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. 

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May We All Heal | Remember 


Remember… how could I ever forget?

Everyday I wake up and you’re the first thought that pops in my mind. I am filled with all the mornings we spent together. Our routine was spent with me telling you how loved you are as I traced my hand over each of your kicks. We took those first minutes of the day to just sit in peace. Even to this day, I spend that time saying good morning and still telling you how much I love you.

When I look at myself, I can see what I gave to you. You have my hands and feet. My nose and cheeks. I wish I could have known the color of your eyes or the sound of your voice. But when I see those parts of me that you had, I remember what love created.

I’ll always remember what food you liked and what times you tolerated eating. Just like I’ll remember to lay on my left side so you could sleep soundly. Or the time we were painting in my bedroom. We had all the windows open and each time I reached up, I felt you stretching to help me out. My little home improver. There are countless moments and memories from our thirty-eight weeks that I will never forget.

There isn’t a time where I have to sit here and try to remember you. It’s just natural that you’re in my thoughts every second. No matter what happens in the future, you’ll always be thought of and honored. You are my first-born child. The little guy who made me a mom and showed me a love that is so big and powerful. There will never come a day where you aren’t remembered.

I love you, Jensen. Thank you for all the memories we spent together and the ones we have made since you’ve been physically gone. I will always hold you in my heart.

On This Mother’s Day…

From the moment I saw the word ‘pregnant’ on the first test I took, he made me a mother.

Through those early weeks of excitement to see him grow and feel him move, he made me a mother.The first time I heard that strong, galloping heartbeat, he made me a mother.

When he showed off what made him be a boy on the ultrasound screen, he made me a mother.

During the worry of wondering if I was going to be a good enough mother to him, he made me a mother.

Feeling his kicks everyday and him jab me when I didn’t lay on my left side, he made me a mother.

Through those last weeks of anticipation for his big arrival, he made me a mother.

Giving me a quick, almost painless labor, he made me a mother.

During those weeks of deep pain and grief, he made me a mother.

In these weeks of healing and living our new normal, he made me a mother.

Even through our tragic story, there is an endless, unbreakable love that will always stay because he made me a mother.

He made me a mother and I am so proud that he’s my son.

On this Mother’s Day, I’m honoring my motherhood and the love I have for my son by showing him off to the world. When I see him, my whole being fills with pride and happiness. I made this little human and he’s given me a life I never knew was possible.

My only wish for this day (as it is on every day) is to have him back in my arms. I know this isn’t possible. So instead, I hope someone tells me ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’ I hope someone says Jensen name to me. I hope every mother who has lost a baby feels honored today. Just as I hope anyone who is facing this day without their mom, or sister, or aunt, or grandmother, feels like their loved one is forever remembered and honored.

Hold the ones you care about most near your heart. There are so many others that have to carry others in their. Just like I carry Jensen and his great-grandmother in mine.

This little boy, he means the world to me. He made me his mother and that’s my favorite part about myself.

 

May We All Heal | Wish

I wish…

I could hear his laughter.

I could know if his nose scrunches when he smiles.

I could see him chase after Leo and Poe. 

I could hold him tight as he falls asleep in my arms. 

I could teach him as a child.

I could hear his protests as a teenager.

I could be nervous the first time he drove a car.

I could help him get ready for prom.

I could cry as I sent him off to college.

I could have a mother and son dance with him.

I could collect all the memories we were supposed to have.

I could have stayed in our little infinity forever.

I could have got him out a week earlier.

I could have taken more bump pictures.

I could live to see a day where there is no loss.

I could take the pain away from every grieving parent.

I could bring their babies to them.

I could still feel blissfully ignorant concerning pregnancy and loss.

I would have held him.

I would have whispered in his ear how much I loved him.

I would have known. 

for all the flowers he would have picked for me.

that I could have seen him wish all his wishes. 

that my house wasn’t empty when I got home.

that he was somewhere for the day and at any moment they were going to drop him off.

he was here.

I wished for a love so big, so strong that nothing could ever come in between us. That wish came true, but I wish death didn’t have to get in the way.

Peace, Love, and Rushing Around.

I’m home!

It has been such a crazy week of vacation that I’m glad to be back to the peace that is my little house. Not writing for this whole time has been strange. I’ve felt all these words and emotions built up. I plan on expanding on some of them in the next few weeks, but today is a little catch up.

Tuesday has quickly snuck up on me this week as I figured it would. Thirty-seven whole weeks have passed since Jensen’s silence birth. Even though I had the past few days to relax, I woke up with great anxiety again. I’m missing him so very much. Walking into my house last night, I was glad, but my heart was so heavy knowing I wasn’t coming home to him. I wouldn’t be seeing his excited face as I went to pick him up after a week of not seeing him. Grief didn’t take a vacation as I did. I can’t say it welcomed me home, but it changed and felt different while I was gone and came back.

Today has felt even faster for me. I woke up late and had to start getting things done around the house. My mailbox was full of beautiful Christmas cards from other loss mamas, two new ornaments for Jensen and our tree, and of course bills. It was such a happy welcome home. Each card that was sent to me warmed my heart and the ornaments, they were so perfect. I kept thinking about their warm wishes and the comments and messages I received while I was gone. My tribe of mamas are always showing me they care and Jensen will forever be remembered.

Along with my vacation, I wanted to update you all with all the angel names I wrote on the beach. Well, my phone didn’t take the trip very well. Not to go into great detail, but I wrote all the names and took the pictures in the first few days. Then, all of a sudden, my phone had deleted ALL my pictures from December and eventually factory reset the last day. Frantically, I had my mom and dad help me with all the baby names. I wrote and wrote and wrote as my mom took the pictures and my dad checked them off the list. It was such a rush, but I am 99.9% sure I have all the names as I did before. The pictures are on my mom’s phone and I am going to download them tomorrow and hopefully will have everything on Jensen’s page by Friday.

With all the names, I am going to post about my experience with others while I wrote them. It was an interesting process and there were a lot of reactions from others. There was nobody that came and said they had lost their child, which I am thankful for. But there was a lot of people who went and said your children’s names out loud as they walked across the beach. I said them with them proudly each time. They were very taken care of and the waves washed their names peacefully away.

I just want to again, thank you all for trusting me with their names so I could write them along with Jensen’s.


Since there’s only five days left till Christmas, I wanted to share a very special ornament I received today. Especially since I’ve been slacking off on sharing all the ornaments I wanted to with you, I blame vacation. This ornament is from Lachlan’s mommy and my very best friend, Melissa.

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This beautiful blue and orange sparkly ornament has Jensen’s name on the front and 2016 on the back. It’s personalized just for him and holds so much meaning in my heart. Lachlan and Jensen were born just days apart in April. They should both be eight months old and getting spoiled during their first Christmas. I hate the way Melissa and I met, but I am so thankful for our friendship and to know Lachlan and his family. Friendship in the midst of grief is hard to come by, but here we are finding some kind hope and walking with each other in this unknown future.

Although I haven’t told Melissa yet, when I opened her Christmas care package today on Jensen’s thirty-seventh week in heaven, I broke down in tears. It’s not only an ornament for me to remember him by, it’s one that he would’ve absolutely loved. He would have been amazed that the blue and orange that decorates him room would be on our tree. I see it as a little present for my son, the first I have received for him during Christmas. My heart is truly touched.

Thank you, again, Melissa for this beautiful ornament. It will be one of my favorites to put up every single year. You have been such a great support system for me and I will never be able to thank you enough. Although I know we both would have rather this holiday season to be so much different, I’m glad we’re able to be here for each other.


Jensen Grey, I love you so very much. Happy thirty-seven weeks in heaven. You are the light of my life. Thank you for protecting your whole family through our travels and vacation. I felt your presence as I wrote your friends’ names on the beach. My mind let me know how much you loved playing on the beach and watching the waves come in and out. You give me more strength than I ever though possible.  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.

Since this is my first Thanksgiving without Jensen, I’ve thought of different things I would like to incorporate for the days just before and on the big day. 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.

I Am.

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The following words were written at 2:11am this morning. I couldn’t sleep at all last night with the whirling of thoughts and words in my head. In attempts to show what grief looks like at all times, I’m not going to edit or change anything I said last night. You’ll even see the scribble out of one word and the underline of another.

I wish…

I wasn’t writing this. I wish loss never happened. I wish Jensen was sleeping silently soundly in his crib. I wish wishes came true, then I’d bring our babies back for you and me.

I remember…

Only hearing 4:25 and feeling something I’ve never felt before. I remember the emptiness when I arrived home. It took place where Jensen had made his home for the past thirty-eight weeks and two days. That emptiness spread from his sacred spot and traveled in my veins to my heart, my brain, and even to my toes. I remember the second that emptiness and numbness turned to unbearable pain, that still hasn’t went away.

I could not believe…

Those six words that came out of the doctor’s mouth. Even worse, I couldn’t believe the confirmation of them with the silence of his birth.

If only…

I knew what I do now. Maybe I could have saved you. If I couldn’t have saved you, I would’ve changed the moments after your birth. If only there were one kiss or sweet whisper of ‘I love you.’

I am…

Jensen’s mom. I am on a raft of love in the sea of grief. I am Danielle and I’m learning how to journey and survive life after loss.

 

Healing Therapies.

Breathe in, one, two, three, four.

Breathe out, one, two, three, four.

I remember when deep breathing and counting were going to help heal the supposed worst pain of my life: giving birth. Even during my labor with Jensen, I don’t think I needed anyone counting for me. The contractions didn’t hurt, but I wanted some normalcy while I delivered him so silently. After he came into the world my body started healing, but emotionally, I didn’t even know how to begin healing. I was in pain and my brain instantly went into shock trying to protect the influx of emotions. During that time, I had to focus on healing my body by sleeping and trying to eat. That was the best I could do.

When I had to focus on emotional healing, I was lost. I felt alone and didn’t even know where to start. For the first few weeks, I just sat and stared into the nothingness. Everything felt numb and black. Even now, I can’t recall those moments or it just spirals out of control. The second week I looked in Jensen’s hospital bag. A brochure fell into my lap about online and in-person support groups. From there, I found You’re Not Alone – Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom, so many blogs journeying through others’ losses, and support near me. I read and read through so many pages, learning about how other’s heal. I realized how much reading through their words had helped me.

Then I decided to write Jensen’s story and share.

It felt so healing to write his name. To let the whole entire world know about him and his impact on my life. I needed to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. There would be a lot of ugly, but love always paved the way for the good. Six months later, it’s one healing therapy that I do every single day.  Usually with hot tea in my mug and candles lit throughout the whole house. Sometimes I want to share with the world and others, I keep it between Jensen and I. I haven’t missed a day of writing since that two-week mark. Getting all my emotions out on paper, or laptop, has let me sort through it everything.

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As much as I wish writing could just heal me and I’d be perfectly back to normal, that’s not how grief works.

Talk therapy has done so much good for me.

One of the hardest things I’ve done post loss was making an appointment to a therapist. I did not want to ‘be weak’ and talk to a counselor. The first time seeing her, I was terrified. Then being able to say his name, talk about how I was feeling out loud, and not feel judged was healing. It encouraged me to go to my first in-person support group, then the second. I spend a lot of time with talk therapy, six times a month to be exact. Sometimes, like this month, I’ve gone to other groups or events where I could talk more about Jensen. It’s been one of the most healing therapies I’ve done in my life after loss. This journey is so lonely and knowing there’s so many people to support me is, well, bittersweet. It breaks my heart knowing these amazing, strong women have felt this way and are able to channel that to help me and so many other moms going through loss. Reaching out and letting others know you need help, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s helped.

There’s no rulebook on what to do after your child dies. That’s what makes finding these healing therapies so individual and hard for people to narrow down. I believe it’s trial and error. What works for me, might not work for the next person and that absolutely fine. I will say, if you are a support person reading this and wondering how to help your loved one, the most healing therapy someone can help with is saying their child’s name. It’ll open the line of communication between you two and might help find what the other person needs to heal.

I’d also like to say one more thing, losing a child takes a lifetime of healing. Please be patient with them or yourself and never feel like they or you need to put your grief on a timeline. Loss moms and dads are trying to figure out their new normal and how to move forward with their life. Be gentle with our hearts, we’re doing our best to find our healing therapies.

Even if it begins with breathing in and out.

Creative Heartwork.

“I need to have a part of Jensen on my forever. Everyone needs to see him on me.”

A few weeks after Jensen was born, I kept repeating those words. My heart hurt that no one could see my baby in my arms and I wanted to somehow prove to the world that I was his mother. That and I wanted to feel physical pain, there was so much emotional pain that I needed to focus it somewhere else.

So we got tattoos.

Even though the one I got wasn’t the one I originally planned, I’m so happy it worked out that way. The celtic knot for motherhood is forever on the back of my neck. It’s beautiful and to me, represents that Jensen will always be with me. The pain I expected it to bring wasn’t there. Instead, the humming of the machine relaxed every muscle in my body. After it was all done, I was so proud Jensen was honored there for the rest of my life. I loved that I was able to find the design and put his birthday underneath it.

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As much as I love sharing my first Jensen tattoo with everyone, I think a lot of creative heartwork happens behind the scenes. It’s sharing your story online and at in-person support groups. Or it can be the connection you make with other loss mamas and doing anything you can to be there for them. Maybe it’s writing your baby’s name hundreds of times in every font you know how to do. It could be framing your favorite outfit of their’s in your favorite spot, so you can see it everyday. If a baby is buried, you can be creative during all the holidays and anniversaries and decorate their spot. SO many things that is creative and comes from the heart.

For me, it seems like I share all the creative heartwork that I do for Jensen. I love showing how much he means to me and my creative side. Today i’m going to share something a little more personal. As I’ve said before, when people walk into my house, Jensen is everywhere. Most people wouldn’t even notice the stack of notebooks of letter, filled with love, that I have written to Jensen. It started when I was pregnant, I would write a verse and then tell Jensen all about my day. When he was born, I started drawing him pictures and adding color to every letter. It was my way to be creative with him while I let all my emotions out on the paper. Every single word filled with love and appreciation to him. These letters have became my favorite part of the day and are a huge part of my healing. It’s my favorite heartwork I do for Jensen.

In between all those love letters, are drawings and letterings of his name or anything that reminds me of him. Today, I keep writing his name over and over again. If you’ve been following along, you all know Tuesdays are hard for me. They’re even harder when I can’t be creative and do things for him. All I’ve been able to do is writing his name. Even finding the words to this Capture Your Grief prompt has been difficult. This Tuesday marks twenty-seven weeks since Jensen was born sleeping. All those weeks ago, I bought my first remembrance bracelet to remember him by. It was Aries constellation bracelet, that I wear everyday. I never imagined then, that six months from that moment my favorite heartwork would be the letters I wrote to him just two days before his birth.

Tonight, as I continue my private, creative heartwork for Jensen,  I’ll be thinking of the love we show to all our babies everyday. Even in our deepest pits of pain, we continue creating beautiful things to honor our angels; out of these dark pits, blossoms the loveliest flower.

Happy twenty-seventh week in heaven, Jensen. When you look down on me from heaven, I hope you see all the creative heartwork that I do all for you. I miss you. I love you.

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Symbols & Signs.

The morning Jensen was born, my best friend came to the hospital. He brought flowers and just sat and listened. It was fairly early when I texted and told him Jensen was born so silently. I remember just talking and explaining it, I don’t even know if I was crying or if shock had taken my tears. He had to be so brave coming into that room. It’s not the scenario anyone expects to walk in. Usually there’s the baby being passed around and the mom is beaming. Anyways, during our talk he told me, “Jensen will come to you in a red bird and a blue bird.” I remember the thought of a sign from Jensen giving me so much hope.

It would be a happy moment that he was with me even in his death.

When we got home from the hospital, I completely forgot about our conversation on the birds. There were no birds going to come in my room as I let the darkness cover me. I was dragged out of the house to go on a drive two days before his funeral. We drove all around the county and ended up going to eat at a little restaurant that I’ve been to countless times. I sat down in one chair and didn’t like it, so I sat in the chair across the table. It felt better about that chair, weird I know. Then I looked up at the wall, one I’ve looked at before, and I saw my sign. A picture of a red bird and one of a blue bird right beside it; my sign from Jensen.

I remember just staring at it and not listening to a word my mom said. All I could do was point at the pictures and say, ‘he’s okay.’

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