It's not an easy subject, in fact it's one most avoid, but when you have it stare you in the face twice you look at it differently. Before we went through everything that we did with the boys I'll admit I was scared of death. I didn't have the strong faith I do know and there were so many unknowns that I had. The boys taught me a lot about death, Jacob especially. He taught us that death can be a beautiful thing. Not all death is beautiful depending on the way you die but it is not something to fear. Both Ty and Jacob have taught us that there is some sort of afterlife. We cannot deny that they aren't around us at all times. Strange things happen and I know it is them. In the last to years my view on death has dramatically changed. I know longer fear it, yes it still makes me a little uneasy but only in the sense that how I will die is not known and that is a bit scary.
I never thought that at the young age of 28 my husband and I would be reserving our plot at a cemetery and desiging our headstone but given what has happened, it feels right to us. It is importnant for us to be close to the boys so we have to reserve our spot now. Death has become part of our life and it is fitting because with every life comes death.
I bring this up now because of something that happened on the weekend. It was Doors Open in London (one weekend a year certain places open their doors for the general public to see) We go every year (minus last year) This year we had the pleasure of really getting to know the boys cemetery. They have a few places that are closed during the rest of the year so it was nice to see what was inside those places. That being said, there was one place we simply should NOT have gone too. We went and saw the crematorium. We stayed for maybe a whole 45 seconds because I could not take it. It made me sick to my stomach to see it. It was death, yet again, staring me in the feace but this time it was not the face of my precious angels, it was a furnance to burn bodies (obviously thats what a crematorium is) I can't really place why it made me so sick and absolutely horrified but it did. All I could think about was them loading Ty or Jacob into the place and their little bodies burning. I almost puked.
I don't mean to sound horrific or judegmental of those who choose to cremate, that's not it at all because that is a very personal choice and honestly, it has pros and cons too. We never had the discussion whether to bury Ty and Jacob or cremate them, Stephens beliefes said bury and I'm happy we went with that, though there are cons to that as well. Our boys are buried here, we can not move them which means we will forever live near London as I simply cannot move away from their bodies. I feel it is my reponsbility to take care of their graves out of respect for them and don't get me started on the whole worrying about them being cold issue. But that was our choice and not everyone believes in that and thats okay, I just simply needed to state about how terrifying it was for me to see the place where bodiesd are burned. Trust me and take my word, DON'T go to one if you have the chance! It's the ugly side of death, the side that does scare me. I thought I'd be okay to go see it but I was not. I can't shake the feeling it gave me. I want the beautiful side of death to come back into my mind and replace this horror I encountered over the weekend.
At least I now know I should probably NEVER go to a morgue (well alive anyways) because I can only imagine how much that would terrify me and make me sick as well as cold as it is and everything that comes with it. I'm sure I would get the same feeling and I have worked hard on not being afraid of death and don't want another train derail when I see more into how dead people are dealt with. I prefer to remember Jacobs last breathe, so incredibly peaceful, so sure real, beautiful, he could not have left this world with more love, more hope, more faith and more peace, a present from him to his mommy and daddy. He and Ty both taught us the beauty of death, it is not to be feared (how you will die is a different story as no one wants to imagine suffering) but death itself can be beautiful and should be celebrated.
Many people do not understand how we were laughing and all smiles at Jacob and Ty's celebration of life (after Jacob's funeral) but the sad part was over and now we had every reason to celebrate his death. It's hard to do and it is a struggle but finding peace with it has helped us live on.It has taught us that death really can be beautiful.
So after thinking for awhile I decided I wanted to post this post. I know other grieving families can relate as I know most go through this. This is a general observation I have made through the last two years from being around many infant loss couples and in many infant loss groups online. It's very upsetting, frustrating, unfair and hurtful that people fully expect us to recognize birthdays and holidays for children who are alive. Yet, at the same time, people never acknowledge Ty or Jacob. You know they both have a birthday, even though they aren't here doesn't mean those days don't mean anything to us. In fact they have more meaning because our boys are not here. The same goes for holidays. I don't think people understand that just because our boys are not here that it means those days shouldn't be recognized or that our boys are never thought of or mentioned. Countless times I have seen the bereaved come together because only then do we feel true love and true love for our children, even though they are not here.
People say time heals but it hasn't for us yet, it just seems to get harder and harder and partly due to the above. People forget, people move on but as grieving parents, we never will. We live each day for our angels in Heaven, trying to learn to navigate this thing called life. Trying to find joy and happiness where it once was and rid the sorrow and hurt. It gets lonelier as time goes on but in that time our family extends to include people who truly care about our children and show us in so many ways. Our family dynamics change, blood does not tie us together but simple love does. Love for each other and love for our angels. That's what makes us family, a family no one could ever tear apart. A family that provides love and support and care more then blood could ever do. They are the ones we come to rely on simply because they are the only ones who acknowledge our children and make our children a part of their lives. Us bereaved families are left to cling to each other because we are the only ones who seem to care, who seem to acknowledge. I'm not saying this is the case for everyone, some blood family is great but countless times in my infant loss groups this is not the case but rather our lives and family dynamics change to adapt to this new way of living. We navigate it together through thick and thin and though our lives get busy as does any family, we always, always make time to remember our children. These are the people who send messages, cards and bake cakes on birthdays and holidays. These are the people who ask twice how we are doing. The first time just to be nice, the second time because they really want to know. These are the people who send a message to see how we are doing even though they probably have heard the answer 200 times. They do not get tired of hearing about our journey or about our children because they know, they get it.
This journey is not an easy one and when family or close friends you relied on before disappear after loss, it's nice to have people who truly care, show support and love step up to fill that void. Our children may not be here but they matter just as much as any living child on their birthdays and holidays as well. Some families wonder why bereaved parents avoid holiday gatherings its because its painful, it's painful to be around people who are suppose to love and care about you yet they do not even mention the one most important thing in your life, your child. People go on as if they did not exist when we sit there thinking about our children, what would they look like, would they like the food, what would they be getting into. We sit alone in our silence and it eats away at us. If only people would open their eyes and understand that just because our angels are in Heaven DOES NOT mean they do not deserve to be thought of, to be mentioned, to be included in some way or another. Countless bereaved families struggle through this year after year, holiday after holiday, birthday after birthday. We struggle because we have loved so much and continue to love but to us it feels like others don't share that love. It's very hurtful and very upsetting to bereaved parents to go through this.
So to all my bereaved friends, know that you are now and always will be a part of the Nelles family, you and ALL your angels because we get it, we remember, we know your children at times better then we know you because they are that important. Just because others may not mention your children, as painful as that can be, we remember.