the new normal

And let me tell you, it’s not easy – but I’m doing it.

“Grief changes shape, but it never ends.”

-Keanu Reeves

This time of my life is very strange. I suppose if I had to fit it into one of the stages of grief, you could call it “acceptance”. Except I never felt as though I didn’t accept Kellan’s death. It’s just a very weird feeling.

I guess I am living my “new normal”.

My husband left today for Blaine, Minnesota for the NAHL Showcase Tournament. It’s my favorite tournament, and one I attend every season. This year, I was extra excited about going. About getting to bring Kellan. Starting his tradition of being there every year.

After he died, I didn’t want to go anymore. I wasn’t sure I could face it. But I am going. I can’t stop doing everything I love because the tasks are hard. I can do it. It will be a situation where I wonder who knows and who doesn’t. I will be unsure if people are talking about me, or maybe they’ll have no clue. It will be scary and will take all of my energy to get through the day. But I will do it. I can do it.

Sometimes I can talk about Kellan without missing a beat. It’s almost like he’s alive and I’m just talking about my baby at home. And sometimes I can barely choke his name out. No matter how I am, it’s agonizing either way. But I want to talk about him. He needs to be talked about. He deserves it.

Please, if I talk about my baby with you, listen to me. Feel free to ask me questions and engage with me. If I am talking about him, I feel safe and I want to share him with you. Never think you’re making me feel uncomfortable talking about my son. If I cry, it’s ok. If you cry, it’s ok. If I change the subject or can’t talk about him in that moment, I will tell you. Just roll with it. I’m trying to figure it all out. I still don’t know how to navigate it all. Just know, I can usually talk about Kellan. I need to talk about him, even when it hurts.

I’m a work in progress, that’s for sure. But at least I’m working on it.

My mom asked me tonight how I handle it all throughout the day. How do I do it? I told her sometimes I feel like a robot. I’m just going through the motions and trying to eliminate my sadness to power through what I have to get done. Sometimes I think when I talk to people for the first time about Kellan, they have it harder than I do. I’ve been dealing with this everyday for the last 10.5 weeks, but they have to figure out how to handle me and their emotions in the moment. I’m sure it’s not easy.

I got one of the most remarkable gifts I’ve ever received in my life this past weekend. My co-worker offered to get a Kendal Bear made for me. I wasn’t sure what the bear was about, until the story was shared with me.

The original Kendal Bear was made to honor and remember Kendal Mae Breyfogle. Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) was the monster that took her from this world in September of 2017. The bear was made with her favorite things. Her favorite outfits, her lovey, even a piece of the dress she was laid to rest in. She is traveling thru life alongside her twin sister, siblings and parents.

Since then, the creator Rebecca has been asked to create many more Bears. You can learn more about Rebecca and her Kendal Bears by following her blog:

When I learned exactly how special these bears were, I was so honored to be able to have one. I was unsure how I’d ever narrow down Kellan’s outfits to fit just one bear, and I knew a few other loved ones that may just need a bear for themselves. So I asked Rebecca if I could possibly purchase a few more bears….5 to be exact. And she said yes!

To my surprise, my co-worker and her family ended up purchasing all five bears for me. It was an overwhelming feeling. I am so loved. Kellan is so loved. Introducing my amazing, special, perfect, beautiful Kellan Kendal Bears:

Kellan’s outfits picked with love, sewn together with love, for those who love him.

I can’t explain what these bears mean to me. I have slept with my bear every single night since I have gotten him. What a special and priceless item. If you know someone who has lost a loved one, these bears make the most precious gift. It took me a while to be able to go through his outfits and put them together, but I am forever thankful I did. I just love them all so much.

Thank you Rebecca for what you do, and thank you Carrie for doing this for me. They are priceless. While I would give anything to hold my sweet Kellan again, these bears give me a tiny piece of that back. I will forever cherish them.

So I guess that’s where I’m at. In this weird phase of grief that I don’t really understand. Not like I’ve ever really understood any of it. I feel like I’m kind of at a stand still. I can’t decide if this is just what my new normal will feel like, or if it will get better. Or maybe it could get worse? That’s scary to think about, but I’ve accepted it’s a possibility. I suppose we will see.

For now, I’ll just keep pushing forward. Do my best.

I am very proud of myself for where I am today. I am living my new normal. I am living my truth. And let me tell you, it’s not easy – but I’m doing it.

to my son

P.S. Thank you again for choosing me.

“No farewell words were spoken, no time to say goodbye, you were gone before we knew it, and only God knows why.”

– Unknown

Dear Kellan,

The day I lost you, was the worst day of my life. Thinking about it hurts almost as badly as living it. But I have to think about it, because I want to remember you. I will always remember you.

We went into a routine 36 week appointment to see you. I remember thinking I wanted to get a good profile picture of you. It turns out, I was going to see your beautiful face just 24 hours later. I was going to get to hold you. And then I was going to have to say goodbye to you forever.

I had just had a baby shower for you 3 days before. We celebrated you. You were gifted the most beautiful items and books. You were so loved my sweet Kellan. You are still so loved.

I remember hearing my doctor tell me to turn to my side when she was trying to find your heartbeat at the end of the appointment. I knew you were gone. I could tell. It was the worst feeling in the world. I could feel my heart shatter into a million pieces.

I was so sad. Sad for me, sad for your dad, sad for your grandparents. I was so sad for everyone. I am still so sad. I am mostly sad for the life you don’t get to live. The amazing life we had all dreamed for you. Kellan, you were going to have the best life. I know you have an amazing life in Heaven now. The best life. But I selfishly want you here. I can’t help it.

I remember hearing the doctor go over the steps we would be taking next, and getting a purple folder that talked about bereavement. The worst part was calling your grandparents. I hated that part so much Kellan. I can still hear their voices. My heart still breaks thinking of their hearts breaking.

I remember thinking as it was all happening that I wanted to stop it all. I wanted to freeze time so I could just think and try to understand. I just needed time. To try and stop it. I remember also wishing time would speed up so it would all be over with. I was so lost Kellan. I still feel lost some days.

There were so many moments I remember wishing I could go back 24 hours. Maybe there was some kind of sign I could have looked for, some kind of warning. I wanted so badly Kellan to give you life again. To feel you move. I just love you so much. If only love was enough.

I truly did not embrace my pregnancy with you like I should have. I was annoyed that I couldn’t eat certain things, and frustrated about the Gestational Diabetes. I missed wine, and I was embarrassed by how my clothes fit. I missed my favorite leather pants. And then I lost it all so suddenly, and I hated myself for ever feeling that way.

Kellan, I hated myself so much. I hated my body for failing me. For failing you. I am getting better at forgiving myself. But I still have my days. I just want you so badly still. It hurts so much missing you the way I do.

The day I lost you I woke up late. I had to rush around to get to the doctor in time. I had no idea that you were gone. I had no idea that I would hold you so soon. You were so perfect. I hope you know how perfect you are.

I wish I could hold you again.

The day I lost you will forever be engraved in my mind. Every single moment, every single aspect, every single feeling. I will never forget, I promise you. I wrote every detail down, so that even someday when I am gone, the story is written. Your story.

I heard something a few weeks ago that made me so happy. A friend told me that you chose me to be your mom. You chose me. And now as your mom, I get to make you proud. I love thinking about you choosing me to be your mom. Thank you for choosing me.

I have created a lot of things in this world. Things I am incredibly proud of. But you, my sweet Kellan, are the greatest thing I have ever created. I am so proud to be your mommy.

The day I lost you changed my entire world. It changed the way I look at the world, the way I handle situations, and even the people I have in my life. The day I lost you started the first day of having to live the rest of my life without you. A life I never knew was possible. A life I never wanted to know.

I thought I would forever hate the day I lost you, but I won’t. I refuse to hate anything associated with you Kellan. I will celebrate you, I will remember you, and I will spread love for you. You chose me as your mom to make your mark in this world, and I promise you I will.

I will never understand why I lost you. I will forever love you.

Love, Your Mom

P.S. Thank you again for choosing me.


I am different now. I am a survivor.

“Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. ” 

― Stephen Kendrick

The 5 stages of grief is so interesting. It’s also so very misunderstood.

I just recently purchased a book called “The Grief Recovery Handbook”. It’s a program that was suggested to me, and I’m looking forward to starting it. I plan on writing about it in the future, but for those wanting to see it now, here’s the link to it:

Before I start the program, I thought I’d reflect back on a stage of grief it feels like I keep going back to: anger.

When you hear about the anger phase, you immediately assume the anger is going to be about the situation at hand. The death of Kellan. The fact that I carried my son for 36 weeks and had a lifetime of hopes and dreams for him that will never happen. But I’m not angry that Kellan died. I’m sad. I’m devastated. I’m heartbroken. I recognize that.

While I’m not angry about Kellan’s death, I am still angry. I’m angry at the selfish and thoughtless people around me. That’s who I’m angry at. The people who I thought cared and loved me, who then showed their cards in the worst moments of my life. When they say you find out who you friends are, they aren’t lying.

And it makes me angry. And then I get angry with myself that I waste energy on people who don’t deserve it. I just didn’t realize that I would feel this way. So betrayed. So disappointed in others. So confused and lost that I didn’t realize I meant so little to those who meant so much to me.

The selfishness others display is mind-boggling. Maybe they don’t realize they are being selfish? Maybe they don’t care. I suppose in some crazy world maybe one could think that 9 weeks is enough time for me to have moved forward and to be ok. Every single thing that is said to me SHOULD be done with thought, love, and care. But it’s not.

I have to try and remember, people are selfish. They will do what is best for them when it comes down to it. It still makes me angry.

The most insane part to me, is when those who know they hurt or harm me, play the victim. Then they move forward with their lives like everything is completely normal and they did nothing wrong. Like our friendship never existed; I’m just another person existing in the world. It disgusts me.

Sometimes it feels like things are intentionally said or done by others to purposely hurt me. I truly hope I’m wrong about this, and it’s just my head lying to me. I feel like I’ve already been hurt enough to last a lifetime.

It’s a tough lesson in life when you lose a child. Probably the toughest lesson in any lifetime. A lesson in how precious life is. A lesson about who you are. A lesson about who others are. These things I never knew I’d have to learn the hard way. It sucks. It’s my reality.

I’ve always thought of myself as a person who can read people and circumstances really well. My gut is rarely wrong. This can be rough on me, because I know right away my gut feeling on a situation or person. But your gut doesn’t take into account when a trauma occurs, how others might be. My gut didn’t warn me. I didn’t see any of this coming.

I don’t write about this anger to be a victim or to get pity from others. I am not a victim. I got handed several horrible situations in a very short time, and I am dealing with them and navigating them the best I can. I’ll leave the victim status to the selfish ones. I’m in fact a survivor.

I’m a survivor of loss. I’m a survivor of pain. I’m a survivor of selfish actions. I will survive.

I truly hope this post helps you if you are reading it, and you know someone going through a loss of any kind. I hope it helps you to understand what that person may be feeling. I hope it helps you understand to approach the person with care, with love, and with selflessness when possible. Your actions and words matter – both good and bad. Even if they aren’t your best friend or you aren’t overly close to them. You can be a painful person in their life, or you can be a hero. The choice is yours. Help them survive.

The anger phase is very real, but it isn’t how it appears. Anger can appear in many different ways, and it’s hard to process. The most enlightening aspect of anger? It’s mostly pain, disappointment, and a broken heart, that is being masked with anger.

I’ve talked about this before: I’m not sure I’m actually angry. I am devastated. I am heartbroken. And it’s so much easier to be angry than to feel those emotions. So much easier to be angry than to admit that others have caused me such pain. Maybe that’s what the anger phase is actually all about?

My son died 9 weeks ago, and it truly feels like other parts of my life continue to die. But I am going to force myself to look at the bigger picture. To embrace the endings. I am strong and I will create beauty out of this horrible mess. I will make a difference in other’s lives. I will continue to be a good friend, and do for others whenever I can. I will love with all that is left of my broken heart.

Most importantly: I will do my best to let go of my anger. It is not worth the energy, and it does not help or benefit me in any way. I know this.

I am different now. I am a survivor.

back from the ussr

I will forever miss you Kellan.

“Just because someone carries it well, doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy.”


I survived 8 whole days in Russia. Oh, and 47 hours of travel…that I did alone. It was such an incredible experience, and I’m beyond grateful I was able to go. So thankful I could support my husband on his first international coaching gig.

I had planned to write while I was there, but once I arrived, I decided to disconnect and just live.

When I landed in Moscow, the customs line was insane. There were at least 500 people waiting to go through, and I had a little over an hour to get through, find my bag, get it re-checked, get back through security, and make my flight. My solution? I went to the empty Diplomat line…asked for help, and called myself a Stupid American for messing up. It worked – go me.

I mean I was technically the official coach’s wife for the United States team? I consider that a Diplomat.

I proceeded to walk through the very confusing airport like a lost toddler looking for their family. It was then I discovered the language barrier might be more difficult than I anticipated. After getting lost several times, leaving my credit cards behind at the ticket counter, and taking the very long tram (twice)….I missed my flight. Good news, they rebooked me on one an hour later and I was finally on my way!

On my first full day I decided to explore Sochi. I walked over 7 miles just trying to figure out where everything was. I quickly discovered that the language barrier would absolutely be tough to manage. My nifty translator apps that I downloaded didn’t work so hot with the dial-up like internet I had access to on my phone.

I immediately started to question if I made a good choice coming on this trip. It was insanely humid, the food was strange, I felt like a complete idiot when trying to communicate, and people were not all that friendly. I was truly worried.

Day 2 is when my outlook changed. I realized that I needed to change my perception and embrace the differences. So I did. I got back up and took another long walk to explore. Over the next few days I rented a moped (and kind of wrecked it – slightly), discovered how to get inside the Olympic area and saw the torch, and walked over the Formula 1 track several times.

I traveled to the grocery store and the pharmacy. I purchased tons of food and tried it all. I learned how to tell the difference between the sparkling water and still water (this sounds strange, but was hard!) I also figured out how to understand the value of their money.

During one of my walks, I came across the live Russian version of American Idol – New Wave. I explored the USSR museum, and walked the Coca-Cola shopping area. I figured out how to travel to McDonald’s via taxi and ordered all the strange food we don’t have on our menu here. I ordered Papa Johns, went to a mall, and stepped into a casino. I walked on the rocky beach and put my feet in the Black Sea.

Sochi was beautiful. Russia was incredible.

I looked past the lack of smiles, and appreciated that people would nod as a way to acknowledge me. I embraced the hot tea and weird food in the morning. I learned to talk slower, and in badly broken English. I also learned how to say thank you in Russian – Spasibo (spa-see-bah). I loved when I said thank you in English, that they would almost always reply with “please”.

The best part? The majority of these things I conquered and did all by myself. I went to a foreign country, where I couldn’t speak or read any of the language, and I lived my life as full as I could. I worked to grow my confidence and refused to be nervous and weak. I am so proud of myself. And I know that I had Kellan with me the entire time.

I looked at his pictures in Russia. Just a few of them that I have on my phone. I felt strong and powerful and decided now was the time. It was incredibly painful and tore me to pieces. I cried so hard it shook my body. But I did it.

I’m not sure when I’ll be able to look at them again. I hope others realize how fortunate they are to be able to do something as simple as look at photos of their child with joy and happiness. I wish I could do it so easily.

My travel back to the United States was long, almost 30 hours between flights and layovers. I had a great plan to reduce jet lag, and it worked well. While I was prepared for the potential physical struggles of coming back, I wasn’t quite prepared for how it would feel mentally. It was overwhelming.

After being away for so long and in a world of unknown, I had to face reality again. It’s funny, so many people ask me if I felt safe in Russia. I have never felt safer. I was in a world where no one knew me, and I could conquer a whole new set of challenges. For 8 days I was free. Being home is so much scarier.

I never know who I’m safe with or where I’m safe here.

Before I left, I envisioned this idea of returning from Russia stronger and better than ever. Refreshed and ready to get back at it. I wish I could say I was right, but I was wrong.

I returned and realized that hockey had already started, it was time to get back to work, and my business needed attention as well. Oh, and my son was still dead. I instantly became mentally exhausted and realized this week would need to be spent re-grouping. Re-learning how to live in this world. Re-creating my new normal again.

The Wings had a scrimmage less than 24 hours after we got back. I was incredibly nervous to go, but knew it was something I had to face. It took a lot of energy to be there, but I did it.

As I was about to leave, a little 5 year old girl I know came up to talk to me with her sister. She said innocently as she looked at my stomach, “So, your baby died.” I looked at her sweet face and replied, “Yes, he did.” The subject quickly changed to her starting Kindergarten.

A few moments later, she looked at me with loving eyes and told me, “I’m sad your baby died.” I looked back at her and said, “Me too.” Her innocence and genuine love behind what she told me was so special. She said what I’m sure so many feel. She was sad and wanted me to know. We were both sad.

Kids are so precious. They don’t know how to do and say things perfectly, they just express what they’re feeling however they can. They don’t know “etiquette”, and they don’t have filters. I could absolutely feel her love, and I’m so thankful she told me.

I hope I’m able to face all people in the future who bring up Kellan in a non-filtered way, or ask me questions about having kids, or if I want a baby, like I did this little girl – with love and understanding. Sometimes even adults just don’t know better, even when they should. And instead of letting it hurt me, I pray I can handle it with strength and grace.

Every single day when I wake up, I have to make a choice to get out of bed. I tell myself to get up, get dressed, and accomplish tasks. It takes a ton of energy to get through the day, but I do it.

Every. Single. Day.

I may look like I’m normal, but I am far from it. I may be strong, and some days may get easier to live, but it doesn’t mean that what I’m carrying isn’t still incredibly heavy. As I go on with my life, I realize that. I want those around me to understand it too. Those you love that are going through trauma are still dealing with it daily, even when they appear to be normal. It takes an incredible amount of energy.

It’s been 9 weeks, 12 hours, 47 minutes since Kellan died.

64 days, 12 hours, 47 minutes.

1,548 hours.

92,927 minutes.

5,575,632 seconds.

No matter how I type it, it still kills me inside the same. I don’t believe it will ever feel any different when I think of his death.

I can travel the world, and conquer my fears. I can live my life to the fullest. And I will. I will live every single day for my son. But I will also forever long for him.

I will forever miss you Kellan.

24 hour rollercoaster

My son is incredibly powerful.

“Think of your child then, not as dead, but as living; not as a flower that has withered, but as one that is transplanted, and touched by a Divine hand is blooming in richer colors and sweeter shades than those of earth.”

– Richard Hooker

Time for another one of those raw & real posts. It’s hard to write about, but it’s the truth, and it’s mine. Bear with me.

Last night, after a very rough evening, I made the decision that God was not real. I told myself that God is something that people make up in their head in order to make themselves feel better about the terrible things that happen in life. To give us peace in our time of sorrow, and to find comfort thinking of those we love in a fictional Heaven.

My day started off good yesterday. I got up and talked with Scott, enjoyed another day back at work, and met my mom for a post-surgery doctor’s appointment that went well. I decided to finish the last part of my day making work calls at home. And then the storm rolled in.

I stepped in a huge pile of my dog’s puke.

It was all over my beautiful rug, all over another pair of shoes sitting on the rug, and all over the current shoes on my feet. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to throw things. I wanted to cause pain to anyone else in this world. Why does every single task have to be so damn difficult?

I just didn’t have time for this. I’m doing everything I can to just simply work and create my new normal, and there’s always something. I did my best to clean the mess, and went back to work. I stayed focused, motivated, and accomplished tasks. Then a frustrating text about one of my businesses came in, and it threw another wrench in my day. It never fails, as I get my head above water, life knocks me back under.

I was done. Mentally and emotionally spent. I went to my store to work, and felt absolutely empty. For the first time in my entire life, I truly questioned my faith in God. There is no possible way that He could allow all of this pain and heartbreak. I decided in that moment for certain, being a good person does not pay off. God is not real.

I wanted to say such hurtful things to ease my anger. I wanted to text and email painful words to others that made them hurt as badly as I hurt. I needed to cause them the same amount of pain that they were causing me. I typed my angry and mean words out in my phone’s notes. I could feel the hateful words pouring out of me. I wished I could cause in others, the soul crushing pain I felt. But I just couldn’t.

I felt so bad when Scott woke up in Russia, and I had to tell him how my day ended horribly after he went to sleep. I wanted to hide it because I knew he’d feel helpless an ocean away from me. But I also knew that wouldn’t help either of us. So I was honest, and he was heartbroken for me.

Today, I woke up feeling okay. I went to my first work appointment and then to counseling. I was going to cancel the appointment because I didn’t want to be there. But I went.

It was there that I had one of the biggest realizations of the last 6 weeks. I was sharing my anger and frustration, and the horrible pain I wanted to inflict onto others the night before. My counselor then told me she wasn’t going to let me mask my true feelings with anger.

And that’s exactly what I was doing. I broke down and cried. I couldn’t stop the tears. All of the things I was “angry” about, weren’t really feelings of anger. I am hurt, I am betrayed, and I am heartbroken. And when I finally allowed myself to feel the pain that I was shielding with anger, I finally started to begin my journey through it.

It’s remarkable how it feels to become more self-aware. To truly take time to identify why you feel the way you feel. Saying those mean and horrible things wouldn’t have made me feel any better. In fact, I would have felt worse. I wasn’t actually dealing with my emotions, I was masking the pain with anger. It’s so much easier to do that, yet completely useless in my healing. I need to feel and process the pain. I see that now.

I told God as I denounced Him last night, that if He wanted me to believe, I needed a sign. And I needed a big one, one that I would recognize. I knew it wouldn’t happen, because God was not real.

I went about my day, and decided to walk into a business that had recently moved. There I saw an unexpected familiar face. We discussed the approaching hockey season, and my upcoming trip to Russia. She then asked me a question about Kellan that I had never been asked before. How did we decide on his name?

What a thoughtful and special question. The story of his name is in fact one of my favorites. A story that I only learned after his death. So I shared it with her.

Scott and I had been trying to come up with a name, and of course my husband likes to take time to process. Unbeknownst to me, he apparently decided to go through all of the MLB rosters, and there he found a baseball player with the name Kellen. After doing further research, he found it had an Irish background. It meant brave, independent, determined, courageous. He sent the name to me and I loved it as well. We made a small tweak, and spelled in Kellan.

After Kellan’s death, I learned how much thought and care my husband put into finding the name. I loved it even more. We knew Kellan would have the middle name Albert after my dad. What I never told anyone, not even today as I told the story, was that after we won the Robertson Cup, I joked with Scott about naming him Kellan Albert “Robby” Langer.

I went about my day and stayed busy. And then I got a random text from the woman I told the story to earlier. It was a wikipedia page about Kellen, the MLB baseball player. Kellen Robert Kulbacki. I stared in shock at the middle name Robert. I couldn’t believe that was the baseball player’s middle name. No one in this world knew I had joked with Scott about that middle name.

What are the chances I ran into her today? And that she’d ask me that specific question? Or that she’d send me that wikipedia page?

My heart needed that question today. My heart needed to tell that story. My heart needed her to care enough to look up and send me that link. My heart needed that sign.

It was my sign. Kellan is with me and God is real.

The rollercoaster I’ve been on over the last 24 hours has taught me so much. I can’t promise that I won’t have bad days or moments again, and I can’t promise that I won’t question why. I know this process of grief is long, confusing, and ever-changing, but it is mine and I’m doing my best to navigate it.

I have every right to ride a rollercoaster of emotions. My child died and I will deal with this grief forever. But no matter how painful and brutal it all may be, I know now for a fact that I am never alone. And that is incredibly powerful.

My son is incredibly powerful.

back to work

I got this.

“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”

Marcel Proust

Each day I wake up before my alarm goes off. I’m not sure why, but I don’t mind. Today I woke up early and got to catch the last period of Scott’s exhibition hockey game in Russia. Team NAHL won 3-1. I was so happy for him. Winning is what he loves.

My first working Monday in 6.5 weeks. I had the perfect outfit picked out for today – black and gray of course. I finished it off with my KAL necklace, a motivational bracelet, and the signature Tiffany Langer dark lip. The lipstick is called Diva, I think it’s very fitting.

Since school is starting back up, everyone enjoys taking back to school pictures of their kids. I decided I deserved a back to work photo. I had my friend take a picture of me with my Retailers’ bag and sent it in an e-mail to my co-workers and our board of directors. Tiffany Langer is officially back to work.

Today was a good day. I stayed focused and accomplished tasks. I held meetings, and enjoyed conversations. My first day back, and a new business in town joined the Retailers based on our mission. I still have my passion. I am different, but it’s still there. It felt really great to work today – it was a victory.

I enjoyed dinner with my parents and discussed my day and my upcoming trip to Russia. They encouraged me to make lists and pack early. We’ll see. I’m guessing I’ll pack Thursday night/Friday morning. Some things don’t change. It makes me laugh.

Sitting at home tonight with Sophie, I decided to do my favorite thing when Scott is gone – watch all my favorite tv shows that he hates. First up, 90 Day Fiancé: The Other Way. I cuddled up with my remote and a bag of chocolate treats my mom made me. This turned out to be a terrible idea.

What I sometimes forget is that a good day can turn rough in a split second. You’d think I’d know that by now. Something as silly as a reality television show can trigger a feeling you didn’t even realize was there. The show tonight featured a c-section birth of a healthy baby boy. When he came out crying, I instantly flashed back to the birth of my silent baby boy. What a painful, horrific memory.

The dad on the show was watching from South Korea on video conference. They showed him crying from fear and worry as his son was born. All I could picture was my own husband as he watched our son come into this world. His face during Kellan’s delivery is something I will never forget. As I looked up at Scott and cried, I remember I kept saying how sorry I was. I was so so sorry. I still am.

Against my better judgement, I kept watching the show. These idiotic couples who have been together for what seems like a minute, fight and struggle nonstop. The show highlights their lack of jobs, inability to support their babies, infidelity, and desire to divorce. Their irresponsibility and selfishness just boggles my mind. I get it’s reality tv and over-exaggerated, but it just made me so angry. Angry, sad, and resentful.

Wow this was a dumb show for me to watch.

I can’t help but wonder: how are people able to bring children into this world when they are in horrible situations…while others can’t have a kid they so desperately want, when they are fully prepared and ready? It’s just insane to me.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t wish anything bad for any of these people. I would never. It just kills me to realize I don’t get to have my baby. The entire time I can’t help but question, why did my child get taken from me? I can hear Scott now, all the way from Russia, “Don’t be jealous or resentful, just realize how fortunate other people are.”

I don’t know how he does it. I admire him so much.

Here’s the deal though, I can’t change what happened. I will never understand why, and I don’t think I will ever come to terms with it either. But I have to take my victories as they come. I have to celebrate the little victories.

So as I await my husband waking up in Russia to start his day, I’ll remember my awesome first full day back at work. I’ll think about his first international coaching win. I’ll be thankful for the love I received throughout the day, the wonderful dinner with my parents, and the homemade treats my mom surprised me with. I’ll focus on planning my day out for tomorrow.

And yet again I learned my lesson on grief hitting when you least expect it. I will do my best to channel that grief into healing and power. I got this.

6 weeks later

I am in survival mode still – but I will survive.

“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.”

– Aeschylus

On Thursday, it had been 6 weeks since I gave birth to Kellan. I am unsure how I have made it through those 6 weeks, but I have. I am still breathing.

I had my “postpartum fetal demise” appointment on 10:15 am on Thursday. That’s the clinical medical term if you are wondering. So that’s how my appointment was coded – Fetal demise. Kellan was born at 10:20 am on July 4th, 2019. Exactly 6 weeks from my appointment. He was my beautiful son that died, not a fetal demise. Screw medical terminology.

As I walked into the clinic, I saw three very pregnant moms awaiting their appointments. One mom looked young, one mom had a toddler with her, and the other mom was about my age. I hope they know how lucky and fortunate they are. I wish I had known.

As I sat down on the exam table, I wanted to scream. I hated every single minute of being there. It felt like every sound was magnified to me. The music that was playing, the laughs I could hear through the wall. Sitting in that room on the cold exam table, I felt like I was going to explode.

I almost got up and left. I stood up and told Scott I was going to get dressed and walk out. I really was going to leave, I absolutely did not care. He asked me to please stay. I still wanted to leave, I really did, but I stayed in that appointment for him. And I got through it.

Scott left to head to Russia the same day as my appointment. He will be gone for 8 days before I join him there. Keeping busy and distracted while he’s gone will be key. I started working again Friday, and will really dive in on Monday. The people I work with are so supportive and understanding. I am incredibly fortunate, and I know that and appreciate it more than I can explain. I’m ready – but still scared.

Everything is scary still, especially because I never know what’s going to come at me. When I least expect it, I am knocked down. Even by people who I thought would never knock me down. You just never know.

Harsh reality: the majority of people will always do what is best for them, tragedy doesn’t change that. Get used to it. Life goes on.

My friend from Kansas City came to visit and has been here for the last 2 days. I always get a little nervous when I don’t know what to expect. Remember, everything’s scary. But it was so good to have her here.

I have been needing to go through Kellan’s clothes to choose the items for the bears I am getting made. Last night with my friend’s help, we did it. It was absolutely as horrible and devastating as it sounds.

Together, we sat on the bed in his room. We sorted through the items I had so lovingly selected for my sweet Kellan to wear. We held them up and talked about them. A sweatshirt I had gotten that said “Celebrate the little victories” for him to wear on Sundays, in case his dad had a bad weekend of hockey. Multiple sizes of adorable red pants for Wings games.

The softest and highest quality clothing a baby could have. I told her as I looked around his room full of things – I wanted him to have it all. I was so prepared. He was going to be so trendy. A kind and sweet little boy. And smart – so very smart.

I told her – I would have been a great mom to him. She agreed.

And now, instead of each of these carefully selected items being worn by Kellan – the beautiful, soft, trendy items will go to make memory bears. What a gut punch.

And then I found the UGG rain boots I bought for him when I was in Blaine for the Robertson Cup. What a happy memory that was. Every single piece of my body felt broken as I held them up. I almost couldn’t breathe. What torture. But it’s my life.

As I sat there in Kellan’s room looking at the life I had prepared for, the one that got stolen from me, I couldn’t help but think of what everyone else was doing on this Friday night. Were they out enjoying the Brown County Fair? Maybe they were playing with their kids, or enjoying a glass of wine over dinner with loved ones. And here I am, sorting my dead son’s clothing. Let that one sink in. It’s brutal.

I really hope people realize how fortunate they are. I don’t think they do.

Today I woke up at 4 am to take my friend to the airport. She decided against my idea for her to accidentally miss her flight and stay another day. Can’t fault me for trying. I will miss her. It felt so good to have another safe person here with me. I’ve discovered the hard way, safe people are hard to come by.

Scott landed in Moscow finally and his phone works like we had hoped it would. I’m very thankful I will be able to talk with him while he’s gone. He is my world, even an ocean away.

As I laid in bed and thought about what my day was going to look like, I got an email saying my hospital chart had something new in it. I pulled open my app and it was my clinic report from Thursday’s appointment. I always read every report.

There at the top it read:

postpartum vaginal delivery for fetal demise 7/4/19-Kellan

They wrote his name. I felt a little piece of my broken heart push closer together on it’s way to mend. I’m not sure if it was my doctor or her nurse, but they had heard me. It wasn’t just a medical term that happened to my “fetus”- he was a 5 pound 12 ounce, 19 inch long baby, and his name was Kellan.

He was perfect, and he was mine. And they recognized that.

6 weeks later and the world keeps moving. The world will continue throwing me things I can’t handle or shouldn’t have to deal with. But the world has also shown me – there are people out there who hear me, people out there who put my needs first, and people who understand what I need.

I am in survival mode still – but I will survive.

sweet kellan

You KAL, are my legacy.

“Life is not the way it is supposed to be. It is the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

Virginia Satir

Yesterday, Frank Warren from PostSecret (a project I have loved for over a decade) sent a tweet out with the link to my blog. This was such a huge honor to me. People from all over the world have started to read my words. It makes me feel like I’m making a difference by sharing my grief, and I am so thankful for that.

I have tried to talk to Kellan a few times now out loud. I feel so stupid some days wanting or trying to talk to him, and wanting him to hear me. I guess it’s because I think of him like a normal baby, that couldn’t comprehend actual words and thoughts. I hope my stupid human logic is wrong. I hope he hears me and sees me. I know in my heart he does.

I have decided to write to him tonight. It’s been a rough few days, and I just want to shut off my mind and only think of my words to him.

Dear Kellan,

I am a stronger mother and individual now because of you. You have shown me that I can wake up on my worst day and press on.

You have made me realize how truly fortunate I am to have your dad as my life partner. He is the most amazing human I have ever known, and I am certain that you would have been just like him.

It kills me to think of what a remarkable little boy you would have been on this earth. Sometimes it hurts so badly I can’t help but wince. But I am a stronger mother because I now get to create your purpose in the world.

I want to make this world a better place because of you. I want to make sure that other moms and dads are properly taken care of. I want to make sure people are educated and aware. I am not ashamed of our story, but I am ashamed of the people who failed me in the process. I will fix it.

I am a stronger individual because I now refuse to just accept what is not right. I fight for myself and will no longer back down. I have been through the worst possible thing in my life when you died, and the process I was forced to go through. I now refuse to allow others in my life that may cause me harm. Thank you for giving me the strength to put myself first and to say no.

I feel powerful when I think about being your mom. Powerful because you give me the courage to accomplish things that others would never dare to take on. I will move mountains in your memory. I promise you.

I also feel completely lost without you my sweet baby boy. How crazy that I can feel strong and powerful, while also feeling so empty and broken. You have the ability to make me feel every emotion. I will miss you for the rest of my life. I say that with absolute certainty.

I never understood the kind of love I have for you was possible, and I will never understand why you were taken from me. Your dad and I would have given you the world.

But I will continue to work to be a stronger woman, a stronger mother. I will give you the world the only way I can, by creating change in your memory. By giving back, in your memory. And by being the best person I can be, in your memory.

You are a beautiful soul my sweet Kellan, and I love you more than words can express. You KAL, are my legacy.

Love, Your Mom

walking through fog

Fog can’t last forever – or can it?

“No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

C.S Lewis

I’ve felt more like myself this past week than I have in a while. It’s a strange feeling. I feel more like myself, but I am still so far away from who I was. It’s a new normal, right? I hate it.

I heard a description of living in grief this weekend that really resonated with me. It’s like walking in a fog and you’re trying to see through it to the edge. Trying to get to the end of it. This week, I’ve felt like the fog is finally starting to clear up. It’s not gone, but I can see a little better.

When I woke up this morning, I thought more about the fog. The scary thing about starting to feel like myself again, is the fear of something happening that knocks me back in the thick of the fog. The idea of that happening created such a fear inside of me.

And then it happened. Not even an hour after my thoughts of being scared to be deep in the fog again, I got news that knocked me back in. And it crippled me. And I didn’t want to get out of bed.

I started getting upset and angry. I snapped at Scott, I could feel myself losing all control. I started bawling. I felt the weight on top of me. And then I realized that I was allowing a situation I couldn’t control, affect a day with my husband and family that I could control. And I got up, wiped my tears, and enjoyed breakfast with him & my parents.

I started my journey back through the fog.

Later in the day, I road my bike 7 miles to clear my head. On my way home, I got a text from Scott that a friend text and asked him how it felt to be a proud papa. My heart broke for him. He was already trying to support me through my struggles in the fog, and now he gets knocked back in with me.

It sure doesn’t feel like being a good person pays off some days.

But Scott and I joined hands, and continued our walk together through the fog. We finished our day cooking dinner for my parents, and laughed as we learned how to use our new European outlet converters for our upcoming trip to Russia.

It’s hard explaining how difficult normal tasks can be. Sometimes I think people forget I can’t always handle what’s being thrown at me, like I did before Kellan died. Words that never hurt me, do hurt me now. I hang on to words spoken to me. I think about things said to me over and over and over. Simple phrases like telling me you don’t care, stab me in the gut. I am strong, but I am fragile.

And then sometimes, I have no feelings at all. None. I shut off my emotions and heart, and become a brick wall. I don’t care about anyone or anything except for my husband, my family, and my dog. Everything happening around me is just noise. I close myself off as a form of protection.

I never know which version of me is going to be around. Feeling like normal Tiffany. Overly sensitive Tiffany, or iced soul Tiffany. I’m not sure I like any of them.

My son was pronounced dead 931 hours ago. Just typing that makes me instantly stop breathing. Tears immediately pour from my burning eyes. My entire life was stolen from me. The world just moves on and I’m expected to move on too. And I’m trying. But it’s only been 931 hours.

38 days, 12 hours, 20 minutes.

1 month, 7 days, 12 hours, 20 minutes.

5 weeks, 3 days, 12 hours, 20 minutes.

No matter how I type it, it feels just as horrible as the day he died. I can still see his perfect lips. I can still hear my husband’s shaking voice, telling me Kellan was perfect. It makes my body lurch forward in pain to think about. I thought I was past this pain. I’m not.

The fog is thick.

There are no words to describe the pain besides unbearable.

So just know, while life moves on and everyone goes back to their normal day to day, my life is still on auto-pilot. 931 hours later. When it comes to things that I’m uncomfortable with, I can’t just deal with it. I can’t just try. I have to do what I can, or I will shut down. I’m doing what I can.

I wish that I could pause life while I deal with my grief, so that later, I can un-pause and properly handle things that are important. But I am working on coming to terms with the fact that I can’t do this. People aren’t going to pause their lives for me, and they aren’t going to wait for me. It’s just not going to happen no matter how much I want it to. And I have to accept it.

Life will move on, with or without me. So even if I do things I may regret, or make moves that aren’t the best long term, it’s okay. I am doing the best I can. It’s all I can do. I can’t expect others to protect me.

I am navigating through the fog. It is thick again, but I will make my way to the edge. And when I get knocked back in again, and we know I will, I will start my journey yet again. Fog can’t last forever – or can it?

i’m still thankful

We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

“Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion to death.”

– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I read an article about loss that talked about grieving with gratitude. To find “one little thing” each day to be thankful for. I have actually tried to do this since Kellan died and some days are harder than others. Today I have so much to be thankful for.

On the day I found out Kellan no longer had a heartbeat, it was going to be a busy day. I remember thinking I hoped the appointment didn’t last too long, so I could get on the road for work. Looking back now, I wish I could smack the ignorance out of myself.

I hoped we would finally get a good profile picture of him during the ultrasound. We needed it. Scott & I sat in the waiting room talking about dinner, and if we should grill for the Fourth of July. I would stop by the store later to get stuff, and hopefully it wouldn’t be too crazy. My dad was working on the roof of Kohl’s that day on an A/C unit, and my mom was at the other hospital in town.

Why was she at the hospital? Because my mom, my best friend and the woman I look to for everything, was getting a biopsy that day. She had an abnormal mammogram, and they needed to explore further. I told her not to be scared, because we were going to see Kellan that day. I’d make sure they got good pictures of him for her. Everything would be okay.

And then everything was not okay. Our entire lives were turned upside down during my ultrasound. From the labor and delivery room, Scott called my dad and his mom in New York. I called my mom nonstop trying to reach her, knowing she was about to go into her biopsy. She didn’t answer, so I had to call the hospital to try and find her. When I finally did, my heart broke all over again as I told her Kellan was gone. She was distraught. They cancelled her biopsy and she came to me immediately.

When they finally rescheduled her appointment, it was a few weeks later. I was terrified. I had already lost my son. “Please God, please,” I would cry. “I am begging You, don’t put my family through this too. My heart cannot survive this.” I told my mom I wasn’t scared, I knew she would be okay. I was lying. I have never been more scared in entire my life.

I cannot and will not imagine a world without my parents. A world without my son is already painful enough.

Five long days later, we finally got the results that the biopsy sample was benign, but the cells around it were what they called “risky”. I was thankful, but still fearful. We made a plan to completely remove them with surgery and test them further through pathology. If they came back cancerous, we would make another plan for preventative care. Radiation or possibly other meds. It seemed so simple and routine, but I was absolutely terrified.

Mom’s surgery was exactly 5 weeks from the day we learned Kellan’s heart had stopped. It’s insane and cruel how life can be flipped upside down so much in just 5 weeks. I sent Mom into the operating room with a heart keepsake and stuffed bear that Kellan had with him for his hospital photos. I knew it would make her feel at ease, and I needed that for her. She did great.

Today we got the results back from the cells the surgeon removed. My brave and courageous mom has no cancer. I am so unbelievably thankful. Through all that’s happened to us in the last 5 weeks, this extreme blessing was needed. In my grief, I still have so much gratitude. I am so thankful.

It’s amazing what we can make it through as humans. Our bodies and minds can be handed such horrific traumas, yet they can still fight. They can still move forward. They can still be thankful.

So much weight was lifted off of me today. I felt such relief, such happiness, such joy. And then I felt guilt. It was incredibly painful guilt. How could I be this happy when my son is dead? It’s too soon to feel this kind of happiness, isn’t it? But it’s not.

There are no rules to grief. It’s okay to laugh. It’s okay to have happiness. And it’s okay to feel guilt. It’s okay to have good days, and recognize that there will be bad days as well.

Throughout the rollercoaster of emotions, I can still miss Kellan, and long for him. I know that I will never stop feeling that, I will just feel it differently some days. It’s all part of the grief process, and I just have to live it.

So for the rest of today, I will be happy and thankful. I will wake up tomorrow with my eyes open, looking for my “one little thing”. One day at a time, I will continue to face my grief head on. Today was a wonderful day. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.