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.
When you gaze upon the child you've longed for, every cell of your being changes. It's unexplainable until experienced and even more than one can conceivably imagine. When I could finally see the child I had only felt in my belly for 37 weeks, my life, my purpose, my everything shifted, my heart exploded with love. My Ruthie Lou, my sweetest girl, she changed me even before I knew how much.
Ruthie Lou, your pregnancy, labor up until the moment of birth were everything I had imagined and ever hoped it could be. Dancing with your dad, being cared for, anxiously waiting your arrival, longing to be your mama in this world. This story, the one of your birth can be whatever perspective I want it to be, sometimes it is lovely, other times it is terrifying and many times it is all those things. But above all the conflicting emotions of that day, the LOVE that exhumed could not be contained in my heart. You were here, you were mine and you will always be our daughter.
Everything about the days leading up to and the weeks that followed from the day of your birth, are ingrained and embedded in my mind. I treasure every single memory.
Blue eyes, auburn hair, puckered lips, the dimple on the right side of your cheek. Chunky feet, chunkier thighs, skinny booty, long fingernails. Soft skin, baby smell, tousled hair that my fingers ran through one million times a day. Lovely visits, pinching booties, laughter and your room full of love. Soft kisses, more kisses, could I ever have kissed you enough? Poop explosions, the warm pool, sunsets, brisk air, the days turning to night. Opposite schedule, party animal, night wakings, holding you every moment we could, sharing you between us only because it was fair. Long talks, stories told, lessons learned, our souls speaking a language never to be heard aloud.
My heart will always long for you, the child that I am unable to raise. But let's be real, you raised me. You taught me more than I anticipate learning the rest of my life and the true reason we are here; to love and be loved, to show love, to grow love and to understand that time on Earth is valuable and borrowed. That a lifetime is not a measure of time.
I live in your love every day and especially today when I wish I could kiss you just one more time. I love you more than all the stars in the sky.
Happy 4th birthday, Ruthie Lou. Today, I will eat all delicious food in honor of you.
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.