When you share your stories with my on Facebook or Instagram, it often stops me right where I am. It’s humbling to create jewelry that holds deep meaning–and when these handmade pieces become part of your story, it fills me. Jen’s story of heartache and hope resonated deeply with me–and you! When she shared on Facebook, many of you responded to her comment and encouraged her. This community is a beautiful place where people can be honest and feel loved. I’m grateful. I reached out to Jen to share more of her story with us. Here’s Jen’s comment from Facebook…

‘2014 was supposed to be a joyous year. In the spring, we thought my mom’s cancer was on the up and up, and my husband and I finally became pregnant. We told my mom early, thinking it would give her final push to really kick cancer’s butt. It turned out that it had a stronger hold on her than anyone knew, and the hospital stays started. We find out at our 3 month ultrasound that the baby has an irreversible birth defect. Everyone fought and prayed for the best. However, angels were made that summer; my mom passed in July, and we lost the baby two weeks later. I didn’t know what to do, that fog was so think. My family and I stuck together and through them and friends, I pulled myself out. There are now sunny days again–we have a beautiful little girl, named after my mom. Her room’s theme is You Are My Sunshine. ‘

It warmed my heart to see the ways you and others in our community responded, encouraged, and shared in the joy and pain. We asked Jen to share a bit more about her journey, and where she finds hope. Read for more…

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How do you experience hope each day?

I experience hope every time I look at my daughter. Rosabella fills me with hope every day — hope for a bright future for her, hope for the best for our family, and the knowing that everything is okay. My mom believed in hope, had given me a bracelet with that word on it.  We always hope for the best outcome possible. Sometimes the best outcome isn’t want we want, but what is best for the person going through the tough time.

When in this journey did you experience a glimmer of hope?

I first experienced a glimmer of hope when we found out we were pregnant. It was right around Mother’s Day 2014. I had wanted to give my mom a grandchild so badly, especially knowing she was sick. We told my mom early, at about 8-9 weeks. I thought that maybe this was the bump she needed to finally get her body back to where she wanted it.  We gave her a bracelet that said Grandma on it.  At first, she thought it was from our cat!  Then she thought about it, and I hadn’t seen her so excited in a long time!

What are some of the ways you feel supported by friends and family?

My husband was my rock during that tough summer. He was there at every doctor’s appointment, and had no problem with me staying for days at a time with my mom when she was home.  He encouraged me to do silly things to keep my mind off of things while my mom slept. Once my mom went into hospice, he came every night with me to see her.  My dad has always been an amazing person, but blew me away during those years.  They were divorced but became her main care taker.  He took her to every appointment, every treatment, and spent nights at her house as well.  He told me everything that happened at those appointments, and we all talked a lot as a family.  I see my father at least once a week now (he does some baby-sitting now and again too), and we do lots of talking and reminiscing.  I have a close group of girlfriends; like all friends we get involved in life and don’t always see each other.  During that time, they were the first to come to my mom’s house and brought food for my dad, my brother, and me.  They were always checking in. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Now we all have kids (well, one has a nephew she adores), and we try to get together at least once a month.

Mom cape

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How would you encourage someone going through the process of grieving the loss of a loved one?

I would say take life one hour at a time.  When you’re ready, take life one day at a time.  There is no amount of time that can totally take that hurt of losing a loved one away, but slowly the hurt does lessen.  No one can tell you that enough time has passed and you should be “over it”.  Only the person grieving knows when they are able to put one foot in front of the other.  What I also found helped was joining a support group.  Members of this group had all experienced a loss, and although not all losses were the same, we all knew that deep feeling of despair and grief.  It started as more of a therapeutic gathering, but now I attend because these people have become my friends. 

What have you learned about yourself this year?

Since Bella was born, I have learned that I am stronger than I thought in many respects.  The late nights, working on my Master’s program, working full time… I do have my moments where I think I cannot do it and I break down. In the end, though, it gets done.  I just think of my mom, and how hard she fought against her illness.  I am nowhere near the hardships she had to endure, and I know she would not want me giving up or breaking down.

Are there any other details or thoughts you would like to share with the community?

I know we’ve all heard this, but do not take anything for granted.  Life is short; a loved one is there one minute, and could be gone the next.  This is something that I keep in mind everyday.  Yes, I am busy and there are things that have to get done (work, classwork).  However, the laundry can wait.  Dinner can be later.  What matters most is my family–making sure I play with Bella as soon as we come home, chasing Chewie around the house for playtime, sitting down and spending time with Jason.  Take time to be with the ones you love.  But also remember to love yourself, too–for you are no good to anyone if you yourself are unhappy.

Bella and Chewie

Buffett concert

 This is so beautiful, Jen. Thank you Jen for sharing your heart! I am so glad the sunburst ring holds deep meaning for you. You are strong and brave. xx

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