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Scandalous Sharing Solace

View of metropolitan city through a hotel room window. Pink stuffed turtle and urn sit on the ledge.
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This picture, and the story surrounding it, is possibly the most scandalous image I’ve ever taken. Can’t you tell?

For those new here, you might need a bit of backstory: Even though my daughter died just after she was born, in my mind, she is always an infant – and – whatever her ‘would be’ age is {2024 marks her 14th birthday}. As a teenager, no sane ‘real parent’ would leave their child home alone for days on end…at least I hope not. So, when I travel via car she [and her pink turtle] come with me. When I travel by plane she goes to grandma’s house. {There’s a story around that too but it’s another story for another day.}

Most people know that Las Vegas is my happy place {there’s a story there too – please see above}. I go to Vegas frequently – and have even driven the 1,400 miles there or back – but never there AND back. Last September, for the first time in my life, I drove to and from Las Vegas…to attend a conference. [And I did it alone.] So, last September, for the first time ever – I had the chance to take my daughter with me to Vegas…my happy place…the place that:

  • Her daddy and I got engaged – then went back a year later and
  • Got married
  • Her legacy, Sharing Solace, was first conceived
  • Her parents have spent hundreds of hours dreaming of the life they wanted for her before she was born, and
  • Took respite from their grief after she died

I was excited to take a Mommy/Daughter road trip – and to one of the most special places in my life.

Now, even when she does travel with me she rarely come out of the suitcase – she doesn’t travel in her own ‘private accommodations’ any longer. The only ‘personal accoutrement’ that comes with her is her pink turtle {another story, another day}. But this time was special! We were going to her Mama’s favorite place in the whole world […even if mom was going for work…]!!

Madelyn proudly sat in the windowsill surveying the city that has brought her parents so much joy – and helped them through some of the saddest and toughest days of their lives.

Given my ‘line of work’ and the mission of Sharing Solace – I occasionally told people that Maddie had come with me and how special it was to be able to bring her. And after a few adult beverages, I might have even joked that I needed to ‘hurry back to the room’ since I ‘locked her in there 15 hours ago and don’t know what kind of trouble she’d gotten herself into’ {my way of ‘humorously’ ending happy hour when everyone else seemed to just be getting started}.

I even took the above picture to commemorate our first – and quite possibly our last – trip to sin city and added it to her grandmother’s digital photo frame.

This trip was in September – 6 months ago. Recently {like within the last 2 weeks} I’ve been chided by two different people [almost losing a working relationship and a personal relationship] AND been told how sweet and special that interaction was…all by three different parties I truly respect.

Clearly I felt some cognitive dissonance hearing all of this – and so closely together. Was I being guilted out of my own grief? Was I being gaslit? Am I really not able to ‘move on’? Or, was my unique way of integrating my loss into my life just so foreign to ‘outsiders’ that it was uncomfortable for them to experience?

I truly took a deep and hard look at my emotions, thoughts, and actions…

After a lot of deliberating I determined a few key things:

  • My actions do not negatively impact anyone else – either inside my immediate circle or society as a whole
    • Grandma does not seem put out by having an extra decoration on her mantle for a few days.
  • ‘Staying with Grandma’ is only for overnight travel – she stays home for day trips. Madelyn isn’t always being ‘watched’.
  • My ability to travel and have new experiences is not hindered by my love or actions towards Madelyn {IE. I do not not travel because Madelyn cannot go with me.}
  • Some may see it as a minor inconvenience to transport Madelyn – either in my suitcase or to her grandmother’s house. {Though, even after my reflection, I see it as an act of ongoing love.}

Is it still crazy? Some may see it that way. Am I not ‘getting over it’? Absolutely not, I am happier, calmer, and more pulled together then I think I’ve ever been – especially knowing Maddie is ‘being taken care of’.

And – I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:

I feel it is my duty to honestly share my experience with grief to allow and invite others to experience their grief however best suits them.

…Actually, I feel anyone who has experienced true grief has a duty to share their honest experience for the good of society…but I’ll start with me…

If all ‘new grievers’ hear is that they’re only allowed to be sad until the 1 year anniversary – then they must be unconditionally happy and unaffected by their loss; they will truly begin to believe they are crazy [because *I* thought I was crazy].

You don’t have to LIKE what I do. You don’t even have to respect how I do it. But, unless I am truly causing you physical or emotional harm please keep your nose outta my business…and I will do my best to do the same.

Do others get ‘all up in your business’ and tell you how to grieve? Is there something special you do when you travel for your loved one that other may see as ‘crazy’? Please share – help me add some normalcy around life-long grieving.

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