Friday, January 2, 2015

Her Sister's Shadow

There is a fine line I have to walk - that all loss moms with living children have to walk - that carefully balances my living child with the one who is gone. It's a very blurry line that weaves around constant obstacles. Of those obstacles, the biggest one actually is misunderstanding.

I, I know...a lot of people look at my behavior and think that I am wallowing in grief. That I am unable to "let her go." That I am allowing Kenley to overshadow Piper. All of these are misconceptions.

I will always talk about Kenley. I will mention her when people ask me about my children. I will symbolically include her in family pictures and events. I will hang a stocking for her every Christmas. I will visit her tree and take pictures on her birthday. I will participate in Walks of Remembrance and charity events in her honor, and I will encourage others to join me. I will post links about kick-counting and stillbirth on my Facebook wall. I will miss her every day, and some days, that missing will be so great, I will need to tell someone about it, and it's important that person understand why.

You may be thinking, "Well, it's been almost two years. Aren't you done with that by now?" Nope. I will do all of these things for the rest of my life. No amount of time passing will change that. But, just because I am sad sometimes, doesn't mean I am sad all the time. Just because I post a status about feeling guilty about her death doesn't mean I allow that guilt to consume me. Just because I talk about how much I love and miss my first born doesn't mean I love my second born any less. And it certainly doesn't mean remembering Kenley is more important to me than experiencing Piper. They are actually equally important. And that doesn't make me crazy, or depressed, or consumed by grief. It just makes me a mom.

I know that I have to be careful not to get consumed by my desire to have people remember her. All loss moms do. We want so badly for the world to know the child we love, we can often be very aggressive in doing so. It doesn't mean we have gone off the deep end. We just want our child to be able to make a mark on this world, and since they aren't here to do it, we feel responsible to do it for them. Interpret my posts about Kenley as such. Not as calls for help from the bottom of an abyss of depression, but as a spotlight of pride upon my child who can't speak for herself. I'm not going to just forget about her. I'm not going to stop talking about her. She is my daughter. My firstborn. If one of your children died, how long would it take you to stop talking about them? To stop thinking about them? To stop loving them? Everyone is different in how they deal with loss. If my way isn't your way, that doesn't make it wrong.

I am not missing out on Piper's life because I still miss Kenley. I have been in awe of my Rainbow since the day she was born. I have been in love with her since 36 weeks and 5 days before that. Missing her sister doesn't change that. I can do both. Granted, some days are harder than others...and some days even seem impossible...but I still do it. I still fully understand that Kenley is gone and Piper is here. I know Piper is more than just a "little sister". When I put her in a "Little Sister" onesie, it's not to pigeon-hole her into that role. She IS a little sister. If I died, my little sister wouldn't suddenly be an only child, she'd just be the only living one. It's not different. The "little sister" onesies are simply to honor Kenley. I am not definining Piper's identity through them. Piper is her own person. She has her own personality. She will have dreams and wishes and goals, and I will help her find all of them because I am her mother and that's what I do. I have experienced all 8 months of her life with joy...yes JOY. Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling joy and sometimes I don't, but that's just comes with the territory. It doesn't mean I am not fully appreciating my living daughter.

I have so much more I need to say, but I'm not really sure how to say it without sounding bitter and defensive.

Here's the bottom line:

I love both of my girls.

Remembering Kenley and being vocal about missing her does not mean I am unable to "move on".

I do feel joy and happiness in my life. I am not trapped in grief, but I will deal with this grief for the rest of my life. Thinking two years is enough time is ludicrous. Grief is not a timeline with a beginning and end. It is a knotted jumble that takes a lifetime to untangle. Day by day, I work on that knot. Sometimes, I loosen the yarn and other times, it curles tighter, but I am still working. I haven't given up, nor will I ever do so.

Piper is no more and no less important than her sister, and I am doing my very best to make sure she knows that. I'm not going to let her grow up feeling like she's living in her sister's shadow - because she's not.






  1. This is absolutely amazing. It's like you were in my head typing out my feelings. I am currently pregnant with my rainbow after my twin son and daughter passed away almost 6 months ago. I have so many of these same feelings of joy and guilt and am always afraid the people will judge me for continuing to talk about my Nathan and Natalie. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Nicole. Six months is hardly any time at all. Love to you and to your beautiful babies, Nathan and Natalie.