Blog 22 of Top 25 Moms with Inspiring Families - 2012

Bereaved and Blessed

by Kathy Benson

Favorite Blog Posts

How does blogging help you deal with challenges?

My blog is about learning to cope and find joy when life doesn’t go as we hope, dream and plan (whether due to infertility, loss, illness and/or other circumstances). Blogging helps me to deal with challenges by allowing me to process my thoughts and feelings through writing. But my blog is so much more than a public journal. Blogging gives me the opportunity to get feedback and support from those who read what I share. I appreciate when people comment on my posts and share their unique points of view. Sometimes getting to look at a challenge that I am facing from another person’s perspective can help me to deal with it more effectively. Likewise, blogging helps me to connect with others who write about topics and experiences that I can relate to. Though I may not agree with everything they believe and share on their blogs, I like to see where they are coming from, as well as how they approach and work through difficult, uncertain and joyful times in their lives. As a “wounded healer” I also find it therapeutic to know that I am able to help others by being so open and honest in my writing about my own personal experiences during and after our five year journey through secondary infertility and loss. I began blogging in April 2007 in part to update some of our family and friends who had shown us, through their love and support that they wanted to share in our journey trying to expand our family. We dealt with secondary infertility and pregnancy loss for over five years (between 2004 – 2009). At first I used my blog, originally called Three of a Kind Working on a Full House…, as a way to keep track of what happened during our Assisted Reproductive Technology cycles and then with our pregnancy/journey with our daughter Molly, who had a rare, severe and fatal combination of congenital heart defects and heterotaxy/left atrial isomerism. Molly was born and died in April 2008. Amazingly we somehow conceived again on our own and our daughter Abigail was born with a healthy heart in September 2009. Soon after I renamed my blog to Four of a Kind. We feel so blessed and continue to try to take this journey one day at a time. I also like to share some on my blog about parenting our 8 year old son Sean, now 2 year old Abby and add other tidbits about our life and experiences. After we lost Molly in 2008 and had Abby in 2009, I was in somewhat of a fog, still dealing with my grief, as well as balancing caring for our older son and newborn daughter. I did not blog much in 2010. In 2011 I found my voice again and have tried to prioritize writing, reading and commenting ever since. In February 2011 I “came out” about my blog, which had always been public, but not everyone in my life was aware of. I experienced some growing pains since, but overall am glad I chose to be more open with my friends and family in real life about it. Earlier this year I moved from Blogger to Self-Hosted WordPress and changed the name of my blog to Bereaved and Blessed.

What's a book or song that has inspired you?

“Gatekeeper” by Meg Hutchinson: I have been touched and heartbroken by the suicide of two loved ones and I struggle a lot with the “what ifs” and “hows” related to whether their deaths could have been prevented. One day in March 2010 I was listening to The Bob Edwards Show on NPR. Bob was interviewing folk singer Meg Hutchinson. They were talking about the inspiration behind one of her songs called “Gatekeeper.” Meg shared that she had read an article in The New Yorker called “Jumpers” (October 2003) about the prevalence of people committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. The article spoke of a man named Kevin Briggs, who was a motorcycle patrolman with the Marin County, California police department that earned the nickname, “Gatekeeper.” Apparently this guy has approached 200 men and women who looked as if they were about to jump off the bridge to their death in the Bay and successfully talked them and down and out of taking their own lives. As the story goes, and as Meg sings in the lyrics of her gorgeous song, the “Gatekeeper” apparently would ask these lost souls ready to take the plunge two simple questions: “How do you feel?” and “What are your plans for tomorrow?” In doing so, he was able to distract them long enough to get them to reconsider committing suicide that day. After hearing a clip in the interview, I download “Gatekeeper” and I couldn’t wait to listen to the rest of the lyrics to Meg’s simple and very moving song. Not long after that I found and read The New Yorker article she had referenced. My favorite line in Meg’s song is, “maybe every day, in ordinary ways, we hold each other on, we keep each other here.” I think that is so profound and rings true for me. There have been countless people in my life that have been “Gatekeepers” to me. Though I have never seriously considered committing suicide, I have survived some very rough patches where my self esteem and self worth were severely challenged. I love the idea that in “ordinary ways” we can make extraordinary differences in the journeys of loved ones and even strangers that we meet throughout the course of our day-to-day lives. Kevin “the Gatekeeper” Briggs has done so by asking those two simple questions of strangers he has met contemplating jumping, Meg Hutchison has done so through her music and song, Bob Edwards has done so with the stories he shares on his radio show and so many people have done so for me over the years through their kind words, caring ways, love and support. So often it’s the little things that can help keep us a float when we feel like we are drowning. Knowing that others want to know how we are feeling and being able to think about what we might do tomorrow has the power to help us get through tough times. I hope that however you are doing today that you know there are people in your life (including me) who care about how you are feeling and want to know what your plans, hopes and dreams are for tomorrow and the days to come.

After a particularly rough day, how do you raise your spirits?

When this happens there are a variety of ways that I use to process my experience and to cope. As evidenced on my blog, one of my outlets is writing and sharing. However sometimes I just want to escape, go somewhere and forget my troubles. Sometimes I literally go somewhere, as in on a run or to a group fitness class (exercise is a huge stress reliever for me). Other times I will escape virtually through praying, meditating, listening to music, reading a book, a magazine, other blogs and/or watching a favorite movie or television show (two of my current favorites are Parenthood and Downton Abbey). Another way I get away from it all, when I can’t physically go somewhere, is to go to one of my “happy places.” I do this by closing my eyes and imagining that I am in one of my favorite places, such as the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (where my maternal grandparents retired to in 1979, lived until the late 1990′s before their deaths and I have many happy childhood memories of). Lately, when I need a quick pick me up, I have found a new “happy place” that I like to visit. I go and watch some of my favorite video clips on YouTube. Watching them is one of my simple pleasures in life and helps me to get my mind off whatever might be clouding my vision. My current favorite YouTube video is the “History of Rap” performed in 2010 on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon by Jimmy, Justin Timberlake and The Roots. If you’ve seen this video and enjoy it as much as I do and haven’t seen the sequels, be sure to check out History of Rap Part Two and Part Three (if you can find them, as the last time I checked they were no longer available on YouTube). Though Parts Two and Three are not quite as awesome as the original (in my opinion), they are very entertaining and if you are a fan of rap music (like me), I think you will get a kick of out them.

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