My friend, Jennifer Kaiton, is one of those people that you meet her and know that she is a little bit magical. Perhaps more than a little bit. Before the holidays, I asked her to share some of her story and some advice as to how one can navigate the holidays with a little more peace in her heart. These are Jennifer’s words, albeit a little bit late. I think they ring true for the new year, and a little music is always a good thing. Please, sit back and enjoy.
Could you tell us a little about your journey and your babies? What has led you to this point?
My husband and I were married in 2008 and were excited to start a family together. We were unexpectedly pregnant in early 2009, but it ended with an early miscarriage. About 10 months later we learned we were pregnant again in early 2010. It was a beautiful pregnancy where I went full term and after going into the hospital after my water broke, we learned our baby boy James had no heartbeat. It was a devastating blow and would change our lives forever. We took about two years to heal, which included a move from Los Angeles to Seattle. We were pregnant again in early 2013, it seems we always end of pregnant at the start of the New Year! It was a healthy pregnancy, but we lost it unexpectedly at 4 months. Up to this point we had no reasons for our losses which was very very frustrating to say the least. It took us about a year to recover emotionally from the loss, so we tried again in 2014. In the 4th month of this 4th pregnancy, I was nervous so I went in to the hospital on a lunch break only to learn the baby had no heartbeat. In a few words pregnancy loss has lead me to this point. The losses have brought about so much pain and worry and change, that I’ve awakened to life. I am no longer the same person I was seven years ago when we started trying for a family.
At what point did you discover the other side of grief – the light with the shadow, if you will?
It was after James died. I was dealing with an enormous amount of pain and grief that I decided I had a choice. It was either going to sink me or I was going to work on getting back to joy somehow. For me, it took a long time but eventually little by little I began to live again and find that little light inside of me someplace. It was if that light had gone out, but really it had only gone down to a small flicker. So I had to tenderly take care of myself and nurse myself back to health and I did that by surrendering to the grief and allowing it to remove the darkness and make more room for light and joy to re-enter.
I would guess music played a big part in that. could you speak to that?
Yes, music is my first passion in life and being a singer/musician it was only natural that music would play a roll in my recovery. To this day, I’m not sure how specific albums or songs made their way to my ears, but they did. One album that helped me was James Vincent Mc Murrow’s album “Early In The Morning.” It’s a haunting album that spoke to me in every way as I grieved the loss of my son. Music has always been a healing resource for me in my life, so this era was no different. As a singer, it took me about four and a half years to begin singing with my heart rather than simply performing a song. When I sing now, I sing with my whole being since it’s a gift for people and I do not take that for granted any longer.
What do you want people to know about grief?
For those who are dealing with it, I am so sorry for whatever brought you to its doorstep. Grief is not to be feared even though it can be the most painful experience. Please know, the pain will not last forever as long as you listen and lean into it. The pain you are feeling is a chance to heal, it’s a catalyst for change and by facing it I promise you will feel better in the end. Grief is dark and brooding, but it is not to be feared. You are stronger than you know you are and that darkness can NEVER extinguish the divine light within you.
What has surprised you, what have you learned?
I had no idea I was strong. I had no idea I could survive traumas like I have. I am proud my marriage has survived the losses and I’m amazed and how strong and healthy my body is despite the losses. Overall, I am surprised I still have hope in my heart. I believe that is proof that the pain can’t take anything away from me. In fact, I think the pain has helped me feel hope and joy more strongly than ever before.
What are your words of advice to grieving families this holiday season?
Be gentle with yourself, do what you need to take good care of yourself and your family. Find a small way to honor your child and connect to the person you have lost. I truly believe they are still with us, just on the other side of the “doorway.” We may not be able to see them or hold them, but they are with us and are happy and content and want us to be the same. My son died in December so it’s a tough time of year, but I was determined to not let it ruin Christmas for me. Instead, I found that the loss of my son taught me the true meaning of love this time of year. So each year gets a bit better and I feel like I can honor him and connect with him more each Christmas.
Could you play us a song please?