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Triumphant Tuesday: Rejoicing in the Blessings From Loss
By Bonnie McConaughy
This story starts back in May of 2015 when my brother and I took a trip from Indiana to California to visit with family and friends. During that visit, I set up a time to spend with my Aunt. I was staying in town but needed a ride to get to her house. Lucky for me, my Uncle was the one who picked me up to drive me to their house. We had wonderful conversations in the car on the way there and also as he drove me back to where I was staying. It was really great to be able to connect with him one-on-one for the first time in a long time!
A couple of months later, in July, I got my financial aid refund and got a lot more money than I thought I would. With receiving extra funds, I thought it would be a nice gift to send my parents to California to visit with family and friends, as they have not been in a few years due to health and financial issues. My Mom was incredibly happy to have the opportunity to go see her family and friends that she hadn’t seen in a while and booked a trip for later that month. That extra money was a huge blessing, we didn’t even realize how much of a blessing at the time! I was so happy that my Mom was finally able to see her mother, my Grandma, and everyone else she hadn’t seen in a few years.
Then in October, we received an unexpected phone call with horrible news…. My uncle had passed away suddenly. He was only 61. He had been dealing with a lot of health issues that he was unable to get the treatment he needed to improve his health, but it was still a shock. He was so alive and full of life when I visited with him in May! Needless to say, the news hit me like a ton of bricks and the grief was unlike anything I had ever felt before. He had always been like a father figure to my siblings and I, so supportive and caring to all of us. It just didn’t seem fair that he was gone.
Even in the midst of that tragedy, we were all feeling very thankful to have had the chance to visit and spend time with him just a few short months before his passing, and for that, we are forever grateful. My Uncle and I were even connecting via text message leading up to his death, which is something I had never done with him before. He told me how proud he was of me and was encouraging me to pursue my new blog and business venture. Losing him fueled me to push my blog and business even harder, because I was discovering that life was too short to waste time.
The other huge blessing surrounding his death was that he wasn’t in pain anymore. He had been miserable for two or three years prior to his passing and that was due to him not being able to receive the treatments he so desperately needed, as mentioned above. There was definitely some comfort for all of us, knowing that he was no longer suffering in pain. That made loosing him slightly easier to bear.
Even in the midst of that tragedy, we were all feeling very thankful to have had the chance to visit and spend time with him just a few short months before his passing, and for that, we are forever grateful.
There could have been even more anger and grief, if we all hadn’t had a chance to visit him not long before he passed away. I had a hard time accepting him being gone, but I found comfort and thankfulness that we had our time together, to bond, before it all happened. This was the greatest blessing of all.
Through my Uncle’s death, I was able to turn that tragedy in my life to triumph, being triumphant over the grief and being able to take control of my own life. Not only was I able to make better lifestyle choices and the decision to live life fully, but my entire family was too! We miss him dearly and we are eternally grateful for the gifts he left us that we will be able to carry with us for the rest of our lives, as we move forward in good health and happiness.
Bonnie McConaughy is the owner and founder of Inspire the Best You http://www.inspirethebestyou.com where she writes about weight loss, healthy living, self-love, and personal growth. If you are interested in those topics, stop by and read her blog! She is also a freelance and ghostwriter at http://www.bmcconaughy.weebly.com.
Almost 3 years ago, on a rainy Friday evening, coming home from work, my life got flipped upside down…
Life was on a great trajectory; we had recently moved back to our hometown, I was just back to work after being on maternity leave for the second time and was excelling in my position at a new company. My family was happy and healthy! What could possibly go wrong?
What could possibly go wrong?
God has surely handed me my fair share of struggles in life (see part 1 and part 2 of my story), it should be smooth sailing from here, right?! Wrong!!
Apparently, I had more growing to do and more life lessons to learn yet. That is where all growth is done, through our trials, tribulations, struggles, and heartbreaks. We do not grow when times are easy; growth only happens during the difficult seasons of life where we truly learn the lessons we need to.
Let’s get back to 3 years ago, on that fateful Friday evening… when I would be involved in a car accident.
What seemed like a minor accident at first would turn out to be the single most traumatic event to date in my life. I had no idea how this day was forever going to impact my life, especially over the next few years.
Not only was my car a write-off, but I was pretty much a write-off too. I sustained whiplash injuries that have left my body in a state that will never be the same, needing weekly massages and adjustments just to keep my neck and back mobilized and symptoms at bay. Then there was the diagnosis of a concussion. This would prove to be my toughest battle to date.
It is not easy to be a “boy mom”, on any given day, with all of the loudness and craziness that goes along with raising them, but imagine trying to recover from a brain injury where you require rest to heal your brain… nearly impossible!
If you know me personally or have read part 1 and part 2 of my story, then you know just how filled with gratitude I am to be able to be a Mom. That title is the biggest gift and blessing I have ever received! All of that loudness and craziness that goes along with my little blessings is completely embraced! I have always been confident in my abilities as a mom, knowing that I love them more than anything and that I’m trying the very best I can, to be the best mother for them (even though I have no clue what I’m actually doing).
When you physically can’t help your child due to the crippling pain in your body or head, the smallest of noises are piercing through your entire mind and all you want to do is rest but you can’t because you’re a mom… yeah, that’s extremely tough! That is the space where doubt, guilt and all other sorts of emotions live and start to surface. I really did start to doubt my skills as a mother.
On the most difficult of days, they would fill me with joy, laughter, and so much love! It was quite an anomaly to feel all of those amazing feelings that motherhood brings and yet feeling as though I didn’t want to be around my kids, I can’t stand the noise they make and continually feeling like a horrible mother.
It was a blessing in disguise to be able to watch Lukas, my youngest, grow as he was only 1.5 years old at the time of the accident. I remember vividly one day when I was laying on the couch, eyes closed and hand over my forehead (a common scene during the worst months throughout my journey), Lukas came up to me and asked, “You ok Mommy?”.
Of course, I would reply with “Yes, Mommy’s ok baby.”. The truth was, I was far from ok. I was hurting so badly and this was the hardest to admit to my children (mom guilt!!), even though they knew I wasn’t. I could not bare the thought of being weak in their eyes or letting them down, even though I totally was, or seemingly felt I was.
I was suffering, in the trenches with very little support. I remember begging and crying on the phone to the insurance companies to have childcare covered. I needed it, we needed it so badly, but they refused to cover it. So there I was, with a baby and a preschooler (1.5 and 4 years old) trying to heal from a brain injury that requires a lot of rest to heal the brain and I can’t. During this phase I was in survival mode – just trying to make it from minute-to-minute, or hour-to-hour getting through the day. Eventually, I would make it to a day-to-day basis but I am still not even week-to-week, almost 3 years later.
Right now you are probably wondering why I am still battling almost 3 years later… well, I am saving the second part of this story for another post but one of the reasons I’m still in this space today is because, like mentioned above, I needed rest which was hard to come by. Having two little ones at home, while trying to recover from a brain injury, is next to impossible. Having to care for them instead of resting my brain, definitely held me back from being able to recover quicker. As much as my boys made my healing journey a bit harder and longer, they were the exact sparks I needed to keep going and to fight until I’m healed!
My husband was and still is the biggest supporter and champion for me. He was doing soooo much, more than most men could bear to handle. With me being off work and minimal income coming in, he had to step up not only inside of the home taking on more than his fair share of duties but also outside of the home trying to work more to supplement my income. Our life was turned completely upside down by my accident. This would prove to be the ultimate test of our relationship and love for each other.
My silver lining has always been the extra time I have been able to spend with my boys, especially Lukas, even though it was tough. Let me tell you, what doesn’t kill you definitely makes you stronger! Today I am stronger in my faith with God, stronger in my relationship with my husband and one tough mama!
Nothing like a car accident to give you perspective on what really matters most in life ~ things, like a car, can be replaced but people and loved ones can’t! Each day is a true gift and there is no greater wealth than our health!
Enjoy the gift of today and your health while you have it! Life is precious!
Discovering joy after loss is a concept to many that can seem elusive and maybe even impossible. I know because I used to think it was too. I never knew what happiness really was or how to align myself with Divine guidance to carry out my purpose here in this life. All of that was foreign and uncomfortable territory.
Did I hold any faith? No I didn’t. I walked, day after day focusing on what I could change in my outer world in order to keep me in the denial where I felt safe. I didn’t know what unconditional love was or how that fills my heart with joy. Not until the day I said goodbye to my stillborn son, Joseph, did my faith begin to return. How is that possible?
Pardon my positivity on this one and bear with me as I walk you through my darkness. In the summer of 2000, at just 16 years old, I fell victim to a violent crime. I was raped and nearly killed by a man that I did not know. In one moment, a complete stranger changed my life forever. I came out of the hospital 48 hours later, so shocked, I didn’t know where to begin to understand what happened or even understand what I felt inside. What I did feel was anger. He robbed me of my innocence and virginity. And worse, the hospital’s lack of care, respect and protection devastated me.
I had never been so scared in my entire life and to keep the debilitating panic attacks at bay, I put myself in complete denial. I trained my brain to shut off that whole event and carried on with my teenage years as if nothing had happened. So how did that all play out for me?
When I graduated high school, I ran to college. I tried to get as far away as I could. Being in denial makes you feel as if you are constantly on the run. Constantly lost. Constantly afraid. Denial was like a huge, steel wall around my heart and my entire life. Underneath it, was all of my fear and pain. I was crying on the inside and my anxiety that plagued me once I left home for college got worse. It was like a demon that needed to be released from inside of me.
I continued this way for thirteen years. The rape became nonexistent in my mind, but not in my soul. My mind released the tornado of pain through nightmares, my body oozed it out with eczema and my heart was frozen. When I met my wonderful husband Jason in 2005, a flicker of light that was deep inside began to burn. Hope was beginning to take shape.
When we were surprised with our amazing daughter, Lillian in 2006, that light got a little stronger. Albeit young, motherhood transformed me. I loved my daughter more than anything but love for myself was a distant idea. I was yet to find out just how deep that transformation would be. Spirit was beginning to open within me after Lillian was born, like a rose flower blooming that would show its true beauty inside.
My husband and I waited until summer of 2013 to have our second baby. The excitement that we felt when we saw the positive pregnancy test was indescribable and at the 20-week ultrasound, I found out the baby was a BOY! I couldn’t WAIT to soak in the new baby smell and feel our heartbeat together as I held him against my chest. Despite all the good feelings about becoming a mother again, I seemed to hit a wall in my heart. I carried a sinking feeling that was stuck with me and didn’t realize that the denial still had a strong hold on me. When I faced those random feelings of dread that always popped up, I shrugged them off and became a master at humor. Making others laugh was the way to strengthen my denial, but it kept me in sadness.
You see, the denial, the tricks and the things I would lie to myself about, all came to a halt when at 26 weeks’ gestation, I was told my baby boy had passed away. My son was dead. Dead? For a woman who was already in deep denial, this news did not register with me at first. I walked out of the doctor’s office in a haze and when I checked into the hospital to birth him, I couldn’t quite feel my feet hitting the ground. Denial was having its last battle within me, desperately trying to keep me from opening my heart as if to protect me from the very love that would heal my tortured soul.
Finally, when the doctor began to induce me, the tears came. And they didn’t stop. Each tear washed away pieces of that steel wall and my heart was slowing beginning to beat stronger. Grief from my rape met grief from losing my son and that wall was finally shattered.
LOVE is the REASON we Grieve. And LOVE is what will bring us back.
– Lindsay Marie
Amidst a stillborn event, love was in the lead and that awakened me to a deeper part of myself I never knew existed. Finally, my heart broke open and freed my emotions that were hidden for so long. I couldn’t fight it any longer. The heartbreak of losing Joseph allowed love to enter and that love led me back to hope.
A wisdom that was buried in me emerged with a clearer understanding of life and death. It showed me a bigger picture of life and aligned me with my faith. I finally was able to process what had happened to me at 16 years old and began my journey to a new life. Joseph took a piece of my heart with him to heaven and has been sprinkling the love, through me, everywhere I go. He graces me with courage and love so that I can help others as a writer, speaker and coach.
I miss my sweet boy terribly, but his loss made me able to know a bigger part of myself that I neglected for thirteen years. And he helped me make a brave choice. I chose life and I chose joy!
You can connect with Lindsay through her website: http://lindsaymariegibson.com where you can read more of her story, her personal blog and learn about her journey as a joy coach.
Show Lindsay some love by following her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
*** This post needs a bit of a disclaimer: it involves some very heavy subject matter. Sorry in advance for any thoughts or feelings it may provoke. ***
The story I am about to share with you is one that I do not share very often, in fact, I think I have only shared it a handful of times over almost 7 years.
In my first blog post, I mentioned having another very traumatic experience while staying in the hospital, which I was saving for another post, well this is it!
While I was in the hospital, recovering from the traumatic birth experience with my oldest due to HELLP Syndrome, I would eventually be transferred from the labour and delivery room to a semi-private room. I stayed in the same room that I delivered in for 3 days. On the third day I was finally rebounding enough to be transferred to the maternal/newborn ward. I was supposed to be given a private room due to my condition and so that my husband could stay in the room with me to help care for our newborn baby. This ended up changing and I was placed in a semi-private room with another mom and her newborn baby. While staying in this type of room, you are not allowed to have visitors over night.
The first night was ok but I didn’t get a lot of sleep (obviously, I’m a new mom). The other mom already had another child and she was antsy to get out of there, spending most of her time on the phone. She would be released early the next morning and I would have the entire room to myself (yay!). This was short lived until later that evening when a mom joined the room after a very long labour and c-section. She was still frozen from the waist down and needed assistance to get in and out of her bed.
When she first arrived, the middle curtain was pulled back and I saw her face. I could not believe my eyes… I have seen this mom multiple times before, as we had the same OB and it just so happened that our appointments were back-to-back on the same days throughout our pregnancy. We had never actually talked but we recognized each other. She would soon be settled in for the night and her husband would eventually have to leave.
Over night, we would both be up throughout the evening taking care of our new babies. Again, not much sleep was happening. Eventually I would fall asleep, only to be woken up by my little one needing to be fed in the wee hours of the morning. While feeding him I noticed a weird noise coming from the other side of the curtain, not sure what it was, I tried to mind my own business and feed my baby. To me it sounded like the baby was just making grunting noises and was wiggling around in her basinet. I knew the mother had another child and I had full faith that she knew what she was doing and I surely had no clue, as this was my first experience with parenting. There was certainly no way I felt comfortable crossing that curtain to see or ask her what was going on.
I would later learn that the noise I was hearing was the baby suffocating in the bed with the mother. That noise still haunts me to this day.
Remember, as stated earlier, the mother was frozen from the waist down, therefore she was struggling to properly care for her baby and opted to bring her into bed with her. On top of that, she was extremely exhausted from a long labour and fell into a deep sleep that she was unable to wake from and hear her baby.
I struggled for a very long time with the GUILT – should I have said something??? Why didn’t I say something??? I knew in my heart something wasn’t right and maybe I could have saved that baby. I’m actually still not sure I’m totally past it as I type this with tears streaming down my face…
Through extensive therapy sessions, I was able to navigate through those feelings and find a way to move forward. This is one thing I am a big advocate for now; seeking help when you need it. Having a good psychologist to confide in is a true gift. One I never understood until receiving myself.
Needless to say, this experience changed me, in multiple ways. I quickly realized how truly fragile life is… each day is a true gift not to be taken for granted!
If you have experienced loss, I pray you have the strength to share your story. In sharing your story, you will most definitely be helping to heal the wounds, even if it is just one little stitch. You are here, alive, for a reason. That reason may just be that you have a story that needs to be told in order to connect with others so they or you know that you are not alone.
Out of such a tragic story there have been some great impacts made. After having such a traumatic event that impacted not only the immediate family and myself but, hospital staff as well, the hospital was open to having conversations about how to prevent this from happening again. I am delighted to share that actual changes were implemented to provide better care for a mother and her baby, especially after a c-section where there is a greater need for assistance.
Thank you for taking the time to read, this is a deeply personal story that has forever impacted my life. Through every tragic experience, I try to turn it into triumph and personal growth!
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