Starting a Gratitude Journal

After Emily died, many people would say to me, “Just focus on your two boys. You have so much to be thankful for.” I was focusing on them. And was thankful for many blessings in life. But my baby died and I was sad. And that is okay. The same thing was said after Michael died.  

I remember different moments throughout the past year where I would laugh, or enjoy a quiet evening with my family and I would feel guilt. I shouldn’t be truly happy. I can’t be. I just lost Emily. She is missing. She is not here. The same has happened since Michael died.

It is hard to allow yourself to feel feelings of true happiness again. Your heart is broken. And probably always will be. But I guess at some point, you have to say, “I need to really start looking at all that I do have, and really focus on that.” Not that you won’t think of your baby or babies that have died. You will. Of course. Your baby or babies can also be a part of that. “I am thankful that I was given the honor to carry Emily and Michael for a small amount of time here.” If that is too hard to say, then you can find something easy to talk about, “I am thankful for a pretty, sunny day.”

Recently, I had two people that I respect a lot, suggest starting a gratitude journal. To even just write down 3-5 things everyday that I am thankful for having.  So I started one. I do not write in this journal every day, but here and there. And it helps.

Okay, so one of the people that suggested it was my counselor that I see monthly. I said the first time she mentioned, “I know it sounds good, I am just not ready for that.” I was not excited about the idea. And I even said, “I am still sad.” She said in response that it was okay if I did not want to do it. She said that you can still be sad and upset with things. And still write, if I desired to do so. Then when the second person said it one day, I thought, “Okay, so maybe that’s a sign.” That I need to start writing. And I did. Again, I don’t do it everyday, but after I put my pen to the paper, five things come naturally and easily. But again, I am still sad and miss my babies. I probably always will.

I also started a separate journal where I just write about Matthew and Ryan. And memories that I have every single day with them. I write about many things. I thought about if someday they should read my blog, what would they think. I actually thought about that before I even started it. And I thought, they will realize just how real baby loss is. And how complex it can be. And how sad it can be and is. And how their lives were forever changed too with their sister and brother dying. But I also wanted them to realize that I was still their mommy, and I was soaking in every day with them and appreciating all that we had been given.  

It has taken me over a year to start a gratitude journal since losing Emily. It had been about six months since losing Michael, that I started both of these things. It is not easy. But you will know if you are ready to start one. Just be patient with yourself. And not so hard on yourself if it isn’t the right time. And maybe something else will speak to you, to do. Maybe it will be to meditate or do yoga. Or go to the park, go on a walk, and take in nature. As hard as it is, I knew that I wanted to transform into a better person with losing Emily and Michael. I am not sure what that transformation looks like just yet, but I knew that starting these journals would help. If it’s not a gratitude journal, then see what else you need. And trust it. Everyone’s needs are different, and we’re all not at the same point in this grief and loss journey either. Whatever helps you transform, follow your heart. You’ll know what you need.