Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1 year

Just one straight and narrow way, at the end of which, though we arrive trailing tears, we shall at once be “drenched in joy.” - Elder Neal A. Maxwell

So we made it. It was true that the anticipation was worse than the actual day. The night before was actually harder for me in some ways. But the day of, I really didn't feel that differently...I was sad, but I'm always sad when I think about not having Gavin. Throughout the day I would cautiously assess my emotions to see how I felt...Hmmm. Yep, today sucks. Just like every other day! Time was still slipping away, life was still charging on...and Gavin was still not here.

The kids stayed home from school with us and we slept in late, went out for breakfast, bought way too much dessert to take home, and took another long nap. Later that evening we went down to the cemetery to plant some grass seeds on Gavin's grave (I hate saying that). But surprisingly, there was already grass grown over the entire thing. It was sort of comforting, I hated seeing that rectangle of dirt...but it was also disconcerting. You couldn't even tell he was there anymore. It made me really want to finish his headstone. We cleaned up the flowers, and left some yellow and green butterfly decorations. Then Andre and I layed in the grass and watched the stars come out while the kids ran around and played.

Later that night we watched the picture montage video that my cousin made for Gavin's funeral. Andre and I hadn't seen it before, since it was playing out in the foyer. The kids remembered it however, and had been asking to watch it for the last 6 months. Andre and I didn't really want to because we knew it would hurt, but we did anyway. It was really, really hard. All of us cried through the entire hour long video.

Let me tell you what almost hurts worse than losing a child...watching your remaining children sob uncontrollably because they miss him so much. My heart truly shattered. In that moment I hated God so much...I didn't even care about my hurt could He do this to such innocent, loving children?? How could He let them hurt so much at such a tender, young age?? And when my kids hurt, I get angry!! I think He understands. The feeling didn't last long, but its still so hard to understand why... How do you even begin to explain something like that to a child who just loved their brother with all their heart and soul? You can't. I almost turned the video off a few times because I just couldn't bear to see them hurting like that anymore, but they begged me to leave it on.

Afterwards, Andre and I tried to comfort them as best as we could figure out. We cried some more, hugged some more, and discussed what they remembered about the day Gavin died. Mostly I just tried to listen to them. When they finally stopped crying, we drew pictures and wrote letters to Gavin. Joenick ended his with "please come back soon"...

But even with all that, I never felt that terrifying, uncontrollable, black hole feeling. No nightmares. Just sadness. I did find myself occasionally checking the clock and thinking back to what we had been doing at that time...but I wasn't gripped by the trauma of what we went through that day. I think the therapy we have been going to helped a LOT with that. I'm so glad we were able to get through most of the sessions before this day came.

Thank you so much to all our friends who stopped by to check on us and to drop off cards, etc. It helps to not feel so alone in this. We also received some emails of flowers already planted for Gavin, and donations towards the wagon!

Monday, September 21, 2009


There's been a CHANGE in plans...we went to buy flowers today and apparently Fall flowers won't be ready for another 1-2 weeks. There was pretty much nothing to choose from. SOOOOO, after much thought we've decided to just combine the two events into one.... TOMORROW is cancelled, and we'll plant flowers, eat cupcakes, collect toys, etc all on Gavin's birthday instead, in two weeks: Tuesday, Oct 6.

SORRY for the last minute change, but I think this will work out much better anyway. It was getting a little stressful planning two parties. :P We hope to see you all in two weeks!!! :)

The Spragues

Honoring Gavin + his 2nd Birthday
Tuesday, October 6th
6:00pm-7:00pm "come and go"

We are going to have a birthday party and toy drive for Gavin's 2nd Birthday. Everyone is invited to stop by our house to eat a birthday cupcake, plant a flower, and donate an unwrapped toy to be donated to Banner Desert Children's Hospital!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


We have figured out what we would like to do for the 1 Year Anniversary of Gavin's "Angel Day", and for Gavin's 2nd Birthday (only two weeks later). Anyone, and I do mean anyone- friends, family, blogger friends, hospital friends, etc, is invited to help honor our sweet little boy!

Gavin's 1st Angel Day
Tuesday, September 22nd

We are going to plant a tree for Gavin in our front yard, and also green and yellow flowers in our flower bed (Gavin's colors!). We will be starting at 5:00pm and going until 7:00pm-ish. Anyone is welcome to stop by our house, help plant a flower and eat some angel food cake! Just "come and go" me if you need directions. If you are unable to make it, or would like to honor Gavin on your own, too, we are asking those who want to, to plant some green and yellow flowers at your own house. (I would love to get pictures of them in my email!) :)

Gavin's 2nd Birthday
Tuesday, October 6th

We are going to have a birthday party and toy drive for Gavin's 2nd Birthday. 6:00pm-7:00pm, "come and go". Everyone is invited to stop by our house for a birthday cupcake and to drop off an unwrapped toy to be donated to Banner Desert Children's Hospital. They use these toys to give to children during their stay (which is SO appreciated- its so hard keeping kids entertained and happy in those little rooms 24/7, especially when you are there for a week or two!) and then the kids get to take the toy home with them. They also use them for Andrea's Closet, a program started by another AZ family who's little girl passed away of cancer. They have a closet full of toys where the kids get to pick a toy to take home on their last day.

We are also going to be donating a wagon to the children's ward in memory of Gavin (he loved those wagons SO much!), if you'd rather donate a few dollars towards that. I am pretty excited about the wagon...since it has a canopy on the top, the kids will be able to go outside! (I remember always wanting to walk around outside with Gavin, but we never made it past the courtyard because the sun was just too bright and in his eyes). The wagon will cost $145.00, including tax. His paypal account is still open, so donations can be sent online to (Any extra money will go towards purchasing more toys.)

I also wanted to mention that anyone is welcome to visit Gavin's grave whenever...we don't mind if others leave items there for him either. (I don't know that anyone would want to, but I just wanted to say it in case maybe someone ever did?) I know we all loved that little boy. :') You can go to the office at the Mesa Cemetary and ask for a map & directions, or just turn left on row 11 and its towards the end on the right handside, right below my dad's headstone. (there isn't a headstone for Gavin yet, but we're working on it).

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The last couple of weeks have been really hard. I can feel the waves getting stronger as it gets closer to the 22nd. I liked to think I was just sitting on the shore observing them, but now they are starting to crash all around me. I can feel the undertow lurching around my body, threatening to pull me back out to that vast, dark, deep ocean.

Its frightening...these emotions are so powerful and I feel weaker and weaker against them. I try to keep telling myself the anticipation will turn out to be worse than the actual day. I try to keep myself busy and distracted. But whether I mentally acknowledge it or not, my body and spirit feel it coming. Its looming over everything I do. My patience has been short, my anger quick to ignite, and over all is a dark depression. My body feels weighted down. Inside I feel panicked...everything is moving too fast again...the helplessness, the hopelessness, the fear. He just needs more time...

I don't know what to do on that day. What do you do? What do you do on the day your baby died?! There is no manual for things like customary rituals or ceremonies. Will we want to be alone? Will we want to be around family and friends? Should we do something to acknowledge it? Should we go to the cemetery? Or should we try to ignore it? Should we go somewhere far away? I just don't know.

At first, I think we should do something special. But then a part of me revolts...NO! I just want to feel horrible!!! I want everyone else to feel horrible, too!!! Its a horrible, horrible thing that happened and everything that day should be HORRIBLE!!!

But then instantly I think of my little perfect angel baby...and the screaming inside quiets to a whisper...your sweet baby boy. And its decided. I have to do something to honor him. Something special. I just don't know what yet.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about this lately. Its almost been one year since Gavin died. I've spent a lot of time looking back over the last 11 months and how things have progressed, and regressed, and changed. What stands out to me, is how strange (and frustrating) it is that so many people seem to think a grieving person has a choice in how, or how long they grieve. That if they just had more faith, more humility, more sanity, more would somehow not be "as bad" or last "as long". I hear accounts from the other angel baby moms that I know, and my heart hurts for them. Most of them have had searingly, horrible comments made to them about their grief. They've come from friends, family, church members and even Bishops....those in their lives who should be the most sensitive to their pain. Its so confusing to me that something like grief, something we will ALL go through at some point in our life, is so misunderstood by our current society.

Thankfully, I haven't had any instances quite as bad as theirs. Almost all of our friends and family members are so patient, understanding and loving towards Andre and I. They make us feel safe in expressing our feelings, no matter how crazy or scary those feelings are. They let us work through our thoughts without worrying that we will be judged. They give us permission to feel and think what we need to, and they love us no matter what. Its the most valuable thing anyone can do for us. One of the most important things in the healing process is the allowance to feel, and to have those feelings validated.

However, I have occassionally received negative impressions from others. I'm sure a few people read my blog and think some of things that I write aren't "healthy". I'm sure a few probably think all the above...that my grief must be abnormal, that surely other parents who go through this don't take it "so hard". That I shouldn't "allow" certain things to bother me anymore, and that they shouldn't have to be careful of what they say or do around me anymore. That I must be wallowing, or not trying hard enough, or I need to be more humble, pray more, read scriptures more, go to the Temple more. Or that I need to just get over it and force myself to move on. I know this (and it hurts). However, I'm glad those who do think these things at least have had the sense not to say them outright to my face! For that I'm thankful. (a little sad, right?)

The "funny" thing, is what I write on here is soooo censored. I am thinking and feeling things a million times worse than anything I've ever written on here. I usually only write after the storm has blown through, and I've typed and retyped a dozen times. But I can confidently assure everyone that everything I have thought and felt is indeed quite normal for a grieving mother. I have about 20 books on the subject sitting on my bookshelf that all attest to that (yes, even the ones from the LDS bookstore)- its pretty much standard textbook. Normal, natural, and most importantly, necessary. The process of grieving is not just emotional, its physiological. The shock, the numbness, the conflicting thoughts and feelings, the guilt, the circular reasoning...these are all things the brain and body are hardwired to do when faced with such trauma. Its how you survive such immense, physical pain. Its not just "feeling sad" and "missing" your loved one. Its a series of natural responses.

This is reassuring to me most of the time (I'm not crazy after all!)...its only when I start to feel others' judgement that my defenses start to cave in. I'll be trying so hard to take one step forward, and thinking that I'm doing so much better, and then I'm shoved two steps back. Its hard enough having to grieve without others making you feel like you're doing it wrong. (seriously, how hopeless do you have to be to mess that up?!) One of the books I have says that in some ways, the second year is even harder than the the first, because even though some of the pain may be subsiding, most people no longer give you permission to feel and grieve anymore. They are done feeling uncomfortable, sad, and scared because of your loss. They are done being sensitive in the things they say and do around you. They get impatient and frustrated and want you to go back to being "normal". They want to forget about it, focus on their own lives, and move on. How incredibly hurtful and scary for those grieving! There is no magic switch that automatically turns off at one year (or five years, or ten years...)! And no matter how much times passes, there will ALWAYS be moments when the tide comes crashing in and the tears fall. Knowing that other angel baby moms have had such harsh judgement against them makes me so sad...for them, for me, for anyone else grieving a loss. One of the hardest parts of grieving is having to endure the sharp, pointy barbs that others unintentionally (and intentionally and seriously misguided and ignorant) throw our way, especially when its done by those we trusted.

I know it must be hard for those on the outside looking in. Those grieving the loss of a child don't have any visible markings. I have no gaping, bleeding wounds. I have no scars. I have no bandages or crutches. I have no x-rays to prove my injury. I have no prescription to validate my pain. I have no doctor in a white coat telling those around me that I must be allowed to do this, and I can't be allowed to do that, and that it will take 'x' amount of months to heal through a very specific process. And yet, I have been physically injured. Was Gavin not of my own flesh and blood? Was he not a part of my physical body for 9 months? Did I not feel his heart beating next to mine, his breath upon my skin, his body clinging to my side every day for a year? He was a part of me...mind, spirit and body. You may as well have cut off my leg when he died. I feel the emotional, spiritual and physical loss every day. I hurt physically.

It makes me think...if I had been in a horrible accident, if I had lost a leg...would people treat the healing process as negatively? I think if I had lost a leg, nobody would question the need for years of physical therapy to learn how to cope with the loss. Nobody would eye me suspiciously if I continued to struggle to walk for the rest of my life. Nobody would judge my crutches as something that was "holding me back". Nobody would second guess my faith by the length of my healing. Nobody would think I couldn't run a marathon just because I wasn't trying hard enough. They wouldn't say "Don't feel pain, you have the gospel!" or "Don't struggle to walk, you'll be made whole during the Ressurection!" or "You don't need surgery, the Atonement will heal you!" Its laughable, right? Its asinine, actually! And yet these are the very things people think about the healing process for those grieving a very real, and a very physical, loss of a child.

When someone loses a child, a child...some people second guess, they judge, they question, they doubt! They doubt the validity of your ongoing pain! They judge the amount of time necessary to grieve! They second guess your faith if you continue to outwardly struggle. They assume you aren't praying enough, you aren't humble enough, that you must be doing something wrong to still be healing. That its abnormal and unnatural. They decide you are just choosing to dwell on it and that its unhealthy. They decide they must confront you, they must shove your loss in your face and make you accept it, and then they must force you to get over it. The very words make me cringe...and yet this is what is being done when others judge someone's grief. How ignorant to think that they know how you should be grieving, when they haven't ever lost a child! When they have no idea what it feels like! When they haven't even read any books on the subject! Losing a child is horrible, and as such, you are going to feel horrible!

When good things happen to someone, no one raises an eyebrow when they feel good. When someone gets engaged, people don't say "Don't feel good, 50% of marriages end in divorce!". If someone gets a promotion, people don't say "Don't be happy, you'll probably get fired!" But when something bad happens, its "Don't feel bad, you'll have your son in the Ressurection!" and "Don't be unhappy, he's not in pain anymore!". Its okay to feel bad when something bad happens. Its okay for a grieving person to feel sad, angry, confused. At times its okay for them to feel hatred or bitterness or doubt or fear. They're just feelings, and once felt, expressed and validated...its a whole lot easier to work through those feelings. A grieving person needs a safe place to express those actually say what they are feeling and thinking outloud, without any eyebrows raising...just unconditional love.

There is a real process to grieving and healing from a loss. Your mind, your body, and your spirit all must go through specific things to heal, and its not something that happens in a few months, or even a year. Everyone who grieves must follow this course. You don't have a choice. You can't speed it up or skip certain parts. It doesn't matter how spiritual or how smart you are. You can't outsmart it or outpray it. Your mind and body go through very specific responses...numbness, disbelief, anger, avoidance, may not be in a certain order, and its not the same for any two people, but what it is, is NORMAL and NATURAL and NECESSARY. If there's anything that anyone takes away from this blog, I hope its this....if you know someone grieving, just listen and love. Don't try to convince or explain or justify, don't judge, don't doubt, don't set timelines, don't force, don't push. Just LISTEN and LOVE. That's all we need. Thats all I need.