Monday, October 5, 2009

Help. Love. Writing. - The Secret Garden Meeting Sept.

Someone once commented on one of my posts that the first year without your child is both the longest and shortest of your life, and having marked one year without Peyton this past Friday, I agree. This year has been painfully long in its grief and unrelenting pain, and short in my progress. A year after Peyton drew her last breath, I find myself standing in the same spot: baby lost, disoriented, childless. So many things were lost with Peyton: my career, some friendships, my sense of self, and yet, at the end of the day, I am still here. This survival is a blessing that even I doubted during the most difficult moments of these past twelve months, the moments that left me weighed down, panicked and gasping for air. This month, for The Secret Garden Meeting, we are focusing on the positive, discussing those things that most contributed to our survival through loss.  When I ask myself how it is that I have made it through this first year without my daughter, three words come to mind... help, love and writing.

When I speak of help, I am referring to my therapist. For me, she is the right therapist. I think as babylost mommas it is good to have someone outside of this loss who can listen to us rehash the same painful memories over and over. I am fortunate to have found a woman (a LCSW) who specializes in traumatic loss. She understands trauma and grief, and therefore understands why I am feeling what I am feeling. I have read on a few blogs of women frustrated that they weren’t getting anything out of their therapy sessions. My feelings on that are that if you are paying to talk to someone, and they are not helping you, find someone else. Therapy is not the answer for everybody, but if your grief, like mine, includes guilt for not saving your child, for not knowing your child was sick, or for ultimately having to make decisions that you are struggling through living with, I think it is important to have someone to unload that on outside of those who, themselves, are grieving your child. When babyloss feels too much to handle, the right counselor makes a world of difference.

The second key to my survival has been unconditional love. My husband has never stopped loving me, the new me, the usually lost and not so easy to get along with me. He has accepted that the road for me is different than it is for him, and without judgment, supports even what he doesn’t understand. I am also blessed with an amazing family. They have come weekly, through good days and bad, to get me out of the house, even when all that meant was driving and crying and going to the cemetery. They have made near nightly phone calls and left messages of support even when they knew that I was listening to the machine but too broken to answer the phone. They remind me constantly of how important Peyton is to them, bringing her up without prompting, reminiscing and remembering her and proving that she is loved in her role as their granddaughter, niece, and cousin, even in her absence.

Oprah Winfrey said “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” This year my truest friends have been those who chose to leave the ease and luxury of limo riding behind to sit at the back of the bus with me, experiencing every painful stone, rock and rut along this road of grief.  They have shown that this Krissy, the Krissy that isn’t always predictable or comfortable to be around, is still worthy of their love. They love me and my husband enough to encourage us as a couple through this loss. They love my child, the child that most of them never met, and honor her memory by bringing her up in conversation, by displaying her picture in their home, by visiting her grave even when I am not there, and by knowing that when there is no “right thing to say” it is good to offer their arms for support, their senses of humor for relief, and every odd time, their alcohol to forget. The love of my husband, family and friends is definitely a huge part of what kept me going these last twelve months. How do you give up on yourself, when others refuse to give up on you? I had a lot more friends before Peyton died. I have a lot better friends now.

The third key to survival for me has been my writing. It is the single most therapeutic outlet for me. Each day I express myself through essays, stories, poetry, posts, chapters in my memoir about  mothering Peyton, letters at her grave, lyrics to songs, or sometimes just scribbles on scraps of paper.  In some ways my writing has been my very closest friend, the one invited into those areas of this loss so dark that I wouldn’t dare share them with another person. My writing does not judge me for feeling so lost, it doesn’t placate my emotions with platitudes or tell me it “knows exactly what I am going through,” when it doesn’t. My writing just waits patiently for pen to be put to paper or fingers to be set at keys, and listens as I detail my thoughts, angry ramblings, observations on life, flashbacks, second guesses, celebrations, fears, desires and ideas. My writing allows me to grieve however I need to, whenever I need to. With Peyton, I lost my desire for so many things, but my writing stepped in, keeping my mind agile, allowing me to unload pain page after page, and relieving some of the weight of this grief, even if just for a moment, word by word. Writing has allowed me to document the details of my child’s too-short life, to be true, to honor every part of this experience without fear of judgment or lack of understanding, and ultimately, through this blog, my writing has led me to a community of babylost readers and bloggers who truly understand where I am coming from. Writing has been my saving grace.

Help, love, and writing have been my keys to survival through child loss. Visit here to see what other baby lost bloggers are sharing as theirs.


  1. You nailed it. All of it. You are one of the few who turn grief and tragedy into beauty time and time again on this blog and we are very lucky to have you in this world...

  2. It sounds like you have a wonderful support system to help you through this very difficult time. xx

  3. I love that Oprah quote - it is so interesting to see who rides the bus with us. Thank you for sharing your story of Peyton and your heart. (((Hugs)))

  4. Every word you have written is just perfect, thank you.
    Peyton certainly was a beautiful little girl.

  5. Yes to all of this. You have captured it perfectly.

    The one-year mark is so, so tough. I found the anniversary of Iris' death to be as awful as expected, but what caught be off-guard was just how the tough the weeks surrounding the 'big day' were. The anticipation of pain and then the flatness afterwards. I don't know what I thought was going to happen - that I'd feel better? That someone might turn up saying that it had all been a huge joke and HERE was my bonny 1-year-old?

    Love to you and thinking of your beautiful Peyton xo

  6. You definitely have a gift for writing. Thank you so much for sharing your story of Peyton.

    ((hugs and prayers))

  7. Riding the bus with you and remembering your sweet Peyton...

  8. I've never been to a therapist before but I did receive counseling at one point in my life and I can't even begin to tell you how helpful that was to me. I'm glad you have people who aren't afraid to talk about Peyton. That's so wonderful.

  9. Girl you hit the nail on the head with this blogpost.

    Especially with the writing and your friends beside you and the Oprah comment...

    You totally captured my heart as a fellow woman with lost children and the trauma it brings. I've lost many family members and see a grief therapist myself. She is phenomenal. I had to switch because I had someone I liked but wasn't doing much for me... he told me the books to read but the "work" behind the books' philosophies.... that is the real work. The work on yourself and removing the hurt and pain, can't just be done by a book and being mindful.

    Hugs sweetie. I am on here every time you update now that I learned about you. Don't Stop Believin' (if you saw Oprah yesterday you know what I mean and coincidence, I wrote a blog post about that song a few days ago!) that the grief will subside, rise, subside like waves, even over time but you will be able to cope.

    And you will be a stronger woman... and able to move forward and onward.

    You will never forget, even after the next child comes. And by the way, you are not once a mother. You ARE a mother. You gave birth. You will always be a mother.

    Here is the deal. This woman I know who had twin teens, lost her teens and asked me if she could still call herself mother (they died in a car accident). I said, what? If you have life inside of you, whether it be 4 weeks and a m/c, or still birth, or losing a child post birth, you will always be a mother.

    You need to change your blog title! Always a Mother!

    hugs, T

  10. I've been riding on the bus since I was 15. That was the moment where the realization that all those who call themselves friends are not really in it for the long haul. I'd been so lucky to have found a small handful of people to share my ride with over the years...people that didn't turn away just because my life was more complicated...but now that Simon and Alexander are gone, I've found that bus swarming with the warmest of sisters--woman who hold your hand even when they are drowning right next to you. Woman who understand the feeling that goes with standing next to the answering machine--unable to pick up--who know you are there, and love you in spite of your inability to reach back. The most loyal, and sincere bunch of woman that I feel honored to hold close to my heart. You can run next to my fat ass anytime sweet mama. (HUG).

  11. I've never heard that Oprah quote before. How interesting.

    I have to say I am overwhelmed at how amazing your family and friends have been. Completely. Overwhelmed. You are very fortunate in that regard I think. My family, if anything, were the complete opposite.

    Everytime I see Peyton's picture I am stunned by such a sense of her personality. She is so beautiful and she looks as though she was quite a chirpy little character.


  12. You have captured the things that helped you so well. I am so glad you can say you have better friends. Those people are a true treasure and I think this loss breaks or makes a friendship. It is wonderful that there are people in your life that talk about Peyton and remember her. In my world, that is scarce. Not sure why, but it makes me happy to hear that there are people who will remember our angel babies with us, through conversation or pictures or anything. Love to the sky.

  13. Yes, everyone loves the limo. I've had a few friends get on the bus, but there are only 1 or 2 left who haven't gotten off at an earlier stop yet. What a perfect metaphor.