Our Little Warrior Owen

This blog is dedicated to our little sunshine angel Owen. We named him Owen because it means little warrior and we knew he would have to be with two older brothers. He was our little sunshine and his heart stopped beating unexpectedly on his 5 month birthday. We are devastated by the loss of our little guy. Hopefully, this blog will give readers a sense of what a beautiful spirit he was, how he completed our family and will help to keep his memory alive. We hope this gives light into our grieving process and can help other families that suffer a similar tragic loss.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry christmas sweet bear

Dear Owen,

The only way I got through today was imagining you having the merriest of Christmas because you are celebrating Jesus' birthday with him.

Today was so tough. I miss you so much. I miss what should have been...

You getting woken up by Liam saying "Owen, wake up, Santa came" just like he did to Connor.

You crawling around all the presents.

You napping on my shoulder.

You in your cute Xmas pjs.

You trying to mimic your brothers opening presents.

You in your high chair at Xmas dinner.

You sleeping soundly in your crib after an adventurous day filled with joy.

Now I just look at my favorite pictures of you and weep.

Merry first Xmas in heaven Owen.

Thanks all for the support this holiday.

Love you more than ever and my heart breaks yet again. Kisses and hugs in heaven.

Your one and only mom

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

5 months is too short

Dear Owen,

Happy 10 month birthday in Heaven.  I so wish you were here to celebrate this milestone.  I am sure you would have been crawling up a storm and maybe even beginning to walk like your big brother Connor did at this age.  We hadn't started you on solid foods yet but I am sure you would be eating anything and everything in site!  I am happy to report that the world officially hasn't ended here on earth as of now on 12/12/12 but honestly, we feel that part of our world ended 5 months ago when God called you to Heaven. 

I can't believe it's been 5 months since you passed.  5 months is how long you lived outside of the womb here on earth and now you have been in Heaven that long.  This is a day we have dreaded for so long.  Every day forward means you have been in Heaven longer than you were physically in our arms. 

A good friend reminded me yet again that you have blessed us here in PA with another sunny day on the 12th of the month.  It seems every 12th day of the month we have a sunny day to remind me of my little sunshine, you.  I know you are doing all you can to show us that you are ok in Heaven and the sun is always shining.  Wednesday morning, tell myself a new day is a rising. 

This was the sunrise in Yardley today, making your presence known. The sun still shines.

Last night I went to visit your grave site after work before I picked up your brothers.  I distinctly remember 5 months ago putting you in your last bath as you giggled away.  I remember rocking you for the last time, singing to you.  I remember praying to God that you had put yourself to sleep since we were starting to sleep train.  Last night was SO hard for me.  How I wish I could go back and do it all again and never put you down.  I know we have been told that when SIDS happens there is NO stopping it but somehow I feel like it would have been better if you stopped breathing while you were still in my arms.  There have been cases of babies dying of SIDS while being rocked by their parents, I know personally of a case where a baby died of no known his mother's arms.  I am grateful that they were able to get your heart started just long enough for us to hold your beating heart and warm flesh and blood in our arms as we said our dreaded goodbyes.  I know your dad was so thankful that he was able to hold you as God took your soul into his arms in Heaven.  I was able to hold you as you entered this world and I will hold you again one day.  I guess it's not soon enough.

The little Christmas tree at your grave last night. The lights shine at night for you, our little sunshine.
Thanks to all the friends and family that have supported us.  This major milestone has come and we are still here holding on.  This was never goodbye Owen.  It is just see you later in a better place, where you will never experience hate, harm, or any of the things we have experienced in our lifetime.

Below I share something that a family member shared with us this week.  I had read it before but now, on this milestone of a day, I am reminded of how true it rings.  I know some people probably think now that this milestone is here and once your birthday and angelversary pass, I will be MUCH better.  I am not the person I used to be and I never will be again.  Though I wake up every day angry that God took you from me too soon, with no rhyme or reason, I pray that one day I will become a better person because of this experience. Owen, everything about you and my experience of loosing you has shaped who I am.  I know I am so sad now but I know some day I will become someone you will be SO proud to call your one and only mother.  I just ask that you help guide me to that place.  Believe me, you will be with me every step of the way until I hold you again.

Don't Tell Me
Please don't tell me you know how I feel,
Unless you have lost your child too,
Please don't tell me my broken heart will heal,
Because that is just not true,
Please don't tell me my son is in a better place,
Though it is true, I want him here with me,
Don't tell me someday I'll hear his voice, see his face,
Beyond today I cannot see,
Don’t tell me it is time to move on,
Because I cannot,
Don’t tell me to face the fact he is gone,
Because denial is something I can't stop,
Don't tell me to be thankful for the time I had,
Because I wanted more,
Don't tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,
I'll never be as I was before,
What you can tell me is you will be here for me,
That you will listen when I talk of my child,
You can share with me my precious memories,
You can even cry with me for a while,
And please don't hesitate to say his name,
Because it is something I long to hear everyday,
Friend please realize that I can never be the same,
But if you stand by me, you may like the new person I become someday.

I love you now more than ever.  You are with me and please don't ever forget that.  I hope to one day be able to look at all your videos and pictures and smile instead of cry but until that day comes, know that my tears come out of a place of love for you.  Please don't be sad because I am so very sad.

5 months is just TOO short to spend with the one you love.

Your one and only Mom

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Explaining our grief

Dear Owen,

You were teething for sure!  You loved to chew on not 1 but 3 fingers!  I LOVE YOUR PUDGY ARMS!  I LOVE YOU!

I wish I was in Heaven with you sometimes.  I sometimes think if I was in Heaven, I would have answers.  I would have answers as to WHY SIDS HAPPENS and WHY GOD TOOK YOU FROM US TOO SOON. 
I know I am entering into a new stage of grief as the shock of your death wears off and the reality sets in.  You are gone.  I now know it and I accept it.  It doesn't mean I like it but I no longer pray every second of every day for you to come back.  I now pray for your life in Heaven.  I talk to you every day and I know you are with me in spirit.

I know some people think we should be MOVING on but that just doesn't happen.  We want to talk about you, we do talk about you.  I know people just want us to BE BETTER but honestly, that will never happen.  Below is something I pulled from another friend's website that helps explain the grief that your Dad and I are going through.  It helps explain why we feel what we feel.  As we await your autopsy results STILL, we are cognisant that there probably won't be an answer.  Hopefully this helps others explain how we feel. 

Your One and Only Mom

Parental Grief And A SIDS Death

The impact of a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) death presents unique grieving factors and raises painful psychological issues for the parents and family as well as those who love, care for, and counsel them. SIDS parents must deal with a baby's death that is unexpected and unexplained, a death that cannot be predicted or prevented, an infant death so sudden that it leaves no time for preparation or goodbyes, and no period of anticipatory grief. In many cases, parents of SIDS babies are very young and are confronted with grief for the first time.

SIDS often occurs at home, forcing parents and siblings or other children to witness a terrible tragedy and possibly scenes of intense confusion. In some cases, the parents themselves are the ones who find the child dead and they must always live with that memory. In other cases, the parents may feel overwhelming guilt or anger if the death occurred while the child was in daycare. They may feel that the baby might not have died if they had been caring for it. "All too frequently, a SIDS loss is not socially validated in the same way other deaths are. Others often fail to recognize that, despite the brevity of the child's life, the family's attachment to that child is strong and deep and has been present in various ways since the knowledge of conception" (Rando 1986,167).
SIDS parents must take a journey that "involves a trek through grief-a strange and hostile territory that no one would ever pass through if given the choice" (Horchler and Morris 1994, 17). SIDS parents often retain strong feelings of guilt and sometimes a sense of responsibility for what happened even though they've been told there was nothing they could have done to prevent the death. Sometimes, parents are the victims of undeserved suspicion from law enforcement personnel, even family members, neighbors, or friends. In the most difficult situations, the baby's death may cause parents to be subjected to grueling investigations and hostile questions; they may even face accusations of child abuse.

Probably the most stressful and anxiety-provoking act in human existence is the separation of a woman from her newborn infant. The response to this, which humans share with most of the animal kingdom, is an overwhelming combination of panic, rage, and distress. - RUSKIN, IN HORCHLER AND MORRIS 1994,16

SIDS parents, relatives, daycare providers, health care professionals, and other adults feel helpless in trying to explain the unexplainable to other young children who may have been present at the time of the baby's death. It is especially difficult for children to understand why a baby died when it didn't appear to be sick. Also, in some cases parents are required to explain SIDS to adults who are misinformed or know nothing about the syndrome.
Any infant or early childhood death forces adults to think about their own vulnerability, but a SIDS death also brings with it total mystery, an absence of answers, and a frightening loss of control. The chaos surrounding a SIDS death leaves most parents feeling that nothing in life is predictable; a SIDS death throws everything off balance.

As is the case in most traumatic experiences, SIDS parents are likely to continually replay the events surrounding the death over and over in their minds and in their conversations. Whether the parents put a seemingly healthy baby down for a nap or for the night or took the child to the daycare provider, they assumed their child was well and in a protected environment. They felt secure; their family and their world were in order. Then suddenly, everything has been turned upside down. Even though there may be attempts to reassure the parents that the baby didn't appear to suffer, frequently they are not convinced. They repeatedly ask, "How can a perfectly healthy baby die?" Often these parents are told that SIDS doesn't carry a high hereditary risk; yet fears about having subsequent children haunt them.

[The grief SIDS parents feel is like a]...continuous, crashing waterfall of pain...SIDS is a forced separation that will last forever. In the beginning, survivors are so shocked that their bodies and minds cannot even begin to comprehend all that has been lost...Shock and disbelief overtake most survivors so they can only vaguely feel their own empty arms and the rage that will eventually come full force. ...SIDS parents attempt to transcend the awfulness of [the baby's] death by choosing to celebrate the dead infant's life while not denying the physical finality of the death...[After a SIDS death, parents attempt] to travel the long road of grief to a place of rest and hope...SIDS parents must [try to] actively seek peace and joy in life-even in the face of a grief that will never end... - HORCHLER AND MORRIS 1994, 2, 16, 17, 248

SIDS parents also are very often plagued by "if only's" that they are never able to resolve. They mentally replay such thoughts as: "If only I hadn't put the child down for a nap when I did." "If only I had checked on the baby sooner." "If only I had not returned to work so soon." "If only I had taken the baby to the doctor with that slight cold."

SIDS parents also need to know the value and importance of obtaining reliable information. They need to have access to professional support; and they need to be aware of the great benefits other parents have gained from attending support groups and sharing their experience or by expressing their thoughts and feelings in writing.
Moreover, bereaved SIDS parents often find that health care professionals are as perplexed as they are and cannot provide them with any explanation for the death. Although most health professionals know about SIDS, not all can provide parents with the information they so anxiously seek. They are unable to provide answers to questions such as: "Did my baby suffer?" "What are the possible causes of SIDS?" "What can I do to prevent another child from dying of SIDS?" "Are there symptoms I should have known about that could have prevented the death?"

In the case of some SIDS deaths, the autopsy findings may still leave unanswered questions, or the child's death may be attributed to causes that are problematic for the parents. Some families are subjected to agonizing doubts and delays from the legal system about the exact cause of death. The absence of standardized procedures for determining the cause of unexpected infant deaths brings added pain and frustration to parents already in the midst of a harrowing nightmare. Thus, SIDS parents are often denied the sense of closure that comes from knowing the exact cause of their baby's death.

A single SIDS death can have a ripple effect on as many as 100 people who came in contact with the baby or the family. "The expanded circle of concern" (Corr et al. 1991, 43) can include parents, extended family, neighbors, coworkers, child care providers, health care and emergency personnel, clergy, funeral directors, and other care providers.

SIDS parents and family members need to be around people who will offer them support in a nonjudgmental way; they need to know that some things in their lives are permanent and there are certain people on whom they can truly depend. Other family members, friends, or professionals can provide this sense of dependability and assurance by allowing parents both permission and ways to express their grief and talk about their confusion. SIDS parents need to talk and they need someone to listen-really listen-even if they tell their story, express their doubts and fears, and ask the same questions repeatedly. What SIDS and other bereaved parents are really saying is, "Let me tell you about my pain; let me talk about my child with you; please do call my child by name; please do not let my child be forgotten."

Friends and family members should try to do all they can to show their concern and help the parents in keeping alive memories of their baby. For most SIDS parents, it is also reassuring for others to try to mention special things they noticed about the baby and to remember the child's birthday or the anniversary of the death. By extending these personal and sensitive gestures, loving and concerned relatives, friends, and caregivers can become a source of reassurance and comfort for the grieving parents.

Some SIDS babies are so young when they die that family members and friends never had a chance to welcome them. They may have missed sharing the parents' excitement over the birth and affirming the child's existence. Many individuals do not understand the depth of parental attachment to a very young child. Bereaved SIDS parents should not be made to feel that others don't want to hear them, that others won't permit them to openly grieve. The parents of SIDS babies want their child's short life to matter not only to them, but to their families and friends, to the others in their "circle of concern," to the world.

The dynamics of a SIDS loss [mean]...there is no chance to say goodbye to the infant or to absorb the reality of the loss gradually over time; the unexpected loss so overwhelms people that it reduces their functioning and compromises their recovery...The physical and emotional shock of the infant's death undermines the [parents'] capacity for regaining a feeling of security; the SIDS loss evokes particularly problematic grief reactions, such as the abrupt severing of the mother and father infant bond. - RANDO 1986, 166