Even More CYG 2017

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.

 

 

More CYG 2017

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!

 

CYG 2017

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!

 

 

 

Capture Your Grief 2017

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.  20171003_220810There 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.

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And Just Like That…

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

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 17

CYG – Day 17:  Secondary Losses

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Secondary losses are those that are felt after the loss of a loved one.  Looking at this through the lense of someone nearly two years out, I cannot believe how much has changed in our lives.  That day, that moment, those 6-9 seconds that now define our lives.

I’ve talked extensively about the relationships that are no more.  There are people that just couldn’t be a part of our ‘after,’ our new reality.  Losing our son was too real for them, like a disease they could catch.  They were there for the services, said to call them if we needed anything and then just faded away slowly.

I used to love driving.  I had an awful commute and spent hours in the car everyday, but I (disturbingly) loved it.  Even though I was outside of the car when the accident occurred, driving reeks of responsibility.  It also made me realize how unsafe cars are in general.  Sure, I’ve been in several accidents before, mostly fender benders.  I still won’t drive further than 30 miles or so.  I now prefer being a passenger, which comes with it’s set of challenges for Parker as I constantly panic over his driving.

I’ve left my job.  This was (mostly) my choice (see driving above).  I couldn’t imagine being in the car again for hours on end.  I couldn’t imagine seeing my clients again, most of whom I had known for years.  I honestly couldn’t imagine the responsibility at first, the long hours, the focus needed to get stuff done.  I wasn’t in the right mindset to handle my own projects, never mind someone else’s.

I lost the ability to answer questions about my children.  The worst ones are ‘how many kids do you have?’ ‘what do you have, boys, girls?’ and ‘how old are they?’.  Something so simple, gone.

I’ve lost my carefree child.  Darcy was so young and innocent when Benny was taken from her.  No four year old should ever have to endure what she has.  She has no trust in the universe now either.  Her innocence is gone.  She’s scared if we’re late, thinks something has happened.  She panics when anyone is sick, often asking if they can die from it.  She often asks me how old I’ll be when I die.  I can no longer promise her like I would that everything will be ok.  She’s become incredibly sensitive and insecure.  It is so painful to watch your living child grieve when there’s nothing you can do to fix it.

I loved my house.  Sure, it was tight, but it was ours and we had done so much work over the years to make it ours.  It was where we brought our babies home to from the hospital, where Parker proposed to me, where the kids grew up and made their first friends.  Until recently, the driveway was off limits to me, I wouldn’t venture there.  This proved troublesome because that’s where Darcy’s bus stop was, the mailbox, where I could park without getting ticketed during the day (trust me, it happened when I parked on the side street).  I only started using it again because it was the only way that I felt safe carrying Fletch into the house.  Now I’m trying to figure out where to put Fletch for the time being.  I don’t want to take away Benny’s room, his dresser.  It looks more and more like he’ll be moving into the closet for now (which isn’t as bad as it seems, it’s 5′ wide).  I feel like I lost my house and security it once provided.

I’ve lost my ability to trust myself as a mother.  I survived, Benny didn’t.  This is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.  Mommy guilt x 1,000,000.  Since the accident, I noticed that I have problems on stairs.  I couldn’t figure it out until I talked to my therapist and she pointed out that my body has physical memory from the accident.  I’m nervous carrying Fletch down the stairs, anything downhill.  It brings me back to the accident.

I miss being able to meet new people and not think, ‘do they know??’  I hate that that causes me anxiety and insecurity.  I want the ability to go out and just have fun and not worry if people know about what happened or not.

I’ve always been a bookworm.  I love getting lost in other peoples stories and adventures.  I find now that I cannot fully focus or concentrate on a book.  I’ve started several since the accident and two years later I can honestly say that I’ve only finished a handful.  I used to read several books a month!  I keep trying though.

I feel as if the universe has let me down.  I can no longer trust that ‘everything will be ok’ or that ‘everything happens for a reason.’  I’m constantly convinced that something bad will happen to Parker or the kids.  I’ve always tried very hard to see the good in every situation, make lot’s of lemonade.  These lemons are too sour and there’s not enough sugar in the world to change that.

CYG – Day 16

CYG – Day 16:  Creative Grief

There are lots of different things that I’ve started doing since Benny died.  Blogging, which started as a release for me has turned into so much more.  Daily I think about several things that I could write about and I maybe get to about 25% of what’s in my head.  It’s been a great way for me to process what’s in my head and try to make sense of it all.  Gardening has been an amazing outlet and let’s me get my hands into the Earth and create something that can sustain my family.  We’ve held two successful fundraisers in Benny’s memory and raised money for the GHF.  Since the accident I’ve taken up yoga, which has been an incredible release for anxiety and stress.  I haven’t been since Fletch was born and need to get back ASAP.  I physically feel different from not spending my yoga time relaxing.

There are lots of things that I would like to do in the future.  I would love to start a charity in Benny’s name, but I need to wait until I don’t have an infant at home.  I would love to get back into painting, I used to really enjoy it when I was younger.  I also think it’s something that Darcy would love to do with me.  I love being able to include her in anything creative.

CYG – Day 13

CYG – Day 13:  Regrets + Triggers

I have plenty of pre-grief regrets, but this is supposed to be about my grief regrets.  I suppose I have a few of those too.  My biggest regret is how selfish this whole thing makes me feel.  There are days that I just feel like it’s all about me and my pain and there are so many people out there dealing with their own stuff.  It’s hard to realize sometimes that there are other things happening outside of what happened to us.

I regret not writing sooner in the process, I think it would have been helpful.  I regret that I don’t write nearly as much I want to, need to.  There are so many things in my head fighting to get out.

I regret not getting my life back together sooner.  Looking back, I feel like I was in a coma, even though I was present.  I wish that I had picked myself up a little sooner.

There are triggers everywhere.  Most of the time, I don’t even see them until it’s too late.  A song, a picture, someone asking how many kids we have, blond toddlers, the list goes on.  It’s one of those things you never expect until it’s too late and then you’re in the midst of it biting your lip, blinking your eyes and catching your breath and hoping that it passes quickly.