Twenty Months.

December is here once again. This time it brings me to the twenty month mark and being in the midst of the second holiday season without Jensen physically here. Time has deceived me. It doesn’t feel like this many months have passed, I even had to count them twice to make sure. The second year of grief with the holidays is impossible to comprehend.

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed. I have not wrote a lot for others to read or have done a lot of self care. With my Etsy shop, school, and working, I can barley keep myself afloat on top of grieving and missing him each day. There’s a lot more going on too, it just isn’t the right time to share. The words that are bouncing around in my head don’t make sense when I put them on paper or screen. I’ve just been focusing on making it through the present day. There’s been a lot of deep breathing.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the holidays, of course, and how different they would be with Jensen. I wonder what big present I would’ve got him or if he would have been afraid of Santa. Sometimes I just want to know if he would have snored or what would be his favorite movie. I’m constantly haunted with these unanswered questions and I would do anything to have them answered.

This holiday season is different than last year’s though.

You could say that there’s a ‘lighter’ feeling, but it doesn’t seem like the exact right word I’m looking to use. I guess I’m more open to seeing some of the good that’s going on around me. For instance, I decorated a lot more this year and haven’t had an anxiety attack when I’ve been Christmas shopping. I’m also not dreading the day of, but I’m still not big on the change of the year. Somehow it feels like if I’m just stuck in 2017, that I wouldn’t be even further away from him.

I never thought I could make it here to this day. Almost everyday I’m shocked I can wake up on any given morning and my body not be broken. SO many people who never lost a child told me that time would heal me and my heart. I didn’t believe them then and I still don’t now. My heart hurts. There’s not a day that passes that I wish I could go back in time and deliver him a week earlier. I’ll always want another moment with him. Knowing I’ll never have that is the worst feeling. No one could possibly describe it.

Just earlier today, I saw an informational ad about depression. They listed of all the symptoms and I just sort of laughed.

‘If any of these symptoms last longer than two weeks, you could be clinically depressed.’

What does it make me when I’m depressed for twenty months and most likely the rest of my life? I don’t really think about those questions, but with the contrast of the ‘happy’ and ‘cheery’ holidays, it really shows. For all this time, I have lived without my child and know that I will never see him physically again. Christmas music and lights don’t change that fact. Yes, I want to celebrate more and am open to that, but it’s still not the same.

It never will be.

I guess I just would like to say is no matter how you feel during any point of the year, a grieving parent (and anyone really) has the right to feel whatever they need. We can’t get down on ourselves for not feeling what we’re ‘supposed’ to feel. This is a journey without any rulebook.

Say their names. Tell their stories.

No matter if it’s been twenty days, months, or years, our children did live. They matter and love never dies.


Tonight, I’ll be attending a Christmas program from bereaved parents. I plan on updating everyone on how it goes and want to post a little more this month since school is over on the 13th. Continued thanks to each and every one who has followed me through my journey. If you need anything from me, even just to listen, please reach out.

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5 Tips to Tackle Grieving This Season.

Tackling Grief
The upcoming holidays can seem like a daunting task to anyone who participates in them. They’re even more so when you’re grieving the loss of your child or children. I know just thinking about spending another Thanksgiving and Christmas without my son, Jensen, brings me such heartache. In my first year of grief, I wished there was a guidebook in how to journey through the long winter days.
We all know this book doesn’t exist.
What helped me tremendously was reaching out to other loss parents to talk, vent, and just share about my child and what was going on around me. Sometimes, I found myself in vulnerable positions without being able to reach out. Grief had tested me again. Through a lot of tears and running out of family-filled rooms, I learned a routine to help combat the mix of my grief and the holiday cheer.

These are my 5 tips to tackle grieving this season.

Breathe.

This may sound like a simple task, but in the heat of the moment it can be hard to catch your breath. For me, not seeing Jensen at Thanksgiving dinner or opening up presents really let reality hit me square in the face. I felt like I was hyperventilating in those moments. The world was spinning around me and grief was the one pushing it faster and faster. Then, I remembered to take a deep breath in and out.
I was still living in the nightmare that is my reality, but focusing on my breath allowed me to take care of my mental and emotional needs.

Recognize what you’re feeling.

Grief has made me feel more emotions than I ever thought I had. I used to want to hide away some of the forceful ones like anger and envy. They made me feel like an ugly person. By ignoring those feelings, they were more likely to come back and in a much stronger wave.
Recognize what you feel. In that moment, you’re feeling what you need to and maybe it will help you understand why. When I saw the little ones in my family with food all over their face, I was so angry. I wanted to project it on them, but I wasn’t angry at them. As I took my feelings in, I was able to understand I was angry Jensen wasn’t here with food all over his face.
The more a person is in situations like these, the better it is to recognize the emotion and tackle grief before it snowballs.

Take the moments as they come.

This has always been my biggest challenge. When I think about living through the holiday season, I don’t see the days in-between the big ones. Everything is weighing down on me and I feel like I have to live through two months in one moment.
Obviously, this isn’t true.
We have lived through the worst days of our lives. No matter how different our stories are and how time feels when we look back on those days, we each took the moments as they come. That’s how we get through each and every day, before and after loss. Don’t take on these next weeks all right now. Take them as the moment comes.
Small victories make big differences.

Celebrate when you can and break down if needed.

As hard as it seems, don’t feel guilty to celebrate or break down.
It feels hard to think we’ll ever truly celebrate after loss and if we do, it’s not as full as it used to. That’s perfectly fine. Just don’t be afraid to smile or attend an event because your child isn’t there. Take something that reminds you of him or her and talk about them when you can. Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy a day.
On the other hand, don’t feel as if you have to attend every holiday event or get-together. You are the only one who knows your exact grief. Don’t mistake this as a sign of weakness. If you do decide to attend and feel overwhelmed, I hope you remember to breathe, but it’s okay to breakdown too.

Always know you’re doing the best you can.

If none of these tips to tackle grieving this season help, I hope you can take away this very last one. You are doing the best you can. It might not feel like it in certain moments, but it’s true. No matter if you decide to stay in bed untilJanuary 2 or go to every get-together possible, you are a super hero.
Wishing you all a gentle holiday season from my grieving heart to yours. 

Nineteen Months. 


This is how he would have looked last year around this time. Seven months old and going into his first set of holidays. 

I won this portrait from For A Moment Portrait last year during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. When I won it, I was so excited because I never win anything and everyday when I woke up I pictured what he would look like. I still wonder what he’d look like since. 

She sent me Jensen age progressed to six/seven-ish months right before his birthday. I remembered being terrified to see what how it turned out. What if it wasn’t the way I had pictured him? Or what if my reaction was bad? It was the same feeling I had when Jensen bear arrived home. I built up the courage and carefully took it out of the envelope. My eyes were closed before I turned it over and saw him. No matter what it ended up looking like, I always had my image of him. So, I took the plunge. 

It was him. 

He had the curly hair inpictured and looked more like my mom than I had imagined, but it was definitely him. His eyes were opened, which I’ve never seen before. He looked happy and that brought me peace. 

Sometimes I wish I would get an age progression drawing for every year. Just to peak my curiosity. If I was any good at drawing, I’d do it myself, but I wouldn’t give him the justice he deserves. 

I’m not sure why I decided to share this image today. 

His smiling face has been right in front of me for almost seven months now. It didn’t feel right until now to show it off. 

Maybe it’s the time of year? Heading into the second holiday season without him and all I want is to see his face and how much he’s grown. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. My heart longs for him more and more as each day passes. I hate not being able to plan which presents he’d open up or decide when he should get a picture with Santa. And I wish for the everyday things, like making sure he was warm enough to go outside or wiping off food that missed his mouth.
Time doesn’t make up for all the moment I should have had with him. It’s been nineteen months and the pain hasn’t lessened. Has it changed? Of course. But the weight in my heart is stil there. The tears still come. I’m still dreading the holidays and the year change. And in less than six months, I should have a two year old. 

Each day for the rest of my life, I know I’ll make it through. The smiling face I see in front of me now promises me that. I’ve lived the worst day of my life and I know it should be different, but I promise him and myself that I will be the best I can be. 

I’ll continue sharing his story and never letting his memory fade away. 

How I Honor My Son on Halloween.


Halloween is most definitely a kid’s holiday. They get to dress up and be whoever they want to be, while they get all the candy their hearts desire. It’s full of fantasy and fun. Just what little ones love. 

For some, like myself, our children do not get to traditionally partake in the festivities. It’s the first holiday of the season and the start of complex grief. Even if a loss parent has living children too, they will always see their missing trick-or-treater. For mother’s without living children, it feels like they could hide away and avoid the entire night, which is perfectly fine if that’s what they choose. 

Last year was my first without Jensen. There was a lot of mixed emotions, but I felt like Jensen and I needed to be apart of the night. Honestly, I didn’t know how to pull it off. With a lot of thought I came up with an idea that I used again this year. 

Last year’s candy bowl including Jensen’s first Halloween ‘walk.’

I had a graphic made with Jensen’s name on a pumpkin that said, ‘Happy Halloween to Heaven.’ Above and below the picture says thank you for letting Jensen walk with your child and to check his story out here. It was a great way to give back to neighborhood children while sharing Jensen’s story. I felt like this was a perfect option for me to be involved. 

As I said above, this year I did the same concept, but a different graphic. My mom and I packed the candy with the slips. It’s a way we can feel closer to Jensen and not let this night overcome our grief. 

This year, I also decided to carve a pumpkin for Jensen. Of course I used a big J to represent him on it. I love that I’ll be able to sit near his pumpkin and be able to pass out a little of his light with the candy tonight.

It’s not a huge gesture, but it makes me feel a little more in control of my grief while making sure Jensen’s name never fades. 

Reflect. 

I have a son that I carry in my heart. I am never without him. Anywhere I go, he goes with me. 

This October didn’t go as I originally planned. I wanted to write each day according to the Capture Your Grief prompts. Life had a way of cutting in. Through pregnancy and infant loss awareness events, my mom being hospitalized, and a lot of work, I wasn’t able to complete them all; and that’s perfectly okay. I did what my grief and I was able to do. For that, I am so proud of myself and the little boy who has motivated me to keep pushing through the days. 

Reflection is important when journeying through grief. Even if it’s just reflecting on the previous day. Since I’m halfway through my second year (which seems absurd), I find myself reflection from last year. I’ve found I’ve grown tremendously. This year, I wasn’t hard on myself if I wasn’t able to post a prompt or a picture. I know others see the love I have for my son and my motherhood is completely valid. Although, I would never say I’m comfortable in my grief or even with what has happened in my life, I’m thankful to see how far I’ve come. I wish with all my might Jensen was here to physically be apart of this journey. 

This month has been a beautiful healing one. It always amazes me how complete strangers can come together and be so supportive, even after all the loss. Before I began writing this post, I went through all my pictures from this month and the ones that moved me the most were the balloon releases and ones with my family. Every release is painfully healing. Each of those balloons mark a child gone too soon and those who grieve their loss. In all the photos I have from them, there’s way too many in the sky. What you don’t see in the picture is the tears and comfort by family and friends. 

I’ve also noticed a difference in myself accepting the change of the month. If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know the change of the month has been very hard for me throughout my journey. This month, I’m ready for it to end. Which sounds weird since I was looking forward to advocating each day. The thing is I raise awareness about pregnancy and infant loss everyday as I know all parents do. It’s a nice month to come together, but when it ends it doesn’t mean we have to stop talking. With that being said, I’m not ready for the second set of holidays without Jensen. I don’t think that will ever get easier. 

Tomorrow is the first of the holiday season. I’m going to touch on some things then, but with reflecting comes looking towards the future. It’s going to be rough. I’m going into the day with high hopes and have plans to incorporate Jensen that I’ll be sharing. It’s going to be hard seeing kids his age, it always is. I’ve come to a point where I know when to step back and know it’s okay to succumb to that grief feeling. 

No matter what, I’ll make it to the next day. 

I’ll be thinking of those balloons in the sky and what they represent tomorrow. Instead of just seeing the kids trick-or-treating, I’ll also see the ones who aren’t physically there. 

I wish this awareness month didn’t exist and babies didn’t die, but I’m so glad I have you all to walk this journey with. Thank you for letting me share Jensen and I’s story this October and every other time. I’ll always remember the community who lifted me up when I didn’t feel like I’d ever stand again. 

Passion.


Photo by Shannon Karcher Photography for Jensen’s first birthday.

passion – a state or outburst of strong emotion

My definition of passion has changed throughout my life, as did the things I was passionate about. I never thought of passion as an outburst of strong emotion. For me it meant to care deeply about something or the desire to really work at what I loved. Passion, I guess, translated to a type of love.

In high school I probably would have told you it was basketball. College, either writing or traveling. When I was pregnant with Jensen, I was passionate about learning everything I could about what I could do best for him and being his mom. It always changed with what was going on in my life. I guess that makes perfect sense. After he was born, I didn’t feel any passion or much of anything else besides anger and sadness.

With Jensen went so much of me.

I would say passion was definitely hard to get back after his death, unless you’d call a fit of rage passion. Yes, I was still passionate about him and the love I have for him, but I couldn’t do anything with it. I was just there with all this love and pent up anger; I wouldn’t wish that feeling after losing a child on anyone. Truly, it is awful. There are days I marvel how I and so many other parents make it through those beginning days.

Slowly, passion did start to come back in my life. When I was able to be constructive with my grief, I could feel something more. Through writing and creativity I was able to share how much I loved Jensen and could help others too. Advocating and giving Jensen a voice became one of my greatest passions, this is the only way I can ever parent him.

Sometimes I think that’s hard for others to fully grasp or not think I’m completely crazy. I continue to write about him, my experience with grief, and memories of him because that’s all I have. Instead of taking him out for Halloween on Tuesday, I will find a way to incorporate him in the day. I don’t have that moment of people smiling when I tell them what he would be on his second Halloween, but I can share his story and hopefully reach out to someone who is walking through this journey and feels alone.

I’m passionate about my son and his story.

I’m passionate about helping others through their grief journey.

I’m passionate about living again.

Capture This Moment. 

Life is full of important moments. Ones you never forget because they’re so happy and others that are so terrible that they replay in your mind over and over. There are ones where you don’t think you’ll make it to the next and feel so overwhelmed. Grief has put a spot light in them all. 

I’ve learned that you have to take each head on. Once you get past the ones that bring pain, you will make it to the next. I promise. 

The moment they told me Jensen was gone the world melted. I never thought I would catch my breath again and yet somehow my body forced air in my lungs. To be honest, I wish the moment before that one, where I was excited to see him, was my last one. I can’t describe the pain in the following hours, days, and weeks that followed. Each day they replay in my head. I wouldn’t wish loss on anyone. 

For Capture Your Grief, I wanted to capture the moment I came back home. It’s right before I see Jensen’s pictures and his urn; both are things that bring me so much comfort. 

My face isn’t important this month. I’ve wore Pregnancy and Infant Loss ribbons everyday in October to advocate and give babies our babies a voice. It’s before I take off my pin and feel as if I don’t have to wear it here to visibly represent the lives that touch me in every moment I have lived after he was born. I place it with my other ones, waiting to be worn tomorrow. 

Collectively, our moments make up our lives. In them all, I am Jensen’s mom. I am an advocate for pregnancy and infant loss awareness. My voice will not be silenced in any moment that comes after this. For the rest of my life, Jensen will never be forgotten. As he is remembered and talked about, he will live and dance freely in those moments.  

Laughter Medicine. 

When I was in the hospital, all alone, after Jensen has been born, I wondered if his death was a horrible cosmic joke God or some higher being was playing on me. I was angry and sad. The thought of being able to laugh or smile wasn’t even there. 

That first week home, it felt like I had huge ear muffs on that mumbled the voices around me. My sight was narrowed like when horses have their blinders on. The world was tumbling inside me, yet it looked ‘normal’ on the outside. 

I didn’t know what being numb felt like until he died. 

On the day of his funeral… a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone crashed all over me. I didn’t want to believe I woke up and today was my child’s funeral. It’s not something you want to accept. I know I sure didn’t. With all my power, I tried to keep stopping time and even trying to turn back. When I got dressed and looked in the mirror, I realized this was the outfit I’d wear to say ‘goodbye.’ I hated it and I’m not even sure what happened to those articles of clothing. 

If someone would have told me in that moment I was looking in the mirror that I would laugh later that day, I probably would have wanted to punch them. 

His funeral was something I needed. There was a lot of singing, which Jensen would have loved. Our family was there. It felt comforting and horrible at the same time. I think you wouldn’t know this feeling unless someone very close to you has died. 

With all the people there, one who said he was coming wasn’t there. I didn’t notice it during the service, but afterwards I did. Obviously, I checked my phone and had missed calls and new text messages from him. There was a miscommunication between the both of us, I admit I wasn’t very clear because my mind was spinning so fast. I told him to come to the lunch that was prepared for us and we’ll talk when he got there. 

I heard the door open and my friend’s footsteps coming in. He sat down at the table I was at with my mom and dad, I’m not sure who else was sitting there. I told him the funeral was as nice as it could be and he was nodding intently, I could tell he felt really bad for not making it. 

Then he said, I went to the wrong funeral. 

He explained he thought Jensen’s funeral was at the funeral home, not the church. When he went there, there was a lot of people, but he didn’t see me or my family. He was confused, but just thought they were consoling me somewhere else. Through a conversation with someone who was there, he found out he was at a woman’s funeral who died of cancer and at that point he realized he was at the wrong place. 

After hearing the story, I just started laughing. I’m sure everyone who didn’t hear the story thought I was just snapping completely. How insane would it be to just end up at the wrong funeral? I just imagined how uncomfortable it would be to go to your best friend’s son’s funeral only to be at a completely different person’s. 

It was the first time I laughed since he was born and it did feel like a little bit of medicine. 

I’m not sure the next time I laughed, but with time I didn’t feel guilty. Guilt is one of the hardest things to juggle after losing your child, amongst the obvious. There was so much guilt about smiling, laughing, or even having a good day. It’s almost like if someone saw you in an okay mood, they might think you were ‘over it.’ 

The thing is Jensen wants me to smile and laugh; just like any child would want their parents. As soon as I realized I don’t have to explain or validate my feelings to anyone else throughout my grief journey, the more I was able to focus on what got me through the days and weeks and months. 

That first laugh helped and it still gets me to this day. 

Conscious Gratitude.

 

I’m still reeling over last night’s Wave of Light.

As we all know, yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and the annual Wave of Light in all timezones at 7pm. Throughout the day, I saw the light beginning and spreading across the world on social media. When it was our time in Ohio (Eastern Standard Time), my newsfeed on Facebook and Instagram was flooded with pictures of candles from bereaved parents and support people!

Our children made their mark last night and their light shined so bright. I believe we raised awareness while celebrating our babies’ lives. It was truly beautiful.

Today’s Capture Your Grief prompt is all about gratitude. Last year, I wrote about the people I was grateful for that supported me and others who did not. Each experience had brought me to that moment and I was proud in who I was becoming. This year, I could go on and talk about my ever-growing support system. I am consciously grateful for them, but I wanted to talk more about yesterday.

I want to share with you all some pictures I received that honored Jensen and Huxley. Each message and picture I was constantly grateful. As I said in an earlier prompt, the power of their names is so strong. I am grateful for those who remember and aren’t afraid to grieve and celebrate with me. Last night, I truly felt lifted by those around me and I hope I was able to do the same for others.

For you reading this post, whether its your first one or hundredth, thank you. Your support keeps motivating me to share their stories and say their names. It keeps their memory alive. I am so grateful for that.

Secret Acts of Kindness.


I never knew the power of a name before I had Jensen.

There came a time in my early grief where the people around me stopped saying his name on a daily basis. This just happens, I understand that now and don’t hold any anger towards them. Yet, I longed to hear his name and talk about him as much as I could. I would say it out loud to myself whenever I could and filled my house with it and J’s. During this time and even now, I want to be surrounded by him because I miss him and he should be here. Still, I felt like I needed to share his story, say his name, and remember him with others who understood what losing a child felt like.

Finding the baby loss community so early in my grief has helped me heal and know I’m not alone. I remember not even a month into my grief, I was sitting on the couch, and watching Carly Marie write names on Christian’s Beach. Each time she wrote a baby’s name, I felt the mother and father’s name. As I saw others write their child’s name in the comments, I wanted to do the same and see his name clear on the other side of the world. So I did and within a few moments, there she started his cursive J. My heart felt easy, which was a crazy juxtaposition to how I felt beforehand. Then the waves, trickled up, and washed away his name. He and his memory was forever on that beach and then in the ocean.

I didn’t think of it as an act of kindness in that moment. It was a gift. One that I needed, but didn’t know I did.

Since then, members of this community and even those who are not, have sent me secret acts of kindness: his name. I have hundreds of pictures of Jensen travels from around the world. For his birthday, I even made a scrapbook of them. Seeing and hearing his name are the greatest gifts I can ask for post-loss. Just recieving a text from a friend saying they’re thinking of Jensen can completely turn my day around.

This is a gift, an act of kindness, you can easily give to your friend, family member, or someone you know who has experienced loss. As a loss mom, I’m thankful to have been able to help other moms by making name wreaths and writing their child’s name on the beach. We all need support and sometimes it’s as simple as knowing the power of a name.


Thank you Avery’s mom, Tara from Avery’s Garden, for including Jensen in your Leaves of Love Tree for your Wave of Light project. You do so many beautiful projects for our community, I’m thankful to know you and Avery.