Monday, June 11, 2018

Pain is Pain

Colt has been an angel in heaven for 400 days today. I have lived twice as long without him as I was able to live with him… and honestly, that stings a little.

I had a hard time in the days leading up to this anniversary, probably for obvious reasons, but it didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time. I am usually so good at keeping trials in perspective and not letting them get me down. Not a couple days ago… not last week… I was having a hard time, and I couldn’t seem to get myself out of it. I wanted my pain to go away…

I remember going through a time where I was extremely bitter towards everyone who tried to compare their incident of a miscarriage to my losing Colt… I have experienced both, and couldn’t see how anyone could compare the two, let alone try to tell me that they understood what I was going through… They didn’t… To me, there was no comparison between a miscarriage or losing a child.

There was one night that I was so angry at people for downgrading my pain, by comparing it to their own “lesser pain”, that I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up very late, unable to wrap my head around what I was feeling… I started reading articles and blog posts on the subject. Most of them had no idea what they were talking about because they had only experienced one of these trials. Then I came across an article of someone who had experienced both a miscarriage and the loss of their child (just like me)… and it changed me.

While the writer shared many of my same feelings… that these trials and losses are VERY different… he also wrote: “Too often we compare our misfortunes with others, ‘upping the ante’ and thinking to ourselves, ‘Well, that’s not a big deal what they went through – they only had a miscarriage. I’ve been through much worse…’”


That is such a powerful statement to me, which made me realize… pain is pain… Why does it matter if my pain over losing my 6 month old son is less or more painful than someone else’s pain over a miscarriage? Because in actuality, maybe our pain is more similar than I was realizing. Who am I to say that I get to grieve more… that I know because I have done both… that my pain is more validated than theirs…

While I have been through a lot, there are also things that I have not experienced… I have never had to watch my child suffer in a hospital bed, and eventually succumb to their disease… I have never held a baby in my arms who didn’t get to take their first breath… I have never heard the devastating news that I would never bear my own children…

We all have a different story, and we all experience pain in a different way… Nobody can understand my pain because they didn’t have the same relationship with Colt that I did… Just how I can’t understand others pain because I haven’t walked in their shoes…

Instead of trying to measure pain, I have learned to love. I have thrown out the comparisons and realized that when people feel pain, it doesn’t matter why.

Last week I was sad… I wanted to trade places with someone who had never lost a child… I wanted that pain to go away. In those moments I thought I would trade anyone else’s trials for my own. But the truth is, everyone feels pain… everyone suffers… everyone has trials… everyone has good days and bad… everyone wishes they lived a different life at times…

I actually really love my life… I wouldn’t trade it for the world! And while sometimes the pain gets to be more than I can bear, I know that one day it will all be made right. Everything I think I am missing out on right now will be made up to me in heaven. God did not intend for my happiness to end when my son died, but he did want me to learn how to see the miraculous goodness, in the midst of trials, that is flooding into my life every day.

My uncle posted this quote on facebook today… It seemed perfect for me to hear at a time when I have been struggling to love my own life:

“Don’t be gloomy. Do not dwell on unkind things. Stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. Even if you are not happy, put a smile on your face. ‘Accentuate the positive.’ Look a little deeper for the good. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life.”      – Gordon B. Hinckley

I know that when I am looking for the positive, counting my blessings, and giving thanks to my Father in Heaven, I am a MUCH happier person. When I forget myself and serve others, I start finding my purpose, and see more clearly the light.

I believe we were so excited to come to this earth and experience it… all of it. I believe with all my heart that I agreed for Colt to die. I don’t know if I realized how hard it would be, but I know I was excited to prove to my Father in Heaven that I could be his faithful servant, no matter what.

It’s ok to have bad days… weeks… months… or maybe even years… Your pain is your own, and it’s ok to feel it. But, when you’re ready, put on a smile and see what adventure this world has waiting for you next.

The article I read can be found here:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

My Favorite Stage

I didn’t expect to feel so peaceful this morning. In fact, I have been dreading today for several months, not wanting it to come. Another milestone missed… Another reminder that he’s not here… Another day I have to endure wondering what Colt would be doing now… However, I am not feeling any of these things today. I am at TOTAL peace.

18 months. Colt would probably be repeating everything I said (just like his sister did at that age). He would almost certainly be making more messes than I had time to clean up. Sunday would be his first attempt at nursery…. He would be entering my FAVORITE stage!

I have received so many answers, just this week, that I cannot feel sorry for myself or wonder what he would be like if he were here.

Colt doesn’t have to repeat what I say, because he speaks purely truth and light. Instead of making messes, he is cleaning up ALL of our messes (particularly mine). I may not get to drop him off at nursery on Sunday, but I know he regularly attends meetings, and maybe even has the chance to be the teacher. He never made it to my favorite stage… but he is the BEST version of himself, and I’m quite certain THAT is really my favorite stage.

Colt isn’t a different person, he is just better. I don’t have to wonder about his personality, interests, looks, likes & dislikes, mannerisms, or abilities. We do not magically change these things about ourselves when we die; we are the SAME people. We still enjoy the things we enjoyed while living on earth. The only difference is that we KNOW the truth and are better at living it.

I’ve always had a testimony of Colt doing missionary work for the spirits who do not have a knowledge of the gospel. It is one of the many reasons I love to go to the temple. I often imagine that Colt has been teaching the person I get to do work for, and it brings me so much comfort to feel like I’m helping him. I may not get to help him learn to read or with a science project, but I get to help him give someone the chance at an eternal family.

Even as a spirit, Colt probably misses us nearly as much as we miss him. He is in a beautiful and peaceful place, but it isn’t complete without his family all there with him. While he gets to visit us often, and has an amazing knowledge of The Plan, he longs for us to all live together again too. I know he is working tirelessly to make sure we get to do that, in fact, I believe that is his main purpose.

Just this week I read “The Message” by Lance Richardson. I have carted it along with me for months, and never had the chance to get it read… but I know I needed it now, not then. My favorite quote from that book says:
Certain members of each family chose, long ago, before this life, to die… that they might better help their families to endure the challenges to come.

When I shared this quote with my mom she said, “Well why did he choose that!” We laughed, but it was the perfect question to ask, even in a joking matter. Why did he choose this path? Why did I agree to it? The answer to me is simple… because we want to live together forever. I know I am a far better person with Colt’s help from the other side. I work harder than I ever have before to make sure I am being a person that is worthy to live not only with my Heavenly Father again, but with my precious son. He is more motivation that I need to live a good and faithful life. I CANNOT knowingly disobey the commandments when I think about him waiting for me.

We all sin… we all make mistakes… EVERY DAY. I do things constantly that I have to look back on and repent of. I am so far from a perfect person. However, I am a person who has learned that it is ok to make those mistakes… it is ok to sin and repent over and over again… We just have to make sure we are always TRYING to do better. As long as I am doing my best, which looks pretty pathetic at times, Christ will make up for all that I lack.

I know I will see Colt again. I pray constantly that he is the first person who greets me when I get to cross that veil into Paradise. I miss him more than I thought it was possible to miss someone, especially someone I only knew for 6 months. The love I feel for that little boy expands far beyond the boundaries of this world, and I know he can feel it.

I believe that if we could see all the people who are cheering us on, giving us promptings, and helping us on our way we would be in awe at the love that surrounds us. We are NEVER alone. We all have people who love us who are doing their best to make sure that we make it back to them. We cannot see them, but they know us. They know our struggles… they try to comfort us when we hurt… they feel joy when we smile… They LOVE us.

I cannot wait for the day I get to hold my sweet Colt in my arms again, look into his big blue eyes, and tell him I love him. But until that day, I will continue working WITH him to help others feel the goodness of God’s plan and receive the blessings that the temple brings. I once may not have liked the fact that we all agreed for Colt to die long ago, and especially that it actually happened... but it really is turning out to be my favorite stage... and I guess that is part of the beauty of God's Plan.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Find the Light in the Darkness

Struggling… burdened… alone… misunderstood… sad… pretty much sums up how my life has been going lately.

I’ve found it hard to find light in my darkness. My life has not turned out how I planned… it is not what I wanted nor expected.

I thought by now I’d have several kids running around my house… I thought growing my family would be easy… I thought health problems were simple to overcome, if you tried hard enough… I thought people were nice once you got out of high school… I thought life wasn’t going to be so hard.

Yet, here I am… the mother of an angel… raising ONE child in my home… knowing my body will not house another sweet spirit… with [minor, yet annoying] health issues… still dealing with judgments from others who don’t understand me… and struggling to find my place and purpose in this world.

My own life seems undeserved sometimes… yet, I have watched so many of my friends also go through unbearable trials in their lives that seem equally unearned.  I often get caught up in the unfairness of it all. Why does life seem to be the cruelest to those with the biggest hearts?

How is it fair that just in the month of January I had to watch 3 of my friends celebrate birthdays of their loved ones who left this earth too early… cry as 1 honored her son on his 5th angel day (he would be graduating high school this year)… see another lose her beloved cousin who was just starting her adult life… and observe countless others struggle with physical, mental, and emotional ailments EVERY DAY.

This isn’t how life is supposed to be, right? We’re supposed to be happy…


We are SUPPOSED to be happy, even through the really HARD, UNFAIR, HORRIBLE TRIALS that come our way. We are told to be grateful and find Joy in our journey.

Our Heavenly Father knows that life is hard, but he still pleads with us to be happy. He loves to watch us as we smile, play with our kids, laugh, and welcome each other with warm hugs. He has blessed us with more than we could ever possibly thank him for. He just wants us to remember that it is all worth it.

We DO deserve the trials that come… we need them. Without them we would never become the people we were meant to be. And if it doesn’t make sense right now, someday it will.

Right before Christmas I received the most thoughtful letter from Richard. In it he compared me to Mary, and pointed out all the similarities between us… The main one being, we both had to watch our sons return to their Heavenly Father without us. I hadn’t really thought about myself in the ways he described me… but something he wrote has stuck with me, and often reminds me of the WHY. He said, “Colt has made you the BEST version of yourself.”

I have never been a bad person… unthoughtful, ungrateful, or unloving… but I have become so much better of a person because of the trial of living without my son.

He taught me to love more, serve with my whole heart, and never take a person or a moment for granted. He taught me to look past the pretenses, the first impressions, and hurt feelings to see the person behind all of that. I have learned that everyone is fighting a battle that most people don’t know about, and that most are just doing the best that they can.

That also goes for me… sometimes I forget to forgive myself and say, ‘I am doing the best that I can’.

Some days are horribly hard… I can barely force myself out of bed… I am grumpy… I am sad. I forget my blessings and I dwell on the really unfair parts of my life.

The beauty about the trials is that there are always ten times the blessings… you just have to look.

I have the power to choose every day what I will focus on. I can look at the trials and be discouraged, or I can find the abundant blessings and feel peace. I want to choose blessings. I want to choose peace. I want to choose joy. When I do that, I know that I will find those things I am longing for.

One of my favorite quotes says:
Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.

I believe that ALL of us can find the light and be happy. It may not always be easy [trust me I know], but I promise that it will always be worth it.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Making a New Year Great

I had been dreading the New Year for a few months, not wanting it to come. However, I kind of forgot about those feelings until we started counting down the last few seconds of 2017. With 5 seconds to go I felt that dread come over me once again… 4: I’m not ready… 3: please make it stop… 2: don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry… 1: here it comes… and then my heart unexpectedly stopped as everyone shouted ‘Happy New Year’. Time had passed, like it always seems to do, regardless of me trying to will it not to.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m curious to see what 2018 brings, and am even hopeful that it will turn out to be a good year… but I am also so sad that 2017 is over, which seems to confuse most people. It was our worst year, by far, so why wouldn’t we want it to end and have a fresh, new start? That answer is simple… it may have been our worst year yet, but it was also our BEST year… 

2017 was the year we had both of our children together, after several years of trying to grow our family unsuccessfully. 2017 was the year I got to spend 4 glorious months with Colt… holding him close, listening to his infectious giggle, and seeing his kindness shine through those big blue eyes. 2018 is the first year, of probably many, that I have to endure without even one moment spent holding my son, and that is heart breaking to me. How can I be happy about a year when that is what I have to look forward to?

Last year the New Year brought such a promise of good things to happen! We started it off with blessing our sweet little Colt on the 1st. It was the best baby blessing I had ever heard, and I felt so proud of my little family. We were going to finally graduate school, buy our first home, live all together again… but one of those things never came… Colt was with us when we bought our home, but we never got to spend even one night in it together as a family… he died just a week and a half after we closed…

However, even though losing Colt was, and is, the worst thing I can imagine happening to me… I wish I could do this year over again. I would relive all that pain and sorrow for even just one more second with Colt… I would write his obituary, pick out a place to bury his little body, and design his headstone over and over if it meant I was able hold him while he slept just one more time.

The important thing to remember about time is that once it is gone, you can never get it back. The memories you make are all that you have, so make the seconds count…

While it’s hard to imagine this New Year being a good one, without Colt in my arms, I can make it great. After all, life is what we make it, and we can choose to be happy or we can choose to not. I don’t want to just survive the rest of my life, in sorrow, but I want to live a good life that Colt can smile down on and anticipate our arrival to live with him again. I will continue to choose happiness, a positive attitude, and a heart full of love. I will make this year a good one, one that my Father in Heaven is proud of, and one that I continue to grow into the person I am meant to be.

2018 may not be what I once hoped it would be for me, but life never has been, and I’ve always come out on top so far. It may not be my best year, but I’m almost certain it will also not be my worst. (Or at least I hope not).

And now, I can finally say… Happy New Year

(Also, these are my favorite pictures, for many reasons, one of them being his outfit. We were able to find a bigger size after he passed away, and it is identical to what he is buried in. His little knit cowboy boots even still fit... and so I love to look at these and imagine him dressed like this when I get to hold him again at the resurrection.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Headstone Reveal

Colt has been gone for 7 months, today. I decided it was time to do a headstone reveal to honor him.

Probably my favorite thing that happened with his headstone was how long it took to perfect it. We tried to get it done for his birthday, and it was there, but it wasn't exactly what we wanted... it was facing the wrong direction and had the wrong picture... but now, it is PERFECT!

The ironic thing about all the chaos with getting his headstone just right, was that Richard and I finally saw it, completed and perfect, on Colt's 200th day gone... Thanksgiving. For some reason I loved that this forever marker of Colt took the exact same amount of time to perfect as Colt was with us on this earth. It is just another one of those (many) things that are very significant to a grieving family, and it makes this stone even more special to me.

The front of his headstone is ALL about Colt. 

I LOVE pictures, and the most important detail for me was that big 8x10 picture of Colt for us to see when we visit with him. It is my favorite detail, and I love how it makes him stand out from the crowd.

We also had to add the little horseshoes, because that is his symbol; and the hat and cowboy boots, because he was our little cowboy. In fact, one of the hardest things for me this summer, was going to our first rodeo without Colt. I shed a few tears as I watched all the cute little boys around me dressed in their rodeo outfits... my heart breaking. I have always dreamed of getting a little boy that I could raise to be a cowboy, and loved dressing Colt in his plaid and blue jeans with his John Deere boots. I would have loved to watch him do rodeo one day, we will have to see if they have it in Heaven... maybe he is up there practicing for me right now! :)

The last detail that I put on the front is one of my favorite songs, since forever... 'Godspeed', by the Dixie Chicks. Just a few days after Colt was buried here, I went up to visit him, my heart in pieces. We were about to leave for Missouri without him... I had his plane ticket... his dinner cruise ticket... but I had no Colt. I sat there, pouring my heart out to him, wishing he was going with me, unable to comprehend how I was just leaving him... and then this song popped into my head. I sang it (horribly) to him right out loud, crying as I did so, and I felt at peace. I knew that he was ok, that he would be with me no matter where I went, and that he knew I loved him. I now LOVE that song even more than I used to.

The backside of Colt's headstone is about his family. (at least the most immediate ones). In all honesty, I had a hard time not listing a WHOLE BUNCH of people on his headstone... but decided to settle with just the three of us. (He is one loved little guy). My favorite part about this is the marble that ended up being across our names. To us, it looks heavenly, like angels are touching them, and I feel like that is another way that Colt is letting us know that we are not alone.

The lyrics on the back are from Colt's 2nd lullaby. My aunt made us a video, which we displayed at Colt's funeral, of all the pictures I had taken of Colt, accompanied by the BEST background music. The song that stuck out to me the most was 'Lullaby' by Gentri. I listened to that song everyday, sometimes several times, for months after Colt died. It brought me a lot of comfort, and summed up how I was feeling. I made Richard sing it for him at his birthday this year, and cried like a baby as he did so. Poor Colt probably rolls his eyes at how emotional I can be!

If you can't read the lyric in the picture, here is what it says:
I will guard you while you're sleeping, and I will be here waiting when you wake... Let this peace, set you free, and sweetly rest.

We chose the black headstone with white writing, against others advice, because that is what we liked... I'm so glad we did, because he really does stand out up there on the hill. You can't miss seeing him. He gets kind of dirty, especially because he is under a VERY dirty tree, but I actually kind of like that aspect as well. Some of my favorite memories with my family (and Colt) are going up and cleaning him off every once in awhile. It lets me keep serving him, which may sound funny, but it brings a lot of comfort.

I really don't know how it turned out so perfect, but I couldn't love it more! It is my favorite place to visit, and I enjoy being able to keep him looking festive for the seasons or holidays. I love that I get to be this guys mom, and I love that he is always letting me know that he is thinking of us just as much as we are thinking of him. Happy 7 Months!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

200 Days & The Bike Analogy

Colt’s short life lasted a mere 200 days (to the hour)… and today, on Thanksgiving, at approximately 7:00 pm, Colt will officially be gone for 200 days.

I’m not exactly sure how to wrap my head around that fact, nor how I feel about it. Has he truly been gone that long? Was his time in my life really that short? Honestly, I have cherished these last 200 days almost just as much as I treasured the 200 days I got to hold my son in my arms. He was and IS a gift. I have struggled to know what to even write about today, but knew I had to write something. I prayed for Heavenly Father to guide me, and felt impressed to share with you my bike analogy.

As some of you may know, I LOVE riding my bike. A few months after Colt died, I came up with this analogy to help explain my new life to other people. My life is different... very different... and it will never be the same again. There are times I would like to return to the “before” Braquel instead of the “after” Braquel… the Braquel who didn’t know what true sorrow felt like… but most of the time I am just grateful for 200 days…

Life is like riding a bike.

When you’re born it’s all downhill. You only have to make the slightest sound and someone is there taking care of your every wish and need. Slowly your ride starts leveling out until you reach adulthood and find that your ride is not as easy as it once was. Now, it is full of ups and downs and a whole lot of pedaling along the somewhat boring, yet easy, flat trail. Sometimes the path gets pretty hard, but in the end it always seems to level off and become easier again.

Except when you go through a MAJOR trial. A trial like losing a child…

This HUGE bump in the road puts you on a very different path. This new path NEVER levels off, it NEVER goes downhill, and it NEVER will be easy again. NEVER. Yes, there will be times when the hill is not so steep, but there will also be times when you are basically going vertical and don’t know how you can possibly keep going. But you do… you have to… If you stop you will start rolling back down, which may seem like an ok idea until you realize there is nowhere to go but back up that steep mountainside.

The biggest problem with this new path is that those who haven’t climbed such steep mountains will never understand why you are having such a hard time on your ride. To them, life isn’t so hard… you make it up the hill and usually get to coast back down it for awhile. They don’t understand that your hill, or mountain, never ends…

Another problem with this new path is the rocks. Everyone’s path has many rocks and bumps, usually thrown in by other people when they make a rude comment or hurt you in some way. This is part of the path and something we all must face. However, how much harder is it to get over those rocks or through the bumps, when you are already going uphill?

Luckily there are ways that it becomes easier…

One of the blessings in our paths is the people who can see our struggle and lend a helping hand. There are those in our lives who are working fervently to remove the rocks, fill the holes, and sometimes even help push our bikes along. They are the angels of this world: a friend, a family member, or even a stranger…  And most importantly our Savior, Jesus Christ.

These ‘helpers’ are ALWAYS found along our paths, but, are we taking our eyes off the steep hill in front of us long enough to notice them? Are we counting our blessings? Are we being grateful, even though the end of our mountain isn’t found until our own death?

Sometimes it’s hard to find things to be thankful for when you are plum tuckered out… when the tears are streaming down your face and your heart rests at the graveside of someone lost much too soon.

It seems nearly impossible, right? And honestly, some days it is. There are days where the pain and the grief take me over completely, and I can’t focus on anything but survival. However, there are also many days, between those incredibly hard ones, where I am able to count my blessings. 

I found a quote the other day, which spoke to my soul…
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more Joy you can contain.”

I believe that for most people, including myself most of the time, this means that EVENTUALLY we will have great joy… after death and we are reunited with our loved ones, maybe? Part of me feels like my joy will never be full until I have Colt back in my arms, but I also have come to find that I am more joyful since he has been gone. My dad said it perfectly in his talk at Colt’s funeral:
“I thought when this happened, that the world would be a darker place… but it’s not… The world is wonderfully bright and beautiful. And I’ve never felt the sun on my face for years like I have lately… I’ve never heard the birds sing like I’ve heard them sing lately… I’ve never taken so much joy in a little girl racing her grandpa to the end of the driveway and saying, “Grandpa, I beat you.” Life has never been so precious as it is right now to us and our family, and that’s Colt’s gift to us.”
I agree with my dad. Colt gave us a gift. I find so much more joy in the little things in life than I used to. I feel more deeply… I notice people more… I’m more compassionate… I’m less selfish… I see the tender mercies. I think that is what it means to feel JOY in SORROW… I know now, that it is impossible to live a full life without the bad stuff. You have to have those opposites working together to create the whole picture.

I’m going back to my analogy…

The higher you bike up your mountain, the more amazingly beautiful the view becomes… as long as you look up. I believe that when we can see that beautiful view, it gives us the desire for others to see it too. It helps us become the ‘helpers’ on others paths instead of the ‘rock throwers’, because we care. We know how hard life’s path can be, and we want everyone to make it to the top of the mountain with us, to feel that incredible joy that comes from realizing how beautiful life really is.

For this thanksgiving, one of the things I am most thankful for is my ‘helpers’, and those who have been there for my family these 200 days. I would like to send a challenge out… ask yourself this question: Am I being a ‘helper’or a ‘rock thrower’ on (so-and-so’s) path?

I plead with everyone to be the ‘helpers’, because you never know how much just a smile can change someone’s day… I know I have received many in the last 200 days, and it has made ALL the difference.

For Colt’s 200th day gone… and in celebration of the 200 days we were blessed with him on earth… Richard and I are donating $200 to the Temple Patron Assistance Fund through the LDS church. This charity helps send families and individuals to the temple, who otherwise could not afford the travel expenses associated with attending a temple. What we are the MOST grateful for, is our knowledge of forever families, and the blessing we have to be sealed together. There is a huge desire in us to help other families receive this amazing blessing. We feel like this is what Colt would want us to do for him, to honor him, and help him on his heavenly mission.

If any of our friends would like to donate now, or in the future, here is the link: (you can even specify to do it in memory/honor of Colt or another loved one)

I don't know what Heavenly Father was trying to tell me putting this anniversary directly on Thanksgiving, but I'm so grateful he did, because it has helped me remember that there is so much to be thankful for, even in the midst of a great sorrow.
"The hardest thing I've ever had to hear was that my child died. The hardest thing I'll ever have to do is live each day since that moment."

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A "Grinchy" Halloween

Halloween hit me HARD. Much harder than I ever imagined it would hit.

At first I didn’t understand why I was having such a hard time… but then I realized that it was the first ‘event’ I was trying to repeat that Colt had been a part of the time before. Last Halloween he was here. I dressed my kids up in complimenting costumes, did a sibling photo shoot, took them BOTH trick-or-treating, and relished in my family that felt complete. I distinctly remember putting Colt in his carrier on my chest… his little ‘Sven’ hat on… watching Graci reluctantly go up to everyone in her Elsa costume to say trick-or-treat… It was perfect…
Last Halloween (Sven & Elsa)

Not this year… this year was entirely different…

This Halloween (Greek Goddess & Pegasus)

This Halloween we still got our kids complimenting costumes, however, Colt’s is one that he can’t wear. His is a little figurine… and as perfect as his costume actually turned out to be, it doesn’t erase the fact that he didn’t get to join us when we went trick-or-treating, or that we didn’t get to witness the joy he would have shown if he had been with us. I watched other kids, with their siblings, dressed up super cute... it was hard...

This is my life now… I may not like it, but it is MY plan. Sometimes the unfairness of it all consumes me, and this Halloween, it did just that…

I hate that I have to celebrate everything with my son by going to a cemetery… I hate that I have to watch all the families around me, so happy, with no clue about the sorrow I am facing every day without my child here with me. Sometimes the grief makes me feel so very alone.

I felt like somewhat of a Halloween Grinch this year… but had to put on my happy face and celebrate with my daughter. We still did everything we usually do, and more. We went to the Zoo Boo event on Saturday, and went to visit Colt afterwards in Paradise. We carved pumpkins, made pumpkin cookies, and went to TWO trunk-or-treats. We all dressed up (per Graci’s request), and watched Halloween movies all day… I tried my hardest to find joy, and I did. I loved handing out candy to all the kids (especially the ones in my class), had fun watching Graci get excited to see all her friends in their costumes or get one of her favorite treats, and enjoyed seeing many of my friends at the ward trunk-or-treat. I’m sure nobody suspected that I didn’t really want to be there… that what I really wanted was to go home, put on my pajamas, and just be alone…

The battle you face after losing a child is LONG, LONELY, and full of UPs and DOWNs. Last week there were two very joyous things that happened in my family, but also two very BIG reminders that my son was gone… My cousin returned from his two year mission and Colt’s cousin had his 1st birthday. Both of these events were so bitter-sweet for Richard and I… we love watching those around us have happy moments, we love seeing the good things in the world… however, sometimes it is those good and happy things that make us miss Colt the most. We didn’t get to celebrate Colt’s birthday in the way that his cousin got to celebrate. We didn’t get to take cute pictures, watch him open presents, or even eat some birthday cake… We don’t get to count down the days until we are reunited with our little missionary. Our joyous reunion won’t happen until the end of our lives… whenever that may be…

I cannot count the number of times we have been shown kindness since Colt died… the tender mercies… the LOVE… But that doesn’t necessarily make everyday life easier. No matter what amazing things happen in my life, while I am so grateful, they never erase the simple fact that I have to live every day, for the rest of my life, without my son.

For these last 6 months we have been trying to find a new normal, but what I have found is that there really is no such thing as normal…

Most days I have no idea how we even survive. I suppose we just keep trying our best to live on faith and hope. When we do that, we seem to find joy in many things, and sometimes our loss doesn’t seem so debilitating… Sometimes we have a very clear picture of our purpose and plan. Most of the time we are ok… and just the little things, like a friendly smile, can melt our sorrow (even if just a little).

What about parenting a child who has experienced such a HUGE loss? I’m pretty sure this has been the biggest challenge that came with losing Colt. Graci and him were truly the best of friends, and loved each other more than I’ve ever witnessed two siblings loving each other before. How do you tell a 4 (now 5) year old that their best friend died? How do you help them deal with that grief?

Ever since Colt died, Graci has been having nightmares. These nightmares aren’t just every once in awhile, but are sometimes nightly. We have found ways to help her so they go away for a short while, but they always seem to find their way back… Some nights going to bed is filled with tears because she is so scared to go to sleep. (Most of these dreams contain something horrible happening to her or someone she loves).

The days are few and far between that Graci doesn’t tell me she misses her brother. Nearly every day, in some way, she lets me know that she is thinking of him, and especially, that she deeply misses him. Some days she sits by herself in the quiet (which is rare for her), and even sheds a few tears… She still begs me to buy him things (outfits, toys, etc.) each time we go to the store because “he would LOVE that, mom!”

Sometimes she lashes out in situations where she feels uncomfortable… she gets easily frustrated, and I think she just wants to feel like she belongs.

She LOVES when we have the chance to babysit other kids, especially babies. She wants to do the same things with them that she used to do with Colt. She has even asked me before, if I think that [the baby’s parents] would maybe let us keep them. She wants to be a big sister…

My daughter grieves… and many times she gets judged extremely harsh because of her grief. People seem to forget that she is allowed to have bad days, to feel sad… she is allowed to miss her brother and do her best to cope with her emotions. I wish I could let the world know her pain… I wish I could help everyone understand the depths of her sorrow. I see it… I feel it… I know it… However, as much as I can empathize with her, I also know that my understanding probably surpasses hers. In reality, all she probably knows is that she is, yet again, an only child who just desperately wants her best friend back.

The unfairness of losing Colt is made so much worse when you watch your 5 year old beg to visit his grave or shed some tears when she misses him…

People have so many expectations of how you should act in certain situations, and losing a child is one of them. Some people think we ‘act’ too happy… some people think we need to ‘just get over it already’… and still, others just judge us on how we handle certain situations, like parenting a grieving child.  I wish someone had all the answers and could tell me how to help Graci understand her reality, how to cope… I wish someone could tell me how to live so that my grief didn’t hit me so suddenly at times… The reality is that there are no clear answers in life, especially with something so emotional.

I’m not sure when, or if we will ever feel like a normal family again… maybe I don’t even want to…

That is ok…

However, I hope people understand (or at least try to) that we are a ‘broken’ family. We don’t need to be fixed, we don’t need advice… the only thing we really need is a smile, and maybe every once in awhile a warm hug letting us know that it’s ok that we are not ok.