What does your heart puzzle look like?  Mine is filled with Raun, Samantha, family, friends, the future, and myself.  What is a heart puzzle?  It is how your heart is divided up.  For those of us who are more visual, like me, think of your heart us a puzzle.  It is made up of different pieces of your life.  Over time those pieces change.  Just like any other puzzle, if a piece is missing it’s not complete.  Likewise, you can not move another piece to fill that spot.  Your heart is complete, whole, no holes.  You may change the number of pieces or what they represent, but no matter what it will still be complete.

Holes, voids call them what you want.  It is that inner feeling that you get when you loose someone close to you.  There is a spot that never feels quite the same.  Over time that void seems to fill back in, but never the same as it was before.  It is forever change, but it fills back in.  No matter what, there is still a part of you, a part of your heart that has been forever touched.

When you are expecting a child, an addition to your life, the pieces of your heart puzzle seem to gain another piece.  When you loose your child through miscarriage, infant loss, or stillbirth you still have that spot.  It is reserved for that special little one.  It is only for them and nothing will replace that spot.  When you grow your family, more pieces are added.  Your heart is complete, ever changing, your life.  The things you yearn for, hope for are what is in your future.  Over time, you will take those things from your future and they will become a spot all their own in your heart puzzle.

When Samantha went to heaven I felt a deep void, a hole if you will.  Over the past few months I have so desperately wanted to be pregnant and grow our family.  To have that void filled back in.  Having another child won’t fill that feeling of void back in.  It will add another piece to the puzzle.  What I realized recently is that in a way, that void has been filled back in.  In the center of it is Samantha and what her little tiny footprints have left behind.  It has been filled in by all that Samantha has taught me, the support that I have around me, and a new perspective on life.  As much as I wanted to have the chance to raise our little girl, I know she is in good hands.  I believe some day soon, I will have the chance to raise our children here on earth and some where in the future we will all meet again.

If you were to fill out your pieces, what would they look like?  Start with you in the middle, make sure there is a spot for future, then fill in the rest with what is most important and brings the most meaning in your life.  So, what is your heart puzzle?

 

Where will you be?

For a lot of people the holidays means a time for travel.  For some, it could be across town and for others it is across the country.  Whether by road or by air, most of us usually end up traveling some distance to be with family.  Traveling can be exciting, but even though your trunk may be full of gifts you may feel that your arms are still empty.  The thought of this may cause a debate with yourself, your spouse, and your family.  Do we travel this year or do we choose to stay home?  Along with this thought is, do you or will you accept the usual holiday invitations?  What about new holiday invitations?  I have heard it both ways.  Do you choose to skip the usual invitations, but go to the new ones where most people there don’t know your story?  For a moment, you can live the way you did before your loss.  Or do you skip the new ones because people won’t understand what you’re feeling and do the usual ones because you would be with people who know and understand.  Something else to think about…will you be including different activities at home for just your family?

We will continue to do what we always do for Christmas.  We head to WI for an extended weekend to spend time with both of our families.  Fortunately, both of our sets of parents live about six blocks from each other, so it makes it easier to see all our family.  As far as invitations go during the holiday season, we don’t get many, which we are fine with.  We get the usual work holiday parties, which most likely we will go to.  Seeing as it is just my husband, two cats, and me at home, our family activities will remain the same.  I will decorate the house, we will decorate the tree, but we are planning to add in a few new decorations this year, and there will be some holiday baking.

So, where will be?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

Raun and I have faced many holidays since we lost Samantha.  She died in January so we have faced Easter, Mother’s day, Father’s day, and Thanksgiving so far this year, and soon we will be able to add Christmas to the list.  The first year of holidays is tough.  I have run the gamut of emotions.  I am happy to be with family and celebrate, but saddened because Samantha was not there to be a part of it.

Thinking back to when our due date was, she would not have been born yet for Easter, Mother’s day, and Father’s day.  We would have still been pregnant at the time had there been no complications with the pregnancy.  Either way, because of when she was born, January, we faced those holidays without our daughter here on earth.

Fortunately, we have been blessed with a very supportive family and strong group of friends.  With them, it has been easier to get through the holidays.  Instead of moving through them in a blur, I have been able to be present and to find some joy throughout them.  On each of those holidays, our family has honored and remembered Samantha in some way.  Even though she is not here on earth, she is still a part of our family and our family holds her closely in their hearts.  They show it through their words, prayers, and cards.

I know this may not be the case for others out there who have lost their little one(s) through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.  I have heard stories of people’s relationships becoming strained with their family members, in-laws, or even their spouse after the loss of their child.  Sometimes, even friendships are broken because of the loss.  My heart aches for those who have lost this supportive circle.  Most of the time it is because people just don’t know what to do or say, so it becomes easier for them to ignore what happened.

Holidays can bring the best or the worst out in people, no matter what their life situations are currently.  The holidays bring a different disposition to most people.  For those who have experienced the loss of a child, this time of year becomes tough in a whole different way.  They are celebrating a holiday, but they aren’t able to have their little one with them physically to celebrate it too.  This creates a tension.

So, I want to help give you the tools to create a plan in hopes that you will find your burden a little less and that you can  find happiness and beauty in what is in front of you.  I will provide some things for you to think about and help set steps towards a holiday plan.  Your answers and feelings may differ than your spouse’s, so be sure to sit down and talk through these things together.  I will also share with you what my husband and I will be doing.

Raun and I are truly excited for the holiday season.  Yes, we will miss Samantha and will feel saddened that she won’t be here physically to celebrate with us.  But, we do know that she will still be celebrating with us in spirit.

I send you extra thoughts, prayers, and hugs during this holiday season.  I wish many blessings for you and strength.  I hope you may find some beauty and joy in the season.  Your little angel will be near in spirit, holding your hand and guiding you through.  Lastly, I pray for peace for you.

 

Raun and I have been through many holidays and celebrations since we lost Samantha.  We have faced Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Weddings, and Birthdays.  We are to the point where we have two major holidays to work through…Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These two holidays are filled with families, friends, new experiences, old experiences, and tradition.  So, how does one face these next couple of months?

In my pregnancy and infant loss group this was our topic…How to make it through the Holidays.  This topic is interesting for me,  I learned a lot just by listening to others in the group.  To start we each shared what we were most dreading about the upcoming holiday time.  For most, it seeemed to be family that was causing the most anxiety.  Unfortunately for a lot of people their relationships become strained with their family and their family is not overly supportive on the topic.  They would prefer to push it out and remain inside their comfort zone. 

I am not familiar with this.  Fortunately, for me, for us, I think our relationship with family has become stronger and deeper.  We are lucky to have many hugs, prayers, and words of comfort coming from all over the country.  That, to me, is a big blessing, especially after listening to other’s in the group.

We also began to talk about the things we will do, do not do, or change.  Like parties to attend, people to see, food to make, shopping to do, and so on.  For me, the thing that I took away from this night was not only being thankful for my family, but the idea of doing something special to remember our little one.  I had been thinking on this for a little while.  We are going to include a special something in each of our Christmas cards that we send out this year in memory of our little girl.  Iam also keeping my eye out for a special decoration, ornament, or something that resonates deeply within my heart that we can always put out during the holiday season.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to post some topics on getting through the holidays.  They will be questions to think about and I will add my own input on what we’ve done on previous holidays or what we plan on doing for the next two.  It is my hope that these will help make it a little easier to get through the holidays and hopefully you will even be able to find a little joy and happiness during this time.  I know it isn’t always easy to find the happier side of things when you’ve lost a child, I have been there.  I am still learning though.  Learning how to make it through, how to move forward, how to take what has happened and help others, and find ways to honor Samantha.

So, I ask you…this upcoming Holiday Season, what is something that you dread? What are you most fearful of or worried about?  On the flip side, what are you most excited about?  What are you most looking forward to doing?  How are you going to find bits of happiness and joy in the season?  I liked to hear your thoughts and ideas.  Together, we can work our way through the holidays.

 

 “Naming Your Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, & Infant Death” by Jenny Schroedel

 My Book Review: I received this book from my mother in law after we all attended the funeral service.  It has taken me a little bit longer to get through this book, only because “normalish” life began to take over again.  But it has definitely been a good read.   This book helped to validate the feelings I was going through and made me feel like I wasn’t the only one.  We all grieve, and those of us that have been through a loss like this have something in common.  We know to some degree how others feel and what they are going through, yet because we all grieve differently we can only listen and sympathasize.  In the book it was helpful to read other people’s stories.  They are all different, but with one common thread, loss.  It gave me ideas on how to get through the different emotions, especially the ones I wasn’t used to dealing with…like jeolousy.  I learned that life will go back to normal.  Not necessarily the normal before being pregnant, but a new type of normal and that’s okay.  It was helpful also, that the author put such a heavy emphasis on naming your child.  It doesn’t matter how recent or how long ago it was, it is still important to give a name.  We may all grieve differently, we are all at different stages in the process, but we are all connected on a deeper level.

 

 

I have learned over the past several months that words are no longer just words when it comes to dealing with an infant loss and all the grief that comes with it.  Words can either be helpful or they can be detrimental.  It all depends on where the person is in their process, what is said, where it is said, and where the emotional/mental/physical state of the person hearing the words is.  It is all about context and timing.  The best of intentions can easily become the worst when the timing is not right.  I have experienced this several times over the past few months, but two stand out in my mind.  One time, I knew I was feeling a little off.  Something didn’t quite feel right.  I was a little more sensitive and couldn’t quite figure out why.  Well, it hit me at then of the week on the Friday right before Mother’s day.  It wasn’t until a parent gave me hug and whispered to me saying “my thoughts and prayers will be with you this weekend”.  Aha, now I know what was going on.  The struggle of, am a mother or am I not.  I gave birth to child, but that child went to heaven and I went home with a box.  So, am I a mother or am I not.  As simplistic as it gets, yes, yes I am.  However, on a deeper level, I don’t feel like one.  So, the struggle still continues as I learn how to deal and process with all of this.

 

 

Today I take a break from posting another part of “The Story” to take a moment to reflect on this special day given to mother’s to celebrate all that they have done, do, and will do in the years to come.  Mother’s are a very important part of our lives.  From the moment life begins, they are always there.  The connection and bond are deeply seeded, and only grow as their child grows.  At some point the child becomes more of a friend.  Even though you may have lost a child, whether it be sometime during pregnancy or any time after, you will always feel that bond with your child.  It is a deep, deep seed that lies within your heart.  Life changes, goes on, but you will never forget.  And that’s okay.  We always will remember.  The toughest question for me to answer right now is when other people ask me “Do you have any kids?”  Insntantly my mind says “yes” but as of yet, that’s not how it comes out.  I think I am fearful of what the question will be to come and how to answer.  Some day, the answer will be easier to give.  But for now, I will relish in the fact that yes, I am a mother and I have a beautiful daughter who is resting safely in God’s arms.  I found a quote today that I find says a lot: “Mother’s Day is a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back” ~ Erma Bombeck.  We are all mother’s in one way or another.   Happy Mother’s Day to all the mother’s out there.

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