Meaningful Mantra. 

I’ll never forget the day his heart stopped being and my continued. 

After we heard the news, we rushed to the hospital. We weren’t in my car with the neatly packed diaper bag or the black and white striped car seat. All I had was the clothes on my back and my son still in my belly. I had to call my mom to tell her the news and to tell her she needed to get me some clothes. She asked what I needed for Jensen, I told her his coming home outfit was in my car, so he needed clothes. 

I gave her the task to pick out his first and last outfit. What a harrowing one it was. 

They told me what he was wearing, but I didn’t see him in it until a couple months later. He was absolutely perfect from the strands of his hair to the tips of his toes. Something else struck me too: the saying on his shirt. 

Greatness starts here. 

When I feel overwhelmed in my grief, I remember this. Greatness did begin with Jensen and it hasn’t ceased. It is within me and I have the choice whether grief or greatness wins. 

Death didn’t take away Jensen’s greatness; nothing will ever be able to. This mantra has gotten me through some of my darkest times and I know Jensen would want me to always believe in it too. 

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Rise and Shine Mourning Ritual. 

Good morning, I love you, Jens. 

I say after I roll over and kiss my son’s urn. This has been how I’ve woken up for about a year. Once I do this I can get up and get ready for my day. For some reason I can’t, let’s say on vacation, my day just feels off

Mornings have always been the worst after losing Jensen. The unwelcoming silence made me realize that this was still my reality. In the early days, I relived his birth and the silence that followed. This wasn’t the way I should be starting my days. Instead, all I wanted is to be picking Jensen up, changing his butt, feeding him, and putting him into one of his outfits. 

I felt lost in what I needed to be doing. 

Slowly, I started to touch his urn when I woke up. It felt nice to be close to him. Then I needed him close at all times, that how his urn ended up beside me when I slept. It helped break the silence. Telling him good morning brought me back into the present and let me keep moving forward, with Jensen always with me. 

Mourning rituals come when they need to while grieving. I have never tried to force myself into something that didn’t feel comfortable. What works for me, might not work for the next person, but making sure to do what’s right and helpful for your heart is most important. 

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!

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.

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. 

May We All Heal | Future

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

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

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

There are always talks about triggers.

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

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

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

Now to the future…

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

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

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

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

May We All Heal | Quiet & Light


 

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

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

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

Then the tears fell… and they kept falling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

May We All Heal | Broken

broken – violently separated into parts, shattered

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

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

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

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

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

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

May We All Heal | Love 


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

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

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

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

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

Love is what makes the world goes round. 

Love glued my fragile heart back together. 

Love is what has led me to this point. 

Love created Jensen. 

Love is what continues to tell his story. 

Love never ends, not even in death.