Earlier this month was our sweet baby boy’s first birthday in heaven. I really can’t believe it’s already been a year… the shortest, yet longest year of my life, for many reasons.
Though we never got to bring him home, have him wear all the “little brother” shirts we had gotten for him, or snuggle on the couch as a family, we will forever hold him in our hearts and we can smile knowing he is beyond happy in heaven.
I’ll be totally honest, the weeks surrounding his birthday left me emotionally drained. Ironically, coincidentally, totally a “God thing” who knows, but his birthday week lined up about the same time and number of weeks I happened to be with our rainbow baby. 27. So the anxieties were two-fold. We spent his birthday together, quietly as a family (which is a rarity these days), just enjoying each others company.
As I scrolled through the pictures on his birthday – heartbroken as I replayed the events – I couldn’t help but to remember how insanely grateful I was for certain things and certain people that helped me along my journey of grief and healing. In that light, we decided we wanted to honor and remember Michael in a special way that also shared a small blessing with other mothers and families experiencing the same heartbreak we felt just a year ago.
Extending The Blessing
At the hospital we were given several things to remember our son – clay molds and prints of his sweet little hands and feet, the clothes and hat he wore while in the hospital, a thumb drive of pictures, the handmade blanket he was wrapped up in and a few other things, all placed in a memory box. These little things meant the world to me and my husband and I came to realize that not every mother or family in our situation gets these tokens of remembrance.
We decided to make it a point to use his entrance into heaven as a reminder to us to always extend the thoughtfulness and generosity that we were shown, to other families in similar situations. My heart could barely contain the mix of joy and sadness as I prepared the memory boxes and personal letters that would soon hold all a grieving mother had left of her baby. I was sad because I knew this heartache, but also happy because I know the hope and beauty on the other side of the pain.
While those tangible “things” of course meant the world to me, and still do, as they prevented a grieving mother from being totally empty handed, there were those angel nurses, friends, family members and complete strangers that have all played a part in my personal healing journey. Their prayers, words of encouragement and understanding, and simple ability to really, truly listen really made an impact in my life. I am grateful for the wisdom they shared with me in my time of need and I hope to extend the blessing to other mamas in return.
For the grieving mother suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth,
Sweet mama, as dark as the days may seem, please first remember that you are deeply loved and never alone. I promise, the light will shine for you again, though it may look a little different than before. Remember to be patient and generous with yourself, remember you don’t have to prove “toughness” to anyone. Let yourself feel the emotions, even if it’s scary. It’s better to let it all hang out and rebuild from the foundation, than to stifle emotions that will end up affecting other areas of life and pop up unexpectedly. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that pretending things are “normal” the feelings will simply go away. Take care of yourself and give yourself time. Please know there is no right way or wrong way to grieve, and certainly on no one else’s timeline. Everyone was created as unique individuals, and as such, will grieve and heal differently. Do not compare. Just because your baby may be smaller than someone else’s doesn’t mean you should grieve “smaller”, that’s a silly falsehood. Us mothers have our babies wrapped in insane, unexplainable love in our hearts from the moment we read those two pink lines. Don’t get angry with yourself – expect to have good days and horrible days, great moments and bad moments. You will feel guilty for laughing, and guilty for not. Grief is a sneaky little devil. As hard as it may seem, especially at first, cling to the Lord. He is there to walk this road of healing with you and can/will be your greatest source of strength. Know that there is light in the midst of the darkness, and joy on the other side of the pain. It just takes time. Unfortunately and fortunately, you are not alone in this type of grief, but your journey to healing is just as unique and beautiful as you are. Reach out for help when you need it and know there are other angel mothers praying hard for you!
All my love – J