Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Capture your grief 2012

I initially decided to participate again this year because I find this project to be healing and eye opening. I started off strong but found myself having a hard time towards the end. It was actually in the day of self care. I was mentally and physically exhausted from a busy month so I decided to take a break. Part of me feels like I failed, whereas the other part of me knows the project is for me so there is no failing. Here are the days I completed:

Day 1: Sunrise- Titusville, Fl

With every new sunrise, I'm reminded it is a new day, a new chance to make a difference in this dark world. This is my 3rd year participating in this project. This year, I am in a new place. A place where I've found healing (and am still finding healing daily) but one where I am beyond honored to be given opportunities to help support others who are on this healing journey. 

I find these lyrics fitting to where I am currently and the topic for today, "We were born to be the ones, To show the faithless what we've done
And there's a fire inside, It burns like the surface of the sun."

Today, at the beginning of my third year of this project, like they sun, in on fire to help others through their journey. 

Day 2: Heart ❤️ I hold both of my beautiful daughters in my heart.

Helen Keller said “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

One of the best things to ever happen in my life was and is the birth of my first daughter, Avery Diane. And while we only had 6 short days with her, she will always be with me. She will always be part of me because she will forever be in my heart. I can no longer see her or touch her but every day I feel her with me, with each beat of my heart, she is here. 

Day 3: Before

Before Avery was born, it was just the two of us. Young, carefree, innocent, naive. Having fun, taking trips and experiencing the world. Neither of us had experienced true tragedy first hand. Neither of us knew just how much our world was going to be rocked. This photo was almost a year to the day the before Avery was born. It was our last summer getaway with friends before we would be forever changed, forever different. I look back at this couple and it feels like ages ago. We aren't these two naive kids anymore. 

Day 4: Now

This is what I and my family look like now. To the outsider, we look like a happy family of three but that teddy bear is more than a prop, it represents our 4th family member, Avery. On the outside, the us now and the us then look similar. 

But Avery's brief life has irrevocably changed the person I am. I am more sensitive, I love more deeply and I realize how short and unpredictable life can be. I am forever grateful for those who are currently in my life and accept the new me, and realize I will never be the old me again. I am content in my now, I have an amazing husband, my beautiful rainbow and a great support system. I continue finding healing daily. But it's not all sunshine and butterflies. 

At times I can be completely overcome by fear and anxiety. A fear so strong it can be paralyzingly. One words cannot even begin to describe. I just keep waiting for tragedy to strike again. I feel very jaded at times and find it hard to be optimistic in this very cruel world. 

I hate that life is broken down into a before and after but this is my life. And the 'now' me is driven to help others who are on similar paths. This isn't the way I dreamed my life going but I vow to use my experience to help others. 

Day 5: Journal

In the beginning I wrote, pen to paper, daily. I wrote to Avery and poured my heart out. Over time my paper journal turned to blogging. My blog is a way to not only express myself but to give others a glimpse into this crazy world. The good, the bad and the so often, very ugly. I found so many blogs helpful when I was starting on this journey. Even if my words touch just one person, it is worth sharing my heart and pain, open and honestly with the world. 

You can ready my blog entry for the day here:

Day 6: Books

There have been many helpful books in my journey. I've posted then each year of this project. This year I wanted to share a book that I look forward to reading to our rainbow. This line page gets me every time. "You get to meet a lot of people in Heaven....and my big sister was so excited to see me that she wouldn't stop hugging me!"

Day 7: Sacred Place

Picking out Avery's headstone was surreal yet something we put a lot of thought into. It was the last and only tangible thing we were able to do for her. As odd as it was seem to many, I find peace visiting her place at the cemetery. It's a very beautiful space and her area and headstone are unlike any others there, unique and beautiful just like her. 

Growing up, I was always creeped out by cemeteries as I never went to them. It's crazy to think how different  Harper's life experience with cemeteries will be as they are part of her everyday, normal life. 

Day 8: Resources

There are many resources that have helped me along my journey in these shoes. These organizations have helped me learn to deal with these new shoes I'm forced to wear daily.  I am forever grateful that there are so many out there to help families like mine. 

A Pair of Ugly Shoes
Author Unknown
I am wearing a pair of shoes.  
They are ugly shoes. 
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Day 9: In Memory

Today was a hard day to decide what to post. I feel like daily I'm doing something in Avery's memory. Whether it's random acts of kindness, volunteering to help other baby loss families or just taking in the beauty of a sunset, I feel like everything I do is in memory of Avery. 

But one of the more tangible things that has been done in her memory is the building of Avery's Place. This playground was built solely based on funds raised at the 1st Annual Avery Diane Hanson Memorial Golf Tournament. The outpouring of love and support from our friends, family and strangers who took part in this tournament inspired us to hold a golf tournament in her memory annually. In addition to building Avery's Place, we've raised money for Molly Bears and SIDS research and are working to bring more support to families in our area. 

Day 10:  Support

Friends and family were a great source of support for us after losing Avery. We have great people in our life who will be there at any time for us. Whether we need to talk, cry or simply escape reality, there are so many who are there for us. But my biggest support, the one who truly knows what's going on in my head is my husband. 

He's the one who kept me going when I couldn't reach out to anyone else. He's the one who spent countless nights with me through the endless tears. He's the one who knew the answer to the question, "How are you doing?" He's my rock. He's my greatest support. 

Day 11: Alter

I don't really like the word alter. To me it implies worship. And while I love and miss Avery with all of my heart, I don't worship her. But I do have multiple spaces in our house where I've dedicated space to her. This space in our room is the only space dedicated solely to her. Everything here has special meaning to us. 

Flowers from her service, multiple pictures of her name taken all over the country, trinkets with her name we've picked up over time, the drum sticks I had made for my husband on his 1st Father's Day (which was the day after we buried her). 

This is one of the first things we see in the morning and the last we see when going to sleep at night. This is just another way that Avery is part of our everyday life. 

Day 12: Music - See Me Smiling by Yellowcard

There are so many songs I turn to on my journey. Lately, I've been spending lots of time in the car. My phone seems to shuffle to this song more frequently than the others and every time, my mind goes to Avery. 

She's always on my mind and in my heart. The pain is always there yet through it all, I hold her close and I am able to smile, I am able to live and I am able to love those in my life. 

Day 13: Season

Summer will always be Avery's season. Even though she was technically born before the official start of summer, summer had already started here in Florida. It seemed as if the day we were in the hospital to deliver her was the first day that the afternoon Florida summer storms started that summer.   It was hot, humid and the storms raged that afternoon and every afternoon she was here. The beginning of the summer storms and the summer heat will always remind me of her. 

Day 14: Light/Dark

Early on it seemed as if I would never be able to break out of the dark. And on many days, I didn't want to. But even on the darkest of days, there was always a small glimmer of light and hope. A hope and faith that this goodbye was just temporary and one day, Avery and I will be together again. 

If I were to say that my faith has remained strong through all of this I would be lying. I've questioned God a million times. I've begged for answers. I've pleaded for her back. And while none of this had happened, I do know that He still loves me and Avery. It will never make sense to me in this world, and I will probably spend the rest of my life asking why. But I do have light and hope in knowing that is is not the end. 

"So when the walls come falling down on me
And when I'm lost in the current of a raging sea.  I have this blessed assurance holding me. All I know is I'm not home yet.  This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus.  This is not where I belong." Building 429

Day 15: Community

Today is the wave of light and once again I am beyond touched at everyone who has lit a candle in memory of Avery and all babies gone too soon. Being part of the baby loss community is not a club I wanted to join but I am so thankful this community of strong families exists to support one another. Thank you to everyone remembering our babies today and every day. 

Day 16: Retreat

This week has been amazing but I have been very busy. I was able to tell Avery's story and share the TEARS Foundation at an infant mortality press conference, spent time remembering Avery and her friends by releasing sky lanterns into Heaven and today I get to facilitate my first Babyloss support group. 

Today my heart is full and heavy. I'm honored to be doing so much in Avery's memory but it can be a lot to take in. 

Today I will be retreating from doing too much but as always, our babies are in my heart.  

Day 17: Explore

The journey I am on is life changing and lifelong. Once you begin on this journey, there is no end. In the beginning, the path was rough, full of quick sand, sharp rocks and huge boulders. Every step was unpredictable. Some days, moving forward was impossible and others I was pushed further back. But as I've continued down my path, I've met others who have helped teach me how to scale the cliffs, escape the quicksand and mend my bleeding heels. 

Over time my path has leveled out. There are less jagged steep cliffs and sudden drops. The ground is more firm and the rocks are less sharp. There are still days the path surprises me with a twist, turn or sharp edge but most days I am navigating this journey fairly well and continue to explore where this journey leads. 

Day 18: Gratitude

There are so many people in my life that I am thankful for. So many friends and family who support us daily.  But today, I want to recognize those who we take for granted until we need them. The nurses, doctors, police officers, fire fighters and paramedics who daily keep up safe yet many times are not recognized. 

I will be forever grateful for all of those who were part of that awful day we lost Avery. I know they did everything they could. They showed us so much compassion and love during an awful time. Here is a blog post I wrote a while back about this: 

Take time today to appreciate someone who does something you take for granted!

Day 19:  Give

For Avery's 1st birthday we asked friends and family to do random acts of kindness in her name. Since then our Avery's Light RAOK have grown. A friend had special coins made up to pass out when doing a RAOK and since having 1000 made last year, we had to have another set of 1000 made. Her RAOK coins have traveled all over the US and to other countries too. 

It's always a pick me up to perform a random act when I'm having a bad day or a day where I'm just really missing her. And the stories we hear back about how an act done in her name touched someone warms my heart. She may be gone but she lives on in love through us. 

Day 20: Breathe

Some days, all you can do is simply breathe. And that is enough. And when life is crazy, take time to enjoy the beauty around you.  You never know what you will see. This heart was in the clouds over my house yesterday. 

Day 21:  Relationships

Today my rainbow, Harper, turns 9 months. She's my second daughter but the world sees her as my first. Because of what happened with Avery, I'm not a cool and calm second time mom like those damn diaper commercials make you believe. I'm an anxiety filled, fearful, worrisome, paranoid, wish I could put her in a bubble and live there forever, second time grieving mom. I struggle watching Harper grow because I know the reality that if Avery were here, chances are, Harper wouldn't be. Wrapping your head around that is almost impossible. 

But because of losing Avery, I love watching her grow. While I can't believe it's going so fast, I don't find myself sad she's growing fast but rather joyful that she is in deed growing, something I don't get with Avery. Every milestone, round of shots, tooth and sleepless night is something I never got to experience before. 

Grief plays a role in all relationships. I struggle and worry about how it will affect Harper. How do I raise her to love her sister without her feeling like she's living in her shadow? Living with one in your heart and one in your arms is challenging in so many ways. 


  1. I know exactly what you mean by feeling like you failed, Crystal. This year, I didn't take part at all. I can't even say why. I just didn't feel it. Lately, I feel like a broken record. I hate saying that, but I think it's the truth about how I feel. Nothing changes...I miss Luke every day. And every day, Lena becomes older and older and more challenging, and I just...don't have the energy to put it all out there right now.

    But he's always at the forefront of my mind. And I'm the one that knows that. And you do such an amazing job of remembering Avery. And you're right--I'm not sure how I'm going to balance parenting Lena while remembering Luke. It's going to be awkward and hard, and I'm just not sure how I'll figure it out...

    But we've made it this far, right? ♥

  2. I get the broken record thing and with Harper getting bigger and getting more mischievous, it's hard. It's always hard. I know you know that. My love for Avery is unchanging and I'm still realtively in the same place in my journey. It still sucks. Every. Single. Day. I don't feel like I have much new developments to share and when I do, I can't even seem to put them into words right now. Glad to know I'm not alone.