No Ruler to Measure Grief

So many people who have contacted me since I started writing with their own stories. These are stories of old wounds, vulnerability and reopened scars and the memories that haunt us at night. They usually start with a disclaimer “it doesn’t compare to what has happened to you” or “I wasn’t as far as you were.”

These disclaimers make me think that at some point our society decided that we need to rank measures of loss. That for some reason some hurt was worth more than another hurt. We try to minimize our hurt and be a martyr. I’ve learned that to rank a loss is just cruel. The worst thing that could happen did and that’s all that matters. The weight of your loss is not transferrable and not measurable. If it’s heavy for you it should be acknowledged and that’s really all that matters.

I want to thank the many people who have opened up and shared stories of their scars. They are all special and unique and part of what bind us together. We all have struggles and are all trying to persevere.

There is enough suffering to go around and it can be overwhelming. We don’t need to put comparisons or disclaimers on our emotions.

Some of best advice in those darkest first months was to try to talk to myself like I was talking to my best friend. She let me acknowledge I was in the trenches and to remind myself to be kind while I was trying to fight a war with myself.

If your waiting for a permission slip to feel complicated things all at once here it goes. Remember your allowed to be happy about good things while your sad about good things. Your allowed to be proud of every mountain you have climbed. You are not obligated to justify your feelings. Especially feelings of grief. You are not obligated to minimize your loss.

We are all here to bear witness to one another. To lend a hand when we see someone slipping. I hope that you know this is not a competition of who has it worse. No one really wants to win that competition.

Remember to be to yourself. To talk to yourself as if you were your own best friend and not the guilt tripping enemy you maybe listening to in your head. I’ve found that grief is a complication of emotions of sadness mixed with happy mixed with another sadness about feeling happy. Remember your not crazy, it’s just grief. And anyone who thinks grief is a smooth transition of checkmarks is probably living in some crazy sub-universe!

Why I Write 

If we haven’t already met, hi I’m Sara! I’m writing this blog for my son Logan. His time in this world was a brief 14 1/2 hours, but so much love was shared during his short time here. I write to families who have experienced grief, and to those who support them on their journeys.

I write about what has brought me joy and what I wish others would understand about the complexities in my mind as I navigate new normal. Ideally, I’m writing in this public manner because I was tired of whining in my journal about wishing more people would understand my thoughts after. I want people to not walk on egg shells around me. I want people to know what has helped and what still hurts. Some of my writings are for me to get the day off my chest. While others come after I think now I have the perfect thing I wish I would’ve said at the time. There are many times where it’s easier to write it down and send it into cyberspace than to try to think of the right words in the moment.

I hope that you feel free to share any of my writings if they are helpful to you. I want to thank each of you for taking the time to read any of my posts and getting to know me and my family.

Sara

Why Behind the Willow Trees

The history of the willow

I decided to call my writing behind the Willow Trees because when we were in the hospital room, our room had a label of a small post-it sized picture of a willow tree. This was supposed to signify to not only nurses and doctors, but the custodians, food prep and other staff that although this room is normally a labor and delivery happy room, today it is not. There will be no crying baby when you enter this room. You will instead be seeing crying family members making memories of their too short time together all as a family.

I am sure for many of the staff they would take a deep breath try their best to just get in get what they had to do for their job in our room and leave as quickly as possible. To try to not linger thinking about what this day was like for the family on the other side. I know from personal experience with so many of the staff who have stayed in contact with me that they were personally touched by what they found from our family on the other side of this door. They helped us bathe him, they cried with us mourning our tragedy. They prepared memories of and whatever they could find to give us. I have a feeling their special love is why I now have 4 extra-large water bottles, uncountable number of breastfeeding support items and all the extra tissues they could scrounge together.

I wanted to let others see a deeper look into our family on the other side of the Willow Tree. That when you open this door this is the family you will find, we are broken and hurt but we are growing through this. Willow trees are capable of bending to outrageous poses without snapping and one of its most valuable traits is in its flexibility. The message of the willow tree is to adjust with life rather than fighting it, surrendering to the process. It reminds us to surrender to our innermost selves and gain a deeper understanding of our subconscious. It is a tree that can survive in challenging conditions. It’s symbolic meaning is that even through great loss we have the ability to grow and potential for something new. The image of the willow tree is our path to stability, hope and healing.

The tree is also symbolic as we have it placed on Logan’s headstone. In the book the giving tree the tree gave the boy everything she had so that the boy would be happy. The tree loved him more than she loved herself. She sacrificed her own self for the boys happiness. This is the story of parenting. That you wish you could give everything to watch your child thrive and be happy. Just as in the book your relationship and needs of your child will change, but you continue to do what you can. We will adjust as the tree and grow around our pain. We have continued potential for greatness and a deeper love through this pain. As the book says, “and the tree was happy.”

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