Well, this certainly describes me. And seeing it written out like this almost makes me realize how pointless it is. Almost.
How am I doing? Some days are awesome. I can get through the day and just exist. I don’t feel like I have to weigh every decision in life or death. I can just be.
Other days I panic when my husband takes the kids in the car. What if they all die in a car accident? Or when the kids are wrestling, what if one of them hits a piece of furniture and had to go to the hospital? Or worse? Or what if they choke and I’m in another room? Seeing as how my two littles can’t seem to make any type of good decision lately, this is completely plausible.
I found that when we were out pre Covid that I would always be very aware of my surroundings. I made sure that I knew where an exit was ‘just in case.’ Now Covid has sent me into another spiral of worst case scenarios. Just 2 years ago I rang in the New Year in the PICU with my littlest on oxygen. I know what it’s like being scared my child couldn’t breathe and I know I don’t want to go back to that.
So maybe my hypervigilance is my super power. I don’t want a cape or bat signal to notify others of this, I have a hard enough time trying to keep my own family safe. However, if I’m around your kids, I will be watching them as if they are my own. It’s not because I don’t trust you as a parent, but rather some messed up part of my brain thinks I can save you from the same fate. Maybe I just don’t want anyone to have to go through what we’ve been through.
A huge part of doing this for me is knowing that I feel like I have done everything in my power to prevent something bad from happening. I think I’d like to be able to tell myself with confidence that it wasn’t my fault. Because child loss is so tangled in guilt and self doubt. This ridiculous anxiety is my way of trying to counteract that.
Rationally, I know all of this is crazy. But so is grief and death and trauma. I don’t think imagining worst case scenarios is a healthy use of my time, however it’s now a part of who I am, like PTSD is. And I have managed to learn how to live with it so it doesn’t totally consume who I am. Today. Tomorrow may be different. If I’ve learned anything on this journey, it’s to never expect to ever be perfectly ‘healed’ or ‘over it.’ That simply doesn’t exist when you’ve lost a child. It’s all in learning to live with it.
I have decided that I need something to hold onto this year. Last year was a stunning disaster of epic proportions and this year hasn’t exactly started off so great. I’m tired of waiting for the world to get it’s shit together enough so that I can breathe.
Grace is the word that I will be taking with me on this journey into 2021. Grace is what I will be holding, for yours truly and others. I need to learn to forgive me and not be so hard on myself. I also need to learn to hold grace for others.
I’ve been home with my children since March. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time together. And I’ve begun to notice that my 12 year old daughter has more love and respect for herself than I do at 40. She is unwavering in her view of herself and I have never been more proud. It is easy for her to make a decision and she is guided so effortlessly by her moral compass. She has compassion for herself and others and almost always seems to make the right decision. I am jealous.
I would give anything to be as self possessed and confident as this child is. I come off as tough because I had very little choice in that department. And maybe tough is construed as confident, yet I feel anything but. I am constantly second guessing myself and how I interact with others. It is absolutely exhausting.
I feel like at 40 I am flailing. It has been a very hard year with heavy choices. I feel as if grief has consumed me for so long, that it’s hard to know who I am anymore. What is left?
I’m feeling very confused about who I am. I think that’s a part of growing up and maybe that’s what this is. It’s hard to look at yourself and not feel recognizable.
2020 showed me that it’s time to begin paying attention to what is going on in the world. I need to be aware of what’s happening and begin to strengthen my convictions. I have 3 little people that need to be able to be a part of the solution, not the problem. But, before I can do that, I need to work on me. I need to figure out exactly what I want and need from this life.
I’ve gone around and around this in my brain and I think I need to fall back in love with myself. I need to learn to love not only my good parts, but the parts that don’t make me whole. I will never be who I want to be while grieving the loss of my parents and my son. And I need to learn to love that person anyway.
I need a little grace this year. What’s your word?
I’m not even sure I’m doing my ‘mediumest’ right now. After Benny died, it was all I could do to breathe and exist. It has been so hard to feel like this again. I’m trying with all of my might to hold all of the pieces together tightly.
So I will take whatever I can get out of myself right now, day in and day out. This last week has all but gutted me. And I know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes there is just too much going on and all you can do is ‘try your best.’
I’m going to start by trying for my ‘lowest’ and hopefully work my way up from there.
The 2010 decade sucked for me. I felt like the 2020’s were going to be my time! I’m a January baby and in 2020 I turned 40. I figured this was it! I was going to rule this decade!
So, we all know what happened there🙄. I don’t really want to claim anything in 2021. I’ll just be happy to put 2020 behind me and take a nice deep breath and hope that 2021 will surprise me. In a good way.
I am holding onto hope. I’m hoping that love wins out in 2021 and the world looks more like the world that we knew in 2013 when Benny died. When people were good and kind and caring.
I hope that the loss that happened in 2020 isn’t overshadowed by the political BS occurring daily. Remember when September 11th happened and we were shocked and horrified as a nation? We are seeing September 11th level death daily. It makes me so sad. To be complacent in others suffering instead of coming together to try to help is not ok. We need to get back to that mindset of holding space for each other and caring.
It has been a really, really tough year. I have been challenged as a mother, wife and business owner like no other time in my life. Maybe except for 2017 when we were homeless (because we sold our home and the housing market was nuts) with a 2 week old baby and just bought a business. But the challenges this year have been different. I’ve felt so out of control and anxious. I’m exhausted. I’m trying the best that I can to make the right decisions for my family (whatever those are) and trudge forward. But my god it is hard.
I’m working on self acceptance. I’m relearning to like myself and trying to show myself a little grace. 2020 has given me ample time to think and reconnect with me. It’s a process.
So there will be no big New Year celebration. I’d be surprised if we all make it to midnight. And that’s ok. I’ll be holding my breath for 2021 and hoping against hope that it’s a little bit kinder to us all. Because I can’t be the only one that needs a break.
I’m going to be honest here, I have no idea how to close this out. I am exhausted by Covid, the holidays, all of it. So I’m going to give myself a little grace.
I had all of these grand plans when I started this little holiday journey. But I’ve honestly forgotten half of what I planned and winged it. Sometimes that works better for me anyway, it allows me to be more honest to myself about what I’m truly feeling.
Right now I am tired. As far as Christmas Eves go, today was pretty stellar. My kids had fun, we ate a ton of food and we got to connect with family I haven’t spent time with in years (thank you Zoom). But I found myself tearing up all day. I missed my Mom. I missed my Dad. I missed my son.
I know this holiday season is tough. Even for those of us that are years out in our grief. Grieve however you need to right now. Do what feels right to you. Give yourself a little grace. ❤️
I miss my son. I’ve made that pretty clear. I miss everything about him. But I miss ‘me’ too.
I miss being able to parent without feeling like something is going to go wrong every second. I miss my ability to make decisions and not second guess myself. I miss not being paranoid over every little thing. I miss me.
It’s amazing to me how inanimate objects can hold memories. I can see something and it automatically sets off my grief without warning. It’s like a slap in the face.
I just spent the morning cleaning up and as I was vacuuming I was noticing all of the things that scream ‘Benny’ to me. Anyone coming into my house would have no idea, but I look at these items and I think of him. They weren’t his items, but something that I’ve connected to him since his death.
Grief is weird. It changes how you see things. It’s like you have a permanent set of glasses glued to your face that can never come off. And if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t want them to come off. I’m able to see hope and love in the mundane.
Part of being a grieving parent is holding onto the old memories, while making new ones. Which is really hard when your child is gone.
Honoring and remembering our babies becomes the mission of the bereaved. We become the reminders of what is appropriate in grief and that there is no right or wrong way to walk along this path.
We remember Bennett on his birthday. We celebrate and sing to him every year. He was here and it’s important to us to celebrate his life.
We remember Bennett during the holidays. His memory is intertwined with ours and we make sure to hang his stocking and decorate his tree (thanks to an awesome suggestion by another bereaved mama). We do a 5K in his memory around the holidays every year.
We remember Benny on the day he died. We visit with him and take a moment to reflect on all that has happened.
We remember Benny by lighting candles on days of rememberance. We remember him in the day to day conversations and pictures spread around my house.
I never planned it this way, but we created new Benny memories without even knowing it. I know that he’s not here to be a part of it and that sucks. But he lived, and that life is so intertweaved with ours that his presence is felt daily.
Music has this uncanny ability to evoke emotion. Especially when I’m driving. I can be jamming out one moment and sobbing the next.
While I have many songs that remind me of Benny, Benny and the Jets is probably the one tied closest to his memory for me. We would constantly sing it to him. When we named him Bennett, I never anticipated called him Benny. It just kind of happened. It was never Ben, always Benny.
Whenever that song comes on I think of him. Sometimes I smile, sometimes I jam out and other times I cry. But every time I think of my crazy little dude.
I miss my adventurous boy. After having Darcy, who was so controlled and only willing to do something once she was 100% confident, Benny changed how I parented. He always had me on my toes.
I had started to refinish our kitchen table, so we had a folding table in our kitchen for a bit. I turned my back for one minute and Benny had climbed on the chair and onto the table and was be bopping. He needed eyes on him 24/7 because if there was something to climb, he would find it.
My little guy had more spirit and energy than anyone I had ever met. His little sister Perry is pretty close, and probably most resembles his adventurous spirit. I miss his little boy craziness.