Fourteen Months and I’m Not ‘Better.’


‘You seem better…’

This statement shocks me every time. What is better? Especially when you’re talking about child loss. Is it being able to get out of the house and do more productive things? It’s definitely not how I feel inside. If anything, I (somehow) long for him more than I did in the beginning. I’ve never seen a progression checklist after losing Jensen, so I’m really out of the ‘getting better’ loop.

With as transparent as I am, concerning my grief journey, there’s a lot I hold back from the world. A lot.

If anyone saw me this weekend, they would have been worried. Maybe even thought I was worse or backtracked in the generic stages of grief. As we all know, those are crap. On Saturday, I had no windows open, the blinds blocked any light from coming in, and there I was, paralyzed by grief on the couch. My eyes were red with deep, dark circles under them. I’m not even sure if my hair was brushed.

I was laying there watching every sad movie I could find on Netflix. My arms ached and my heart felt like it was being squeezed. How could Jensen already be fourteen months old in heaven? Why couldn’t he stay with me? What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life without him? These questions went unanswered, but were asked in my mind over and over. I manically laughed through my tears at the fact I’d live a long life. Yes, you read that right. A life full of grief and longing for the person I’ll never be able to get back.

Truthfully, I know I shouldn’t think that and most days I’m thankful for every day I’m alive. Today and the day after and so on are days I get to live for Jensen and myself. The days he’d want me to embrace and keep going.

BUT THIS IS GRIEF.

It is a constant battle and it’s exhausting. Days like Saturday is when I have no strength to keep fighting those thoughts. I succumb to them. It hurts.

You’re probably thinking, why didn’t you call for help? Reach out? Something?

My mother came over after an x amount of texts and phone calls. She came in my front door and saw me. I couldn’t even talk, sobs escaped. What I could muster to her was, I need to be alone. I didn’t want this grief and sadness to attach to her and bring her to this level. My self-worth told me I deserved to feel this way. Deserved to face this life without my son.  I couldn’t put that on my mom and I think it was the first time she’s really seen in the last few months, that I’m not really doing better.

Even at fourteen months post loss. 

When I hear that ‘I seem to be doing better,’ I want to laugh in their faces or at the very least, let them live with me for a few days to see how many tears I produce. I’d like to say better is made up. Have I gotten stronger? Of course. Nothing will make me feel any better. My son is gone. There are things I’ve found joy in after, but it doesn’t even come close to the joy he brought me in his little infinity with me. Maybe that makes me a pessimist. I say it makes me a realist.

Instead of saying all of that, I think I have the perfect answer for the world…

No. I’ve just learned how to fake it better. 

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May We All Heal | Reflect 

When I woke up this morning, I knew I had to do a great page for today’s May We All Heal Prompt because I didn’t share mine from yesterday. It was a busy day and what I wrote, just didn’t need to be shared. But, reflection. I reflect every time I write about Jensen and this journey.

How could this go wrong?

Then, I spilled water all over my page today after of a few minutes of trying to be artsy and get an orange reflection for the pictures. It smudged ‘reflect’ and Jensen’s name. Instantly, I was angry.

Why does everything I touch just get messed up?

My eyes filled with tears from the wheel of negative thoughts that keeps turning in my head. Some days I just don’t feel good enough or that any of my actions don’t matter. So what’s the point of even doing them? Over a year of grieving and waiting for Jensen to just magically appear in his room one morning and it still hasn’t gotten any better. This sucks and me spilling half a glass of water on this book and page I’ve worked in everyday this month just topped it off.

Logically, I know that I haven’t messed up everything in my life. I can look back in the time Jensen has been gone and see positives that have come out of the love I have for him. Most times, I can list a handful of great people and things I have right here. Then, I reflect on Jensen’s life. He was here and he lived so greatly. I didn’t hurt him or cause him to die. Quite the opposite.

So why do I want to scream when I  see this water-soaked and marker smudged page?

It reminds me of sadness, tears, and negative reflection. Which shows how easily grief can take this day and twist it and me to something it’s not. This. Is. So Hard.

This is what healing and reflecting is though. The grief process mangles us. It takes us and drags us through the mud. Who’s to say these negative moments and days aren’t apart of healing too? With every up, there’s a down. Just like there has been the past over thirteen months.

This is healing. This is grieving. This is reflecting.

A Letter to My Son on His First Birthday.

Dear Jensen,

Happy First Heavenly Birthday!

I cannot believe it’s been one whole year since you were born. Time works in funny ways, my sweet boy. My mind keeps remembering the first time I saw you. You were just a little kidney bean with your heart flickering on the screen. In that moment, I was full of so much love for you. I knew you would always have me wrapped around your finger. At that first appointment, they told me you’d be arriving April seventeenth. As soon as I left, I remember marking it on every calendar I had.

You grew so beautifully. Always measuring a little above average and of course posing for a picture. I remember seeing your long hair around the thirty week mark, I was happy you were happy, heathy, and had hair. We spent a lot of time going to ultrasounds, but I know we both will always treasure those moments. Just as I’ll always cherish reading to you every night. Feeling you kick me when you were pleased at the end of the book or verse. I think you would say your favorite time was when we jammed out to Usher and danced in the shower. All those moments are so priceless and no one can ever take them away.

Those thirty-eight weeks and two days were the best in my life. It was our little infinity together and I’ll believe we’ll be able to have another infinity again. You see, when you give me moments like this morning at 4:25, I know you’ll always be there. Always protecting me and providing me strength.

I wish I didn’t need that strength from you. I wish you were learning strength from me and maybe you did when you were safe in my womb. You’re braver than I’ll ever be.

Oh Jensen, I wish this could be different. Not just today on your birthday, but every single day. Although I know we’ve made memories in this first year, I wish we could have physically made them together. From brushing your hair for the first time to helping you take your first steps. Those are the memories you and I deserve. In some ways, I have brushed your hair from the lock I have in your drawer and you’ve taken many steps with me now, with your foot tattooed on mine. It’s not that way I planned. It’s not what I wanted to give you. But I know you know I’m doing my very best to be the greatest mom to you.

Today, in honor of your life and not your death, we will celebrate. We’re celebrating each day you were with us and all the love and light that you bring to so many people’s hearts. Your whole family will be here to look at your pictures and smile. All your friends in heaven’s moms have wished you happy birthday and let me know you’ll never be forgotten. Our little infinity will live on forever and that’s all because of the love we have for each other. I’ve made a cake for you and have planned an art project for your party. Your traveling scrapbook is all done and room is back to its glory.

It’s all done for you.

Jensen, I just want you to know how much I love and miss you. Everyday I live is so you can live through me. Through everything, I’ve wanted to be the best I can be so your as proud of me as I’m proud of you. I look at your beautiful face every single day and am in awe that I could make something so beautiful. That your pure innocence and beautiful life was made entirely from love. When I talk about you, I beam with pride and instantly smile.

You will forever be the reason I smile and I’ll always carry you in my heart.

I hope your first birthday is everything you imagined and more. Your great grandma is making sure you get the star treatment as you smash into your cake. Make sure to get pictures, little love. I can’t wait to hold you so I never have to let you go.

I love you with all my heart and soul,

Your Mommy

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What It Feels Like Not to ‘Claim’ My Son.

There hasn’t been a moment during this loss journey where I haven’t claimed Jensen. When the moment is right during certain conversations, I talk about him. I would never force conversation on a person, but if there’s a chance, I seize it. Some part of me knows that it probably makes others uncomfortable. He’s my son, so I don’t find it weird or strange to talk about. I’ve had strangers and students I sub ask if I have any kids or remark about my Jensen tattoos and ask. Each time, I beam with pride while I show him off.

That’s the way I wanted it to be when I was pregnant and it’s not going to change because he died.

But, life screws everything up.

Here’s another secret for you all… I’ve been dreading getting my taxes done. 2016 was a roller coaster ride that I’m okay being done with now. Yes, it’ll always be Jensen’s year, but I’ve finally found peace with it being over. Too bad I have to comply with the government to not go to jail over this ‘tax’ matter. (Please read that with sarcasm, I’ve always done my taxes and I think I’m a pretty good citizen). Well, technically, I called because my mom put the number in my phone and pressed send…

Long phone call short, I gave her my name and got a date for an appointment, then she started asking the typical questions you need for your taxes. I knew it was coming and I knew the answer I had to give.

“And do you have any kids?”

The question vibrated in my ears and throughout my body. I swear it felt like a five-minute pause before the biggest betrayal tore past my teeth.

“No.” Not in the eyes of the government for me to claim him. 

I can’t claim the baby I grew in my belly for thirty-eight weeks and two days. The baby that was loved and nurtured for his whole life. Who had a name and a birthday. The one that I labored and birthed, knowing what the future held. My whole pregnancy and his life cannot be claimed. Which is the reason why I never got a birth certificate for Jensen and the reason when they ask if I have kids, I have to say no. His life is just a blink to them. They don’t understand how hard it is to lie to the tax people when you say you don’t have any children.

Obviously, I could tell them I have a son, but he was stillborn. Then I would have to hear he doesn’t count and that’s not true. He counts to me and to so many other people. The fact is, I don’t want the money you get for having a child or whatever. I want the satisfaction of the government opening its eyes to the fact stillbirth happens. That these children are real and they matter. That this 1 in 160 statistic in the United States is absolutely too high and unless there is conversation about this, it will stay right there.

Some might think I’m being dramatic here, but it is as simple as ‘claiming’ my son on my taxes. Just as it’s simple as giving him a birth certificate. It’s breaking the silence and letting people know I gave birth to this child. It shouldn’t matter if he had passed, I’m still a mom and he’s still my son. We should be recognized for that from the government.

Jensen counts. I’ll always claim him. That lie I told the tax lady felt like a huge injustice to his memory and everything I stand for.

I know she heard that silence and my resistance to answer. Who wouldn’t? When I hung up and went back home, I cried… and then cried some more. I kept telling Jensen I was sorry. That he’ll always be my son, but with things like this I’m not allowed to claim you. I have to follow their rules, but I want to change them. One day, I hope a bereaved mom will be able to confidently say how many children she has. She’ll be able to tell them that her child has passed, but they still count and the other person will agree.

Because our babies do count and they always will.

After everything that happened last night, the ways of the world offered me a way to put Jensen’s name back out there. When my therapy was done, I went to Lowe’s to get some more sawtooth hangers for the Etsy shop. (Which thank you all for your support with it!). While checking out, the cashier asked me if I’d like to make a donation for a child to go to summer camp. Of course I said yes and I got this four leaf clover to write the donor’s name on…

I know one little boy who would have loved to help others out.


Happy forty-eight weeks in heaven, Jensen. Your impact on the world is noticed and you matter. I can’t imagine never having you here with me. There isn’t a moment where I’m not thinking of you. I miss you. I love you.

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.

Melissa, Lachlan’s beautiful mother, I don’t know how I would function day by day without you. Your sweet, little boy warmly welcomed Jensen and they led us to meet each others. Even though I’ve never met you face-to-face, I love you and your family so much. I think of Lachlan and Jensen playing all the time. How I was we both could see them playing now, right in front of us. Even though I hate the way we met, I’m so thankful that you’re in my life. You are my sister in loss, my dearest friend, and a beautiful mother.

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

 

 

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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Twenty-Three Weeks.

The memories of the day before and the days following Jensen’s birth have slowly been coming back to me. It’s almost like water coming from the faucet. My brain tries to let a steady stream come out, but sometimes it just comes flooding. I’ve been getting used to the constant flow, yet this past month, it’s came back so fast. Certain things come out of nowhere and it breaks me.

That and the fact that time refuses to stop. I know that probably sounds silly because how can time stop? It’s just going too fast. Me finally getting on a somewhat regular sleep schedule hasn’t helped slow time down. I used to not sleep until three or four then wake up by nine or ten. It felt like the day lasted and I could actually think. No I wake up and go to sleep fairly early so I have more time in the day to get work and life things done. Maybe it’s good for grief, but I hate the fact that I don’t have a five month old baby waking me up.

Which brings me to today. Another Tuesday without Jensen physically getting another week older.

It’s actually a really weird time because the outside world has moved on. A lot of people think I should be ‘moving on’ by now. Almost a half a year and I’m still ‘stuck’ on him. Or when I just post about him because nothing else seems relevant to my life right now. Some days I almost feel bad about revolving my life around Jensen and his time here with me. Then I think, if Jensen was here would I be moving on from him right now? Would I move on from him at a year? Or five years? Or twenty? You can’t move on from a child and I hate that I’m supposed to feel bad about being sad.

Yesterday was a bad day. Monday’s I’m usually in a bad mood anyways because I just don’t want the day to end. So, I didn’t have a good day to start out with. Then I got bad news and I couldn’t stop crying. To try and make me feel a little better, I tried to go shopping. I was met with an associate who told me to ‘turn my frown upside down’ and ‘nothing could make your day bad on this beautiful day.’ Except when your baby dies and you hear things aren’t going they way you thought they would be, you’re allowed to have bad days. Not just one, but a lot. Long story short, I told her my baby died, she gave me an appalled look, and I ended up tears while walking out of the store.

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In the past, I’ve shared pictures of what a bereaved mother looks like a various stages of grief. I believe it’s important to see this rawness; especially when I try to keep it together a good percentage of the time. I will admit, I wiped most of my tears off so I could see where to press the button. But, when I walked out of that store, I knew I had to capture that moment. It’s vulnerable to sit in a car crying as people are walking by looking in. Being told to cheer up because there shouldn’t be bad days on such a beautiful day outside is wrong. I know I wasn’t having the best okay day after loss, but the harsh reality someone was having the worst day of their life. Someone’s baby died yesterday and I don’t know them or how many families were effect by loss yesterday, but I do know they’ll be going down this path. There’s days where the sunshine will not heal you. Days where you don’t get to sit at dinner with your partner and attend an amazing support group like I did after this moment. Most times, you can’t pull yourself out of this moment. You don’t know yet that just writing your angel’s name down on paper over and over again can help you. You’re lost and spiraling and an associate trying to do her job ruins your day even more. The point is death happens and people are sad. That’s the unfortunate promise of life. Why should we shame others in sadness when they already feel horrible? Why do we feel the need to fix the unfixable?

But I want to tell you, yesterday taught me an important lesson in my twenty-three weeks post loss. When it feels like the world is turning it’s bad on me, I don’t have to hide those feelings and I can work through them. I’m learning how to catch my breath when I’m drowning. In times of feeling like others look down on my grief or think I’m not ‘moving fast enough,’ I can tell them it’s their opinion and I’m doing what’s best for me. Grief is selfish and I need to continue being selfish for Jensen and I.

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There’s Jensen’s name.

Today I shared, “The amount of times I’ve written his name already today is mind-blowing. It’s very therapeutic to just see it over and over again.” One hundred and sixty-one. That’s how many times I wrote his name today. It’s also the amount of days Jensen has been gone. I wrote how the amount of times I wrote his name was mind blowing, but it never crossed my mind that the amount would end up being the number of days he’s been gone. It’s a crazy amount any way you look at it. But it is written and no one can erase his name from that paper. Just like they can’t erase the memories or the impact he continues to bring to my life and the world around me.

Jensen, the second thing I told you this morning will be the second to last thing I tell you again tonight. Happy twenty-three weeks in heaven my sweet, little boy. You are so loved and missed everyday. Your momma will never, ever forget you. The strength you bring to me each and everyday is what keeps me treading. I hope you played with all the other babies and are now being rocked to sleep as the day comes to a close. Let me love swaddle you as you sleep and dance in the clouds.

I miss you.

I love you.

 

The Story Behind the ‘Yellow’ Nails.

There are a lot of days in grief where there is no lightness. Most times I’m drowning in the waves of loss and depression. It’s a dark time in my life, but as always I keep treading. I have to keep going and living life for me and Jensen. Even in the ever-present darkness, there’s moments of light. I’d like to share my latest light moment with you all…

“What color nail would you like?”

“I’m thinking a deeper, yellow color. Still clinging on to the last of summer.”

“Okay, I have the perfect yellow for you then!”

As I washed my hands, I was looking forward to see the beautiful, mustard-yellow color I had envisioned on my nails for the remainder of September. There isn’t one part of me that wants fall to arrive. I kept thinking, I could still see glimmers of summer on my hands. I didn’t have to move forward right now and I was perfectly fine staying in the summer months. After I dried them and walked back to the station, the technician presented me with his perfect ‘yellow.’

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I’ll pause for laughter here. No, they’re definitely not yellow. No one that sees color would ever tell me they were yellow. Even if they’re not, this color is so special to me.

This man’s ‘yellow’ was Jensen’s bright orange. When he asked me if I loved the color, I couldn’t tell him no. Of course I love the orange; my Jensen’s color. Was it the yellow I wanted? No, but there it was. It was my sign from Jensen. Him letting me know he’s right there with me and really wanted his mom to have bright orange nails. It’s the color a little boy would most definitely pick out. My little love’s bright orange that’s painted on the wall, that his crib would still be filled with.

Maybe you could say it was a confidence that this guy picked out this orange when I told him to pick out a yellow. Or maybe it’s not? I believe in the feathers, blue and red birds, and dragonflies he sends me. Why would it be ridiculous to believe that this bright orange was anything else other than a sign from Jensen. It made me smile. It still makes me smile as I see them while I type. It’s a good moment. A good moment that will span over the next two weeks.

These ‘yellow’ nails, that some would see as a mistake, are happy little reminders that Jensen is here with me, always.

To Danielle at Twenty-Two.

Happy twenty-second birthday. This birthday will bring you joy and hope for the future. It will be busy going to a football game, spending time with your most loved ones, and choosing baby names. Today you found out you are carrying the most precious gift in the whole entire universe. At that second it turned positive, you knew this year for you would be completely different from any before. You would start counting down the days to important pregnancy milestones and planning for the rest of your life. Soak in this happiness, this will be your last birthday that you will be able to freely smile with meaning.

This year you will grow and not just your belly getting bigger and bigger. Your love will grow and be greater than anything you thought was possible. The pride you have for you family and son will burst from the seams. There will be a light in your life that grows with every single beat of Jensen’s heart. He will grow and as you watch him dance across that screen, your smile will grow at each visit. Your little house will have a ceiling and walls up, even a nursery. Instead of your mind focusing in on a single person’s house, it will grow suitable for a small family. Everything around you will be nurtured for the future you came up with, as you woke up on your twenty-second birthday.

November will be the happiest month of your year. You find out the little baby in your belly is a boy, your Jensen. He sits there just like Dad does on the couch. He isn’t shy about being a boy and you’ll soon find out he cooperates for everyone when you ask him to. Even when he’s being the most stubborn little boy for the nurses, when you ask him to move he does. The love you have for each other is unbreakable. You find out his heart is strong and he has hair; the only two things you asked for when you found out you were going to have a baby. Even though you didn’t think you would see Jensen twice a week while you were pregnant, you will be so thankful for that time with him.

There will be so much happiness and love in this year, you will be on the greatest high in your life. Collect those moments as they come and never let them go. You will have bumps while you’re pregnant that you’ll never think you can get over. They are not important. You would’ve got through the, but you didn’t think anything worse could happen. You could never have imagined the alternative. Instead of listening to almost everyone around you, you’ll fight for Jensen. Just as any mother would. No matter the challenges placed in front of you, you will always do what’s best for Jensen and you.

Then comes April. At this point in the year, it’s gone so perfectly. You will be so ready for his arrival, just getting a few more things the weekend before. In the second day of this month, you will joke how you feel like Jensen won’t wait to come out for very much longer. You will be surrounded by Anthony and your family. Love will pour in that weekend. Everything will feel just like it has, until you walk in the doctor’s office on Monday, April the fourth. This is when everything changes. The joy and happiness that you felt on your birthday, this day one year ago, will vanish. Your hopes and dreams will go away and you have to say goodbye to the one, little person that brought you so much light.

On April fifth he is born. You find out he did in fact have hair, looked exactly like you, and never once brought you pain. He’s a perfect baby at seven pounds one ounce and nineteen and three-quarter inches long. All ten fingers and all ten toes are there for you to count. His big cheeks and button nose would have scrunched up to boast a big smile. You made him with love and he looked so peaceful. The day will be static, even as your twenty-third birthday comes. I can’t tell you when that day comes back clear. It hasn’t yet, there’s a chance it never will.

I’ll be honest with you, Danielle. The days, weeks, and months that follow his birth are hard. You’ll plan your son’s funeral, tears come more freely than smiles, and the light is impossible to see. It will hurt to breathe and nothing will scare you anymore. I wish you never had to meet death this year. This isn’t what you wished for as you blew out the candle on top of your sundae. You’ll wish to go back in time, something you never did before. Depression will creep up, self-doubt will happen, and all you will be able to do is survive. There will be people who don’t understand this and you’ll feel alone. A loneliness and emptiness will eat away at your everyday. There will be darkness.

Somehow, you will keep surviving.

Jensen, even in death, is your light. He and all the memories you have with him will keep you going. There’s not a lot of smiles in the last few months of your twenty-second year, but when you do, it’s when you remember him. Many will tell you to find some light in your life and somedays it’s just a flicker. Jensen’s light is so strong, but sometimes grief is pitch black. When you feel like giving up, search deep down. You’ll see his light. No matter how pitch black it is, Jensen’s light never goes out. He never hurt you when he was here and he would never leave you in the dark.

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I want you to know that grief does not get lighter, we become stronger. This pain and darkness does not go away. You just learn how to live with it. There will always be an absence in your life, but his presence was so great. Through this year, soak up all the light and happiness you can. Even now, as this year is coming to its close, I would never wish it away. I would never want to forget all this love and each day Jensen was with us. I can say that even through this darkness and pain.

This year you will become a mother of all mothers. One who does not hold her son in her arms, but in her heart. Forever.

Love,

Danielle at almost twenty-three.

The Importance of the Loss Community.

During the car ride home after Jensen had been born, I felt completely alone. My mom and dad had no idea what I was going through or even what to say. Not only did I know anyone who went through a stillbirth, but feeling the emptiness that Jensen had filled just the day before hurt so much. I know Mom and Dad were talking on the car ride home, I sat there not hearing a word they were saying and completely silent. My thoughts were so jumbled. It would feel so real when I got home without Jensen. Where would I go from that point? Is this whole experience even normal? Am I normal? Am I alone in all of this? These thoughts came and went constantly for the first few weeks.

After Jensen’s obituary, that I still have not allowed myself to read, was in the newspaper, I got one of the most important messages in my life. A girl, I knew back from high school, reached out and opened up about her experience with loss. She introduced me to a local loss group and told me I wasn’t alone. I saw that there were so many people in my small area that are on this journey with me. It was my first experience with this community and I can never thank her enough for the introduction.

Honestly, at first I felt so naive to think that I was the only person to go through this loss, then the pain of knowing so many others have kept me up all night. Well I wasn’t sleeping at all, but that first night I kept thinking, “How can this world hold so much pain?” I held on to that question through Jensen’s funeral and till about his first month in heaven. I didn’t even have the strength to look and see everyone’s story after that first experience of feeling everything so deeply. It wasn’t until Anthony went back to work and my first therapy session, that I actually saw the importance of the loss community.

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