Welcome to our Capture Your Grief project for October 2015. I am so honoured to have you here to join me on this month of mindful healing, reflection and story telling. This is the 4th year of Capture Your Grief. I host it in the month of October which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. While this project was created to bereaved parents, we welcome anybody grieving the loss of a baby, child or loved one to take part and help us raise awareness for our cause. Please take a few minutes to read what this project is about and all the guidelines.
WHAT IS CAPTURE YOUR GRIEF?
Capture Your Grief is a mindful healing project for anyone who is grieving the death of a baby or child of any age or gestation. There are 31 subjects, one for each day in the month of October. You are invited to explore each subject and share a photo that captures your own journey. You are welcome to take new photos or use ones from the past. Capture Your Grief is about exploring your grief and discovering more about your thoughts to aid in your journey of healing and personal growth. You can join the project at any time of the month.
HOW DO I TAKE PART AND WHERE?
Below are 31 photograph subjects. You may want to post your photos online on your favourite social media website like facebook, instagram or blog or you may want to keep your journey recorded in a journal and to yourself. If you are choosing to share your project online please make sure that the beginning of your photograph caption is titled with the project name, day number and subject, for example: “Capture Your Grief – Day 1. Sunrise”. Each day of the event there will be a new photo up on my facebook page and also on my instagram. Please only post your photos that are relevant to that day and subject on the thread and follow the caption guide. At the very bottom of this page is a section for you to let us know that you are taking part. All the information you give will be kept confidential. It is just for our records to see how many people took part and in what part of the world.
PROTECT YOUR HEART
This project is about your own personal healing. So do what feels right for you. Be gentle on yourself and take responsibility for your own journey. You will know if it feels right or not – follow your own intuition. Remember that by posting online, you are opening yourself up to the world and unfortunately, there are some incredibly broken and insensitive people in it. If you see a nasty comment, do not retaliate. Do not give that person permission to upset you. You have the power here. Just ignore, report and block them. If you give these people any of your attention at all, you give them exactly what they wanted. People that say nasty things about your or others are not speaking any truth about you as a person, they are simply showing the world what kind of person they really are. Remember this, once you post something online, it stays there forever. Only post what you feel completely comfortable with.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
1: Look After yourself. This is a time to explore your grief but at the same time, remember to be gentle with yourself. If at any point you feel stressed about getting your photo up for the day – you are not following the rules! Don’t set yourself a goal to finish the entire project. In fact – don’t set any goals! Just relax with the experience. This project is not about completing every subject, it is about healing, so if it doesn’t work for you, or makes you feel worse, please, listen to your own heart and do whatever feels right. You will not be letting anybody down if you cannot do all the subjects.
2: Use Your Own Photographs. This is your own, authentic experience, not Google’s. So share YOUR story. Not only is it illegal to use someone’s image without their permission (even if you just found it on google) it is also disrespectful. So share your own photographs – we want to see your story.
3: Be Respectful. If your journey or beliefs do not align with that of another person’s, that is okay. Accept that we are all different (that is what makes us so beautifully interesting and unique!) and be kind to your fellow community members. We are all grieving here. There is no room for Grief Olympics here. If people decide to be judgmental or cruel, they will be blocked from the event. Extend kindness and compassion! This way you will honour the life of your children beautifully.
OFFICIAL ONLINE EVENT + SOCIAL MEDIA
Please note that there will be many Capture Your Grief events popping up on social media. To follow the official events and pages, see below. I am not in control of any other events or pages besides my own so please be mindful of that. I will be doing some live chats on Periscope with people who have that phone app. You can find me under @whathealsyou or CarlyMarie.
You can use the hashtags #captureyourgrief and #whathealsyou.
SHARE THE LOVE
Please share this project with your friends, family and support groups. Every year we hear the same “I wish I had of known about this!” comments. So please help us to spread the word.
I will always post on facebook if there is any news or changes that are going to made with this project. If you are not on facebook much you can always sign up to receive my newsletter by clicking here.
CENTER YOUR HEART + DEDICATE YOUR PROJECT
This project is the perfect way to honour your children’s memory. The time that you take out of each day that you chose to do in this project can be a way to spend time with your children. Before you start each project, take a few moments to clear your mind and ground yourself. If you come into this project with a racing mind and heart or you feel distracted, you will not get much out of it and it will seem like more of a chore than a healing experience. Take a break, close your eyes and breathe, then when you feel grounded and calm start your project for the day and dedicate it to your children or loved ones.
The subjects for this year’s project were put together by a group of women who attended the Return To Zero Retreat in Seattle recently. I wanted to create this project with people from my community and so one night at the retreat we all sat down together to share our thoughts and ideas. My love and gratitude goes out to Tammy Blefeld, Beth Witty, Lauri L. Burns, Lisa Thompson-Boudreau, Amber Phoenix, Ashley Kimberley, Mary Moore, Jennifer Wraith, Kimberley Montgomery, Ivy Margulies and Melinda Peterson.
THE DAILY SUBJECTS
Please note for the language below in the subject descriptions, I have chosen to use the one word “children” to describe our babies and children, simply because the it is too long winded to write “baby/babies/child/children” every time. Think of the subjects below as if we were all sitting in a group together and I was speaking to you all at once. These subject descriptions are just a little more information to go with the daily subject – a guide for you. Please interpret the subjects however you want to. I look forward to seeing all of your different experiences, thoughts, stories, perspectives and interpretations. Be creative. Be authentic. Be raw and real. But most importantly – be YOU.
Day 1 – SUNRISE Let us celebrate the beginning of this healing month by waking up early to watch the sunrise wherever we in the world. This will be a beautifully, poignant way for us all to feel connected and energized for the month ahead. When you go outside to watch the sunrise this morning, don’t just snap a picture and upload it right there on the spot. Make yourself a nice cup of tea and sit down to breathe in the fresh air, the scent of the new morning and all of the colours and sounds as they transform around you. Take some time to breathe the sunrise in. Spend some time reflecting upon your children and your journey so far. If there is no visible sunrise in your part of the world because of the weather, that is okay, this is life and nature, and it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you take the time out of your day to be with us all in spirit and make space for a new beginning. Take a photo of your surroundings, no matter what the weather is like, don’t visit google to use a more pretty sunrise picture. This is about you and the place where you are right now. If you share your photo online make sure you write what State/Country you are in and the time of the sunrise. You can google the sunrise time in your part of the world and set your alarm if you are a sleepy head like me. Send some love out to everyone else in the world who is grieving the death of a child and remember those gone before us who were made to grieve in silence. We honour these people too.
Day 2 – INTENTION Set yourself a new intention to inspire your next path in grief and healing. It might be to live your life with more kindness or maybe you might intend to live your life more wholeheartedly in honour of your children. Spend some time with this one. Go and get some fresh air. What is it that you want out of this project? Whatever your new intention is, write it down with the words “I intend to ……………. in honour of my precious child/ren ……………..”
Day 3 – IN HONOUR Who are you doing this project in loving memory of? Share their name. Share their story. Share who they are to you. This is a time to shine a light on your children and tell the world about them. Honour them beautifully. A lovely idea is to create an acrostic poem with your children’s names (a word for each letter of their name) If you didn’t name your babies, you can still share your experience. What were your hopes and dreams for them? How has this experience changed you as a person? Share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.
Day 4 – DARK + LIGHT Today we are acknowledging the dark and the light sides of grief. The ugly and the beauty. The bitter and the sweet. The anger and the peace. You might want to write about the moments when everything falls apart or maybe the moments where our eyes are opened to the gifts that this journey has in store for us. Maybe you just want to write about both.
Day 5 – EMPATHY So often in this community of bereaved parents we speak about all the things that friends and family should not say to us. There are countless articles about things never to say to a bereaved parent but not as many on actual things to say to a bereaved parent. If we want to break the silence surrounding baby and child loss we need to communicate our needs of what people can do and say to help. We must educate society on what real empathy is. What does empathy look like for you. What do you wish people would have said to you? How could they have helped you better?
Day 6 – BOOKS So many of us turn to reading in the wake of the death of our children. We take solace in other people’s words, stories, journeys and wisdom. Have you read any books that have helped in this journey of healing after loss? They don’t have to be specifically about the death of a child, just anything that helped you. Share about how they helped you and what you loved about them. You can share books that help grieving children too. Please feel welcome to share links.
Day 7 – MEMORY Share a memory of your child. It doesn’t have to be a positive or negative memory. Just share whatever it is that you want or feel drawn to sharing. You are the story teller here.
Day 8 – WISH LIST What are your wishes for this grief journey? What do you need from others? It might be that you want your child to always be remembered. You may wish to educate others on grief and healing. Maybe your wish is to turn this tragedy into something beautiful. Spend some time thinking about what it is that you hope to be able to do, learn or gain from this experience.
Day 9 – FAMILY – What does your family look like today? Who is your family to you? What do they mean to you?
Day 10 – WORDS Writing is a wonderful tool for healing. When you put your pen to paper you may have no idea where you are going or where you will end up and that is the beauty of it. It is your own adventure. Find some time today to write by hand. You can write about whatever is on your heart right now. It gives you the chance to write down anything that you need to release. Do you have a poem inside you or a short story that is waiting to come out? Maybe it is just one word, that needs to be written over and over and over. Whatever it is, write as little or as much as you need to. If you cannot find the words today, you can always share something from someone else, like a quote or poem, just be sure to credit the author.
Day 11 – GLOW IN THE WOODS Today I want to honour the beautiful writers at Glow In The Woods, past and present. This was the first place I found on the internet where I could read about other parents experiences with grief. They were literally my light in the darkness. When we become bereaved, in the beginning, many of us look outwards for help. We set out in the darkness of night with a blanket and a lantern in search of others like us. Along the road we usually find someone or something and it is with that discovery that we can walk this road with understanding company and with that, we watch the sun begin to rise over our worlds again. Who was your glow in the woods? Share some resources that have aided you in your healing journey. It may be a website, charity, organization, a person/teacher/therapist/new friend etc. Whatever it is, share what is so wonderful about that resource and how it has helped you. Please feel welcome to share links so that others can benefit.
Day 12 – NORMALIZING GRIEF Often while grieving we have feelings of isolation because we fear judgement that what we are feeling isn’t normal. But it is amazing to see just how many people feel the same way. When others stand up and express how they feel through sharing their experiences, it allows us to say “Hey, I feel that way too!”. Connecting with and communicating our experiences we are able to normalize our grief for ourselves and others. So share something about your grief journey that you might feel is strange or not common. It might be something you do to remember your children or maybe it is something you fear. By sharing these parts of our stories we can educate others on the grief experience.
Day 13 – REGRETS + TRIGGERS What are some regrets that you have about your experience with grief so far? Do you believe there is a way to heal that regret? Do you have any grief triggers? Maybe it is the pregnant woman in the store or a scent that reminds you of that time in your life. Perhaps it is a sound, song, season etc. Share what pulls on your heart strings.
Day 14 – EXPRESS YOUR HEART This is the day in month where you can say whatever it is on your heart that you would like. Is there anything that you were hoping would be in this month of subjects that wasn’t? I am sure there is a bunch of things! This is your chance to share it. Find your voice. What is it that you want to express. If you are lost for words a subject that you could write about is grief myths. What does grief look like for you?
Day 15 – WAVE OF LIGHT As a wave of light makes its way around the world today, we take some time out to honour and remember our children. It is a day of sacred remembrance and a day of awareness. What does this community mean to you? Where would you be without it? What would you like to see happen in the future for this community? Share your candles of light and hope.
Day 16 – CREATIVE GRIEF There is such a deep-rooted yearning that we feel when our beloved children die. This yearning hurts so bad and yet it also inspires us to get creative to do something beautiful in memory of our children. Have you done anything in memory of your child? Maybe it is something your created for them. A tattoo or a piece of jewellery or artwork. Did you create a garden? Maybe you created an organization or a charity benefit. Maybe you took up a new practice. A new hobby. Writing, painting, dancing, reading. Whatever it is share your mementos.
Day 17 – SECONDARY LOSSES When your child dies, there are a series of secondary losses that follow. They are different for everyone. The loss of relationships, the loss of innocence, the loss of employment etc. Share about something else that you lost when your child died. This is the perfect way for us to shine a light on the grief experience.
Day 18 – SEASONS + SYMBOLS What season do you associate with your children? Is it the season that they died in? Or maybe another reason like a beautiful time you spent together. What emotions arise in you when that season comes around. What is it in that season that triggers memories and feelings for you? Is it the scent in the air? The colour of the leaves? Do you look forward to this season because you feel more connected to your children or do you dread it? Have you ever wondered what you could do to ease the fear of what that season brings up for you? Do you have a symbols that represents your child? Maybe it is a butterfly or bird etc. Share how you came to find that symbol and what it means to you.
Day 19 – MUSIC In grief we can resonate with music because it communicates the deep emotions we are feeling and cannot put into words. Sometimes there are no words that accurately describe what we are experiencing and that is why I think I find myself so often lost in sounds and melodies. Share some music that enriches your life or reminds you of your children. Is there a story behind that piece of music for you?
Day 20 – FORGIVENESS + HUMANITY Today we open our hearts to the idea of forgiveness and accepting our own humanity and the humanity of others. Even if it is just a conversation that we have with ourselves. What are your thoughts on forgiveness? True forgiveness can never be forced so if you are not feeling it – then you are not feeling it! But we can still plant a seed. Forgiving someone/yourself may take years. It is a process. When you forgive another person you are not condoning their actions, you are just accepting their humanity and releasing yourself from them. When you hold onto anger or resentment for too long, you only end up hurting yourself. It is an easy thing to know in your heart that forgiveness will help you but to actually feel that is a whole other story. What are your thoughts on forgiveness? Have you had to forgive someone in your life? How did you do it? How did you let go of resentment?
Day 21 – SACRED SPACE Do you have a special place that you visit to “be” with your children? A place that you feel connected to? Maybe it is their grave, or a beautiful garden, beach or forest. Maybe it is a special spot dedicated to them in your home, like a shrine or altar. What does this place mean to you? Why that place? If you haven’t got a sacred place that you visit to remember your children, maybe have a think about finding a beautiful place that you can visit to remember them. Or maybe you could create one in your home. It is never too late to do this. Having a sacred space for you to visit to just be, is wonderful for your soul. It gives you some time out to just allow yourself to calm your heart and reconnect with the love that you have for your children. Once you find a space, put on some beautiful music, make yourself a cup of tea and light a candle and clear the space so it is clean and new. Think about what you would like to place on your altar. Some ideas are fresh flowers, a candle, photographs, pieces of paper with your favourite quotes of poetry. An ornament that represents your child. Some people place pieces of Earth on their altars such as seashells, feathers or crystals. People of faith usually place small statues of their spiritual teachers such as Jesus, Mother Mary, Buddha etc. The beauty about your altar is that you can make it whatever you desire and it will grow, change and evolve over time. It a lovely idea to keep a photographic record of how it changes with your grief and life experience. I light a candle or some incense every morning and every night on my altar. It gives me a beautiful space to reflect, pray, meditate or just a moment to set a new intention for my day. If you are lost for ideas, you can check out my pinterest page.
Day 22 – DREAMS + RITUALS Do you have any dreams for your future? DO you dream of your children? Do you have any grief rituals? What do you do on your children’s birthdays, anniversaries or special dates. Share them today.
Day 23 – LOVE LETTER Today take some time to write a love letter. This letter can be written to anyone you like. Maybe it is a letter to yourself, a letter to a friend or family member. It could be a letter to your children or maybe an open letter to other bereaved people guiding them towards healing and beauty. Be as creative as you please.
Day 24 – CHOOSE YOUR BREATH Many of you are taking part in Franchesca Cox’s Choosing Your Breath Grief Workshop. I love her workshop because it gives a space for people to intentionally and actively work through their grief. Conscious grief work is so important if you want to create a beautiful life after loss. Have you ever sat down and really thought about where you are in your grief journey? Have you ever paid attention to your inner thought patterns? Are you stuck? Are you comfortable? Are you peaceful, angry, frustrated, hopeful? What are you feeling? Why are you feeling that way? Where do you want to go next? How will you get to that place? Are there any changes you could make in your life that would benefit your grief journey? When you start exploring the landscape of your own mind you begin to become aware of your thought patterns and you get to understand your grief more. Share your own grief discoveries. Do you feel hopeful for your future? Do you believe that grief and healing can co-exist?
Day 25 – EARTH REMEMBRANCE
Planting a tree or plant is a meaningful way to remember our children. It also gives you a spot to visit them, a place in the world. It allows their memory to be rooted into the Earth. Let our stories, hearts and children be connected and intertwined as one, by planting their memory into the Earth today. Let’s give our children a place in this world to grow. This beautiful act of remembrance not only brings warmth to our hearts but it helps the environment too. Plant a seed, flower or tree into the Earth in memory of your children. Spend some time thinking about what you would like to plant for your child. There maybe different meanings behind different plants, flowers or trees that speak to you. Maybe it is a rose, or a blossom tree that you would like to grow. You may even want to start a vegetable garden. The choices are pretty much endless. Plant whatever you can that is within your budget. If you are in a position where you are not able to do this yourself, put the word out to your friends and family and see if someone you love would be able to do this for your children. Invite your friends and family to join you to honour your children. How much love can we plant today?
Day 26 – GRATITUDE One of the greatest and powerful keys to unlocking the door to healing is having a sense of gratitude in your everyday life. It might seem ridiculous to be grateful when your grieving but if you can start practicing a little gratitude everyday, you will start noticing a difference in the way you feel about your life. So what are you grateful for today? You can list as many or as little things as you want. Think about making this a new ritual for you to practice each morning.
Day 27 – SELF PORTRAIT I invite you to be creative today. Who are you now in this present moment? What are you feeling? Have you been irrevocably changed by the death of your children? How are you different now? Do you love anything about the new you? What part of you do you want back? Your self portrait can be drawn, painted, photographed etc. If you want, it can be abstract, so get creative and show your authentic story and self.
Day 28 – REACH OUT Our world is hurting so badly right now. We need to give out more love, there needs to be more acts of compassion and kindness. I always found that when I was feeling my worst in grief, the only thing that would help was if I did something for someone else. It helped to pull me out of some very dark places. Today do something compassionate and kind for someone else. It might be as simple as lending a helping hand to someone in need, or making a donation to a worthy cause. Set an intention to spread as much love as possible today. When you help someone else out of the goodness of your heart, without expecting any acknowledgement or anything in return, you help to heal your world and other peoples worlds too. Showing compassion inspires others to do the same and so it creates a ripple effect. Keep your children in your heart and think of them when you give. How did this day of compassion make you feel? Is it something you would like to practice more often?
Day 29 – WHAT HEALS YOU? If you have ever attended one of my workshops in person it is very likely that I would have asked you this question before. So often we get caught up in the whys and what ifs. These questions can be soul destroying if we dwell in them for too long. Asking myself why my son had to die, what was the reason and what if I had of done something different caused me to fall into a dark whole. I needed to stop asking these answer-less questions and so I came up with a word for each letter of the word WHY. And so ‘What Heals You?’ was born. This question changed my life. It allowed me to rediscover my passions. I found new interests and soon enough beauty found its way into my life again. I am now able to say that my life is rich with passion, colour, story, connection, authenticity, wonder and beauty. So for today, spend some time asking yourself what is it that heals you? What brings joy to your heart? If you cannot think of anything, maybe you could revisit something that you used to love doing and go from there. After this project comes to an end in a couple of days time, keep this question with you. Ask yourself what heals you every day.
Day 30 – REFLECTION Take today to reflect on this past month. What is your relationship with grief like right now? Is it still the same? Has anything changed? What have you learned about yourself and your grief? Did you love anything about this project? What did you find difficult?
Day 31 – SUNSET To close this project, like every year, we all watch the sunset from wherever we are in the world. Be sure to capture the sky in a photograph. If there is no sunset where you are, you can still take a photo of the early evening sky. You just need to be able to get to a window. Remember to caption what State/Country you are from and the time. Thank you all for joining me on this journey. Whether you completed 1 day or all 31, I feel truly blessed to be able to have shared this experience with you all. I hope you feel it was worth it.
LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE TAKING PART