My daughter Katie is now in heaven. Everything is new. Everything is different. Everything is devastatingly difficult.
I’ve learned to walk, breathe, and exist without letting grief keep me down, because I’m learning to live with my grief. I know that grief will be my companion forever, so I must learn to get along with it.
Losing my daughter has been the single worst thing that has happened to me, yet I feel I have learned so much. I struggle to say that there is good in Katie’s death, or any child’s death, but I will say that there has been so much transformation and learning in all areas of my life.
Katie will forever be woven into the fabric of my life, and she will continue to guide me from beyond. She may have taught me more in her death than in her life.
Here is what I have learned:
- Life is short. It is a gift not to be wasted. The days pass no matter what. We can pass the days in pain or in peace.
- It’s ok to cry. Crying is a human reaction and it’s healthy. We must grieve in order to move forward. This is our way to release the pain. We don’t always have to be strong.
- It’s ok to lean on others. We need each other. We can’t travel this path alone.
- People want to help. Help them help you by saying yes. Try to be patient when they stumble on clichés and don’t know what to say.
- It’s ok to laugh on this journey. Katie had the most infectious laugh and laughed loud and strong. Laugh with the memories and love in your heart.
- Love is the greatest gift. Love everyone and everything. Make every decision based on love and see how life can change for the better.
- Cherish the good memories. We will carry them with us forever.
- By holding onto grief, we are focusing on our child’s death. When we work on our healing, we are focusing on their life.
- Nothing in life is permanent. We need to enjoy what we can when we can. It can all change in a heartbeat.
- Our loved ones are just a whisper away. Heaven is not way up in the sky, it is right beside us. Our children are with us every step of the way. Although they are no longer with us physically, they live on in our hearts, our minds, and our dreams.
- I will speak up for what’s important, do the right thing, and offer a hand up to those that need it. Healing can come from helping too.
- Being miserable, bitter, and angry does not change a thing and in time it may push away all the good in our lives.
- Living and loving are choices and they fill my life with meaning and hope.
- I choose to be with people who lift me up, inspire me, and encourage me to be ok.
- Katie’s death gave me the opportunity to take a good look at my life. It was a wake-up call I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but it’s also been the defining moment in my life. I have clarity on who I want to be and whom I want to spend my time with. The petty things are just petty things now. I cherish my family and will never let them go out the door without an “I love you” or a hug.
- Death is a taboo subject in our society and it’s not helpful for healing. Let’s talk about it and let’s change the way we deal with loss.
- I allow myself to find peace by acknowledging my grief. I need to do that so I can learn to live with it.
- There is a life beyond my loss and in time, it can be filled with joy and laughter, if I let it. But it’s work. Hard work.
- Katie’s death was a reminder to go after what really makes me happy and I am so thankful for that. I always wanted her to have an amazing life and she did for 17½ years. I will make sure that I will enjoy mine as much as I can–for her.
- There is hope. Every day might not be good but there is good in every day.
- Love never dies. We grieve the loss of our children because we miss everything about them and mourn the loss of their future and our future with them. Grief is love.
- When I can’t see the good, I’ll make the good. I can help change laws, plant a memory garden for all to enjoy, or create a scholarship. Grieving mothers are a force to be reckoned with. We can turn loss into legacy.
- The suffering and the sorrow will always be with me but it is my choice if I let it ruin my life.
- I know deep sorrow and because of that I know joy. Since I have experienced pain so horrific, I see that the sun shines brighter on a summer day and that each day is a gift. After experiencing such devastation, I live from a deeper place. I am grateful for the joy, no matter how it comes.
- I now try to be fully present in all aspects of life. I want to connect with people, not read about them on my phone.
- Grief has reminded me to take lots of pictures and videos. They are so precious and invaluable after a loved one dies.
- I try to appreciate everyone and everything and take nothing for granted.
- Taking the scenic route in life has helped me heal my hurts and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
- Once I learned that I could carry pain and joy, I found peace.
I am a survivor and stronger than I ever imagined. I hope I never have to face anything like losing Katie again, but I know if I do, I will be ok. I have already survived the worst that life can throw at me.