Featured on The Joyful Mourning Podcast

I am so thankful Ashlee Proffitt allowed me to share our story on her podcast, The Joyful Mourning. Recording it was both terrifying and freeing. It is a true honor to speak to the hearts of other hurting women. If I can use my story to help someone else, the hurts hurt a little less.

If you have not listened yet, you may visit THIS LINK or find The Joyful Morning Podcast on iTunes.

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A Year of Mourning

We survived the year anniversary of June’s passing. Honestly, the day was less emotional than I thought it would be. For that, I am grateful.

Over the past year, I have attended a monthly support group with other bereaved moms. From the very first meeting, I was told the second year would be the hardest. So, I spent the entire first year dreading the anniversary and the scary “second year.” I’m only one month in, but thankfully, it has not been as difficult as I anticipated.

I am 100% positive it is because of the grace of God.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

God has been so kind to me. Of course, the year has not been without great challenges and sadness. My only child is gone. And for the record, it still stings just as much as it did on August 28, 2017.

I have nothing profound about mourning to share with you. I have not figured out how to incorporate grief into the rest of my life - it still takes over when it wants to.

I will take a second to reiterate what I have shared in the past: spend time with your family. Draw close to the Lord. You do not know when your rainy days will come. I pray they never do.

 Special thanks to one of my favorite photographers <3

Special thanks to one of my favorite photographers <3

Advice for those who are grieving

I don't have all the answers and will never pretend that I do. In just 3 short months of life without my daughter, I have learned about grief and have tried to implement healthy grieving habits of my own. There is one point of advice I can give to those of you who are still in the fresh aftermath of your loss. 

Get off social media.

When June died, I took 4 weeks off from social media. I posted an update/thank you photo in the middle of it all, but I did not browse. I did not watch Instagram stories, I did not scroll my endless Facebook newsfeed.

It was the best thing for me.

Even if we don't intend to look in on our friends with envy, there is a fine line that is so easy to cross. Imagine losing your child and all you see on social media are crawling babies, baby announcements, people complaining about pregnancy, people complaining about their kids. Or maybe your loss was a broken marriage or ended engagement and all you saw were people posting happy holiday family photos. It probably wouldn't help you out in the long run to see those things when your own wound was so fresh. 

The thing you have to remember is it is no one's fault when they post something about their life online. I cannot control others, what they post or when they post. It's not my job to rain on their happy times or scold them for publicizing their not-so-good ones. What I can control happen to be things like opening an app or scrolling down and down and down.

So, practically speaking, delete the apps from your phone. Take the time you would spend each morning, noon, or night and think about your lost loved one or trying to get through the hurt. Read books. Look at pictures of happy times. Cry. Exercise. Trust me, social media will be there when you return. Your real life friends will still find ways to reach out to you. And really, are all the cat videos, Tasty tutorials, and Buzzfeed articles worth it? (Maybe the cat vids.)

This is just my opinion and what worked for me in my specific situation. But it did a world of good in my life during those immediate days and weeks after my sweet girl went to heaven.

 Photo: Echard Wheeler

Photo: Echard Wheeler

It Is Well | Personal

It has been two and a half months since I held my little girl. Many people have asked how I am doing or how I'm able to get through this. The honest answer: Jesus. I don't want to tell you these things because I want you to say "how strong I am" because I'm not that strong. When you go through something like this, there are a few options. You can either a) be sad about, b) be real messed up, c) do the best you can to be okay with being alive, or d) a combination of the three depending on the day/hour/minute.

There's an old hymn, which most of you probably know, but in case you don't, it goes like this...

"When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul"

Written by a guy from the 1880s, named Horatio Spafford, whose life basically blew up in his face, it (obviously) has taken on new meaning to me. Guys, it is really difficult to say (and believe) those words. Not a day goes by that I don't have at least a brief moment of being angry. It's not okay that June is gone. It just isn't. I used to sing this song in church and I would feel a real connection to it because I thought about the man who wrote it. Five of his kids died. He lost all his money. His life was in ruin. Yet, his faith was strong enough to pen one of the most poignant songs in modern history of the Christian church. I never thought my faith would be tested in that way. It could never happen to me. Don't we always think that?

Is my faith that strong? Now that I've lost everything that truly mattered, will my legacy leave an impact like Horatio's?

Recently, I was sharing a bit of June's life with a complete stranger. She broke down crying and remarked how much June's story had touched her. This woman never met my daughter, but was deeply moved beyond what I could ever imagine.

My beautiful daughter, through her life and death, has the ability to touch complete strangers. She only lived a year, yet I truly believe she is accomplishing more with her time than I ever will, even if I live to be 100. My prayer is that our testimony of June will bring others to know the Lord. Clinging to that is what makes it a little easier to get up every day. Holding onto the promise that we will have a life of suffering, but eternal glory, makes it well with my soul.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 Tiny little newborn wrinkled hands. Be still my heart! Photo:  Jamey Brown

Tiny little newborn wrinkled hands. Be still my heart! Photo: Jamey Brown

My child died and no one knows what to do with people like me

I am the great white whale of mothers. I am Bruce Wayne. I'm a member of one of the worst clubs on Earth. My child died and the rest of the population doesn't know how to act around people like me. In true Sterling fashion, I'm going to try and educate anyone who cares to read this post. 

No one ever expects to lose their kid. It's terrible. I've never felt this type of pain before and honestly, it's far worse than I ever imagined. People are all kinds of uncomfortable around me, which I get. No one knows what to say, but then again, neither do I.  

  1. Feel free to complain about your life, but not to me. A person has every right to complain about things, even the small things, and most people choose to do so all over social media. Not my problem, not my job to police them. It is my responsibility to unfollow or hide people in my newsfeed. However, if you are talking to me directly, it would benefit you and I if you kept your complaints to yourself. In all honesty, I don't care about the pains of modern day life, how your kids have been acting up, or how much it will cost to do this or that. Yes, I care about you because you are a human being, but your troubles seem inconsequential to me in my current stage of life.

  2. Having other children will not fix my pain or problems. Another bereaved mom friend of mine shared something on Facebook once. One of the comments was something along the lines of "you'll have other children one day, blah blah blah." For Cal and I, having more children of our own is not an option. Heaven help the first person who says "have another kid" to me. Lol. On a more serious note, even if a person has ten children, losing one will always hurt and nothing could ever replace that family member. It is insensitive to think (and worse, say!) that another child would fill that void. No one will EVER fulfill the longing I have for my princess.

  3. What do you talk about with a bereaved parent? I guess that depends on the person. I want to talk about June. I want to remember funny little stories about her. I'd love to hear about the wonderful things happening in your life! I want good news. Looking at someone and having them project their sadness about my child onto me doesn't help me. Every person is different, so I can't promise this is the same across the board. But it's okay with me if you ask about how I'm doing or want to share in the joy of her brief life.

  4. I want to be left alone, but I don't really. It's not good for me to sit at home by myself all day. If you and I are people who hang out, don't forget about me. Ask me to coffee, let's plan a date. There are a few gals who have made a point of getting me out of the house. (Girls, thank you!!) Losing a child is incredibly isolating and I don't want to be isolated. Of course, some alone time is good. I need time to quiet my mind and heart before the Lord. Still, don't forget me.

  5. People are already forgetting about her. I hate this. Even in my inner circle, there have been entire dinner experiences when June wasn't even mentioned. Or a 2 hour conversation went by and June's name was only used because I brought her up....and the conversation quickly shifted to something else. That hurts my heart. I understand this will happen over time, but this is still so fresh and June was the center of our lives. I want to talk about her all the time, like she's still here, just like any parent would talk about their child.

If you read this, I hope you'll understand what a weird situation I'm in. Before all this happened, I was just like you. I had no clue how to interact with those curious women who had lost a child. I'm still adjusting to my new way of life. It is difficult.

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For the future, I am refocusing my blog. More on this to come, but I want June's life to make a difference. I don't want people to forget her. So, you'll be seeing posts similar to this one.