Saturday, May 31, 2014

Three Years Out

Two days ago was May 29, the day my daughter died.

Three years ago I spent the day rotating between the couch and the bed, watching episodes of Glee (there was an entire season available on Hulu and it provided just a smidge of distraction), fading in and out of sleep, waking over and over to a reality that seemed a nightmare instead.

We haven't watched a single episode of Glee since.

May 29 has become a day to remember the life of our girl and spend time as a family. We make a trek to the Lincoln Children's Zoo every year, a place we intended to take Ryann on May 29, 2011 and a place we visited with close friends and family after her burial.

This year, Jared and I also made time for the two of us. After we put Clifton to bed, we bundled up the littlest dude (who kindly stayed asleep the entire outing) and went out for a leisurely, late dinner at Blue Orchid, the restaurant we took a small group to after our zoo outing three years ago.

This year brought a new freshness to our grief, as a friend had just lost her youngest son a couple days before. And in light of these losses, I would like to share a list of things that helped Jared and me in the aftermath of losing Ryann and things that might help your own family and friends if you're at a loss.
  • being inundated with Facebook messages, especially with no expectation of a response. Just a virtual hug to let us know how many people had been touched by her in her short life and how many people were grieving with us. 
  • sharing memories. Memories are the most cherished and most fleeting things, such a frustrating thing to know that we don't remember everything. Any little memory that can be shared is the most wonderful thing, even just a memory of seeing her walk down the street. 
  • anything that might help to check out from the present for a few moments - movie tickets, gift certificates to restaurants, invitations to visit friends out of town.
  • helping to pay expenses. The expenses after something like this is astronomical, even with good insurance. And then the real indignity is having to pay for a funeral on top of it all. Friends helping to cover these things is such a meaningful, needed, and tangible way to support.
  • creating a memory book, memory Facebook page, etc. where everyone is free to contribute and all the memories are consolidated in one place.
  • checking in down the road. Even just a quick note of 'how are you doing these days?' in the weeks, months, and years to come. That means a lot.
  • flowers. I had never really understood how meaningful sending flowers to a funeral could be. We were so buoyed by the flowers that were sent to the funeral by different families, groups, and churches. So amazing.
Also, a good rule of thumb is this. We have had our fair share of hurtful and inappropriate comments, and although we know that they are well meaning, they stung (or sometimes sucker punched) just the same.

Do not add to the hurt. Be a support.

My darling girl and me, just shy of three months.
Photos of the two of us aren't that common, since I was often the one behind the camera.


  1. Damie, I remember hearing about your tragedy and feeling so sad for you at the time. Your honesty and willingness to open your heart afterwards has taught me a few incredible lessons. When my son was born I thought of you and during the tough moments new mom's face I thought to myself "be thankful, don't take these moments for granted." You also taught me to record as many memories as possible, through pictures, journals, etc. Even in the aftermath you chose to focus on the promise of being able to hold your baby girl in your arms again. You are living proof of God's promises of strength, hope, and additional blessings in your life. Thank you for sharing your have touched more people than you know.

  2. There is a lot of wisdom in the link you shared. I hope that I never caused you any hurt (vis a vis dumping in). When my dad died his former receptionist dumped in on my mom. That was the last time we took her calls, and it made me angry. You and Jared remain an inspiration to me in how you have handled this horrible situation. Blessings!