Tag Archives: Loss

Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #28


Looking at this mess of wires reminds me of those times in grief when you are just a mess.  It is easy to look at yourself and be your worst critic.  Other people’s comments will make you question whether you loved your child enough.  You will wonder if you were a good enough parent.  You will see this jumbled mess of emotions and wonder, am I ready for the world again?

I often hear people remind me to take time for myself.  I even have to remind myself once-in-a-while to stop and reorganize the tangled mess of my heart. It is easy to overlook the mess or to push it away because, let’s be real, who wants to untangle those cords?  To untangle means to struggle and possibly be angry, upset, or sad.  It is only through the time being mindful of our own struggles, that we can feel a more peaceful heart.

For me, some of my self-compassion time comes through this project.  For 31 days I have to set aside time to untangle the mess I pretend not to see. Writing forces me to be mindful and understanding that my feelings do change each year.  It makes me stop and recognize that my struggles are part of our human existence on this earth.  It knocks self-criticism to the curb by showing me that each of our struggles is different and it is okay to feel different.  Each year I am reminded that I still have things I want to work on. Reading other’s journeys often sparks things that remind me of something I hadn’t thought of or gives me a different way to look at things.

Each year I use this project to create a book.  It is the best feeling in the world to close the back cover and feel a sense of relief.  Relief not because I had a month long pity party but because I feel a new sense of calmness.  A calmness that can only come from accepting yourself and your feelings.  One that comes from seeing your own emotional resilience, learned wisdom, and even a little bit of happiness again.  So thank you to my husband and kids who let me use this month to take the time to do what is good for me.  In just a few days I will close this year’s book, breath a sigh of relief, and see the nicely organized words that were written from my heart.



Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #24

Consciously Becoming

No one can deny when you bury a child your life will forever be split.  There will always be a “before loss” you and an “after loss” you.  I often hear others talk about their old life and their “new normal”.  While that is true, I prefer not to call my after loss life a “new normal”.

There is no normal path in grief. We each take steps differently. We find some paths better than others.  When you are in your deepest grief, the words “new normal” seem to imply this terrible state you are currently in.  I found myself trying to find a better way to describe the very harsh divide.  We simply call our split the “before Clara died” and “after Clara died”.  Both contain good and bad but they are just plain different.

I must admit, I sometimes struggle to remember the “before Clara” me.  It feels so far in the past and today I am nowhere near the woman I was then.  I know there was a beautiful, strong woman that blazed a path through the world before Clara. Today I still have some of those same traits but I am changed.  I see much beauty in that change.  I think that was the hardest part of the “after Clara died” timeframe.  It can be hard to accept that there were good things that came out of the loss of Clara.  My soul has been made more beautiful.

Today I chose an image of these two lovely pieces of china from our wedding.  Here is the deal.  I was so busy with life that I didn’t open our boxes of china until early this summer.  When I opened the package I got quite a shock.  One box had 2 different styles.  I called to request an exchange only to find out that they won’t do that 8 years later.  It took me some time to realized that this just goes right along with our story. Gone is the plan of having at least one set of matching dishes.  Today I look forward to a treasured wedding story we will share with the kids.

Life situations can’t always be let go as easily as my dish problem. Some days I wish I could go back to things I loved about the old me.  It was a much more simple life.  Instead, I try to focus on the future and see the beauty that is ahead.  I want to embrace the new things I have found in my grief to help others.  I enjoy the writing and cakes and the special heart skills I didn’t know were hidden in me before Clara died.  It is in letting go of the life we planned (and the anger of losing it), that we can embrace the future and see the good changes in ourselves.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #22

Pearls of Wisdom

I was surprised and humbled by the number of friends who changed sleep habits after Clara’s death. Some told me it was her passing that made the difference, others said it was in reading posts I had made to Facebook. If I could share just one piece of advice it would be this: Not everyone will listen or change.

I liken this to be similar to the lesson we teach our kids about touching breakables. We tell them don’t touch because it might break. In our loss, we share with the world that safe sleep is really important. It reduces the risk of SIDS and it does save lives. It will be your closest family and friends who ignore you that will hurt the most. It will hurt because it makes you feel like they don’t care or remember your baby. It feels like they are saying, “it can’t happen to me”. They will post pictures of their “beautiful” baby room and you will feel the sting of tears and the searing anger when you see their crib decked out with the latest puffy crib bumper. You will worry about the ones who sleep in the latest trendy “rock & play sleepers”. You will cry when you see an image on Facebook of a new baby sleeping on their tummy on top of blankets or bedsharing. You will pray for every baby.


Your first reaction will be to tell them that is dangerous. It is okay to do remind them once, or maybe twice, but please be gentle and remember this one thing: YOU CAN’T FORCE THEM TO CHANGE. Quite the opposite can happen. You will cause them to dig their heels in and shut you out. You absolutely should be sharing safe sleep habits but please, please don’t shove it down your friend’s throat (even though you really want to). Kindness goes a long way and is far more effective in reaching people.


Sadly, even seven years later, I still have friends and family that continue to use unsafe sleep environments. Every day I pray that they won’t have to live through the pain that I have. Each October I hope that my daily posts reach them. I pray Clara’s life and passing will somehow touch them in a way that causes them to change their habits. I pray for the day when no more families are surprised by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Finally, I pray for the day when no family has to deal with the pain and guilt of losing a baby to a sleep-accident unrelated to SIDS.



Big Hero 6 and Loss

I have to admit I love Big Hero 6.  I skipped out on it when it was in theaters because I didn’t think my 18m old would sit through it.  Then we were supposed to see it at family movie night at church and we totally forgot about it.  Actually I am glad I got to see it the first time at home.

Whoever wrote Big Hero 6 really took time to understand loss!  I cried at quite a few spots in the movie and actually felt angry at a few spots too.  It just touched my heart in a way I didn’t expect.


Obviously the funeral got me.  It always does, no matter the movie, tv show, commercial.  It is just a hard thing to watch, even when it is fake.  As a parent who has lost a child it is hard but to watch Hiro stare at Tadashi’s empty bed hurts.  It reminds me of how my kids felt after the loss of their sister.  It reminds me of their questions on if we had to take down Clara’s room and if another baby would stay in there.

“Tadashi was in good health and with healthy habits could have lived a long life.”

I think the hardest part is when Baymax shows up later in the movie and asks about Tadashi.  He says, “But Tadashi was in good health and with healthy habits could have lived a long life.” SIDS is just that, a healthy child goes down for a nap and doesn’t wake up.  Clara should have lived a long life but instead she is in Heaven.  It is hard to hear Hiro talk to Baymax about this.  I think back to talking to the boys about Clara’s death and also to all those others who have asked about her loss.  Sometimes life isn’t what we expect though.  Clara’s life was too short for me but just perfect for God.  I am okay with that.

“Tadashi is here!”

Skip forward a bit and Hiro is having troubles and he hears Baymax say, “Tadashi is here.” Hiro makes a comment along the lines of no he’s not.  Then out of the blue Baymax shows a bunch of lost movies of Tadashi.  I cried because I remember finding some movies on our backup site and on our camera that I didn’t know existed.  They are such a lovely but heartbreaking surprise.  It is so cool to hear the voice of your little one you hold no more.  Every time I see those movies I cry just as Hiro did.

It also reminds me of when I finally asked for the images from the funeral and burial of Clara.  To see those images again was harder than I expected.  I didn’t realize how much of the burial I didn’t remember.

“I will always be with you.”

Then when Baymax is left in the portal and he says, “I will always be with you.”  I think I about lost it.  I mean it takes me back to the closing of Clara’s casket and moving away from her grave. You have to give up something that means so much to you.  You know you will never see them on earth again.

Actually it makes me think of how much stuff we kept of Clara’s too.  I had a tough time getting rid of so many things and yet eventually you have to give away baby stuff.  Hiro is left with just Baymax’s glove after the problems in the portal.  I know I can only keep a few treasured items.    Today we have just a few items from Clara.  Every time I let go of items that were Clara’s I always hear “I will always be with you.” It brings me to tears just writing about it today.


Okay… so I know that Clara will never come back.  My Baymax is her memory.  Things like her rose bushes blooming or her beautiful tree blooming each year or our family picture of the SIDS Run, those are my Baymax.  Each year they return just as Baymax “returns” to Hiro.  To me those times create memories that include Clara.

No they aren’t the same as creating memories with your child but that is the option God has given me and I will love them!  I chose to love them and to enjoy them.  Hiro found Tadashi’s chip that was used to create Baymax but Hiro still had to create Baymax again.  I find it to be the same with Clara things.  God has given me opportunities, I just have to choose to make them good memories.

So to sum it up, Big Hero 6 is my new favorite movie.  Actually it is a family favorite!  Even my 11 and 10 year olds were open about how they “get a lump in their throat” every time they watch it.  They said it has been healing to watch because they too have felt the same as Hiro.

Thank you to the writers… They got it right. They touched hearts. They touch lives. Loss is real, thanks for showing that 🙂



CarlyMarie Project 2013 – Day #19


My husband has been by my side every day. He is so supportive and together we have learned how to understand each other feelings.
We have been there to pick the other one up when one of us starts feeling down. I can’t imagine this journey without him and fear the day when he won’t be by my side.

There are so many friends and family that have been there for us. You truly see the work of God as he brings someone into or lets someone fade out of my life.
He knows just the right person to help me, support me, guide me, hug me.

Brianne your care package was the best thing I could have ever gotten. We are so thankful to remember our baby (and yours) each year.

Tanya and Sara I know I can talk to you both and know that when we are done, I will have me heart in the right spot and my tears will be dry. You listen and offer so much support and I am blessed to have you to talk to.

There are so many others that offer support as well… Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your love brings a smile to me every day 



CarlyMarie Project 2013 – Day #13


One of the best books for me was SIDS & Infant Death Survival Guide (http://www.amazon.com/SIDS-Infant-Death-Survival-Guide/dp/0964121808/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1381685730&sr=8-2&keywords=SIDS+%26+infant+death+survival+guide).

I got this book with the care package I received from Brianne & Lach’s Legacy.  I found a lot of help in it and comfort.  I read about so many other families that had experienced a sudden loss and how some of them handled different situations.  I found great tips on how to handle the comments that would come from not having a girl visible in out family, even though we do have one.  I also read some of the comments that might be said to me and that were, for the most part, said to me.  I felt prepared to go back to the real world with a realistic expectation on what I would hear and how it might make me feel.  I was able to be pro-active about coming up with ways to talk to my kids, daycare, husband, family, and most of all how to let those “comforting” words from others fall off my back without being a burden of hate.  I recommend this book to anyone whether you have experienced a loss or not.  If you have never experienced a loss, you will finish with ways to comfort and help someone who has lost an infant.


4 years later…

Today is one of those days where I want to share and yet don’t exactly know what to share.  A part of me is excited to remember the blessings Clara’s birth brought, the fun times we shared.  The other part of me is sad because of the future we didn’t get to share.  A part of me is sad that my 7yr old says his life will never be the same without his sister.  Yet another part is sad because of things we continue to struggle with today.

4 years ago today we were anticipating Clara’s birth.  We had no idea our “snails and puppy dog tails” home would be filled with “sugar and spice”.  My husband was writing in her baby book about the presidential inauguration that happened the day before.  She was going to be part of a something big 🙂  Today we watch as that same president is sworn into office again but this time without her.   She was also the light in the middle of sadness from my brother’s death.  Born just 21 days after he took his life, I was sad that it would be a long time before she would meet him…or so I thought.  She brought a twinkle of happiness to the sadness that had filled my family.  We had no idea Clara would be 1 of the 80 babies that don’t make it to their 1st birthday every year in South Dakota and yet I am thankful we didn’t know.

I often struggle with the whirlwind of things that happened after her birth and some that continue today.

Today I can’t help but wonder how life would be different if Clara were still here.  Would Lincoln and Preston be here, would my marriage still be intact, would I have met some of the wonderful ladies I have met along the way, would I have learned to speak up, what would it be like to have a little girl running around??  I don’t know.  Today is one of those special days where I can dream about her and what things would be like.  Today I can be sad and happy and very few will judge me for it.  I won’t have a preschooler next year  but I do have a memory full of happy times I did get to share with her.  Those happy times make today a day I can get through.

Wishing a Happy 4th birthday in Heaven this week to Clara, Eli, and Bria.