Tag Archives: Grief

{Capture Your Grief – 2017} Day #3

Day #3: Meaningful Mantra

Mantras change just as our grief changes. I started with “She knew she could, so she did.”.  Then I moved to “share the comfort you have been given.”.  Today “I am enough” fits the year.

Strangers, friends, and even loved ones will say things about your loss that will make you question yourself.  I doubted so much about myself and my loss for so long.  Could I have done this differently or that differently?  Could I have handled this situation better? Could I have started an organization or done more to promote SIDS awareness?  Who knows.

Maybe I should have saved more things of Clara’s.  Maybe I should have given more away.  Maybe we should have waited to have another child.  Maybe we should have moved out of our home. Maybe we should have stayed longer.  Maybe I should have told people their words were hurtful.  Maybe I was too sensitive.  Maybe I didn’t cry enough.  Maybe I cried too much.  The list goes on and on.

I have hit the point in my life and grief journey where I feel the understanding the I am enough.  Who I am as a mother and a bereaved mother is enough. What I do to honor Clara is enough.  The remaining items I have of Clara’s is enough.

I know there may be a day when I lose everything we have left of Clara’s belongings.  While I know that will be a sad day for me, I also know that my heart will continue to share her life with others.  I know that she may not live on after I am gone.  I know that thinking that is okay.

I know that the cakes I create are enough to share my baby girl.  I know that I would be overwhelmed with a non-profit organization in her honor.  I know that cakes are the perfect remembrance and enough.

Lastly, I am enough.  I don’t need answers to all those questions on if I am good enough or did the right things.  I know it was enough for me.  I don’t need to be compared to anyone else.  You see, much like these traffic cones, we all have bumps, bruises, and scars yet we all get back up and do the job we were intended to do.  We stand together.  We are not the same. Our scars are not the same. We continue to love our kids, love ourselves, and hold on to hope that the scars won’t wear us down nor hold us back.

Move over guilt and grief…I am enough.

#CaptureYourGrief #WhatHealsYou


{Capture Your Grief – 2017} Day #1

Day 1 Sunrise:

Today is the beginning of a month-long grief project to fill October’s infant loss awareness month. I have participated in the project for many years and just like our grief changes, so has this project. This year is less about sharing our children and more about honoring them in our journey to heal. I know that there are days I plan to change a bit to meet the needs of my heart but I love the guidance the CarlyMarie Project Heal (#CaptureYourGrief) gives. I hope you join me each day as I share my journey through my own grief and hope.

Today I have chosen to quote, “They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.” because even after eight years, there are still wounds in my heart. There is no time limit on grief. It stays with you every day of the rest of your life. Grief does change though. As the years go on, it morphs into different things. You feel differently, you deal with things differently. I continue to do this project to express how things change from year to year. It also gives me dedicated time to focus on the many blessings of Clara’s short life, my loss, and my growth/healing.

Good morning sunrise! Good morning Miss Clara! Today we begin a new chapter. #CaptureYourGrief #WhatHealsYou


Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #30

My Promise to You

I promise to lovingly remind the world that, while you aren’t here, your fairy tale cape still hangs here.  We promise to remind each other of your life and our memories. We promise to remember your birthday and your passing day.  We promise to remember how very special you are and how much you still belong to our family.



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #13

Dear World

Clara passed away due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  SIDS knows no boundaries.  It affects all socioeconomic groups.  It affects all ethnicities and religions.  It is unknown what causes it. Clara had some risk factors including blankets in her sleep area and on her tummy.  If it hadn’t happened May 12th, 2009, it could have happened another day.  It could have happened in our care. Clara was super sleepy that morning.  She slept until just before I went to work at 10am.  Had it been my day off I would have found her.


Dear World – It wasn’t my daycare’s fault.

I do not place fault on my daycare.  This is probably one of the hardest things for other’s to understand.  I have heard so many say, “I would have sued.”, “I would never go back.”, “Do you ever wonder…”.  To which I reply … SIDS knows no bounds.  In my mind the answer was and still is to find the remedy rather than place blame. My inner peace comes from offering compassion instead of blame.

Our daycare lady was like another grandma to our children.  Clara’s death affected her too.  She needed compassion and love.  She needed to know that this wasn’t her fault.  She changed the way future babies slept to help reduce their risk.  She told new parents about Clara’s passing. She cried when we asked if we could continued to take our children to her.  She even got to hold two more of our babies before I had to start staying home. We worked on a remedy that would bring our families closer together. I am thankful for that because it meant I could ask her questions about that fateful day and she was open and honest in answering them.

Today I had a different idea and had planned to blog about getting stuck in the darkness.  As I tried to capture the tunnel I found an ugly (but necessary) emergency call poll in they way.  Instead of complaining I took a few steps back and worked out a remedy.  It made for an amazing picture and inspired a different subject to write about. It is a great reminder that in grief and in every day life, we need to remember that things turn out best for people who make the best our the way things turn out. We can’t control life but we can control the way we handle it.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #9

Surrender & Embrace

Surrendering and embracing loss is a lifelong journey.  It isn’t something that you just do and move on.  Step by step we let go of things and slowly embrace their consequences.  Sometimes those consequences are good and other times bad. We have to hope those around us can give us time to search our heart for the courage to move forward in a healthy way.

Every day I drive back past this farm on my way to our elementary school.  It makes me sad to see all the houses being built so close.  The scene reminds me of the loneliness we feel in our journey.  We see the world, whole and alive, growing and moving ahead.  We can declare that is isn’t fair and hate the world.  We can hold onto the unjustness and finality of our loss. Just as the farmer can fight to keep the farm he once had, we can remain in the field alone staring at horizon with jealously and anger at the life we once had.

To surrender is not easy.  We have to admit and accept that our lives will never be the same.  We have to acknowledge that the world must move forward and that we have to too.  For me it wasn’t until I accepted that life isn’t always fair that I could fully embrace happiness again.  I finally embraced that I can’t change things.  I definitely recommend taking time to let go of some of the hurtful things people said or did.  These helped me embrace the world again. When I did, found I wasn’t alone.  There are a lot more people who quietly share my pain.

I have stumbled along the way too.  Milestones Clara won’t reach can get to me.  Once in a  while jealousy and anger creep in.  Each day is a challenge to surrender the pain of grief and embrace what is left in my world.  You see surrendering doesn’t happen in a single day.  It is something you have to choose to do every single day of your life until the day you take your last breath.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #6


Lately I have seen several ideas of how to explain bullying to kids.  Squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube and try to put it back in or crumble a paper and try to make it flat again.  I think they are great ways to explain grief too.  Grief is a bully that often sneaks up on you.  It pushes you to your breaking point.  It can make you question life.  It shows can be hard to shake.  It crumples up your heart, stomps on it, and all the while people are tell you to just let it go.

I think being able to understand is always a work in progress. It isn’t always easy and nobody, not even those who have experienced loss, is perfect at it.  We all look back and wonder… “oh crap, I totally just said that didn’t I!?!” I have said things to mothers that I regret the minute it leaves my mouth.  As grievers we have to remember that those around us are going to make mistakes.  No matter how hard it is when someone comments to me, “oh look you finally got a girl!!” I have to step back and empathetic to the fact that cashier really doesn’t understand.  Empathy and understanding goes both ways.  After loss I think we can easily forget how innocent we once were in parenting.  It is hard to remember the days when I didn’t think twice about my kids outliving me.

When it comes to infant loss I feel like, “I am sorry.” is the easiest thing to say because really most people are truly sorry.  I always appreciate a hug or a mention of my little girl. Just stay away from phrases like, “god needed another angel.” or “god saved them from {insert bad thing}.”.  Honestly I am far enough into my journey that I am even okay with people asking “how did it happen?”.  I know that the loss of Clara has shaped my heart.  Some find it easier to hide their wrinkles but for me it is easier to embrace them.  They are a reminder that Clara was here and loved.

Today remember that some of the wrinkles of my heart are the reminder of who I miss.  Please don’t try to iron them. Embrace them with me. Stand with me as I face the bully named Grief. In return I promise to do my best to remember that you might not understand and not be a bully that adds a wrinkle to your heart.




A Piece of My Heart Smiles

Seven years ago I held you for the last time.  Your body perfect, your eyes closed, your heart no longer beating.  I will be forever grateful for the nurse who called to seek permission to remove your breathing tube and the staff that wrapped you snuggly in a warm blanket.  It left me with the memory that you were simply napping rather than the limp body that I held.

May 12, 2009 is a day burned into memory.  One with many tears and lots of questions.  It was a day we got the call, not to receive an organ but to give one.  We later learned that your heart valves went to two children.  More tears.  That day it took courage to get up and go on.

Today it takes courage to say, I don’t always cry when I think of you.  I didn’t cry today on the anniversary of your passing. My grief isn’t always expressed with tears anymore.

Grief is so different seven years later.  I used to feel ashamed that I don’t cry as often as I once did.  Ashamed that while I do think of you, it isn’t every single day.  Does it mean I love you less?  Am I forgetting you?  Never.

Instead of crying, I smile when I see pictures of your smiling face.  I smile when I get to talk to others about you. I don’t dread people asking me about the number of kids I have.  I don’t worry about upsetting someone by sharing you are gone.  I know that others will simply share their sympathy and sometimes, when I am lucky, they will ask more about you.  Not about your passing but about you.  Things like which sibling looks more like you or if we got to see your smile.  Today people even ask to see you in pictures.  They want to know know more about this little life that made such an impact on our lives.

I find my heart filled when I meet children who were born in January 2009.  I find myself watching them with a smile knowing you probably would be doing those same things.  Rather than remind me of what I am missing, I find they give me a glimpse into the eyes of a seven-year-old.  Their play, their hugs, they make me smile.

I will forever watch your tree grow in our yard.  Watch as the pretty pink flowers bloom each May reminding me of you. I will always feel a little pang of sadness as the flowers change to white and blow away in the wind.  A simple reminder of the shortness of your life in our arms.

It takes courage to admit that today, I am okay, happy even. I am so fortunate to have held you. I am thankful that your life has helped others. You were loved and you are still very loved.

We miss you baby girl!



#CaptureYourGrief – Day #11

Light in the Woods


My life in the woods was Bri.  We received a care package from Lach’s Legacy soon after Clara’s passing.  That year she held a the first annual Run for Their Live’s run.  Started in memory of her son Lachlan, she opened the door for families to connect and remember each others children lost too soon to SIDS.  That first year the run happened just a few short weeks after Clara’s loss.   It was during that run that I realized our children were lost on the same May 12th day a single year apart.  I felt so connected.  In particular, I felt connected to a family member of hers who began running along side me around mile 1.  He asked me questions about Clara.  He encouraged me to keep running even though I was so tired.  I literally got off the couch and ran a 5K that day.   Together we finished together in around the 28 minute mark.  His comfort and encouragement became the second light along my path.

Grief doesn’t have a finish line like the race.  I often remember the man who encouraged me to keep going.  Not only did it give me strength and courage that day, it gave me that through my loss.  I remember the first time I had to call another mom and talk to her about the loss of her sweet Paxton.  It was this mans words that helped me.  It was a prayer to for God’s wisdom that gave me the right words to give from my heart.  It was because of Bri that these lights came into my life.

Today social media makes it so easy to connect with others along our journey.  Sometimes we seek out those lights, other times they seek us out, once in a while we are connected by those around us who see a positive connection.  Connecting grieving friends can be a positive way for someone who is outside the infant loss community to help their friend or loved one.

Grief doesn’t come to each of us in the same way.  There was a time when Chris and I were not in the same place and my needs couldn’t be met by him. It was through social media that I met another light in my journey.  It was Sara’s light that kept mine lit through some pretty rough patches.  Her little Eli was born just a day after Clara.  Together we have shared many words of frustration, comfort, and friendship. We experienced another pregnancy together and shared our fears and comforts.  She is one of the lights whom I have never met but wish I could.

Some of these lights are there forever on our journey. Others for just a few steps.  Sometimes we simply watch the light, feeling it’s warmth.  It fills us in the way we need.  Other times we reach for the light.  Communicating with that person.  Once in a while we get to meet that person.  We embrace.  It is an amazing feeling when we feel that light that has gotten us through our woods.

Don’t wait for other people to be loving, friendly, giving, forgiving, or compassionate… lead the way.  You never know who you will touch along the way.  Be a light in the woods.

Praise be to the God,
 who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble
with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4



The CarlyMarie Project – Day 17



Exploring my grief journey was nothing short of a mess of mass confusion.  I am not always sure how I got to the point where life was good again.  I sometimes fear that I missed some part of the process because I didn’t have as many tears as others.  I look back and find two things that helped me to keep moving forward.  Finding the good in every day and keeping envy at bay absolutely were, and still are, the most important things to my survival.

We can never be at peace if we are always comparing ourselves, our grief, our changes, our lives, our families, or anything else against someone else.  I know that in the beginning of my journey I was guilty of this.  I compared myself to other mothers and asked God why they got to keep their kids and not me.  Why me, why not them?  Yeah, it was that bad but I am not ashamed to admit it because it happens to us all.  We all just want to know why because it isn’t fair in our eyes.  As the years have passed there has always been a hiccup here and there with some piece of my grief.  Each detour requires a need for me to stop and a reminder to look up instead of around me.  I am special and shaped in the way God wants me and so are those around me.  I don’t want to long for what someone else has or does.  I need to be me, I need to survive and be happy.

Another key to my journey has been finding good in every day.  This is the one thing I have done since Clara’s funeral.  It was my lifejacket in the rough seas.  As long as I found something good, no matter how small, I could focus on seeing blessings rather than all the other crappy things that come with losing a child.  When my husband was having a really tough time, we started doing this as a couple.  Some days my “good” was a hug or a smile and slowly my “good” became more.  It is the more that began to heal my heart.  The connecting with another mother, participating in an event, days when I could smile through tears.  Those are the moments I tend to focus on more because I have those happy moments to fall back on.  When some of the more sad moments come up I am able to say, “yeah but remember what happened right after that?” and there is a good memory to fill in too.

Today I feel at peace with my journey.  Every journey is filled with bumps and detours and mine is no exception.  Today I am at a place where I feel comfort, peace, and hope.  I can celebrate Clara’s life and talk about her with others.  I can share some of the most personal parts of my journey with honesty and not be fearful of being judged.  My journey is 5 years old and yet still so many years away from being over.  Looking ahead at all those years has me wondering about so many things.  How will I handle missing special events like prom, graduation, wedding, children?  I want to meet those dates with grace and hope.  I want to look out there are see those celebrating parents and be thankful for them, be happy for them.  I hope to be able to look at my nephew who was born 6 months after Clara and hug him on his these very same special events.  I want to be there for Clara’s friend Alexis as she experiences milestones and be happy to see this special young lady reminding us of ours.  I want for no other family to walk this journey of grief and yet I want to be there to help them if it does happen.   I want for nothing more than to be happy and remember all the lives my little girl has touched.


Journey begins with single step



The CarlyMarie Project – Day 14



As I look at todays journaling bit I realize that I started this a little yesterday with pregnancy and future children. The struggle of my heart.  The good and the bad, the happiness and the fear.  I can’t help but remember the beautiful words my husband spoke at Clara’s visitation.   He wanted everyone to make sweet out of the bitter, make the lemons into lemonade.  So today I find it fitting to share that image, our image, of light and dark.

Pink lemonade

Grief is a constant back and forth of light and dark.  We mourn our loss and yet we celebrate the life we once held.  We cry and at the same time giggle through our tears at the funny stories and memories.  We do things to honor our children and still feel sad that we are attending that very event.  We share joys of more children and hide our fears.  We are changed.  The battle between the light and dark is different that it was before our loss.  It is real, babies really do die.  Hearts can be shattered.  Memories are precious.  Little things bring smiles to our hearts and tears to our eyes.

Today my swings between light and dark are fewer but never completely gone.  My home is filled with reminders of pink and yellow.  They will always signify my struggle and blessings, my tears and laughter, my hopes and dreams,
my bitter and my sweet.