Welcome to Capture Your Grief for 2016. I am so honoured to have you join me on this month of mindful healing, reflection and story telling. This is the 5th year of Capture Your Grief for Pregnancy, Infant and Child Loss Awareness Month. While this project was created for bereaved parents, we welcome anybody grieving the loss of a baby, child or loved one to take part and help raise awareness for the beautiful and heartbreaking 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, artwork, video or written word that captures your own journey. Capture Your Grief is about becoming more present and conscious in your grief experience so that you may learn more about yourself and hopefully discover more ways of healing to aid you in your journey of grief and personal growth. It is also my hope that through the magic of social media you will find and connect with new people and make some beautiful friendships. You can join the project at any time of the month and there is no pressure to take part every single day. You can pick and choose your subjects. So do what feels right for you.
HOW DO I TAKE PART AND WHERE?
Below are 31 subjects (Please feel welcome to copy and share the subjects image!). You may want to post your photos/videos/artwork/words online on your favourite social media website like facebook, instagram or maybe on your blog. If you are more of a private person 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 Dedication”. Each day of the event there will be a new photo and video up on my facebook page and also on my instagram. Only share online what you feel completely comfortable with.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
1. Look After Yourself. 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. Treat the time that you take out of each day that you choose to do this project as 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.
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 images) it is also disrespectful. So share your own photographs – we want to see your story.
3. Be Kind + 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 in this project. Remember you are doing this project in honour of your children so make them proud by extending kindness and compassion!
OFFICIAL SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES
Please note that there will be many Capture Your Grief events popping up on social media. To follow the official pages, see below. I am not in control of any other events or pages besides my own so please be mindful of that.
This year I will be chatting with you all live from my facebook page every day for the month of October! You can receive notifications on when I go live by clicking on the like button on my facebook page and by clicking “On (live videos)” under “Notifications”. Each video will stay on my facebook page for you to watch in your own time.
Please use the hashtags #captureyourgrief and #whathealsyou to spread the word about the project and have others to find you. 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!
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 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 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.
1. SUNRISE DEDICATION Let us celebrate the beginning of this healing month by waking up early to watch the sunrise wherever we in the world. Step outside into the fresh air and take some time to breathe the sunrise in. Watch all of the colours of your world transform before your eyes. Spend some time reflecting upon what you want your intention for this month to be. Maybe even come up with a word for your intention so that you can write it down and revisit it each day. If there is no visible sunrise in your part of the world because of the weather, that is okay, this is life and mother nature. 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 photograph of your sunrise where you are right now and if you post it online share 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.
2. WHO THEY ARE | Share about your beautiful children today. Who are they? When were they born? How long did you have them for? What is their name? Share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with.
3. WHAT IT FELT LIKE | In honour of this month of awareness today we give the outside world some insight into what it is like to be a bereaved parent by sharing what a certain experience that you had during your grief journey. This can be a positive or negative (or both) experience. Some experiences that you could share about are what it felt like to hear the words “There is no heartbeat” or maybe you had an experience where some did something very special in memory of your children. Pick a moment and share how it made you feel.
4. SUPPORT CIRCLES | Have you felt supported in this journey of grief and healing? Maybe it is a friend, family member or organization that has been there for you. Share how they have helped you and let them know how grateful you are. Please feel welcome to post links if you would like to share about a charity or support group.
5. THE UNSPOKEN | Normalizing grief is so important and that I why today I am calling upon those who feel brave enough to speak about the nitty gritty side of grief. 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 by or maybe it is something you fear about the future. 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!” and the fear of feeling like we are crazy is lifted and in some cases embraced!
6. EMPATHY | So often when someone experiences the death of a baby or child, family and loved ones fail miserably at empathy because they try to fix what has happened. They usually do this because they either love you so much or just can’t deal with it themselves so they say things like “God needed another angel. It was probably for the best. At least, blah blah blah” They are desperate to show you a silver lining when there really isn’t one. As we know these kinds of words rarely ever help, in fact they more often than not make us feel even worse. So today you are invited to educate people on the art of empathy. We don’t need to turn this into a vent about what not to say, but rather, what to say and what they can do that will actually comfort the grieving. What does empathy look like for you?
7. MYTHS | Have you discovered any myths about this grief experience?
8. BEAUTIFUL MYSTERIES | To me, my son is a beautiful mystery. I gave birth to him and yet I never knew him. I sometimes allow myself to imagine that he is alive in another time and space and that we are all together. If it is not too painful, allow yourself to imagine who your child would be now. What would they be like? What would they be passionate about. Tell a wild, beautiful story about them.
9. SURRENDER + EMBRACE | Completely surrendering myself to grief on multiple occasions has allowed me to release my emotions. The hurt, the anger, the unfairness. I was always afraid to giving in to how I was feeling. Like I had to hold it together for my family or if I did break down, I would not be able to bring myself back together. But I always did and afterwards I felt lighter. I was able to flow with grief rather than fight with it. I have screamed into pillows, cried myself to sleep and I am amazed at how much tension I was able to release. Surrendering to whatever it is you are feeling is one of the most powerful experiences of being present and in the moment. To sit and allow yourself to feel sadness is very profound. How do you feel about surrendering to grief? Have you done it before or are you more the type that just keeps carrying it all inside? Does the idea of falling apart frighten you? Share your thoughts.
10. SYMBOLS + SIGNS | Do you have a symbol that represents your child? Maybe it is a butterfly, tree or bird etc. Share how you came to find that symbol and what it means to you. Do you believe your children send you signs at all? Have you had any? How did they help you?
11. CREATIVE HEARTWORK | Have you done anything special to memorialize your child? Maybe you got a tattoo or commissioned a piece of art to be created. Maybe you have a special piece of jewellery to remember them by or created a garden.
12. LEMONS + LEMONADE | Have you made anything positive come from this unimaginable loss? Did you find any blessings among all the sadness and sorrow?
13. DEAR WORLD | What is on your heart that you want the world to know about your kind of grief? This is your day to choose your own topic. Some topic ideas are pregnancy or infertility after loss. Anxiety or PTSD. Forgiveness. Trust. What is it that you want to talk about?
14. BELIEFS + SPIRITUALITY | Has the death of your child strengthened or changed your beliefs? Share as much or as little as you like. Please be respectful to the beliefs of others today. We are all in this together and our differences are what make this project so beautifully interesting. Choose kindness.
15. WAVE OF LIGHT | October 15th Wave of Light is a very significant day of remembrance and awareness of our community calendar. At 7pm you are invited to light a candle to honour and remember all of the babies and children who have died. If everyone does this, there will be a continuous wave of light around the world for 24 hours. Share your candles and children with the world.
16. FULL MOON RETREAT | We are now half way through our Capture Your Grief experience so I wanted to take some time to retreat a little and give everyone some rest from all the thoughts and feels. This evening there is going to be a beautiful full moon rising. Google the time that it rises in your city and take some quiet time out to watch it. Share a photo of the moon rising in your part of the world and make sure you share where you watch it from. Today take regular moments out to stop what you are doing and turn your attention to your breathing. Place one hand over your belly and the other over your heart. Close your eyes, breathe deeply as you feel your own heartbeat. I will be hosting a live guided meditation on facebook and everyone is welcome to join in. I will post the time of the meditation closer to the day.
17. 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 maybe have a think about finding a beautiful place or space to remember them. You could create one in your own home or garden. If you would like to create a space in your home or garden, put on some beautiful music, make yourself a cup of tea and light a candle. Clear the space so it is clean and new. Think about what you would like to place in this space. Some ideas are fresh flowers, a candle, photographs, pieces of paper with your favourite quotes of poetry, an ornament that represents your child. The beauty about your space is that you can make it whatever you desire and it will grow, change and evolve over time. It’s 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 in my space. If you are lost for ideas, you can visit my pinterest page.
18. HEALING THERAPIES | Have you discovered any healing therapies in your life after loss? Please share what has helped you.
19. GRIEF RITUALS | Creating rituals in grief do wonders for healing your heart. Do you have any grief rituals? Maybe something you do on special dates like birthdays or anniversaries? How do these rituals help you?
20. GRATITUDE | Telling people to be grateful while they are grieving is kind of absurd. You cannot force a person to feel gratitude, just like you cannot force someone to feel forgiveness. You either feel it or you don’t. I remember when I started on this journey of grief, people always said count your blessings and be grateful for what you have. I remember wanting to scream in their faces! But I took note of what they were saying and I started keeping a gratitude journal. I started writing down anything I felt grateful for and before to long gratitude lifted me out of a dark pit of despair. What are thoughts about gratitude? Do you feel it and if so, share something you are grateful for.
21. RELATIONSHIPS | How have your relationships changed? Did you lose any? Have you made new friendships?
22. PEARLS OF WISDOM | Do you have any words of wisdom to share that you have found helpful? It could be from a writer, speaker, philosopher, maybe even a friend. Feel free to share quotes, poetry, song lyrics or just ideas. I invite you to share a message of hope for all the newly bereaved parents and loved ones out there.
23. SOUNDS, SEASONS + SCENTS | There are reminders of our children everywhere. We find them in songs, in scents and different seasons. Share the things that bring you closer to your children. Feel free to share a song that reminds you of them.
24. CONSCIOUSLY BECOMING | So many of us split our lives into a timeline of before and after our children died. Who were you before your children died? Who are you now? 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? Do you want and old part of you back? Who are you becoming?
25. I AM | Finish these 5 sentences
I wish ________________________
I remember _______________________
I could not believe _____________________
If only _______________________
I am _____________________
26. #WHATHEALSYOU | Turning the WHY into What Heals You? has been one of my greatest healers. Whenever I found myself asking “why did this have to happen. Why me? Why him?” etc etc I started asking myself what heals me? I revisited passions of mine and spent a little bit of time each day giving those passions my attention. Before too long, my life started becoming beautiful again. Share about what heals you and if you are not sure, have a think about what it is you ar passionate about. What heals you if often hidden there.
27. FAMILY IS FOREVER | Your child is a part of your family forever. There will never come a day when you are no longer their parent. Until the end of time, you are family. Share about your family today. Who would be in your family portrait? Remembering that family does not have to be blood relatives.
28. SELF COMPASSION | Self Compassion is integral to healing your broken heart. You can start to practice more self compassion by showing yourself a little more love and care. Do you have any self-care practices? What are your thoughts on taking care of yourself.
29. GIVE AWAY YOUR LOVE | One of my greatest healers when it comes to mending my own broken heart has been sharing kindness with strangers. Today you are invited to perform an act of kindness. Spread kindness wherever you go today. In all your interactions, be an example of love and compassion and see if it helps your heart. You are welcome to share what you did or you can keep it private and just share how it made you feel. It is completely up to you.
30. MY PROMISE TO YOU | I made a promise to my son a few years ago to live my life to the fullest in honour of him. I have succeeded and failed at that promise many times but what matters most is that it has helped me to hold onto love when there is only darkness and to always try my best to make him proud of me. What promise would you like to make to your child?
31. SUNSET REFLECTION | We have come to the end of this Capture Your Grief experience so take a big breath and a long sigh. Thank you so much to everyone who has taken part this year and especially for allowing me the grace to grieve and take my own time with posting my daily subjects. Everything kind of fell apart at the beginning of this month when the little baby that I didn’t even know I was carrying, died. Everything is kind of off balance at the moment including my physical health so I just want to let you all know that I really have appreciated you support and love during this time. On this last day, take some time out to watch the sunset from wherever you are in the world and reflect on this last month. How do you feel? What have you learned? What did you dislike? What did you like?
Sending you all so much love and healing and growth as you continue to live your lives without your precious children. Towards the end of November we will be running a self-care project for people to join to help get them through the holiday season. Please sign up for my newsletter so that you do not miss out on any news.