Category Archives: CarlyMarie Project 2015

#CaptureYourGrief – Day #30



Reflection is difficult.  This project takes time each day that I am used to sharing in other ways.  It takes more time because I need to calm the life, mind, and heart to really get to the bottom of each topic.  It isn’t an easy task.  Really it is a commitment to calming the waters every single day and seeing what is really there.

This year as I look back at the month, I can tell where I was able to reflect well.  I see my heart.  There were other days when I just couldn’t/wouldn’t go more in depth.  As much as I want to share everything, there are some things in that reflection that could cause pain or hurt to others.  Those are the pieces missing from my reflection, my movements in the water.

I thought this image was fitting for today.  Taken while on date night with my husband, it is a picture of the new theater being built on the University of Iowa campus.  It is clear that the moving water doesn’t allow for a detailed reflection.  We simply get the big or brightest pieces.

I think that are times in our lives when we focus can only see those big or bright parts.  Here is the thing, if those pieces are good memories, we feel good but we might miss out on growth. On the other hand, if those spots are bad, we focus on the wrong things and we miss out on healing.  What if you could take the time to see the whole picture.  That is what the #CaptureYourGrief project does for me.

As this month of blogging comes to an end I am thankful for the topic of reflection.  That is truly what this month is about.  Reflecting on the life we held, the love we still have, and the grief through it.  Thank you to everyone who has followed the journey this year.  Thank you to Bri for posting every day to Lach’s Legacy’s Facebook page.  Thank you to my husband who has let me off on a few messy house days this month.  Thank you for letting me spend an entire month calming my heart and reflecting upon the good times, bad times, and the little life that is still so loved.



#CaptureYourGrief – Day #29

What Heals You


So I must give credit for the basis of this quote to Walter White.  While I loved his quote, it’s language maybe wasn’t quite #CaptureYourGrief-esq.  I changed it a bit to fit me and the topic today.

Letting go of fear has been helpful in my healing.  After we lost Clara we spent a lot of time scared.  Each activity, pregnancy, birth, day brought out some of the worst fears.  I remember the first time Damon and Mason rode with someone else.  I wondered what I would do if they died too.  I just wanted to control every situation.

It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t possible.  I couldn’t let those fears rule my life.  If I did I would rob my boys of the life experiences they deserved.  We were missing out on activities and memories that could be made because we didn’t want to risk anything.  Some “risks” are worth taking!

In the image I captured this summer, I saw my hesitant daughter fall.  Did she get cry? A little.  Did she get back up?  Yes!  She tried and tried until her fear was small enough that her confidence returned.  I chose not to step in and stop her from falling.  Instead we encouraged her to keep trying and to not be scared.  Eventually she did get it and she had so much fun.  If she had given into that fear she would have missed out on an afternoon or memories!!

Grief is much the same way.  We fear how birthdays and holidays will be.  If you ask most parents the anticipation is far worse than the actual day.  Grief is never easy.  We struggle to hold on yet we struggle to let go.

We fear the passing of current or future children.  What if they make a bad choice that hurts them? We worry about everything.  The thing is we can’t do that all the time. Yes, it is natural to worry a bit but not about EVERYTHING.  It will consume you!  It robs you of making memories or allowing them to make their childhood memories.

Throughout my journey I am constantly working on releasing fear.  There are days when I fall and have to get up, brush off, and start again.  The best days are the ones where I leave worry and fear in the shower drain and let the memories be made.



#CaptureYourGrief – Day #28

Reach Out


Reaching out applies to grievers and everyone else.  I have been in the position where “let us know what you need” doesn’t get answered. I honestly didn’t know what I needed or what I needed that person couldn’t provide.  I was thankful for those who just brought food and paper plates and plastic spoons.  Someone even brought us toilet paper.  Others took the time to spend evenings with us.  I especially appreciated those who remembered us months after our loss. Those are the ways of reaching out, that were helpful to me.

Sometimes reaching out is simply reaching to your partner.  There were many times when the two of us connected and felt comfort.  I also remember reaching out to my husband and not feeling his hand hold mine (and vise versa). We were at places where we couldn’t be there for each other.  For me that was when I decided I needed to reach outside my comfort zone.

Social media has opened the doors for finding others who can help.  I liked the anonymousness.  The women I met never appeared to judge me and we grew together.  We leaned on each other in our difficult times.  Those moments are what sustained me when friends, family, and my husband couldn’t help me in the ways I needed.

The journey is long and along the path isn’t straight. As grievers we can get so lost in our sorrow that we can’t or won’t reach out.  This is especially true in the very beginning and, then again, when the world thinks we “should be healed”.  Remind yourself that it is okay to take a timeout in the trees but if you get stuck in mud, call out for help.  And friends, family, and outsiders… take the time to reach out when you are called to.  Sometimes it takes every ounce of courage we have to call to you.


If you have some free time listen to this song that reminds me of reaching out.
I won’t let go – Rascal Flatts




#CaptureYourGrief – Day #26



Gratitude is more than being being thankful for the people who have helped me along the way. It is also about being thankful for the situations and small things that have been found in the storm clouds.  The most helpful thing for me during my times of suffering has been finding something good in the day, focusing on that, and being thankful for it.

After we lost Clara those good things were small.  A hug, not throwing up, kind words were things I started with.  They redirected my attention when by body reminded me that it was time to feed the baby that was no longer in my arms.  It was through finding things to be thankful for that I found a way to be thankful for those “feed your baby” reminders.  It gave me an opportunity to share Clara’s milk with others babies who were in need. We sent 356 oz of her milk to the Rocky Mountain Mother’s Milk bank in Denver.  (When Lincoln’s allergies were diagnosed I experienced a similar circumstance and we knew right away we would donate.  With him we drove 2,222oz to the University of Iowa Mother’s Milk Bank.)  There was great comfort and thankfulness found in helping others instead of dumping it all down the drain.

When I went back to work finding things to be thankful for became extremely important.  People made off-the-cuff remarks or condolences that weren’t exactly comforting.  I needed something, other than these, to hold.  Each night I would sit down and find my good things to set my heart on.  I tried to focus on how thankful I was that each person thought enough to stop by and remember Clara and less on their comments.   It was through this process that I was able to let a lot of things roll off my shoulders.

This kind of being “thankful for” is one I offer to many along the loss journey.  For those who dedicate time each day for their heart, there is comfort.  It won’t fix everything but it will help set your heart on a path to let go of the bad and cling to the good.

My husband and I have turned this concept into a bedtime routine for our children too.  Each evening we sit and pray thanks for the things we are “thankful for”.  Sometimes the kids are thankful for things, other nights it is deeper.  It depends on their age and the type of day they’ve had.

We have learned a lot about our kids through the prayer time.  We see what makes them happy or sad.  We hear their pain when they ask if they can pray for someone else.  The best thing is they go to bed and wake happier.  We get to see little pieces of their big hearts.

My experience with setting my heart on the good has helped me in other situations in my life as well.  As we deal with Lincoln’s health, it helps to focus on the good things.  When we heard the news that Lincoln wasn’t ever going to be able to use the bathroom like a normal boy, it was devastating.  When we started doing clean intermittent catheterizations life was in turmoil.  By the end of the first week, we noticed a huge change in our little boy.  He was calmer and better behaved.  For the first time in his life his bladder was empty after he relieving himself.  It was in that good that we found comfort in the sadness. He was actually happier!  That is what we chose to focus on.

Today I don’t need to set aside as much time for this but I still use it to help me through so many situations of life.  I am grateful for the changes and comfort my family has gotten by actively being “thankful for” things in our lives.  Sometimes our gratitude is small, sometimes big.  Either way filling your heart with good things leaves little room for the bad to get in there and fester.

“Fill your heart with what’s important…
and be done with all the rest.”





#CaptureYourGrief – Day #25

Earth Remembrance


Earth remembrance is geared toward planting a tree or plant in memory of the baby lost. It helps as we watch it grow in a time when we are no longer watching our children grow. I think it is a great way to heal.
When we lived in South Dakota, we had many flowers and a tree planted in memory of Clara, our miscarriage, and my brother. A lot of thought when into selecting just the perfect one. We had “Baby Love”, “Superhero”, and “American Beauty”. Of course, we also had her tree. It was sad when a rose bush died and had to be replanted but every time they bloomed it made me smile.
This year planting a tree or flower really isn’t in the cards. I thought about planting something indoors but we just don’t have the space. I guess I had a lot of excuses for why I “couldn’t do it”. The more I thought about planting seeds to more I realized that sowing seeds and seeing them grow isn’t just an physical thing. Instead of planting something to bring me comfort, I hope to plant a seed of hope for someone else.
Every deed is a seed. I really like the idea of planting seeds of hope. The hardest part of planting those seeds is you don’t necessarily know where you are planting them or how they are growing. Unlike the tree we plant outside, these seeds grow in so many different ways. Often we think we are witnessing those seeds grow but so many more times, we do not.
I think this project is a seed of hope for many whether they are participating or simply following others through it. We aren’t all equipped to share our lives and hurts. Even if we can’t share it can be comforting and healing to read other’s stories. For me sharing helps water the seed inside me. I know from some of you that it waters others’ as well. Those reminders make this project worth every bit of extra time it takes each day.
We will never know how many seeds of hope have grown without our eyes seeing. I am hopeful that those participating and following the #CaptureYourGrief project find a place in their hearts for that seed. I hope they find water to grow it, and in their time, are able to share it with others. That is the seed I hope to plant today, throughout this project, and the rest of the days of my life.

#CaptureYourGrief – Day #24

Choose Your Breath


The topic name didn’t mean a lot to me at first glance but after reading the description I found it easier to write about. Here is the topic description for day #24:

“Many of you are taking part in Franchesca Cox’s Choosing Your Breath Grief Workshop. I love her workshop because it gives a space for people to intentionally and actively work through their grief. Conscious grief work is so important if you want to create a beautiful life after loss. Have you ever sat down and really thought about where you are in your grief journey? Have you ever paid attention to your inner thought patterns? Are you stuck? Are you comfortable? Are you peaceful, angry, frustrated, hopeful? What are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? Where do you want to go next? How will you get to that place? Are there any changes you could make in your life that would benefit your grief journey? When you start exploring the landscape of your own mind you begin to become aware of your thought patterns and you get to understand your grief more.  Share your own grief discoveries. Do you feel hopeful for your future? Do you believe that grief and healing can co-exist?”

The #CaptureYourGrief projects held during the month of October have been my active work through my grief.  I am at a point where I look forward to these projects and time of reflection.  There are always topics that I would never explore if it weren’t for the project.  I know for some of you it may be hard to read some of the same posts each year.  Each year I feel things are different and even a similar post isn’t really the same for me.  There is growth and comfort and healing with each topic and writing time.

I found that starting my blog gave me a place to post each October as well as throughout the year, when the words struck.  It is interesting to look back at where I was four years ago and see where I am today.

Dedicated writing each day of the project also gives me a chance to talk to my kids, share with them how I feel, and listen to how they feel.  There is comfort in knowing where my kids are in their grief too.  This year Damon has followed all of the posts and pictures.  He has shared things I never thought of.  His eyes filled with tears as he says, “yes…” show me that, he too, is still grieving.

I am grateful for the openness this project gives. I think it has helped me work through things I most likely would have kept bottled up.  It gives me a chance to open up Clara’s special tote and spend a month deliberately remembering her life without negative comments or awkward stares. It helps me to see where I am in my grief and see where I have been stuck.  It is through this project that I have found much comfort, shed some tears, and found a little more of my heart.  It is where I grieve intentionally.



#CaptureYourGrief – Day #23

Love Letter


I woke up to a lovely little text from my husband.  As the morning has passed we have exchanged many I love you’s.  It was a nice way to engage in the love letter’s theme although I am not sure he knows that was todays topic.  We have a date night planned with dinner and a theater production too.

We had only been married 7 months when we lost Clara.  We quickly found date nights to be helpful ways to reconnect each month.  We dedicate that time to less kid talking and more future planning.  Before Clara we didn’t do this much.  We worked opposite hours often and weekends were busy with work as well.  It didn’t take long to know we needed each other, to hold hands, to be a couple.  We needed to be united as we walked through the downpours of life.

Today we will take the time to celebrate making it to the other side and being there for the next storm.  Today we won’t write our love letter on paper, we will experience it together.  As I look outside, I see that we will be walking together and holding hands in the rain.  This time it won’t be a sad rain with tears and pain but one with love in our hearts and smiles on our faces.

“We can’t stop the downpour but I am thankful to hold your hand, walking through the rain.”



#CaptureYourGrief – Day #22 {Part 2}

Dreams & Rituals


We have many things we do in memory of Clara.  We don’t really call them rituals but when I looked into the meaning of the word, I think they would fall under that category.  I think we shy away from the word “ritual” because for many it has a very religious meaning.  Like worshipping something other than God.  I wouldn’t say we do that with our honors in memory.  We simply make these special events something we look forward to and do each year.

In Memory #1:

Lach Legacy’s annual Run for Their Live’s.  We have been fortunate (or unfortunate, if your glass is half empty) to attend it from the very first year.  It took a couple of years but we established our family picture to be taken while we are there.  It helps to see this picture change each year.  You see, when school pictures come home every fall, we get to change five pictures but one stays the same.  Getting to see this family picture change takes the place of changing hers.  It brings me comfort to be making memories that include her.  We will keep doing this as long as it goes on, even if it means a 7 hour drive 🙂

In Memory #2:

No birthday is complete without a birthday cake.  The first few years it is hard to celebrate.  As I look back I wish I would have realized just what birthdays are all about.  I wish I hadn’t been so sad and angry.  I missed out on a day to celebrate the life we held.  She left us with so many good memories and those deserve to be celebrated.  It was Chris’s idea for the Barbie Doll cakes.  I love making them and I am thankful to be able to celebrate even when I am sad or disappointed.

Clara's 5th Birthday cake - Jan 2014

Clara’s 5th Birthday cake – Jan 2014

In Memory #3:

May 12th is a hard day for us.  In the past I have always visited Elaine.  I feel like she is sometimes forgotten in our loss.  Her love for Clara was, and still is, evident.  I miss having the chance to connect with her, to hug her.  I failed on this memory maker this year but hopefully we can connect next year, even if it is only through the FaceTime or Google Chat.

This is a day we often release balloons.  The kids like to write messages to send to Heaven.  One year a couple balloons got caught in a tree.  The boys were very upset.   I told the boys that maybe Clara couldn’t read them all at once.  By morning they had flown off and the boys were happy.  (PS.  I know it isn’t environmentally friendly but my boys got a lot of comfort from it so we did it.)

It has been a couple of years since we did this on her angelversary. The older boys have gotten older and it isn’t the same for the little kids.  Their losses are so different.  It is sometimes challenging to balance the two different losses as well as my husbands and my own.

In Memory #4:

Each Christmas we give gifts to little girls around, what would be, Clara’s age.  In the beginning it meant a chance to walk down the girls aisle and add dolls and strollers and barbies to our cart.  It was healing for both of us especially when we are shopping for 4 boys and know what we are missing out on.

This year we will search for a 7yo.  In a way this will be a golden year.  There are seven of us purchasing seven gifts for seven seven year olds.  The kids enjoy getting to pick their own gift to give.  It is our way of remembering and making memories that include Clara.

Clara's Memory Wrapping Session 2014

Clara’s Memory Wrapping Session 2014

In memory…

We do many more things but these are the ones that are really important to us.  They open doors for us to talk about Clara’s life and keep her a part of ours.  It is so hard to forget the little girl who gave us so much to remember.  Our rituals help us to remember, to celebrate.




#CaptureYourGrief – Day #22

Dreams & Rituals

Part 1


Today’s topic is seriously very broad. Day #22 is about both dreams and rituals. I have opted to make two posts because they are two very different topics for me.
Dreams are something that I often read about from others. People post about their children visiting them in dreams. Even my own family has these encounters. I however have not had them and I am okay with that. I am not sure how I would feel about a “visit”. I am content to hold my baby in my heart and not have to long for sleep to feel her. Even so, I have dreamt of other things.
Before we lost Clara I did dream about standing in Bittner Funeral Chapel in front of 2 different sized caskets. Both baby caskets. I dreamt about burying a child. I dreamt that dream almost a dozen times. Each time waking up and quickly checking on a sleeping baby.
Although none of it was the same, I attributed that dream to the very recent loss of my brother. I just thought my mind was so tired from new baby, sleepless nights, and working again. I figured my mind just melded the whole bit together into one messed up dream. I had no idea that in May, I would actually be standing in the front of that very same funeral home, in front of two slightly different size caskets, and choosing one for my baby.
I feel like dreams don’t just apply to sleep. Dreams can mean the future we envisioned. I have touched on this a lot during this #CaptureYourGrief project. The dreams of what the future “could have been like”. These are the dreams I see with my eyes wide open. I experience many of these types of dreams. They are my pink lemonade. My bittersweet.

#CaptureYourGrief – Day #21

Sacred Space


My place of reflection, my sacred place, has changed over the past few years. I have found that there isn’t one place that is sacred to me.  I firmly believe any space can be a sacred space.  It is the love you have that can make it sacred.  It isn’t about objects or spaces but the love that you feel or offer in them.

 In the beginning my sacred space was her little peanut in our front yard.  I would sit on the tiny bench under the shade of her tree.  It was comforting.  The shade felt like an umbrella of protection in a world that could be so abrasive.

We have been very fortunate to have sold our home to a wonderful family who have taken care of that tree.  Last Christmas I got a picture of Clara’s tree decorated in pink lights in her memory.  I hold a special place in my heart for them.  Anyone else might have let the tree go or never thought of how special it was to us.  They took the time to care of her tree and think of her life and how important she was to us. It was a heartwarming gesture that meant a lot to us!

After our move my sacred place became that same bench but instead of it being under the tree, it sits near our front door.  We walk by it everyday.  As I was trying to find an image for today my camera revealed something that touched my heart.  That bench is in so many pictures from the past year!  Our easter pictures, family pictures, even the first day of school!!  It is an hidden reminder that Clara might be physically missing but she is still part of our lives each day.

Today my sacred space is really times that I think of her.  Sometimes it is while watching the kids play.  Sometimes it is when we serve others.  I would say it would even be the Run for Their Live’s event.  When we share our love, our comfort, our hearts, we share our sacred place.

Love makes every space sacred & every moment meaningful.


Clara’s tree Christmas 2014