After only two weeks home, her daughter Isabella died due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If this wasn’t heartbreaking enough, a few years later, her son Lukas was diagnosed with stage-three cancer. (Thankfully Lukas has been in remission for the past 5 years.) Maja used her love of typography to channel her grief into a new career designing custom jewelry as a way to share her journey and Maja Arnold Design was born. Read on as she shares how grief impacted her lifeI wasn’t ready for the loss of my daughter. I guess nobody can prepare themselves for a loss of a loved one. At first, I was in a shock as it was so unexpected that it didn’t feel like it was a reality. I felt like I was living a bad dream, or should I say, nightmare. I kept thinking I would wake up and everything would be normal again. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Following Isabella’s death, I cried, I was mad, I felt hopeless and I felt guilty that I couldn’t protect her and save her. She was only two months old when she died and we had already endured a lengthy hospital stay. It wasn’t fair. After her death, I was living in a non-reality situation where I felt like I was in outer space. Life was continuing for everybody around me, but for me, my life stopped. After two weeks I had to get back to the daily routines as I still had my other twin to take care of in addition to my husband and myself. I knew I couldn’t go down to that horrible, dark place that you will never get out of with deep despair. I knew I had no choice but to go on living my life without her. She was truly amazing and I knew I had to stay strong for her so I could continue her legacy. So I did.
Then, I felt the need to do something to celebrate her and the person she had been so I started reading some beautiful spiritual books which were a huge help. I went for walks and I felt like she was with me everywhere I went. Somehow, the busier I was, the better I started to feel. Staying positive and remembering the happy times with my daughter made me realize I still had so much to be thankful for. To say that this time was hard is an understatement as you are alone in your own pain and nobody can truly understand how you feel. But, I had no choice but to stay strong for me and my family. And then, after my doctors said I could never get pregnant naturally again, I became pregnant with a girl who was born the same month that my daughter had passed away. It was a miracle.
I think time heals, and we realize that with everything bad that happens, something good usually comes out of it. For me, I turned to jewelry making to channel my grief, and I have now turned my hobby into a beautiful business in memory of my daughter. I knew I had to design my own necklace after people started asking me how many kids I had and I wanted to have something that represented all three of my children. I creating a necklace using all of my kids initials, and once I finished it, I felt complete. I wanted to pass this feeling forward so I started to create for others with their own stories which was very healing for me. Now, people share their stories with me all the time and I’m so happy that my baby’s legacy gave me a new purpose in lifeDealing with grief is hard but with a few tips, you can redirect your feelings and hopefully begin to mend:
- Give yourself time. You can’t expect to be ok right away. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to heal and grieve. Time heals.
- Read about shared experiences. There are so many books about people who have suffered a loss. Reading not only keeps you busy, it helps to know you are not the only one who has gone through similar experiences.
- Stay busy. Organize drawers. Go for walks. Run errands. Meet a friend. Do what you can to fill your days with activities.
- Join a support group. Spending time with people who have been through similar experiences and also those with skills to help you process is necessary.
- Immerse yourself in a new hobby. Learning a new skill like yoga, meditating (or jewelry making!) can help you find a deeper meaning for your every day.