Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

a few months ago, brooke mentioned that she read the book When Bad Things Happen to Good People by harold kushner, and recommended it. i'm sure it's understandable that after a tragedy, people tend to look for the meaning behind it all. they try to comprehend why this terrible thing has happened to them. sometimes they turn there anger and blame toward others - their spouse, the daycare provider, etc. sometimes {as in my case}, they turn their anger and blame toward themselves and God. this book really helped me let go of a lot of that anger. it helped me understand that God isn't some genie granting wishes for some people - the most deserving one - but not others, like i previously thought. He doesn't sit up in heaven on a throne picking out whose child should live and whose should not.  He doesn't decide which family member should be killed in a car accident, and who should live. He just isn't like that. if it were up to him, i have to believe, everyone would live and that there would be no suffering or pain. but unfortunately for us {the ones suffering and in pain}, He does not grant wishes.

sometimes things just happen for no apparent reason. sometimes tragedies befall bad people {and i think this is what society would consider "karma"}, but unfortunately tragedies happen to good people too. i'd like to consider myself a good person. one that has had something incredibly tragic and unfair happen to them. and it happened, not because i sometimes have a "potty mouth." it happened not because i wasn't in church every sunday. because i was a little short with D one day, or because i didn't give enough of my income to charity. it happened because, well because sometimes terrible, unfair, unjust things happen. it's not a punishment for anything {even though it feels like a punishment for everything}. He didn't "give me this" because i am any stronger than anyone else. He didn't give me this because i handle tragedy better, or because He knew i would do something with my pain. He's not trying to test me as a person, or as a type-A planner. He's not trying to get his agenda/point across.

all of those things that i've been made to believe because of all of the platitudes people {my past self included} say are all wrong. you know, all of the "it's all part of His plan," "He gave you this for a reason," "He doesn't give you more than you can handle." all of those trite lines that are made to give some meaning to our pain and tragedy led me to believe that He was "giving" me all of this. it led me to a place where i was very angry at God. i mean, who wouldn't be angry at someone who purposely tries to see how much you can take before you snap? that's not what a loving, caring god would do. that is just downright cruel. and it wasn't until i read the book that i realized that all of those lines can really do more harm to grievers than good.

even though the book helped me to let go of most of those misplaced feelings {hey, it's going to take some time ok}, i'm still angry. but i'm more so angry at the situation rather than at God. and i'm able to concentrate on praying to God for comfort rather than asking for my "wishes" to be granted. i'm now able to ask him for strength to pick myself up after a disappointment. and for the most part, He has provided {and continues to provide} that. He has placed such wonderful people in my path. He has given me a group of women that understand the pain of losing a child, and who tirelessly help me not feel so alone, even at those moments when i try to alienate myself. yes, with my new understanding of my God, it's pretty easy for me to see that He is present and all around me. i no longer feel "picked on" or abandoned by Him. and i'm just so thankful that i stumbled on this book when i did.

**disclaimer: all opinions of God are mine and mine alone. you free to form your own opinion of the God you believe it.**


Dear Juju,
Today is your 10 month birthday. I'm missing you so very much. And I wish with all of my heart and soul that you were here with me. Life is still pretty difficult without you. But I'm fighting hard to make it. And I hope that with your help, I will. Please stay extra close to me for the next couple of days. I desperately need the extra love. I love you so much it hurts.

Monday, March 28, 2011

They Don't Know...

earlier today brooke shared her thoughts {and the poem below} about being on how it felt to be on vacation, after the loss of her precious Eliza, and be in a place where no one knows that you are a bereaved parent. i found myself thinking about this same thing this weekend while on our little getaway. i remember one occassion in particular when we got out of our car after arriving at the mall. thinking to myself that if someone looked into my car and saw Juju's car seat, they would probably assume that we still had our baby, that we were currently living out our happy ending. and then i thought about how many other cars in the mall parking lot might be painting a picture so different from their owner's reality. how many other families were just too broken to remove the car seat of a baby no longer on this earth. how many other mothers at that mall were walking around with gapping holes in their hearts. it's just astonishing that such tragedies happen somewhere out there there is a family that has *just* begun their grief journey. and in mall parking lots there are cars, like mine, that carry the memories of a once blissfully happy family.

Those who are near me do not know that you are nearer to me than they are
Those who speak to me do not know that my heart is full with your unspoken words
Those who crowd in my path do not know that I am walking alone with you
They who love me do not know that their love brings you to my heart.
-- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

**edited to add**
it seems like i was having temporary amnesia. i knew i wanted to post more than just the poem, but my mind must have gone blank when i went to publish my post. today i have another prayer request...

this time it is for my dear friend tabatha. tabatha is momma to ms Savanna. Savanna lost her life to SIDS a month exactly after we lost Juju. she was 7.5 months old. and today is Savanna's 1st birthday, only she is in heaven instead of in her parents' arms. tabatha, please know that you and your hubby are constantly in my thoughts and prayers, but today i am holding you especially close to my heart.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy List - my tattoo

D and i are back home from our little getaway trip to ATL this weekend. i was just recovering from my illness the day we left, and as luck would have it D was *just* getting my illness the day we left. which he proceeded to have the entire trip. but on the whole, it was a good trip, and i'm glad we decided to go. because of the illness there wasn't a whole lot of doing {which means not a lot to talk about}, but my mission to get my memorial tattoo{s} was successful. so i will talk about that for this week's happy list...

i actually scheduled my appointment for the tattoo as the first order of business for our trip, and i'm so glad i did. we drove straight into ATL, stopped momentarily at the hotel to deposit our things, and then headed straight for the tattoo shop. my tattoo artist, jenny, was so amazing! she is the most adorable tattoo artist i have ever seen {not that i've seen many before, but still}. and she is super talented too {check out her blog}. once i found her blog, i knew she was "the one." anyway, as soon as i told her what i was thinking, she set to work designing it. we brought Julius with us, so she had something to go by.

Juju's urn

Julius Luciano, i carry your heart in my heart
directly behind my heart so we are always connected
i also told her that i wanted something on my wrist - in a more noticeable spot, since i would not be able to see the one on my back often. i had seen one of the pieces she had done with all of the sanrio characters {i'm a big hello kitty fan}, and really wanted to get the little frog, keroppi, with his name/nickname underneath. why you ask? well, several reasons. 1. he had this little frog toy that attached to the handle of his bucket seat that he LOVED to look at. and when he found his hands/arms, he would always reach out for him and move him around. i used to comment all the time to D about how much he loved "mr. ribbit," 2. kerropi's huge eyes remind me so much of Juju's, 3. keroppi and Juju both have dimples, 4. when Juju was really teeny tiny and would cry, i would always say that he was making a "froggy" face. so getting keroppi as a tattoo just made sense to me.

on my wrist
the tattoos didn't take long at all. though they did hurt. man, i had forgotten how much getting a tattoo hurts {i had 1 previously that i had gotten while in college}. but i took the pain like a champ, and half the time i was talking to jenny, so it wasn't really *that* bad. i'm so pleased with how they both came out, so the pain was totally worth it. and i got an immediate sense of comfort once they were both done. it's so nice to look down, and be reminded of my little boy. and it's brings me a wave of peace to be able to look in the mirror and see that his heart is connected to mine. to know that part of him will physically be with me forever, takes my very breath away.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

And I'm Sick...

well i'm sick. i think i picked up something nasty from my dear friend who was sick this past weekend. quite frankly i'm surprised that in the 5+ months that Juju has been gone {has it really been that long???}, this is the 1st time i've been sick. with all the stress and strain that my body has been under, i'm truly shocked that it took this long to find myself here. but now in my new life as a grieving mother, a cold is not just a cold, it's a trigger. having a fever is not just having a fever, it's a trigger. in addition to just feeling extra sad, in addition to missing Julius even more, missing the fact that i no longer have to consider how my being sick would affect my child, i flash back to the time {the only time} that my baby boy had a fever...

he had just gotten one of his vaccination shots, and a few hours later was acting miserable. D called me at work and told me that he was behaving strangely. apparently he would start crying to be held, and then once he was being held he would quiet down, but the second you moved him away from you he would begin whimpering again. well, i took off of work and went straight home to see what was wrong, when i realized that he was having a fever reaction to his shots.

that night was a very long, stressful night for all of us. he was super needy, and we were running around trying to do everything humanly possible to make him feel better. it was so hard to see him in such a state. at one point, around 3 am, D decided to call the doc. needless to say, the doc was a bit irritated at us since he felt that what we were calling about was addressed in the informational sheet he gave us during our visit. i was so frazzled that my baby wasn't feeling well, and then that the doc now hated me that i went into our closet, shut the door and had a really good cry. a few minutes later, i pulled myself together and went back to mother my son. we finally got calmed down, and went back to sleep. when we woke up later that morning, he was feeling like his happy self again.

what i wouldn't give to have a fever be my worst problem again...

prayer requests:

if you could please spare a thought/prayer for 2 lovely ladies, and baby loss mommas...

annette, mom to Valentina, who was pregnant with her rainbow baby, Little Bee. late last week, she learned that she had lost Little Bee. she is now a mom to 2 beautiful angels. the pain that you feel when you lose a child is unbearable, and here is this amazing woman, this loving and devoted mother, that has now lost 2 children. i will never begin to understand why these things happen or how the heart handles so much pain.

kalialani, mom to Leila. Leila is celebrating her first birthday in heaven today. like i've said before, i know may 30 will be a very emotional day for me. a day that should be spent celebrating the life of your child, is spent feeling the weight of their absence. it's just heartwrenching.

annette and kalialani, i'm thinking about both of you and holding you extra close to my heart. i hope that my prayers and the prayers of others are enough to get you over this intense wave of grief. i'm just so sorry that either of you have to feel this pain. ((hugs))

Saturday, March 19, 2011

When There Was No Hope....I Hoped.

and thanks to franchesca and natasha, today i'm forced to hope...again. to create hope where there previously was none. today i will be combining my saturday happy list and my monthly hope post. what's brought me some light during my darkest hours this week?

1. changing the world. so i wake up {always against my will these days}, go through my routine getting ready for work, drive to work, pull into a parking space, look down to get my tea out of the middle console, and BAM! my eyes are immediate drawn to this...

i have never even realized that there were little messages on the tea bags themselves. i don't think i ever paid close enough attention. but for some reason, that was the first thing i saw when i looked down. and of course, all things tie back to Juju {in my head at least}. my choices? could it mean our choice to finally become parents? our choice to bring another human being into this world? i really don't know if i'm special enough to make choices that will change the world. but i do know 1 very special little boy who's mere existence forever changed mine.

2. mail. earlier this week i received a very thoughtful card and magnet from someone who has become a dear dear friend, and who is, unfortunately, a fellow SIDS mom - tabatha, mom to Savanna. she lost her precious Savanna exactly a month after i lost Juju. sickening that we both have SIDS and the 12th in common. but here she was, deep in her own grief, thinking of me and my little boy. sending me a card, with such a touching, meaningful message, and a gorgeous magnet {which is now proudly displayed on my fridge}. touching doesn't even begin to describe it.

3. the kindness of strangers. this week i received several heartfelt emails from people that have run across my blog. 1 email in particular moved me to tears. she expressed how sorry she was for my loss, and then offered to not only donate something for one of my monthly giveaways, but to help organize fundraisers in order to help us meet our $5k in 2011 goal for Juju's memorial fund at CJ Foundation!! i'm always so very amazed by the generosity of people, complete strangers. it is just another reminder that the heart of life really is good.

4. the kindness of friends. speaking of fundraisers, yesterday marked the end of the Thirty-One fundraiser that my dear friend nikki organized for me. she is going to donate 20% of the total sales to Juju's memorial fund. i haven't gotten the final estimate of the amount to be donated, but the last time i checked, it was a little over $200!! that almost brings us to the half-way point. wow. and another very generous, loving friend, jane, has offered to donate 100% of the proceeds from a garage sale she is having at the end of april to Juju's memorial fund. i know you guys are going to get sick of me saying this, but i have some amazing friends.

hope definitely seems to have an inverse relationship with grief. whenever i have moments of experiencing more grief, i see very little {if any} hope. and when i have my hopeful moments, the grief isn't as suffocating - i can actually breathe. this week, despite a pretty bad breakdown on tuesday, i had moments where i could actually breathe. i don't know what specifically brought it about, and i'm not going to try and figure it out, but i am thankful that i had these moments, and i hope they stick around.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

5 Month Angelversary & Other Randomness

if grief were an actual person standing in front of me right now, i'd almost certainly punch him/her in the face. repeatedly. i'm pretty sure i would end up in jail at the end of it all. i'm spending most of my days these days in the "anger" stage of grief. as i look at the pictures of my fellow bereaved parents' angels, i can't help but become enraged. all of these perfect, innocent babies ripped from the arms of those that love them the most. stolen from this world by death. causing a ripple effect of heartache and pain. it just doesn't seem right, just, fair {dare i even use that word?}. i continue to ask the question "why?" daily. why Julius? why my baby boy? why us? i obviously have yet to receive an answer to my questions. but honestly, there is no answer that would be adequate or sufficient for me. there will never be an answer that i will accept.

this past saturday was Juju's 5 month angelversary. it, as expected, was a difficult day. i think i cried on and off the entire day. thankfully, i had scheduled an appointment with my counselor on that day. i don't think i realized it at the time, but it turned out to be a great idea. dennis and i decided to go out to eat, which was nice. we got to talk a bit, and i cried a bit more. i decided as we were heading to our car that i needed to do something to show Juju that i missed him. so we headed across the street from where we were to dollar tree, and i picked up a balloon to send him.

God bless dollar tree and their supply of balloons. if only i had brought my permanent marker with me {which from now on i will keep in my car at all times} i would have been set. but i was glad that i got to send him a little something anyway - my way of "mothering" him from afar, i suppose.

this weekend i also moved on to volume 3 of my journal {"letters to Juju"}. i know i have mentioned before that starting at a week after Julius passed away, i began writing him a letter everyday. it has brought me so much comfort to have that time dedicated to my baby boy, to tell him all the things that he's been missing, to tell him how much i'm missing and loving him. this is one of the reasons i was so moved to help out franchesca with Jenna journal drive. journaling has been such a big part of my grief journey. so i feel compelled to help give another grieving parent this option if they want it. i have put my 2 completed volumes in my time capsule with Juju's special things for safe-keeping.

Vol. 1
Vol. 2
Vol. 3
they all seem to have very fitting messages on the cover too {they have all been given to me by friends as well}. Vol 3 says "this is my wish for you:" and has a bunch of very touching wishes, but i underlined a few that spoke to my heart...
  • "comfort on difficult days"
  • "rainbows to follow the clouds"
  • "faith so that you can believe"
  • "patience to accept the truth"
  • "love to complete your life"
right now those seem to be my deepest wishes, and i think it was just fitting that i got this journal when i did {and i have felt the same about each of the other journals}.

and lastly i would like you all to lift my dear friend tiffany up in thoughts and prayers. today is her daughter's 4th birthday up in heaven. as may looms nearer every day, and the dread i feel in my chest thinking about Juju's 1st birthday builds, i can not imagine the pain of having to celebrate 4 whole years without him. it never gets any easier to say goodbye to your baby, to your firstborn {as Genesis is for tiffany}. tiffany, i'm constantly thinking of your baby girl. but i'm holding you, the one left behind, extra close to my heart today. she will always be remembered, she will always be loved. ♥ Genesis ♥

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Giveaway #3 Winner

i decided to use this time to choose the winner, mostly because i ran out of the small post-its that i used to write the names on. but since yesterday was such a hard day emotionally, i really appreciated how simple it was to pick a winner using that site.

well, the winner of giveaway #3 - the personalized stationery set and matching address labels - is

congrats girl, you get to choose between the following 2 patterns:
Impressionist Dot
Circle Spirals

send me an email with your choice, and i'll get that taken care of for you.

and for all of those that entered but did not win and would like to purchase your own set of personalized cards, nikki was gracious enough to offer to sell the cards for 25% off. just send her an email directly with "Juju" in the subject line, tell her which stationery set you would like, and she'll take care of you.

thank you all for entering! i hope you join me again on april 1st for my next giveaway. off to start planning that one...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

my happy list

last week a dear friend of mine sent me the link to an article called "8 Tips for Feeling Happier During an Unhappy Time." i thought it was a really good article, and discovered that i had done many of the suggestions on my own already. but there was one of them that i just was not open to at all. number 1. "remind yourself of reasons to be grateful." nope! i was not about to go there. my baby boy passed away. in my world right now there are NO reasons to be grateful. so i closed the article, saved the link, and decided that maybe when i get further along in my grief journey, maybe {just maybe} then would i revisit that one.

fast forward to another email i received yesterday from fellow BLM {and one of the loveliest people on the planet} natasha saying that she was going to start "happy list saturdays" in order to remind herself that she does have things in her life to be happy about. and she asked if i would participate. and though i was still a bit hesitant, i figured if this same theme was coming up yet again, it's something that i need to embrace and do. so here i am. about to remind myself of my reasons to be grateful this week. even though today on Juju's 5 month angelversary i want to continue to sulk...

1. we'll start off with what happened last night. a few months ago i decided to sign up to co-lead a Faces of Loss Face2Face group in my area with my dear BLM friend mary. we have planned a couple of get-togethers since then, which have mostly been coffee nights. but last night we scheduled a dinner at PF Chang's. our group of 5 showed up, got seated, and shortly after, our waitress showed up to take care of us. when she saw us all together she asked "are you guys celebrating something?" i, of course, being the sarcastic cynic that i am scoffed, and kind of muttered under my breath. one of the other moms mentioned that we were celebrating the "memory of our children" {which was a much better response than the one i gave}. but i don't think our waitress heard her completely or understood, so she asked if we were "childless for the evening." which was when i finally piped up and told her that the reason that we were all together was because we had all unfortunately lost children. she was very apologetic, and we could all tell that she felt terrible for even asking the question. but honestly, i really didn't even give it a second thought since these days this happens to me more often than not. so i went about the night thoroughly enjoying the company, and enjoying the fact that i was amongst people who understood.

after dinner was done, our waitress then came out and surprised us with such a thoughtful sympathy card {signed by the entire staff that night} and gave us all complimentary desserts. to say that we were moved would be an understatement. to see that they cared that much about us and the pain we were in....there really are no words for that. i was just overwhelmed by the love and compassion they showed us all. the manager came over to our table and talked to us a bit, and expressed her sorrow about our losses. she told us how donna, our waitress, felt so bad about our situations that she felt compelled to do a little something for us to help us honor our children. i'm still just rendered speechless just thinking about what happened. 

the envelope "from your family at PF Chang's"
the inside
us with our lovely waitress (she's in the center)

2. swanky hotels and weekend getaways. out of my anger at how unfair life has been these days, i decided to plan a weekend getaway to atlanta for D and i. i booked us a room at a really swanky hotel, and i plan to do nothing but relax, eat good food, and pamper myself. i totally need a break. i feel like i'm about to crack under all of this stress. so i am looking forward to it. i have even scheduled an appointment to get my memorial tattoo. it's gonna be a good weekend!

3. First Candle considers my blog a "resource." earlier this week i posted  about how my blog came to be listed on the Online Resources page over at First Candle. i'm still in shock that anyone {let alone a reputable organization like First Candle that does so much for families in need} would consider my blog a resource, but i'm not going to ask questions. i'm just going to accept that they do, and be eternally grateful.

4. giveaways. my third giveaway ends tonight, and i will be picking the winner of the personalized stationery set and matching address labels in just a few hours. i'm just so grateful that i am getting the chance to bring a smile to the face of a hurting momma.

so yea it does look like i may have a reason or two to be grateful though i still don't feel that way. but maybe if i do enough of these "happy list saturdays" i may have a change of heart.

Friday, March 11, 2011

those left behind & prayer request

last night a dear friend messaged me to share a tragic story of a family near her hometown. this girl went to pick her 15 month old son up from her parents house, and on her way home with him, their car was hit by a car coming from the opposite direction. the girl passed away at the scene, and her son shortly afterward. leaving her husband, the father of her baby boy, all alone.

my heart just broke. but i was surprised for who it broke more for this time. i was devastated for her husband. i was crushed for him...the one left behind. before i became someone left behind myself, whenever i would hear a tragic story, my heart broke for the person/people that had passed away. it made me so sad that someone else had left this world. that they would no longer get to enjoy everything that life had to offer them, the happiness, the stuff, the people. although, of course i realized that those that had just lost a loved one would be sad {as i had been every time someone i loved passed away - which up until that point had only been my grandparents, and my uncle}, my thoughts/prayers always seemed to be with the one(s) that had died.

but now things are different. i have lost someone so close to me that i have literally lost part of myself - my child. i have joined the ranks of those left behind. and when you go through such a profound, life-changing loss like the loss of a child, your whole perspective on life and death is drastically altered {as i blogged about here}. it goes without saying that i think about my baby boy constantly. i miss him more and more every second of i love him more at this very second, than i have ever loved him {or ever loved anyone for that matter}. and though it breaks me down to the core that i don't have him here with me on this side. i know, deep down, that he is alright. he is not suffering. he is not crying, or needing anything {unfortunately for me, not even his momma}. he is fine.

i am the one that is not fine. i am the one that is suffering, that is crying, that is needing {him}. i am the one that is broken. we, the ones left behind, now have the grueling task of trying to make it in this world without the people we love. we have to learn how to function all over again. and what is really our motivation to do this? what is our motivation to continue on with life? in this life we are guaranteed more suffering. yes, i realize that losing a child is probably one of the worst suffering a person can face, and i've already been there. but i know i will face more disappointment, more heartache, more pain while i'm here.

hope and faith are the only things that any of us left behind have. hope that one day we will experience more than just merely existing. hope that one day we will actually want to continue to live, continue to enjoy everything that life has to offer us. faith that there is someone out there, watching over us that does see the pain that we are in, that does care, and that is helping us along the way. but for those of us left behind, those two words can sometimes seem like just that...words. even though i struggle daily to put one foot in front of the other, though i struggle at times to make it to the next moment and breath, i still continue to do so. and i truly believe at this point that it's because of all of the prayers that have been said for us.

and so i ask all of you to please send a prayer up for this family. please ask whoever it is you believe in to give this now wifeless husband, and childless father the strength to make it, the strength to put one foot in front of the other, and to take one breath at a time, until he gets to a point where he is doing more than just merely existing...

Dearest Juju,
Tomorrow is your 5 month angelversary, and I still miss you so much it hurts. I am trying my hardest to make it in this world without you. I am trying my hardest to live the rest of my life in a way you would be proud of. But I want you to know that not a moment goes by that I don't think of you, or long to hold you, touch you and kiss you again. Today I officially booked my appointment to have my "Juju tattoo" done. I am so glad that I will have a piece of you with me forever. Please stay extra close to me the next few days as I get through yet another milestone day. I love you more than I ever have, but not more than I ever will. ♥

Thursday, March 10, 2011

so very humbled...

sometimes i really have to laugh at myself when i re-read my posts. my whole blog seems to be written by 2 completely different people {which i guess it has}. the highs and lows of grief never cease to amaze {or exhaust} me. i thought by now things would be leveling out, and my moods would get a little more consistent. but that is just more proof that grief is not something that can be defined. and for the type-a planners of the world {like me} that is the scariest part.

i've gotten several emails from people who have found my blog who have commented that my words have "helped" them. now i have never.ever.ever considered myself a good writer. actually, my 11th grade english teacher once told me that i was going to "fail" her class. so that pretty much solidified in my mind that i was never going to cut it as a writer {which is guess is why i decided to become an engineer}. and though most of the time i feel like nothing i'm writing makes sense, and that i'm completely going mad. i suppose that grief and tragedy bring you a clarity that you might not have had otherwise, as in my case. or maybe, as a friend put it, my being able to express myself in words is a special gift Julius left behind for me.

whatever the case may be, i'm truly humbled that so many have found comfort in my words and Julius' story. and i thank Ms. Erin Leatherwood at First Candle today for her email asking if they could add a link to my blog on their Online Resources page. if you have not yet checked out First Candle, please do. they have so many resources for those affected {directly or indirectly} by baby loss. here is their mission statement from their website:

First Candle is a national nonprofit health organization uniting parents, caregivers and researchers nationwide with government, business and community service groups to advance infant health and survival. Together with our national network of members and partners, we are working to ensure that every baby is given the best possible chance to reach not only his or her first birthday, but many happy birthdays beyond.
i know it was such a blessing for me to be able to work with First Candle and Erin right after Julius passed away to set up his memorial fund. and they also sent us such a wonderful care/bereavement package. so needless to say, it is an amazing privlege and honor for me to have my blog on their page. it is an amazing privlege to be able to share my light, my son with people all over the world. of course, it does make me wish that i had thought of a more eloquent title for my blog. but hey, it is what it is, right?!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"When the World turns its back on you..."

i know i've been a little quiet over here these days. this past week i've been dealing with the demons of grief. you just never know when it's going to sneak up on you, and it usually leaves me drained for a few days afterward. my heart has really been having a difficult time processing things. i find myself staring at his pictures trying to comprehend the fact that i have to spend the rest of MY life without him. that's a tough pill to swallow. i know that this information is not new information, but i don't think my brain really focused too much on it until now.

this morning brought me another major sobfest. but then afterward instead of feeling helpless {as i usually do}, i decided to do something about it. a scene from the disney movie - the lion king - flashed in my head. after simba lost his father in the stampede {i apologize to anyone i just spoiled this for}, he has this conversation with the meerkat, timon...

Timon: Look, kid. Bad things happen, and you can't do anything about it. Right?
Simba: Right.
Timon: Wrong! When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world.

i definitely feel as though the world has turned its back on me. so i decided that i was going to do the same thing back {mature, i know}. i got out of bed, and did what i do best - plan. i am painfully aware of the fact that everything is out of my control. but i'm just not ok sitting and waiting for life to happen to/for me. i feel like i'm sitting on the sidelines, watching everyone else get a chace to play. and it's killing me. i'm in this terrible limbo...i'm a little further out of the "early early grief" stage, but i still can't see the forest from the trees. so i planned. i planned a trip to an acupuncturist {holy mother of Mary, i could seriously use any form of relaxation i can get these days}. and the plans i am the most excited about...

i planned a weekend trip for D and i at the end of the month to atlanta. i desperately need to get away from this place. from my house. from the memories. not from Juju, of course, he will be coming with us. i booked us a room in a really nice hotel. and i'm making plans now to schedule an appointment to get my memorial tattoo done. i'm stoked about getting a chance to hang out with D uninterrupted. stoked about the chance to stop doing everything by the book, like i always do, and just splurge on me, on us. i need this trip. i'm tired of feeling like the world is turning its back on me. i'm tired of doing the same things, day in and day out hoping something will change. i'm tired of depriving myself now because of "the future." i'm just tired.

so this has given me something to do, and something to look forward to...for now. we also plan to take a trip sometime in may {around his birthday}, so once we get back from our trip to atlanta, i will start on planning that one.


in some lighter news, this saturday is the end of giveaway #3. if you have not gotten a chance to enter, please check out this post and do so. this sunday is the day of my Thirty-One fundraiser party. my dear friend, nikki, will be donating 20% of the total sales to Juju's memorial fund at The CJ Foundation for SIDS {our goal is $5k in 2011}. please check out nikki's page to see all of the adorably cute things Thirty-One has to offer. you don't have to attend the party in person. you can order online directly from nikki, and all of the online sales {from now until march 13th} will count toward this event. so go score something cute for yourself and your loved ones!! ♥

Friday, March 4, 2011

The 10 Worst Things to Say to a Grieving Person

i posted this article that i came across on In His Name {btw, if you haven't already checked it out, please do} a few days ago and got such a positive response that i wanted to share it here as well. this is a great resource for anyone that wants to better understand how to reach out to a bereaved family...

The Ten Worst Things to Say to a Grieving Person
Debra J. Hicks

Here's why some of the things people said after the loss of my son, Joshua, provided little comfort.

1. I know how you feel.
Even if your child died, you can't know how I feel, because every person and situation is unique. If you want to share how you felt when you experienced a loss, that's fine. But bite your tongue if you're ever tempted to compare two people's grief.

2. How are you doing?
Many people use this greeting out of habit and aren't prepared for an honest reply. A much better greeting is simply "It's good to see you." If you truly are prepared to find out how a grieving person is feeling, try to use specific questions such as: "What was the hardest thing you've had to face this week?" or "Have you been able to have a good cry lately?"

3. Look on the bright side. It could have been much worse.
Yes, it's true that others have had to face worse. And even though a bereaved person could probably find a dozen reasons to be thankful if hard-pressed, you needn't try to force them to be cheerful. Sadness is the normal, healthy response to the death of a loved one.

4. Call me if there's anything I can do to help.
Few grieving people will ask for help because they are usually too overwhelmed to assess and prioritize their needs. Friends should offer to do something specific and remember to get permission before taking action.

5. At least we know it was God's will.
While it's true that God allows bad things, this statement is insidious because it implies that He intentionally plans them in order to punish or teach us. It's not God but the enemy who deserves credit for evil and its completely irrational results.

6. Don't worry; you're young. You'll get on with your life.
A loved one who dies is not replaceable. Having another child can ease the pain of a secondary loss (such as the loss of an occupation, in my case, since I was a stay-at-home mom when my only child died). But parents will mourn the primary loss, a relationship with that child, for as long as they live.

7. Aren't you happy your child doesn't have to live in this sinful world anymore?
Although we have a blessed hope that the separation of death is only temporary, happiness won't be realized until the great reunion. If parents were meant to care only for heaven and nothing for this life, then the happiest parents would be those whose babies are stillborn, right?

8. Don't talk that way. You know better than that.
The ability to safely express doubts, questions, and anger is crucial in the healing process. It's perfectly natural for grieving persons to wonder why God didn't step in and overrule in their particular situation. Allow them to wrestle through this difficult issue and question the One who says in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together." He can sooner help a person who expresses these feelings than one who buries them beneath a guise of unquestioning acceptance.

9. You must be really strong. I'd die if that happened to me.
What you perceive as calm strength is more likely the numbness of shock. You may be surprised how many grief-stricken people pray for God to let them die, too. Death would be a welcome relief, and many have briefly considered suicide. The last thing they need is for someone to imply that they are disloyal for trying to make the best of the life they have.

10. You should be over this by now.
Grieving for a child is a lifelong process, not a weeklong event. The only way to get "over" it would be to forget that child, an unhealthy alternative to grief known as denial. Life will eventually seem worth living again, but it will never be as it once was. Too much has changed.


i could also add a couple:
  • "the Lord giveth, and He taketh away"
  • "you're young, you can have more children"
  • "the only thing that will make this better is time and the Lord"
was there anything said to you that you would include on this list?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


today is just one of those days, when the weight of Julius' absence seems almost suffocating...

i'm having a hard time adjusting these days. i've had to make so many adjustments over the last 4.5 months, and i'm tired of it. somewhere in between february 12th, and today we hit the milestone of Juju being gone longer than he had been alive. i've been trying to keep myself busy, so i missed that exact day. and thankfully, february spared me dealing with the 30th. but just because we never hit feb 30th, doesn't mean that i don't know that my baby would have turned 9 months old!! i can't believe that i would have had a 9 month old. i wonder what he would be doing now...

i still continue to adjust to being a childless mother. a few short months ago, i was attending playdates, and researching highchairs, car seats, diapers. i was trying to figure out how to get Julius to take a bottle. i was helping him to have a "painless" teething experience. i was walking down the baby isles beaming with pride as i searched for something cute to bring home to Juju. and now i feel as though, as my dear friend B so eloquently posted, "my membership has been revoked."

i'm still adjusting to being a couple again. i'm not sure why. i've been D's girlfriend/fiancee/wife for much longer than i've ever been Julius' mother. i've spent more time living with D than i ever have lived with Juju. but now, it's different. i'm not trying to say that my feelings for my husband have changed. on the contrary, i actually feel closer to him/more secure in our relationship right now than i ever have in the 12+ years that we've been together. i am extremely lucky to have him, especially when so many couples end up separating after such a tragedy. but those 4.5 months with Julius, those 40 weeks carrying him altered me so profoundly.

a couple of month ago, D told me that he felt as though he had lost a big part of "me" {he didn't say it in a critical way at all, we were just having an honest discussion}. and i fell silent. usually i'm trying to refute something he's said, but this time i knew without a doubt that he was 100% right. he had lost a big part of me, because i know that i've lost a big part of myself - a 19lb part of myself, to be exact. i know that somewhere deep down a piece of happy, non-grieving tiffany is there. but it takes A LOT of strength {most of the time too much for me to muster} to bring her to the surface. and i don't think she will ever be back permanently, unfortunately {it's sad because i really liked her too}.

i try to think about my life before Julius and i can't. i wonder why i was ever afraid of becoming a parent. i wonder why i was terrified to lose my "freedom." i have the ability to pick up and go anywhere i want without thinking of schedules, child care, feeding schedules, and i hate it. i would give anything and everything to go back in time, to be with my baby boy again. but since that's not possible, i will continue making adjustments.

"‎No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you, after all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside." - unknown

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Doing Good in Juju's Name Giveaway #3

i can't believe it's time for yet another giveaway. i'm so happy that we've been able to bring a bit of happiness to some women who like me are in desperate need of it. this month's giveaway is sponsored by my dear friend, in real life, nikki. she just recently became a consultant of the company Thirty-One. here's a little blurb about the company itself:

"Thirty-One is a faith based, direct-sales company that specializes in personalized products and gifts. The name Thirty-One comes from The Old Testament - Proverbs 31 that speaks of a virtuous woman who worked inside and outside of the home. Because of her qualities she was worthy of honor, reward and praise. At Thirty-One our motto is "Celebrate Encourage Reward." Something all women need more of these days!"

while i was looking at the catalog one day trying to get ideas for one of my giveaways, i came across the stationery page. they had such adorable and unique stationery sets. and then the light bulb went off...these days i spend a lot of time writing cards to friends/family - thank you cards, cards to fellow BLMs, etc. and i always try to think of a way to incorporate Julius. when i saw the personalized stationery sets in particular, i knew i had figured out my way to incorporate Juju. so i ordered a set of cards personalized with the initial J. i also ordered a set of cards that i plan to send out to BLMs that has the word "Remember" on it. the cards are so cute. and though i hate that i had to order cards to memorialize my baby boy, and cards to let friends know that i will always remember their babies, i love that Thirty-One has provided me with a cute way to do this.

the giveaway:
so this month's giveaway {for BLMs only, sorry} is for 1 set of personalized initial cards {with whatever initial you want}, and a matching set of address labels. you get a choice of 1 of these 2 designs {the cards are the ones on the lefthand side of the pics}:

how to enter:
to enter, just post the initial that you would have added to the cards if you won the giveaway. i will keep the giveaway open until march 12th {Juju's 5 month angelversary}, and will announce the winner on march 13th. good luck!

***btw, for those who are smitten with all the cute stuff Thirty-One has to offer, you can check out nikki's page and order directly from her. in addition to this giveaway, i will be having a fundraising party at my place on the 13th, hosted by nikki, to raise money for Julius' memorial fund at CJ Foundation. she will be donating 20% of all sales to his fund. so any orders placed on the page for this event will count.***