Ten years ago on September 25, I gave birth to my first child Silas Orion Gallagher. It is not a happy ending, because Silas died 10 hours after he was born due to complications during childbirth. Shocking right? I was not prepared for this type of loss. I had only experienced the loss of my grandparents – while sad- that is the natural order of things as most lived a long and full life. Now, ten years later, I almost can’t comprehend that this happened to us. The years following were full of grief, sadness and depression. Getting pregnant again was a challenge as we ended up doing 3 rounds of IVF to eventually get pregnant with Zephyr, our beautiful rainbow baby (now almost 7). How did we manage those years between the loss of Silas and the birth of Zephyr? We did it with the help of family, friends, yoga, deep breaths, therapy, music, blog post writing, a babylost community online that we are still connected to, lots of tears, lots of anger, lots of sadness. We moved through our grief by feeling it and experiencing it when we needed to. Like a boat in a storm, there is no road map to grief. It was like feeling your way through the dark with your eyes closed, one baby step at a time.
This trauma is part of our story,
and Silas will always be a hole in our heart that will remain empty. When I wrote last month about dealing with the disappointment of the cancellation of the festival we were going to, that is the kind of disappointment that most of us experience often and that we all need to learn to navigate. This sudden and horrific loss of life? This is the kind of experience we pray doesn’t happen to anyone we know and love. It’s the worst possible thing, yet unfortunately we have friends who have also gone through this type of agonizing loss. Knowing this kind of pain makes my heart break for my friends and those who experience child loss every. single. day. Maybe it’s why I feel like I need to take on so much, to be out in the world helping and giving. I just know how deep the pain could be. We got through it and want others to see they can too. We had such an incredible community fighting for us, loving us and taking care of us. It’s kind of my mission to give that back through my work with kids.
When you see us now, you wouldn’t really know we’ve been through this sort of trauma. The scars are there. The thoughts of what if creep in sometimes, but Zephyr fills the void in every possible way. We feel so fortunate, and love our little family. When I was young, all I wanted was to be a mom and I imagined a house full of kids. You can plan all you want, but life certainly doesn’t work that way. How do we get through these moments where you feel out of control and life is out of your hands? There are hurricanes, accidents, wrong turns and unfortunate choices. We think we can control it all but we can’t.
This is the part that is so challenging- the line between what we can control and what we can’t. You think you have it all figured out, you follow this road map you planned for yourself. Then something happens that throws you out of control like a boat in a storm. I always ask the kids “what is on a boat that calms it when it’s out of control?” It’s the Anchor! I give the kids these tools to navigate those moments in life that are out of their control like a boat in a storm. We all have an anchor too, it’s within us and can settle us, give us that pause. It’s our breath. Our breath is our medicine, it’s what gives us the power to make the choice of how we respond when things in our life don’t go as planned. Taking a breath doesn’t change “what is.” It changes how we respond to “what is.”
We are all on this path. We all will face loss, trauma and things beyond our control. Find your anchor and control what you can because that’s really what it’s about.
If you want to learn more about how to use YOUR anchor when you are feeling out of control like a boat in a storm, you can purchase our MYB Card Deck with all kinds of breathing exercises to get you through those moments in life that you can’t control. You can also download the 3 card preview for FREE to check it out first.
marie ackerman says
What a beautifully written article. You are so special.
Thank you for being honest and writing such a heartfelt post, and not sugar coating it. Many people who experience such a devastating loss will find comfort. And still others should know that being there for a friend suffering a loss is so important…even if you don’t know the “right” things to say. It’s better to try, than to stay away out of fear.
beautifully written- so much love to you.
laura rosin says
Lani, I am very sorry for the loss of your son. Silas and your story is full of love, loss and bravery. Your words entered my heart and I was reminded of many things….my best friend losing her beautiful five year old daughter, two friends losing children in vitro and the loss of my childhood friend Todd at age eight. Your story invites everyone to remember how fragile life is and how to anchor ourselves for the unexpected storms. I am reminded of that daily as well from the loss of my dad, who was my anchor. I am left feeling uplifted and renewed. Thank you