3 Birthdays Without You

This was written just prior to Connor’s birthday in March…

I have been struggling with this for weeks. Connor’s birthday is just a few days away. He is forever 24. He would be 27 this year. That in itself is difficult to say. Kids grow up so fast. Time flies by. Blink and they are out of diapers, walking, driving, graduating high school and out on their own. That is where his time ended – out on his own. No marriage. No children.

This is the third birthday without my precious son Connor. Year one was just 3 months after he took his life. His birthday was surreal. We were confused and did not know what to do. We came together as a family. We needed to be close and support one another.

Year 2 – we got together again and had his favorite foods: tacos and mac and cheese. Our shock had worn off. We had made it through the year of firsts. Even though we got together to recognize his birthday, I felt like he was the elephant in the room. The air was heavy. It felt weird. It was not until everyone was leaving that he was brought up. I broke the ice and did not want his memory to go unrecognized. It was awkward. My heart hurt.

I do not want this year to be a repeat of what I felt last year.

So much has changed in the last year. My oldest daughter has a 10-month-old son, 3-year-old daughter and fiancé. My youngest has been working through her own grief and making great progress. I am so proud of them, how they are discovering their life’s purpose, focusing on what they want, know where they are going and have plan on how to get there.

I started and finished writing Life After Child Loss. Writing was cathartic. It helped me process my grief. I also have been intentional with my healing, working with a personal development coach, becoming a grief coach myself and helping other grieving moms.

All these changes and growth within my family has moved us forward in our loss journey with different ways to grieve and new expectations. We are approaching Connor’s birthday from different viewpoints.

Connor’s birthday is 6 days after his younger sisters. As we celebrated her birthday this week, an effort was made to make her day fun and filled with love and joy. We wanted to make sure her day was not diminished by the shadow of Connor’ death.

My oldest daughter does not feel the need to “celebrate” her brother’s birthday. When she first shared that with me, I was stunned. “What do you mean? You don’t want to get together and celebrate?’ When she explained why, it made sense and I saw her point of view. She wanted to get together with one of their mutual friends and make Connor’s favorite pie, blueberry of course, and acknowledge him that way.

As Connor’s mom, my needs and grief is entirely differently. In my heart I wish the girls felt the same way. I wish they wanted to be together. Although it breaks my heart, that is not the way his birthday will be recognized. I am doing my best to understand. I am trying not to judge. I cannot impose my grieving expectations on how they grieve. I recognize, I need to do what is right for me.

Connor loved the outdoors, so I plan to take a long drive into the mountains, take a hike and spread some of his ashes. This will be a time of reflection, introspection and yes celebration. I will celebrate his birth and his life. I will do this without guilt for myself. I am filling my needs and not doing harm to others.

This is a touch balance though – between needing support and letting others do what they need. I know this much; it will work out. We will make it through the day. We will heal. Connor is not forgotten, just remembered in different ways.

Me, “I love you to the stars and back”.
Connor, “Times three”.

If you are ready to understand your grief, schedule an appointment with me today.

If you are ready to understand your grief, schedule an appointment with me today.

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