The county in which I live has suffered a devastating catastrophe, a wildfire that intruded our cities.
Early Monday morning, I was awakened to the doorbell and pounding at the front door. Because I was alone with my children, I didn't answer it immediately, instead letting my dog to scope it out. When his barking stopped, I realized it was someone we knew at the front door so I ran to open it.
Outside was as active as the middle of the day, only it was pitch black instead of light. We didn't know what was happening, but could smell the smoke and feel the fear. Neighbors were loading their cars, their trailers and RV's with their most prized possessions. I frantically moved throughout the house trying to decide what was worthy of fitting into my medium sized car should we never return to this house we call home.
Those moments were one of the scariest of my life, while the next week continued to be exhausting, worrisome and stressful. The days were long as we were glued to the news, the radio and social media for updates. We watched in horror as loved ones homes were burned to the ground. The fires continued to spread for days as the wind moved it in different directions. Our lives were on hold as we waited for the weather to shift in our favor.
Our entire community is grieving the loss of lives, homes and businesses as a result of these fires. While our hearts are healing and bodies needing the strength and stamina to move forward, I found myself remembering the survival skills from the early days of grief after my daughter died.
Here are my recommendations for simple steps when grieving:
Take Care of Your Needs
Make sure to be well fed, even if you don't feel well rested. Drink ample fluids and make sure you are always nourished. Tea became my lifeline. I wasn't hungry but tea soothed my parched soul. Teamotions tea offers adaptogen herbs for emotional well being. Taking a moment to breathe and taste a cup of warm tea can offer a much needed rest. To find out more about Teamotions tea, click HERE.
Tend to Your Heart
Take a break from the trauma. As much as you're able and as often as you can, be sure to tend to your heart. For me, that means writing. I journaled about my feelings and wrote about my experience at Still Standing (HERE). as a way to process my emotions on paper. Writing may not be your thing, or maybe you don't have a "thing" yet. To give you some ideas and support, I have compiled 100+ ways to tend to your heart HERE.
Days before the fire, my friend and fellow loss mom Kristi from Lilla Rose, sent me a Flexi Clip for my hair. It was such a nice treat to get this in the mail and was especially useful last week when we were left without power and gas. Because I was unable to shower, I would dry shampoo my hair and clip it up with the Flexi Clip. Wearing that clip in my hair made me feel that although I was in a state of chaos, at least I didn't look like it...entirely! I used it near every day and brought it everywhere I went. Give yourself permission to be treated in any way that makes you feel good, especially when you're grieving. As a gift, Kristi has offered to giveaway one Flexi Clip! To enter, click HERE.
11 days later, the fires are nearly contained and most evacuation orders have been lifted. Many families are returning home or learning that their home is no longer standing. It's just going to be a long haul to rebuild both emotionally and physically. But, my community is #sonomastrong and we will get there, It's just going to take time. In the meantime, make sure to take care of your needs, tend to your heart and treat yourself.
I have lived 5 1/2 years without my sweet girl. 5 1/2 YEARS?!
I am often told, "I wouldn't survive if my child died." I didn't think I would either. In fact, I still don't know how I *have* survived the last 5+ years. But, I know that I have gotten up out of bed every day and put one foot in front of the other and suddenly those days, turned into weeks, turned into months, turned into years.
After Ruthie Lou died, I had an epiphany moment; I would live for her now. In the moments that I didn't want to live for myself, I would live for her instead. All of our children (living and not living) come into our lives as such blessings, they truly are gifts. I quickly realized how impactful the life of my daughter was and that I would do her more honor in my healing, than in my hurt.
But it hasn't been easy.
It miss her so much.
I ache for her when I see her brothers doing fun stuff. I am heartbroken when they reach a new milestone or have a bonding moment and a get that twinge of "she should be here" thinking.
I guess it will always be that way.
I have done a tremendous amount of grief work. TREMENDOUS amount. I feel strong. I feel joy. I am grateful for my family. I live a really good life. And I will always miss her.
Five and a half years. I am so grateful for her. I would never have chosen a baby other than Ruthie Lou, with her sweet puckered lips and curled fists. She is my baby. She will forever be my first-born and only daughter.
And I miss her still.
5 1/2 years.
I only hope to do her proud.
He's here, he's here, he's here! Adam Waid Lands is here!
This sweet little boy that I felt grow inside me arrived July 27th at 9:58am. Weighing 8lbs 14oz & 20 1/2 inches, he's the perfect mix of brother and sister- the spitting image of his brothers size and his sisters sweet profile.
I still can't believe he's here, that 40 weeks have passed and we did it! He did it! He made it to us, safely, healthy, whole and alive. I can breathe freely now.
His pregnancy (falling four years after his sister died) has allowed much of our life to return to normalcy, not the normal it was before Ruthie Lou, but the normal that we have grown to know and be grateful for. But that said, my fears felt so much greater this pregnancy. The combination of Ruthie Lou dying and Reids delivery being traumatic, left so much fear of the unknown as we waited to see if Adam would survive pregnancy, then survive birth, and be born to us healthy with all his chromosomes. It was a huge and heavy burden to bear, all while creating a space of peace and faith for him to flourish inside me.
Chris and I process our grief so differently. We were both just waiting for our boy to arrive to exhale. It's hard to feel your own feelings, all while allowing space for your partner to do the same, and doing so with patience. Both of us were unable to really tend to the other, except for supporting each other from afar. Even saying we were scared that Adam might die felt like tempting fate.
This pregnancy was private. We never announced that we were expecting. Although my belly was a walking billboard, unless you saw me, it was not something I wanted to talk about other than a select few who probably heard my worries more times than not. I can't explain why, other than I was holding my breath and it took all my strength to maintain my emotional sanity in this pregnancy, that I couldn't dare speak about it publicly.
I am happy that I held Adam quietly inside me, it felt safe. He felt safe. We have lived in the public eye so much with Ruthie Lou and in our love obsession of Reid, it felt good to hold this baby close before he met the world.
Adam felt different than his siblings. Like them, he is so sweet, but he also holds such a gentle presence. He seems like one of those strong silent types that goes with the flow but when they speak up, you listen because they're only expressing them self when it's truly important.
His story is completely different than his siblings. I was so certain he would come early as his brother and sister did. I never considered the alternative of going full term. I expected his labor to mirror theirs too, and imagined what that would feel like for the third time, but that never happened. I worried that his delivery would be as scary as theirs, was but it was the most beautiful of all deliveries, even in a surgical operating room. I thought I would feel crazy for lack of sleep but instead, other than sore from a poor latch, he spends all days nursing and most of the night sleeping.
He is nothing as I expected, and everything I could have ever wanted.
I love Adam.
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.