The Climb

I’ve always wanted to climb Mount Everest. It’s one of those things on my bucket list. Several years ago I was researching to see what it would take to condition myself for the climb. The physical training, the financial expense and statistics of death were enough to move it to the bottom of the list.

I did revisit the thought this past week. Not to actually pursue it, but I was curious as to what the body actually goes through.

I read several articles, and it’s quite remarkable what the human body is capable of or not capable of.

I began to think why is it that some succeed and survive the climb, while others succumb to their demise. Was it their training? Was it a pre-existing condition they were not aware of? Was it environmental such as an avalanche or a fall?

The conditions are cold and brutal. One can only speculate what it must feel like to stand at the bottom, look up and think “I’m about to spend the next two months climbing Mount Everest!”

Years of training, an average cost of $45,000 and it comes to this. Two months ascending a mountain. Will I survive? What a scary reality!

As you ascend your heart races, your body becomes fatigued, you can’t breathe as the oxygen diminishes, your cold, the digestive system is slowed, you become nauseated and vomit, you want to sleep, but can’t. You must always be aware of your surroundings, but you can barely see and you are carrying an extra thirty pounds of gear. This challenge must be approached one step at a time.

As reflective as I have been lately, I couldn’t help but to think, life can put some mountains in our way too. Each of us is different. Some have better skills and training than others, some minds and bodies cope with every day stress and chores better than others. Our minds operate different in times of stress or trouble. Our physiological responses are different. Does your heart race with anxiety? Do your palms sweat? Do you become short of breath? Do you just want to sleep the day away to avoid dealing with it? Are you overwhelmed or paralyzed with fear?

What are your mountains? Have you dealt with sexual abuse? Have you lost a child? Do you have a mental illness? Are you staring at a cancer diagnosis? Do you have a physical disability? Are you battling an addiction? Why do some survive and seem to come out on top, while others seem to struggle every single day?

Depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief and pain can take their toll. Basic tasks become overwhelming. Things build up and you lose your ability to make decisions, you have a difficult time seeing the bigger picture. The conditions seem to worsen and your hope for reaching the summit begins to fade.

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I’m not going to lie, I do get tired battling my daughter’s depression. There is a lot involved, every single day. I love her and I want to see her succeed. I want to see her beat this shit!! I will be there to hold her when she is sad and calm her when she is anxious. I will be there to help her, guide her, push her up the mountain, support her and celebrate her victories.

When Emberly died, she changed and I changed. We will never be the people we were before we experienced this grief.

There is nothing normal about saying hello and goodbye to a beautiful Angel baby in the same day. Nothing normal about having your baby’s ashes placed in a bear for you to hold. Nothing can prepare you for this loss. Nothing.

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/grieving-parents-risk-early-death-study/story?id=14467734

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No one told us how to act. No one prepared us for the intense emotions we would experience. We have had to figure things out as we go. I pray you never understand.

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During my research about climbing Mount Everest I was also surprised to learn most climbers die when they are descending, when the body is weaker, resources are depleted and the time spent in brutal conditions is longer.

I can not help but to compare that to some of our personal experiences. As humans we are all to eager to support people when they are succeeding and on the way to the top.

What about through the rough times when we can barely stand? What about those times when the avalanche of life comes hurling at you and you can no longer breathe?!

If you saw someone lying injured under a pile of snow, would you leave them there? Would you walk by like you did not see them? Or would you help them? Offer food or a blanket? Call for help?

Did you know climbers also have a support staff? That is one of the reasons it is so expensive. A team of people to help with gear, oxygen tanks, food, base camp, affixing ropes and medical staff. It is a team effort and a team success when someone reaches the summit. Those climbers do not get to the top on their own.

If you know someone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief, chronic pain or anything for that matter, my advice is to offer some support, encourage them and help them to regain some purpose. Don’t leave them lying on the mountain side scared, alone, cold, gripped with fear and anxiety awaiting their demise. Help them stand up and climb! One thing at a time, one step at a time, one minute at a time. Hold the Lantern, share your light.

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As always, thanks for reading. Please like, comment and share. Be gentle, I’m not an expert, just a mom.

Lose The Weight

Recently, I have lost thirty pounds. In the past few years, I obviously felt the weight coming on. My clothes didn’t fit, I was tired all the time and I moved slower. I lacked self confidence and became less sociable.

I did try to lose weight. I tried different diets and attempted to exercise with some consistency. However, life’s trials, work, spending a lot of time at the hospital with my daughter, supporting others in various things left little time for me. When I thought about exercising or self care it became less and less of a priority.

Why do we do this to ourselves? I know many of you can relate. Life can throw a whole lot at you. Trust me, I do know and understand.

It is a busy world. We all have families, jobs and various commitments.

I stepped on the scale to face the truth. Ugh… It was a mountain of weight I had allowed to pile on. Busy, depressed, stressed, overwhelmed, lonely and overweight.

Emotions play a huge part in weight gain and weight loss for me. Certain stressors decrease my appetite, others cause me to fill the void with food.

When Emberly my granddaughter died, I couldn’t eat for weeks and initially I lost some weight. But when the shock changed into depression I began to seek comfort in food.

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While packing on the pounds a whole lot of other garbage was piling on into my personal life. Similarly to gaining weight, the burdens were getting heavier. I was aware I was carrying the burdens and they were affecting my life but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to tackle them.

There are countless diet and exercise programs out there. I used to be a personal trainer and a spinning instructor. I have completed three full marathons, 3 triathlons and multiple half marathons. So I knew what to do.

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Let’s face it we all know what healthy choices are, apples and peanut butter or a bowl of ice cream? But we don’t always make healthy choices.

Sometimes we take the path of least resistance. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought put into a steady workout routine and solid menu planning. I just didn’t have the energy. I was in survival mode.

In October of 2018 I couldn’t stand myself anymore. I started with the keto diet to accelerate the plan. Slowly introduced small amounts of carbohydrates and got moving again.

Layers of fat, began to diminish and during my workouts, the brain fog, depression and anxiety decreased.

I started to feel a little more confident, a little more social, a little lighter.

Ever peel an onion? Layer by layer removing the skin, then you get through those layers and you have the onion. Time to slice and dice. When you cut into the onion your eyes begin to water, It’s pretty potent.

That’s sort of how the last few months have went. I was peeling back the layers of fat. Which were also representative of some of the emotions I had been experiencing. Now I’m at the core. Time to slice and dice, deal with past and present hurts, walls, resentments, patterns, behaviors, reactions, emotions and tears.

If you are fortunate, lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it you may not understand what I am talking about. However, if you have had a troublesome childhood, if you have experienced some true hardship, pain and grief you have likely developed other issues that affect your life, relationships, work and even finances.

It can be overwhelming to stare those troubles down, to face your truths and tackle them. You have to start somewhere.

My techniques may not work for you. Find something that does! You owe it to yourself. Nobody is going to do it for you. In truth, most of us know what to do.

My recent approach is to list some of the things I want to address and prioritize. Then look at the list again. What is the easiest thing to tackle? The one with the fastest solution. Pick that one, tackle it and move on to the next.

I work with patients in the field of occupational therapy. My job is to assist them in becoming as independent as possible given their unique diagnosis. One of the first things we do is break everything down into small manageable tasks. I would often teach and work with patients and ask myself why I wasn’t applying those techniques to my own life? I see how effective it is every single day.

The bottom line is you have to be ready. You have to want to make those changes. I can encourage you, your family can encourage you, but when it comes down to it when staring at that bowl of ice cream the choice is yours to make.

You can choose to stay in your current body and your current state of mind or you can choose to start peeling layers one by one.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you make some mistakes. Learn from them, do better next time.

Schedule self care. Plan your meals. Schedule some journaling time, schedule a counseling appointment, improve and strive for some consistency.

Set some short term, realistic goals. I lost weight one pound at a time and before I knew it, ten, twenty, then finally thirty!

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I have been in counseling since September of 2018. I learn coping mechanisms and deal with my personal issues one at a time.

My past and present problems will always be with me. It has shaped who I am today.

I have fears and anxiety, because I don’t like change and the unknown. I lack self esteem at times because someone did and said horrible things to me. I am over protective because I know what some people are capable of. I can be weak and depressed, when chores and responsibilities overwhelm me. I felt embarrassed and ashamed of what I had allowed to happen to me, so I tried to hide.

I am learning to turn those negatives into positives. I have compassion because I have experienced trials. I have empathy for others because I can relate to emotional and physical pain. I have character and integrity because I know how important trust is. I am strong because I have had to work hard and fight for the things I have. I’ve gained confidence because I know what I am capable of when I apply myself.

Depression and anxiety can crush you. Life can crush you. Grief can crush you. We all have choices to make. Some people need a little more time than others. We are all individuals. We all experience things on different levels. It’s important to support one another and attempt to empathize instead of passing judgment.

I have always believed diet and exercise was my remedy for depression and anxiety but I wasn’t always equipped to follow through. Maybe it was excuses, food addiction, lack of motivation or time.

Whatever your burdens are, whatever struggles you face, whatever barriers are in your way I want you to have hope. I want you to believe in yourself. I want us all to be better humans, to be gentle with each other. Life really is short, are you giving it your best? Are you giving your loved ones your best? Be inspired, not tired. Lose the weight!

As always, thanks for reading, be gentle I’m not a professional, just a mom.

Please follow, like, comment and share my blog.

Cleaning Out the Closet

If there is a chore I don’t like, it is cleaning out the closet!

You first pull everything out, this doesn’t fit, this has holes in it? Why did I keep that? Boxes, bags, clothes, shoes, junk! Overwhelming. Likely why I procrastinate on this chore.

I have always went by the rule if I haven’t worn it or used it in six months it’s time to get rid of it.

So years of crap get tossed in the closet, you start cleaning and it has a six month time limit. Oh the mess has to get worse before it gets better.

Then you start sifting through and sorting. Donations? Keep? Throw out? It can be a timely, messy process.

I’ve shared in previous blogs that I have started counseling. And the comparison to the closet cleaning came to mind. I’m going through my past experiences and emotions and cleaning out the closet. It’s messy, lots to sort out and baggage to get rid of. And if I want my mind right, my relationships right, I have to go through this process.

Once you have completed the sorting and pitching, you start to assemble the closet, neatly hanging and placing items. You stand back and look at the newly organized closet, full of order, colors grouped together, everything has its place. Ahhh success, a sense of accomplishment. That wasn’t so bad, why did I put it off for so long?

The same with self work. I put it off for years. Why? It was overwhelming and I was functioning. At least that’s what I thought.

The truth is, I wasn’t functioning to my best potential and in reflection I’m questioning a lot of my decisions. Past and present.

That closet full of crap was spilling out onto the floor so to speak. Spilling into my relationships, my studies, my work. Could I have been a better daughter, sister, mother, wife or friend? I sure could have! And I’m working on it every single day.

We all have skeletons in our closet. Things from our past we hold onto. Some may have a bigger mess than others to clean up. It may take one person more time than another.

Today’s blog is to encourage you, to clean out the closet, don’t procrastinate. It may get worse before it gets better and that’s ok!

Eventually, you will get to look at that closet and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Be gentle with those around you, they may be cleaning out their closet too.

As always, thanks for reading. Please like, comment and share my blog. I’m not a professional. Just a mom.

When Someone Chooses Addiction Over You

I struggle with this one hard!

I remember when my ex husband and I were having a fight, my daughter was around four or five. He had been drinking all day while out fishing. I was furious when he finally returned home. This was after a month of sobriety. He fell off the wagon, again…

I told him to get out and go stay with his parents, or check into treatment. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I stood there watched and listened to him about how nothing was wrong with having a few beers while he fished.

Everything he had said a month prior about stopping was out the window. All the promises broken, all bets were off, he wanted his beer. His wife and daughter did not matter.

There are many forms of addiction out there and the grip is strong. But you want to believe someone loves you enough.

I’ve been hurt by addiction a few times. It hurts when given the choice their love for the addiction is stronger and they turn their back on you.

Then weeks, months and even years go by. Maybe they stopped and did seek help. Then it circles back around. You notice patterns of behavior and recognize them. You had faith in this person, you had faith in a program that was supposed to help, yet it didn’t last and they turned back to that powerful addiction again and choose it over you. You had hope, then your world comes crashing down. It triggers anger, rejection, sadness, worthlessness, disgust, disappointment and abandonment.

How could I not be enough? What is wrong with me that I am not worthy of this addiction? You question everything you said, did and are as a person. But you have to realize the addiction is about them, not you. It is about the demons they face and have not dealt with. How they are self medicating or self soothing. This is especially hard when you are hurting and feeling rejected.

I’ve come a long way in recent months on dealing with some of these core issues about how I manage these emotions, cope with rejection and acknowledgment of their choices. But I still struggle.

In retrospect I am also acknowledging the damage this has done to my daughter. If I was feeling and not managing those emotions well as an adult, how incredibly difficult it must have been for her as a child.

I feel responsible for my choices that have caused her such grief and blame myself for exposing her to it. Is it any wonder she had her own battle with addiction? Is it any wonder she is depressed and anxious? Is it any wonder she has difficulty with relationships? Is it any wonder? We are all the product of our environment. I can’t help but to feel like a failure as a parent. I was supposed to protect her.

Then I dig deeper into my childhood and the things I was exposed to. The pain of examining these truths and unhealthy patterns is a reality I would much rather forget. However, in order to become a healthier, stronger person I must.

Life is hard. We all have choices. Sometimes we make bad ones. Some people cope and deal with the harsh realities better than others. Some turn to addiction, some don’t. Some people survive, sadly some don’t.

https://www.addiction-treatment.com/research/types-of-addictions/

I’m including the link above for informational purposes. The list includes chemical and behavioral addictions.

Addiction comes in many forms, we often look at drugs and alcohol because we are most familiar with those. But there are so many out there. Make no mistake, the various forms can and will do the same type of damage. It can leave hurt and scars just the same.

If you are an addict or love and addict, I encourage you to seek professional help. Your life depends on it and your family depends on it. You are enough!!

https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/addiction-recovery-links.htm

As always, thanks for reading. I’m not a professional, just a mom holding the lantern. Be gentle and kind. You never know what someone is going through.

Please like and share my blog and comment below.

What if ?

The “what if’s” can drive a person crazy. Especially if you dwell on them. But sometimes it’s hard to not go through them in your mind and imagine what life could or should be like.

What if … we never faced illness of any kind? Whether that be mental illness or physical.

What if …we never experienced heartbreak ?

What if … we never lost that loved one?

What if … we never had to make a choice that could affect others?

What if … we never had to struggle financially?

What if … that one thing never happened?

I could go on and on. I’m sure my reader’s could too.

Those thoughts kept me up late last night. I cried thinking of all the pain in my life. I realized and acknowledged some really painful moments and began to question God about how and why he would allow such pain and suffering.

I was thinking about my daughter and the various things that have happened to her, and myself.

If you allow those thoughts, memories and experiences to define you they will. If you let yourself revisit the pain, it will flood your inner most being.

I have shared a lot about my daughter and a little about myself. But is that an accurate picture of our journey? The answer is No. She is who she is, because of the life experiences I exposed her to. And I carry a shit load of guilt. Some things were by choice, some not. Don’t get me wrong, at some point she comes of age and needs to take responsibility for the choices she makes too. ( I’m learning to draw boundaries).

But I have regrets. Here is where we circle back to the what if’s. I pondered them for a while and it was painful.

So I’m going to start opening up a little more about myself, to shed light to my reader’s about the big picture.

I was sexually abused at a very young age. It was the dirty family secret. Sweep it under the rug, no one can know. (How I longed for my mother to protect me).

My father died when I was eight years old of a massive heart attack and my mother remarried soon after.

I grew up in a very religious home. Sometimes, if I am being honest it was overboard. I have six sisters and two brothers. Some I have relationships with, some I don’t.

I was a troubled teen and ran away from home around 12 or 13 and didn’t return. I lived in foster care and a group home. I did reconnect with my family, but the relationship with my mom isn’t what I would like it to be. I love her though, she is after all my mom.

My first husband was and still is an alcoholic. He was abusive mentally, verbally and physically. I justified it because he never directly punched me. He restrained me, choked me and held his hand over my mouth so I couldn’t talk or breathe and he held a gun on me and threatened my life. Amanda saw some of those moments. We split and got back together multiple times over seventeen years. I stayed thinking I was doing my daughter some favor by keeping her family together.

I was in another relationship after my marriage ended. Another mess I am not proud of. It was so bad that one day while riding as a passenger in the car with him I seriously contemplated jumping out at 60 MPH on the freeway. He stalked me and sent vile text messages destroying my self confidence, the mental abuse was horrific.

I’ve been abused, hurt, lied to, cheated on and broken. I have loved and lost, I have grieved and said goodbye to loved ones. I am still in deep grief over the loss of my granddaughter. There are many more stories I could share. Can’t we all?

I’ve been depressed, anxious, and again if I am being honest I probably have PTSD too.

I’m working on all those things in counseling for the first time at forty eight years old. Sometimes it takes a long time for someone to seek help and face your ugly truths. But I am. I look forward to my sessions and learn more about myself, my patterns and behaviors each time. I’m also learning coping skills and acceptance.

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What do I want reader’s to glean from today’s blog?

Your children are watching, they may not say anything because it’s a part of their normal. But someday when they grow up, they will repeat patterns and make similar choices. Teach them to love themselves enough to be respected. I’m pretty sure I failed here.

Face your truths so eventually you can be free. Embrace the present, acknowledge and accept the past.

The what if’s are part of your journey, but don’t allow yourself to be trapped in them. You can move forward but you have to want to.

Your mistakes are part of the journey too, don’t live a life of guilt regretting them, instead take responsibility and learn from them.

Believe in yourself. Love one another, support one another and refrain from judgement. Extend your hand to someone in need, you never know what a person may be going through behind closed doors, or how many tears they shed on their pillow at night.

As always thanks for reading, be gentle I’m not a professional, just a mom. Please follow, like, comment and share my blog.

Loneliness and Despair

Most of us have felt it before, at some point in our lives. A moment of sadness when we hear bad news, a heartbreak when a relationship ends, the loss of a job, a loved one passed away, our family pet dies, illness of some kind and no one to care for you. There are many moments in our lives when it is good to have another human being around to console you, hold your hand, reassure you that it will be ok. It’s good to have support during difficult times. But people are busy, life is hectic.

When Emberly passed away, initially we had support. People dropped off dinners, sent flowers, cards, money, we received frequent texts from friends just checking in. But then weeks pass, months pass, years pass and there are no more flowers, no more cards, no more dinners, no more texts. You are left with your grief and sadness, the moments when tears fall and there is no one to hold you. You are left with your overwhelming sadness, your inability to function, your lack of energy or motivation to live frankly. You feel isolated from the rest of the world, and feel as if no one understands.

The mind knows that in reality you are not the only person in the world who has suffered a loss of some kind, but when you are living it, it sure feels like it.

I remember when my nephew Kenneth passed away. My sister in shock, walking up the sidewalk to the funeral home my sister looked at me with tears in her eyes as I assisted her walking and said ” I can do this right? Millions of parents all over the world have done this.” Her mind knew she has heard of many parents who have lost children. But her heart had no connection to those people.

For months I went to her house almost every day to help her. Whether it was cleaning, making phone calls, sending thank you cards, returning dishes to people who had sent food. People have to work, have responsibilities and commitments. Eventually I couldn’t continue to go see her every day. The visits became less and she, her husband and children are left to deal with their new reality alone.

Some handle the grief better than others. There could be a variety of reasons for that. I’m not sure I understand it, but it’s just the way it is.

Three days after Emberly passed my bereavement period with my employer was up. Time to return to work. Yes, three days. Three days to pick up the pieces of my broken heart. Three days to shed those tears, three days to console my grief stricken daughter. Three days!

I wept a lot, while driving my car to each patient, I wept while treating patients, I wept when typing out case notes that night. Life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

I did what I had to do. But that is all I did. I learned to cope and function at a certain level, bare minimum. Eventually I began to socialize again, but it was surreal. Your there but not present. In the back of your mind there is always a gnawing thought, my granddaughter is dead. You may be sipping a glass of wine with friends, they may be dancing, joking, laughing. You fake your way through. But you know you are only there because everyone thinks you should be there. You don’t want to be there. What you want is for your granddaughter to be alive.

Now, add chronic illnesses as a factor. Clinical depression, anxiety and PTSD. How well do you think someone who is already depressed and anxious about life would cope with such grief?

Depression already causes lack of motivation, overwhelming sadness and lack of self worth. The anxiety of dealing with people in public holding their newborns, or commenting on your baby bump that is still there, a daily reminder of what you have lost. And people can’t resist, they have to ask, “when are you due?” I received countless calls from Amanda, weeping as she tried to get back out into the world. Whether it was a comment about her bump, or watching a mother pushing a baby stroller she just couldn’t handle it.

Her social anxiety grew, she had difficulty going to work, to the grocery store, family outings or even meeting someone for dinner. The anticipation of what she could encounter, that may cause another breakdown. But everyone expects you to get back out there. Because life goes on. The world keeps spinning.

If you can, imagine the most heartwrenching experience of your life, hold that emotion and recall the ache in your heart forever broken. Now add to that your most anxious feeling, when your heart raced and your palms were sweaty, fear gripped you. Add to that the most horrific/tragic experience you have had maybe you witnessed an awful car accident, a fire or wicked storm that did serious damage. Hold all the emotions, fear, anxiety and flashbacks. Then imagine you faced those feelings and memories every single day, that no matter how hard you try, you can’t shake it, you just can’t. Then imagine being alone with those feelings and thoughts. Alone every single day.

She felt isolated and alone as did I. Who else is going to go hold her when she cries? Who else is going to reassure her, it will get better? Who is going to identify with this lonliness and despair? Who else can connect with her on a level no one else can? Who else is going to care enough to drop everything and come to the rescue when she wants to die and end this pain once and for all? Mom.

And I go it alone. I hold her hand alone, I wipe her tears alone, I take her to the hospital alone. I talk my daughter off the bridge alone. Then when it’s over, I drive home alone, I lay down exhausted and cry alone. Life goes on, the world keeps spinning.

It’s horrible to feel isolated and alone. We need human connection and touch. We need reassurance from others. There is no substitute for the human touch, love and compassion.

In writing this, my hope is that today each person that reads this, will reach out to someone in need. Do something for someone else. Bring your love to them, meet them where they are at. Take them a cup of coffee or flowers and let them know they were in your thoughts today and hug them. Let them know, they are not alone.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m not a professional, just a mom. Please like, comment and share my blog.

The Garden Part II

Grief happens in stages and it comes in waves. There is shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many of us get stuck in the depression.

Initially, I was in survival mode just trying to function on a daily basis. I was trying to support my daughter, keep my family together and not lose my job. There was no time to think about my own grief. I just had to keep going! But, I’ve lost my granddaughter and my daughter I feel so helpless and hopeless at times.

We spent 9 months planning for Emberly’s arrival, not for her death! When everything changed, we changed too. Our hearts forever broken, but I was determined as her grandmother to keep the memory of her alive.

When someone you love dies a part of you dies. I loved her, more than I even knew. I loved her for changing my daughter, I loved her for the smile and hope she brought to Amanda’s face. I loved her for the joy and excitement she brought to so many at the baby shower, anticipating her arrival. I loved her for making my daughter a mother and me a grandmother. I loved feeling her kick and roll in my baby girls tummy. I loved listening to her heart beating. I loved her for the hope she brought to our lives, hope for the future and the dreams of what kind of personality she might have. I loved the idea of snuggling with her, dressing her for the holidays in special outfits and babysitting her. I loved her! We loved her and we lost her. It hurts to the core of my inner being. I felt a sense of desperation to do something, I wanted to make the pain stop!

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When those cardinals appeared in the bushes and I decided I wanted them to come back, I knew I had to feed them and create an environment they would enjoy visiting.

It has always been my hope, that healing would happen in the garden for Amanda, myself and our family. I wanted to plant things, nurture them, smile when watching the birds flutter and enjoy the beauty and fragrance in the garden.

Emberly’s bedroom was decorated with sunflowers and owls, I’ve incorporated the theme into the garden.

There was something therapeutic about planning the layout, digging into the earth and watching the progress of seeds and plants growing. My awareness of the weather and how it affects your mood really heightened as well, some days hoping for sun, others for rain.

The sun makes me smile, and as I close my eyes and enjoy its warmth on my skin, I imagine it sinking through the skin into the depths of my soul.

The rain can bring on emotions as well. I stand at the window and watch the raindrops falling on the flower petals, soaking the earth beneath them. Sadness overwhelms me, those raindrops represent my tears, Amanda’s tears and the tears of every parent and grandparent who knows this grief.

The hope we had for a beautiful baby girl and now we have a memorial garden. It isn’t fair. She should be here.

I am learning to embrace the joy the garden brings and the emotions it stirs within me as it is all a part of the grieving process.

Each year the garden evolves a little more, and a variety of birds appear.

I take delight in knowing the garden is my way of connecting to Emberly. Sometimes when I am working in the garden, a butterfly lands on a flower, I acknowledge Emberly in that moment and greet her with a “well hello Emberly” or “fly high baby girl”.

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I look forward to spring each year, planning ways to attract different birds or adding new flowers I think Emberly would enjoy.

This past year while working in the garden, my stepson spotted an eagle. It was surreal to watch and again I couldn’t help but think it was a sign from Emberly letting me know, she likes the garden.

While sitting on the deck we have had an owl land in a nearby tree. We were able to capture pictures of both.

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The garden has become my happy place. It gave me something to look forward to. When I had no control over the loss, no control over death, no way to stop my daughter’s pain it gave me reason to get out of bed and do something.

If you have suffered a loss, I strongly encourage a memorial garden.

I look forward to spring each year, but even during the fall and winter the backyard birds are still around and I take great pleasure in watching them feed and chase one another.

Gardening is a new part of me, It has brought some healing though I know, I have a long way to go in the grieving process.

As always, thanks for reading, be gentle please like, comment and share my blog.