I recently received an e-mail asking me to write a post about, “What I wish I would have known just following Preslee’s death.” I was surprised at how difficult of a question this was for me to answer. It’s been on my mind for over a month, and it’s urged me to rethink over our journey with grief. I’ve dug deep, and I guess you could say I’ve been busy doing a little soul searching. I realized I can’t share all that I have to say in one post, so many more posts will probably follow this one, but for now, here are my thoughts.
My daughter died. It took me a long time to be able to say or type the word, “died.” I used to say passed away, that term didn’t seem so blunt. But I’ve now come to terms that my only daughter is gone, and one of the things I’m grateful for is a thick 3 - inch binder I put together, where I place anything dealing with the accident or Preslee’s death. Inside the binder are letters, poems, slideshows, newspaper articles and much more. I began looking through this binder while trying to answer the question, and while doing so, decided there are two things I wish I could go back and tell myself just following Preslee’s death.
1. You are not alone. Though it will seem like you are all alone, especially when every one else returns to their daily lives, and when you and your husband grieve so differently that you don’t understand one another, remember, you are NEVER alone. Jesus Christ understands. During those moments when it hits you, your child is gone, and the panic attack sets in, fall to your knees and pray. When your marriage or relationship becomes a struggle due to the fact you both don’t understand each other’s grief, turn to the Savior and ask for guidance, because He understands your spouse better than anyone else. Pray, for guidance, read what the Lord wants us to know through scriptures, do everything you can to keep the Savior by your side, and with His help, you will be able to function. Just remember, He’s there, you have to be the one to seek Him out. While grieving, that can be hard to remember.
2. Write, Write, Write. After stating #1, I would hand over a journal, with a quote from Richard G. Scott inside the front cover that says:
It took me a good while to learn this one, but once I began writing on a regular basis, I too, was given instructions that pointed me in the direction I needed to go. I was able to pull out of the deep dark hole of depression, and was no longer lost within my grief. I did much of my writing here on the blog, and at the time, had no idea how much it would save me. And now, on those hard days, there are times I go back and read the blessings, reinstating that I never was alone.
(Once we realized Preslee wasn’t going to live much longer, my SIL came and took photos of Preslee’s little face, hands, feet, etc. She wanted us to remember everything we could, and I’m so grateful she was thinking for us.)
So, if I was given the opportunity to walk back into that same hospital room just after my young 22 year old self handed over her daughter’s lifeless body to the nurse, I would look her straight in the eyes, and explain these two things will give you a purpose in life. Since your role of motherhood was just stripped away with the death of your only child, you will be lost, you won’t know how to function, and that’s okay. Let others help, lean on our Savior, and remember you can do hard things, and though you won’t believe it right now, you will, in fact, make it through this - all the while becoming a better person.
Free Printable: After someone experiences losing a loved, I actually give a journal with the quote that I shared up above, pasted on the inside of the front cover. If you want to assemble your own, click here for a free printable of Richard G. Scott’s quote.