After I lost my daughter Audrina, all my passion for life fell into a black hole. There is something very wrong about leaving the hospital without your baby. What should be a moment that completely fills your heart, turns into an emptiness that can’t be fixed by anything. A heartbreak so deep it can only be absorbed in small increments because if you tried to process it all at once, it would swallow you whole. A pain so raw it makes being numb an acceptable state of being.
I spent a fair amount of time trying to fill the void in unproductive ways. The pit of my pain had me frantically reaching for anything to ease discomfort in the present moment. This usually meant stuffing down unwanted feelings with the nearest quick fix like chocolate or wine. Sometimes it meant filling myself with delusion or denial. Like believing my pain would go away if I were to have another baby.
My journey through grief has been lonely. People who were once my support group, now seem insensitive to my situation. Their failed attempts to console, just leave me angry and feeling alone, but in their defense, how could they understand what I’m going through. If you’ve never lost a child, my best recommendation in providing comfort is to simply listen, let them cry, and just walk with them until they can see straight again. Don’t be afraid to mention their child’s name and bring up a positive memory. A mother’s worst fear is having their child be forgotten.
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that nothing will ever take away my pain and it’s ok to feel not ok. I’ve learned to accept my shortcomings along my path through grief. Most of all, I’ve learned what heals me and what hinders me. I could easily decide to curl up into the fetal position and just give up on life, because when Audrina died, I didn’t just lose my child, I ended up losing all hope for the future. But giving up on life would be an injustice to Audrina.
I discovered how healing it is to transform my pain into positivity by living in honor of her. I keep her legacy alive by living passionately with gratitude even when it’s hard to move forward. Fleeting joy comes back in waves when I get back to doing things I love like painting or scrapbooking. Many of my large-scale art projects were inspired by her existence.
I also found a place of hope called Faith Lodge, located in Danbury Wisconsin. My husband and I spent a weekend there to honor Audrina on her first birthday. It was healing to meet other families who suffered the same loss. We walked in as strangers, but after sharing our stories we came out as family because we shared the same pain.
The lodge makes a luxurious statement but the true beauty is woven in the memories of children. Every square inch tells a story, from the dedicated rooms to the stained-glass windows, or hanging quilts stitched with loving memories. You’ll find a child’s name on a bird house hanging from an old oak tree or painted on rocks carefully placed around the property. Every parent leaves a bit of their child’s legacy behind and it lives on through the lodge and through hope. As a tribute to Audrina, I painted a cozy woodland scene in the kids room at the lodge. It was healing to honor my daughter and spread joy to the children who visit the lodge.
I’ve had to redefine my life as mother to an angel baby. I can bear this easier knowing in my heart she is in God’s hands and I will meet her again someday. I continually remind myself how blessed I am regardless of the situation I face. Regardless of the sleepless nights and endless days, I go on living without her.
“Her beauty still blooms” is my reminder to keep Audrina’s legacy alive. Although her life was short, she will go on living through me when I find ways to honor her. I do this by spreading joy to others in my artwork and craft projects. When I paint murals, I continue to see the beauty of Audrina live on and bring joy to others.
We want to connect moms who are seeking help to resources within our community that can provide hope. Our Seeking Help, Finding Hope resource guide lists several organizations that can help with issues related to mental health.