Tag Archives: WhatHealsYou

{Capture Your Grief – 2017} Day #5

Day #5: Soul Therapy

It is no surprise that cakes are my soul therapy. They give me a creative outlet and they allow me to give other children something Clara never got.  Each week I am afforded an opportunity to celebrate milestones with families. There is not a word in the English language that is strong enough to describe the “love” I feel when each birthday cake leaves my home.

I have often said you can tell how stressful of a week I had by the awesomeness of the cake. Today I am not sure that is the case but I do appreciate that creating cakes is still a stress reliever. Each week I melt, kneed, measure, cut, and wrap up my stress and transform it into pieces of art.

Our special days are never guaranteed. Today, as I work on a new batch of cakes for the week, I am reminded of the real reason I create. I am reminded that it is an honor and privilege to be part of the memories these families set out to make. Each cake symbolizes a little stress, grief, and anxiety transformed into the perfect dessert wrapped in love and hope. <3

#WhatHealsYou #CaptureYourGrief


{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 #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 #26


As we grow I think the things that heal us change. I have touched on how cakes and writing have helped heal my heart but there is something else that heals me too. Giving. It is one thing we can do by ourselves or as a family.

In the beginning giving felt a bit more out of selfishness than anything. Shortly after Clara passed we donated our very large diaper & wipe stash to the local women’s shelter. We couldn’t bear to see them in the closet anymore. We needed them out and the shelter seemed like a good solution.

A month after Clara passed I knew I was going to have to do something with the breastmilk I had stored in the freezer. The thought of having to pour it down the drain made me sick. After a few calls to the local hospitals, I was directed to the Rocky Mountain Mother’s Milk Bank . They were so welcoming and comforting in explaining the process of how to donate. In all Clara and I donated 352 oz. It was comforting to know that there were babies who were going to benefit a great deal from Clara’s life.

Today I also want to highlight that grief doesn’t just come from the death of a child. Some of my grief is found in the loss of dreams for my Lincoln. It is a different grief but one that gets glossed over sometimes as “you are so lucky he is alive”. While I agree we are fortunate, there is grief and guilt to work through. In 2010, after Lincoln’s medical issues and allergies prevented him from using breastmilk, he and I donated 2222 oz to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa. Again it helped us make the best of the hand we were dealt.

After talking to so many NICU families, I know that this kind of giving touches them deeply. It brings them a small comfort in the stress of watching their tiny baby fight for each day. If it helped just one baby have a better chance to reach their first birthday, that brings me comfort.

As grief changes so does our giving. What was once to make me feel better, now I do it to help others. For me, it reminds me of the best things others did for me when I was hurting. Sometimes just a simple “I am thinking of you” can touch a person in a very much needed way. A little note to say I thought of your loved one today or I am thinking of your medically needy kiddo. A few cupcakes to a teacher having a rough week or a Christmas gift for a little girl who is the same age Clara would be. These are all ways that can touch other lives and bring me comfort.

I have had a few people tell me it is unhealthy to give so much. They have said I only do it for the attention. I should seek some counseling. I am not looking for the rewards. I know how it touches my heart when someone shares they visited Clara’s grave and shared a story about her with their little ones. It is comforting when someone remembers her birthday or her passing day. It is comforting when families share they keep a safe sleep environment for their baby. It is healing to do the same for others, to offer comfort with a heart gift. No matter how big or small you feel your gesture is, remember this… you absolutely never know when it will turn out to be the pick-me-up that only God knew that person needed.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #25

I Am…

I wish …

I would have woken Clara up the morning she passed instead of “taking advantage” of her sleeping in.  I have always regretted that decision.

I remember …

All the kindness that was offered.  I still can’t believe the amount of love and support we got then and still receive now.

I could not believe…

The things people said.  People will say some cruel things.  Do me a favor and if you hear it, don’t repeat it.  Not to someone else and not to me.  It is okay to be a filter. If you think the comment was terrible, I definitely don’t need to know what Janny said about me at the community center during bingo.

If only …

I had wondered why she was so sleepy.  If only we had waited a while longer to switch her formula.  If only we had dressed her in lighter clothes. If only she had been sleeping on her back.  These are the things that I try not to dwell on.  I can’t change these.  I do know that letting go of these regrets has helped me move forward.

I am …

 forever changed.  I am growing.  I am not sad all the time anymore.  I am able to talk to about Clara without always sharing tears.  I am a different me.




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 #8

Beautiful Mysteries

Todays blog prompt is about imagining who Clara would be today.  For me this is difficult. I love meeting kids her age and getting a picture of what kids her age do but I feel like having to image who she actually would be inevitably means one of more of her younger siblings would not be in the picture.  It is hard to feel that rift in the before and after of her life.

Chris and I talked this morning about how life would be so different if she were still here.  She was Daddy’s princess so I imagine she would be active in gymnastics or dance.  She loved music and listening to her Daddy sing.  I imagine days filled with Frozen and Beauty and the Beast.  I imagine a girl who loves having her hair in pretties and dressing up in dresses.  I imagine a lot of dolls and shopkins. I imagine that this mirror would be getting lots more use than it does with her little sister. I imagine she has her Daddy wrapped around her little finger 😉

It is hard to imagine life with just Damon and Mason and Clara.  I feel like we would still be in South Dakota and I wonder if the boys would still be swimming.  I wonder if I would still be working full time and if I would have found my cake talent.  I wonder if Preston and Haleigh would be here.  I am almost positive Lincoln would not.  While I am sad that Clara isn’t here it makes me sad to look at life without the 3 little loves that her passing brought into our lives.  Tonight, as I write, I am thankful for the chance to ask Chris his ideas of what Clara would be like.  Our talk reminded me just how much of a princess he was to her.  It made thinking of our dancing, twirling seven year old a little easier.




Capture Your Grief – 2016 – Day #4

Support Circles

We all have so many support circles.  I think each circle supports us in their own unique way.  No single group can, nor should, provide all of your support. You simply can’t put all your eggs in one basket.

I once thought my husband should be my biggest support.  I quickly realized that, while he is my biggest supporter, his support is needed in other areas of my life.  Our grief was so different that he wasn’t able to be there for me in the way I needed.  It is okay to say it so let me repeat that… My husband wasn’t my biggest support in my grief.

I found my biggest support circle to be a group of bereaved moms.  They have all been through the depth of the oceans of grief.  They understand exactly how I felt.   They didn’t offer me cheeky catchphrases meant to make me feel better because they knew that a those words don’t fix anything.  They didn’t walk away because they were uncomfortable with the topic of loss. They reached out or listened when I reached out.

I haven’t met all of these girls but I hold tight to their hands.  We catch each other as we walk along the shores of the ocean.  Our toes sometimes feel the water. Every once-in-a-while we feel the waves trying to pull us out to sea again.  When that happens the hands hold tighter as they keep you close.  They aren’t “saving” you from feeling the water, sometimes you have to feel that wave to heal more.  They are simply helping you ride out the wave.

Each year we travel to the Run for Their Live’s/Walk Run Race event in honor of our babies.  We connect.  We cry.  We hug.  We support. I always appreciate when I see dads connecting too.   The past eight years of support has shown so many rainbows along the shore. That is what makes every mile of the drive to South Dakota worth it! I am so thankful for our friends, family, and even strangers who have been supportive through this journey. To those who meet us for the run, send us reminders that they thought of Clara, and to everyone who follows this journey every October… Thank you!

Thank you for standing by and holding my hand in person and in spirit.



ps:  Happy 8th Anniversary to my loving husband.  Thank you for supporting me in everything no matter how difficult it is.  Your ability to encourage me and let me search out the best support circles is nothing short of awesome.  I am in awe at the last 8 years and all we have made it through.
I <3 You!