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Ashlee

lifestyle photographer for fun, laid-back people

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The truth about grief…

Personal

April 22, 2024

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If you know me personally – or have followed me for very long – you know how much I love to laugh! I love a good time. I truly strive to celebrate life, to joke around, to not sweat the small stuff. I love life…I truly do.

I’ve learned in my 43 years – and especially the past 16.5 years after losing London – that joy and sorrow, happiness & pain, can coexist. It’s a strange reality really, but it’s true.

As I’m sniffing my way through this blog post with puffy eyes and a tear-stained shirt, I thought I would just be really vulnerable for a second.

Grief sucks. There…I said it.

I was having a great day. The sun is shining. I’m editing a gallery of a handsome Senior. It’s Earth Day (Lol), and all is good. But grief had to sweep in, catch me off-guard, shove me off balance and throw me into a whirlwind of sadness and tears.

I don’t share these images for personal attention. I swear, I don’t. But…I have vowed to NEVER let my pain be in vain and to try my best to share my story to help others. I know some of you are hurting. I know you have your own grief, your own hurts and hangups. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or the loss of a relationship, a job, a dream…whatever it may be. I know you have pain, too, and I just want you to know you are not alone.

I also want to share that grief just doesn’t go away with time. I’m speaking from a child-loss perspective, but it’s so true for grief in general. I know London was “just 2 days old”. I know it may seem that I should be fine almost 17 years later, but I will spend my whole life wondering what it would’ve been like to have her with me through this life. I will spend my whole life wishing I could see her experience all of the milestones that I see other kids her age experiencing.

Yes, she was “only 2 days old”, but that will always be what haunts me. She was only 2 days old. I only had 2 days to be her mom. Yes, I know I had her in my belly for 9 months, and I know I will “always” be her mom, but you know what I mean.

Triggers happen out of the blue. They come out of nowhere and knock me off my feet, even still. I literally went from happily returning a message on Facebook to seeing the first post show up of a beautiful girl who was born the week before London getting her driver’s license.

Is it a big deal? No, not really. Kids getting their license is a normal part of life. BUT…when I look at her and realize what I would be experiencing right now, it just ripped the bandage off of my heart. Triggers can be the simplest things that spark big emotions.

I will wipe my tears. I’ll take some deep breaths, listen to Rick Warren’s Daily Hope and move on with my day – just like I always do. But – even though I hate grief and I wish I didn’t feel this pain – I will let myself grieve those broken dreams for as long as I need to.

If you are grieving broken dreams today – no matter what that may look like – I just want you to know that I understand. I encourage you to let yourself grieve when you need to. Give yourself grace…and keep moving forward. There is purpose for your pain and hope for tomorrow, I promise.

Sending you all so much love & appreciation for allowing me this safe space to share my heart. After all, London is why I am here. There is beauty and there are ashes. I embrace them both, and I challenge you to do the same.

  1. Regina says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart, your grief and your vulnerability. If we did not love so hard there would be no waves of grief. The waves are waves of love thru grief. I love you so much and your beautiful London too🩷

  2. Ellie Hayse says:

    You are an inspiration. Your strength is something that definitely lights the way for others. London is so lucky to have had you be her Momma for 16.5 years now. She sees you! She has those moments of “That’s my mom right there!” To all the other little Angel babies. God Gave you London, God also gave London your voice. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Kathy Devore says:

    Ashlee, I love your heart and you. You are n inspiration to many. Thank you for sharing your experience with grief. It is something we deal with every day. Just a memory, picture, or song can trigger our grief. But, we are blessed to have God in our lives to let us grieve and remember the wonderful blessings we were able to have with the one we lost. I’ve had two losses in the last 7 years my Timmy and my Daddy. God bless you sweet girl.

  4. Brittany Faris says:

    This post helps remind me that I’m not alone. The breath was knocked out of me this week when a 6-year-old little girl came up to my husband and I at a birthday party. She was beautiful, funny, sassy…all the things a typical little girl is. She was asking us all about Leah:why she was in a wheelchair, why she wasn’t talking, why she didn’t get down and play. Of course we would rather her ask than be ignored, which is more typical. As she smiled and bounced off, my husband said “She’s six…the same age as Leah. That’s what Leah should be like.” Somehow him voicing what I’m thinking makes it so much worse. Grief is a constant battle. You are so strong and have an amazing platform to help others through theirs. Thank you❤️

  5. Robin Burris says:

    No matter how many years go by the heart ache is always there. And you are so right it creeps up on you out of no where and triggers a wave of emotions. The time here is temporary and one day we will hold our babies again and never let them go. Thank you for sharing ! For being raw ! For being real ! I love you dearly and this momma of a angel baby 🙏❤️ shares your pain 💗💙

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