Where do you store your grief?

This is one of the writing prompts for my HLH Journaling workshop tomorrow. And i can tell you, i know exactly where my grief is stored, my shoulders and my neck. Why, you ask? Because that’s where I like to bottle everything up and hold on to for later.

I’ve lost some mobility in my neck because of the block of knots that are my shoulders. I see a chiro weekly, a massage therapist monthly and I’m about to add my doctor shortly as I’ve started to get terrible headaches from the neck pain. My chiro told me that I need to add yoga so that I can breathe more. He can barely crack me, it’s so tight.

I workout, I try to stretch and relax as much as I can, but none of that changes my losses. None of that brings my people back. I feel like Atlas, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. But instead of the world, that ball is the weight of my grief. Heavy and pushing me down.

It’s weird how grief can affect us physically. Part of mine is perhaps psychosomatic, as I was injured in my shoulders and upper body when my son died. The body has a memory for pain and injury. It can remember exactly how something felt. I can remember the sensation of being struck by my car and thrown down the hill. It was not a feeling of weightlessness, but rather like I was in the washing machine, stuck on the spin cycle. And the natural reaction is to tuck. And I feel like ever since that day I’ve tucked into myself, physically. I slouch inwards, as if in defense or protection. Almost as if I’m hugging myself. Or holding myself together.

So this results in tons of shoulder and neck pain. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to make it better. I’m a problem solver by nature, so I need to make it better. I need to learn that my body is a safe space and instead of approaching the world in a protective posture, I need to open my arms to it. I need to end my reign in flight or fight mode and open up to the possibility of joy and love. Because I know that I feel that in my soul, I just need to allow myself to be vulnerable enough in my stature to accept it.

I’m Out

I took the summer off. From everything. I gathered my children and we had adventure after adventure. And it felt so right. And I felt really content for the first time in a long time.

I didn’t take a break from grief so much as she took a break from me. I spent a lot of time thinking about things and looking at them from a different perspective. I made peace with so many things I’ve carried for so long. But that’s another story.

The reason for writing is actually a story in itself. I’ve been reading again! Being able to let go of some things has really helped and for the past few months I’ve been devouring books. And loving it.

I was an avid reader before Benny died. It’s just another one of those secondary things that was also taken from me. I can’t explain it. I tried to get back into reading over and over again. I did read a few books here and there, but I either couldn’t focus, or I’d lose interest. So I gave up.

I’ve gotten big into Colleen Hoover. I love her writing style. I love the conflict that she builds as you sit there and question if the character is a good or bad person. Or are they just human and made a mistake?

So I started Verity.

I barely made it through the first sentence. Never mind the remainder of the page. I closed the book and took a breath. I decided to continue, against my better judgement. I didn’t get too far into the book before I found out that one character just lost her mother to cancer and another main character lost 2 children and his wife was in a car accident (this is all revealed in the first chapter, so I’m not spoiling much).

Nope. Nopity nope nope nope. I made it maybe a chapter and a half in and I had to Google. I had to know what I was getting myself into. So many triggers. Too many triggers for me. I’m out. I will have to pass on this one. Maybe this was why I stopped reading in the first place.

Stretching and Crying

I have had back pain for as long as I can remember. My posture is terrible from years of dealing with a large bust on a small frame and trying to make myself look smaller. For years I worked in a male dominated field, so slouching my shoulders and scooping my spine came naturally.

There is so much wrong with this that I am aware of now, but being a woman in her twenties and thirties, I just wasn’t able to be comfortable in my own skin. Someone very wise recently talked to me about ‘making herself small to make others comfortable.’ And sadly, that’s what I was doing not only physically, but emotionally.

The car accident that took our Benny also had very physical consequences for me. I’ve written about spraining my ankle and the damage to my shoulder and the road rash. The bruising that occured on my back and side was like nothing I have ever seen. Until this accident, I never knew what a bone bruise was, but it took 6+ months to heal on my left leg and I still have damage. I have scarring on my right shoulder and elbow and my shoulder has never been the same since.

They did X rays at the hospital and I had a follow up with my doctor a few weeks later. But here’s the thing, when your child dies, your physical pain and suffering mean nothing. I knew that the ankle would heal and the bruising would fade.

The first thing that we sought was emotional support from a psychologist. Our family needed all of the help that we could get in processing what had just happened. It was during those months of therapy that it was asked why I wasn’t seeking further care for my injuries. And there’s no simple answer for that.

Maybe holding onto the physical pain was a way to punish myself for what happened. Or maybe it provided me a way to feel anything during those early and dark days. Perhaps it provided a reminder that the accident was actually real. Maybe it was just easier to continue feeling ‘small’ as a means to an end. It was probably all of the above if I’m being honest.

Whatever the case, it took me years to seek help. I finally saw a chiropractor and massage therapist and the doctor again. I’m not sure what the impetus was, or if there was one, but I finally decided it was time. Perhaps I was feeling forgiving towards myself or I was finally tired of feeling ‘small’. But that’s a whole other conversation.

I’ve been doing yoga and dance and stretching at home to try to keep everything feeling good during quarantine. A week ago I started a fascia stretch to work on opening up shoulders and chest and hopefully work on correcting my posture.

Today’s stretch was the hips and the instructor said that we carry emotion there and we shouldn’t be surprised if we cry. I was dubious. I had never heard of that. Guess I was wrong, because let me tell you, it was like someone turned on the water works. During a damn hip stretch!!

This is not like I was in a quiet space and able to get myself into the stretch emotionally. My littles were 3 feet away working on a puzzle and my cats were running around. It was the typical chaos and here I was thinking I would get in a quick stretch.

Because Google is my friend, I read article after article of the hips being a place where we store trauma. In further research in Psychology today I found that the hips and jaw are aligned and store so much of the flight or fight response based on one study.

I think sometimes that we forget how closely our bodies are connected to our emotions. Here I am 7 plus years out crying over a 5 minute hip stretch. I’m only halfway through this program, but I’m curious to see what else my body has to tell me about my current mental state.



I’m trying, I truly am. It feels weird to post such an optimistic phrase during such a terrible week. First anniversary of Benny’s death.

How did we get here already? It seems like moments and decades combined into one. Has it really been a year since I held him? That seems almost impossible. It seems almost impossible that any of this has truly happened.

I remember this week a year ago. I remember going to a work dinner on Tuesday night and talking to the kiddos on the phone. It was the first time that Benny really talked to me on the phone, he really got it. He told me goodnight and that he loved me. I was so excited, as he had never done that before.

I remember spreading out in the basement with Darcy to work on her invitations for her birthday on Thursday night. There was mo way that we could do them upstairs because Benny would have gotten involved and glitter and 17 month olds just don’t mix.

I remember running to Old Navy on Friday morning to pick up some gifts for Darcy. Benny was flirting terribly with the girl behind us in line. There was so much Fletcher in that little body.

I remember going to the bouncy house place and habing a blast. It was mommy and Benny time. He was so rough, all boy.

And that’s where I’ll stop. I don’t forget what happened next, I never will. I remember that Benny lived. Right now, that’s all that matters.

Saturday is going to suck, there’s no way around it, we have to go through it. I’m going to try to focus on his life, not his death (if thats possible). I feel like we’re going into battle with the unknown. I suppose that’s what this whole first year has been about though. Battling the why’s and the how’s.

So I’m going to try very hard for sunshine. The shadows haven’t gotten me anywhere in the past. We have a lot of sunshine in our lives and we are surrounded by so much love that keeps us going. Thank you for that.

9 Months ‘AA’

I look at the date on the calendar and it reads 8/8. It’s been 9 months since the accident, the same amount of time that it took me to grow him inside of me. 9 long months of pain. 9 months to physically heal from the accident.

I’m exhausted, I’m sad, I’m hurt and I’m alone. How I hate it when Parker is not in bed next to me, reminding me that we’re in this together. Holding my hand when I need him to and kissing me to remind me that he’s here.

Last night was a doozy. We hit some pretty bad weather outside of Colorado and I was terrified. Parker did his best in his exhausted state to try to keep me calm, but I panicked. I held onto Darcy tightly and cried, so scared that I would lose Parker or her, that something would go wrong again. Parker kept saying it would be ok, Benny would take care of us. I have to wonder though, why wasn’t my mom taking care of Benny and me during the accident? Why were we forgotten?

We’ve been driving through the Denver area and I feel so exposed. There are no trees, no hills, no curves, just flat land and mountains. When it storms, you see the lightening touch down. So much open space.

I’m tired down to my bones. I ache to have something that I will never have again. I look at this new version of myself and I’m not happy with what I see. I’ve never felt so beaten down by life.

I want to return to the living, but I don’t know how. I cringe at meeting new people, to have to answer the question about how many children I have. I despise driving. The furthest I’ve driven myself was 40 minutes. I cannot handle much more than 20 minutes by myself in the car.

I am angry at people that cannot understand. I have met strangers that have been truly amazing, loving and kind, yet some of the people closest to us are disappointing. I don’t know how to handle this, I don’t know what to do with this anger. Is it misplaced, no doubt, but it still exists and I still hurt.

I’m tired of the purple elephant in the room. Yes my son died, but please don’t forget that he lived. That he was loved. Please don’t feel weird talking about him. I’m so tired of hearing ‘I don’t want to upset you.’ I’m sad all the time over losing Benny, if I cry that is my way of working through it. Please don’t make me feel bad about it.

Most of all, I miss my son.


I told my therapist today about what happened with the water main.  She has told both Parker and I time and again that our situation is not normal, that most people don’t get signs like ours, or have these perfectly orchestrated situations.  I agree wholeheartedly, we are truly lucky, blessed even.  She was shocked when I told her about Wednesday night.

She is the one person that truly knows exactly what happened the day of the accident.  Sure, I’ve talked to Parker about it and he was there before the ambulances, but she knows in pretty good detail what happened.  So it was in talking to her today that we realized the parallels between the accident and what happened on November 8th.  I was hoping to sleep tonight, but I suppose getting this off my chest was more important.

Seeing the road bubble up, almost come to life made sense to me.  Watching the pavement split open and fall into the rushing water seemed logical.  The water was washing all physical evidence of that day away for me, it was as if the Earth were cleansing herself.  To look at the large gaping wound that was left I felt as if I was looking within myself.  I was almost sad to see it filled in and covered up.  It was as if the road looked as I have felt since November 8th.

Watching Parker run wildly from the Suburban down Bjorklund brought me back, except this time he wasn’t running to me.  I was no longer the one in need.  Standing on the corner and around our property and the church looking at the road was eerie.  It was so significant, except this time I was on the other side, I was a spectator.  Seeing caution tape around our property again, looking at photos in the news of our house and the church, the street, it brought it all back.  This time we were on the other side.  This wasn’t a catastrophe happening to us.  

Running outside and seeing the street pulsing, it was if it was alive.  I didn’t see anyone else, so I called 911.  I was able to take charge of the situation and inform the authorities.  I was able to try to help (I didn’t really do anything) our neighbor as the water started down his lawn.  When the press descended upon our house again, I was able to kick them off our property.  I might not have been nice about it, but it was what they deserved in my opinion after how they treated us the night my son died.  As minute as these details may seem, I was actually able to do something.  I didn’t feel helpless.  It was almost cathartic.  Here I am thrown into another emergency situation right outside my house, except this time, I wasn’t cast as the victim, I wasn’t helpless.

Looking at the situation again, I realized there was a lot more significance than just the physical damage.  We made it through this event unscathed, even though it felt like we relived several of the same sights and emotions.  I still cannot believe that any of this has truly happened.  


ImageImageTonight during dessert I was walking into the living room when I heard what sounded like pouring rain from the playroom.  When I looked out the window, there was a river flowing down Chester Street.  Darcy and I ran outside and saw that there appeared to be a water main break on Chester Street right outside the front of our house.  We watched as the water flowed down the hill and the road began to buckle in the center under the pressure.  I called 911 and we waited.

Meanwhile, Parker was held up at work, one of the cars wouldn’t start, so he couldn’t get it back into the shop.  I called him to warn him about what was going on and told him that he wouldn’t be able to get into the driveway.  People kept driving up and down Chester Street, it was scary to watch. 

By the time Parker was home, things had gotten a little out of control, the road was buckling, we could feel the water running below our property.  Chester Street actually lifted and silt, rocks and sand began to wash down the road and the water began to flow onto our neighbors lawn and was headed for his foundation.  Parker helped to create a temporary plywood dam with some of our neighbors and Darcy (who I had left in the yard to help) began to get hysterical.  She kept saying that she wanted me, I’m sure the whole thing was a little scary for her.  The police showed up and I stood there gaping.  Here we were again.  People crowded all around our street and the police blocking traffic.  It was a lot to take in at first.

As time passed, the street and our driveway began to buckle considerably.  A large section by the main break fell inward and the hole kept getting larger.  It was kind of hard to ignore the fact that this was happening right outside of our home, right where the accident happened.  It was hard to disregard the fact the street was destroyed from right up above where the accident occurred down past Bjorklund.  I couldn’t overlook the fact that the base of our driveway had folded in upon itself, right where the car had hit us.  I wasn’t able to ignore the fact the curb and the lawn where they brought Benny to give him CPR had washed away.  It was gone, ruined, destroyed. 

I just kept wondering, what are the chances?  How is it possible that this had all just been washed away, vanished?  It was like we were being given a clean slate, the ability to actually not have to look at the spot where he died on a daily basis.  This to me, was a sign, I was sure of it.  I hated the fact that the accident happened at all, but the fact that happened outside of our home made it that much worse.  It was all gone, the physical landscape where it all occurred.  I’m convinced that Benny had a hand in this.  The fact that our neighbor’s daughter (who we’ve never met) happened to be wearing a Benny’s Bunch shirt when she came down the street on her bike to check things out isn’t lost on me. 

There is a crew breaking away and removing the pavement outside of our house right now.  There is something so healing about standing there and watching them take it all away.  It is as if this water break washed away everything that happened.  I wish it were that simple.  At least I know the little guy is still up there still causing mischief.


So Damn Lucky

DMB Youtube

“Everything’s different
My head in the clouds

I hit this corner
With my foot on the gas
I started sliding, I lose it
Everything’s different just like that

Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
Frozen heart
Screaming wheels
Does that screaming come from me?
So damn lucky, when you went on ahead
You say, you say
I see you later
I heard what you said a few minutes later
I’m sliding
Everything’s different, again

Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
This frozen heart
Screaming wheels
But does that screaming come from me?
I’m dizzy from all this spinning
Now I’m thinking that you did all you could

When you said my love
Take it slowly
Ok, is what I said
Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
Frozen heart
Screaming wheels

But does that screaming come from me?
Take me back, just before I was spinning
Take me back, just before I got dizzy
Take me back, amazing what a minute can do
Just like you

So, so, so, so, up, around, around, around
Amazing what a minute can do
Around, around, around


Ironic title to the song considering the lyrics.  Just seemed appropriate given the situation.  Amazing what a minute can do…


I hate driving.  I’ve been doing it again begrudgingly for 2 weeks and I hate it.  I hate cars and other drivers.  I’m so scared there will be another accident.  It all just feels so random and out of control.

I used to love driving, where I could be alone to think and plan.  I enjoyed the anonymity of the surrounding vehicles.  My commute to work would easily be 2 hours one way, including getting the kids to daycare.  It was my quiet place to think, or completely zone out.

This is another thing that the accident has taken from me, another way in which its changed me.  I hate the music on the radio.  I hate driving alone, I always end up in tears.  I hate the anxiety I have every time that I park the car.  I feel like my world has gotten smaller and my  options are limited.  I used to be so independent, god I miss that.  I miss ‘me.’


IMG_4115Today Darcy asked me about the accident.  The first time that she asked came across as accusatory, she wanted to know if I was paying attention, if Benny was strapped in tightly.

She started off by asking how my mom died, and then why.  I knew what was coming, so I braced myself.  I tried to remember that she’s only 5 and not to tell her more than she’s asking for.

It started simple, ‘Mom, how did the accident happen?’. ‘We were outside of the car and it began to roll.’ ‘Oh, how did you get hurt?’ ‘The car hit us.’ ‘You should have been in the car.’ ‘We had just gotten home, we were getting out of the car.’ ‘Oh.  How did the car hit you, I don’t understand?’ ‘My door was open and it hit us.’  ‘Where was Benny?’ (Insert the sound of my heart breaking, if there’s anything left) ‘In my arms.’ ‘How did you get hurt?’ ‘The car door knocked us on the ground.’ ‘Did you cry?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Did Benny cry?’ ‘No…he was gone.’ ‘Gone where?’ ‘To heaven baby.’ ‘Oh, I didn’t know it can happen that quickly.’ ‘Sometimes it does.’ ‘OK, I thought the car had runned you over.  Maybe we should change the driveway, plant grass instead, that way if you fall, you won’t get hurt.’. Silence, don’t really know what to say to that.  Of course I’m driving, so I can’t completely break down.

After a few minutes I said,’sometimes things happen that don’t make sense, like my mom getting sick or the accident.  We’ll never know why it happened.’  ‘I think a spring in your car broke.’ ‘I think we live on a hill.’ ‘Oh, yeah.’. ‘Are you OK with what we talked about?’ ‘No, I’m not Mom.’ ‘Me either…’

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