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.

 

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.

 

What might you be feeling?

You won’t truly know what you will be feeling on a specific day until that day arrives.  Plus, moment to moment can change on you.  What is important is that you are prepared.  Be prepared for anything and everything, but try to remain flexible with how it all ends up going or could go.  Have your support with you or near you throughout the time, and be honest with your feelings.  As happy as a time of year this can be, there may be some things you are dreading.  If possible, take some time to look at and analyze those items, then create a plan.  If you need to, consider taking time away from those items.  If you can’t walk away from those items, which is okay, try to think of ways to make it easier to get through them.  There will be points where you and your spouse will feel the same thing, as well as those around you.  There will also be times when you all will not be feeling the same thing.  So, make sure you give yourself time to decompress…whether it is through journaling, going for a walk, having some alone time, or just relaxing.  Be certain to be there and be a support to each other.

I don’t know what I will be feeling leading up to the holidays and during the holidays.  I do know that I will go for walks, record my thoughts, and probably take a lot of photos.  My hope is that even though Samantha is not here with us, that I will still find light and joy in this season.  I will try to find beauty and magic in the season.  All this is possible because she is in our hearts.

So, what might you be feeling?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

Who are you going to be with?

The holidays bring about a time of year where you will be surrounded by people.  For some people this will be okay, for others not so much, and yet others will have many mixed emotions or feelings about this.  So what do you do?  Take a moment to think about the people you will be around, whether for an extended time period or just a couple of hours.  If there is anyone who doesn’t support you in your grief and healing process, then you may want to consider how you will spend your holiday time with them.  Do you do what you normally would with them or do you change things up?  This could be anything from changing the venue in which you get together or even changing the lenght of time you meet.  Celebrating a holiday, especially the first one, without your little one can be tough to go through.  Be sure to surround yourself with those who truly do support you and the process you are going through.  Even if you are unable to get together with some of them during the holiday time, make sure to have a way to be in contact with them if possible.  Each person, each couple will go through this differently and a level that they can handle.  So, take the time to talk with your spouse and loved ones to keep them informed on what you are feeling and what you need.   A piece of advice I heard from someone was to have a backdoor plan.  Basically, an exit plans if things get to be too overwhelming.  Create a code word with your spouse that either one of you can say if you find it necessary, then you can make your exit.

 Fortunately, our family and friends are very supportive through all of this.  We also are rather open and honest about it all too.  So, we will be spending our time with family and friends.  If it comes down to it and I need some space I can easily go for a walk, or if I need to talk there will be someone nearby that I trust that I can talk to.

So, who are you going to be with?  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.

 

I am continuing to share with you what I am thankful for, grateful for, or just plain blessed with in my life.  At the beginning of the month I decided to share my 30 days of Thankfulness.  You can read the first part of my 30 days of Thankfulness by clicking here for 1-6 and here for 7-13.

14.  Support-I am blessed with a tremendous support system that has come out of losing Samantha.  Without that support system, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today.

15. My new contacts-I know this may sound odd, but I have been trying to get the right ones for the past three months.  Finally, after like the 7th pair they are right.  I can see well during the day and night finally!

16. For an Extra Long Fall-In Minnesota, Fall doesn’t always seem to stick around.  We have been very lucky and very blessed to still have decent weather.

17. My memorial garden-It’s the middle of November and the flowers I planted (Yellow Snapdragons) that are around the memory stone are still blooming.

In Spring, when I first planted everythingSnapdragons still blossoming as of November 19

 

18. The Internet-without there is a lot I wouldn’t be able to do.  With it I am able to easily keep in touch with family and I am able to share my photography, as well as my writings.

19. MyInfantLoss.com-it has been a way for me to reach out to others, hopefully helping them while helping myself through the healing process.

20. My Car-it allows me to go where I need to go, as well as where I want to go.  Without it doing so many of the fun road trips we did this past year wouldn’t have as possible as they were.

21. God-without having the knowledge of God walking beside me and being there, I think times would be a lot tougher and things would be a lot harder to handle.  Even though I may waver, turn away, yell and get angry, He is always there, no matter what.

What are you thankful for?  It’s not to late to start creating your list.  If you aren’t able to do the 30 days of Thankfulness, then I encourage you to create a list of 10.  I look forward to continuing to share mine and I look forward to hearing from you what is on your list.  Share you thoughts below.

 

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.

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