The Do’s and Don’ts of Supporting Loss Parents During Important Grief Dates.

Jensen is turning one in eight days.

This is how I always pictured Jensen and I near his birthday…

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Encouraging him to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I never imagined he’d be teaching me how to do the same.

How time passed so quickly completely eludes me. It feels like just yesterday I saw him dancing across the ultrasound screen just five days before. In another sense, it feels like forever since I’ve been able to catch my breath. From the moment I found out his heart had stopped beating to this one right now, and all the moments for the rest of my life, I will never fully grasp that this is my reality. That I will forever be physically without Jensen. The fact that I have to face his big day is overwhelming.

but…

With almost a full year of grief under my belt, I have an understanding of what I need during these huge grief and trigger days. This list is compiled from what has helped me and my support group during the last year. It hasn’t been an easy process to find out what worked and what didn’t, but I am so thankful for my support circle that have been so willing to learn and swim through the waves with me. Although I can’t speak for every loss parent, these do’s and don’ts are with the bereaved hearts and their support in mind.

Do…

Offer support/ask how you can help.

Honestly, this one is a little tricky. Most of the time I don’t know what I want or need in terms of support. It’s frustrating because I know there has to be something. Whether that be someone to listen to me or to sit with, to actually helping with events or plans concerning that day. Big grief days are exhausting. On top of not knowing, (for me) reaching out seems difficult because I’m exhausted and deep down, I know this is the only way I can mother Jensen.

A big thing I’m going through with his birthday party is telling people I have everything planned. In my mind, that’s true. As of today, there is a lot I need help with and my family and friends have asked and I said no. Deep down though, I know those people want to help me and will if I ask. Like I said, this is in my experience, planning his birthday is how I’m able to parent Jensen and heal my heart.

Even if there isn’t any way you can help, just by asking if a person needs support or help, they know you’re there for them. You’ve opened up a doorway that will positively impact that next moment and interaction.

Listen to their stories, feelings, and emotions.

Even if it’s the same story you’ve heard a thousand times, this is all we have. It could be about the first kick or their birth story. Of course there’s sadness, confusion, and anger towards loss. On the other hand, there is so much beauty in their son or daughter’s life. Their lives, although short, were full of love and happiness. For most of us, having them grow and finding out we were parents was the best time of our lives.

This is another form of support. To me, it’s so important to be able to share Jensen’s story. and not just his death. In fact, his birthday will be a celebration of his life. There will be cake, laughter, and his lifetime of memories. Now, I’m not going to lie to you all, the day before will be a day of mourning. On each day, I hope and know that my support circle will be there to listen to it all.

Say their child’s name.

Always. Even if you’re miles away, write their child’s name down and send them a picture of it. This seems way simpler than the others, but it means the entire world to a loss parent. It lets us know that our child is not being forgotten. For me, it is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.

Embrace their child(ren)’s life and memory.

Sort of like some of the previous ones, but it goes a little deeper. When you’re listening to their stories about being pregnant or other memories they have, tell them something you remember. Maybe it was the day they told you they were going to be parents or a memory you have of feeling the baby move. Don’t be shy to bring these moments up. We haven’t forgotten.

Also, if there’s something they want you to do, try your best to do it. Usually it won’t be anything too huge, but something like lighting a candle on their hard days. Do a random act of kindness in their child’s name. This embraces and keeps their memory alive.

Don’t…

Be afraid to ask questions.

This can be different for everyone depending on where they are in their journeys. It is hard to talk about certain parts, for both parties. But, if you want to see pictures of their child or know what time they were born, just ask. Don’t be afraid to ask about those memories. I know for a lot of moms (sorry dads) facts and moments are constantly playing through their minds. It helps get the information out and, again, it helps to know you want to be there to support us even through the messy part.

Personally, I’ve always been one to tell people to ask me questions. I would rather them know from me and the truth about it all. Like I said though, this is completely different for other loss parents.

Get angry if the plans for the day change.

If you get a text a few hours before you’re supposed to meet up for a lunch or self-care day on one of these grief days, don’t be mad. No one really knows how they’re going to be until the day comes. It could be they woke up that morning and the waves are crashing down. This isn’t anything personal against you, this is a way they’re helping their heart.

Downplay their pain, even when it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Grief and loss hurt like hell. There hasn’t been a moment of comfort I’ve had since April 4, 2016. Believe me, I know it’s hard to hear your loved one is hurting, but that’s why they’re talking about their grief. Please, please, please don’t downplay or cut someone off. They’re talking to you about the hardest and most tragic event that they will ever go through in their life. Opening up to another person about these raw feelings is extremely brave for a person to do. It is terrifying to start talking about emotional times to only be told that what their feeling isn’t really that intense.

We live in a society who do not really know how to grieve. I’m thankful that not every person in the world knows what it’s like to lose a child. But I am telling you, that releasing these emotions to the outside world is so healing. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Imagine how that would be like every day.

Tell them that it’s time to stop grieving OR any hurtful comments.

Just please don’t do it.

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Ten Things I’ve Learned in Ten Months of Grief. 

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The past ten months have been the most challenging in my life. A parents worst nightmare is to have their child die, but the nightmare doesn’t end in that moment. Learning how to live after loss is unnatural and soul splitting. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t cried or felt like my whole world was going to crash around me. On the other hand, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t felt an immense amount of love I have for Jensen.

This whole journey is a learning experience and I don’t think there will ever be a day where I stop learning about loss and love. Today, for Jensen’s ten month day, I want to share with you ten things that have gotten me to this point in my grief journey.

Loss

I never knew loss before Jensen died. My grandmother passed away before I was two years old and I knew people and had pets that had died, but never had felt this deep loss. From the second I found out his heart had stopped beating, loss overwhelmed me and I didn’t even know how to process that feeling. Then there was the realization that I would forever live with the loss of Jensen. I mean obviously, right?

But at that second of finding out he was gone, my body would not allow me to understand that I would lose Jensen at all the stages. Sometimes I still don’t think I completely have come to terms with losing Jensen at older ages because I’m not there yet. At ten months, I know what it’s like to have loss from the moment he was supposed to be born until his ten month day. I relive that loss each and every day. The Jensen sized hole in my heart is with me with every step and I can literally see him with each step I take.

Loss isn’t ‘fun’ to learn, but I’ve been forced to do so.

Pain

Immense. Abundant. Heaps. Endless. Masses. Enormous. Infinite. Never-ending.

All those words that could describe the oceans amount of pain I have felt. Even with those words, I would still say there’s more. Then with each wave of pain I get, it stings somehow harder than before. This type of pain is mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical. It is so exhausting to keep fighting this pain and not just succumb to it. Yeah, there is days where it hurts so much I just lay there and take it.

I almost wish this pain was visual, so others could see it coming on to me. There’s only so many ways to describe it, but if it was my leg bleeding out I feel like others would run over to stop the bleeding. There’s no way for others to really ease this pain.

Longing

Just like with loss, I have never felt longing before. Of course there was times I missed my mom and dad when I was away, but I knew I would see them soon enough. There was never a doubt that I would see them and all that missing them would just fall away. This isn’t the case with my longing for Jensen.

I long to see him smile and to hear his laugh. I long to feel his hand squeeze mine. I long to know what his first word would have been. I long to learn the schedule we would have had. I long to read to him one more time. I long for him every morning when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep.

With each new place I go, knowing he’ll never go there, I long for him to experience it with me. I feel as if I’m just being introduced to longing and it will continue to grow as the years pass.

Grief

Sucks…

Just throwing that out there. It really does though. Grief sucks you in and it decides when to throw you out. It’s like a huge black hole and who knows what you’re going to feel when you’re trapped inside.

Is it depression, anxiety, PTSD, or all of them at once? Will it be me feeling completely numb or feeling everything?

Grieving is hard for anyone in any situation. I hate that I have to be a mother grieving her son. It’s not fair, like most things in our world, but this really isn’t how it should be.

Tears

They sound self-explanatory, but I can tell you all the different tears I’ve encountered in ten months. Heck, I’ll just tell you the tears that I’ve had in the past twelve hours.

Big droplets that form from holding them backs. Hurried sobs because you held them back. Silent ones that flow down your face as you try to sleep. Scattered ones from crying in your sleep and they have no idea where to go. The flood from when you open your eyes when you wake up and they just fall out. Then there’s the nameless ones that just are there and you work/live through them.

Heck, I could have filled a kiddie pool full of tears in the past twelve hours. Imagine the last ten months.

Support

I’ve had support all throughout my life, but I’ve learned that the best type of people support you through the worst of times. Through this ten months, complete strangers have become best friends and best friends have become complete strangers.

Support isn’t trying to fix what is wrong. It isn’t necessarily making everything better for the person in pain. Support is listening and letting the person know you’re always there for them. It’s being their greatest cheerleader and seeing the progress on a day where it feels like you’ve fallen way off track.

Most of all (with child loss) it’s remembering their son or daughter with them. It’s saying their and writing their names down, listening to the same stories, and never forgetting.

Smiles

Of course I knew what a smile was before Jensen died, but I never felt how good it could be to smile during grief. Just because you smile and feel happiness doesn’t mean the death of your child is forgotten or you’re happy they’re not here. You’re having a good moment and this smile just comes from the soul. It brightens your day and feels so much better on your face than just a frown and tears. Not that those frowns and tears are bad, but the smile does feel good.

On my bad days where I feel strength, I look for what makes me smile. Seeing Jensen’s face and his drawers full of his stuff makes me smile. Knowing his life means so much lights up my day. Leo and Poe’s antics make me laugh. The support I have can cheer me up and I know they love to see me smile. Seeing how far I’ve come and knowing I’m still taking steps towards living brings me a peaceful grin.

A (real) smile there is lightness throughout this black hole of grief.

Growth

This ones a little more difficult.

I long to see Jensen grow. On each of his month days, I wonder how much he would weigh and how long he would be. I’ve wondered when his first hair cut would have been. Honestly, I could go on and on with this. I won’t today, but you get the picture.

The growth I’m talking about here is the growth in myself. It’s how my strength has grown to not only take on the stresses of everyday life, but to also hold the weight in my heart. My voice has grown to be able to shout from the rooftops all about Jensen and the taboo of pregnancy and infant loss. I’ve probably grown in ways I don’t even know yet, but I feel it. There’s apart of me that screams that I could have grown these ways without Jensen dying, but I can’t change that. It’s not a good that has come from Jensen dying, it’s a positive that has grown through the grief I’ve had to endure.

Motherhood

It’s an invisible motherhood, but it’s my mine. I have been a mom since the moment I knew Jensen was inside of me and I’ll be his mother forever. No one will ever be able to take that away from me.

I’m still learning this type of motherhood, which is strange because it’s my only experience. Yet, I’m still here; being the best mom for Jensen I can be. I know it’s not the same as mothering a living child, but I still mother him in ways all moms mother their children. I have sleepless nights and I worry myself sick wondering if I’m doing all I can do for him. He is my motivation and even though I can’t see if he’s proud of me, I know, deep down, he is.

Love

It always comes back to love.

Throughout the good, the bad, and the ugly, love has always been right there. The love I have for Jensen will never cease. The love I have for my motherhood only grows stronger. My love smiling has come back. I love the support and my tribe of loss mamas. There’s a huge hate-love I have for grief, loss, and all the ‘bad’ that was listed above. I hate it because I don’t want it in my life, but I love to see how through these I’ve grown. Through these I’ve learned to love harder and greater. Would I give that all back to have Jensen? In an instant.

But I love this life I have been given. I love the fact that Jensen will always be intertwined in my everyday life. I love that he will forever walk with me. I love that I can share the love I have for him.


Happy ten months in heaven, my sweet boy. I hope you’re smiling down with your (not so) big ten month day sticker. The sun is shining and I know you’ve given me this day of renewal to keep on growing and to keep on loving. Everything I do, I do for 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.

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