to see him moving. 

When I’m having moments like this, right now, it’s hard to see how far in my grief journey they I’ve actually come. I take for granted the things I can do now that I wasn’t able to just last year. Heck, just in the last six months. While looking through my Jensen album on my phone, I came across this picture that I just added a few days ago. 


My cousins daughter drew this for me, to put on my fridge of course. It’s of her (with the hair), me underneath her, then under me is her little sister. To the right of her is Jensen with his hat and her spelling of his name. When I see her, she asks me to spell Jensen’s name for her so she can write it down and I have a little collection of her Jensen drawings. 

It warms my heart to get her drawings of her and Jensen. I know she’s and all of my family think of him, but this is tangible for me to hold in my hands. On the other hand, it breaks my heart. She drew on picture of Jensen crying and said he was crying because he missed his mama. Then she says she misses Jensen. 

All I can say is I do too, then think of how it all should be different. 

Back to where I was going before. Last year, I could barely be around her and her siblings. It’s not that I wasn’t happy to be around them, it’s that I was sad for me. He was missing from the picture and it was too much (sometimes it still can be). Yet, I can play with them and talk about him now. 

If I hadn’t have got this far into my healing, I would never have my collection of Jensen drawings, nor would I have had the light moment tonight in the midst of this dark grief. 

Just when I needed to see something new of him, I did in the imagination of another missing him. 

How I’ll be Celebrating Jensen’s Twenty-First Birthday. 

This past weekend, my parents took my brother and I to Tennessee. It’s always bittersweet to go on family vacations or getaways; I constantly see the missing piece. Of course we find ways to incorporate Jensen when we go somewhere. At the beach we write his name or I’m taking pictures of his footprint. When we knew we were going to Nashville and Lynchburg, I was weary of how to make a new memory with him that was unlike I had before. 

In Nashville, we didn’t really have to opportunity to do anything besides walk around and eat (and drink). I was determined to do something special for him the next day in Lynchburg. When we first got there, I was so amazed by the Jack Daniels’ distillery. There was so much to look at and learn more about. Within the first twenty minutes, I found this huge visitor registration book. 

It was a perfect way to put Jensen’s name in the book and in their database. Other people could see and read his name. I scribbled our information down and was happy to leave his mark there. 


We began our tour shortly after signing this book. The grounds there were so beautiful. It was way bigger than I imagined and I had butterflies following me throughout the entire time. Everywhere I looked, they would be floating by my head. Jensen and Hux telling me hello, we’re always here with you. 

After our tour and tasting ended, a bunch of us went to their bottle shop. When I learned they could engrave on the bottle I wanted, I had an idea. This is another way I could incorporate Jensen, now and in the years to come. I picked out my favorite tasting whiskey and what I wanted engraved on the bottle. 


I bought my son his first bottle of whiskey at fifteen months old. That would sound like something a horrible parent would say, but knowing our story it makes sense. His bottle is to be open and drank on his twenty-first birthday. Not a drop until then either. Which seems like a long time from now, but this is how I can parent and keep his memory going. 

Honestly, it’s crazy to think I’ll be grieving for that long. That on his twenty-first birthday he won’t be here, or any until then. One year without him felt like a slap in the face. Missing him will be forever, but somehow by planning this one, tiny detail of that day made me feel loved but. 

In these little moments, I can do something for Jensen. They let me bring him alive again. This little bottle of whiskey will give me something to look forward to on his big day, twenty years from now.  

Life after loss has been a dysfunctional mess, but days like these are so much sweeter than I could ever have imagined. 

Learning How to Swim, Again.

Yesterday, as I floated alone in my parent’s pool, I was fueled by anger. In my head I was screaming so loud, but my exterior just seemed like I was uncomfortable. I tried to calm myself by watching the clouds, feeling the sun’s warmth, and letting the cool water extinguish the flames of madness inside me.

How is this my life?

Let me back this up a little bit. Since my D&C, I’ve had this horrible cough. I can’t sleep at night due to it and nothing seems to ease my coughing fits. In trying to figure out why I am lacking in sleep, I realized it was from the breathing tube they had to put in my throat for surgery. The lasting, physical evidence from this pregnancy. The combination from the lack of sleep and headaches from constantly coughing and drinking hot tea has me on edge: emotionally and physically.

Knowing all of this, I wanted to try my best to relax yesterday since I had the pool to myself. Right before I plugged my iPhone in to blast music, I scrolled through Instagram like I normally do. Now, I follow lots of loss moms, motivational accounts, and profiles that have journal prompts. If you didn’t know, I write a lot for myself, that no one ever reads. Sometimes it’s nice to be guided in writing. One of my favorite accounts, @rusticojournal, posted a seemingly fun and innocent prompt yesterday…

@rusticojournal


The mix of no sleep and my emotional battle twisted this nice, light prompt into a soul crushing reality that is my life.

Dramatic? Probably, but that was the spark that lit the fire in my mind. Since I felt so emotional after reading the prompt (and spewing while floating) I decided to write a response and wanted to share it with you.

I learned how to swim in this new life after loss because I was pushed off the highest mountain into an ocean that’s undercurrents pulled me down to the bottom. During the fall, I forgot how to swim or even which way the surface was to swim. I succumbed to the ocean of grief and let it twist me around. It would have been easy to just stay there in the darkness, for I was afraid of what would happen when I came back up. The world had defied me and how could I trust it ever again?

Something inside me made me want to begin swimming, to try to heal from the loss of my son. Stroke by stroke, I became stronger and reached the surface. There were waves so tall and big that knocked me back under, but I refused to sink. Each time I was plummeted down, it took me less time to swim back up. When I resurfaced I saw different beautifies that didn’t exist before. Yes, the world had looked different, but I couldn’t go back to how it was before. I didn’t want to go back to a world without Jensen, so I had to accept these pains and joys.

For a year, I learned how to swim in the ocean of grief. I was actually getting quite good at maneuvering and predicted the waves. Then it changed when I got pregnant again. There were still huge obstacles ahead and it didn’t take away all those I had overcome, but something new had come into play, hope.

My short pregnancy after loss experience was smooth, until the hurricane came and I had to learn how to swim again.

I hate comparing this loss to losing Jensen. They’re so different in many ways, but the pain I feel… it’s still heartbreaking. My hope for the future was extinguished and the flames of anger and the intense grief is back. Yes, I’m still in the ocean of grief, I’ve never left. I was pulled down to the bottom again and am still swimming up.

This time though, I’m not afraid of getting back to the surface. I know what’s there now. Learning how to swim this time is easier than what it was when Jensen died. My muscle memory is guiding me in how to grieve, even though it is different from before. The movements and waves are tricky, but I want to be on top. I want to see where I am in this sea and how far this hurricane threw me. There’s no way I can go back to where I was before this miscarriage. It’s a new terrain for me that created completely different situations and experiences.

Loss has altered me and the world around me, but it hasn’t taken away my ability to learn how to swim.

Usually it helps getting all the built up words out on paper, but this wasn’t the case yesterday. My cough kept me up again last night and since I released some of my pent-up emotions, they just wanted to spill out. I questioned God why He had to take Jensen, when he’s all I want, or why He had to take his little sibling away, when he or she gave me so much hope for the future.

If I could share anything from my experience in learning how to swim again (navigate life after loss), is that no matter the loss, it hurts like hell. There is no reasons babies should die and parents to be subjected in this pain and grief. No words can take away that pain, no future living children can erase what has happened, and no matter how much time has passed, a parent can feel how deeply their child’s loss impacted their life. All we can do is help each other swim.