Monday, January 5, 2009

A Brand New Year

I have been reading some of the blogs of other women who have lost children this year. It helps to know how that the incredible mix of emotions with which I have been dealing are seemingly universal to coping with such a loss. 

I really believe that our bodies have their own rhythm of grief apart from where our minds go. I may not even be thinking about Camille but just feel inexplicably sorrowful. Then I realize, "Oh yea, it would be 6 months now," or "oh yeah, it is New Year's Day." 

I expected Christmas to be difficult. I guess I didn't expect it so much from New Year's. But somehow my subconscious self took me down a reflective tailspin without my permission. I am still trying to pull myself out of it. 

This stage of the grieving process is brutal. You don't expect it to be so if you haven't been in it. I didn't think it would be in the early months. But here at 6-7 months out life is getting incredibly routine. We are no longer in the spiritual cocoon we were in those early months.  My children have returned to their normal selves with mischief to deal with and behaviors to correct. And I am struggling with how to be the parent I want to be in light of my new understandings.

It pains me to discipline my children. I do it. I know I have to do it. But it just kills me to have to be sharp with them. I have ended up in tears so often after having to correct children of late. Parenting has taken on so much deeper emotion and sometimes it is so difficult to navigate my way through stormy behavior.

Another aspect of this stage of grieving that has been rocking my boat is the dual longing to remember and forget. It is easy in the routine of life now to forget what it was like to have a child in diapers. It is easy to forget high chairs and feedings and early morning wake up cries. It is easy to forget what our life was like just last year. And part of me wants to forget. Part of me wants to leave it in the past and look only forward.

But there is another very tender part that wants desperately to remember always and forever. I want always to remember her sounds and smells and the way she snuggled in my neck. I want to remember what life was like with her in our home, but it is so painful to go there in my mind. 

Great love is so often accompanied by great pain. And in this dichotomy dwells the very essence of our existence in life. We strive to find and develop love. We yearn to fill our souls with it. Each step deeper into this love we risk greater pain to our souls. Yet we do not stop. We must not stop. For life without love is worse than the pain of love lost, or the pain of separation, or the pain of disappointment or hurt loved ones can inflict. 

Still, I am continually amazed at how the Savior can continue to love us so fully and without reservation or emotional guards when we all have hurt him so intensely in one way or another at one time or another. I feel it is my life's work to develop this talent of loving without guarded walls once my heart has been so hurt.

Last night in a night time meeting with the youth of the church we watched a video put out by the church to introduce the new theme for the youth for 2009. It is "A Brand New Year." The youth are focusing on the scripture in Timothy 4:12, "Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

As part of this program the youth were challenged to make new commitments in this Brand New Year on how they will live this scripture. They were asked to commit to pray morning and night, read the Book of Mormon for 5 minutes a day, and Smile - or be happy. In addition they were asked to choose 3 of their own goals of how they can stand stronger as an example of a believer. 

This is such a wonderfully put together program for the youth and it has its own website HERE for anyone who wants to learn more about it. Watching the video, I felt inspired. I too am making these three set commitments. As a family we are learning about church history this year but I personally am going to commit to read the Book of Mormon for 5 minutes each morning as well. I already pray morning and night. 

I am choosing for my other commitments to do 15 minutes of exercise daily (this is the REALLY hard one), to reach out and be friendly daily (blogging and hopefully even more in person), and to help out in Ann Marie's class each day. I hope that these commitments will help me with the one about being happy. I hope they will make my smiles come more naturally.

Here is to a Brand New Year. One that will no doubt be better and worse in many ways from the last. One in which I hope new love will comfort old pain.


Shanan said...

Steph, it's amazing to see your strength shine through regardless of how dark some of your hours may be. I hope this year brings many more smiles than it does tears for you and your wonderful family.

Much love, Shanan

Messy Jess said...

You are so honest about your feelings and so focused on where you want to be. I often think about you and your strengths. It's okay to have weaknesses and to have time to grieve. It is part of loving someone.
I look forward to reading you entries and the spiritual renewal it gives to your readers.

Jennie said...

I admire your strength, your directness, and your desire to do what it is right. I think so often, when I have had adversity in my life, I just want to go into my own little cocoon. I think you are doing a wonderful job of pressing on, while still allowing yourself the time to grieve. I pray that this year will be a healing one for you.

Amanda said...

Your eloquence always amazes me, you have such a gift for putting your feelings and emotions into words. You deal with your grief in such a constructive way, your strength_is_really amazing.

I always feel pretty down around New Years. But winter is always hard for me, my depression is always worse this time of year. And it's the looking back, looking back on all the things done and all the things I've gone through...sentimentality.

my stay-at-home-momma drama said...

Beautiful. I love reading your inspirational words.

tara @ kidz said...

I'm sure this time of renewal creates an inner tug of war for you. You want to move on, but you don't want to forget Camille. I know Heavenly Father will help you find the right balance as you apply the atonement. You are doing the right thing by looking outside of yourself. You never cease to amaze me. Best wishes for 2009!

The Reed's said...

I love reading your blogs. It helps me in knowing that grief comes and goes. Also you don't know who I am but I was talking about your Blog to my mother in law and she knows who you are. Her name is Rosemary Reed. She wanted me to tell you Hi for her. Thank you for sharing your thoughts thur this grieving process.

Scott and Mandi said...

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings so eloquently. I love reading your posts. It helps me remember what is truly important.

Marleen said...

Thank you for the youth site. It is amazing. I'll be sharing it with as many youth as possible.

Thanks for sharing your tender words of hope and love too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie,

I know that there is nothing I can say to take away your pain. Just know that I check in on you daily and think of you and your family often.

Sending love and cuddles,


Erin Lafleur said...

I completely understand what you mean. I was really upset about the turning of the new year and was sure I was the only one not cheering around the whole world. My hubby was glad to be done with the hardest year ever but I was so upset about entering a year when I wouldn't have Benjamin here with me. It is taking a lot of strength to shift my perspective but everyday I wake up and tell myself... one day closer to our reunion.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Its good to know someone else understands.

chanel said...

Thank you for the link to the youth website, i had no idea. you are such an amazing leader, how blessed your YW are to have you!

And honestly how blessed your DAUGHTERS are to have you. Even without your feelings of loss and grief I cry after getting after my girls. It is hard to parent, knowing what needs to be said and done, while also knowing how sweet and good they are, and its just a moment, but you can see the big picture. One day it will all come together, and that will be so rewarding.
I am sorry for the struggle you go through of remembering and forgetting, I have expereinced that many times, and I still don't know what or how to make it not hurt. Time I guess. But with a baby, I don't know if there is enough time, just eternity WITH her to look forward to.
Bless you. You are doing so amazingly well, even when its dark and sad, you endure and bring insight and meaning to your experience that lift us all, and we're grateful for you and your faith.

Annalee Kelly said...

I love the way Elder Maxwell put it: "Crosses are easier to bear if we just keep moving" You are beautifully doing that!


A friend recently gave me your blog to look at. So, I am a new fan and follower. This is the first time I have commented, but thought I should today. I also lost a baby girl (back in 2003). I was reading thru your older posts back in June and July. They made me cry as it brought back my own memories of holding my little baby girl as they took her off of life support.
So, I guess I'm hear to tell you that the pain does lessen over time. You never forget, but it does get easier to just remember the good. Like you (from your older posts) there's some places in my memory where "I don't go".

I feel so blessed to have 3 other HEALTHY BEAUTIFUL children! In fact that is what really kept me going thru the roughest year of my life! At the time we lost Paige, I only had one other child. But I knew he needed his mom...he was only three at the time, and I knew he needed a "real" mom, not a mom consumed with grief. And I can tell by your blog that you also see the importance of continuing to be a real mom. You are amazing, and a blessing of inspiration to me and so many others.
Also, reading your current blogs. Congratulations on having a boy! I have two and LOVE them!!!
I would like to also say that when I had a little baby girl after losing my previous baby girl. It was very difficult for me. I hope you do not find it too difficult for yourself. I would hold that new baby girl and cry for the one I didn't get to hold. We waited quite awhile too, so it surprised me how it brought back such feelings of loss. I felt quilty for feeling that way too. I should be rejoicing for this new little blessing (which I was) but it also brought back sadness too. I shouldn't have felt guilty about that...I know that now. But, those feelings of sadness didn't last too long.
OOOOHHH my heck! This is the longest comment EVER!! Hope that's ok!!! Love your blog!! Keep it up!!! Even after all these's still wonderful to hear your uplifting words. You truly are amazing! There is no way I could have shared like you are sharing. I sincerely thank you for sharing.

Becky said...

I love your blog. You put into words my feelings about my nephew. I was thinking about this exact thing just yesterday. I was wishing on one hand to move forward and forget all of the pain. I want to pretend that it never happened. I want my life to be "normal." I want to dismiss the ache deep inside that always haunts me. Then on the other hand it is so painful to think that I am forgetting. I want to remember how he sounded and felt in my arms. I don't want to forget his shy smile and mischievous self.

Thank you for sharing. It means so much to me.

Melissa-Mc said...

I can't even begin to understand how you must be feeling. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

Our youth are having our "brand new year" activity tomorrow night.

Karisa Lynn said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers in this New Year. You have continued to inspire me as I read your blogs. I admire your strength and your ability to share your thoughts. I have told so many people about your blog in hopes that they just get even a small portion of what I feel after reading.

God bless.

Lisa said...

Thanks Steph for your beautifully written words. When I need inspiration I look to you and your blog. We all have trials. Yours unimaginable. What a noble spirit you are. Your depth and wisdom fills my soul with such inspiration. I am sure that your beautiful Camille (who has to be such a choice spirit)SMILES daily at the amazing Mother she has and must know that her life was not in vain. I cannot begin to guess how many lives you have reached out to a bouyed up all the while dealing with such grief. I often wish we were close friends. You are a wonderful example. Thank you again.

Kellie said...

I have no idea exactly how I ran across your blog, but I've been reading your posts for a month or 2 and have never commented. Your post today really caught my attention though.

My little sister died when she was 4 and just the other day, my mom and I were talking about that 1st year or so after she died. She talked specifically of a time that she was visiting with our family therapist and that she was struggling so much with the more 'normal' feeling in the house. Of us kids fighting and things of that nature returning to normal and how it was hard on her. The therapists reply was, "Good! That's a great thing to hear! That's a real positive sign of some healing."

I don't know that my comment is really all that profound, but just thought I'd share it with you and maybe give another perspective on what you're experiencing.

Bill, Angela, Ryan and Sierra said...

tears streaming down my face. Still think of you guys often! Glad we became friends.