Grieving through the Holidays

As November enters with a vengeance, I am seeing more and more people suddenly seem to lose their driving strength that seemed to emanate from them following their loss.

Everything seems to okay for a while, but now – BAM! – Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, cruelly reminding us that we lost our children and they won’t be here to celebrate with us this year.

For some, this is the first year of Holidays without their loved one(s), for others this is a time of year they’ve been dreading since they experienced it in previous years…

A thanksgiving table that should seat one more, a fireplace that should hold one more stocking. But it doesn’t.

It is obnoxiously, blindingly empty where your child should be sitting.

The pain that has somehow been put in it’s place is now escaping at an epic pace, and as strong as we all are, it’s overwhelming to say the least, to try to prepare for holidays.

Today I was mad at my Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations. MAD AT THEM. I wanted new ones. Not the ones I unpacked with my son. I never knew it would be possible to vividly remember what OUTFIT my son wore as I unpacked the decorations.. but I do. I remember his white and baby blue striped PJ’s with a little penguin on the front. They kept catching on the cardboard boxes as I was trying to unpack them, and everytime it would snag, he would pop his little eyes open.

To most people, boxes are boxes, ornaments are ornaments, holiday tableware is just tableware. But if you’re anything like me, these things hold precious, bittersweet memories. Memories of a time we will never get to experience again. And that hurts.

I don’t have a magic answer or cure to help your heart stop hurting. What I do have is experience… I’m experiencing the same things you all are experiencing, and I believe that it takes a village to get through tough times. I hope that we can come together as one big family to embrace one another through this tough holiday season (and all the tough times to come).

Here are some suggestions for surviving the holidays from griefnet.com:

  • Focus your celebrations on winter: go to a mountain lodge; go sledding or skiing, or just take a walk in the woods–time out to enjoy what nature has to offer in this season.
  • Include the deceased in your conversations and celebrations. Hang a stocking for your loved one in which people can put notes with their thoughts or feelings. Look at photographs. Once oth- ers realize that you are comfortable talking about your loved one, they can relate stories that will add to your pleasant memories.
  • Keep in mind the feelings of your children or family members. Try to make the holiday season as joyous as possible for them.
  • Plan to be with the people YOU enjoy.
  • Do something for others: volunteer at a soup kitchen; visit the lonely and shut-ins; ask someone who is alone to share the day with your family; provide help for a needy family; volunteer at the airport to pour coffee for stranded travelers; or offer to volunteer in a hospital on the holiday;if your city has a Ronald McDonald House, see if you can help make their holiday happier.
  • Don’t be afraid to express your feelings. Allow people to comfort you. They need to feel they are helping in some way.
  • Remember, anticipation of any holiday is so much worse than the actual holiday. Donate a gift or money in your loved one’s name.
  • Try to get enough rest.
Whatever you do to celebrate holidays this year (and in the years to come), do so knowing that your child would not want you to feel miserable and defeated. They would want you to enjoy time with family and friends. Try to surround yourself with loved ones, and always remember that our facebook page is full of friends that are going through the same thing and can offer support.
-Kari

 

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Every Day Living after Loss

I wish there were a way for me to put into words what it is like to continue living after losing a child. When Mason died, I figured the holidays wouldn’t be “as hard” as they were for families who lost someone that had been at holiday events for numerous years in a row… Since we only had Mason for 4 months, I thought it wouldn’t hurt “as bad” to celebrate holidays without him. After all, he had only been present for 1 Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day…

What I’ve learned is that you can’t make comparisons. This is the first time I’ve lost a child… My first mistake was trying to make false assumptions and predictions about how I would or should feel at any given moment. By making these “predictions” about how I should feel, I found myself frustrated and mad at myself for being sad when Halloween came and passed. I had felt so strong and “okay”, and suddenly his birthday came and went and I began unpacking decorations that I had set up with him the year before and I was sad. Devastatingly sad.

I began beating myself up internally.

Why am I so upset?
I told myself I wouldn’t be upset, because I’ve been okay for so long.
Why is Halloween getting to me?

I was frustrated, I was sad, and I was quite frankly disappointed in myself for not following my “prediction” of how I should feel.

There is no “way” to feel. Ever. I wrote a blog several months ago comparing grief to an insurance commercial- “Life comes at you fast.” Nearly 8 months later, I’m still randomly hit with moments of sadness and deep grief that upset me to my core. It’s frustrating because I can’t predict when they will come.

On his birthday, I hardly cried. But a few days later, I was a mess of emotions. Just thinking about how I was holding my son in my arms “this time last year” was breaking my heart. Over. And over. And over.

You can read all the books you want, folks… there is no “way” to grieve. There is no system. No directions. No one size fits all.

I remember desperately calling a friend of mine who’d lost 3 children a few days after Mason died and asking her (more like pleading with her), “How long will I hurt so [expletive] bad?”

I just wanted an answer. A time frame. A game plan.

There isn’t one.

It’s not that you stop hurting. It’s that you learn how to place your hurt in it’s own special spot… Some days you can’t contain the hurt there, and those are the “hard days”, other days you are “okay” and that hurt stays put in it’s own special spot. As the days pass you go through phases of being “okay” or becoming inundated in sadness…

No matter how long your heartbreak is contained to it’s “spot”… That is no guarantee that it wont rear it’s ugly head at the most unexpected of times..

Whether that time is when the fall wind blows and you remember their birth, or the rain falls cold and hard like the night you lost them… or even when you look at the flame of a candle and daze of into space thinking of them, they are always with you. Even if you are the best at pushing the grief aside…

We all have our days.

And the best thing we all can do is surround ourself with loving friends. I’ve found for me, that great friends can make all the difference in the world.

Ignore the 5 stages of grief. Cry when you need to. Laugh when something is funny without feeling guilty. Allow yourself to be “weak” every once in a while, but not for too long. Yell when you’re mad, smile when you’re happy. And cherish each moment, even if you’re upset for your loss.

If there’s anything to be learned, it’s that life is too short to waste it lost in a sea of negative emotions.

And always remember that grief is a roller coaster… no matter how unpredictable or scary, the ride will always be better with supportive family and friends.

Kari

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New Beginnings

Like a lot of fellow SIDS parents (or parents who lost their child in their home), my husband and I were no longer able to consider our home our “safe haven”. We felt trapped in a home where we had experienced the most life shattering event, discovering the body of our son, Mason.

In the days that followed Mason’s death, I was shocked to learn that I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). What I didn’t know, was that this would follow me for months, and possibly forever. Everytime that I reached to open the doorknob to my bedroom, where I found Mason, I was jolted with the most vivid flashbacks of reaching down into his basinette to kiss him and finding him unresponsive.

Even the simple act of walking down the stairs sent me into a full fledged panic as I vividly recounted the seconds following our discovery as I chased my husband out our front door while he carried our sons lifeless body to the car to drive him to the hospital.

These flashbacks happened daily. Multiple times daily at best. Some days, the flashbacks occurred constantly, even without being on the staircase or walking into my bedroom.

After Mason died, everyone told us not to make decisions hastily: “Don’t throw away any of his things”, “Don’t move just because of what happened”, “Give it some time, you’ll get over it”, etc.

Well, I will tell you right now- The basinette/pack and play that we found him in? I took it out to the driveway almost immediately, slammed it onto the ground, and threw it in the trash. Never – EVER – would I be able to put another baby in it after what happened to Mason.

I stayed in that house for 7 months and didn’t sleep. When I say I didn’t sleep, I mean that. I averaged 2-3 hours of a sleep a night, and ATLEAST once a week, I didn’t sleep at all. My husband and I hallucinated frequently in our bedroom, and we lived a life where we were terrified to sleep in our bedroom, frequently sleeping on the couch.

The lack of sleep only made the PTSD and fear worse, and we began checking on our daughters (ages 2 and 6) multiple times a night to make sure they were still alive and breathing. There were many nights where my 2 year old appeared to have a “blue face”… just like Mason did. (I’ve referenced this before as “blue face syndrome”, and I think most parents who see their child dead experience this, atleast once, afterwards.)

My worst “blue face syndrome” incident occured a few months ago while my husband was out and my 2 year old was sleeping. She wasn’t moving. She had her blanket close to her face (only thing she sleeps with, her baby sized blanket and a tiny stuffed Pooh), so I was scared she would smother herself, and I wanted to check on her. The room was dark, and as I picked her up she was limp (because she was sleeping hard)… I lost control. I shook her and started screaming, which scared the living daylights out of her… She had just been in a (no pun intended) “dead sleep”. She spent the rest of her time sleeping in my arms.

It was then that I knew my husband and I had to move. We’d given it 7 months in our house, but it was time to move on.

It was difficult to leave our house. We built the house together as we were planning our wedding. It was the first house we ever owned. We brought home 2 of our 3 children to that house. But what was once our “Home Sweet Home” had turned into our real life “House of Horrors”.

We found our new home immediately. It was the first house we looked at, and I knew quickly it was “the one”. We closed 3 weeks after we saw it for the first time, and we moved in last weekend.

Even sleeping surrounded by boxes, and with our 2 year old’s first night in a “big girl bed”, we slept better than we had in 7 months in our old house. I can safely say we got 8 hours of sleep. No sleeping pills or Benadryl required.

Our 6 year old had been waking up every night following the death of her little brother to check on us. (After all, she went to bed kissing her brother goodnight one evening, and woke up to find that he was gone, and told he died in the middle of the night for no reason). I am proud to say she has only woken up once in the middle of the night in this new house, and only out of excitement for an upcoming sleepover at Grandma’s house.

So, if you are considering looking into moving after a loss.. And don’t know if it’s “the right thing to do”, I just wanted to say- It helped us.

Sure, we miss the house that we lived in with our son and family, but as many people reminded me when I was anxious about the upcoming moving day-

“Your child isn’t a part of the house… Your child is a part of YOU. And will follow you wherever you go. Always.”


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Trying Again (& Bringing Home Baby) After Loss

One of the most common questions I come across is “How do you know it’s time to have another baby? How do you handle it? What is having a new baby like after loss?” I don’t know personally what it is like because I haven’t taken that step yet myself, but I’m sure a new baby renews hope, but doesn’t replace worry… Here is a story from Laura Meindel about her journey through trying again (and bringing home baby) after loss.
-Kari

Prelude: I was asked by Kari over at Masons cause to guest star a blog on Pregnancy after Loss. I am thrilled to do so. 

Pee on a stick. Two pink lines. Cries of joy and happiness. Blissful pregnancy. Happy, healthy baby. Happily ever after!

This is how pregnancy and child birth in today’s world is portrayed. Weather it be in movies, television, tabloids, etc. For hundreds and even thousands of women, this is not the case. Many of us get lost after the cries of joy and happiness. Many of us are lost in the dark with a ending that results in the word no one wants to hear “loss.” Many of us never get our happily ever after.

Loss is such a horrible word. No one wants to hear it. Worse yet, no one wants to experience it.

Then there is the pregnancy after loss. How is that possible? How can you make it possible? How do you move on?

This is how I did.

My name is Laura. My daughter is Cara and my son is Carter. Carter is 6 months old,  Carter became my happily ever after. Cara on the other hand will forever etched in my mind, as I will never be able to hold her tiny body again.

I lost Cara when I was 30 weeks pregnant. I came down with a disease of pregnancy called Preeclampsia. I became very ill. Preeclampsia took her from me and almost took my life. A week in the hospital and I left with no baby, no blissful pregnancy and my chance of happily ever after was ruined forever. So I thought.

After months of allowing  myself to grieve, blog, and do things in my daughters name, I began to think that there could possibly be a chance for another child. I truly think  doing things in my daughters name such as making baby names for other families that have experienced loss, becoming involved with the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia and raising over 2,000$ my first year and walking in March of Dimes made me feel accomplished. I felt like I was accomplishing her life. Doing things for her, so no one would forget. That was a huge step in my healing.

When I found out I was pregnant, there were a lot of mixed feelings. I love this quote “It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.” This is why a baby after a loss is called a rainbow baby!

In the beginning I was so excited! I also had reservations. I knew that nothing could be controlled. Not even bringing home a healthy baby. So I took everything day by day. Hour by hour. When a loss is experienced, information about what can go wrong in a pregnancy fills one’s mind …it scares the hell out of you, you worry that everyone else’s story will quickly become yours. It was very emotional when I would get further week by week realizing, I JUST did this not even a year ago, and I did not get to even see my child laugh or smile. I felt like, what if I do this all over again and nothing? Then I thought what if I never  get pregnant again? Could I live with the fact that if I did get pregnant I could have possibly brought home a healthy child? I had nothing to lose. I lost my daughter and almost my life.

For the most part people were amazing! Taking all my feelings into consideration! However It blew my mind there were people out there that had such strong opinions on how my second pregnancy would go. How I should act, how I should not be overcome with fear… SERIOUSLY PEOPLE! Just BECAUSE I lost my child before and I was VERY ill one time…DOES NOT mean I have some magical golden ticket that everything is going to be roses and ponies…I am not guaranteed a healthy pregnancy…no one is. My whole world fell apart.  What I  really needed was to be is REALISTIC. Some did not understand why I would spend 9 months worrying that I am going to lose another child and possibly my own life. I just can’t help but worry, ANYONE that loses a child cant help that, we lived it before, there is really no guarantee we won’t live it again.

Just because I was pregnant again, it did not cure my hurt for losing Cara. If anything it was more difficult knowing that loss is reality.

I really think there is no “right” or “wrong” thing to say to  someone who is going through a pregnancy after a loss. Some say “mean” things because they are insecure and do not know what to say. Some say “mindless” things because they really are trying to make you feel better.  For people that have never been in our shoes…it is simply incomprehensible. I guess what I asked of people during my pregnancy with Carter was: Please dont tell me not to worry. Please dont tell me I will be fine. Please if you have a opinion on how I should be feeling, just do not say anything at all.

As my pregnancy progresses I waited. Waited to buy bedding, waited to even let myself get excited. I was guarded. Who wouldn’t be? Most importantly I knew that bedding, and cute clothes were not the most important things. Just bringing him home was.

As my pregnancy got further and further I was scared of seeing Carter. I was scared that I would be filled with grief that Cara can’t be here. Im just scared for the overwhelming emotions of happiness for Carter and ultimate sadness for our Cara. I was asked if I was nervous to give birth. I guess people assumed that since my first baby died I never had to deliver her. Dummies. My answer to their questions were H*** NO. The baby has to come out regardless of the situation. So why worry? Worrying is not effective!  I am nervous only for the feelings that will surround me when and after Carter is born. I am only nervous that of course my child will not live, that my happiness will be taken away once again.

When Carter arrived into this world. It was overwhelming. I pulled the sheets over my head and cried. I did not even hold him right away because I was so confused that I actually gave birth to a live baby. He was mine! ! I remember I thought about Cara and what I was robbed of, what she was robbed of. I knew she was there, looking down smiling. Its hard because if she was here, he would not be here and vice versa. Its a mixing bowl of emotions and it never ends. I cried because I guess I never realized how sick I was when I had Cara. How abnormal laying in a bed for a week after delivery, not showering, not having to use the bathroom, brush my teeth, hold my baby was. I never realized just how sad it was for me and those around me until being hit with all this joy! All I knew was sadness for almost 2 years. Now I am bombarded with happiness. I was not even sure what to do with myself!

Carter is now 6 months.  Healthy and of course my happily ever after. There is life after loss. You can go on.

As for healing? I always thought my fears would be over once I bought home my rainbow…there not. There were many a nights I stayed away watching his monitor, watching him breathe. We will never be done grieving the loss of our daughter. We will always be aware that we were robbed of her life. In the same aspect we will never be done worry about Carter. Is he sick? Is he heartbroken over a girl? Is he ok on his own in the real world? Does he miss me? As for enjoying his pregnancy? I did enjoy it as much as I could, but I think anyone who loses a child never really “enjoys” any part of pregnancy, unless its the part where the baby is happily  safe in your arms.

Remember nothing in life is easy. No one said having a child after a loss is easy, lord knows its not. Let me just say this. Its worth it. There is a happily ever after, somewhere out there, for everyone. Just a matter of how we get there.

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Surviving Tragedy

Because our official website is still being built, it has come to my attention that there is a very real immediate need for resources for those who find themselves in the midst of tragedy. Below are our resources for those in immediate need. I call it “Surviving Tragedy” because it contains the information needed just to “make it” for the first few days or weeks. -Kari

*Surviving Tragedy*

 

Pregnancy loss: How to cope:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-loss/PR00098

 

How To Stop Lactation:

http://www.glowinthewoods.com/how-to-stop-lactation/

 

Saying Goodbye to Your Child:

http://missfoundation.org/family/funeral.html

 

For the Newly Bereaved:

http://www.bereavedparentsusa.org/BP_NewlyBer.htm

 

Murder Response Team (Contact Info):

http://www.pomc.com/murderresponse.cfm

 

What to Do When a Child Dies:

http://www.copefoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=78:what-to-do-when-a-child-dies&catid=34&Itemid=69

 

Stages of Grief:

http://www.copefoundation.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20:stages-of-grief&catid=34&Itemid=69

Panic Attacks:

http://www.sharegrief.com/resources_details.php?id=38&Sid=15

 

 Living with the Loss you are Experiencing:

http://www.sharegrief.com/resources_details.php?id=16&Sid=0

 

 Healing Ritual:

http://www.goodgrief.org/grief/rituals.html

 

Autopsies:

http://www.firstcandle.org/grieving-families/sids-suid/autopsies/

 

Going Home:

http://www.firstcandle.org/grieving-families/sids-suid/going-home/

 

Fresh Grief Survival Tips:

http://growingthroughaffliction.com/GTA-WTGB-SurvivalTips.html

 

“Stillborn, Still living” ;

http://griefdigestmagazine.com/2010/11/stillborn-still-living/

 

And don’t forget, many helpful resources can be found right here on the Mason’s Cause Official Blog- Where Heartbreak Meets Hope.

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When Friends bring Babies

Mason has been so heavy on my heart lately.

In the last month, I’ve watched a friends son take his first steps. A baby that was born just days after Mason. It’s like the most complex series of emotions I’ve ever felt, and difficult to explain. My heart shattered, as I realized I would never see Mason take his first steps. But then, just as quickly as I felt broken, I felt joy watching the little man who was wobbly with each step, and the smile on his face as he made it to where he was trying to go, all on his own. His mom, Kasey, is a friend who has been so close to me for years, and who even brought her son, Landen, for me to cuddle at Mason’s funeral.

A lot of people don’t know what to say to someone when they lose a baby. I’ve watched as my friends with babies close in age to Mason struggle to decide when to come around me, whether to bring their kids, whether to talk to me about their own child’s milestones… Or should they just ignore it? Should they mention that their son is now clapping, waving “bye bye”, blowing kisses or taking those first steps? A lot of people wonder if it will make me sad if they talk about their own child’s milestones, when I will never get to see the milestones with my own son.

The answer for me is pretty clear cut. I am always thinking of my own son. No story or comment would ever “bring him up” when I’m not already thinking about him. I find joy in sharing in the experiences of others, with my friends and their babies who are safe and sound in their mothers arms. I do get sad that my son is no longer here, but I am overjoyed to be invited to share the experience of milestones with some other October 2010 babies that I will always hold close to my heart.

My friend, Stephanie, met me shortly before Mason died online, and recently came from out of state to help with a Mason’s Cause carwash to raise money for a family in need. She brought along her 9 month old son, James, another October 2010 baby. Another baby the same age as Mason. She never outwardly wondered if it was okay, she never asked me if it was okay that he come, nor has she ever hesitated to share one of James’ new milestones with me. And I am so grateful for that.

These two ladies, Kasey and Stephanie, have tried their hardest to be supportive to me, while being true to their children. I know that when they saw me with their sons, it was very difficult for them. They didn’t tell me this, but I could see it in their eyes- the sadness. But what they don’t know, is that they give me a gift every time they let me hold their children in my arms.

The gift of Hope.

Posted in Dads' Corner, Friends' Corner, Grief, Moms' Corner | 9 Comments

Father’s Grieve, too

My name is Bryce and I am the co-founder of Mason’s Cause.

I am sure that you know by now that my son Mason died on March 5, 2011.  When Mason died, I was 23 years old. I have two older daughters, but Mason was my dream come true.  There is a history that I believe is relevant to
everything that I am going to say, and I believe you need to know: My
father was diagnosed with cancer when I was 2 years old and he passed
away a few months before my fourth birthday.

I was never capable of grieving the loss of my dad as I had no one to
look at and understand whether what I was feeling was normal or not.

For twenty years, I was unable to mention my dad without breaking
down.  As hard as it is for parents to deal with the loss of a loved
one, I believe that it is many times harder for children.  What helped
me grieve the death of my father was actually the loss of my son.

Grieving the loss of a child is something that hit me like a ton of
bricks.

Youwill often hear about the different stages of grief that you should go
through, but there is no set order to these stages, and you might go
through a couple of them at the same time. Fathers of children that
have passed away are often overlooked.  People are always very
concerned about the mother and children because they tend to be more
open about their emotions.  Often, men feel like they don’t have the
right to grieve because they need to be strong for their families.

I believe my grieving started as I drove my son to the hospital. While I
was simultaneously giving Mason CPR and driving, my mind was going
crazy. My mind was tricking me into believing that I was hearing air
come out of his mouth and my reaction was he had come back. And then my
mind realized that he wasn’t back.  To this day, I cannot tell you how
I made it to the hospital in about 2 minutes when normally it takes
ten.  I have no recollection of the drive there.  As time went on while
they were working on Mason, I was in denial.  I was sad, I was angry at
my dad, and I had started to slip in and out of a very dark place (this
dark place almost took over and I almost became stuck inside of myself,
but I will come back to that).

I became extremely angry with my father while they were continuing the
lifesaving efforts. I became angry because I believed that my father
was taking MY son from me, since he didn’t get to see me grow up.  I
went from being angry at my father to telling Mason that nobody would
be mad at him.

Grief is different for every single person, and I started grieving at the
hospital.  Some people may not start until after the funeral.  You
should never let anybody tell you how to grieve or if you are doing it
right.  My biggest thing is you have to make sure that you DO grieve.
Realize that you wont grieve at the same rate as your spouse, and know
that you will both have moments when you are able to talk about your
child when the other cannot. You need to make sure that you don’t get
angry at each other; you have to support each other and be
understanding. There is no right or wrong with grief.  From experience
if you don’t grieve you will miss out on a lot of things until you at
least start the process.  People may look at you during your hardest
moments, and they won’t understand why you are having a hard time.
Ignore those people as well as you can.  Something else that you will
run into is your friends may notice that you have changed – and you
will change – you will never be the same. Your friends may not like who
you become, but it’s not like you asked for any of these things to
happen. Unfortunately, losing a few friends is possible and this may
increase your grief.

People will usually ask you if you are okay for a week or two, and at least
with me, by the time I was ready to talk almost everybody had stopped
asking, leaving me by myself.  The one person that was always checking
on how I was doing was my wife.  She has always been there for me when
I need her.  The night Mason died, and when they stopped CPR, I shut
down completely. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had shut down
countless times while they were still trying to revive Mason. Later, my
wife asked me if I remembered saying something or doing something, but
I had no recollection of it.  I was stuck in my head and I don’t
remember seeing anybody or hearing anything except for one sentence
that was stuck on repeat.  I thought the sentence was just in my head,
but I found out later that I was saying it aloud.

At some point, I was able to think about my dad and how I was convinced
that he had taken my son from me. I had lost my father and my son, my
daughters had lost their brother and their grandfather that they never
met. I decided that I was not going to let the fact that my father had
taken my son take me to. My girls needed me and I knew that and I also
knew that the only person that could get me back from where I was, was
me.  My wife gave me space while we were there, she knew that one of us
had to be thinking straight and I was to far gone by the time she got
to the hospital. She knew that I needed her and that Mason needed her,
because I wasn’t able to tell the doctors what they needed.  My wife
helped me say goodbye to my only son.  She gave me time when I needed
it, space, and compassion with out me having to ask.

You may not have gone through the same mental breakdown that I did, but at
some point you might and you need to make sure you always have
something to hang onto, something to bring you back into the light.  My
grieving process has continued in a unique way, and many people may not
think of it as the right way but it is what I did to help myself.  I
dedicated my car, the car that would have one day been his, to Mason.
I put a large decal on my back window commemorating his short life,
and wouldn’t you know it getting the car ready to drive to the funeral,
I found a yellow ball completely wedged under the driver’s seat.   A
week or so after his party (his funeral), I decided to get a tattoo. I
ended up getting two rib tattoos which the ink contained his ashes so
that he will always be by my side.

Grieving is a unique experience for every person.  Fathers may have an
exceptionally difficult time grieving because they feel like they have
to be strong for their families, and because few people think to check
on the father, especially after time has passed.  You may find yourself
feeling alone or isolated.  You might “hit a wall,” have a breakdown,
or think surprising and confusing thoughts.  We have built a section on
our site for fathers to include valuable resources that can help the
men who have lost children heal.  We hope that you will find these
resources helpful.  My advice is to lean on your spouse while
recognizing that you will both grieve differently and on different
timetables.  Find the friends you can lean on and walk away from those
who cannot support you.  In time, and in your own unique way, you will
find ways to commemorate the life of your child, just as I did with my
car and tattoos.  We hope that you’ll share these stories with us on
our growing community wall on Facebook; and if you need someone to
talk to please email me directly- bryce@masonscause.org

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