Family, grief

Top 3 Ways to Reclaim Your Sleep After Losing a Loved One

It takes time to absorb the impact of a loss — whether it is sudden passing or due to a long-term illness. Coping after a loved one dies isn’t easy, and we sacrifice a lot to our emotions as we try to navigate these unpredictable waters. Mourning is a very natural and personal process, but it’s hard to see that when we feel lost and lonely. Some people experience symptoms of grief in many different areas of their life, such as a loss of appetite, energy, or sleep. It can often help to focus on ways we can manage those symptoms, such as exploring healthy lifestyle choices that can help us build a better night’s sleep.

Focus on Sleep as Self-Care

Prioritizing your needs may seem selfish, but it is, in fact, just the opposite. Sleep is both an important part of self-care and often impacted by a lack of it in other areas of your life. When you are experiencing grief, you feel the pain both emotionally and physically. Try a few physical activities to help you manage your pain and rejuvenate your sense of self-like. 

  • Go for a jog in the morning when you need a little peace and quiet.
  • Take your dog for a walk when you feel overwhelmed.
  • Hop on a bike at a spin class to sweat through emotions.

Revamp Your Space

There are many reasons you might find that a bedroom makeover could be helpful. If you shared the room with a lost loved one, you might find it inspiring to move forward. You may not be ready just yet, but sleeping without them is still so painful that moving into a guest bedroom feels like the right next step. Either way, you can set your bedroom up for sleep success by:

  • Installing dim lights that point away from the bed — preferably toward the ceiling.
  • Replacing a mattress that is older than eight years or is no longer comfortable or supportive for your sleep position. 
  • Hanging blackout curtains and purchasing a white noise machine or other sleep-enhancing devices to eliminate external distractions.

Meditate to Calm the Mind

Dealing with grief often means dealing with feelings of anger, guilt, shame, and fear. All of these emotions are hard enough on their own, let alone when you feel one or more of them at the same time. Your body may feel tired, but your mind is not letting it give up. That’s where meditation can be a helpful tool to encourage sleep by reducing stress and anxiety. Some meditation practices can help with sleep and grief, such as:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation, where you tense, hold, and relax the muscles in your body, working your way up from your toes to your forehead. Time the tension on an inhale and the release on an exhale.
  • Loving-kindness meditation can help you cultivate more positive, uplifting emotions for yourself and others. Inhale deeply and when you exhale, offer peace, love, health, and happiness to specific people (especially those you find difficult or challenging). 
  • Chanting a mantra — a simple word or phrase that brings you back to a positive mental state of being. For example, when plagued by intrusive thoughts, take a deep breath in and whisper “let go.” You can do this with a positive affirmation, a scripture passage, or even a line from a poem or song. 

There is no manual or guidebook for moving through grief. There are a lot of unknowns and uncertainties that come with the loss of a loved one, but we do know that getting good quality sleep can help you manage the day-to-day difficulties so you can look toward the future with a little bit more hope and determination.


After losing her husband Greg, Sara Bailey created TheWidow.net to support her fellow widows and widowers. She is also the author of the upcoming book: Hope and Help After Loss: A Guide For Newly Widowed Parents.

Baby, child loss, Faith, Family, grief, Infant Loss, SIDS

After Every Storm Comes a Rainbow

Okay, so hey, y’all!! Guess, who’s back?? (Hint, it’s me!!)

It has been quite some time since I have sat down and written a blog for SIDS Sucks…

I didn’t know really what to say. I graduated college this past December, traveled all around the United States and outside of the country to Spain & Portugal, and overall, have been busy living life. At 24, I have already realized that the older you get, the faster time really does fly by. You blink and almost a year has gone by.

I didn’t mean to leave you guys hanging, but honestly, I had absolutely no idea what to talk about. I felt I had come to a wall on my blog. I didn’t really want to cry to the world about our loss. It wasn’t that I don’t still miss Markie, because I obviously will until the day I leave this Earth to go join him in Heaven. I felt weak. Almost trapped by the name of my blog. I felt that I had to ONLY talk about SIDS related things, since I did name the blog SIDS Sucks.

I now realize that is not true, AT ALL. I want to continue sharing my journey with y’all, and my journey will always revolve around experiencing the impact of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome… and it, well… sucking.

I have received so much positive feedback from so many people all and that truly has helped me get through many of the tough times. Knowing that things do get better, and hearing that from others who have lived through my pain, is truly inspirational. We are a special group of people who were given the unwanted and difficult task of being Angel Parents.

But enough about the negative. From now on, I am going to use this blog to talk about what I want to talk about: my experiences, my strength, my journey. Although my sweet little angel is in Heaven, my story is NOT over.

In May, my husband and I found out the best news ever. After almost a year and half after losing our son, we are FINALLY expecting our rainbow baby!!

I just hit the 15 week mark today and I could not be happier. The amount of emotion flowing through me these past ten weeks that I have known has kept me from writing and sharing this with the blog world.

Worry and doubt about the baby’s well-being consumed me from the second I found out. Now that I am out of my first trimester, I feel SO much better. Like a huge weight is off my chest. Being pregnant after loss has got to be one of the most anxiety inducing things anyone in my position could ever experience.

Although we are not even halfway there, I feel comfortable. I feel like this time is going to be different. I feel like this baby, our rainbow baby, is truly a blessing from above. Last pregnancy I cared so much about what the sex was going to be, yet this time, I could care less. Boy or girl, I just want to be able to see this child grow up and become the man or woman they are meant to be. I can’t wait to spend every moment with this precious child. I can’t wait to be sleep deprived. I can’t wait for the chance to get peed on and the chance to change all of those smelly, dirty diapers. I can’t wait for bath time. I can’t wait to sing to you, read to you, play with you and watch you while you sleep. The things most parents don’t neccessarily think twice about, I can’t wait to experience again.

So please, pray for our growing family as we continue on through this pregnancy. I will keep y’all updated as time goes on and cannot wait to share how my rainbow pregnancy goes!

I would love to hear how all of my Angel Mommies experiences went with their rainbow pregnancy. We are all in this together. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me on my contact page.

XOXO, Sami

 

 

 

child loss, Faith, Family, grief, Infant Loss, SIDS

5 Things I’ve Learned Since the Death of My Son

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death in infants under one year of age, yet I never believed that SIDS would claim my precious, healthy, and SO loved nine-week-old son, Markie Gordon Montañez. Today, September 24th, marks the one-year anniversary of the day that I lost a son became a Mommy to an Angel.

Analyzing all that has happened this past year, including marrying the man of my dreams, I realize that due to my son’s death, I have dived deeper and gone farther in the quest of learning more about myself, figuring out my purpose, and discovering who I truly am.

I have a deep understanding NOW of how hard it can be to continue to move forward in life, and get up, showered, dressed, ANDDDD still manage to put on make-up to appear not completely insane “normal” to the outside world, each and every day, when all you truly desire is to go back in time, sulk in bed, or drown your sorrows.

I realize NOW the power of deep, passionate, unconditional love, and how special time shared between loved ones really is. I treasure the time that my friends and family have taken out of their day to spend with me or even share kind words and uplifting messages to my husband, Marcus, and I. Y’all truly do not know how MUCH each simple, sweet message means.

I also NOW know what it is like to be in this strange, awkward, un-talked about group in society. Are we parents? What do I say when people ask my husband and I do we have a kid? How am I supposed to respond to the people who STILL (a full year later) ask how the baby is??

To narrow down all of these feelings into a single blog post, without ranting on forever, here are the 5 Things That I’ve Learned Since The Death of My Son.

1. You literally HAVE to surrender.

Okay, so I guess you don’t REALLY have to surrender, but it sure helps. When everything first happened, I had a ZILLION questions.

“What happened to my son?”

“Why did this happen to my son?”

“How could this happen to my son?”

“What did I do wrong?”

“Why would God let ANOTHER person close to me just die?”

“How am I going to move on from this?”

“What in the world is happening to ME?!?!”

If you take a look at all of those questions, only one thing is the same in each question.

ME & I.

AKAEGO.

I know there is nothing humanly or scientifically possible that can be done be done to bring my son back (trust me, I’ve Googled it more times than I’ll admit), so why do I punish myself with all of these selfish, self-centered questions, that will literally get me nowhere?

In order to grow, I must LET IT GO, surrender my worries to The Universe, and continue to move forward with my life, while still cherishing and nurturing the memory of my sweet Markie.

If I choose to drive myself absolutely insane with the “what-ifs”, I won’t be able to enjoy the now. Surrendering is a daily thing. Over time, and with LOTS of practice, I’ve grown better at surrendering to every situation.

As my father always told me, “98% of what happens around you is outside of your control. Focus on your 2%.”

2. It’s OK to not be okay.

If you wake up and want to cry, do it. Stop holding it in. Stop telling people to put their chin up. Somedays are REALLY hard. Men, also, need to let it out. Crying is NOTHING to be ashamed of. You don’t ALWAYS have to put on a smile. Going through these emotions allow for the grieving process to actually take place. And even if you are not grieving anything, it is OK to not be okay! We are only human and I guarantee that after you have yourself a nice good cry, you will feel SO much better. Communication to others, for myself it’s talking to my family, best friends, and husband, about how I feel, why I feel, and what I am feeling help in my recovery process. Which leads me to my next point…

3. The people who CHOOSE to be in your support system WILL make themselves known, while others fall by the wayside.

If you would have asked me a year ago, “Who would be in your support system if you lost your son today?” I promise you, I would have given a list of names of people that I have not talked to in *now* over a year.

The few friends people I assumed would be there, wanting to be supportive and either call or text me to check in to see how I am doing, have hidden in the shadows, only throwing an occasional like here and there on a social media post about my son, but remaining completely silent otherwise. (I still have the same number, y’all!)

I don’t miss those friends people, but I do catch myself asking why they are no longer apart of my life. To be honest, they probably don’t know what to say to me. Heck, I don’t think I would even know what to say to me, but that’s no excuse to not say anything.

If someone you know and love is going through something, a simple I love you and I’m thinking of you goes a VERY long way. Remember that if you find yourself asking what you can do to help.

…but to get away from the one’s who don’t deserve praise, let’s bring up those that do.

I have been so BLESSED to have the AMAZING friends and family I do. This past Mother’s Day, as well as again on Markie’s birthday, I had two different friends send me just the cutest, sweetest, little gifts. (PS my love language IS gift giving, so y’all rock! It’s like y’all know me or something, hehe) These two amazing human beings really mean a lot to me, and although they both live out of state, they have been there for me 150% of the time when I needed them.

I have gotten many phone calls, text messages, and even a letter(!!), from old friends. Friends that I hadn’t seen or been in regular contact with since my middle school days, went out of their way to let me know that they are sending their love, prayers, thoughts, and blessings towards me and mine, during this difficult time.

Because of y’all, I know that whatever I go through, I am NEVER alone.

4. There is no RIGHT way to grieve.

Nothing is right, when everything is wrong.

If you want to pretend like everything is OK (like I did for probably, eh, the first month), do it. You WILL experience the ups and downs of the grieving process and at some point, whether it’s today or a decade from now, your feelings will eventually come spilling out.

My husband likes to go on runs with our dog, Maverick, when he gets caught up in his feelings. I prefer to go take a walk through the breaking waves on North Clearwater Beach. There is no RIGHT answer, so if people tell you something, and you don’t agree, take it with a grain of salt. That may be what works for them, but could be absolutely detrimental to you.

According to Elisabeth Kübler Ross and David Kessler, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These five steps are a part of the foundation of learning to deal with a loved one who is gone.

The stages of grief are in fact, interchangeable. Sometimes you will find yourself screaming, “WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?!” one minute, and then the very next second, you’re bargaining with The Man Upstairs begging, “Please bring my child back, and in place, take my life! I’m not even that great of a person anyways.

Grieving is not an overnight process, and there really is no tell-tale sign of when you are “done grieving.” Acceptance takes time, and is the hardest stage of grieve to go through. No one wants to believe their loved one is gone. People have a hard time losing a lover, let alone a child.

I continue to have to accept what happened daily, because I knew the internal turmoil I put myself through when I choose not to surrender to what is, is detrimental and devastating to my sanity and serenity.

I don’t think I will ever be done mourning the loss of my son, but I do know that…

5. Time doesn’t “heal”, but it SURE helps!

Time does not heal all wounds, but it sure as hell makes the pain hurt less.

I am so thankful and blessed to have spent the time with my son that I did. My now-husband, then baby daddy, allowed me to take online classes and work from home, so that I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, and spend every waking moment with our sweet baby.

Marcus, I don’t tell you this enough, but you are a great man, an even better husband, and literally the best father this world has ever seen.

So far, my husband and I have taken three major trips since our son passed, with our fourth scheduled in two weeks. While we can, and do, go out and enjoy ourselves, I won’t lie, it gets hard. On Christmas morning, at my husband’s grandmother’s house in New Jersey, I sat outside on her porch, crying, yearning for my sweet boy to be here, with us, to celebrate his first Christmas with his huge, loving, Puerto Rican family.

When we were down in Puerto Rico for our Honeymoon, I did not cry over the fact that my son wasn’t there, I was happy that because of my belief in God, I know that my son is in Heaven above, with my mother and grandmother, watching over my husband and I. I am thankful that even though we lost the most important person in our lives, our little love creation, we are STILL able to continue making happy memories by traveling the world, all the while growing closer to each other. The loss of our son, truly solidified our love for each other. (For those who don’t know, we had a small wedding the day after our son’s memorial, only two short weeks after.)

Time passes and memories, unfortunately, start to fade. Our generation is so blessed to live in an age with technology AND live in an age where Mom’s take a jillion pictures of their children each and every day. **Thank you, Snapchat!** 

My heart goes out to those who find themselves in the same situation I am in. Any loss of a child is tough; whether you lost your 35-year-old son to addiction OR you lost your unborn, unannounced child, privately in your home through a miscarriage.

Losing a child is THE absolute hardest thing a parent EVER has to go through. While we are not in this alone, and the battle is an ongoing one, know that you WILL live to see another day, the crying WILL begin to slow down, you WILL be able to smile and be happy again, and the next day WILL be a little easier, if you learn to let go and surrender to what is.

If my words help at least one other person, I believe that blogging about my story on  SIDS Sucks, was well worth it. Feel free to share your story with me in a comment below, or message me directly on my contact page. I would love the chance to remember the joys of our Angel Babies, together.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be.”

**Mommy, Daddy, Maverick and family miss you SO much, Markie Mark! We will always remember our Grumpy Pants. Rest in Peace, Marcus Gordon Montañez, Born on 7/18/16 – Taken Home on Angel’s Wings 9/24/16**

 

 

 

Baby, child loss, Family, grief, Infant Loss, Uncategorized

Accepting the Unacceptable

I wake up, roll over to grab my glasses, and like most 23-year-olds these days, unlock my phone and immediately check Facebook. This has become a habit that has taken over a good portion of my mornings more times than I’d like to admit. I don’t check because I want to see if who is doing what today, or if somebody commented on my picture of my adorable dog, Maverick (who truly is a good boy). No. From July 18 – September 23, every year from now until the day God takes me home, I get to relive, if only for a brief moment, through a simple Facebook feature called “On This Day”, the life of my beautiful baby boy, Marcus.  

Losing him to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (also known as SIDS) almost a year ago, has completely changed my perspective on life. Life is extremely short. People close to you are going to let you down. Your car will get a flat tire and you’ll have to call your Dad to come fix it because it is dark outside and you’re stuck on the side of the road terrified because of all the insane things you see on crime dramas (specifically Criminal Minds).

Learning to accept the unacceptable is now my everyday reality. My sweet baby boy was so precious and innocent and pure. To look back on all of his adorable pictures that flooded my Timeline last year, and see the cute comments that were posted by all of our loved ones during such a happy, joyful time, brings the feeling of an eerie emptiness in the depths of my heart.

I’m grateful and thankful and blessed for each moment I spent with him. Every sleepless night, every *poopy* diaper, even him peeing all over me… and the wall… and the dog… and his Daddy. He was a my cute little grumpy pants. Maverick, our dog, protected his brother and even alerted Mommy and Daddy when he was about to poo. (Like I said, he is a very good boy!)

Although my son had a very short life here on Earth, and I still don’t understand why, he taught me something that I had never learned before, even in my six years of college (Go Bulls!). He brought to my life something that I didn’t even know that I needed, until I had him. Through the life of my perfect child, I was able to experience (and understand) the power of unconditional love.

The bond a parent has with their child is something that only a parent would understand. I thought that I knew (because according to my Dad, I think I know everything), but I didn’t even have a clue. Without your love, days seem longer, and the nights are even harder. Your Daddy and I miss you so much, Markie, and every day we are forced to move forward in our lives while accepting the unacceptable.