stillbirth

The Both/And of Grief {#UPLIFTseries}

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This morning I had the privilege of contributing to a new internet series on holiday support for those whose lives have been touched by grief + babyloss. I chatted live on Periscope about the both/and of grief, and you can view the replay in the video below. 

I'm really excited about the UPLIFT series, which was started by CarlyMarie. It's for folks who are a little farther along their journey of grief, past where the hurt is so fresh and raw. CarlyMarie said that, unlike other holiday support series, UPLIFT is for those who are ready to take responsibility for their own grief, for those who (while they would like this to happen) don't need their friends and family to remember their baby and/or loved one who died.

This is closely in alignment with where I am in my grief journey, as in just a few days I'll be marking the fourth anniversary of my daughter's stillbirth. The idea that UPLIFT is for those who have been walking this road for a number of years now totally captivated me when CarlyMarie asked me to be a part of the series, and I'm so grateful for what is looking like it's going to be an absolutely epic offering. You can find out more about UPLIFT here, and join the event page on Facebook here.

Facing down four years without my daughter is an peculiar feeling. While I still wish I never had lost my dear Eve girl, I am no longer living in the agonizing newness of her death. What's more, I can see with increasing clarity the gifts that it feels like she has given me in her passing. I discussed all of this and more on my live Periscope broadcast, the replay of which you can watch in the video below. For those of you who are looking to read Eve's story, here are all the posts tagged with her name, starting with the most recent and working backward in time.

Thank you again to everyone who showed up to the live broadcast -- it was absolutely my honor to share space with you. I hope that, live or replay, past or present or future viewers, that if you are watching this, you find some tidbit of inspiration or insight to take away and use to nourish and strengthen your brave and glorious soul.

Learn more about UPLIFT + meet my fellow series contributors (who are amazing!) here.

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Making Memories: A Simple Holiday Ornament Tutorial

http://allthatlovecando.blogspot.com/2014/12/12-days-of-christmas-day-eleven.html

Today I am over at All That Love Can Do for the wonderful RaeAnne's 12 Days of Christmas, a series that provides support for babyloss parents during the holiday season.  I share a few words (sneak peek below), and a simple tutorial making your own memorial ornament for your tree or simply to adorn your home.  I'd love for you to join me over there!

"I don't have much advice on how to survive the holidays as a grieving person, except that you do what you need to get through it.  Avoid parties, cards, people, and whatever else if you can't handle them.  Let yourself ache.  Invest in a massage or see a therapist for extra support.  Boil life down to the pure essentials.  Journal angry/sad/silly/lonely/dizzy.  Make art.  Sleep a lot.  Eat some chocolate, watch a lot of reality TV.  You have permission, no matter what anyone else may say.  Your allegiance is first to your own heart."
 
Looking for more support for a difficult holiday season?  Check out my 2013 blog series Hurting For the Holidays, featuring many writers' gentle wisdom for achy hearts during this sensitive time of year.

On Novembers {Life After Stillbirth, Three Years Later}


I keep waiting for it to get bad.

I mean, three years and one week ago, my baby died inside of me and my world shattered and I didn't think I'd survive the day, much less make it out of the dark places.

I never thought that Novembers would start being not-hard.

But then, there's still a week to go until my girl's third {still}birthday, so I guess anything could happen.  I don't want to speak too soon.  I don't want to jinx myself.

Still, based on previous Novembers, I expected to feel memory's cold fingers stealing over my shoulders, pressing, clenching until I could hardly breathe.

 

People keep asking me (thank you, thank you, thank you for remembering) how I'm doing.  And I have to shrug and say, not sure how it can be, that I think I'm doing okay, actually.

That truth sounds strange coming from my own tongue.  But that doesn't make me less grateful for it.

I guess I thought that, if I ever got to this place where November doesn't sting like it used to, I'd feel guilty.  That it would make me less of a mother to the daughter I never got to raise.

But I don't feel that way.  Mostly I just feel glad.  Maybe a little confused, and a bit nervous, afraid that November 20 is going to hit like a hurricane.  But aside from that, I'm glad.  Because even though I love her, I don't want to spend the rest of my life losing a month or more of my life each year in a black hole of grief's resurgence.  Not on top of the grief I've already traversed.  Not when I have so much life to see to.


Maybe it's just pregnancy hormones, protecting me somehow.  They do that with my depression, after all.  Somehow, though, I don't think that's it (although I guess we'll see next year, huh?).

And I hesitate to saw why things are different this year.  Maybe it's just the passing of time.  Maybe it's how deep into the darkness I let myself descend.  Maybe it's the art journaling, or the questioning and pondering, or the sea of tears my eyes have poured out over her name.  Maybe it's how grateful I am for the life she's given me -- I will never stop wishing she could have stayed, but treasure the many, many gifts she left for me with her absence.


I don't know.  I don't know.  I don't know.  

I don't know what next week will bring.
I don't know how I'll spend her day.

But I am glad. 

I am glad of her.  I am glad of the me she birthed with her death, the greatest paradox I have yet to know.  And I am glad of this calm and unexpected loveliness, three years later.


Why, Hello There! Or, Where I've Been . . .


Well, it's been quite silent here, hasn't it?  And while I try to give myself both space and grace to be okay with not-writing, it makes me sad to not connect with you for so long.

So, let's start off with what life's been looking like in my corner of the world, shall we?

We've had birthdays (as cliche as it is, I cannot believe that our not-so-little guy is growing up so fast!) . . .


. . . gotten our annual family pictures taken (I love this tradition of documenting our lives and how we've grown and changed both as individuals and a family) . . .


. . . and gotten pregnant (do you like how I just slipped that one in there? sneaky sneaky). 


Check out my epic eight week belly from a couple of weeks ago.  I mean, come on.  What is in there?  It's like all my innards decided to unite to make space for our new tiny, tiny one.  But I love having a pregnant belly, so it works out quite well.  Although this time around I'm experiencing much more all-day nausea, so that's not as fun.  But I am determined to enjoy this pregnancy, and will try to leave my anxieties aside.  So far, so good . . .


We've been enjoying beautiful fall, although it's been unseasonably warm.  I'm ready for some crisp sweater weather!  Autumn is my absolute favorite season:



It was also my pleasure to be involved in the creation of my city's first ever October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness remembrance event.  It was a sacred, special time, joining the international wave of light with our own candle-lighting:



And as if that all wasn't enough, I've returned to my novel-in-progress:


As you may remember, since just before the release of my first indie novel, The Light Between Us ($0.99 on Kindle, FYI!), I've been working on a second novel.  This one is more ambitious and complicated, a sort of urban fantasy inspired by Celtic mythology.  And -- writing it ran my heart into the ground.  The story stopped making sense or having any sort of direction.  My depression returned with a vengeance, and sitting down to write felt like an exercise in self-hatred.

So I walked away.  To save my sanity, I walked away.  Put the book aside, even though I'd invested a great deal of time into it and had written over 60,000 words on it.  Showing up, doing it anyway, and faking it 'til I made it weren't helping, so I rested.  And got pregnant, and therefore rested some more.

But recently (perhaps inspired by my dear friend as she prepares to launch her own book into the world soon), I felt the novel calling.  So I've come back to it, with more than a little trepidation, and have s l o w l y begun laying down words again.

I seem to have found the ends of at least of the couple of threads winding their way through the story and I think I know where it's all going now.  And, best of all, I believe that I can finish, and that it will be an enjoyable tale -- whereas before I thought I'd never be able to figure it out, and even if I did, it was all totally tripe anyway. 

I suppose you could say I've found some confidence again.  Or (or perhaps and) that wonderful blend of egotism and fatalism that seems to protect every working writer -- the simultaneous beliefs that the story is wonderful and will be read and enjoyed, encouraging the writer, and also that no one will read it, therefore freeing the writer from fear of criticism.


But that still leaves the blog.  Because I'm not sure what's going on here in this space anymore.

For the longest time, this blog has been a place for me to process.  First through my eating disorder, then my Eve girl's stillbirth, and most recently through my faith thrashings.  But now, I feel that I've come to a good measure of healing in all these areas, and the words that needed to be expressed on these topics are no longer pressing up against my soul, begging to be loosed.

So what to write about?  What is there for me to say?

I don't know.  But I do feel that this blog is going to change slightly, to accommodate my inner changes.  I no longer seem to be "writing through the dark," as this blog's subtitle was for the past year or so, but have written my way into some sort of freedom.

So keep your eyes on this space as once again I/we change and shift and grow.  Into what, I have no idea.  But finding out will be quite a wonderful adventure.

Over to you -- what's been going on in your life these days, my dear blog friends?