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!

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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.

The Unspoken.

Today I cannot talk about my nitty-gritty unspoken encounters and thoughts I’ve had the past six months. My heart is already heavy with longing and sadness. I think most people would be surprised to know there are a lot of things I haven’t talked about here. Seems crazy to think that since I’ve tried to be completely honest about everything.

Somethings are secret between Jensen and I.

Somethings I whisper in the morning to help make me through the day.

Somethings I’m not ready to talk about.

And somethings, I just want to be selfish about.

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Support Circles.

Before I begin on today’s prompt, Support Circles, I’d like to take a second and just wish Jensen a very happy twenty-sixth week in heaven. This week brings on the big six month mark, but I like to acknowledge the weekday since it’s meant so much to me. I’m having an extremely rough time with the six month milestone, so I’m using today to ease into tomorrow. As I light my candle for Jensen tonight and tomorrow, I will light another for all our angels. I hope each of them are able to see the light and feel love’s warmth.

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When I think about support, my heart tears in two. The one side is full of love from so many people who hold me up, remember Jensen, and make feel like I’m not crazy. Then the other is cold and empty from the support I thought I would have on this journey. This is what makes talking about support so hard. I wish I was able to stitch both halves together and just fill my whole heart with the support I have, but it’s hard not to be bitter and think of the other side. Here’s another BUT, I’m not focusing on the bad today because there is so many people that have shown me love that I cannot thank enough.

I’ve written and rewrote this multiple times. No words will ever encapsulate my gratitude to those who have supported me and said Jensen’s name. I am going to try my very best!

To you who was there when we heard the news.
To you who rushed from Jensen’s room to get to the hospital.
To you who was there as soon as you could and stayed the whole night.
To you who heard the silence instead of the loud cries.
To you who went to his funeral.
To you who first reached out and welcomed me into this community.
To you who shared your and your angel’s story.
To you who sent me your words to let me know I wasn’t alone in my thinking.
To you who met me for lunch, even though I was so nervous to go.
To you who encouraged me to write.
To you who saw them first.
To you who showed me what was best to say to a mother who has been grieving silently for years.
To you who wrote his name so beautifully.
To you who made me feel so proud of him.
To you who let me find my voice.
To you who did not judge.
To you who saw Jensen’s pictures and exclaimed how beautiful he is.
To you who know the part of my story that I regret the most.
To you who welcomed me in many groups.
To you who made me smile.
To you who will answer any text at any time.
To you who gave me a chance.
To you who reminded me that I wasn’t alone.
To you who listened to Jensen’s story.
To you who have followed along our journey.
To you who have heard my voice.
To you who lets me cry.
To you who dries my eyes.
To you who has a huge part of their heart in heaven.
To you who walks with me in grief.
To you who celebrates his life.
To you who is reading now.
To you who says Jensen’s name.

I say thank you, to you who continues to support Jensen, me, and our story.

There’s one more person that I would like to take a second to thank.

Also, wanted to say thank you so much to the Share Your Mother Heart group. You all have been a HUGE support to me throughout all of this. Each of you have encouraged me to keep writing, even on my darkest days.


Support Links and Pages I Follow Closely:

Still Mothers

Mother Your Heart

Invisible Mothers

God’s Tiny Angels

Precious Parents

Sweet Pea Angel Gowns

Lettered Hope

Addison’s Army

 

 

What It Felt Like.

It was a cool Monday afternoon in April. The sun was shinning, but the wind made me chilly even though my pregnant belly usually made me hot. We sat in the doctor’s office, waiting to go in the back to see Jensen dancing around as he usually did. He was a little quiet that morning, I wrote it off to him not having much room. We impatiently waited. I knew the doctor wanted to discuss inducing me and having Jensen before his due date. Although I wanted him in my arms as soon as possible, I really wanted him to have those final three weeks for his brain to develop even more.

My name was called and I was escorted to the room where I would see Jensen every Monday.

The ultrasound tech who was usually very chatty and made jokes was suddenly silent. I unknowingly tried to break the silence and she brushed my comment off to go get the doctor. At that second, I knew something was wrong. The doctor came back placed the wand on my belly again, then set it down. Then he said it and the world around me turned to static.

“I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat. Do you understand what that means?”

I couldn’t catch my breath or speak, so I nodded my head. My mind was so full and empty at the same time. It was telling me that this could be due to faulty equipment or maybe he was just turned funny. I just had felt him move the night before and I saw him just the past Thursday. It couldn’t be true. Babies just don’t die at thirty-eight weeks. He couldn’t have died.

But he did.

When we got to the hospital they confirmed his heart had stopped beating, not once, not twice, but three times I saw him laying there motionless. I had to see it to believe it. At this point, I hadn’t started crying. My body and mind was in shock. It was falling from the greatest high in my life. After the third time they told me my son was dead, my blood pressure spiked so high that my vision was black and my arms were numb. For some reason the nurses didn’t understand why it would be spiking? I had to be preeclamptic, they said. No, that wasn’t it. Turns out your blood pressure goes up when you find out death had creeped inside you and stole your son from you.

Death stole him and the future I planned with him.

Then my mom came in the room and it all hit. I didn’t have to feel strong when she got there because she was the strong one. Even with her tear-stained cheeks, she held me up and retold me everything the nurses and doctors said. That’s when the tears hit and they didn’t stop falling until they told me I needed to walk to the room I would deliver him in. Her familiar voice that helped me learn everything I knew made my brain realize Jensen wasn’t ever coming home with me.

What did it feel like to know my son was dead?

It felt dark and almost like the world around me was crumbling. I was in complete shock and went through each stage of grief (minus acceptance) all in a short of time. The world had betrayed me. There was so much anger and sadness and loss of hope flowing through my veins. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. My brain knew he was gone, but he was right there in my belly. His weight was so heavy as I laid on the hospital bed. He was right there and I would never be able to have him.

I felt completely broken and betrayed.

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Often, I wonder how I didn’t go completely insane with all that information. Some would tell me it was strength and I will tell you it was anything but. It was love. The love I had for my son and the love he reciprocated back. I felt him all around me. In those moments I felt that because he was right there in my belly, but in actuality his spirit surrounded me and kept me glued together. Even on the worst day of my life, love guided me.

In the midst of being completely broken and betrayed, I felt the love that only comes from a mother and her precious child.

Who They Are.

 

Capture Your Grief – Day Two

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His name is Jensen.
He was so lively.
He loved chocolate milk and macaroni and cheese
He danced every time he heard music.
He posed for ultrasound pictures.
He listened to his momma’s voice.
He was surrounded by warmth and love for all his days.
He will forever be thirty-eight weeks and two days old.
He was born on April 5, 2016.
He had blond hair.
He had his mother’s nose, feet, and pouty lip.
He was perfect.
He taught me patience.
He showed me love.
He is my son.
His name is Jensen.

Sunrise.

The crisp morning air welcomed me as I stepped outside, hot tea in hand. As I sat down on my cool porch, I noticed clouds covered the sky. There was no way I would be able to see the sun light up the sky in all it’s brilliance. I was disappointed as I realized I wouldn’t be getting the beautiful colors that we would expect from a sunrise. But I sat and waited waiting to see the sun poke through as I let hustle of the world go on around me. I thought of the morning Jensen was born. It was the last time I watched the sun say hello to this side of the earth.

As I impatiently waited for the perfect shot to capture my grief and love for Jensen this morning, I asked him just to give me just a little light today. One minute later, Leo was meowing loudly from the window. I walked over to calm him down through the screen and he stopped. I looked back to where I knew the sun would be rising and saw just the perfect amount of light. The sunrise I dedicated for Jensen was in turn dedicated to me by a special little boy in heaven.

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Gnadenhutten, OH – 7:22am

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Twenty-Five Weeks.

It’s the twenty-fifth Tuesday.

One-hundred and seventy-five days since Jensen was born.

Jensen’s big day of the week and honestly today was busier than any other Tuesday I’ve had since he’s been born. The morning was really rushed and stressful. Leo and Poe were being trouble makers, we were in a rush to work out, and then I had therapy. Even when that was done, I was only home for a bit to go get supplies for the house and then finally eat. Today was just more rushed than I like my Tuesday’s to be. I honestly didn’t know if I’d write tonight since I posted a lot my feelings yesterday. I know I have a lot of Jensen and grief feelings going on write now, but I can’t make sense of them. Maybe at the end of this.

Then I figured everyone would have heard enough from me after my video chat with Emily Long, from Invisible Mothers, about love, loss, and figuring out life through grief. Which if you didn’t see and would like to, you can see it here. It was nice to be able to talk and actually speak what’s on my mind with words coming out of my mouth and not just directly on the screen. I am so very thankful she asked me chat with her to share with other loss moms and just feel what we’re feeling. Honestly, I didn’t re-watch it. I’m so afraid to hear my voice. I promise there’s good stuff on there and if you want to see me talking, it’s the perfect video to see.

But BIG things are happening.

This Tuesday is also the last Tuesday of the month of September, which means October is almost here. As I said in yesterday’s post, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness Month, which is a pretty big deal. Especially since this is my first October without Jensen and knowing what else October holds besides Breast Cancer Awareness. It’s going to be an emotional month in general. October fifth is also Jensen’s six monthday, which I just cannot fathom. I’d do anything to be playing and picking out Jensen’s, at six month old, Halloween costume….

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Broken.

The majority of time I hear a lot of phrases that are supposed to be helpful, but usually do more harm. I’ve written about it many times before because it really does hurt and those words just swirl in my brain. On top of all those things, I’ve had a really horrible week with Anthony moving out and adjusting to being alone.

I want to be very candid with you all; week twenty-four sucked. The majority of the week was spent in bed, under my covers. There were moments I wanted to rip my skin off to feel relief. Seriously, physical pain would have felt so much better than this mental and emotional anguish. I feel so bad and I know Jensen sees this. What kind of mom sits there and loathes herself? I guess someone could answer with, you’re really not a mom. This week I probably couldn’t have even defended myself and my motherhood…

The very person who would do anything for her son wouldn’t have had the energy to defend my motherhood. Grief has completely broken me.

Today I heard one of the best things since Jensen’s been born:

“He’ll always love and remember you.”

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