Happiness is a choice. It’s a choice that comes easily and a choice that is hard to make. Four years ago happiness was difficult to find. Four years ago our family lost our sweet baby boy Jakob. Jakob was 13 days old when he died. The 12 days before his death were days happiness was an easy choice. Fast forward to four years later happiness can sometimes be a difficult choice. There are days I choose to put on a smile because it is easier to please others than just be myself. There are days that smile is plastered on my face because I don’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable. At the end of each of those days, I fall into my husbands arms because he understands the pain behind that smile. Other times, I hug my daughter Ella-Grace closer because she helps to facilitate the real happiness in my life and not the artificial smile I give to others. The days that I can’t fake it, I criticize myself for feeling down. I still have a great family, I work hard and am breezing through my coursework for school but when I can’t put on the perfect show for others I don’t feel like I am an inspiration.
The days after the funeral, many people told me how inspiring I was. I wasn’t looking to be inspiring to anyone. I was trying to find a way to manage life, a family and work knowing our world was missing a special person. I didn’t want to be inspiring because of my loss. I wanted to be inspiring because of the person I am. Why is it that during difficult times people are labeled brave, courageous or inspiring? After experiencing what I have, I believe it is because it is the only thing they can think of in that moment that sounds positive. People mean well but they don’t know what to say to someone when they have experienced a loss. My hope as I am raising Ella-Grace is that the empathy we are teaching her will translate to support during a time of loss.
Before we lost Jakob, I didn’t know what to say to people when they lost a child. I now know what that type of loss feels like and I know there really are no words that can be said to a parent when they lose a child. The best thing that can be done is to sit with them, listen to them and recognize that there is some pain behind that smile. Allow them to be themselves with you, and not have to be strong because of the uncomfortableness that comes along with grief.
They are learning how to manage life while sitting with grief.
My hope is that as I continue to blog about life after loss of a child, I will be able to be helpful to someone else experiencing their own loss. I don’t consider myself an expert in any way because I myself am still learning how to manage life while sitting with my own grief. I still am a wife and a mommy, but I also am still Jessica. I am all of those things but sit with this awful thing that happened to our family. I don’t want to be treated differently. I don’t need my loss to be compared to anything else. I just need to be me.