It feels odd to post what you’re about to read amongst other posts about style and hair care, but this post is about real life. I’m writing this post because I made a goal that I would share real life with you. I said I didn’t want to be surface deep and share only the good times with you (post here). I said I wanted to be transparent and real with you. That means I can’t share only good deals and happy moments. I have to share the good, bad, ugly, and sad with you. But what if it hurts to share? Because it does hurt to share. At least for me, it does.
Even though it hurts it almost feels therapeutic to share. I can’t explain why. There is such vulnerability in sharing to a world of strangers. What if you judge me? What if you feel sorry for me? I don’t want pity. I actually get embarrassed sometimes when people try to comfort me. I don’t know why but I think it is because I don’t want to be the focus of attention. No matter who judges me or finds this odd, I feel I need to write this post.
I have good intentions with this post. I want someone to read it and realize that life can take dark turns at times. Your heart can break, your world can be ripped apart, and you can think you’re never going to heal. You’re going to heal and though you may never feel the same you will find a way to live. Believe it or not, you can live with a broken heart and spirit. I think the line from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes summarizes it best when it was said – A heart can be broken but it beats just the same.
There are moments in our lives that are simply unexplainable. Moments that we can’t find words to explain. Moments that leave us speechless. I think these moments can be happy or they can be sad. The moment I’m writing about today is a moment that has taken me 12 years to publically speak or write about.
As I write, I’m having anxiety because this moment is devastating and involves a great loss. This event forever changed me in a way that words can’t begin to fully describe. This moment ended friendships, caused people to turn their backs on me, caused church members to judge me, and made friends feel differently about me. It changed me in a way that left me unrecognizable to others and to myself. I’ll start from the beginning.
I don’t talk about my family much on the blog. Mainly because I don’t think it is fair for me to share the faces and names of people who may not want to exist in blog world. Specifically, my children. I can’t be a mom blogger because children are vulnerable and I don’t want them to be exploited. No offense to anyone who is a mom blogger, honestly no offense. For me, it’s just not something I want to do. So in case you don’t know since I don’t share it much, I’m a mom. I’m a mom who knows what it’s like to bring a baby into the world, watch that child grow, then lose that child tragically.
I had a beautiful daughter who died tragically just shy of two years old due to a careless incident that could have been prevented. A careless incident that could and has happened to other parents. An incident that occurred outside of my home and not in my care. She died in an accidental drowning. As I’m typing, I can’t tell you all of the details for the simple reason that I don’t want this post to be about blame. Rather, I want this post to be about loss and healing.
The accident happened in late July and we buried her in early August. Each July and August I’m filled with a sense of dread and anxiety. I feel like the air is heavy and it gets harder to breathe. It is as though the month is dark and I’m scared of what will happen. There are so many specific details I want to go over but I can’t possibly give you all of them so I’ll name a few that may help someone else.
I chose to give life where a life had once been. I chose organ donation. I was so young at the time and I can’t believe I had the maturity to make such a decision. I chose organ donation because I knew my heart was completely broken. If someone had said to me – I have something that will make her live. I would have taken it. If she needed a liver or a heart to live, I would have accepted it from another person. I chose organ donation so another family wouldn’t hurt like I hurt. I was judged for making sound decisions. I mean how can a grieving mother make such a decision? I can make decisions. I make them every day because I’m strong. I made that decision because I felt it was the best one and not because I wasn’t grieving.
There are things you can’t see
I didn’t attend the actual funeral ceremony for my child. I had a private viewing with just my family and friends then I quickly left with my family. My family advised me not to attend the funeral. Why? Because there are things you can’t see sometimes.
I had suffered through decisions involving life support and holding my daughter one last time. I had suffered through discussions involving organ donation. I had to walk through a room filled with caskets and chose a child-sized casket. I had to discuss grave plots and lay my baby to rest next to my beloved grandparents. My family knew enough was enough and I had seen enough. So I quietly left with them to their home in another state and tried my best to keep my life together. Friends judged me and judged my decision. It has been thrown in my face numerous times over the years. How could a mother not attend her child’s funeral? We often judge by only what we hear, see, and think we know, and never by placing ourselves into the shoes of another.
It’s not all about you
Believe it or not and as harsh and hard as this may sound – it’s not all about you. During times of grief, there are often others you need to think about. For me, I knew I had to keep it together because I had people who depended on me. I had another child that couldn’t be left on the sideline while I grieved. I had to be as ok as I could be for the sake of someone who depended on me. Of course, I was judged for that as well. How can she act like everything is fine? Because life didn’t stop when my heart was broken.
No one knows how scared, alone, lost, and simply terrified I felt. One of my biggest fears had come true. It was as though I was living a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t open my eyes. My own insecurities as a mother were further mangled by the judgment of others. Maybe I hadn’t cried enough? If I cry too much they will say I’m crazy and can’t care for the only child I have left. If I don’t cry they’ll say I’m cold and callous. Oh, how simple life could be if we learned to stay in our own lane sometimes.
Give Yourself Time to Heal
Time won’t make you the person you were before but time will happen because the world doesn’t stop. I’ve posted about time before (here). Time will heal your heart and teach you how to live with a big scar where your heart was once broken. Time will teach you how to cope with the pain. You’ll learn to live as a new person who has experienced something tragic. I knew I had to share this experience someday because out there someone is hurting. I want that person to know they aren’t alone and we all hurt.
Time hasn’t made me the person I was before I experienced the greatest loss of my life. I’m a new person who sees the world differently now. I’ve had to learn how to manage pain and fear. I’ve watched someone young die and that leaves a lasting fear. A fear that death is real. Time has taught me to let myself hurt. The best advice I can give to anyone hurting is talk to a professional about your grief. I didn’t and I often wish I would have. I probably would have recovered faster had I been allowed to discuss the grief.
Sadly, I was surrounded by people who didn’t believe in grief counseling. Instead, they saw counseling as something to be ashamed of. My best advice is to talk to a trained professional and allow yourself the time to heal. It may take you years to heal. Don’t let anyone allow you to doubt yourself or tell you how to grieve. Lastly, I hope you find comfort knowing you’re not alone.