Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Last month was the one year anniversary of the day my baby came and left.  I had read about anniversaries being difficult, but for some reason I thought I could out-smart it.  We have done many things to grieve "properly" and try to minimize the emotional and psychological effects that can result from "unresolved grief."  Once again I am reminded that information, preparation and planning can help a little, but not as much as we'd like.

One book I read mentioned that struggling during the anniversary is absolutely universal.  One study showed that even children who were too small to know what season or day it was when their parent died or left, typically have a very difficult time during the days and weeks around the anniversary of the loss.  Isn't that interesting?

My experience last month was very surprising.  It felt like I had been catapulted back into 2009 when the loss, confusion and anger was so fresh.  It caused me to question myself: What is wrong with me?  Why do I feel so raw and vulnerable again?  Why am I so angry?  Instead of concluding that I was officially going crazy, I believe it is fair to credit these symptoms to the anniversary of Donovan's death.  One reason it was especially tricky, is because unlike last November, this time I had to get through the work days, behave "normally," and go about a very full life despite the sadness that had somehow renewed itself and seemingly squashed the progress I thought I'd made in the last 12 months.

On the actual day of Donovan's birthday, we both took the day off.  We slept in, at least as much as a 3 month old puppy will let you, took ourselves out to a nice breakfast, and went and test drove cars we can't afford : ).  It was kinda fun.  Later at home we looked over all of Donovan's pictures, paperwork, toys, poems, gifts, cards and mementos.   As much as it hurt to do so and let the "I can't believe my baby died" reality seep back in, it also felt really really important.  Since life has inevitably swept us back into the rat race, the time we took to stop, remember, and sit with that hurt again was valuable. 

It's funny how I can tell when too much time has gone by between setting aside time to be sad.  A year ago I looked at Donovan's slideshow 10 times a day.  Now, I don't even do it every week.  A year ago, Donovan's stuffed elephant absorbed my tears every day.  Today I find myself avoiding looking at the elephant, because I don't have time to feel that hurt and sometimes I want to pretend it didn't happen.  But when I pretend that for too long and I avoid the elephant's cute face, when I don't stop and talk to Donovan's picture on the piano, it starts to build up.  I get tense and grumpy. 
So just like a person has to eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired, so also a person must take time to grieve and hurt when your body and your mind ask you to.  No way around it, and it's not healthy nor wise to avoid it.  At least that's what I think. 

The following Saturday we had family come to the graveside to see his headstone and have a little remembrance together.  And wouldn't ya know it, we botched yet another balloon release. This time the balloons let themselves go from the side mirror of a truck when no one was looking.  Again, kinda funny.  So we read the lyrics to the song "Homesick," and the book "born to fly" which is a conversation between a stillborn baby and God.  Both are very cute and inspiring.  We had a big heap of red roses.  It was a very beautiful day, just like it had been on funeral day. 

When Monday rolled around, I had a huge sense of relief.  I had made it through all the big "firsts."  I had nothing else looming in my future that I didn't know if I could handle.  Not much could scare me now and I felt a little...free.  One full year of grieving under my belt, and I'm all in one piece, still married, working, didn't quite eat myself into oblivion (close though) and I still enjoy many things in life.  Neat huh. 

So if there is one thing to take away from this blog post: Pay attention to anniversaries.  They are big deal and can catch you off guard.  Also just because there is still deep grief after 1 whole year, doesn't mean there is anything "unresolved" about it.  I'm pretty sure it just means that you have unending love for someone who is not here anymore and you still wish for them back everyday.  I think that's okay. 

-Mercy Me
You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you
I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now
Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home
I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now


  1. Jodie,
    Your writing is poetic and beautiful, as well as raw and heart-wrenching. I think of and pray for your family often. I love to see the grace of God shining through your story.

  2. As all your other posts Jodie, this one is grippingly honest, and so well written! I had no idea you could write like that, it just seems to flow from you, at least that's how it reads. I'm proud to be your friend. I love you. XOXO Andree