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.

dear everyone

Love, the person you know who’s child died

“A ton of regret never makes an ounce of difference.”

Grenville Kleiser ‘Dictionary Of Proverbs’

I’ve had several conversations with friends, old and new, the past few days. I normally hate talking on the phone, but sometimes you just need to talk through your feelings. This blog helps me do that as well.

I read an article yesterday called, “A letter to my friend who has never lost a baby, from your friend who has.” While many parts of it were incredibly relatable, there were so many things I felt were missing. So I’ve decided to write my own version. But mine is to everyone, from the person you know who’s child died.

Dear everyone,

I can’t thank you enough for the love and support. I know you are thinking of me, praying for me, and I understand you want to help. There is sadly nothing you can do to mend me, but I know you wish there was, and that means a lot to me. I read the words you send to me, even if I don’t respond.

There is a large difference between pity, sympathy, empathy, and compassion. I found this graphic below and felt it describes each concept well:

Pity can sometimes be associated with a negative concept. Turns out, it’s not bad at all. So many people have acknowledged my suffering, and I appreciate it. It’s ok to pity me.

Sympathy is the most common emotion. Those I know, and even those I don’t, have strong sympathy for me. They truly care about my suffering, and how I’m doing. They long to help me in some way. I feel so much of this from those around me, even those I don’t know personally, and I thank you.

Now to empathy. This is what I need from those closest to me. I am constantly having to face my child’s death. Every single day of my life. When I see the pregnant woman in the store, as I cross paths with the newborn baby at checkout, watching kids play at a softball game, or when condolences are given to me by someone at the coffee shop.

I need those closest to me to feel my pain. But how? The best way to do this is simply be there when I reach out to you. Or reach out to me to talk about something random. I enjoy having a “normal” conversation with you. It may just take my mind away from my sorrow for a minute. If I don’t respond, or don’t engage, don’t hold it against me. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk. But it’s ok to try.

Please protect me by watching your words and phrases. Be sensitive to what you say. I am constantly surrounded by people who don’t know any better, and I have to hold myself together while they unknowingly say or do things that stab me in my broken heart. I need those closest to me to be my heroes. I need to feel safe with you. Be empathetic.

Compassion – There is no way to do this for me. Time will be the only thing to help relieve any ounce of my suffering. I wish there was some other way. Don’t feel like this is your responsibility, because it’s just not possible. Please just be empathetic.

To those around me who are pregnant. I am so happy for you, and I hope you know how fortunate you are in this moment. I always felt lucky to be pregnant with my baby, but I truly had NO idea how lucky those who give birth to a living baby are. What I would give to be this fortunate.

As happy as I am for you, it is very hard for me to be around you right now. Hearing you talk about your forgetfulness, how many snacks you need, and your future plans, kills me inside. You probably don’t even realize you made these comments because they’re so general, but I hang on every word. So please know, my distance isn’t because I’m not happy for you, it’s to protect me. The majority of your life is joyous right now, and the majority of mine is sorrow. It’s just the way it is.

To those who need to tell me something important that may be hard for me to hear, and you’re unsure how to do it, or how I will react: DO NOT TELL ME IN PERSON. Also – make sure you use your best judgement to time when you tell me. It’s better to risk that I’ll get upset you didn’t tell me, than to hurt me with your delivery or words. Trust me.

I know the person you’ve always known would want a face to face conversation, but I’m not that person anymore. I need time to process, and to react without you seeing. Text me or call me. It’s cruel to do it any other way. I need to be able to escape the conversation. I need control. I need empathy.

And the last thing I want you to know: I didn’t just “lose my baby”, my child died. A child that I had hopes and dreams for. A child that I wanted more than I ever realized. In this moment, nothing in my life matters to me and I am beyond broken. I am certain that a piece of me died with my baby.

I may say things and do things that in the future I will regret. I may cry randomly, or make you feel uncomfortable. I will have to take energy from you, because I have none to give. If you can’t handle this, then please just leave my life. I won’t miss you. The only person I miss right now is my baby. And I’m not sorry for it.

Love,

The person you know who’s child died

goodbye social media

Control or no control -I’m going to embrace who I will become.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

–Vicki Harrison

Control a: to exercise restraining or directing influence over  b: to have power over

I feel as though I lost control over my life when Kellan died. Every single thing I prepared for. Any idea of the life I had dreamed of for myself and our family was shattered.

I can no longer control my emotions or how things make me feel. I have no control over my tears flowing, or the thoughts that race through my head. There is no more shutting my brain off. But I also feel more level-headed and logical than I have every been.

I have thought of Kellan every single second, of every single day since the moment I held him in my arms. Even when I’m in conversation or seem to be focused on something else, Kellan is always running through my mind. It’s mentally crippling.

I often have wondered when the day would come that I won’t think of him 24/7. And then this morning, as I was getting my hair done and laughing, I realized suddenly that today was that day. I wasn’t thinking of him in that moment and I couldn’t believe it.

4 weeks and 4 days after his death was the first time I didn’t think of him for every single moment of my day. Now that it has happened, I can’t help but ask myself if I actually want to not think of him every moment? I thought that’s what I wanted. I’m unsure now, but I know I can’t control it. Maybe that’s the issue?

I want control back of as many things as possible, so I do my best to recognize what I can have power over. Sadly, there’s very little. I almost feel like a child that fights their parent on what they wear and eat. They get very little control over their lives, so they’re fighting for what they can. I get it now. Let your kiddo not match for a day and look like a fool – it’s ok.

As I start to piece back together what I can of my shattered life, I’ve realized that I’m in survival mode. I like to plan my day, decide who I will see and talk to, and put myself in situations that I know I can handle. I protect myself as much as possible, and I love when I’m given options and the ability to make choices. I need control.

A good friend of mine recently asked if she could e-mail me as a way to connect, instead of texting or calling me. I loved this idea and look forward to her e-mails. I can decide when and where I read them, and if I want to respond. I can open and close them as I want. I have control.

I’ve realized recently that I am not excited about anything in my life currently. Things that happen can make me happy, or make me laugh. But there is nothing in the future that excites me. I can’t control the future, and I am honestly scared of it. So for now, I remain unexcited. I can control that.

I went through a breakup in 2009, that at the time I thought was devastating. Oh Tiffany, if only you knew back then what you know now. But I did handle that breakup like a boss. I changed my phone number, and deactivated my social media for 3 months. I then went on to live my life as vibrant and in the moment as possible. I traveled, I took risks, I embraced change. I met my future husband – the love of my life.

So almost exactly 10 years later, 2019 Tiffany decided to read a chapter from her old playbook. With that, I deactivated social media and am going to try to live my life. In the moment, and embracing the changes that come with it. Maybe as I allow myself to do this, I will get a small sliver of excitement again. Only time will tell.

I will say, as soon as I went through the deactivation process, I felt a huge sense of relief. It’s remarkable the stress something so trivial can cause you without you even realizing it.

Since I don’t have social media, I decided to revisit a few blasts from the past today and go through the pictures on my phone. Buried between a million pictures of Sophie, I found several quotes I’ve saved throughout the years (My phone insanely has photos that go back to 2008). I had saved this one in 2015, but today I needed to read it:

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”

I think that’s exactly what I’m doing. I was forced into an impossible situation when my son died. So now I will do what I can to un-become the things in my life that don’t help me move forward, and become the person I need to in order to move forward.

I think Kellan would be proud of me. Control or no control – I’m going to embrace who I will become.

today was a good day

And the nights…they’re the hardest, but they’ll get better.

“Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated.”

–Alphonse de Lamartine, Méditations Poétiques

Every day the last four weeks I have woken up and laid in bed with my dog Sophie. I have thought about what to do with my day and each morning, I think about laying in bed the entire day. But then I get up.

My husband texts me each morning when he gets to his office and asks me what my plans are for the day. He’s always done this and now I’m even more thankful he does. It helps motivate me to move and accomplish my tasks for the day.

Each day I try to make lists of things to do and cross them off. Today I started by reading an article that popped into my Aberdeen News app notifications. It was written by a reporter named Erin Ballard. She visited a new salt therapy place in town and it was titled, “Salt room offers more than one type of healing.” I had just talked to my friend about the salt place, so I figured I’d read it quick.

It started talking about her sinus issues and how helpful the salt room was. It peaked my interest. I have sinus issues. She then talked about how salt therapy is also known for helping mental health. Again, interest peaked. I can always use mental health help.

Erin then got incredibly raw & real. She talked about losing her fiancé to an accident last labor day weekend. I was not expecting this, and I was taken aback. My heart immediately opened for Erin. Through her words, I could feel Erin’s pain.

I read her story, and how the salt therapy had helped her. And I realized yet again, I am not alone in my grief. While she is experiencing a different broken heart, it’s still broken. I don’t know Erin personally (shocker with the size of Aberdeen) – but I feel connected to her, and I appreciate her openness and honesty.

I found strength after reading her story. And I got out of bed and started my day. I went to my friend’s salon and had a great morning surrounded by fun people. I got asked about having kids, and for the first time, I found the strength to say I had one kid, and that he was in heaven. And I didn’t cry. I felt empowered. I felt like the old me.

I met with my boss after that, and had a wonderful conversation with him about the Association I love, the SDRA members I love, and just life in general. It felt really great to talk with him, and again I felt like the old me. I thought to myself, maybe a piece of me is coming back.

I went to my store and crossed items off my list. I talked with friends and tried on a new dress. I drove home and talked to my parents about my good day. I FaceTimed with my niece, cooked dinner, made cookies, and enjoyed watching the Yankees game with my husband. I felt awesome. It was a great day.

I have worked hard to protect myself, and listen to myself. I have stopped doing what everyone else needs, and have started doing what I need. It’s been very hard for me, but it’s what I have to do. I’m working on figuring out the steps to take in order to move forward, without forcing myself to do things I’m not ready to do. I’m proud of myself for this.

I knew all day I was going to write about how great the day was, and how I was finally feeling like me again. And then the night came, and with that my dark clouds were back. The night really sucks for me. It’s when I sit and think about everything. Each of the things that have happened in the past 4 weeks. Things that knock me down from the pedestal I work to climb all day. It’s rough.

And even though I enjoyed my day, I didn’t want to write about it anymore. Now I was sad, and it was ruined. Then I remembered Erin Ballard and her article, and I decided to share my thoughts. My day wasn’t ruined by the night, it was still a great one.

Thank you to Erin, you helped remind me that I’m not alone in my grief. We are all feeling it, great days, bad nights. Oh, and you’ve fully convinced me that I need to try the salt therapy. I hope my honest writing somehow helps others the way Erin’s helped me.

So I will continue to start each day determined to have a great day. And the nights…they’re the hardest, but they’ll get better.

5 stages of grief

It’s all I can do.

“We get no choice. If we love, we grieve.”

-Thomas Lynch

Today is Kellan’s due date. The one my doctor actually gave me. I think August will actually be harder then July. I hope I’m wrong.

I will never forget the first time I was introduced to the 5 stages of grief. I was 13 and my grandma was dying of pancreatic cancer. Hospice gave me several different things to read to help me. Nothing helped. She was a magnificent and amazing woman. I loved her so very much, and I was devastated that she was dying.

13 year old Tiffany, much like 33 year old Tiffany, didn’t want to read about the stages of grief. I was in denial (stage one) about my grandma dying. So much in denial that at her funeral I remember telling myself (in my head) over and over again that she was alive, going to get up out of her casket, and it was all a mean joke.

It wasn’t a joke. She was dead. And so is my son. There is no denial stage for me with this one.

I think the concept of the 5 stages of grief makes sense, but I don’t believe we move through the stages. This isn’t AA, and we aren’t going through the “steps to recovery”. I think we bounce between them.

  1. Denial – I never really had this with Kellan. Just that I couldn’t believe this was my reality.
  2. Anger – I’ll touch on this stage in detail below.
  3. Bargaining – I’ve played the “what if” game from the second I found out Kellan was gone – and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to stop.
  4. Depression – I am not depressed, I am heartbroken. No medication or therapy will solve this. It will just take time.
  5. Acceptance – I have accepted that Kellan is gone, but I am still absolutely devastated.

The stage that really bothers me is anger. I think that in all explanations of the stages, they fail to explain with anger is jealousy. Jealousy and fear. This is where I am going to get uncomfortably real and raw….

I am in a phase of my grief where everything feels precious. I watch people walk around and post pictures with their pregnant bellies, their new babies, their children, their families. I watch and I feel a strong sting of jealousy.

I have never in my life thought of myself as a jealous person, so this is a very strange feeling for me. I have always been happy for other’s joy. But now I can’t help the jealousy I have and I hate it so much. It’s not that I don’t want others to have joy, it’s that I am jealous mine got taken from me. I feel resentment.

The weird thing about this whole process, is that I don’t want to NOT see these things. I don’t want to be excluded, or not be told about things. I AM happy for people and I do want to know and see things. Sometimes I’m ok. Sometimes I break down. Sometimes I’m jealous. I don’t know how I’ll be, and I truly can’t control it. It sucks.

I also feel guilt for feeling this way. I feel embarrassed. It is horrible. And no “stage of grief” describes this or tells you it’s coming.

I was talking to my husband about these feelings and he said something that made a lot of sense. Not to feel resentment, but to see how fortunate others are. Feel happy for them, but it’s ok to feel sad for us. He is such a strong and intelligent man. I wish so badly that I could channel his thoughts and feel the way he does. But I get jealous. I get resentful. And I didn’t know I would feel this way.

Fear and anxiety. The only reason I know that my fear and anxiety of things is normal is because of the other articles and info I have read or gathered from women who have gone through what I have. No stage of grief describes fear.

Fear of seeing people. Fear of being asked if you had your baby. Fear of breaking down in front of others. It makes you want to isolate yourself as a form of protection. I have done my best to not do this, but some days I wish I could just run away as far as possible where no one knows me.

But that’s not realistic. People do know me, and people know I was 36 weeks pregnant. A lot of people know I lost my son, a lot of people don’t. And I have to be prepared to handle it. And it’s scary. But being scared of it isn’t going to stop the situation.

Yesterday I went and got my nails done. It was something I was very scared to do. I knew the last time they saw me, I was about to have my maternity pictures taken. I picked the specific mint color because I thought it would look great for baby boy maternity pictures. I knew they were going to ask me about my baby. I was very fearful.

Sure enough, I sat down and the question was asked with happiness and excitement, “Did you have your baby?” and I broke down. I told her through shaken words that my son passed away. The tears came, I couldn’t stop them. My heart hurt for her as much as it hurt for me. You could see the complete look of horror and devastation she felt. That is what I feared. But I got through it. I wiped my tears and I breathed.

I am fearful because I wonder when I walk into a room if everyone knows what happened. Or do they not? Are they all looking at me like I am broken, and feeling sorry for me? Or am I just another person in a room full of others? I never know, and this is scary.

Sometimes I do know everyone in the room. And it feels as though each person is walking on eggshells wondering what to say to me. Feeling sorry for me, and just waiting to see what I do and how I act. Is this really happening, or is my fear making it up? I’m unsure. But I do know fear is a very real part of grief, and I never knew about it.

As I continue to navigate through this process, I keep realizing how much I didn’t know. I’ve always thought of myself as a well educated individual, but you don’t know what you don’t know.

I wish so much that I could somehow prevent anyone else from ever feeling this way. But I know I can’t. So I will continue to write, and I will continue to be real. It’s all I can do.