Capture Your Grief 2019
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
So special that it always starts on my birthday.
Day 2 : Child of Mine
My beautiful perfect little baby .. you were the sum of all our hopes and dreams and the miracle I never thought I'd get. I only got to keep you for a short time, but I loved you for every second of your life, and I'll continue to love you for every second of mine. With every ounce of my being I wish you could have stayed, but you have changed my life more than I could ever have imagined that day when I held your tiny hand for the last time. Koby I love you to the stars and back for forever xxx
Day 3 : Twilight of Memory
Sharing a memory of Koby ... I'm not sure why I'm thinking of his funeral. I remember the tiny coffin. I remember Koby's Dad putting it in the ground. I remember how truly heart breaking that was. How unreal it seemed that I could possibly be putting my baby in the ground. Leaving him there. I remember all the kids running around, I have the funniest video of them running in circles around me. I remember all the love for Koby. I remember knowing that I'd love him forever. I love this photo, with the kids, my Mum and my amazing midwife, putting flowers on his grave.
Day 4 : Heart Connection
I definately feel connected to Koby even though he isn't here. I feel him in nature, in rainbows and butterflies, in clouds and sunshine, at the beach and in the country. Rainbows make me smile and I remember when I was waiting for my own "Rainbow", all the rainbows that I saw just when I needed them. I know he is with me, I feel it in my heart.
Day 5 : Friendship
I have made some amazing friends because of Koby. Friends who understand because (sadly) they are living this journey too. Friends who help to celebrate Koby's birthday, friends who help us give back, friends who mention Koby's name, who understand why every day is different now. Life after loss can be very lonely, people in general aren't comfortable in grief, talking about grief and loss. It's something we don't want to think about, and can be very isolating. Having people who know that grief can be a life long journey, that it changes, softens, but can return raw and painful no matter how the time passes .. is so important. I've always said, and I'll say again that if ANYONE ever wants to talk .. I am always here. You don't need to be alone x
Day 6 : Gratitude
It took me a long time to be able to feel grateful again, to find reasons that life is good. I spent a lot of time searching for reasons where there were none. No reason why you couldn't stay. No reason why my life had changed forever. No reason why there would be always a missing piece of my heart.
Along that journey somewhere I realised that happiness isn't a destination, its part of the journey. Its little snippets along the way. I also realised that being grateful about what you do have, although cliche, really does improve the journey. Today I am grateful for many things. I am grateful that you were here. I am grateful that you existed. I am grateful to be the person I am today, BECAUSE of you. I am grateful for my children. I am grateful you sent me my rainbow. I am grateful for my passion and the road I have been on since you were here. I am grateful that I am still here. I am grateful for the little foot in the picture, because without you, this little foot would never have existed. I am grateful for you. I love you Koby xxx
Day 7 : Inhale / Exhale
Today is about taking a day off and just being .. just appreciating nature and life. We were on holiday and the weather wasn't playing nice. But took the time to have lunch at the beach, watching the rain and waves crash in. The beach has always been my place of grounding and even more so now.
Day 8 : Empathy
There is power in empathy. The ability to listen and not try to fix. To be truly present for someone else and just listen. I don't know what it is about losing a baby, but I hear it a lot .. after .. you feel more. Everything is amplified. You hurt and cry more, and not just for your loss, but for others. For sad stories. Watching the news. I can't watch the news any more. It's overwhelming. The flip side is, when I let myself, I always feel the good more too. For those who have listened to me, been there, not tried to fix me ... it is appreciated more than you can imagine.
Day 9 : Day Dream
I do day dream about Koby .. I imagine him growing up. He'd be nearly 8 now. This picture was made for me ... a few years ago .. how I day dreamed him then. I wonder what he'd look like. Would he look like his brothers ? Would he have been blond as a baby, and slowly got darker like their hair has ? How would he sound, would he love the things they love ? Would he love gaming like they do ? Would they be playing together ? What would it be like ... with him here ? Who would he be ? Who would I be ?
All the what if's ... they'd be answered if he was here. I wouldn't have a lifetime of wondering ... missing. I'd know. Instead I have day dreams ...
Koby, just like I'd wish for you if you were EarthSide - you can be anything you want Just have to dream it.
Day 10 : Seasons
This is Koby's season .. the start of. We got home on Tuesday from holiday to find the first of his Iris's flowering. It's one month and 8 days until his birthday. These are his flowers, and they always signal that his birthday is approaching. My Mum brought lots of these for me, and for his funeral, and they are just part of his memory now. Before we sold my Mums house, I made sure that I got some bulbs, so now they come up here every year too. He is my spring baby .. unsettled weather, but with hope in the air
Day 11 : Belief
This is something I've struggled with my whole life. Something I'm uncomfortable with, because I don't know. Something I have thought about a lot, or refuse to think about at all because it is difficult. I saw today's topic at 11.11am. After Koby died, I saw 11.11 a lot, and 11.18. It wasn't like I went looking, though I was looking for reason... it was a gradual awareness that somehow these numbers found a way of appearing for me every day. Not only are these the 'angels numbers' they are very significant for Koby, as it was 11/11/11 (at 11am) that I was admitted to hospital with Koby, and 18/11/11 when he was born. Is it a coincidence, or something I 'make' happen, I'm not sure, but I like to believe that it's a sign. That he is here with me. That these things are a wee 'hi' from him. What do I believe ? I'm not sure .. but I KNOW with all my heart that he is with me, that we don't just 'stop'. Does that make me spiritual .. I'm don't know. I believe he also sends me rainbows. I see them when I need to - even when logically they shouldn't be there. I never thought I'd have another baby, a miracle was needed I was told. Medical science had failed us multiple times and I had all but given up. Then, after resigning from my job, I found myself late, I thought just maybe, and I had gone to my 'not usual' supermarket to buy a pregnancy test. I'd gone in and not been able to find the pregnancy tests. I decided of course I wasn't, if science hadn't worked, why on earth could I expect my miracle. I came out of the supermarket, a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, nothing bar one great big huge rainbow. I heard a little voice in my head 'it takes a while to make a rainbow, Mum' . I went to my usual supermarket, bought the test ... and sure enough. My miracle, my rainbow, sent by Koby
I believe in miracles, I believe in signs, I believe he is still here with me
Day 12 : Transformation
Today's theme is transformation - about how I have changed since Koby died. Who was I before .. who I am now.
There is definately a 'before Koby' Suz and an 'after Koby' Suz. Before Suz really had no idea babies died. She thought once you reached that magic 12 week mark you were guaranteed a baby. She was naive. She was lucky she didn't know. She was more relaxed and didn't have to fill up all her moments. She didn't have to keep her mind busy. She was mostly whole. She knew grief, but she didn't know all encompassing grief that just wasn't the natural order of things. That just shouldn't happen. She didn't know that you didn't necessarily get what you want, just because you want it. She wasn't scared. Things worked out.
After Suz knows that things don't always work out. She knows that no matter what you do, sometimes babies just die. She knows life can change in an instant. She knows absolute darkness exists. She knows what its like to want something so badly but not believing you will ever get it. She knows how long 9 months can be. She knows the absolute confusion of missing someone who you can only imagine, and loving someone who wouldn't be here if the one you miss was. She is scared more often than not. Of loss. Of losing those who are important. She is a crazy overthinker. She has to be busy. She feels more. She wants more. She appreciates more. She knows the miracle of life. She is grateful for what she has. For what she has had and experienced. For who she has become. She has given herself permission to be who she wants to be. She is a work in progress. She takes endless photos of sunsets. And I like her better.
This is my family portrait today .. my 2 boys and I. We are missing that extra wee head .. my nearly 8 year old ! We are smiling, happy, but still there is a missing piece, and there forever will be x
It's the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week tonight. It finishes with the International Wave of light, which starts here in NZ. We light a candle for Koby, and all the babies who could'nt stay tonight at 7pm and leave it burning for at least an hour. This happens around the world creating a wave of light around the globe in honour of all the babies lost and missed <3
I have many treasured belongs ... items from the hospital, photos, gifts people gave us, things we bought for Koby... This wee heart, it was made by my friend Andrea at Huggable Hearts. It is super special as it is made out the only outfit we'd bought for Koby ... it is also weighted to his birth weight. Sometimes when I feel like he is far away from me, far in the past, I pick up the heart to hug, and it's like a physical reminder that yes, he was real. He was here. He did exist. My forever baby x
Grief has taught me many things. I don't always practice them, I don't always remember them, but I am a work in progress, and noone can be always what they want to be. I've learnt that life doesn't always go to plan, that sometimes shit things happen. I've learnt that bad things can happen even when you do everything right. Sometimes there is no reason. I've learnt that I have to accept that I won't always get an answer, not everything has a reason, that sometimes I just won't understand 'why'. I've learnt to appreciate what I do have, to remember what I don't have, but that I can't let it consume me. I've learnt that tomorrow is not guaranteed, that we are lucky to have the opportunity to grow old. To embrace the days and opportunities and the good that comes my way.
I've learnt to accept that some days will be bad days... and that's ok. It's ok to feel what I feel, but I also know that it will pass, and I won't drown in it.
I've learnt that I love sunshine and rainbows, that sunsets and sunrises are amazing, that nature and beaches are healing, that laughter is truly wonderful and should be shared more often. I've learnt that I know what I want in life, and the kind of people I want around me. I've learnt the kind of person I want to be.
All because of one little boy who couldn't stay. Amazing what an influence that boy has had on me and the direction of my life. I can honestly say I'd be a different person today if it hadn't been for him. Love you Koby, my life changer
Day 19 : What heals you.
I've been lucky to find things that heal me. Koby led me on a path to my life today ... Because of him I found handstamped jewellery, and now this is not only my passion but my business. All my life I've been looking for something creative, my thing, but never found the right thing, and certainly never had the courage to jump into it, to turn it into a business.
Creating heals me. Creating for others heals me. Being able to create to help others is very healing. Next month I'll be donating 96 pendants to Waikato Hospital for the Manaia Room .. one for every month Koby has been gone. I do this every year. Koby's birthday gift... to help other families in some small way start their journey of healing. Of carrying on.
My children heal me. Loving them. My rainbow, bought joy into my life, hope and love. My sunshine baby, he lived through losing Koby too, he was what kept me going. He started me healing.
Time is healing .. it passes, it doesn't stop. Allowing myself to think about Koby, allowing myself to indulge sad thoughts, but to acknowledge there are lots of happy ones too. Allowing myself to be happy is healing, I found that was a conscious thought at the start... as I felt guilty if I laughed or had a moment where his loss wasn't all consuming.
Sunshine heals, flowers, nature, the beach .. sunsets, rain, walking ... living is healing.
Ed Sheerans "Small Bump" played on the radio as I was driving to work in the weeks preceeding Koby's birth ... it became his song, and can still bring me to tears.My small bump ... I didn't take many 'bump' photos .. I didn't realise they'd be important in the future. This one was a month earlier and one of the only ones I have.
I should have read the days in advance ... I've answered this already really with my jewellery and my business. Koby inspires me daily to create. I also found mosaic's because of Koby. 2 weeks after he died I found myself working on this - 10 hours a day for 5 days it took to create this. The heart symbolised our family, and the stars for each of our kids, including Koby. Somewhere along the line I realised that I'd drawn an extra one into the design. At the time I decided to keep it, and that the extra star represented "Hope". That hope became our rainbow baby. It took me a while after this, but I was drawn back into mosaics several years later, and now it is a favourite hobby that I do weekly.
What do I want the world to know about my child ? I want the world to know he existed. I want to be able to freely say that I have 3 children when someone asks that question. Especially meeting new Mums with my rainbow boy starting school ... the how many kids do you have question is so common. Sometimes I say 3, usually I say 2, because it is easier. Because there are follow up questions, then that look when I explain ... and perhaps that is the end of the conversation and we don't speak again. I want the world to know that those of us who have lost our babies WANT to include them in this answer without feeling like we have to appologise for making others feel uncomfortable. Just because they have died, doesn't make them any less our child. I want the world to know my child existed. That he had and continues to have a profound effect on my life. That I have 3 children, not just the 2 you see walking beside me. I want the world, instead of looking awkward or not knowing what to say .. to say I'm so sorry to hear that, what is your babies name ? I want the world to know, once you real, you can't become unreal again - that it lasts forever. Koby was real. He existed.
25. Self Care
Am important part of the grieving process is self care. What do I do ? It's not something I've been great at. I try to take time for me, but life is busy and there are always things I need to do. I try to sit and have a cup of tea at least once a day with my dogs... I like to sit out here (when its sunny) and just be. They obviously do too. It's calming just sitting. I like to take baths and read too - down time is an important part of my self care and I need to make it a priority for myself. I've not been good at being 'not busy', a quiet mind quickly fills itself with things I sometimes don't wish to think of, but I'm learning to find balance and peace.
What does my heart look like now ... ? There will always be a piece that is filled with Koby .. it misses him, grieves him, loves him, imagines him, wishes for him .. but it also appreciates that he was here, everything that he has given me. It appreciates how he has changed me, my heart appreciates who I am today. I wish with everything I have that he could be here today .. but he is kept safe right in my heart instead, he is always with me, I am always with him. He is my forever baby. My heart, feels content, as strange as that seems, even to me. Koby is there, safe in my heart forever more. I can't explain the peace I feel. I sat in the sun today in my swinging chair, your brothers playing with the dogs and I felt like all was well with the world. I felt content. You'll always be with me, I know that.
This is a picture from a couple of years ago with Koby's little brother, my rainbow baby. We take cake and a wee present out to the cemetary every year for his birthday, and always visit on Christmas Day. His birthday is in 3 weeks. So hard to believe it will be 8 years. I need to start thinking what kind of cake an 8 year old might like
Do I believe there are any myths in the grief journey.... I think we tend to believe that it is a straightforward journey ... we go through this and that then we are 'over it'. But grief is very up and down and round about and the journey is different for everyone. I personally think that when we lose those we loved deeply grief will last a life time ... it will change and soften over time, but you won't 'get over it', you'll learn to live it. Learn to live with your grief, you'll look at it in different ways over the years .. For me, in the early days when it was raw, I was forever questioning why - why did this happen .. why me .. why couldn't I keep my baby safe .. why didn't I fight more for him .. why did I listen to this advice, or that advice .. it was raw and I just didn't understand why it happened. Well nearly 8 years on - I still don't understand why it happened... but I understand that it did happen, and if I continued to focus on the 'whys' .. I'd go insane. Yes, sometimes I think why me, what did I do wrong, why couldn't Koby stay ... but I know - I'll never know why. Now, I'm grateful he was here, if even for a short time. Grateful for how he has changed my life, changed me. Grief is not linear and I'm certain I'll revisit the 'whys' over the years. The rawness and disbelief is mostly in the past. Great love lasts forever. I'll never get over losing you Koby, I've learnt to live knowing that you'll be forever in my heart - but I'll never be finished grieving you.
I think I touched on "Letting Go" yesterday. My grief journey has many layers, which I think is 'normal'. I had to let go of all the 'whys' and 'what ifs' .. because there was no answer. We don't know why Koby died. Don't know why my waters broke when they did. Don't know why my body decided it was time, even though it shouldn't have been. I spent years wondering why. What if I had done something different .. or not done something .. or even thought something different. It went on and on in my mind - what had I done that caused this .. why couldn't I keep him safe?? I realised I was never going to get the answer to this, because we just don't know. Medical science didn't know. It was 'just one of those things'. Well, that didn't help me at all. It was my body that failed. I don't know if I ever made an actual decision to let it go, but I had to stop thinking these thoughts because they were eating me up. There was no answer, so thinking them was just hurting me.This photo is just before Koby's first birthday. Our wedding photos. This one is special as I felt Koby there. I am no longer with Koby's Dad, which took a lot of letting go and grieving as well.
I've learnt lots of things in this grief journey. I'm not sure I've thought of them as gifts before - but they totally are. My rainbow baby is a gift. He would not be here, if I had not been on this journey. I can't imagine my life without him ... how can it be possible that he wouldn't exist ?? Hard to get my head around that one. If Koby was here, Devon wouldn't be. I have the gift of having been on a journey to find my passion (career wise) in life, to finding the 'thing' I've been searching for - my creative outlet, my business. That would never have existed if I hadn't been on this journey. Working for myself is exhausting, but its a blessing and what I've always wanted to do - especially doing something creative. I doubt I would have found this without Koby having been here, it was directly because of him that I even discovered handstamped jewellery.Other gifts include a new appreciation of life, how short it is, how it can change at any minute, how much we need to love those we love, and how we need to tell them and show them. I always knew 'life is short make the most of it' .. but now I really know. I appreciate beauty, nature, sunsets .. I appreciate the small moments - they don't need to be big things to be memorable. I feel like I have the gift of me - learning who I am and what I want .. because of this journey. Nearly 8 years on, lots of ups and downs, and I'm finally becoming ME again.
This has been an interesting year for me with the photo challenge. I haven't done it for a couple of years and the last time I remember often struggling for words. This didn't happen this year ... This sunset was on the way to visit Koby, unfortunately the colour had all gone from the sky before we got there ... but it was still a beautiful night
Love you Koby ... loved & missed forever xx