Sunday, July 11, 2010


I am not sure how I have not come across this sooner. Thank you to Angie who sent it my way. It was THAT good I just HAD to share it. It explains how I have felt about certain relationships in the past year.

(Link found here)

Weeding Your Garden
Written by Kristi Sagrillo

Dealing with the reality of changing relationships after your child dies.

A wise gardener once told me that if you want a beautiful garden to grow you must weed it from time to time. Weeding for any gardener, whether it’s a small flower pot on the front porch or a gorgeous flower garden in the backyard is an assumed task and occasionally just has to be done. However, if you neglect to prune the weeds they will eventually begin to overcrowd or, worse yet, become invasive and try and take over your entire garden.
After the death of my son, I began to apply this same logic to my own life.

On November 7, 2005 my son Alex was stillborn; I was 37 weeks pregnant with him. He was perfect and healthy, except for the twisted umbilical cord that cut off his oxygen supply. Alex was a beautiful 8 pound 21 inch baby boy. Up until this point in time, my “life garden”, as I will affectionately refer to it, was perfect.  Or, so it seemed.  But on that date, and from that time forward, everything was different. My life garden had been devastated. There were no more blooming flowers; they had all been drowned by the tears that showered down upon them. Those first few weeks after Alex’s death were very surreal. Nothing mattered any longer. Life had continued to go on around me and I felt like I was helplessly watching a horrible movie unfold before my eyes and I couldn’t find the door to escape.

Soon the weeks turned into months and I had noticed that my life garden had a small number of flowers that had weathered the storm. Of course, the black cloud was ever-present and it still rained sporadically, but it was not raining quite as hard or as long as it did those first few months. My husband and living children were still there, they had always been there I just couldn’t see them until the rain had subsided. And new flowers began to sprout up - flowers that I had never planted or maybe never noticed before. These new friends and past acquaintances were now offering me their  genuine love and support and would become the flower border surrounding my life garden. The support they gave me and continue to give me is cherished, now and forever.

As my garden began to slowly grow back, so did the weeds.  At first I didn’t have the energy or the strength to pick them so I just ignored them. But eventually they were beginning to suck the life right out of me. I was struggling with how to cope after the death of my son as well as what it meant to me and how his death would define me forever. There were family members and numerous friends (too many to count) that could not or would not grant me the space or the respect to figure this out.  I did not understand why they could not offer me their support, after all they were there for me in the past, right? They had been there before when I needed them, what was so different this time?

It was the death of my child that was different. I had changed overnight but they had not. I was not that same person any longer and they wanted the “old” me back. They wanted everything to go back to “normal”. But this was the new me and my life had taken a different path and this was a journey they did not want to take with me. My grief had suddenly shifted from grief for my son to anger towards them and I was going down a very dangerous road. I had veered off my path of grief and was headed down the winding road of hate and rage. My world was spinning out of control and I needed to reclaim it. I realized that my focus needed to be on my son if I was going to move through this grief process in a healthy way. It would have been very easy to shut out everyone. But what I needed to do was to remove any outside forces that were preventing me from my journey.

So began the weeding process. There were the co-workers who would avoid me if they saw me coming their way as if they could “catch” my bad luck like the common cold. On the outside they looked like flowers, but it quickly became apparent that they were indeed weeds. They would be easily plucked from my garden because their roots did not go very deep. It was the weeds that I had ignored for too long that took more energy to pull. Their roots were deep and in some cases were connected to other noxious weeds. Pulling one  meant pulling two or more along with it. Those were the seemingly close friends that never called, never offered their support; it was like they disappeared from our life after the memorial service.

But it was the family members that hurt the most. The ones you would expect to be there for you. The verbal attacks and insensitive comments like, “When are you going to move on?”, “Shouldn’t she be over this, it’s been 3 months?”, “She should be grateful she has two living children” (Like one can be swapped out for another!) The last straw for me was when family members questioned my parenting abilities towards my two living children, this only 4 months after Alex’s death. Evidently, I had allowed my children to make faces at the adults and this caused them great pain and disrespect towards them. Hmm…sounds like a great reason to attack my parenting skills.

Initially, the shock of finally removing them from my life stung, but if my garden was going to continue to grow it simply had to be done. I gave myself permission to do this and coupled with that permission was the power I needed to gain control over my life once again.

I continue to weed my garden but it isn’t needed as frequently anymore. I am stronger now and more attentive and am able to pluck  any weeds before they even have a chance to touch the soil. I am planting new flowers everyday and watering the ones I have. Every now and again the thunderstorms roll in but I have realized that my garden needs the rain and the sun in order to continue flourishing.


Cecilia said...

Very true. Honestly, I don't even always like the person I've become, but it is my reality now. I didn't comment on the last post, but I'm sorry things were rough. I'm glad there is an online community of others we can go to for support, especially if those we know in real life just don't get it.

belle said...

giant, giant, giant ((((HUGS)))) my friend. what you've said the last 3 posts takes courage. it's not about "getting it right" or "grieving perfectly".... daily growing and learning and healing is a process that is so often, PAINFUL! and misunderstood. your sweet precious nolan will NEVER leave your heart, or my memory either. never. his story has touched me to my very core.

i too often wish i could go back to my pollyanna approach to life but then if i did, the richness that i see in the relationships around me, the depth to which my heart can now love, would be sacrificed. yes, i do feel pain deeper and it hurts more and i simply cannot take so much of life for granted anymore.

i'm rambling, sorry, just wanted you to know that there is compassion and acceptance here for you. no expectation of perfection, no judging of your journey..... just prayers for your heart and for the tender life that grows in your womb now. and NEVER, EVER will i forget NOLAN!

cmatsukes said...

Ashley you dont need to say sorry to your post I supported your post yes you were angery I have been that way for 3 years towards people that just dont get it and never will. I will always support you my comments were towards the other in mature adults if they dont like it dont read it. You are my niece and I will always support you and dont care about the others I yes have lost some friends too because they could not understand why I did not want to do certain things or events so they just blow me off and you know what I dont care I can always find other friends more loyal and understanding there is alot of people in the world who can and want to understand so yes weed them out because weeds are never good for anyones garden and dont feel bad about it. Love you Aunt chris.

Whitney Anne said...

I'm usually a 'Silent Reader' but I couldn't help but put my two cents in.

You shouldn't apologize for saying what you feel, if people don't like it then they don't need to read your blog. It's YOUR blog, YOUR feelings, YOUR experiences, your theraphy in a way. Say what you want to say and don't worry about anyone else. People will try to bring you down over the smallest of things and its not worth it.

I loved the article about Weeding. Thank you for sharing it.

urban chaos said...

This just set something straight in my mind that I have been thinking of over the course of the weekend- thank you for sharing..
love you!

ryansmom said...

So true, I like it.

Diana @Hormonal Imbalances said...

I have always wanted to share this with you - and several others I read that have lost a child and then lose friends/family after.

It's so hard. Personally, I never know what to say to someone who has gone through what you have. It seems like whatever I might say is so inadequate - so stupid in comparison to the grief and heartbreak you must feel. I don't have any idea what you have, and continue, to go through on a daily basis, and I always hesitate to bring anything up that isn't put out there first.

In the back of my mind, I wonder if mentioning something about Nolan (or to a friend about her child) will pain you. I think, "What if she's having a great day, and just trying to let it go for a while to get through it, and by saying this I mess it all up and make her sad again?"

Really. I know a lot of other people think the same way too. This might sound selfish, but until I read your blog I always thought like this. Sometimes I still do.

And no, it's no excuse for rudeness or friends that stop calling or tell you to get over it. But for the people who blog on it, and wonder why things change, we are part of it. If you've never lost a child, you have no idea what your friend needs to hear, needs not to hear, wants to hear...

And this is in NO way an attack or anything like that on you. I'm just trying to explain the other side of it, why sometimes it seems like we can be so heartless and uncaring.

A while ago I was whining about something with Bella (who had severe reflux) and then added, "But I know what I'm going through is nothing compared to others who desperately want a child." And someone responded, "I'm not able to have kids and I am so sick of hearing people say that they shouldn't complain because of what people like me go through. Don't pity me."

So then I felt like it was a catch22 - I didn't know what to say after that. You have a right to feel however you do - as that commenter on mine did - but I didn't mean it with any maliciousness or pity. I was just talking about a really tough day.

What you are going through is your journey - and anyone who can't be supportive needs to step aside. I think you are such an amazing person, to share with everyone as you have.

Your blog makes me understand what needs to be said at times like this, what a woman needs to hear when she loses a child, and a reminder to all of us that it doesn't end in 6 months or a year. It never ends. You don't wake up one day and the pain is gone, Nolan is a happy memory and you're content. If anything, your blog has been an eye opener to so many of us that didn't know what to say or do for friends going through this.

So thank you - for being honest, and open, and letting us in on your feelings no matter how angry, upset, or emotional you are. You've changed many attitudes and perspectives just by writing about Nolan and your story.

Diana @Hormonal Imbalances said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana @Hormonal Imbalances said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana @Hormonal Imbalances said...

And I aplogize because it published 3 times and I have no idea why. :/

the Spocks said...

I understand exactly what you meant on the NICU post. I have so many pregnant women in my life these days and they choose to complain about pregnancy symptoms.

I want to SCREAM, "Shut Up." You choose to be pregnant deal with it. Some of us would love to have your their problems. Thank for that post.

Angie said...

Actually thank Laura as she's the one who posted it on her blog where I first saw it and loved it.

m&msmommy said...

Thank you for posting this Ashley! It was very eye opening as I think sometimes I wait for my sister to return to her "oldself" (prior to losing her triplet sons) and I need to realize that she will NEVER be the same. After the horrific loss she and her husband experienced she will never be the "old Amy." Even after the birth of her son, Spencer (living, breathing, healthy growing son) and even after her most recent blessing which is being pregnant again. She will NEVER be the same! Not that I was consciously waiting for it to happen, but I think subconsciously I have been. Thanks again for the eye opening post.

Continued prayers for you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Practice makes perfect.............................................................

Pam said...

Interesting concept. I found the same to be true with a divorce/break-up.