dsc_0035-1abw_filteredI know for myself and a lot of other bereaved parents, that sometimes it’s very hard to be thankful for anything. The magnitude of our loss seems to overshadow everything else. It blinds us to the good things that might be right in front of us. No wonder, since what we have lost is a precious, longed for, loved child of our wombs and hearts. What is there to be thankful for when a child has died? Life seems to be a dichotomy: happy or sad, smiling or crying, thankful or thankless. If feels like there is no middle ground, and that we will spend the rest of our lives grieving as hard as we do in the beginning.

As more time passes, though, it is becoming easier to gives thanks for what I have, while still mourning for my sweet Eliana who is no longer here. I have come to understand that opposing emotions are rarely mutually exclusive. I can smile through my tears, laugh even in my sadness, and see beauty even through the pain. So, on this first Thanksgiving without my baby, I would like to share some things that I am thankful for.

I am thankful that Eliana has given me the courage to speak up, when before I would have stayed silent.

I am thankful that losing her has given me the wisdom to be quiet and just listen, when before I would have said something totally unhelpful, or even worse, have avoided the person because I just didn’t know what to say.

I am thankful that it will always be impossible now to take my other children for granted, since I know what it’s like to lose one of them.

I am thankful that I know how badly this hurts, so I can be more compassionate to others in pain.

I am thankful that so many people have received help because of Eliana-much needed items at the hospital, love and support from MISS after losing a child, food from the food bank, and the encouragement that they are not alone.

I am thankful that I now know what my priorities in life are.

I am thankful for all the people who surrounded me with love and support during the most horrible time of my life.

I am thankful for all the people who continue to help me on this journey, long after the majority believe I should be over it.

I am thankful for all the ways I have to remember my child that most people never had: photographs, hand and foot prints, an online memorial site, scrapbooks, and video clips.

I am thankful for this blog, where I can share my feelings with friends and strangers alike.

I am thankful for the month I had with Eliana at home, for the month I had with her in the hospital, and for the time I had with her after they took her off the machines.

I am thankful that I now know what I’m willing to die for, and that death is less scary, because I will get to join her.

I am thankful for all the people who have cried with me over Eliana, people who let my little girl into their hearts and allowed themselves to feel the pain of her absence.

I am thankful that at any given moment, people at the hospital, children at a school, someone across the world at their computer, or a friend right down the road, might be thinking about my baby or saying her name.

I am thankful that I was able to see, hear, feel, smell, hold, and love Eliana before she died.

I am thankful that I have a God big enough to handle my anger and fears.

I am thankful for the depth of my sorrow, because it is a testament to the depth of my love, and I’m thankful for joy, because that is also a testament to the depth of my love.

I am thankful for the knowledge of God, love, hope, and happiness, even during the times when they can’t be felt.img_23062

I am thankful that the moments of deepest despair do not last forever.

I am thankful that I had the joy of knowing such a sweet, gentle, and brave little person, my precious Eliana.

Wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving, and if it can’t be happy yet, then I wish you the comfort of knowing that the pain will not always be quite this bad. I know that is hard to believe in the beginning. But that is something else I’m thankful for: that all the people who said that to me turned out to be right, even though I didn’t believe them at the time either. Love to all of you, Deanna