Wednesday, April 4, 2018

When I Miss Her

Grief is weird. It is a part of you, intertwined with your very spirit. But sometimes it catches you off guard too. How can something that is in the fiber of my being just pop up and surprise me sometimes? How can I be going through a normal day and suddenly I am stopped in my tracks by the thought: Did that really happen to us? Did I really hold my newborn daughter and feel her tiny heart slow, then in the worst moment of my life, stop? See, grief is tricky. While it's calm and settles into your bones, it's also wild and frolicking. It makes you laugh over memories, cry, and strive and strive and strive to make meaning. I've said before and I so believe it to be true: Grief and I are permanent roommates, so we need to learn to coexist and play nice with each other.

  Since Hank has been born I can say that what others assured me of is without a doubt true... that the pain does lessen. It does! Praise hands! It never goes away fully (and it shouldn't) but it becomes gentler, quieter, and blends into the background instead of standing right in the middle of the room. I've discovered that in parenting Hank I am honoring and serving Hadley at the same time. I'm loving my children. Both of them. And isn't that the supreme task of a mother?

I've compiled this list of things I do when I miss her. I've only been partnering with grief for about two years but these things have truly helped me along the way. Maybe they'll bring some healing to you too?

-Go for a walk: Some of you might think of running in this category of "get out and move" but for those of us, ahem, less athletically inclined, there's nothing quite like a good stroll. I love bundling up Hank and putting some miles on the stroller. Time in nature plus exercise is really so good for the soul.

-Music as healing: I love listening to music....especially in the car. I have Pandora going almost all the time in my classroom before and after school and there's nothing quite like the perfect T Swift song to get the day going. And I'm still listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack and Brandi Carlile like it's my job.

-Treat yourself: When it comes to this one I immediately think of the soul refreshing that occurs with a mani, pedi,  or massage, or splurging on a Starbucks latte, or Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcake. This one does not have to equate to cash or calories, though. Sometimes some "mama needs a bubble bath and early bedtime tonight" is all it takes. The point is, life's short, treat yourself, girl. You deserve it.

-Talk about it: I love picking up the phone and calling or texting a friend. And sometimes AJ and I just need a heart to heart about Hadley. Sometimes it makes me laugh and sometimes it makes me cry, but I need to express myself and talk about it...often and still.

-Remember: When I'm really missing Hadley, sometimes it's helpful to just dive in and read old blog posts, look at her photo book, pick up her hand and feet molds, flip through pregnancy journal pages and just keep her memory alive for myself. She was here, she mattered, and I want to let the memories wash over me. It seems counter intuitive but it actually really helps. 

-Practice Gratitude: This one is something I try and work on daily. Gratitude has the power to completely transform your life. I am thankful for the time I had with Hadley. I am grateful to my body for helping me have a healthy pregnancy with Hank (where I was once bitter and angry at my body), I am grateful for a strong marriage and my partner in life. I am thankful for family and friends who have showed their true colors and held us up in times of sadness and times of joy. There's always something to be thankful for.

-Pray: Sometimes it's necessary to pause in the quiet and talk to God. You can call this one praying, meditating, reflecting, whatever, but there is power in silence and mindfulness. You don't even need to speak, sometimes you can just offer up your heart and thoughts, God knows what's there. In the silence I often get clarity.

-Visit Her: It was so important to me to have a place where we could visit Hadley and have a special spot to reflect and remember. I felt some guilt about not going as often in the winter and now that it's spring and summer is coming up, I plan to try and go more often. I can't wait to bring Hank and enjoy some time under the peaceful shade of Hadley's tree.

-Focus on Others: I remember the summer after Hadley was born I was so thankful to go back to work and get into the groove of leading my classroom again. While teaching is not always a walk in the park, overall, my students and teammates have brought me joy over the years. Pouring my energies into my classroom and my students is more than a distraction, obviously, but it's hard to be sad or feel down when you spend your day with some pretty cool and cute kids Throwing the Baby Bow Bash was so healing for my soul AND it helped include our friends and family in serving the community and amazing NICU families. And as an addition to this tip, Hank brings me so. much. joy. and focusing on him brings me so much peace. I give thanks for him every minute of every day.

 I adore my precious daughter and give thanks for her role in our family. There are hard days and great days and every variation in between. I'll never not miss her so it's been valuable to find ways to cope when I do. We love you Princess Baby!

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