Jensen is FIVE.

I always need a few days after Jensen’s birthday to collect all my thoughts.

Five feels really big. He should be half a decade old. That realization is hard to wrap my mind around. Then I remember, I have to live the rest of my life without him. It’s a mix of seeing Mila grow older and knowing five holds so much that really brought me to a dark space this year.

Not that every year isn’t hard because having your child die really sucks.

Anyways, Jensen’s actual birthday was everything it needed to be. We still celebrate his birthday and I probably always will.

This year, I wanted to do an activity a five-year-old would love to do. So, we went to the zoo.

I want to go over how much we loved the Cleveland Zoo in a future post, but it was a huge part of Jensen’s fifth birthday. It would be silly not to share the highlights of the day.

My favorite part of going to the zoo was that all the animals were out. Since it was a cooler day, they were playing and being active. The big cats were all out and not napping. Even the bears were out of their caves and showing off.

Honestly, I thought of Jensen’s birthday eve book. We read On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. In the book, the animals were all dancing the night the baby was born. It felt like the animals were out at the zoo for Jensen. I know that sounds silly, but those little connections are my only ones to him.

As with anything during child loss, I also wondered what animal Jensen would like seeing the most at the zoo. At five, he’d definitely have a favorite. Part of me felt like he’d have liked the red pandas the most. I wonder if he’d want his face painted too. Just those little things that constantly pop up.

I’ve finally realized it’s okay to have those sad moments in a happy day. Grief and happiness coexist in the strangest way, especially on their birthdays.

Of course we had dippin’ dots at the zoo!

After the zoo, we went out to eat.

There were a few birthdays that got celebrated and it was hard because Jensen didn’t get that. Mila is at an age where she wants to sing along with everyone else’s birthday celebrations when we go out. Yet, we didn’t get one for her brother at the restaurant.

I often wonder what Mila thinks of those types of things. It’s just our life, but it’s just something I think about.

When we got home, we had family over to celebrate Jensen and his birthday. There was ice cream cake, singing, and bubbles. Everyone said his name and that will always be the greatest gift of all.

Just knowing Jensen is remembered and loved brings me such happiness.

Throughout his birthday, I received so many birthday messages and love. I can’t thank everyone enough for that. The love that surrounds him and his memory is so beautiful.

I don’t know what this year of grief looks like. Whenever I try to plan something, it feels like it gets a little derailed.

One thing I want to do in honor of Jensen this year is a backpack drive to donate to a local school. Since he’d be a kindergartner this year, I feel like that would be a beautiful way to honor him. The closer we get to the summer, the more details and information I’ll have on this.

What I do know is that as we dive into year five, he is still so loved and missed.

I think about my little boy every single day. He is the reason I keep going forward and shapes the way I parent Mila. Jensen is a part of our lives in all ways. Even though he isn’t here with us doesn’t mean he isn’t in our hearts.

No matter how many years pass, I’m so proud to be his mom.


Family Portrait – Capture Your Grief

This is my family: Mila, Jensen, and I.

Our family portraits will never look ‘normal,’ but they’re perfect to me. They’re still full of love and an actual representation of who we are as a family.

Story time.

I was being brave today. This whole month I’ve felt exhausted. In the middle of potty training Max AND Mila (yes, I will post those adventures soon), doing school work, and trying to get back in the swing of subbing, plus everything else, I found myself neglecting what actually means a lot to me… Capture Your Grief. Every October I’ve done my best with it and this one, I just have been doing what I can do.

When I saw today’s prompt, I told myself I was 100% participating and going to get a picture of us. I picked out Mila and I’s outfit and Jensen’s bow. We grabbed our fall stuff and a big blanket to take outside. For like 15 minutes, I was in the backyard finding the perfect spot while rigging a stand up for my phone to sit…

I wanted it to be perfect with a fall background and all of us looking in the camera. Let’s just say… that didn’t happen.

Toddler’s aren’t the best at taking direction and Max wouldn’t sit still and Mila kept taking Jensen’s bow off and it seemed impossible to run back and get us all set up in time in a matter of ten seconds.

Did I feel a little defeated? Yes. But, I looked at Mila and held Jensen bear close to me and realized the most important people in my life didn’t care about a picture. They cared about me and know I’m doing my best. I let grief and stress and feeling like a bad mom get the best of me. It happens to all of us and that’s okay.

After my moment, I squeezed Jensen bear again and got Mila to come sit with us. I was going to get this picture no matter what and what’s wrong with a selfie?

This is our life. It’s three and a half years of grieving and a year and a half of parenting after loss. It’s one full of love and craziness. One that the only thing I’d change is having Jensen physically here with us.

I love our little family portrait today. My littles are in my arms and close to my heart. I’m smiling and everything is going to be just okay.

Kisses for Jensen.

Love Day.

Being a mom has taught me endless love.

Not just on Valentine’s Day, but every single second of each day.

When I imagined Love Day with Jensen, I pictured making him heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries (all cut up and easy for him to eat), doing a mini photo shoot with here at home, and having a mommy-son date night. He would be in Valentine’s Day themed pajamas in the morning and jeans and a button up shirt for the evening. I’m sure there would have been a craft we would have done to give to grandma and grandpa. There would be smiles and giggles. All would be right.

really miss him.

A weird part of this ‘holiday’ is I’m not even being triggered. Maybe it’s because I’m extremely sick and still trying to get better? Or the weird way it seems like a lot of big days have fallen on Tuesdays? Then I think that today’s not really a holiday, but I still wanted to spend it with Jensen and make it another great day for him. I keep telling myself, ‘It’s just a Hallmark holiday.’ But I realize I’m not sad because I’m not spending it with a boyfriend or a guy. I just want Jensen and all the days I should have had with him. Lately, for me, I’ve been missing him in the smallest moments. Ones where I wonder when he would be crying or get mad at me. He’d pout, fake cry, and turn his face so red. It’d be frustrating in that second, but I want that. And there are others when he’d fall and get back up on his own. I wonder how that first time of him getting back up on his own would feel. Like he could do something on his own and didn’t need me; I’d feel so proud and sad at the same time.

Those are the moments I crave.

Honestly, I’m thankful for today. The day I found out I was pregnant was when I knew what love truly was. I swear I felt my heart grow five sizes bigger. It has only grown and radiated. When I woke up today and saw all those hearts and words of love, I just felt it. There has been lovely loss mamas sending me hearts with Jensen’s name and letting me know he’ll never be forgotten. I received his drawn portrait and am amazed with how adorable he looks in it. There’s a love craft planned for tonight that I’m really looking forward to. Maybe I’ll even have a mini date night with myself if I’m feeling up to it tonight.

I just feel so loved today.

It’s amazing to me how in this darkness of grief we can see light and feel love. How even in our worst days there’s something to smile about. That from this great physical distance between Jensen and I, he feels so very close to me. It’s all from this endless love that one little boy continues to bring me.

Which brings me to something I want to share with you guys…

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I’ve been thinking about starting an Etsy shop to spread the love I have for Jensen. The items in it would be customizable to any child; I promise I’m not that crazy to just offer Jensen’s footprints! It’ll be items like the one with Jensen bear and of course other ones too. I thought today would be the perfect day to share with you all and to see what everyone thinks. You all have helped shaped this journey so much for me that I appreciate your feedback.

I hope you all have a gentle Valentine’s Day full of love.

Happy forty-five weeks in heaven, Jensen! Today I’ve felt all the love you’ve been sending me and I hope you’re feeling all the love I have for you. I know you’re hand making me cards for when I join you in heaven and I’ll be so happy to see them. Thank you for giving me this endless love; I’ll cherish it every day of my life.
I miss you. I love you.

The Rise of a Smile Through Grief.

During this time last year, I treated every day like it was a gift. I marveled how big Jensen was growing and how his kicks were getting stronger. Sweet lullabies were sung to him as I mindlessly worked or planned his baby shower.

Every morning I woke up with a smile.

It was never a conscious decision. I was genuinely happy knowing he was growing safely inside my belly and I enjoyed looking at my pregnancy app religiously every morning after I told him good morning, I love you. Even with the storm of confusion with finding out about Down syndrome and being shuttled to the constant appointments, I was thankful for everyday. Last year’s February and March were the happiest months in my life.

Of course everything changed when April came.

Those mornings I woke up in tears or just stone faced. I couldn’t make myself feel or do anything. Honestly, it’s hard for me to comprehend how I made it through the first three months. The body and brain do an amazing job of protecting itself through shock. I don’t think anyone could take losing a child without the fog that surrounds you (and that continues to protect me most days). Smiles didn’t come naturally those beginning months. They were all an act, I knew when I was supposed to act a certain way during conversations. Not that I even knew what anyone was saying to me, but I didn’t want to seem weirder than I already had felt.

The first time I truly smiled after Jensen was born, I instantly felt guilt. I’ve talked about this before, but I feel like it needs to be said again. In that moment, I let my guard down and was able to feel something; glimpses happiness are very enticing. BUT, how could I smile? My child is dead. What a slap in the face to his death. I’m supposed to be mourning, not laughing and having a good time. I would never see his smile or hear his laugh, so why do I deserve to do all these things.

I started to choose nothingness.

What’s nothingness you might ask? I didn’t want to make myself frown or to be sad. That was kind of inevitable. On the other hand, I chose not to smile. I would hear things that would spark a good feeling, but I honestly did not think I was worthy of any good. So I chose the middle ground. I succumbed to shock and feeling blah. To be fair, I was too exhausted to want anything else. I was feeling every emotion, every second of the day. It felt like being on a roller coaster that has constant loops.

Everything was bland. Food didn’t taste like anything. Even when I would eat Nutella (my favorite) there was nothing. Sleep and I had a love-hate relationship. There would be days I slept for hours upon hours, then the next I wouldn’t sleep at all. The hours of sleep I did get, didn’t make me any less tired. Nothingness felt right in those early days and I’m thankful it helped me make it to today. I can vividly remember thinking this would be the rest of my life. There wouldn’t be a day where sleep would welcome me, food wouldn’t taste terrible, or I could ever choose to start my day with a smile.

Until, I dreamt of his.

Jensen has a unique way of letting me know what he wants for me; whether that be a physical sign or putting a message in my dreams. In the dreams he’s in his blond hair is always a little too long, his cheeks still chubby, and his eyes always searching for mine. When our eyes meet, it’s always an instant smile. I’m telling you guys, it would light up a whole entire city. Maybe even the world. The first time I saw it in my dreams, he probably was the ten months old. Yes, the age he would be now. It was gummy and his nose scrunched up which made his eyes squint even more. I can remember never wanting to let go of that moment and I wanted it to be real. Maybe in another dimension it is.

That morning, I smiled.

Fast forward to last night. After I settled in bed, I felt grief starting to press down on me. It has been a rough two days anyways, but nothingness was fighting its way back to the top. Sleep kept eluding me and I just prayed that I would fall under its spell so I could have some relief. In my dreams, each part of my mind was at war with one another. It was a fitful night of sleep, but when I awoke I knew what side won.

The nothingness that I was scared of drowning me was gone. There was grief, there’s always grief and a tugging of sadness, but it did take me over. Yet, there wasn’t an immense amount of happiness. I felt peace and could only picture a blond hair boy with chubby cheeks urging me to keep going on.

Today I woke up with a smile.

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Happy forty-four weeks in heaven, my perfect boy. The weeks seem to be getting closer together and it’s getting very close to your first birthday. With each passing day, I feel myself getting more and more nervous. I’m going to try to choose to honor each day (but one) with happiness and peace in your honor. You make me want to do better. I miss you. I love you.

Nine Months.

In my house there’s a room that remained empty for almost nine whole months. There are white squares on the wallpaper and one navy and orange wood wall. The curtains are drawn and frame a picturesque, snowy backyard. Its grey rug in the middle of the room calls out to be sat on. It yells for you to read all the books packed away in storage. Although it looks like any normal room, there should be a crib, a changing table, and bookshelves full of adventures. Instead, the only signs that it was anyone’s space is his name, weight, and birthdate written on the chalkboard paint right as you walk in.

For all this time I hated its emptiness, but there was no way I could take seeing his empty crib. It stayed waiting for Jensen and all his things. A nasty reminder of how life should have been.

Recently, I’ve gained the courage to actually use his room. The first step in this process has been putting up a big piece of furniture, a futon. In fact, it’s a grey futon with navy and orange pillows. My mom and dad came over to help me put it up. We decided the best place for it to sit was where Jensen’s crib would have welcomed his dreams every night. I truly believed that seeing his room being used would help heal my heart. That it wasn’t just a room that held stillness. As we assembled and centered it on the wall, the room started closing in on me. This just wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

I took a huge deep breath and tried once again to accept my reality.

Yes, I had to accept Jensen wouldn’t be using this room. At nine months old, Jensen isn’t in there standing on his crib mattress, waiting for me to pick him up. Instead of him crying to wake me up, there’s nothing but silence. There would be no bedtime stories or a room full of toys. I wouldn’t hear him jump out of his bed as he grew older. He wouldn’t race to his window to see if the snow had covered the street beside us, hoping school would be canceled. There would be no slamming of his door or sneaking out of it. None of these dreams will ever become memories. The futon in his room would always remind me of that.

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Today when I walked in and seen the image above, I smiled and then cried. No matter how much this futon reminds me of all things I don’t have with him, he is so present in this home. In the navy and orange, I see the color of crayons he would pick. The squares on the wall could only help grow his imagination, maybe he’d even become a better drawer than me. Who knows, maybe when he would have been older, he would have wanted this very futon in his room. He probably would think it was cool to have some place to hang out and play video games. I cried today because I wish I knew him at nine months and everyday of his life. His room would’ve become such a huge part of his childhood and now it’s up to me to use it.

I can’t bear to use see any other colors than the ones I picked out for him. It will always be Jensen’s room. My hope is to use his space to be close to him and do what I can in his honor. It took nine months for me to put a futon in there, so it might take nine more for me to actually sit there for a while. Everyday I’m doing my best for him and for me. Even if that means accepting what shouldn’t be.

Happy nine months in heaven, Jensen Grey. You are loved and missed beyond what words could ever describe. I hope you like the futon that occupies your room. It really is comfortable and I could really see me sitting there and watching you play. I hope you have your big nine month sticker on and sending me a most special snowflake. I miss you. I love you.

Don’t Put a Timeline on My Grief.

Don’t put a timeline on my grief.

In the past thirty-nine weeks, I’ve lost my son, gave birth, moved in a new house, and gotten out of a relationship. Those are three, big life changes in nine short months. I have learned how to live with the biggest hole in my heart. There’s literally been days I’ve had to crawl in the shower to get the tear stains off my cheeks. I’ve experienced every single emotion, sometimes all in one second. The weeks have both dragged on and went entirely too fast. I’m exhausted and sick. Most days I get so frustrated with myself that all I can do is sleep. Depression and anxiety are in constant battle with each other, every second with grief being their puppet master. There’s time I just want to rip my skin off so I can have some type of emotional break.

Yes, I still cry. Every day tears run down my face. That’s because every, single day I’m missing out on something Jensen would be doing. When I am vulnerable in front of you, it’s not a cry for attention. It’s letting you know I need you here with me and I’m comfortable with you seeing me at my weakest. This isn’t the time to kick me while I’m down. It’s when you’re supposed to lift me up. Tell me some way Jensen has positively effected your life and if he honestly hasn’t, just say his name. Remind me why I’ve come this far because it really isn’t for me. It’s for the little boy who can’t take these steps in life.

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Thank you Gina, Everett’s mom, for this beautiful picture and reminding me to keep going on the worst days.

Just because the year changed to 2017 at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve doesn’t mean my 2016 was magically erased. I am still at battle with all those things. The year change is nothing but a switch of a few numbers and the official passing of times. There wasn’t a person who came to my home and told my body to forget everything that’s happened. Or say, well it’s the new year and enough time has passed for you to be healed. It’s such a ridiculous notion.

Don’t put a timeline on my grief.

Nine months is such a relatively short amount of time in the span of life. And you know what? If I’m still crying every day at age ninety, I have every right. My innocent child died. It is the saddest tragedy that anyone could through. It doesn’t help when people make you feel bad for how you’re grieving. There shouldn’t be a set time where you’re just supposed to act like nothing ever happened. I’m sorry, but if you feel that way I’m not the person that should be involved in your life. There is no reason I should be apologetic for my grief. I will remember Jensen for as long as I live. In the time he’s been gone, I’ve said his name multiple times a day. This doesn’t mean I’m stuck in society’s timeline of grief, it means I love my son and that’s the way I show it. There will never a day where I’m embarrassed of him or will stop loving him. It sounds like a ridiculous to say, but when is a person is pushed to move on they’ll snap back.

I’ve lived more in the past thirty-nine weeks than a lot of people. You can say I’m damaged, but I’d tell you I’m healing. Grief has no timeline. There’s no set steps that a person has to go through. By limiting a person to the five steps in a certain amount of time only makes them feel like they’re not grieving right. I and so many other people are uncomfortable with how life has treated them. Of course I want to be happy. I should be happy with Jensen who’s testing his limits and giving me a ornery little smile. But I can’t bring him back to have that. There’s so much love in me for him that it pours out and sometimes my brain doesn’t know how to process it. It wants to give it all to him, but he’s not physically here. That is so hard on my motherly instincts.

If you can imagine just one whole day knowing your child is not alive and will never come back, you would understand. You wouldn’t want to put a timeline on my grief. Crying every day wouldn’t be weird. Still grieving at nine months wouldn’t be a huge deal. This life, although very uncomfortable, would make a little sense to you.

So please, don’t put a timeline on my grief.

A Letter to My Heart Thirty-Four Weeks Post Loss.

Dear Heart,

I felt you cracking even more as I woke up this morning with my cheeks already wet from crying in my sleep. Quite honestly, I was shocked that you could still be beating after thirty-four weeks of constant heartbreak. Maybe I should have listened to you the second I woke up, but I pushed you to keep going. You’ve surprised me for all this time and today I was going to take charge of my emotions. I made myself feel logically with my brain and ignore you.

Your beats quicken as I rushed around before I left. Tears were still falling down, but I still didn’t want to listen to you. Heart, sometimes feelings have to go to the back burner. My life needs to be compartmentalized to be semi-normal. It seemed like every song on the way to the gym were sad songs. I didn’t think I’d be able to make it there through my sobs. But I did. When I got there, all I did was take a deep breath and continuing pushing on. That’s what has gotten me this far.

While working out, I didn’t feel you beating harder or even quicker. It’s like you had given up on me, like I had you. Somehow we both kept beating on, like old friends talking through a disagreement.

During therapy was the first time all day I realized how hurt you were. Words didn’t seem to come out of my mouth, but tears continued to fall. I hadn’t looked in the mirror all day, but the look in my therapist’s eyes told me all I needed. It was a look I had seen every time someone saw me in the beginning. Your brokenness had carried through my eyes. It even carried through the words I managed to utter out. She helped me recognize you were hurting even when I tried to hide it.

I want to feel like we’re healing together, but the Jensen-sized hole in you is so apparent. On the outside, I’ve gotten better with living with that hole. It’s hard living without him, I know you feel it too. But even after knowing how broken you felt today, I still kept pushing you to the side.

At home, in our safe place, I kept busy. I mindlessly washed, folded and organized my clothes. Your beats quickened more as thoughts crept in my mind. Visions of me reorganizing Jensen’s clothes as he would be getting bigger now. I’d probably be frustrated with the weather changing back and forth, not knowing what I would need to dress him in for the next day. Usually you and I would let these visions play out, but I stopped it. The closet is now color coded in it’s appropriate spot. I thought this would help calm you, knowing that one more thing that had been weighing on my mind was done.

Night spread across the sky and I know we’d have to be settling down. I made dinner and took care of the cats. There was music on in the background, as there always is. I know we both cannot take the silence, even at day two hundred and thirty-eight. You even eased as we danced and though of his rhythmic kicks. I even smiled and my eyes were finally dry. Everything seemed to be going okay.

Until that song played. The one we listened to when we first found out Jensen was growing. It was long before we first heard his heartbeat and we hadn’t heard it since his heart had stopped.

| I want to tell you
How much I love you
I’m drowning in a sea of love |

I knew I had to listen to you then. I couldn’t do anything else but that. The sobs were uncontrollable and even though everything else felt number, the edges of your broken pieces plunged deeper in my soul. Screams were stuck in the back of my throat, but I couldn’t let them go.

The shower helped. It let me feel like I was drowning as I sat in there, letting the hot water sting my back. I hugged my knees and listened to you. Oh heart, I miss him too. There isn’t a second that goes by where I push thinking of him aside, even though you’re the one that doesn’t get my attention. I sat there feeling that hole that you constantly feel. It’s an abyss of emotions and pain and love that demands to be felt. When you dive into it, you have to wait till it spits you back out.

After it spit us both out, I had to take care of you first. You’ve called out to me all day and I’ve ignored you. I’m so sorry for that, heart. If you hadn’t kept beating strong through your brokenness, I wouldn’t be here. We would be talking about Jensen and sharing him to anyone that’ll listen. So, I did what I knew helped string together some of your broken pieces.

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Truth be told, heart, I’m jealous of you at times. As much as Jensen loved the sound of my voice, your steady beating helped him fall asleep. You were the constant and comforting sound he heard at all times. I wish I could’ve sung to him twenty-four hours a day, but you cared for him in that way. You were one of the first and last things he ever heard. Sometimes I don’t care for you or listen enough to you enough as I should. We’re both learning this new life together.

I’m listening to you tonight, my steady companion.

All my love,


Happy thirty-four weeks in heaven, my sweet love. I wish I could whisper in your ear how much I love you. With every beat of my heart, I miss you more than words could ever describe. You are the light in my life. You help me heal and are the one thing that makes my heart warm. I promise to take care of myself and be the best mommy I can be to you.

I miss you. I love you.

So, Are You Back to Normal Yet?


It’s been thirty-two weeks today and I often wonder if this question will ever lessen its sting.

Truthfully, no in the normal most people know and quite frankly I don’t want that back.

I’m never going to be back to the ‘normal’ many of my friends and family knew me as before. Like any major trauma, losing Jensen has irrevocably changed my whole being and outlook on life. It’s hard to grasp that I’ll never be the same girl who was carefree and never thought any bad ‘things’ could happen to her. The girl who breezed through life and could let things roll of her shoulders is gone. That playful spirit was taken when I hit rock bottom, when those five, haunting words were spoken to me. So, no, I’ll never be her again, never the old-me of normal.

With that all being said, I never want that normal back without Jensen. Of course if he was here, there would different changes in my life, but not this. I wish I didn’t know child loss or this type of depression or this anxiety, but it’s my reality. Even though I focus on the struggle while I write, there’s so many other traits that make this new Danielle’s normal beautiful. Although I wish those things weren’t apart of my life, I also know admirable things about myself now. I know this type of love for a little human, who through all the tears makes me smile. I know strength, even when I feel weak. I know how painfully beautiful it is when the world crumbles around you. I know how perseverance feels, when I’m picking up all those crumbs. I know the deep pulling of sadness and how sweet happiness can feel when it comes. I know how precious life is. I know I can look at myself and see the body that created life. And I know that even death could never break the bond of mother and child.

Normal is different now. It sucks to that my new normal isn’t normal for everyone else. I can understand why that’s so hard to understand on the outside. Before, I wouldn’t be able to get it either. I wouldn’t understand seeing loss posts everyday or why I continue to write about Jensen, grief, and loss in general. Honestly, I’d probably think I was going crazy beforehand, but this is real.

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This is Danielle now. She is a mother to Jensen. She is grieving. Her heart is heavy and her mind is weary. This is her new normal. This is her screaming out and healing in the best way she knows. It’s her wanting to tell you all about Jensen and all the goodness in his life. She can smile through the pain. She can see the world and feel happiness and sadness both at the same time. Danielle carries her son in her heart and wants to share their story. This is not typically normal Danielle,  this is her trying her best to live after loss.

I challenge you to ask this question differently. Instead of asking if I’ve regained my normalcy, ask me how my new normal is going.

To my Jensen, happy thirty-second week in heaven. It’s another beautiful Tuesday you’ve sent me. I’m so proud of you and am so grateful for all the signs you continually send me. I will always carry you in my heart, untill I can have you in my arms. I miss you. I love you.

Six Ways to Honor Your Child this Thanksgiving.

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, there are a lot of anxious and sad feelings for loss parents. Many of us feel there isn’t much to be thankful for after losing our children. This results to a lot of people not participating in any previous holiday traditions and making their own. No matter what a person chooses, their decision should be welcomed with love and acceptance.

Although this is just a short list, I hope that it will allow me to feel Jensen’s presence and maybe help another mom and dad cope on Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving Day Craft or Graphic

When I was pregnant, I pinned a lot of crafts to do with Jensen on all of his first holidays. For Thanksgiving, I always planned on getting his footprint and making it into a turkey. It makes me sad that I can’t get Jensen’s seven month footprint for this craft, but I’m thankful to have his footprint from when he was born on my laptop. As much as I love free graphics offered in online support groups, I wanted it to be a little more personal. I was able to make a turkey with Jensen’s footprint using PowerPoint and some help from this website. It’s really adorable and I can’t wait to share it on Thanksgiving! (Maybe I’ll post a little sooner so you all can see.) Although you’ll see it then, it’s a clipart turkey with Jensen’s feet as feathers. Really personal and really cute. It’s important to me to still do all the crafts and things I had planned for his first year. Also, it’s a fun way to be creative and take your mind of things for a little bit. I’ll be looking forward to using that feature on PowerPoint to do more crafts for some upcoming holidays as well.

You could also do this craft with printing out their handprints or footprints and drawing/gluing feathers on the paper. There are no right or wrong ways with crafts and there are a ton of ideas on Pinterest.

Donate Food to a Local Food Bank or Food Drive in You Child’s Name

I imagined Jensen being a little gentleman and wanting to help. As I’ve said many times, I wanted him to volunteer his time and be able to help others in need. To honor a value I wanted to instill in my son, I’m going to donate food to the local boy scout food drive in his name, which is actually going on a few days before Thanksgiving. There are a lot of different food drivers going on this time of year and local food banks are always in need of food. So many people are not fortunate enough to be able to eat on Thanksgiving Day and how special would it be to give back in our child’s name. It brings happiness to the receiver, you, and your child’s memory. No matter how big or small your donation is, you’re able to help out at least one person. If you’d like to be able to include your child’s story, you can always add a graphic you did for Thanksgiving and put your story on the back. It’s just another way to talk about stillbirth, miscarriage, infant loss, and child loss in general.

Make Child’s Favorite Food for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thinking ahead to actually getting ready on Thanksgiving brings me a lot of anxiety. I’m not even sure if I’ll be brave enough to go to dinner. To bring Jensen in on the meal, I think it’d be really interesting to make one of his favorite foods. Whether that being macaroni and cheese or just drinking chocolate milk with dinner. It brings Jensen to the table and probably a lot of laughs with the crazy cravings a lot of us have during pregnancy. If you’ve lost an older child, you can make their favorite and talk about the times you made it for them. This idea can be carried out whether you’re going to a big family dinner or just having a small dinner with you and your partner (or for me, Leo and Poe). Also, it brings comfort. Speaking from my experience, whenever I’m feeling a little down I go and make chocolate milk. It reminds me of Jensen kicking and ends up making me smile. I feel like having that little part will bring that experience to everyone else as well.

I can imagine everyone drinking chocolate milk out of wine glasses during my family dinner. It’d definitely be a light moment.

Set an Empty Place Setting

My family doesn’t really have a formal Thanksgiving dinner, but I really like this idea. It actually shows to the people around us what we’re seeing in our minds. I know for me, I always am imagining what Jensen would be doing and although he’d probably just eat off my plate, he would still be there and eating with us all. This is very symbolic and I think like the previous idea, would be able to bring your child into everyone’s hearts that day. I know this one is kind of sad to think about that missing place setting, but it’s just another idea I liked and have heard about before. It’s really hard because it makes it ‘more real’ for everyone else. Just the image of loss is hard to grasp, but I think it would promote family members being supportive. This could also be a plate for all family members that are gone in case there are others that are grieving on this holiday.

Family Picture Including Your Child

Years ago, my family took a big family picture. Since then, there’s been more people to come into the family and obviously we’ve all grown. It’s nice to document those days, especially when everyone’s all together. After child loss, it’s hard to gather everyone when, again, we know there’s a huge part of our family missing. Our child can’t physically be there and have their picture taken, so it’s difficult for a loss mom and dad to want to take these pictures. But, I think it’s important to have them. If this is an option for you family, include your child in the ways you can. Whether it be their Molly bear, a framed picture, or any other remembrance item, include them in this. They’re present right there and I know it’s not the same as them being there, but they’re being remembered in that moment. It’s also another way to open conversation about how you’re doing on your grief journey and to talk about our children. We want them to be included on these big holidays and this one way to document it.

Plus, I love showing off Jensen bear. It would be the first time my family will feel Jensen’s weight. It’s special to be able to share that with everyone.

Start an “I’m Thankful For…” Conversation

Another challenging moment for loss parents on this THANKSgiving, is what we’re thankful for. Yes, I’m so thankful for Jensen and the thirty-eight weeks and two days I had with him, but he died. I mean there’s really no other way to explain. Other than the time and memories I have with him, I haven’t been thankful for much else this year. There’s little things like bluebirds and dancing flames, but it’s hard. I’ve heard it doesn’t really easier during the holidays years out as well. Yet, this is a moment we can honor them. Say out loud we’re thankful for our child and death cannot spoil everything. Death cannot take away the time we had with them and I’m thankful for that. Going along with the theme, this is a way to talk about our child without adding death and grief in, which lets our support people know we still are happy to talk about them. That it’s okay to talk about our children and there’s way more to their lives than death. It could be another way of talking about the community and the others ways you’re honoring your child during the holiday season. I think our families might surprise us and let us know that they’re thankful for our babies too.

I hope you’re able to use some of these ideas or come up with new traditions this Thanksgiving. If you do, please share with me. I’m always looking for ways to honor Jensen and survive the holidays without him.

I’d also just want to let you all know, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need support this coming week (and anytime really!), that I’m here for you. We’re a strong community that are always supporting each other. Especially when we need it the most.

As much as I’m thankful for Jensen, I’m thankful for all of you too.

Happy Anniversary.

Today is a very special day for my family.

Twenty-four years ago, two people declared their love, said their vows, and walked through the doors a young, married couple. Their love story began years before and even survived through a war. Their story was exciting and now they were going to embark on their biggest one yet. Nine short months later, they brought home a baby girl and then sixteen months after that, a baby boy. As their children grew, they were able to teach them what true love really looked like. Even through the ups and downs, they were there to support each other because true love never fails.

Everyday of each year they would make sure to give their children everything they could, but they also taught them something special every seventh of November. Their anniversary was always their big day. They could take those twenty-four hours and make it the best they could for each other. No matter how many Sweetest Days or Valentines Days they missed, their would always be presents on their anniversary. If not presents, little getaways where they could really focus on each other. This taught the children that love really is special and worth it once you have it.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m of course speaking of my parents; Jensen’s grandma and grandpa.


Last year for their anniversary, I gifted them with little football booties and a grandparents sign. It was the moment we could all freely talk about the little life growing inside of me with all of us knowing. Of course, mom and dad already had known, but Logan did not. I can just see the pure joy in their eyes when I recall that moment. The little football booties sat in their bookcase for the longest time (we had to put them up because of their puppy dog) and the sign is still there. Everything felt like it was on track, that life was going how it needed to be. I remember thinking of how Jensen and I were going to be able to make them their gift the next year.

From then to now, a lot has obviously changed with me, but their love has carried on.

I’m sure this year has been one of the hardest on them. With the mix of grieving their grandchild and not knowing how to help their daughter, it has to be complicated for them. They helped so much during my pregnancy with getting things for Jensen and helping me finish my house. Every time my dad would talk, Jensen would listen intently. He would kick then when he started talking he would stop then start back up again when my dad would finish. When he was born, mom and dad were there and they got to see and hold Jensen. They protected my heart, helped me plan his funeral, and have supported me through my grief and Anthony leaving. No matter how hard it has been for me, they’ve been right there.

There is no way I could thank my parents enough. My whole life, I’ve only ever known my parents being in love. Of course there were hard times, but love prevailed. It really helped me know what kind of relationship I wanted to strive for. They are able to lean on each other and support each other in parenthood. No only that, but as I just said, they’ve made me the person I am today. They both made me want to be the as amazing as they were to Jensen. I wanted to give him everything I could, just as they did. They are my mentors, role models, and most of all my loving parents.

This year was different from I thought it would be. They still were given a handmade gift from me and I even think Jensen put his little touch on there; a smudge that looked a lot like baby angel wings. Instead of holding Jensen, Jensen bear was held and loved on. We were able to talk about the past, the future, and of course Jensen. I wish he would’ve been there, stealing the show and in some ways he still does. There was the obvious missing piece, but there we were. Able to smile, cry, and celebrate their twenty-four years of marriage and all that comes with it.

Happy twenty-four years of marriage, Mom and Dad. You’ve given me the very best and I know how much Jensen loves you both.