Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Some of the memories are hard to remember, not that I can't remember well but that I remember too well and some of them are just plain hard. I've decided that they're also too precious to forget. I'll record them here so my children and grandchildren can know even after I'm gone.

Boston, Keely's big brother, was not even 2 yet when she died. I remember him in his little suit at the funeral, the same one we'd purchased that year for him to wear at Easter. When we bought it we had no idea...

An almost two year old at a visitation for 2 hours then the funeral for another 1.5+ hours. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it? But I couldn't bare the thought of having him far from me so we gave it a shot.

Between my sisters, parents, Nana, husband and myself, he was not only cared for but entertained and quite cordial throughout the entire visitation. He never caused a scene or threw a fit. And then the funeral came, when I *needed* to be able to listen to the words and let the tears flow so I could give her a proper goodbye. As we settled into our seats for the eulogy, he crawled into my lap and fell asleep before the first word was even spoken. Oh how I needed him there, just like that! He slept throughout the funeral, slept as I walked past her casket for the very last time and stayed asleep until we got into the car to go to the graveside service. I needed my living child, to feel his warm, deep breaths, to feel him curled up next to me and remind me that I was still living and needed to live for him, for his future. After everyone walked past the casket, he slept as his daddy carried his sister to the town car, a trip to her final resting place. Then, graveside, he just watched.

I don't know if he remembers any of the funeral, I don't think so. But I will remember for him, that even in his very early days, he knew just what Mommy and Daddy needed. I will be forever grateful.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

the famous bereaved...

In honor of the Duggars and the loss they suffer publicly, I'd like to look at a few other famous families who've buried their children far, far too soon.

One of the woman in American History I most admire, a classic beauty, a poised leader, an adoring mother, Jacqueline Kennedy knew more than her fair share of heartache. Before being widowed (twice), she suffered a miscarriage, the stillbirth of daughter Arabella and the death of 2 day old son Patrick, born premature.

I have a vivid memory of standing at Arlington National Cemetery as a little girl and being fascinated by those graves.

Rest in peace, Jackie, along with 3 of your 4 children.


Grief does not discriminate.

I would even go so far as to say grief reaches every. single. person at some point in their lives. Rich, poor, every racial and religious background, every level of education, every age.

But there's something especially painful about grief that goes outside the normal cycle of life. We expect to bury our grandparents someday. That isn't to say that it won't be painful and heartwrenching and sorrowful, but it is generally expected sooner or later. We even expect that, someday, down the road and still too soon, we'll outlive our own parents, maybe even siblings. It may not be a conscious thought but it's within the normal realms of expectations.

And then a child dies. Maybe not even our own child. Maybe not even a child we knew well. But a child dying is out of the ordinary, even against what feels like a natural order of events and it shakes us to our human core. It isn't supposed to happen.

And then the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the kind of event that years down the road, you have to remind yourself is reality. YOUR child dies. In 3 years of posts here, 5 years of thoughts and a lifetime of vocabulary, I have yet to find the words to describe what happens when a very part of your body, part of your heart and soul beats you to Heaven.

"I don't think of him every day; I think of him every hour of every day."
~ Gregory Peck, in an interview many years after the death of his son

I can't think of a title.

So I'll spend my energy on something other than a title and get right to the heart of it.

The Duggars' little girl died, just like my little girl died. Their hearts broke just like our hearts broke. It doesn't matter if they have 1000 other children, that one died. But they had to suffer such heartache on television. I do not envy that position, not for one second. My heart goes out to them, these are some of if not the hardest days they'll face on this earth. I will say, though, that showing the life and death of their beautiful little Jubilee as well as their journey into bereavement on television is helping putting a face on a topic that is still taboo in 2012.

It is a sad truth that children have been dying since the beginning of time (possibly the first recorded child death was David and Bathsheba?). In past cultures, it was even expected that a person may not live long on this earth. It is a sad truth that still exists and yet, as a society, it's often more popular to pretend that it doesn't.

My heart is heavy for the Duggars but light for their sweet child. May the days be gentle for them as they pave this path for themselves. On a selfish note, my own nerves have been severed at preparing to watch the showing, airing tonight, that chronicles their loss. It comes at a fragile time of year for me.

"I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." II Samuel 12:23

Sunday, March 25, 2012

blame from others...

When Keely died, I naturally went through every last second I carried her and asked myself if I'd done anything wrong. I asked my doctor if I'd done anything wrong. I questioned if I had done something differently, might she still be alive? I fabricated many moments where I'd made a different decision and fabricated a different outcome for her. Doctors assured me I did everything 'right'. My husband assured me nothing could have been done differently.

For the sake of my living children, I tried to assure myself. Deep down, I *know* I didn't do anything to contribute to her death. But those questions are a normal part of grieving, I believe.

Now, for all the self-doubt I had, especially in the early days, I was and am still unprepared for the judgement by others.

Just months after Keely's birth and death, I met with a woman I'd played soccer with in high school for a photoshoot. She told me about a girl she knew that had done drugs and asked me if I had done anything like that. Totally shaken that that thought could even run through someone's mind about me, I told her the sad percentage that MOST stillbirths are caused by unknown reasons. Even when everything seems 'right', something is wrong through no fault.

I've heard many ignorant comments from people in the time since losing Keely. I feel certain the thoughts that people don't say to me are far worse. I've come to realize that it isn't about me at all. It's about them. It's about them wanting to find a way to separate themselves from something so horrifying as losing a child. People don't want to hear that it could happen to them. People want to hear it was something you did, something they don't do so it could be an impossibility.

The sad, horrifying truth is that is could happen to you. It could happen to me again. It could happen to anyone.

But, I don't blame people for trying to convince themselves otherwise. I still try to do the same thing. It's just harder now.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Winnie the Pooh strikes again!

That cuddly little bear is taking direct hits at my heart these days. Here's one more...

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

So true, pooh. So very true.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Winnie the Pooh

“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart...
I'll always be with you.”
~ A.A. Milne {winnie the pooh}

I think A.A. Milne was a very wise man (or woman? I just realized I don't know!). Wrapping all of these beautiful, deep little truths into a cuddly and warm bear for all generations to love. Many of his quotes can be related to bereavement. As I come on the 5 year mark, I have been looking through songs and quotes and bible verses to use on the invitation for Keely's celebration. The quote from above really stood out to me. Perfect for this year.

I'll ask again, HOW has it been 5 years? I so distinctly remember looking at the veterans of bereavement in my early days and thinking "how did they do it?" and now I'm here and someone is looking at me, asking that same question. I still don't have an answer.


Sunday, March 11, 2012


I finally got a chance last night to watch a television show I had recorded about surviving death and the experiences these people had of going to the great beyond and coming back to tell of it.

It's very interesting to me how different each story was, but the running connection was that they couldn't quite find the words to describe that feeling. A feeling of complete positivity, pure love, etc but all of the interviewees still seemed as if they were searching for the right words to describe it.

Although... 1 Corinthians 2:9

Thursday, March 8, 2012

secrets of our club

I can remember as a newly bereaved mother asking if it got better. I asked myself all the time and asked that of the veteran bereaved. Truthfully, I can't remember their answers. I know that *people* in general told me it would get better with time but I don't know if that answer came from other bereaved parents.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, it doesn't. The grief itself doesn't change much. The grief is still a gaping hole in your heart, just waiting to be reunited with your child. But I don't think people say that too often; it's just overwhelming.

I will say this, though: while the grief itself doesn't change much, how we live with it, how we handle it and how we present it to the world does. That might be overwhelming too, though. What isn't overwhelming when your child has died? Not much. Maybe the Food Network.

Will you ever smile again? Yes. Will ever feel truly happy again? Most likely.

One of the most frightening thoughts to me in the early, dark days was the fear that Keely would be forgotten. In all fairness, it's a valid fear. Many have moved on, never to speak her name again. But, without a shadow of a doubt, there is a very important core of people that I know will never forget her and now I can see that is far more important. Quality over quantity.

As grief ages, what we need changes and often we don't know what that will be until the moment comes.

So when a newly bereaved parents asks me if it gets better, I don't know what to say. Better may not be the right word. Quieter, maybe.