Today marks 7 years since my Kathryn breathed her last breath in my arms. She was two days old. But those two days changed everything for us. For me. For my future.
I still cry. I cried today when I posted the only picture I have of me holding my sweet baby girl. I still had to hold myself back when we were singing Happy Birthday to her twin sister from singing “Happy Birthday Dear Charis (and Kathryn)” – and I’m starting to realize, this is a pain that will never go away.
It still hurts.
And there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. It’s not abnormal, it’s not concerning, it’s not for attention. It’s just a hole in my heart that will not ever fully close. And a few days a year, I allow it to burst wide open.
And if you’re still hurting, crying from time to time, feeling sad… it’s OKAY. Because you lost your CHILD.
Give yourself grace, mama.
Allow yourself to feel the pain and sadness, but try to do something good with it too.
I’ve noticed from seven years of working with other grieving mothers that we often feel a pressure to be “normal” again – to be “fine” when we’re asked how we’re doing. To hide our pain and pretend like we’re better than we are. Because society looks down upon people for grieving too long.
But I want you to know, there is NO TIMELINE when you’ve suffered a significant loss. I do also want to say if it’s been more than 18-24 months, and you cannot shake the all-the-time sadness, I encourage you to seek help from a professional. Because there is a difference from feeling sad on significant dates and from time to time as opposed to feeling sad and hopeless all the time.
I took medication in those first few years to help me through the worst of it. There’s nothing wrong with that. It helped me function. It helped me get out of bed every day. Don’t feel ashamed if you need help too.
Eventually, there will be more good days than bad.
If you’re reading this, and you’re really suffering, know that eventually, you’ll find your smile again. You’ll find hope. You’ll find what we call your “new normal”.
One of the best ways I’ve found myself back to peace is through helping and giving back to others who are hurting.
We declared December 12th Kathryn day on the 2nd anniversary of her death. I wanted to feel the feels, but also do something with all of that. I wanted to brighten someone’s day even if for only a short while. And I wanted other people to join us. To honor and remember Kathryn. So we ask people every December 12th to join us in doing random acts of kindness.
Throughout the years we’ve organized different campaigns around Kathryn day. One year we did a diaper drive for our local diaper bank. One year we pushed hard for donations for our March for Babies team. Another year we rounded up donations to complete Kathryn’s Butterfly Garden in our local Children’s Memorial Garden in downtown Columbia.
I almost always try to make a trip to the local hospitals around this day and deliver copies of Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother to be handed out to mamas who leave the hospital with empty arms. When the time is right, and they read the book, they’ll be lifted up by over 30 parents who have taken that journey and hold them in their hearts.
This year we are once again asking donations for our nonprofit – Sunshine After the Storm. We use the funds to send care packages and provide moments of light to mothers in their darkest moment. I don’t usually hear back from the women who receive the packages, but when I do, it is always so rewarding. The genuine love that they felt, being remembered by strangers. I can tell you from my own experience – it touches you in a different way when a complete stranger sends you a package full of love.
I think about you and remember you every day. I wonder if you’d be as crazy as your sister Charis, or if you’d be quieter and let her have the stage. I wonder how all of our lives would be right now if you were here with us.
I hurt for your sister, who continues to miss and ask about you. She still remembers one time when you came to play with her, and wonders when God will bring you back to play again. And I tell her that you are ALWAYS with her.
I hold you in my heart and memory.
I love you so much.