Day 16:. Conscious Gratitude
Today is a day of gratitude. Part of the description for the day was about how hard it is to feel grateful while grieving. I find this interesting. For me, grief and gratitude are two very separate emotions and just because I was grieving Benny didn’t mean that I couldn’t be grateful for the good things that came into our lives. This is not every persons reaction, it just happened to be mine. I remember thinking a few days after about how grateful I was that Darcy was at school. Parker and I talked about how grateful we were that the car stopped when it did, that it didn’t hit or injure any other drivers or pedestrians. We felt tremendous gratitude to our community that did so much for us in the days that followed. I could go on and on. This is just how I’m wired. I wouldn’t say that I’m an eternal optimist, because I’m certainly not. In fact, I think I tend to be more negative than positive in general. But when it comes to making lemonade, I’ve become somewhat of a pro. When things are really bad, you just need to find something good. It will be there, I promise.
Day 18:. The Grief Shift
Where am I my grief journey? How have I come to terms with my grief? This is why I love I love this project. I would never think to ask myself this question otherwise. I’m not even sure I have an answer, but it certainly makes me think a bit.
I’d like to think I’ve made my peace with things, but I’d be kidding myself. I will never be at peace with losing my son. Maybe that’s me being at peace about never being at peace? Or something like that? Grief is complicated to say the least.
Day 10 – A Space Reimagined
This is supposed to be about creating a space to devote to your lost loved one. This one is really tough for me right now. It’s like Benny is in the ‘in between’ now because his stuff is mostly packed away. Sure thereare pictures of him on the wall, but there’s no space dedicated to him like we had in the old house. He had a shelf in the dining room and in essence, he shared a room with Fletcher. Now I have letters that spell his name with no home. There’s no place to put them here and I’m not sure where we will put them once we land somewhere final. I’m lost as to what to do with this. At the old house we still had his room, there was a sense of belonging. Now things are just so temporary, none of us have that. Renting right now and not being able to be settled is tough, especially around his anniversary. It will be interesting to see what we come up with once we’re settled somewhere.
Day 11 – Life is Short
You’re supposed to take some time to remember how short life is and make sure to tell those you love how imporant they are. Even with one of the toughest lessons in loss, I forget this some days. I get so caught up in the chaos and minutia. It’s sad really. None of that is important at all. What matters is that others know how much you care for them. This whole exercise is turning into looking at how I live my life and what changes I need to make. There’s always room for improvement.
Day 13 – Student of Life
Simply put, I’m supposed to learn something new. Darcy had a school project to make a scrapbook for the state of NJ. Right up my alley! I love anything creative, crafty and colorful. We set about researching the project and printing out pictures. I did truly learn a lot that I didn’t know.
When it came time to do the actual scrapbook, that’s when it got complicated. I have a background in design and an obsession with perfection. I tried to tell Darcy several times that she had too much going on on her pages and she needed to let the pictures tell the story. After we went back and forth several times, she finally looked at me and said, ‘Mom, it’s my project, and I really like it this way. We really just have different opinions’. Yep, that moment when your child is more mature than you.
She was telling me nicely to back off. I forget sometimes that she is just 8 (especially when she handles herself like this). I have to stop being a perfectionist and just let her be a kid. She is her own person and I need to respect that. Raising humans is damn hard!
So clearly I’m not going to hit every day of this exercise and that’s ok. It’s all about self love and healing and I’m not going to muck that up by stressing myself out. Sometimes all I can do is my best and I’m learning that that’s ok.
CYG Day 4: Belonging
I could write a novel about this topic, how it has felt to find ‘my tribe’. I’m lucky in that I have taken some of my closest friends with me into this new normal. It made the transition much easier. Did we lose friends, yes. It’s taken me a long time to make my peace with that. It’s easier because of all of the new people that have stood by us. Most of them never even knew Benny, but they have seen us at our worst and helped us through. These people amaze me. Where others would have turned and run, they have stepped up. They have allowed me to be unapologetically who I am.
I think of all of the other bereaved families that we have met. The tribe not one of us wants to be in. The amount of love and support from these people has helped tremendously.
CYG Day 5: Soul Therapy
I’m supposed to do something today that makes me feel good, that feeds my soul. So I went for a walk with a friend and then snuggled my baby for a nap. It was a great day!
CYG Day 7: For the First Time
Today was supposed to be about doing something new to honor your child. I’m still thinking on this one.
CYG Day 9: Clear and Let Go
This topic couldn’t be more fitting right now. I feel like since we made the decision to move, we have been clearing out a lot of the useless ‘stuff’ in our lives. We got rid of so much stuff, but we still have a ways to go. It’s truly eye opening when you take your whole life and pack it up. Ours fit in a 10×20 storage unit, 2-10×15 units, a 24′ car trailer and some various outdoor items tucked at friends houses here and there. We do not need so much stuff! I have made it my mission to get rid of more. Even though we are moving to a larger home, that does not mean we need more stuff. It just overwhelms me at this point. And I thought we had it under control!
I did this project a few years back and really enjoyed it. Because it’s been such a crazy few months, I thought it would do me good to jump back into this again. The project can be found Here in case anyone else wants to join in.
CYG – Day 1: Sunrise Blessing
Ok, so I see the sunrise, alot. It’s usually in the company of a beautiful little lady. She typically wakes around 4 AM for a snack and then we snuggle and snooze until the rest of the house wakes up. This is probably my favorite part of the day. I get to wrap my arms around her warm little body and breathe in that sweet baby smell. There is no better way to start my day. All too soon she will be too old to do this with, but I will enjoy it now.
CYG – Day 2: Rise + Shine Mourning Ritual
Today I was supposed to set an intention for the day. How I wanted it to be. I didn’t start out my day with this goal in mind, but I certainly ended it that way. Things have been super stressful. Today I took the time out to stop. I actually relaxed. After I stopped feeling guilty about it, I was able to take a step back and realize it’s time to get back to basics. I need to get back to yoga. I need to get out and go for a walk to clear my head. I need to enjoy the company of great friends. My husband and I need to take time out for our marriage to catch our breath. These things need to become priorities. I need to sit down every once in awhile and check in with myself to see what I need instead of just going, going, going. I need to give myself a break every now and then.
CYG – Day 3: Meaningful Mantra
This is one of my favorite quotes that I found after Benny died.
Parker messed up royally. Why is it when we give them a little praise that they feel like it’s a free pass? No I did not write that last blog to give him the freedom to make poor choices.
It sounds like I’m talking about one of my children, ‘make better choices…’. Sigh.
Things in his life were out of control last summer. We talked about it and I told him he needs to change. I would be there to support him, but he had to put in the work. As much as I like to be in control, I hold no illusions that his issues are his issues. I cannot fix them for him, nor can I take them on. All that I can do is support him. And decide how much I am willing to invite into my life.
I said in the last post that there are days when yes, I question him and us. This is one of those days, this is what it looks like. I will not hide it or pretend things are OK when they are not. This is marriage. And I’m not ashamed at all to show just how imperfect it is after child loss.
He has his demons and I have mine. I have learned over the last few years though, that I cannot take on his demons or his failures. I can just hopefully help him through them.
It’s hard when you know just how short life is. It makes you really question what works and what doesn’t and puts things into pretty clear perspective. God, adulting is hard!
CYG – Day 19: Music
The night of the accident and several days following, I had 90’s rap music stuck in my head. I’m sure it was a PTSD side affect, but it was so bizarre that music (and not great music) was my crutch those first few days. This topic is probably one of my favorites because I share so many song lyrics and songs on my blog. I love how I can be listening to a song and singing along and suddenly I realize how poignant the lyrics are. Here’s a few of my favorites centered around Benny. They speak to me because of different reasons.
This was the first song that Benny sang (rather ironically). He and Darcy would sit in the backseat and sing the ‘Roar’ chorus.
This song is just so hauntingly beautiful. It was also used in the slideshow for Benny on Parkers website.
Amazing. I’ve loved this song forever, always thought of it as a lullabye until now.
An oldie but goodie. Benny will be forever young.
This song destroyed me last summer at a close friends wedding. He danced to it with his mother, which was a massive trigger for me.
CYG – Day 18: Seasons + Symbols
Autumn makes me think of Benny. It’s where I have my clearest memories of him and when he passed.
The strongest symbol for Benny is sunflowers. The reason is My Sunflower Story.