Guide to Healing

This is my personal guide to healing. I am not an expert, I am simply giving you tips on what helped me personally get through the initial grieving process.

I will update this throughout my healing process with things I find helpful!

  1. Create a positive mindset: This is the hardest part. It’s hard to reset yourself when everything around you seems to crumble. Create a sense of peace in knowing that you know exactly where your loved one is. I forced myself to think a certain way and avoided talking about what/where other’s thought my River was. People will read off of your emotion and creating a positive one helps bring in conversation about your loved one. Now, not everyone is ready for this step initially. It’s hard to get to this point. But, I think this was the biggest step in my healing process.
  2. Talk about it: Talking about it makes it more real, but better yet, more normal. Although most grieving people tend to want to ignore the fact that their loved one is no longer physically present – talking about it keeps their spirit very alive. Talking about it and creating a positive mindset play hand in hand together. When I talk about River, I keep it very real and raw. I do miss him, but I know exactly where he is. Creating that gateway into the topic of “death” with a positive outlook makes others more comfortable, too. It will be hard at first. I have had many conversations followed by tears, but this validates your love for them. This is normal and completely natural.
  3. It’s okay to cry: This is important. Being sad is completely appropriate for any stage of grief. I’m not far into my grieving process, but I’ve heard this never actually “goes away”. The tears are proof of your longing for them physically. When I cry, I like to close my eyes because that’s the only place I get to see River. I can just see him smiling at me which, in turn, makes me smile. Try this next time you miss them, your mind is more powerful than you think (as we all already know).
  4. There will be waves: THIS! “Waves” is what my husband and I call our hard moments. There’s big waves and little waves. The big waves hit you hard and suddenly, without warning. These hurt the worst and will take you to your knees. The little waves are the small bouts of grief. The ones where you are driving in silence and a see a small butterfly that reminds you of them. Maybe a small tear, but usually followed with a subtle grin. These are both natural and will happen regardless. The best way to deal with a wave is to ride it out. Scream if you have to. Cry. Run. Punch a pillow. Let it all out.
  5. Thrive in your happy moments: It’s easy to get swept over with grief and sadness. Like your mindset, you must make it a point to really live in those happy moments. I tend to realize that when I’m happy, River’s happy. When it comes to personal grief, ignore the “they’d want you to be happy” comments. It’s okay to tell someone that those comments don’t help. Instead, take the ball yourself and run with it. You’re not living without them, you’re living for them. So, be happy.
  6. Advocate: Bring awareness to your situation. Whether you are a loss parent, widow or grieving the loss of someone very close, this is your opportunity to break the ice on the topic of “loss”. I am extremely open when it comes to our situation with stillbirth. I will say very boldly that “my baby died”. Because he did. I didn’t lose him, he’s just dead. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have heard me say this. But putting the word “dead” in a sentence makes things permanent and real. Talking about death is “taboo” and I understand that. But, this is a part of life and something people need to talk about. I will always advocate for stillbirth. I will advocate because it can happen to anyone. You know how many times I’ve been asked “what happened”? Almost every single time. Let me set the bar straight. NOTHING HAPPENED. I was healthy, he was healthy, I did everything right. I knew other pregnant women who were more worried about this happening to them due to their health when the thought never crossed my mind. I mean, why would it happen to the healthy one? It’s 1 out of 160 births. 2/3 of all cases that do go through autopsy go inconclusive. In other words, you can have the perfect pregnancy and still give birth to a dead baby. Ironically, I never heard of stillbirth until it happened to us. So, advocate for yourself.
  7. Think of the future: How are you going to tell your future about your past? I always have fun ideas about how I’m going to tell River’s siblings about him. I hope one of my future children has red hair like him. I will celebrate his birthday every single year. I’ve started a Christmas tradition already by writing him a Christmas card to heaven – even my dad writes him one. When my kids are older, we will open all of River’s Christmas cards and read them to him. Think of fun ways to honor your loved one. Like I will say many times, they may not be here physically but they are here spiritually. They hear you.
  8. Give yourself Grace: Through this healing process, give yourself grace. Give yourself time when you need it. Your situation is unique to YOU. But, you are never alone. Talk when you need to talk and sit in silence when you need the silence. I remember the week after River was born, I wanted to just do things. I wanted to keep my mind and body busy. My mom made me stop what I was doing and just sit down. Although she did it so I could physically heal, she continuously told me to give myself grace. The laundry could wait. The bed will be made later. But I needed to feel this. I needed to recognize the depths of what just happened. I will always be thankful for that.

Ultimately, I am no expert. I hope this helps you or someone you know through their own grieving and healing process. Please feel free to reach out if you need someone to just listen. I promise, every feeling you have is completely valid and normal.

So, friends, grab your coffee and tell me about your loved ones.

As always,