Since Christmas is in 8 sleeps (my kids are losing their minds as we count down), it only seemed fitting to discuss holidays. Bennett was just shy of 18 months old when he died, so we didn’t get many holidays with him. That part sucks.
My favorite holiday that we celebrated though would have to be his last Halloween. He was dressed up like a train conductor and he was just starting to understand how to walk up and ask for candy. There was one neighbor who had baby candy and Bennett held onto that candy all night. There were bite marks in the wrapper from where he tried to eat it. We still have that piece of candy. Because like so many other things, it’s just too hard to let go.
Your child could live 50 years or never take one breath, and the holidays still hurt the same. ❤️
What did your child cherish more than anything? Is there something that you have that reminds you of them? A picture, or an object?
Benny had a blanket. A simple white hand crocheted blanket that went everywhere with him. He was like Linus. He slept with it and dragged it with him. And I mean every where. I would have to steal it and wash it whenever possible.
After he first died, I slept with it every night. It took forever for me to wash it because I didn’t want to lose his scent. That blanket now sits at the foot of my bed. I try to bring it every where with us when we travel. It shows up in family pictures so that Benny is always represented. Now I drag it everywhere with me. ❤️
Ok. I may sound crazy, but maybe not to those of you that have lost children. Do any of you see your children? And by see I mean do you stop breathing for an instant when you see a child/adult that looks like them? Is it just me?
Benny had blond curls and blue eyes. And dimples. He was the most beautiful boy that existed. He had long dark lashes that were wasted on a little boy (says his mom with the stubby, blond lashes).
Every once in awhile I see a child that looks just like him. Him as toddler, him as a baby, or him as I see him had he grown up. And my heart stops. Because for an instant, it’s like he’s here. And maybe his death was a mistake. For a moment I get to pretend that everything is ok. And then it’s gone. But it’s all worth it for that brief moment.
Every day that I’m at the shop, I’m reminded of our little guy. Benny was a tinkerer and wanted to be in the cars and around the cars. He once went into our office and grabbed a random set of keys and asked to go into one of the cars, where he tried said keys in the ignition. Clearly it didn’t work, but we were taken aback by this one year old child who understood how to start a vehicle.
He was always listening. Even when you thought he wasn’t paying attention, he was. It blew me away. He picked up on everything. He also had a big sister he was always trying to keep up with. I miss watching his little brain process things.
2020 is really hard. Grief in 2020 is really hard. Parenting in 2020 is really hard. Parenting a dead child in 2020 is really hard.
So I decided to do 12 Days of Memories leading up to Christmas. Maybe it will make this final stretch into the holidays easier. Maybe it will make it harder. I have no idea. I just know that my grief needs some acknowledgement this year.
Day 1-Tonight was Compassionate Friends Candlighting for all of the Children lost too soon. What a perfect place to start. We lit our candles for Benny and all the other children I know whose parents miss them.
A wave of light seems like the perfect way to kick this off. Benny only celebrated one birthday. When I think of all of the candles that he missed blowing out over the years, it’s like a punch to the gut. We still still sing to him every year and celebrate his life. But it’s so damn hard. It’s hard to celebrate the life that you carried for nine months and all of the hopes and dreams that you had for them. It’s hard to realize that you only have the past and the memories to hold onto. A flame that shone so bright and was burnt out too soon.
This right here is exactly what I’ve been seeing and feeling. It’s really, really hard to miss my grief groups. I love that we can meet online, but I miss being in the room with my people vs. looking at them Brady Bunch style.
There’s just something about being able to put your hand on someone’s shoulder in a show of support. I miss my hugs from my special people that just seem to know when I desperately need them. I miss hugging those that hate hugs, but need them nonetheless. I miss losing myself when I’m in a room surrounded by other grieving souls, but knowing it’s ok, because here I am safe.
This too shall pass and we are one day closer to all being back together. And I cannot wait. Until then, I will see you all back on my screen.
I was home with my little rainbows the other day when my four year old son came over to me with tears in his eyes. I was potty training with the 2 year old, which consists of whisking her through the house before she can pee on my carpet whilst she screams at me that she has to ‘go right now!’. So I’m in the middle of wiping butts and washing hands when her brother approaches me with big crocodile tears running down his cheeks.
‘What’s wrong buddy?’ I’m asking not really paying attention as I’m trying to clean up the mess his little sister made. ‘I really miss Benny. I’m sad that he died.’ he replies standing there clutching his big brothers picture in his hand.
It was as if someone punched me in the gut, or maybe more accurately, the heart. This beautiful child of mine never even met his older brother. He was born nearly 2 years after he died. It completely throws me when this little 4 year old has these very intense moments of loss.
Later in the day my son was talking about music and how sad music makes you feel your feelings, especially when someone dies. Then you cry. This little guy may be more emotionally mature than I am.
And what am I supposed to do with this? Never in a million years did I expect my rainbows to feel the loss of their brother they never knew this deeply. The whole thing is baffling and overwhelming. My older daughter who knew her brother has been in therapy for years and we’ve all been getting the help that we need. I guess I figured that Benny would be an abstract idea to these ‘after’ children.
Maybe it’s because we have pictures of Benny up all over the house. We talk about him and share stories. We celebrate his birthday and visit him in the cemetery. My children have been raised surrounded by tragedy and death and the realization that young people die too. It’s awful to even pen these words.
I wish I knew how to best handle these moments when they happen, or at least be able to be better prepared for them. But like most instances in parenting, it’s learning as you go.
So I got down on his level and hugged him tight. I told him that I was sorry that he missed his brother and it’s ok to be sad. I cried because it made me miss his brother too. It made me miss everything my boys never got to do together.
As I collected myself the kids became busy with Batman and my son had moved on. He accepted the fact that Benny was gone and he was ok with it, for now. I wish that I could be as resilient in grief as children are.
We have little ones, so naturally we have seen Frozen II. I think I am more excited than my children are for when this movie is released on DVD. Disney has wrapped so much feeling and emotion into an hour and 43 minute movie. Now that I have memorized all of the songs from Frozen II (we play them on repeat constantly), I am desperate to watch it again. The lyrics are so unbelievably poignant and speak to me on many different levels.
If you haven’t seen the Frozen movies, the premise of this particular song is when the snow man, Olaf, is trying desperately to make sense of something that makes no sense. He was created by magic in the first movie, so he is younger and is seeking knowledge. He also tends to be very dim witted (yet lovable) and seems to think that age equals understanding.
Last Friday I turned 40. And even though I had been listening to this song over and over on repeat for the last month, I didn’t realize the message in the lyrics. And how absolutely absurd and hilarious they actually are. I can tell you that no matter what age you are, everything will absolutely make no sense.
The more that I have tried to rationalize the awful things that have happened in my life, the more I have realized that that is not possible. With age, the only thing that seems to make sense is that nothing does. I have changed my thinking from an ‘Everything happens for a Reason’ type of person to a ‘Shit happens’ type of person. Because sometimes things that happen that have no meaning or reason.
When we try to justify something tragic, we do harm to those involved by disregarding the severity of the situation and their feelings towards it. The only one that we make feel better is ourselves because we are creating distance between ourselves and their tragedy. I have been guilty of doing this and I’m sure it’s just a survival instinct, along the lines of ‘that couldn’t happen to me.’ I am now of the mindset of ‘know better, do better.’
I have learned that death, love, loss, tragedy and human emotion don’t make much sense. And I’m making my peace with that. It’s a process to retrain your thinking, but a sudden tragedy will do that to you. Thank you Disney for recognizing how silly of a concept trying to make sense of the insensible is.
Besides where this article reads that ‘crisis happened for a reason’ there is so much truth. You will never be the same. If you can take that new version of yourself and look at them and be the tiniest bit happy with what you see, then I call that a win. We get so few wins in this dance of grief. Take what you can get.
Do things ever seem like they’re going so great, so you forget to let yourself grieve? I mean, we can’t forget to grieve, we’ve lost a piece of our selves. But do you ever not let yourself grieve?
I’ve started about 5 blog posts and written down a few more and just can’t get myself to finish them. I cannot make myself sit down and write them. It’s super frustrating. I cannot let myself go there right now. And I’m not even sure why.
Maybe I’m scared if I do, it will negate what’s going right in my life. And then I feel guilty if I’m not confronting my grief, because what kind of mom does that make me? There’s so much damn guilt in grief.
I remember being upset in the beginning of this journey for feeling happy. It just felt wrong. Happiness felt out of place in this new normal. Now I feel guilty for not allowing myself more time to confront the sadness. And there’s so much. Even after 5 years there’s so much more sadness. Especially in the month of May.
I’ve spent more of my life dealing with loss than not. And I still cannot figure this shit out. I am exhausted.
So my fellow grievers, none of this makes sense. There are no stages or steps to grief, just a person trying to survive the unthinkable any way that they can. And that’s ok.