Archive | patpatforever RSS feed for this section

Holding Space

19 Feb award

Holding space for my own pain is the hardest part about right now.


I mean, there’s a lot to my current situation, but allowing the sadness of many layers of it to really be felt is highly uncomfortable to say the least. Like, the “not getting out of bed for two days after therapy because broken open and unbearably devastated” type of uncomfortable. It’s good, it’s important, it’s imperative to feel one’s feelings, I get it- but dammit, it’s been 157 fucking Fridays since Patrick died and I’m so tired of hurting. I just want my son and that feeling is never going away… The pain of that knowledge in itself- nevermind feeling it- is overwhelming.

There’s a butterfly effect of mind and heart fuckery after losing Patrick; like the knowledge that I’m going to have an huge, huge ache in my heart until I die. Like the anxiety of wondering if my three other children are going to die in their sleep or find some other tragic end every. day. all. the. time. Like insomnia and dreams that are quite possibly the only more painful thing than reality, like depression because all of it has been so much for so long, like severed ties all over the place because I can’t handle anyone’s anything, least of all my own. The list goes on and on.

And so I find myself ostensibly alone in my struggle despite a slowly growing number of people here and on Facebook who hold space for me, too… Sometimes they’re the only ones who check in or say anything at all. The people directly in my life have lives and troubles of their own and are likely and very understandably tired of dealing with my grief and depression, too. I get it. I totally fucking get it. I’m tired of it, too.

I wish I could just press pause for a moment or plan for a break so I could feel “normal” when I want/need to, in private and social situations alike. My reality is essentially the opposite of that; I have to plan for triggers to come out of nowhere and send me flying, so I end up shadowboxing because staying tense hurts less than not being prepared when a punch comes straight to the gut.

I know that part of me needs to just expose myself to life and the vulnerability and pain that comes with it, but fucking dammit dude… it makes me feel like I’m going to implode from the weight of it all and it’s so hard to move about my life feeling that way. I can acknowledge the toddler section in Target without needing to throw up and rock myself in a corner now, do I get a gold star?


You go, girl! High five on a trigger-free day!

The thing is that it’s not the goal to avoid triggers, or to not feel them when they happen- that’s not holding space for myself at all. Triggers are going to happen.  They’re going to happen. Fuck. And when they happen? The best thing to do is to feel them through and not fend off the pain. Fuck, that sucks. Ouch. I feel like I have to walk into war unarmed- but the fight is with myself. I have to not fight. I hate that fact nearly as much as I hate why it’s my reality. So many layers of exasperation and ache, of questions and hurt and I just have to sit with it and digest that reality- talk about heartburn.

But there are people in my life -albeit, a very select few- whom are there for me. I know that, and after 5 weeks on antidepressants, the fog is starting to thin and I can start to see them, and see you here, too. I completely unplugged for a couple of months and I’m attempting to reengage in what ways I can, one text, one post, fifteen anxious thoughts at a time, trying to let the light in through all of the places I’ve been perforated. Like any gaping wound, it needs air to heal, but the air itself, any movement of it at all is alarmingly and brutally sensational. And it just has to happen. Dammit.

Cactus Practice

1 Feb fb_img_1454372799642.jpg

It’s like I can’t remember what happiness looks like.

Well, maybe that’s not it. It looks something like all my living children under my roof and the house a lived-in level of clean, healthy food to eat and access to nature. My bills are paid, my debt is relatively low, my living children are happy, healthy, able-bodied humans- nevermind brilliant, compassionate, creative, big-hearted individuals, I have a rad dog and rad friends. I live in a decent part of town next to a state park in an apartment set up to my style and specifications filled with pictures, pets, plants, and books. That’s the list of what it looks like, but I don’t feel that way. It’s like my brain and heart have lost their ability to communicate.

Having to say “my living children” is why sometimes things feel like they’re being filmed in black and white, set to a soundtrack in a minor key, despite their surface-level appearance. Who would have thought having to add the world “living” would be so painful? I guess that’s the the thing, though. That word is so pungent because it eludes to it’s equal and opposite- my vast, deep love is reflective of such vast, deep pain and just the opposite. I can sit with that, but it doesn’t make the hurt less when it comes- and somehow I’m able to know that deeply in my soul and at the same time, not feel it at all.

When I don’t feel that deep pain, I panic because I know it’s tied to my deep love- and if I’m not feeling one, am I not feeling the other? Do I owe myself or my son that pain? Must it always hurt so much to love? Is it all bound for sudden tragedy? Is it everyone, or just me? Why? Why? Why? My head dances circles around my heart that just sits, staring blankly into the chaos until it falls to pieces again.

But it’s more than just missing Patrick and having no reason for his death. There are multiple people missing in multiple areas of my life contributing to this overwhelming feeling of vacancy. Yes, I miss my son. I have never longed for anything or anyone so much for so long, and the feeling grows daily. I miss him first and foremost, I miss him every day. I see what could and should have been in nearly everything I do and it’s the most bittersweet thing for having ever felt his head on my chest to know the lack of it.

But I miss my dad, too. I miss him so damn much, and often. I wake up in tears about missing him almost as often as I do about Patrick. I miss our relationship. I miss his laugh. I want to ask him questions, to show him things, to tell him what I’ve learned. He loved new gadgets, innovation, creative solutions. He taught me about computers and the internet- he’s the reason I knew how to start blogging, or even what that was in the first place. He was the one I grew up talking to about the little, then eventually big things. He was one of my only mentors.

In my younger years, my dad used to take me camping in his grandfather’s boat that had a little cabin. We slept together on the lake, went fishing when the sun came up and would sit in the silence of the morning, listening to the world awaken. He was one of the only people that just being near was enough for me to feel comfortable and safe. Watching cancer wither his body over the months, which ended up translating to watching him die, felt like my soul was being boiled alive. My pillar of strength gave out while holding my hand- I can still remember the feel of their calloused ridges, of the earth giving out below me to swallow my sinking heart.

I also miss having a partner. I miss having a go-to person around who gives a shit about the little and big things in my life, someone to text memes and things I geek out on, about groceries and what’s going on with the kids. I want someone fall asleep on while I watch Netflix. I want someone else to take out the damn garbage sometimes. Okay, my kids help out with chores, but still… I miss the intimacy of companionship with someone who understands and wants the best for me. In short: despite my circle of friends and readers, I’m fucking lonely.

I did it to myself, though. I get that. I don’t think I could stand another heartache right now if I formed an attachment and something else tragic happened. I can’t stand one tiny breath more of ache in my heart. At all. I can’t. I’ve had deep betrayal after deep betrayal when it comes to romantic relationships and I’m not sure I even have the ability to connect anymore, honestly. I’m stuck always waiting for the other shoe to drop because I have lost every important male in my life (save two of my sons) over the span of four years, and unexpectedly each time. I imagine that’s why I’ve a series of 10 foot spiked poles around my heart.

I need a hug- but I also don’t want anyone to touch me. Being touched, or even in the presence of others is not relaxing to me- it tends to make my skin crawl, for the most part. Fucking prickliness. I need to find a way to connect through my cactus space while time and self care soften the edges. I feel disconnected from myself and everything else and it’s a problem that exacerbates itself, calcifying layers of “See? I told you you and your life are too much…” over the spines every time they’re effective. Grief is so fucked up.

It’s more than that even, now, though. I’ve got anxiety through the roof and was also recently diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder/Clinical Depression. I just started therapy again two weeks ago and am trying meds for the second time. Originally, I had pride about being able to cope without them- pride only made possible because there are people like the me now, who need them. I’m sorry, old self- and my apologies to anyone else who felt even mildly shamed by my unrecognized privilege of a brain that can cope using only alternative therapies and hippie shit. Good for you, old self- and fuck you and your shades of flippant callousness a little, too. Still, I forgive you for what you hadn’t learned… Progress, I guess. Something.

The third anniversary of Patrick’s death is in a week and I have retroactive anxiety about it, exacerbated by Timehop and Facebook’s new “on this day” feature. I know I don’t have to look, but I can’t help but analyze everything and visually take in every living moment left. The crumbs on his shirt, the messy house, his gorgeous lashes, the shine of drool on his little Danish chin. Oh, for the skidoo powers Steve and Blue have.

But I can’t go back like my heart wants to so badly. I want to… I want him, I want him, I want him. I’d give anything for a Tardis, a time machine, a minute with that child in my arms. I want Patrick back so much that it’s consuming my life- which I suppose is understandable, but I still have to be a (single) parent… and more importantly, I need to take care of myself so that I can do that, so that I’m happy. From that space, I can then be a good role model for my kids and be able write to myself in another three years from a much improved space as the person I need for myself now. I need to finish my Bereavement Doula training. I need to focus on healing.

I have a lot of deeply painful, difficult work ahead of me and I don’t even know how or what to do. I haven’t found a single resource aside from Dr. Joanne Cacciatore‘s blog that really resonates with my experience- I’m open for input and have my own page on grief resources here and collection of posts on Pinterest here and Facebook here. Even my last poem was about feeling isolated in my grief. There’s a lot of placation, a lot of religion, a lot of woo out there and I’m still searching for and carving out my grief path through these woods that have now become so densely fogged with depression. But I’m able to see it’s a forest now, despite all these damn trees.

At least I’ve written something, though this post has taken weeks. I’ve since gone to the doctor, gone to therapy, started meds, taken a few walks. It’s been months (or years) since I’ve done some of those things, so I’ll give myself some credit there. Depression, anxiety, grief… they’re an unholy trinity of doom, the fuckers. But I see them now and I’m trying not to feed them anymore, though many of my habits are set to. There’s nothing I can do about Patrick or my dad aside from learn how to carry that sadness and ache with grace. What I can do is focus on myself and somehow learning how to live again, which I’m failing miserably at now.

I’m here. I’m trying. It counts.
Fuck, this sucks.
Here goes, one tiny victory at a time.


With a harmonic defiance I’ll face this.


25 Nov

sunset flag

I want to scream at the sky
for all the reasons
I can’t know why
can’t have prevented
can’t prevent now
for myself
or anyone else
walking into
that sight

It’s in my head and in my heart
every single fucking day
every hour, every minute
all the things that I can’t change
I don’t know what to do
to make it go away
don’t know who to ask
what to attack or
what to learn or act on
because everyone who
went to school
for exactly that

And who am I
but just a mother
left permanently altered
a heaviness left in my chest
in my living room an altar
I never faltered in my care for him
grateful every day
a parting gift my father left
nothing gold can stay

There are no books
I have no friends
that share the hurt I hold
There are no groups
I have no god
it just sits in my soul
and so it leaks
from mind to eyes
through heart
and out of fingers
to a place where breezes
of my heart’s storms
find a place to linger
to plant a flag
for gypsy hearts
for those that share
my anguish
My heart cries
but hardly speaks
for no one knows
the language


24 Nov

What you were
just for a moment
when I first beheld you
tiny paper fingernails
eyes as deep as the cosmos
a perfect latch
tiny care bears
on your hat
between you and I
like the sky

The gendered normative
of your gifted toys
your favorite blanket
the music you liked
a spectrum of life
light and sounds
in 24 pounds
a whirl of
stickiness and sleepless nights
delight and curiosity
exasperation and wonder
until that’s

What you were
when I walked in
and I’ll never know
the reason
and I never got
to hold you warm again
though I rocked you
until we were both cold

You left
with my handprints
on your skin
and yours left
in my heart

is what I am
without you

SUDC Matters

28 Oct

It’s been 140 weeks since Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood took my son and we’re in the last week of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. The more I’ve sat with those two thoughts and tried to participate in activities geared toward the latter, the more I feel that they aren’t really related; the C in SUDC stands for child, in this case, a person over 12 months of age- by nature, not an infant. It’s not that the month, projects and campaigns aren’t beautiful, helpful and important, it’s just that they’re not to do with my type of loss- and there isn’t anything that is.

SUDC’s space reminds me of the Island of Misfit Toys; we are grouped by diagnosis of exclusion. There is no space in general or social media, in law or on the calendar where SUDC families belong. SUDC has zero national awareness campaigns, special days or months, and there is no federal funding to  recognize, provide resources for or research to prevent our type of loss. Having no community or peer support is huge. The fact that in no one’s heard of SUDC- including the person sitting in the hospital, learning the hard way and the doctor delivering that information- means that no one knows what to say or do to help SUDC families. We’re left to figure it out on our own.

To their credit, there are specific email groups for bereaved families put together by the SUDC Program, but if you’re like me and have hundreds (thousands!) of emails in your inbox, it’s not the best form of communication in which to participate in group discussion and community; it seems to be an obsolete form of group interaction these days. My intent is not to discredit or dismiss all of the time, effort and empathetic or organizational response of the SUDC Program in any way. They are a small organization, lacking in federal funding or recognition and they are working with the resources available to them- which I hope to help increase.

Patrick died for no discernible reason. That means not only that I don’t know what took my son or why, but that I can’t protect my other children (or yours) from whatever it is, either. I understand that even if he died from something a textbook or doctor could explain, it would only lessen a fraction of a percent of the pain, the ache, the exasperation, the unfairness, the Siberian tundra in my heart that used to be Eden. Still, SUDC parents deserve that answer, or the knowledge that it’s important enough to search for.

Another lack I see in the grief community is the daddies. With SUDC, fathers/partners are an imperative part of the conversation because by nature, our diagnosis means that the parents (and other family members, caregivers and friends) have had over a year with the child. They are missing hearing their name said by a tiny voice, missing a laugh, a game, a reaction- we are under a different (not bigger, not more important) umbrella than the Pregnancy and Infant Loss community. I do not want to diminish the validity of grieving the loss of a pregnancy or infant: I’m plodding through literature for my bereavement doula training to help people through exactly that because I feel it’s so important– I just want SUDC parents to feel important, too.

There’s room at the table for all of us.

If we’re to be denied a reason why we’re in this heartbreaking situation, at least let there be research, let there be community, let there be people that know how to help us through it- and not just out of a tiny office run by a handful of people giving their all with limited time, resources and funds. We deserve awareness; we deserve space in the consciousness of America on the calendar, in social media and in the federal budget.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Use the tag #SUDCmatters. Using a hashtag helps because it creates and index of posts containing information, support and a place that honors the memory of the children of SUDC parents.
  • Donate to the SUDC Program. Theirs is the only fund in existence providing any research or resources for SUDC parents.
  • Sign the White House petition to Make February National SUDC Awareness Month. *There are two petitions, the one I just linked is an official petition and needs 100,000 signatures by November 27th, 2015 to make it to the President.
  • Sign the petition to Make February National SUDC Awareness Month. This petition has no time limit and will remain in place if the first one doesn’t go through as a way to keep supporters informed.
  • If you are an SUDC Parent and on Facebook, you can join a group here.
  • Please share. The time limit on the White House petition means I need 30 seconds of your time now. I’m not normally pushy, but for this purpose, time is of the essence, as is reach. The only way this necessary change can come about is if you sign and share. I leave this in your hands, grasshopper.

Please be the change with me. There’s got to be a reason why my son died. There’s got to be people out there to help me while I struggle with the lack of answers alongside my grief, and others trying to find those answers for me. The lack of awareness adds insult to injury; in honor of Patrick and all of the other children and families fated with SUDC, it stops here- awareness starts with you.




Capture Your Grief, Day 5: Empathy

5 Oct captureyourgrief

I’ve always identified as a sympathetic person, but it wasn’t until I lost my son that I realized the imperative nature of empathy- not only when it comes to processing grief and helping others do the same, but in life in general.  Not sure of the difference? This video is the shortest, easiest way I’ve found that illustrates it in a way that resonates with people of all ages via a talk from one of my favorite authors.

What empathy looks like in terms of child loss means not even attempting to placate or identify with the situation or feeling unless you really, truly know what it feels like. Sympathy wants to cover, smother, fix; none of which are even possible with this subject. Empathy sits down quietly and nods.

Even as someone who has experienced child loss firsthand, I’d never assume that I know that another person whom has just lost a child is experiencing- it’s impossible. I’ve found that saying the simplest truth is best, “I can’t even imagine.” or “I’m so fucking sorry, dude. Thank you for trusting me with that. Fuck. That’s awful. It’s so clear how loved _____ is.” Any or all of those sentences work, with or without the emphatic profanity, that’s just how it would sound coming from me- your authentic, honest words are your own to phrase.

It’s uncomfortable to see someone in the throws of soul-wringing grief– but your presence is not about your discomfort, it’s about supporting a loved one through their own. (see the Silk Ring Theory, or “How Not to Say the Wrong Thing here, and How to Hold Space Instead Of Fixing People here. Your presence in whatever way you are able to make it known and holding space for the presence of the person missing from your loved one is the most valuable thing you can do. Whatever pangs of heartache you feel and want to run away as far as you can and shield yourself from are signs of your empathy; you are sharing in that pain, which is the most comfort you are truly capable of giving. Your not shying away, not sugar coating, not denying the injustice and hurt from yourself or from the person you care about that doesn’t have that option is the greatest gift you can give to a grieving heart.

Empathy is validating the amount of hurt someone has and holding space for it without judgement or agenda. It takes courage to approach a situation you know is going to rip your heart wide open to be in and that you can’t control. Believe me, I get it. My first instinct, even after hearing from dozens of people share their own grief with me is still commonly to want to fix, to hug it away, to find a magic wand and reverse what can’t be true, but is- yet all that’s truly in our power is to acknowledge our powerlessness and the suck of it all and to maybe offer some ice cream, a kind comment, whiskey, a walk or a scenic drive when the timing seems right.

Sympathy begets pity, which is something no child loss survivor wants or needs. Pity and sympathy are disengaging, whereas empathy sits right down with the hurt and looks it in the eye. When a child dies, the world comes to a screeching halt for the family while it keeps turning for the rest of us. What they need help with is dealing with reality while they focus on breathing through their shock. All parents who have lost a child want is their child back, which you can’t help with. Where you can help is with meals, childcare of other kids, shopping, appointment keeping, checking in, pampering. If all you can do is send a card or comment from afar, do that, too- that is still an action.

Empathy is a participation sport. Sympathy is for spectators. For those or you with the heart to support us throughout our grief cycles, whatever they may bring: thank you. Your compassionate action is the glue in our crumbling worlds, the spark when our flame is most weak. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of our perforated hearts. Thank you.

darkest moments

Capture Your Grief, Day 1: Sunrise

1 Oct captureyourgrief

I’d love to have seen the sunrise
but I missed it for fitful sleep
seeking to behold my son’s eyes
available only in dreams

I don’t have a sunrise picture and only read the details of Capture Your Grief this morning after waking up to Kaya barking at something outside. I got irritated, but I got her because I missed having the movement around the house and needed a reason to get outside- the rude awakenings were a substitute I was going for, but whatever.

I’m not much for putting myself through other people’s filters and projects, but I haven’t been writing and I’ve been meaning to, so it seems like a good time and idea; October first not only marks the beginning of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, but it is also my father’s birthday. He died on September 2, 2010 still planning is annual fishing trip- we took the boat out in his honor instead.

captain's hat


I guess in some ways, that’s what grieving is… finding ways to hold space for who the person was and would have been by bringing them into conversation and doing things and bringing people together that honor them– and dealing with letting go of the attachment you have to the way it should damn well be. I know I try and do that with Patrick all the time at home and in social media, alike. Timehop has actually been a bittersweet way to both jog my memory and bring the people I miss into my daily life, like the picture above as well as the one below. Sometimes it can be triggering, but I wouldn’t change having or seeing those moments for anything- it’s an honor that they exist in the first place and that I have them to remember.

Patrick had a natural 80’s skate punk hair combo- a mullet AND a rat tail. Rad.

Patrick was named for my father. He was a rainbow baby of sorts- after heavily grieving death, Patrick was the life to be a light to me after dark times… it made his sudden, unexplained death all the more difficult. In some ways, I’m glad I had practice grieving in such a deep way- although nothing, nothing can compare or even touch what it feels like to lose a child. My father was a wonderful, kind, patient, gentle, generous, silly, curious, creative, can-do person that I love and appreciate every single day of my life and I am still prostrate with grief some days at the loss of- but losing a parent is a part of life, however soon that part may have occurred in mine. It’s still within the right order.

No matter how you turn it or for whatever reason, losing a child just isn’t fucking right. When it happens, it’s a feeling as primally discordant, heartbreaking, soul-deflating as they come. I’m so glad to not be in those first days. The first months, even… I can’t even find words to describe them. Feel free to hit the “Grief” or “Poetry” sections on my blog if you want to read what they were then. Though it’s what caused me the most pain, especially at first, I now miss the visceral memories of his skin on mine, hearing echoes of the sounds he made throughout the house, his smell, his things about the house. I’m at my new normal, where a part of my life is accepting that a part of it will always be missing, and I’ll always have ways that absence affects the rest of it.

Danny and I had broken up months before Patrick passed- in fact, he was supposed to move out that very weekend. We cohabited for another 6 months through the early shock and grief, then went our separate ways, and I haven’t had another serious relationship since. In some ways, taking time to work on myself has been very beneficial; I am a raging phoenix lion goddess of a human compared to who I used to be and I’m grateful for and love myself very much. But I hate the reason why I’ve had such a rapid spiritual regrowth. I have to be fierce because my heart is so tender, so vulnerable, so perforated. It’s hard to bring those things to the table and keep them in balance when it comes to addressing old friends and meeting new ones, but I’m working on it.

It’s hard because SUDC means I’m fairly certain what I’m putting my time and effort into is going to get ripped away from me, suddenly and without cause- it applies to basically everything I own or love, most of all people. It makes it hard to form new attachments after I lost my friend suddenly, then my marriage (and everything I’ve ever owned, save what was in my hastily packed suitcase to attend said friend’s funeral across the country), my father, then son. (There’s a post with more detail/summation of that from when Patrick was alive here.) I’m no stranger to loss, yet 137 weeks later, (okay, 136 weeks and 6 days, but who’s counting?) I’m still reeling from the lack of Patrick and trying to figure out how to relate and connect to others, how to parent, how make a living as a grieving introvert with anxiety.

Losing a child just isn’t right. It’s fucked up and it fucks everything up. Sometimes I can get up in the morning now and get all the way to the coffee machine before remembering what my life has been and where it is now. I imagine I’d feel the same after losing a limb- I would wake up after a time and expect it to be gone and go about my day with perceivable “ease”, but always there are the reminders. The reminders can come from within my own body, from a situation, from others, from a certain sense or impulse, a memory of what I used to have, a thought of what should be, of what would be if only… If only. So many ways to end that sentence and all of them hurt.

So I continue, because it’s all I can do. Progress, I guess… though I never meant for my blog title to bear such a heavy, personal imbuement of the word. I’m still getting used to it. Anyhow- here I am. I’m writing. I’m doing a thing to kick my butt into it. If you want to participate, too, check out and click through the picture below.

1 in 4 women has experienced pregnancy, infant or child loss. This month is about giving those women space to have their voices heard- and I appreciate you taking the time to listen to mine.


Phoenix Tears

6 Jul

There are no words
for how it feels
for a phoenix
to burn alive
What it takes
to make spark from ashes
embracing embers
every cell combusting
fire born within
There are no words
only knowing
the smoldering touch
between beginning and end
love and pain
fullness and ache
The miracle of
surrendering into
our molten source
is that it can teach us
to fly again
and the tears of a phoenix
can heal others
and help them fly, too

Phoenix Tears


19 Jun

It’s been 122 Fridays since I last held my littlest love. I count because I can’t help it. I count because he’s my son and he’ll never stop mattering to me. I count because numbers are something real that makes sense to me, unlike his absence, unlike SUDC. Patrick should be three and a half years old, a bundle of energy and curiosity, making me exhausted, flabbergasted and completely in love now, but all I can do is hold space for how long it’s been for me since a time when that was my reality.

I remember life with him like a dream I just woke up from- flashing details, some tremendous and metaphorical, others just inflections of scenes from every day living. I remember the feel of his full cheeks against my skin and the feel of his left hand pat pat-pat-pat-ing my chest while he nursed. Sometimes it was a literal slap in the face- the variation is akin how my heart being touched by his memory feels now, usually I just notice it and keep doing what I’m doing, but sometimes it surprises me and demands attention.

I can’t always write about Patrick because it still fucking kills me inside in some way every time, no matter how much bigger my love than my ache. I don’t always want that visceral reality front and center to my own because I can’t function very well from my knees, which is where it brings me in every sense of the word without fail. But I’m getting better, and have found that speaking one on one or in a small group is easier than writing because it’s back and forth and there’s someone else participating and sharing. Here, it’s all me, just staring at my abyss, then making it public. Yikes. But I’m doing it. Progress, or something. Coming to terms with vulnerability and making baby steps.

I went to hang out at a friend’s yesterday and ended speaking openly about grief and loss over beers around a pool- and I realized that that’s what my reality is now: my grief is fully integrated into my joy, and authentic life lies somewhere in between. After a minute, I found out his roommate’s mother was a hospice nurse, and she had some really wonderful insights around life, death and the in between. I went from hesitantly sharing bits and pieces into a full blown conversation on cultural grief processes that I’m really grateful for.

Another friend messaged me last night to tell me that she thinks of me every time she wipes fingerprints from around her house and takes an extra minute to be grateful for her son because I shared. It takes courage to be vulnerable on both ends to have a conversation like that, and I’m honored and grateful every time someone takes a step outside of their comfort zone to make that connection. When I think about it, every. single. time. I’ve written something or shared about my grief in whatever minutia or grandeur it occurs, someone has thanked me, and/or shared that they’ve been carrying similar grief and never had the tools or place to acknowledge or (start to) process it.

I still don’t know how to help someone process their grief, I just share what works (and doesn’t) for me. Bereavement Doula Training helps, but all I know to get myself through the day is to acknowledge my feelings and know they’ll end, just like a contraction. Some require stillness paired with reflective, internal pep talking, some require animalistic howling and movement. It’s different every feeling, every person, every time. All I’ve learned is to not sugar coat the tough stuff- life is full of it, and the more experienced we and our children are with it, the better we’ll be able to handle hard times when they come. The best we can do is stay with it. So here’s my attempt to.

On top of being a Friday, it’s also Father’s Day weekend, which has been particularly painful since my own father passed from Melanoma in 2010. My newsfeed the past few days has been drenched with an influx of painful reminders of being unfathered, as well as news upon news about awful, tragic, downright infuriating and embarrassing racism and misogyny– it all just makes me want to curl into a ball and hide. One person’s baby shot 9 other people’s babies because of the color of their skin. That’s all I see when I read the news… babies. Even people three times my age are someone’s baby- children SUDC didn’t touch that got to grow up and end up where they are.

The grief in the world is exponential with each loss, and my mother’s heart is heavy thinking about all the other parents’ hearts out there in their first stages of grief. I had one of the worst nightmares I’ve had last night that consisted of essentially waking up over and over again to be reminded that my close friend had died in a tragic accident; reliving the hardest part of grieving for my head and heart on repeat. Those first fuzzy seconds upon waking where the rug gets pulled out from under me and the world comes crashing down anew are still a place I have very, very deep fear, I know. I’m afraid all of my loved ones are going to suddenly and unexpectedly die every second of every day. I try and use that fear to encourage my love, if that makes any damn sense, but it doesn’t take away the undercurrent of anxiety. I cried in relief when I woke up and realized that this one time, I got to wake up like I’ve prayed every morning to for 121 weeks now.

I’m heartbroken for all the parents that don’t get to wake up knowing they’ve had a long, cruel dream. (I sent my still very alive friend a text first thing this morning, even before coffee) My best during the times when I feel helpless is to provide space for myself and other grieving hearts to say, “That is awful. That should never happen. I hear you. I’m so sorry. Life makes no fucking sense sometimes. Thank you for trusting me enough to share. I have no words that can help, but I’m here. This sucks and I hate it for you and I’m here.”

And I’m here. For the parents with babies of any age who are gone too soon for reasons known or unknown, that we can understand or that we never will. I am here, and I will love my own children so damn hard that they’ll never think of harming yours. In 20 years when this generation we’ve parented grows up, we’ll see the difference we’ve made and it will all add up and mean something.

122 quote

I often feel insignificant -and in the grand (and even minor) scheme of things, I absolutely am- but that shouldn’t keep me from sharing what matters to me, just as none of us should ever hold back from doing the small things that help ourselves and others, whatever they may be– doing so is exactly how the world gets better. For me, I help by writing. For me, it’s helping others try and slow down, prioritize and to be kind and grateful to ourselves, our children and each other.

I encourage you to bring my SUDC goggles with you the next time you’re feeling frustrated or helpless in your homes or reading your newsfeeds. All of those grown up babies need love and education, and some are glaring examples of what happens when the lack of those things meet. Unfortunately, we don’t have time machines and can’t go back and fix the childhoods of the adults that make hateful, poorly informed choices, we can only learn from them. What we can do is make sure the childhoods we CAN affect are met with love, always seeking to learn and grow together. Keep bringing love, vulnerability, empathy and education to the table. It’s gonna be okay.

Parenting Privilege

13 Mar


There was a post going around a while ago on how having or being a stay at home parent isn’t a luxury and I agree: the word you’re looking for there is privilege.

To even be a part of that conversation presumes the privilege of having a two-parent household to begin with. Having a spouse is another example of a privilege that is not a luxury, and one some in our country only very recently have. It’s common knowledge that marriages take work, and it’s a wonder parenting isn’t accepted in the same way. Parenting is hard. For everyone. Parenting is not a competition; it’s a free-for-all mad dash of boogers, sleepless nights, peanut butter and jelly, tender, fleeting moments, questions and insights flanked with the most raging frustration and the most abounding love we’ll ever know. And then that part is over- sometimes far before we’re ready.

When I woke up 127 weeks ago, trying to find the best way to parent was (one of) my struggle(s), too. Well, it still is, but after losing Patrick, sometimes my struggle is to stay on the planet with my head and heart and not get lost clouds of numbness and disassociation because of the absolute unfairness of it all. It wasn’t a luxury to wipe his nose and stay up when he didn’t feel well at night, but oh, how I long for that privilege. From a post-SUDC perspective, having a child at all is a privilege (as is making the choice not to be a parent), no matter how you decide they are raised. Many spend thousands upon thousands of dollars just to have a shot at getting pregnant, while others choose abortion and both are personal choices- even having those choices to make is a privilege in itself.

Wanting respect for my choices means I (must) give it to other parents, which is why I don’t have a specific “way” of parenting I tout. (Although I am against harming children in any way, which means I don’t spank or circumcise, but let’s leave those topics for another time, shall we?) I have been a zillion different mothers in the last thirteen years, and been in fifteen gazillion (give or take a few) different situations. In order to accept (and sometimes learn to forgive) myself and look at the facts in order to improve, I have to view other parents with the same compassionate eyes I give my old self: I didn’t know better, I never thought I’d be in that situation, it was just one time, I didn’t think that would happen, whatever. I have younger sisters I’ve grown accustomed to watching develop as humans, and it’s having cultivated that thought process through watching and helping them along that I am able to put it into practice with myself, and then others.

I chose the name “progressive” based on the meaning continuous improvement, not because of any political leaning or particular stance: I just want to keep getting better, and help others know that they’re not alone in wanting the best life possible for themselves and their children and in struggling every damn day to not only find out which path to choose, but to walk it.

Let me take a minute to tell you something, because it’s imperative you not continue your day without knowing this:


I am SO proud and so grateful for the world you’re building for our children to grow up in. Thank you. Thank you so much for how hard you’ve been trying, for those times you didn’t repeat your own harmful patterns, for letting the mess go so your kids can play and you can grab a few minutes of sanity. (Self care is important!) Yes, I know there are million things flooding your mind that you’re not proud of, but you tell that shame monster to shut the absolute gollygoshdarn fuck up for a damn minute while you listen to me: you have created/are raising life. That is AMAZING. That is a privilege.

Through all your struggles, you are right here now, on your computer or phone, somehow having gotten to this post so that I can tell you that even when you don’t feel validated, appreciated, loved or enough– you are. Perfect is a ridiculous, maddening concept to strive for and normal is just a setting on the dryer. Progress in accepting your (children’s) human limits and needs and seeking/providing empathy and education is far, far more valuable not only in your heart and home, but to the world we are creating together as a whole.

I can tell you the most valuable thing my grandmother (on my dad’s side, which means she’s lost a son, too) has repeated since I was small and is never more true than from a post-SUDC standpoint:

This too, shall pass.

For better or worse, the sleepless nights and adorable barnacle part gives way to tantrums and tiny tornado-ness, then the scraped knees and loose teeth, mood swings and growth spurts, then, if you’ve the privilege to have gotten that far, our children are adults and move out and sometimes away. If we’re lucky and we’ve done our jobs right, they’ll come back to visit as healthy, well-rounded, intelligent, functional, compassionate individuals and thank us for taking care of ourselves and of them in the most loving way possible, realizing what a privilege we have to be able to do it at all.

For more information on SUDC, click here.

%d bloggers like this: