I'm heartbroken she is not here, but thankful she chose us.
Thanksgiving has always been a time to reflect for me - the highs and lows, the learning lessons, gains and losses, to spend time with family, talk about the things we are grateful for, some football, give back, and food lots and lots of food.
Since Ari's death, it has been different. As much as I tried to keep it similar for our living son, it is still different. I have figured out ways, supports, tools to come to terms with the grief storm that is bound to happen around the heightened emotional holidays.
But, just because it is different doesn't mean it has to be bad. I truly am heartbroken that Ari is not here with us, but I cannot express the gratitude I have that she chose me - chose us.
I'm grateful that we were able to meet her, spend 9 hours and 51 minutes with her, bathe her, read to her, kiss her beautiful face and lips, smell her baby scent, hold her precious hands, pray over her and get her...
As we all know all too well, adversity is not reserved for day-time soap operas. Even the most fortunate have experienced adversity of some type, be it a loss of a job, health problems, failed relationships, disappointments at work, financial difficulties, etc.
But then there is the worst of adversities... the death of our loved one, our child.
I intentionally used the word 'movement' through adversity in the title as adversity has an uncanny way of paralyzing us. If we do not choose movement through it, we will be stalled in the white knuckle grip of adversity.
Here are three action steps to help you move through adversity today:
1. Take inventory. When we are dealt a loss, we tend to feel lost and that all is lost. Identify what is lost other than stating the obvious physical loss of your loved one. What has changed and what is the same? Take a moment to breathe. Then, on a blank piece of paper, for 1 uninterrupted minute, write...
Someone asked me recently... "How can you just decide to choose better?"
I had to make a real commitment to do whatever it took to get to the next better feeling. I recognized I could not go from A to Z without going step by step. A to B to C to D, etc... I could not go from the deepest sorrow and bitterness to joy in a day.
That meant taking small steps to keep choosing again, to continue to choose the next better feeling and emotion. To make an appointment to see a therapist, to reach for a different thought, to stop repeating the negative part of my loss story over and over and over again, to seek out an outlet to bring positivity into my life, to honor instead of resist whatever comes up in any given moment and steer it back to love, to recognize every opportunity is a place to grow, to align myself with high vibrations, to pray about it all and surrender when I knew I could not possibly do it on my own (I was not meant to), to make my...
Is it possible?
I think we all KNOW we have very little control when it comes to our circumstances.
We know this to be true, yet try to control things anyway... you know, try to make a square peg fit into a round hole type thing.
And when we say we are letting go, giving it to God, come what may, releasing the reigns, surrendering it all... No more than 5 minutes later, we snatch it right back.
What is with us???
Well, I am on a plane right now to a city I've never been, for an event I don't know much about, rooming with complete strangers, leaving behind my boys... Normally, I would be apprehensive about all of this, but the reconstructed version of me is all in of letting it all go 100% without thinking ahead, just being present, and surrendering expectations.
So today surrender is possible and I feel free!!!
If it's a God thing, it's a thing!
What are you surrendering to today?
Losing Ari could have wrecked us as a couple. We could have become one of the statistics.
We could have given up on one another, went opposite ways when our grief did the same.
We could have wallowed in our own bubble of pain, not communicating or telling one another we need help.
But we didn't.
We found more love, more fight within us to not let her death break us, but to let her LIFE lead us.
She leads us every day to choose better. To be better as a couple. To be better parents. Better friends. Be better human beings.
It is not a walk in the park. In fact, it is more like a marathon.
But, not one other person on this planet will ever be able to understand the depth of pain we each carry more than one another.
Though we grieve differently, he gets me. He is my person.
Grief exists because love did first.
And ever since grief entered our life, it's been about finding our way through it......
Ragnar Trail Run.
Northwoods of Wisconsin.
Requires running into the dark.
Head down, heart racing, following a path into the unknown, in fear, to the things ahead I cannot see...
Falling. Bruises, cuts and scrapes. Aches and pains. Struggling. Continuing the race, broken and tired. But fighting until it is finished.
I think this is the metaphor of my life.
After the loss of a child, life is certainly a struggle. I recognize and honor that truth. And it is ok to struggle. But you have a choice every day to fight for more. In truth, that is not easy. But it is possible.
You can either let fear of the unknown slip into every other part of your life, inhibiting you from truly enjoying it. Or you can battle and fight, start to stretch yourself, take risks (even with fear, not knowing the outcome) and still fully experience the beauty left in this life.
After the loss of Ari, the things I once feared and thought that if attempted I would surely fail, I have conquered. I...
Our little ‘lion of God’ rightfully earned her name. From the moment of late daughter's official diagnosis of Trisomy 13 on November 7, 2016, Ari overcame so many of the odds stacked against her. The biggest odd of them all, surviving.
On a train to Chicago, our son Chase unknowingly captured this photo of me. After scrolling through all of the photos taken that day I stumbled upon this one. I froze. I saw a lion.
What?!?! Yes, I saw a lion, but most likely not what you're thinking.
See the way the light blends with the edges of my hair? It creates a makeshift mane so on the surface, I immediately see a lion. But beyond the obvious, looking closer and going deeper... I see more.
I see the focus and clarity in my eyes, fixed on the thoughts of forward progress. A course that was intuitively set from the very beginning of my story. I see the patience and stillness in my body, a distinct understanding that there is...
Almost everyone at some point in their life will experience some kind of adversity or trauma. But for us bereaved parents our trauma is extreme given the out of natural order death. It was not a one time 'event', but rather an ongoing journey of memories never made. We must navigate our grief journey for a lifetime with no timeline, map or end point. Now, to know this can either look like a foreseeable future of misery or a story of love and loss so great that it transforms it into a beautiful masterpiece; a story perhaps the whole world needs to hear. Every single grief journey is unique and so very personal. Whether or not someone chooses to share their story is solely their decision. However, I highly suggest it be considered, if and when you are ready.
My choice... I chose to share.
From the moment of our daughter's diagnosis, I wanted her to be known. I did not want people to forget her, to know that she was real, she existed. She would...