Love and grief are interconnected, you can't have one without the other. Grief exists because love did first. We simply cannot remove our grief - our love for our child still exists, therefore our grief will remain a part of us. And if we are open to it, growth in grief is a complete possibility. But only if we choose to allow it.
Our grief journey began in 2016, when our second child was diagnosed in utero at 13 weeks with Trisomy 13, a life limiting chromosomal disorder. Immediately, the innocence and blissful naivety of pregnancy was stripped and replaced with fear and anxiety. We chose to carry.
Though the looming possibility that our child might not survive left us in limbo, our faith was our rock. We focused on hope and shared life experiences filled with unconditional love with our unborn baby. Ari, our courageously brave and beautiful daughter, was born on April 13. She survived 9 hours and 51 minutes on this earth. To us, that was not nearly enough time. In that short amount of time, however, Ari did exactly what I believe she was called to do - impact our lives so fiercely and forever that our lives would be changed.
In the beginning, it was a daily battle to choose better, not bitter. To access the feelings I wanted to feel, I had to be conscious of the choices I made.
Workout or not? Workout.
Drink or not? Not.
Hold onto anger or release it? Release it.
It was not overnight and it was not easy. It still takes daily practice, but choosing better with everything is possible. It takes intention, it takes practice, it takes grit.
None of us chose to be in this place. What we can choose, however, is what to do with our pain. Don’t waste it. Grief is a gift, a gift that exists only because of the great love we have for our child. Grief is our lesson, our child is our teacher. Leaning into the areas where we feel the most resistance, where it is darkest and messiest, is where we must go to find the most growth. I believe a beautiful life after loss is out there for us all, but it won’t just happen, we need to take action, be an active participant in our journey.
Sharing our story has allowed me to support and help other bereaved parents walking a similar journey. Since June 2018, I have been supporting bereaved parents. I formed Better Not Bitter Mom LLC to offer constructive and continuous support through group and 1:1 coaching with an online course - the 4:13 MOVE:ment Method, live events and workshops, speaking engagements, resource guides, books, and social media.
Together, as bereaved parents, transform our pain into finding purpose, possibility, and forward movement on our grief journeys. Connecting with other bereaved parents continues to heal my heart and I would be honored to hear your story via social IG @grievebreathebelieve or on my site https://www.betternotbittermom.com.
Though it is unfair, unbearable at times, we were never promised a specific amount of time with our child. We are not even promised the next minute here ourselves. But we are however aware of the infinite love that continues to grow for our child beyond the hands of time, the preciousness of each human being, and the impact they make on our lives.
Use your pain, your grief, your love to choose better today. Choose to live. Choose to treat yourself well. Choose to love harder. Choose to do amazing things. Choose to make a difference. Choose better, not bitter.
You have the power to choose.
Choose to carry on, bringing with you all that your child continues to teach you.