Through this journey of grief I have found numerous avenues of support, many that led me to my life here; to the creation of The Ruthie Lou Foundation and to become a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®. It has been a tremendous honor to work with other grievers (like me...and you!) and to offer tools that can help facilitate grief and heal broken hearts. I can't help but feel such love for my clients, the honor of walking this path with them. I am often asked HOW did I survive the death of my daughter, it's a question I still ask myself today. How did I survive her death? I still don't know exactly, but my thoughts have led me to this:
My daughter dying was an event, it was something that happened to her which as a result happened to me. I was victimized because of her death and ultimately the demise of the life I had hoped to have. That changed me forever. There is no going back to the life I thought I would lead, there is no going back in time or to her. In Ruthie Lou's life I knew that we would have other children but I also knew that no other child would be her, there was no replacing her nor would I want that. I also knew that in order to be a good parent to her siblings, a good wife to my husband and a functioning person, I would need to grieve. I mean, really grieve and just feel all the feelings, mourn the loss in the way that I needed.
Two years later, I attended a retreat for bereaved mothers. We bonded in a way I had never felt with any other group of people in the world, an unspoken language that we wished to never know but since we did, we have become forever connected in the love for our child(ren) that died. At the retreat among many powerful messages, one that became life changing was, "You were victimized but you do not have to be a victim." Those words spoke to my core because it was how I had grown to see my grief. I had generously given myself all the time I wanted, to grieve and to feel the enormity of pain and loss of my daughter but honestly I had also grown tired of living in that space of feeling perpetual sadness. I was ready & wanted joy to return to my life. I didn't want the death of Ruthie Lou to be the only story of my life that survived.
In the weeks and months and years since, I have chosen MY LIFE. I discovered that if I allow Ruthie's death to affect my life in a negative way, then her life would have been for nothing and it would have been two lives lost instead of one. I did not want that to be her legacy or mine, for that matter.
I feel really strongly that it is important to feel your emotions. There is no other way out than through. Grief is so powerful and all consuming and if there is no appropriate outlet for your sadness then it will find other areas in your life and/or body to seep through. But, many times we allow our emotions to be the guide of our life, when sometimes we need our cognitive decisions to take the lead. It is important to be aware of your own place in your journey, to know when you need more time or to know when it is time to move forward- not move on, but forward. I had to make the decision that I was worth living a good life. It's not an easy decision, often it was and still is a daily decision that continues to be re-made. Honestly, sometimes moment to moment! But, I have to remind myself of the fact that it will get easier, it does get easier and the weight becomes more manageable to carry. It will not happen overnight, but it can happen and I am worth it. In that regard, I choose to surround myself with that same energy of people, books, and podcasts that send me the same message: that life is good and I deserve a good life. I am worth it.
I want to be VERY clear, it is important to feel our feelings, all of them. But I also think that when we get to the point that we no longer WANT to feel only sadness, when the pain gets old and heavy and the desire to feel MORE comes along, that is when we know-it is time to find our joy again because YOU are worth it. At some point, we need our cognitive decisions to guide us, allow the emotions to follow and repeat to ourselves, "I was victimized but I am no longer a victim. My life is worth more than this. I am worth more than this, so I am choosing ME."
All my love to you, fellow griever. (Because we are all grieving something, at some point in our life.)
***If you have reached out for appropriate support and are not feeling relief of your pain, please consult a professional.
I am a mama of three beautiful babes; two boys I have the honor of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.