There are so many different perspectives or analogies on the loss of a child and grief.  I have heard it compared to the seasons, weather, a book, and so much more.  The following poem really struck me, especially near the end when it talks about strength and now being able to face anything.  I also like how it talks about how the loss has made me the person I am today.

To some it may seem like a I am different person and to others it may not.  But to myself, I feel different.  I look differently at the world around me.  I don’t expect.  I hope.  I hope that one day our family will grow.  I hope that I can help others through their grief and healing process.  I hope that people will begin to truly understand what it is like to loose a child.  I hope to watch my dreams soar.

Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in other’s eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don’t hurt quite so much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

-Author Unknown

 

I wanted to share something I found on grief that came across.  It has been helpful to me to read and hear, so I thought I would share.

I came across a piece by Lesley.  I like how she puts grief and healing into simple, but powerful words. “I need to be kind to myself and give myself permission to do what I needed to do to make it through, even if that means saying no.  Grief is unpredictable, you can’t explain it, you can’t always control it.  There is no right way or wrong way to do it and no two people do it the same way.”

Saying no has been hard for me, especially when at work.  It wasn’t until I gave up my classroom that I gained a stronger voice.  Becoming a building sub has given me a sense of freedom in so many ways and has helped to me really take care of what I needed to.  I had a tendency to push the emotions down as far as I could and submerse myself at work.  By the end of the Summer I realized I wasn’t any good to any one and I wasn’t taking care of myself well.  Now, if it doesn’t fit into my schedule or with the direction I am trying to head, the answer is “no”.

Grief is so unpredictable.  At the beginning I lived minute by minute, even task by task.  Over time I have been able to move into hours and days.  Now I can live moment to moment.  By living in the moment in front of me I am able to really focus on the important things, find the true blessings of that moment, and learn from what it may bring.  I am also able to help others and really truly be present.

I think one of the best words I heard was after I returned back to work.  It was from a parent in my classroom who had lost a child to Turner’s Syndrome at 27 weeks.  Her experience was similar to mine, however she said to me “I know what you are going through, but I don’t.  We all grieve differently.  Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”  She really understood and I have turned to her a couple of times to help me through things.  But like she said, we all go through it differently.  There are some things or points we all go through, but how we handle it and how we go through it is slightly different.  She also gave me hope because she has a family of 3 children, as well as her little angel baby.

Grief is tough process, but with the right support you can find your way through it all.  It takes time and you have to allow yourself to go through it.  We all grieve at some point in our lives.  Remember to take care of yourself, be honest, and surround yourself by those you can trust & support you.

 

 

I have been struggling with what to write on this weekend for a post.  For whatever reason I was having a hard time deciding what to write about.  So, I decided to turn toward something I know and enjoy…photography.  My passion for photography has greatly grown over the years, but in the past year it has been my way to capture the life around me.  I generally will hide behind a camera rather than be in a photo.  Last year I would find it even more difficult to be the focus of the camera as it was hard to smile on the outside sometimes when I felt like falling to pieces on the inside.  I have learned that there will be good days and there will be bad days, and photography helps me to get through it.  I want to capture all the beauties of the moments around me and use photography as a way to help me heal as well.  Below is a little video I put together with some of my favorite photos I have taken from the past year.

 

 

I wanted to take a moment to share a special poem that I wrote about dragonflies and what they mean to me. Dragonflies have a special meaning to me.  A dragonfly brings a message of comfort and peace from our little baby girl.  A dragonfly helps to give me a connection and way to feel closer to Samantha.  In honor of her, I am passing on the blessing of a dragonfly to you.  It is my hope that it will provide a sense of hope, comfort, and strength.

Dragonflies

By: Liz Lauterbach

Such beauty and grace, delicate and light

Washing calm and peace throughout

Bearer of comfort and strength

A little messenger, dropping by to say hi

Sometimes lingering, sometimes just but a moment

Soaring high, sparkling in the sun

Heavenly connection, closer to you my angel

 

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?

 

After Samantha, I found it hard to genuinely smile and laugh.  I could make myself do it, but my heart wasn’t in it.  In my mind I was thinking, I shouldn’t be laughing, shouldn’t be happy, shouldn’t smile because I am grieving.  Because I was grieving, if I did any sign of fun and happiness I thought it meant that Samantha didn’t matter any more and that I had moved on.

I remember Raun and I went out to dinner in the Springtime and we had a long conversation.  It was then that I heard some of the most helpful words.  He told me “it is okay to smile, to have fun, to be happy.  It doesn’t mean that you have forgotten or that you have moved on or that you aren’t still grieving.  Samantha is always a part of us and always will be.  We will move forward and she will go with us.  You can still grieve, yet feel happy and joyous.”  This combination was weird for me and took me a little while to be alright with the concept.  There are times when I am happy and sad at the same time.  Yes, I am still grieving and still healing, but right now I can see the joy in the moment and the blessing.

In one day I can go from having something trigger the tears to later seeing a moment of happiness.  As the past year has gone by, there have been fewer triggers in a day and more moments of happiness.  Are there still things now that make me end up shedding tears?  Of course!  But most days I can make it through with laughter, smiling, and remembering.  I feel like the grief comes and goes in waves.  Occasionally a tidal wave hits.  I have learned to expect the unexpected.  I don’t always know when a tidal wave will hit, but the best I can do is to take them when they come.

The best thing I can do is acknowledge how I feel.  No matter the feeling-good, bad, or ugly- I validate what I am feeling and move forward.  I am taking what I am feeling and hearing to learn and grow through this process.  I still take life day by day, one step at a time.  Sometimes I have go minute by the minute, other times I can go several hours.  I have made sure, especially more recently, to have the things that mean the most to me and bring me the most happiness surround me in my life.  That means I…

  • surround myself with people who are truly there and who want to have a relationship that will grow over time.  I surround myself with those who are supportive and allow me to be me.  I surround myself with family and friends.
  • have reinvested in my interests.  I enjoy being outdoors, so when I can do something outside I will.  I have a passion for photography and have decided this year to revamp my photography website.  I have been reading more and traveling more.

Can you smile?  Yes, you can.  It is okay.  Even though you are happy, doesn’t mean you aren’t still grieving.  Smile and laughter will do your heart good and help you heal.

 

The holidays can be a tough time of year to go through after the loss of a child, but there is also magic, joy, and peace that come with the season as well.  Surround yourself with the things you truly love to do, the people who support you, and find a way to honor your child.  Some of the steps in the holiday plan may not pertain to you or you may think “what does this have to do with any of it?”  That is alright.  If all you take from these steps are the ones that truly resonate with you, then you will still find the strength and courage you need. 

As we went through these steps, there are a few that, to us, just don’t seem to matter.  On the flip side, there are a few that have become really important and we have put into motions ways to fullfill them.  Go through these steps the best you can; following what you feel in your heart, what makes sense to you, and what will help you most in the path of healing.  Remember to go through these steps with your spouse, as both of you are grieving and healing differently.  You will each have different perspectives on them.  Also, remember to take time to honor your little and honor yourselves for all that you have gone through.  It is a tough road to follow sometimes, but there is also light on this path. 

Over time, the light will get brighter and it will get easier to breath.  Take the steps one at a time, and if you can’t take a step on your own it is okay to ask for help.  If that first step is too hard to take on your own, I encourage you to take the hand of someone who can take that step with you.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or God reach your hand out and say “please go with me, help me take this step”.  I promise you will make it through this.  It may be a bit on the ugly side, it may not be easy, but you will make it through this. 

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.

 

 

 

How will you honor you grief and pain?

Don’t try to ignore your feelings.  It is okay to grieve and it is okay to feel the pain.  It is all a part of the healing.  It is alright to feel these feelings.  The best gift you can give yourself as you go through this is the recognition of what you have had to go through, how you made it through, and with time things will get easier.  Yes, there will still be days when you miss your little one, but the pain will slowly diminish and you will begin to see the light.  Take some time to explore your past and your future.  Help yourself to recognize when you are in trouble and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Think of some ways that you can pamper yourself and what you can do to get in touch with your soul, and be sure to put them down on paper.

This season I will take extra time to light candles and maybe take a few extra-long bubble baths.  I will continue to write to help me through my thoughts and feelings.  I will take more candid photos of family and friends when I get the chance.  I will pick up my camera to get in touch with the beauty around me as well as inside me.  Most importantly, I will continue down this path one step at a time, one day at a time and count the blessings that I still have.

 

So, how will you honor the grief and pain that you may feel?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

Raun and I are coming up on a year since Samantha came into our lives. I have learned a fair number of things. One of those things I learned is the importance of support. No matter what life dishes out a person needs support. When you loose someone close to you due death, that support becomes even more important. When you loose a child, support becomes a necessity.

Nearly a year after, there are things I am finally doing to work through the grief. There are also things coming out because people feel that I am ready to hear it. I found out recently that some of the support I thought was there really isn’t truly there. I also found out that people were being told one thing about our loss and we were led to believe something else.

On the flip side we have been blessed with having a very supportive family.  They all seem to have an understanding of what we are going through.  Some because of their own life experiences and other’s because she is a part of our family.  I also have a few friends who are there to turn to when ever I need to.  I am also blessed to have Raun.  He is truly a wonderful husband.  He helps to provide encouragement, strength, comfort, and different perspectives.

You need to have a variety of support as well.  My husband has been great and is great, however it wouldn’t be fair to only rely on him for support.  He to is grieving as well.  Each of us grieves differently, so what each of us needs may or may not be the same.  We all face the different stages of grief, but in our own time and in our own way.

I encourage you to find support from some one who has been down this path before.  For me, I have two people.  I have my mother and a friend from work.  Though it was many years ago, both have walked this path and they understand.  It gives me hope to see, that despite the loss, they were still able to grow their families.

I want to let you know that it is okay to seek out resources and groups that focus on this type of loss. You need to do what helps you. You may choose to seek outside help in a group setting or in a one on one setting. It will take some strength and courage to make this step, but once you do you will begin to feel a sense of relief.

I was able to find a group and I was also able to come up with a million and one reasons I couldn’t make the meeting.  I wasn’t ready.  My outlet had been this blog and a few groups on facebook.  The thought of sharing face to face scared me.  In October I was ready and went to my first meeting.  I won’t lie, it was tough.  When that first meeting was over I began to feel a little bit better.  With each time I go I get more of a voice, share more of my thoughts, and I am surrounded by people who understand.  I feel normal.

I have also found creative outlets. It is through these outlets that I have strengthened relationships and built new ones. I have been journaling/blogging since this all happened. I recently went through an Illuminate course where it combined journaling and photography. I have had a passion for photography for years, but taking this course gave me the opportunity to really combine two things I enjoy, as well as share a different perspective on the loss of a child. There are many opportunities out there to use creative talents. If there is something you enjoy doing I encourage you to continue and use it to help in the healing process. If there isn’t something that you do creatively, now could be just the right time to try something.

Over time, what you need for support will change. Whatever way you decide to go, I encourage you to continue to surround yourself with the people and things that truly bring you support.

 

How will you remember your little one?

There are so many ideas and possibilities out there of what you can do to remember your little one.  Really, the sky is the limit.  Do what resonates with you in your heart.  Do what feels right.  Share your ideas with your spouse, family, and friends.  See if your loved ones have ideas as well.  Some ideas are: you could visit the cemetery, make a donation to charity in their name, decorate a wreath in memory of them, burn a candle over the holidays, hang a tree decoration, or light a candle at church.

                We are looking for just the right ornament to hang on our Christmas tree.  I am also considering getting a special stocking, if I can find one that resonates within my heart.  I am pretty sure, at some point in the month of December; we will make a trip to the cemetery and memorial wall.  We are including a special dragonfly and poem in with our Christmas letters this year.

 

So, how will you remember your little one?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

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