I Feel Your Pain

I am sharing this post as part of a blog series I guest write for– an organization called STONES. I was asked to share about my journey through grief. In case you don’t know what a STONE is, I am going to give you a quick recap.  A
stone is a physical representation of hurtful words, self-defeating mindsets, insecurities
and personal tragedies. We all have STONES, although we do not get to choose which
ones life throws at us–like in the case of personal tragedies.

Until two and half years ago I didn’t have many stones in my life. I was a pretty confident person who felt like she could do anything. I didn’t really struggle with poor self-image, anxiety, or debilitating fear. That all changed after a world-tilting loss. My husband and I lost our firstborn daughter unexpectedly in utero. One day she was alive, the next day she was gone. I will never forget the moment our Doctor told us there was no heartbeat. My heart literally stopped, and the wave of emotions hit my husband so hard he almost threw up. That’s the raw stuff of life, and our hearts were splintered into a million pieces.

Maybe you are like me and you must live with a new reality; you carry the stone of grief
and like me you will never forget when your world was shattered.

At first I was too afraid to talk about this Stone, because grief often makes me feel alone. I often buy the lie that no one else has deep pain from personal tragedy or that I
shouldn’t make people sad—because that’s all I’d be doing by being real. But then as I
was lying in bed thinking about what I wanted to say to YOU, my little sisters, I thought
of the few that were BRAVE enough to share with me their own personal tragedies,

stories of deep loss. Some of you lost a friend to suicide, some of you lost siblings to accidents, even murder. I listened as you broke open your hearts and shared with me the most precious parts of you. You shared the love you had for your friends, siblings, parents. That courage will never get old to me, and because of your pain I feel I must remind you, you are not alone.

Thank you brave, young woman for speaking out about the pain that you feel. I know
how hard it is to be perceived as a “downer.” I know how out of control you feel, and
maybe you even unfairly blame yourself for this tragedy. Maybe you have picked up
self-harming habits because your pain is so great and you have NO IDEA how to handle it. Your stone of grief is a very HEAVY and COMPLICATED one. You carry it day and night, and until you find someone trustworthy and compassionate enough to help bear the load, most of the time you are alone.

I will share with you how my stone of grief had so many layers, and still does. Before life threw this Stone at me I never had anxiety or near panic attacks. But now this has been my daily struggle to overcome. The anxiety usually comes from feelings of lack of
control and incredible fear that I will lose someone else close to me in a horrible way.
This is so “normal” for those of us that carry this stone. Another way this stone has
really crushed me is my self-image and security. All of the sudden I found myself so
profoundly uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt like a failure to some degree, and the
weakness that I couldn’t help exude seemed to scare people away. I began to shut
down and go inward in social settings. I just wanted to disappear. But I didn’t
disappear…Thank God!

Sadly, I’m not here to tell you that you can leave your stone of grief and just walk away.
No, some stones, believe it or not, stay with us our whole lives—and this is one of them. I am here to share with you how I have handled this stone, and for those of you who haven’t had a personal tragedy I can hopefully help you help a friend in need of a loving ear.

Because this stone is so foreign and new, I often times wish there was some kind of
guidebook for how to handle the stone of grief. I don’t have a book recommendation, but I can offer some advice from my experience. The first advice I would give would be to surround yourself with people who love and care about you. This may sound silly, but
it’s really quality over quantity. Before my daughter died I had many social type friends,
but after she died, most casual friends found it very difficult to handle my grief. They
didn’t say anything, and if you’ve lost someone you know that the worst thing someone
can say is…NOTHING. So I lost a lot of friends, but the ones that I kept were people
that were not afraid of my grief. Sometimes you may feel that people are afraid of
“catching” your stone. They may avoid you, talk about you behind your back, or make
you feel awkward. Maybe they even make you feel like it is your fault. It’s not, and you
owe it to yourself to gently remove these people from your inner circle. Your heart has
been broken and you need to protect it from people who are truly too selfish or oblivious to care.

The second thing I want you to know is, it’s not your fault and whatever you are feeling
is ok. I spent so much time beating myself up over feeling certain emotions. Emotions I
had NO control over. If I was happy, I would beat myself up that I wasn’t sad enough. If I was sad, I would beat myself up over not being happy. You must learn to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling.

The reason that I can still get out of bed in the morning after my daughter died is
because I FEEL and FELT it all. I didn’t bottle it up, hide it, or avoid my stone. I didn’t try
to bury it. Instead I used all my pain and wrote songs, and pages and pages of music
about my daughter and the anger and sorrow I felt over losing her. These songs turned
into music videos of my story—and now they are being watched all over the world by
other parents who have lost children. That is the power of sharing your grief.

Maybe it doesn’t look like that for you. Maybe instead it’s going to a grief support group
and finding out you are not as alone as you feel. Maybe it’s following a blog of someone
else who has experienced a similar tragedy. Maybe you channel your pain into
something beautiful, like starting a 5k in honor of the one that died or writing a poem or
painting a picture.

There are still days when I wake up very sad and even depressed that she is not here,
and nothing will be able to fix that feeling. I just have to feel it, because I loved her
deeply and I still do. I have learned to live with this stone—sometimes it feels like a
boulder, other times like a tiny pebble.

Time does not heal all wounds. But time does change them. They get more bearable in
time. This does not mean they go away or the pain is not as deep. It’s just different.

If you carry this stone of grief like me, know you are not as alone as you feel. You
cannot see what personal tragedies people have gone through by looking at them—but
more often than not, you may find that your stone of grief will be a LIFELONG bridge,
connecting your broken heart to another broken heart.

I know mine has.


Still Loved

It has been over a month since I have written really anything, here or otherwise. The passing of time has been really stifling to me. A few mile markers have past. June 11th was the 8 month marker from the day Ella died. Her gravestone marker also came in, and that brought on a mix of emotions from sadness and anger to guilt and fear. My Grandma actually was the first one to see it, because Ella is buried next to my Grandpa. For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to see it right away–then I felt guilty for not going. I finally went with Jason, we looked at it, and I fought back every morbid thought with the knowledge that she wasn’t there anymore.

I’ve actually been avoiding my blog because my last post caused a lot of strife and hurt, and I felt afraid to be honest. But this is my safe place to express, and if someone is reading this for ammo I will be sure not to give them any. This has never been a place to do anything but grieve for my daughter, and process my emotions. I can honestly say I have a clear conscience. With that being said, I’m not going to be afraid anymore, and I wont ever be silent about my daughters impact. I miss her so much these days…

This grief now plays with my imagination. I walk into my kitchen and I think she should be there in a high chair, smiling at me. I continually mourn for the time I never got with her. Its no longer a thought like, “she would be here in two months,” it’s “oh she would’ve been four months old today.” The utter unfairness of it all is what baffles me.

I’ve been incredibly busy with my music, and my video projects–and as they are coming to fruition and completion I feel an incredible tidal wave of fresh grief. Two of these songs and videos are about Ella and the incredible void she has left. I will have to reenact our story. The joy, the disappointment, the hopes and dreams being dashed all over again. I am sort of dreading this,but at the same time every bit of my heart is pushing for it. I need to tell this story with every fiber of my being. To honor her, to break the silence, to say once and for all here the truth is…you cannot pretend this did not happen. I need to do this for all the mothers who cannot express their sadness.  This Thursday is the day, the props are gathered, costumes set, storyboards finished…now all that’s left is to go back to that innocent time, then watch my world crumble again.


This past weekend was incredibly rewarding and draining. I had a big festival, played seven slots and probably met a couple hundred people. There were a few bittersweet moments that really touched me. One of these moments took place at my merch table. I was signing an autograph for a little girl, and when I asked her name…she said Ella. I then told her and her mother that I had a daughter named Ella, but that Ella was in heaven. I wanted to cry, but at times like that you kind of have to hold it together. The other bittersweet moment was backstage at the artist tent. Jason and I were taking a break from the heat when we ran in to two band wives that we knew. They were both pushing strollers and both had an adorable baby girl. Sometimes when I run into these kind of situations I push Ella and my loss to the back of my brain and I kind of enter robot mode. If I were to truly express my grief and sadness in that moment, I’m afraid of what would happen. Being polite I asked their names, and that was when mom number two told me that they had actually named their daughter Jetty. Even though I avoid holding baby girls this little Jetty was the exception. I held her for awhile and she brought a little peace and love to my mothers heart. When I left, I burst into tears…Ella should’ve met little Jetty.


My weekend culminated at my mother in laws birthday party. My adorable niece was there. Seeing how big she had gotten, and how much joys she brought to my family made me ache. I locked myself in a bathroom and cried. I cried because although I am functioning and living, I couldn’t remember the last time I had truly laughed. I’m missing that carefree joy. Im missing the little girl who should’ve brought it to me. I’m missing the little giggles, the smiles, the hair bows, the dresses, the beach toys, the sunblock. I just can’t even imagine how amazing it would be to hold your daughter, and have her hands hold you back. Thank you KV BIJOU for sending me this beautiful ring.