Capture Your Grief 2016
CAPTURE YOUR GRIEF
31 days of images, 31 days of thoughts, 31 days of healing for Baby Loss Awareness Month.
In memory of Koby x
Day 1: Sunrise
I had decided a couple of days I just didn't have the time to do the challenge this year. I'm so busy with kids, and my business, orders, new products and ideas and our auction and everything else... but I woke up this morning - and its my birthday ... and I felt drawn to it, so here we are - another year. I feel I have to do this for Koby. I need and want to do it. So here is this mornings sky, a bit late for the sunrise, but its the start. Koby you are always here, with us.
Day 2 : Who are they ?
Koby ... my light and dark, my wishes and my dreams, my baby that couldn't stay, my miracle, my hope, my love, my despair, my inspiration.
You are the child we will never truly know, though you have a personality and place in our lives. You are the child who inspires me to be better for my other children, to be better for me, for you. Because of you I went to the darkest place I've ever been, because of you I came out the other side, because of you I'm the best person I can be. You should be nearly 5. Starting school. Chasing your brothers. Instead you are our angel, watching from above.
After Koby was born, it felt like it wasn't real. It felt grey. It felt dark. It felt unreal. I wanted to open my eyes and wake up. Koby was here, at home, but he didn't move. He didnt wake up. He didn't cry. Then we had to bury him. It wasn't right. It couldn't be right. He was my baby. How could I leave him out in the cold. My world was grey and dark and foggy and I couldn't open my eyes and see clearly. It was all wrong. All I wanted was my baby and I couldnt see anything else. It felt isolating and unimaginably painful like there was no escaping the pain that I felt. I could not see a way forward. I didn't want to move forward and leave him behind, and I didn't know how to. The fog, of disbelief and grief and anger, is something I will never forget. Something I would never wish on anyone. But that is what it felt like. For me.
Day 4 : Support Circles
It's hard to be Mum to a baby who isn't here. It's hard for other people to understand that you will always be their Mum, that you have a need to include them. I'm very lucky to have met some amazing friends who do understand, but sadly this is because they have been there too. I'm very lucky that my family is comfortable including and talking about Koby. In times I haven't received the support I might want and need, I have found it in other places, through other means. This is our family photo. We all include and love Koby, he is here, represented by "Koby Bear" - his stunt double.
What people don't know about my journey of grief ... Well - it is nearly 5 years and I still have times when I break down and cry uncontrollably, where I wonder how on earth this could have happened, how could my baby have died? Still have moments where I want to scream at how unfair it all is .. Do you know what ? 5 years on - I still sleep with my Koby Bear.
Day 6 : Empathy
Today is about what empathy looks like for me ... we all know what it doesn't look like ... (At least you have your other children, You can always have more children, It must have been meant to be etc), here are my thoughts on what it does look like.
People who came, people who were there. People who said they didn't know what to say, but they just wanted to give me a big hug, people who said they were so sorry with tears in their eyes. People who put there arm around me, their hand on my shoulder, people who sat beside me, who listened to me, who didn't try and fix things - because in reality - how on earth can you fix this ? You cant. Our kids, who just wanted to be with their baby brother, who wanted to cuddle and talk and sing to him. The funeral director who bought our kids soft toys, from Koby. Empathy is just being there. Losing a baby isn't something anyone can fix, there are no right, nothing magic you can say to make it all better - so just by being there, being present, and remembering - it all means so much.
Today is about myths surrounding grief. I think losing a baby to stillbirth is different to losing another loved one like a parent or grandparent. Because losing a parent or grandparent, you have memories, you have people in common, you can talk about them openly and there are people who remember them and are happy to share those memories with you. When you lose a baby, that noone has met - they don't know them. There are no shared memories. Noone knows what to say. I knew Koby best. I grew him. I'm not sure what the myth is here - I'm getting a bit off track. I guess all grief is different - yes there are stages that are similar, but everyone's journey is different. Perhaps the biggest myth is that you will 'get over it'.. You will never get over losing someone you love more than anything ... you get through it, and you learn to carry on living, and hopefully you find happiness again - it may not seem possible at the time - but yes I have found happiness again ... So I guess my myth is - you don't get over it - you learn to live with it. You learn to hold onto and embrace the love you had for that person, and not concentrate on the pain of losing them.
Day 8 : Beautiful Mysteries
Who would Koby be today ? He would be nearly 5, getting excited about starting school. He is a thinker, an inventor, an explorer. He is quick and he is wise, and gives the best cuddles. He adores his big brothers, and sister, and his little brother too. Where the others have blond hair, his is darker, and he has green eyes. Like his brothers he loves to get out in nature, he sees beauty. He runs and laughs. His laugh sounds like magic. It is contagious. He climbs this tree, with his brothers ... This tree that was painted by his Great-Grandad, my Papa. I wonder if my Papa and he are there now, together. Its a magical place, there in that painting.
Day 9 : Surrender and Embrace
Have I surrendered to my grief ... At first had no choice. I physically couldn't function for I found the grief overwhelming, I am sure I've said it before, but it felt like there was a cloud of fog engulfing me and I couldn't see past or through it. I was surrounded by hurt and anger and pain. The fog did clear, and life returned, the sun kept rising, and day by day and month by month time passed. I have found if I feel grief returning, I let it. I let myself feel what I feel. If I feel like a good cry, I do. It does cleanse you, I find it good to let it out. If I dont I push it down, it comes back again and again, until I allow myself to surrender to the feeling. Sometimes I need to feel sad. Sometimes feeling sad makes me feel connected to Koby. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it actually comforts. I bought this lighthouse earlier in the year. Koby is like my lighthouse - the bright light leading me through life. I need to feel what I feel to follow that light.
Day 10 : Symbols and Signs
When I see these Iris's they remind me of Koby. They are Koby's flowers. This is a picture from last year as ours aren't flowering yet, but they will soon. Butterflies too, and elephants I associate with Koby. "Because Elephants never forget". Do I believe Koby sends me signs ... I do, I told the story last year of seeing rainbows all the time when we were ttc. Of how I had almost reached the point of giving up after 7 failed cycles of fertility treatment. Of giving up work to concentrate on my business because everything had become too much. How I found a week after finishing work that I was late and how I thought the world was telling me not to bother testing because I couldn't find the right section in the different supermarket I was in. And I asked for a sign before I went in and didn't get one. I came out sad and disheartened... to look up in the clear blue sky and see a huge rainbow and hear a little voice in my head - "it takes a while to make a rainbow Mum" ... I drove to my usual supermarket got the test, and it was positive, 8 months later we have our rainbow ... he was right - it did take a while to make a rainbow x
Day 11 : Creative Heartwork
I have done lots of creative things in memory of Koby ... my business of course is all in memory of him. We have tattoos, he has a garden ... my FIRST creative work was the mosiac I made, in a week, just a couple of weeks after he died. It consumed me, and it foretold the arrival of his little brother, by way of an extra star (which was not planned - I just mis-counted and didn't realise until afterwards).
Day 12 : Lemons and Lemonade
Wow ... Its seems hard to imagine anything good could come from our beautiful baby's death. But you know - there has been good. I have met some amazing people - that I just never would have met otherwise. I've been involved in some exciting fundraising projects - raising funds for Waikato's Cuddle cot, and helping others around the country, and more recently for some lovely ladies who cast stillborn babies. Hopefully helping to ease others journeys a little. ALL my life, I've not known what I wanted to do, job wise. I had always worked in banks, and in accounting type roles, because, well I was good with numbers. But I had a creative heart - and had not found my thing. Koby lead me to that thing. I found it because of him, and because of him my business exists, I can work from home and be here for his brothers. I can run these auctions, and donate to help baby loss causes. Because of him. For him.
Thank you Koby xx
Infertility after loss is beyond heartbreaking. You are terrified to have hope because you are terrified if you get pregnant you will lose that baby too. You desperately pray for those blue lines, but you are terrified of them at the same time. You count every minute, analyse every feeling. Fertility treatment is exhausting. Waiting is exhausting. Hoping is exhausting. Trying not to hope too much is exhausting. Its exhausting trying to protect yourself. Bad news, month after month. Its draining and exhausting. You are terrified you will never get pregnant. You are terrified you will get pregnant. You are living in a limbo world not knowing how to move forward. You wish you could fast forward to the end result. But at the same time you dont want to wish time away because every month that goes by means there is less chance that you will see those lines. You give up. You try again. You give up again. You wonder what life would look like if you never get your rainbow. You wonder what it takes to push you to that point where you just stop trying. Stop hoping. You think you are at that point, but then hope creeps in again, and you realise you aren't. Then, when you think you might be getting close to that point. Pregnant. And now you are terrified of being pregnant. Analysing everything again. Its exhausting. Now you hope against hope that you can keep your baby safe. Now you never give up hope. But you still have to protect yourself, just that little bit ... just in case.
My beliefs have changed. I HAVE to believe there is some place where Koby is, that his spirit is there, that he is happy. I can't accept anything else. I am not sure what that place is. My belief system is still a work in progress. I do know though - that these are his Iris's that bloom every year in time for today.
Day 15 : International Wave of Light
For Koby .. and all the babies gone too soon <3
Day 16 : Full Moon Retreat
I missed the full moon. The day was about taking time out to just be. I'm not sure I did that, but I did the next day. I visited Koby for the first time in ages, and just sat. It was a beautiful evening. I just sat with Koby, and watched the sky.
Day 17 : Sacred Space
This is where we left Koby. This is where we said goodbye. This is where we placed him into the ground, and had to walk away. This is sacred ground. This is where we visit him. This is where we have his Birthday Cake. This is a place I can never imagine being able to move away from.
I have lots of rituals ... I like to do things for Koby. We always bake him a cake on his birthday, and spend some time out at the cemetary ... we buy him a new present each year for his birthday, and it goes into the wee door in his headstone, so it gets replaced each year. Though this year his little brother desperately wanted the yellow dump truck that was in there, so his Dad said Koby was ok with that, and let Devon have it. We haven't decided what we will get him this year, but it will be his 5th ... I'm thinking Lego related ... all 5 year olds like Lego right ??
When Koby died, there was not a thing I was grateful for. How could I be grateful ? My baby had died. The end. As time has gone by, my baby has still died. But I am grateful that he was here. I am grateful I carried him. That I loved him. I am grateful for my other children. I am grateful I have them. I am grateful for life. For my family. For my friends. I am grateful for looking at life in a new way. For being grateful. I am grateful for all Koby has given me, for the world he has opened up for me.
I am grateful for Koby x
Losing a baby sure does reap havoc on your relationships ... with everyone. No relationship is immune to the grief that we faced. Everyone grieves differently and that is very hard to mesh into a relationship - where everyone wants to be heard and understood. It takes a lot of time and patience. Friends who haven't lost a baby cant begin to understand how life altering it is. Some stay, some go. New friends from the baby loss world are a god-send and just seem to 'get' how you feel even when sometimes you don't yourself.
Everything has changed. The world is different now. Relationships included.
Day 22 : Pearls of Wisdom
I'm not sure I have any great pearls of wisdom or words of hope that will make everything better - but then I don't think anyone does. There is nothing that will make it better. I think the greatest wisdom is accepting that it will never be better. But you will learn to live, alongside your grief. It will get less all consuming. You will continue, and you will find happiness again. It might be hard to believe, but it will happen. You will learn to laugh again. Your journey is your journey so it may not be in a month, or 5 months or even a year - but you will laugh again - and it will be genuine laughter. And when you laugh - it doesn't mean you hurt any less from losing your child, that you love them any less... it means you are learning to live with losing them. You are learning to live again. And you will always love your baby and miss them.
But the raw grief and pain, it does fade over time.
Koby is Spring to me. All the new growth, spring flowers, weather getting warmer .. as this starts, I know it is Koby's season. All the new little buds, his Iris's starting to flower ... spring rain ... but especially the Iris and the blossoms. Everything seemed to stop that spring. I don't remember summer at all. I remember the sound of the little sparrow that used to visit outside our bedroom window every day as I struggled to wake up and face another day. It was always there, waiting for me. Until one day it wasn't.
Day 24 : Consciously Becoming
CarlyMarie is right ... I do split my life into before Koby and after Koby. I am a different person, whether I like it or not. Before Koby I looked at life differently. Everything was different. Babies didn't die. Not before they were even born. There was no such thing as grief that stayed with you forever. I'd lost people I'd loved before. But you can remember their lives .. you have photos and memories. Other people knew them. You can openly talk about them. After Koby ... everything has changed. There is a whole 'secret' world of baby loss families. Families that gather together who understand. People who get that grief isn't straight forward. People who get that things are different now. It's secret, because the rest of the world really doesn't understand. I don't think you can, until it happens to you. Who am I now ? I've always felt things deeply, but now even more so. I can't watch the news for all the bad things. I worry for people I don't know. For their parents. For their children. For those having to live without those they love. I see brighter things. I see darker things. I appreciate more. I am terrified of letting my loved ones out of my sight. I am scared. I have more patience. I have less patience. I appreciate the little things. I don't care what others think. I say how I feel. I want to help. I want people to be able to share how they are feeling. I think I have much more empathy than I used to have. I love more. I see beauty.
Day 25 : I am ...
I wish you were here
I remember you
I could not believe that you didn't get to a chance to stay
If only things were different
I am still your mother and always will be
Day 26 : What heals you
What has healed me, or helped .. is creating things. I create jewellery. When I have time/space I like to create gardens. I find I am always busy. I don't do 'down time'. I have created that. Keeping busy means I don't have time to think. But it helps to think about Koby. It helps to have a cry. It helps to indulge in my grief sometimes. It helps to talk to others. I think you find what heals you, as you go along.
Koby you are my family. You live up in the sky, in the heavens, and in our hearts, we cannot see you .. but you were here, I carried you and gave birth to you. You are my family, and you always will be
Day 28 : Self Compassion
Today is about self care and looking after yourself. This is not something I'm great at. I tend to keep my self so busy I don't get time to take time out for myself. It is on my 'to do' list though :)
Day 29 : Give away your love
Every day I give my love to my children. Every year I give a little necklace for every month Koby has been gone. This year I gave 60 little necklaces away ... giving away with love, in the hope they bring some small comfort. This year we gifted them in October during Baby Loss Awareness week, instead of on his birthday.
Day 30 : My Promise to You
Koby, my promise is to always love you, to keep you close and to make you proud. I promise to always include you, my second son, in my life, to cherish the fact that you were here, very briefly, with us. I promise to love you without reservation, and to remember and honour you always. I promise to tell your little brother all about you, so he knows, there was another before him, who is no longer here. I just promise to love you. I can't promise to never be sad, or to only be positive, as sometimes that is just not possible. But I promise to live my life with love and hold onto those I love dearly.