Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Following the death of our infant daughter, I found myself facing an opportunity to activate the immense power of personal choice. Time and time again. Hour after hour, day after day. It felt as if every moment that passed provided me with a choice: to let the grief consume me, or not. In the midst of the most emotionally complex experience of my life, my ability to survive felt as simple as that. Will grief consume me, or not?

Once I began believing that Olivia had lived out her life’s plan completely—that she had come, she had loved, she had touched countless lives, and that was God’s plan for her—I realized that it would be the aggregation of choices I made, hour after hour, day after day, that determined what shape my life would take moving forward. In any moment I could choose anger, sadness, resentment. Or I could choose grace, gratefulness, and compassion. I could choose to be jealous, or chose to be kind. Grief is a wholly individual experience, so it was through my choices, and my choices alone, that I had the power to guide my life in the direction I so desired.

As I navigated life after loss, determined to lead with grace, I made the following commitments to myself. These commitments may not fit into another parent’s journey. They may not bring peace to another grieving mom . . . but they sure brought peace to me. Some are trivial and some are transcendent, but they all kept me moving forward on the path I chose for myself: one that felt empowered, controlled, and courageous.

1. Get up.
If you have never felt deep grief, or experienced a significant loss, it may be difficult to understand the enormity carried by such a simple task. But when faced with unbearable grief, simply getting up each morning can feel monumental. The urge to stay in bed, to close your eyes and hope that the next time you wake up this is all a dream gone bad—well, that urge is strong. And it’s relentless. And you may feel it every single day.

Following the loss of our daughter I made the most simple, and most profound commitment to myself: I will get up. One day at a time, day after day, after day. I will simply get up. Because even though my child is not, I am alive. I am here. And what better way to honor someone who no longer has the choice, than to get up yourself. What a tremendous victory over grief’s hold.

2. Do one thing, every day
Because this not only confirmed that I got up, but it screamed into the ethers that I got up and I’ve got this. As my life’s to-do list lengthened, and the littlest tasks suddenly felt overwhelming, I promised myself to cross one item off my list every day. Some days that meant a shower, and other days it meant finally walking the stack of mail from inside my house to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. But you know what? Other days this small commitment to do something stirred up a burst of productivity and I found myself up and about. Showered, dressed, completing errands and proving to myself that grief would not consume me forever.

3. Keep commitments
As every planned visitor, birthday party, and shower approached in the weeks after losing Olivia, I had an overwhelming urge to cancel. I was exhausted. I didn’t want to get showered, get dressed, get ready. I wasn’t sure if I could mingle or socialize. I was afraid of triggers.

But early on I made a promise to myself to keep my commitments. It was an important practice for me to maintain relationships, merging the old me, my old life, into my new reality. I found facing my fears, and proving to myself that I could get through it empowering. Each time it felt like a victory, and a quiet way of making my daughter proud. I’d whisper to the sky, “See sweetie? Mommy can do it. Mommy’s strong. I learned that from you.”

4. Don’t create distance
In keeping my commitments, I encountered countless pregnant friends, baby showers, newborns, and full families. When our daughter was sick, the thought crossed my mind that I could not bear to be around a healthy baby. I thought about avoiding pregnant friends, declining invitations to dinner if it meant I’d have to play with children. But instead I told myself to not create distance between the people I love. Pregnant bellies, babies, children alike.

I could choose to hide from my friend’s and family’s milestones, but when would that stop? In a month? A year? The truth is, these things aren’t going to go away, and it seemed that facing my fears, encountering and embracing triggers was the healthier option for me. Sure I felt some heartache when holding a friend’s newborn son, but in the same moment I was reminded of my endless love for my daughter.

5. It’s always OK to cry
“Keeping it together” and “being strong” does not mean emotions evade you. In fact it’s perhaps the opposite. I promised to face and embrace my emotions honestly, with no shame, and no filter. That meant occasionally crying in the grocery store, and while on the phone with insurance. It meant crying when talking to my husband and crying when the wind blows just the right way. It meant a million things, but quite importantly for me it meant that it’s always OK to cry.

6. Be grateful
Be grateful that I had the honor of meeting my daughter. Be grateful that she was here for 78 days. That she was real, and that she showed us such great love. Be grateful for yesterday and for today and for every day that is to come. Be grateful for everyone in my life who shows me love and brings me joy. I was committed to being grateful for anything and everything I could name, because I really believe in the idea that genuine gratitude can be stronger than grief—even very real, very deep, very dark grief.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Whitney Guerrero

Whitney is a product manager who works at the intersection of social media and software. When their daughter Olivia Grace was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Whitney and her husband began sharing stories online of their family's journey through life and loss. She continues to write now as an angel mom, and hopes to be a voice for grieving parents. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter where she documents her delight in good quotes, great food, the ocean, and home decor.

My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born

In: Child Loss, Grief
My Baby Was Stillborn, But Still Born www.herviewfromhome.com

My baby was stillborn, but still born. In a cool white hospital room where so many had been born before. My body trembled and shook as his body worked its way out of my womb and into the hands of a doctor. He was void of breath, of sound, of movement, but he was still born. My baby was stillborn, but still lived. In the darkness of my womb. The outline of his body was visible against the darkness of the screen, his presence undeniable. The sound of his heartbeat drowned out the sound of mine as I watched his...

Keep Reading

I Am Not My Child’s Death

In: Cancer, Child Loss, Faith, Grief
I Am Not My Child's Death www.herviewfromhome.com

We are NOT what has happened to us or what this world says we are. That is not what defines us. While we are grieving parents, that is not what our whole story has to be about. Although, at times, we feel that our story is over. We ask, how do we go on and live full lives without our sweet Sophie with us? I’m still not 100 percent sure I know the answer to that. BUT the Lord says I am beloved. I am redeemed and accepted. I am holy and chosen. I am righteous and complete. I am...

Keep Reading

The Hardest Moments After Losing a Child

In: Child Loss, Grief, Motherhood
The Hardest Moments After Losing a Child www.herviewfromhome.com

Within the first three months following the death of my newborn daughter, I participated in one baby shower, attended two first birthday parties, had multiple infants in and around my home, and watched not one, not two, but five of my closest friends take happy, healthy babies home from the hospital. And in the midst of my own life-altering experience, I purchased, wrapped, and mailed a gift to every one of those new babies, because they deserved one. In the days and months after my daughter died, I didn’t run away or hide from babies at all. And this seemed...

Keep Reading

To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone

In: Child Loss, Grief, Infertility, Motherhood
To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone www.herviewfromhome.com

You are walking the hardest path anyone will ever walk—living this life without your children. Your losses have come in many shapes and sizes. You’ve lost tiny heartbeats early in the womb. You’ve screamed and sobbed through labor to deliver a silent but perfect little bundle. You’ve held a fragile infant for hours, days, weeks, or months, only to give him back to Heaven. You’ve watched your little one grow into a curious toddler and then held her a final time as disease or an accident took her away. You’ve lived a full childhood with your baby and even watched...

Keep Reading

A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven

In: Child Loss, Faith, Grief, Miscarriage
A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven www.herviewfromhome.com

Dear Mama, I know you miss me and wish you could watch me grow up. But instead, you sit in that rocking chair, tears streaming down your face, arms wrapped around the blanket that was supposed to be mine. I see you crying, Mama, wishing you could hold me. Wishing you could look into my eyes. Wishing you could hear me cry or call you “Mama”. I want you to know Jesus rocks me to sleep every night and while He does it, He tells me all about you. I know tulips are your favorite flower and that every spring...

Keep Reading

God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle

In: Child Loss, Faith, Grief
God Actually Does Give Us More Than We Can Handle www.herviewfromhome.com

I used to be someone who said, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” That was before I had faced any hardships in my life. I didn’t know who God truly is. When people are going through something hard and decide to share it, it makes people uncomfortable. It’s hard to watch others who are hurting, and it’s hard not knowing how to help when it’s someone you love. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” is a very well-meaning encouragement that I know is meant in love. I’ve said it before! But it’s not really...

Keep Reading

Why I Got a Tattoo With My Teenage Daughters

In: Child Loss, Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Why I Got a Tattoo With My Teenage Daughters www.herviewfromhome.com

“We should get a tattoo, Mom.” I laughed. I knew it was just my younger daughter, Sarah’s way of getting herself a tattoo—to go along with her nose ring, and six ear piercings. She didn’t really want me to get one. Did she? “Truth!” My oldest, more conservative daughter, Elle, chimed in. “We should all go.” What? Home from college just five minutes, maybe she was bored. I heard tattoos really hurt and she hates pain, like I do. I glared at my two daughters, now 17 and 19. They can read my mind. I knew it! There was something...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Sure How Long I’ll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal…and That’s OK

In: Cancer, Child Loss, Grief, Mental Health
I'm Not Sure How Long I'll Need an Antidepressant to Feel Normal...and That's OK www.herviewfromhome.com

I tried to wean off of Zoloft and couldn’t. And that’s OK. I had never really been aware of the world of antidepressants. My life has been relatively uneventful—with the normal ups and downs that most of us go through. I knew people on medication for depression but never understood. How can you be THAT sad that you can’t just be positive and make the best of your circumstances? How can someone be THAT unhappy ALL the time to need medication? I didn’t get it. I felt bad for people going through it. Then my 2-year-old was diagnosed with Stage...

Keep Reading

To the Young Warriors Fighting Cancer, You Are Superheroes

In: Cancer, Child, Child Loss, Health
To the Young Warriors Fighting Cancer, You Are Superheroes www.herviewfromhome.com

Most people never get to meet their heroes. I have, in fact—I have met many heroes. These heroes didn’t set out for greatness; they fell victim to a terrible disease and faced it with courage, might and bravery like I have never seen before. And when we talk about this type of battle, there is no such thing as losing. whether the battle ended in death, life, or debility, each of these heroes defeated. My heroes are the innocent children who battle cancer. I high-fived, hugged, wept over, laughed and played with my heroes for 10 years as a nurse. And you better believe I...

Keep Reading

Half of My Heart is Always Missing

In: Child Loss, Grief
Half of My Heart is Always Missing www.herviewfromhome.com

For most people, the grocery store is a place of necessity, a chore that must be completed. It may not be the most enjoyable part of the week, but the overall experience is relatively benign. For a grieving parent, it can be an emotional gauntlet; an experience that is painful and triggering. When you have lost a child, are pregnant after a loss or are parenting after a loss, the grocery store can become aisle after aisle of triggers and reminders.  That’s what it can feel like for me. Approaching those double doors is always the first test of my...

Keep Reading