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Life & Authenticity

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Notes for the support team - "Good intentions" are best revealed by changing behavior you've been informed is hurtful.

“Good intentions” are best revealed by changing behavior you’ve been informed is hurtful

We are often asked to excuse hurtful behavior because the person had good intentions…An important corollary is that when someone has good intentions, they will want to make amends for any unintentional hurt. “Good intentions” are best revealed by changing behavior you’ve been informed is hurtful.

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Original statement: "Positive vibes only." Rewritten: Authentic vibes only. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

“Positive Vibes Only”

“Positive vibes only” sounds like a great message, but it unfortunately acts as erasure of the full emotional spectrum. Authenticity is always preferable.

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Trauma is not your fault, but healing is your responsibility. Rewritten: Trauma is not your fault.

“Trauma is not your fault, but healing is your responsibility”

This meme has been floating around for a while, and I honestly can’t stand it. Trauma is not your fault, period. Healing is never an obligation. Telling someone they have an obligation to heal from their trauma is just another form of toxic positivity.

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Death isn’t something you ever “get over”.  It’s something you integrate, and then reintegrate again  and again.  -Miranda Hernandez Adrian's Mother

Death isn’t something you ever “get over”

In the Before, I always thought of death as a sad experience, but one whose impact would eventually fade. I know now that you never really “get over” the death of someone you love; you can only integrate the loss and pain. And this is a process that is never-ending.

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Feelings are always valid, Even when they aren’t rational; Even when they are "negative"; Even when other people wish you felt differently.  Feelings are always valid.  -Miranda Hernandez Adrian's Mother

Feelings are ALWAYS valid

One of the more important things I’ve learned is that if what you’re feeling is authentic, then it’s valid, no matter what. Feelings don’t have to follow rules; they just exist.

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Forced positivity is toxic.

Forced Positivity is Toxic

Positivity is and has to be an individual choice. Forced positivity, then, becomes toxic. People are individuals and attitudes must be determined internally

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If you ask a widow about the worst kind of grief, they are going to say it’s losing a spouse. If you ask a bereaved parent about the worst kind of grief, they are going to say it’s losing a child. ...And they are both correct. Grief is not a competition. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Grief is not a Competition

If you ask a widow about the worst kind of grief, they are going to say it’s losing a spouse. If you ask a bereaved parent about the worst kind of grief, they are going to say it’s losing a child. And they are both correct. Grief is not a competition.

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I am thoroughly uninterested in being "strong." -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I am thoroughly uninterested in being “strong”

Growing up, I heard the words “be strong” a lot…And maybe this is something I have internalized. This sense of false stoicism, where emotions are suspect.

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I deserve enthusiastic support, both in life and in grief. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I Deserve Enthusiastic Support Both in Life and Grief

When someone is important in your life, you shouldn’t have to wait for them to “come around” to acknowledge and respect the things that are important to you. You deserve enthusiastic support from the very beginning. I do too. I deserve enthusiastic support, both in life and in grief.

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I have the right to feel how I feel, for as long as I feel it, regardless of circumstances  or whether someone else  feels differently.  -Miranda Hernandez Adrian's Mother

I have the right to feel how I feel

Feelings aren’t required to be rational or reasonable, nor to follow anyone else’s expectations. I have the right to feel how I feel, for as long as I feel it, regardless of circumstances or whether someone else feels differently.

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I miss the days when I still believed all you needed was a good attitude. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I miss the days when I still believed all you needed was a good attitude

Before Adrian died, I was a relatively positive person. His death shattered my belief and confidence in the ultimate goodness of the world.

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I too used to believe tragedy was the thing that happened to other people. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I too used to believe tragedy was the thing that happened to other people.

Before Adrian died, I always thought of tragedy and loss as something that happened to OTHER people, but not to me. Of course I feel differently now.

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I’m upset with movies and TV shows for making me think grief was just a phase. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I’m upset with movies and TV shows for making me think grief was just a phase

I didn’t have much experience with death or grief prior to the death of my son, and so I’m embarrassed that I genuinely used to believe everything was “okay” right after the funeral.⁠ This is how it’s often portrayed on TV. This is wrong.

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My experience feels a lot more valid when I remove all the “buts”. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

My experience feels a lot more valid when I remove all the “buts”

Many years ago in the Before, my then-boyfriend asked me not to say, “I love you, but–“. As he pointed out, the word “but” is minimizing; it negates the importance of everything that came before. I think of this today, and I realize how much more valid my experience feels when I remove any “buts”. It definitely helps.

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My feelings are authentic and I own them completely. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

My feelings are authentic and I own them completely

I’ve been running into a trend recently when I talk about Adrian’s death, especially when I share more “uncomfortable” feelings such as anger or regret. People seem to feel like they need to urge me to find peace or to otherwise feel differently. I wish more people understood the power in authenticity; in feeling whatever and however one needs.

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What's with this expectation that grief should be "reasonable"?  Death certainly isn't reasonable. Grieve however you need.  -Miranda Hernandez Adrian's Mother

Neither Death nor Grief are “Reasonable”

I’ve seen so many people begin a post about grief with phrases like, “This may sound odd,” or “Sorry if this is weird.” I’ve decided I’m going to stop doing that. Grief doesn’t have to be reasonable. Death certainly isn’t.

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Please don’t ask me how I’m doing unless you’re prepared to hear the truth.

Please don’t ask me how I’m doing unless you’re prepared to hear the truth

I never really considered that question, “How are you?” until after the death of my son. And then it became the bane of my day. Please don’t ask me how I’m doing unless you’re prepared to hear the truth

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Positivity is a choice, and not one you can make for other people. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Positivity is a choice, and not one you can make for other people

Positivity is a choice, and it’s important that it remains an individual one. You can’t force other people to feel positive; you can only make them feel bad about feeling differently.

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Public Service Announcement: Back Up Your Photos. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Public Service Announcement: Back Up Your Photos

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Refusing to talk about or even consider that death happens is not going to keep it from happening. Death isn't Rumpelstiltskin. It doesn't work that way. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Refusing to Talk About Death; Death Isn’t Rumpelstiltskin

The only thing that happens when we refuse to consider the possibility of death, is that we refuse at the same time to plan for it, or prepare. We refuse to plan for some fairly necessary things like life insurance. Or safe pregnancy…

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Sometimes I miss that initial innocence; the days when I thought positivity was enough to make everything go as planned. Only sometimes, though. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Sometimes I miss that initial innocence

I used to be so incredibly naïve. I used to believe all you needed was a positive attitude, and things would just—work out. Sometimes they don’t, though. And positivity is still being pushed as this mindless cure to what isn’t a disease. Positivity is meaningless without authenticity.

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Sometimes there is genuinely nothing to be thankful for. - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Sometimes there is genuinely nothing to be thankful for

Sometimes, no matter how hard we look, there is genuinely nothing to be thankful for. That’s not a failing in our perception; it’s just life.

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Sometimes I'm just— Tired. An exhaustion that goes beyond the surface; an exhaustion that is more than just physical. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Sometimes, I’m just—Tired

Sometimes; some days, I am just — tired. An exhaustion that goes beyond the surface. An exhaustion that is more than just physical.

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“I did it and I was fine.” This is called survivors bias. Your singular experience is neither proof nor promise that dangerous things won't hurt other people. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Survivor’s Bias

Survivor’s bias is a logical fallacy that equates the experience of those who survived an experience with “proof” that such an experience is safe.

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Thankfulness is not a cure for grief

It is common in loss circles to talk about finding thankfulness in the life we have left. There are so many things wrong with this sentiment. The biggest problem is that it assumes the bereaved can’t be thankful and grieving at the same time. The other main problem is the unspoken assumption that thankfulness is a “cure” for grief.⁠ It isn’t.

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Time doesn't "heal" anything, not by itself.  Medical care and self-care can be healing, if desired. Time is only a measure of the length of the process. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Time doesn’t heal anything, not by itself

They said time heals, but they lied. Time doesn’t heal. It’s only a measure of the length of the process.

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I think one of the things I've learned over the past few years since my son's death is that you never know what anyone else is going through. Even people who post on social media. Even people who are close. People keep a lot of pain below the surface. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

We have no idea what other people are going through

The last time I made an assumption about someone’s circumstances, I learned about the importance of looking further beneath. The story is almost always deeper.

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We need to talk about grief. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

We need to talk about grief

We need to talk about grief.
We need to talk about death & the fact that it happens.
We need to talk about relationships & how they don’t go away even when someone dies.
We need to talk about the realities of loss & the complexities inherent in planning a life for someone who never gets to live it.

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You are always always ALWAYS allowed to feel how you feel, with no obligation to cheer up, look on the bright side, or snap out of it. Your feelings are valid and so are you. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

You are always allowed to feel how you feel

Pain and grief can make outsiders uncomfortable, and sometimes they may urge you to heal and be your positive self again. This is a reminder that you are always allowed to feel however you need to.

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You are under no obligation to be healed—Not today, and not at any point in the future. It is always always ALWAYS okay not to be okay. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

You are under no obligation to be healed

There is often this perception that healing is a required part of the process of grief. I don’t believe this is true. Healing is and must always be the choice of the individual.

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