Day 12, “Normalizing Grief”
I might have looked normal if you gazed in and watched as I sipped my morning coffee and worked on a tiny watercolor of a marigold yesterday morning. I might have looked normal when I went outside in my bare feet to cut some green branches and gather some dry sticks to make arrangements for my living room. I might have looked normal if you saw me in the grocery store later that afternoon, or sat at my dinner table as we laughed and told stories. I might have looked normal if you listened to me sit and talk about life and creativity with my kids or watched as I played on the floor with my granddaughter.
I might look normal.
I am not.
Grief is most often invisible and deeply internal.
Grief lives in the heart.
I write to shine light on what is invisible so that no one grieving feels alone, and so that those who walk nearby a grieving soul know how to see what is invisible if you choose to look.
Day 13, “Regrets and Triggers”
There have been many things that trigger grief this past year, some expected and some unexpected. Smells like alcohol, certain essential oils, the smell of a new diaper being opened. Sounds that are reminiscent of Mattie’s machines, like my freaking coffee maker’s beep when the coffee is done. Places can be triggers- our favorite park or the 22nd Street exit.
Dates. The number 21. Holidays. His birthday…..
10/20/2010- I always loved the sound of it. I check my calendar every morning, and all I can see this month when I look is the number 20 and the word “Mattie”. A trigger every morning, as I watch the date get closer and closer.
And grief washes in because I want to buy a number 5 candle and plan an extravagant party and watch him take delight in it all. He would be so much bigger now. He might be walking. His trach might be gone.
So all I can do is figure out how to celebrate what remains, his spirit.
Day 14, “Express Your Heart”
My first baby died in 1991.
I was 22 years old. It was my first pregnancy. We were overjoyed. We took great delight in telling everyone. We started dreaming up baby names. And I started writing.
I reminisced yesterday about how my first many years of writing caused me to develop a callous on my right ring finger (and yes if you just checked, I do hold a pencil propped on the wrong finger). I had piles of journals full of writing going back to the years of teenaged angst and crushes on boys.
I took a typing class in high school. My first typewriter could even remember the last few characters I typed, and if I hit back space it would correct them by typing in white over top of the incorrect word/letter. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I started carrying around floppy discs and learned Word Perfect on an enormous Macintosh computer in the library.
And now here we are in 2015, writing from our phones, iPads, laptops and desktops. With the internet at our finger tips, we can share what we think with others in a matter of moments. This blog has been my journal for 9 years now.
If then were now, I would have shared with you my joy. I might have even given you a glimpse into the things I was thinking and dreaming about my baby.
Read the full story on my blog, link on profile:
Day 15, “Wave of Light”
Joining the many mothers and fathers who have said good-bye to babies and children far to soon.
May the light of our love shine brightly.
Day16 “Creative Grief
When asked to share today about ways that we have expressed grief through creativity, I could think of many: my writing, my tattoos, designing Mattie’s grave stone, our pinwheel t-shirts, etc.
Today what I want to share is my journey of finding happiness in the midst of grief through creating a sacred space for our family to continue living and celebrating life together. I wanted the space to reflect Mattie’s spirit, and to be a place where we can all find peace and connection, discovering who we are and allowing Mattie’s spirit to be part of each of us.
I share about the experience in detail on the blog today.
“It feels good to have honored Mattie’s life through this room, not just in the little things that quietly whisper the love he poured out on our lives, but also because I know he is proud of me for finding happiness and strength even during one of the weakest seasons of my life.”
Read the full story of how this creative journey has been part of my grief and healing. https://tracieloux.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/sacred-space/
Day 17, “Secondary Loss”
Along with the loss of child come a string of secondary losses. Around our house we call them “Collateral Damage”.
Things like: relationship strain; financial challenges; personal struggles with memory, energy, and natural abilities being weakened; personality changes; learning how to parent grieving children, and facing the rest of life with a limp.
One secondary loss common to many is the shaking of faith. I stood at Matties funeral and raised my hands to the heavens and sang “….in oceans deep my faith will stand.” And oh how I wanted it to stand.
But the questions with no answers rolled in and tumbled around in my mind, and the heavens were silent. My faith was stripped down to the very essence of this one thing. I wanted, no I needed to believe that God was good.
I had to stand with my faith in a heap and choose to pick up the pieces. I’m still picking them up. And I’m leaving a few things behind. In some ways I’m starting fresh with a spiritual simplicity and a trust that with an open heart, I will find the way. Or He will find me.
If your faith is wavering too, please read more about my struggle here:
Day 18, “Seasons and Symbols”
Fall. It slowly rolls in and my soul becomes more alive than ever. Yes, a season whose vibrancy quickly shifts to death, it is still always and forever my favorite. It is also the season of my son’s birth. As October 20th draws so very close, I remember the great anticipation of his birth. I remember as each October rolled around, celebrating the miracle of another year.
We had four beautiful Octobers.
October is sacred. October is a symbol of vibrancy. The vibrancy of a life that marked our history with beauty and color, joy and passion, grace and strength.
And symbolic of a spirit that will never cease living and breathing in our lives, the pinwheel. Reminding me to keep breathing. Reminding me to allow Mattie’s beautiful spirit to shine on. We used pinwheels in the floral arrangements at his memorial service, but the pinwheel has continued to be a symbol of peace and life and joyful energy.