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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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Everything says it's not my fault, but does it really matter? Are you any less gone?

Can we talk about the phrase, “It’s not your fault”?

e loss community is divided on this subject of guilt and fault. I know many bereaved parents find comfort in the sentiment, and I don’t seek to take that away from you. I only ask that you also acknowledge that other people may feel differently.

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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

Some people do choose to find positivity after loss, and I think that’s great. I think it’s an example of the many ways different people respond differently. But it’s not what I choose. And in my opinion, feelings must be an individual choice.

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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 as pro-choice as it is possible to be. I also believe a fetus is a person. It is possible to hold both beliefs simultaneously. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I am Pro-Choice AND I believe a fetus is a person

As a loss parent, people often assume I am against abortion. I am not. Life is sometimes complicated, and this is one of those situations.

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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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Laughter doesn't mean the grief is over - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Laughter doesn’t mean the grief is over

Something I wish people understood is that it’s possible to laugh while you’re dying inside. Laughter doesn’t mean the grief is over. The two things can exist simultaneously.

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Life is hard, and we are all struggling at the same time. - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Life is hard, and we are ALL struggling at the same time

If I’ve learned anything in the past 4 years, it is that, despite appearances, we have NO idea what anyone else is going through. All we tend to see is what is on the surface, and the few other glimpses people choose to share. And sometimes, what is shared is far from reality

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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

Read more

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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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Some things have no bright side. It's okay to acknowledge that. - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Some things have no bright side

We are conditioned to look for the silver lining in everything, but some things simply don’t have one. It’s okay to acknowledge that.

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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 it just needs to suck. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Sometimes it Just Needs to Suck

It feels like we are conditioned to look on the bright side of every dark situation, but sometimes there isn’t one. Sometimes, things just need to suck

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Notes for the Bereaved - Sometimes the most meaningful thing anyone can say to you is "This fucking sucks." Because it does. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Sometimes the most meaningful thing anyone can say is, “This fucking sucks.”

Even in the face of great tragedy, people often feel pressured to put a positive spin on things; to find the silver lining in the dark. I won’t do with you. Sometimes the most meaningful thing anyone can say is, “This fucking sucks.” Because it does.

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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. It’s a fallacy, because it implies that one person’s positive outcome is automatically going to apply for everyone, but this isn’t true.

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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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Tragedy is not a one-time event. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Tragedy is not a one-time event

Tragedy is not a one-time event. It happens over and over again–every morning; every milestone; every holiday. Every new experience is touched by the loss. In every experience, something is missing.

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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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When my child died, I thought about suicide - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Elephant

When my child died, I thought about Suicide

When my son died, I thought about suicide. It’s not that I wanted to die, per se; more that I didn’t know how to go on living. How did I make sense of life again? How did I function in a world in which I barely knew my name?

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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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We don’t have to meet every deadline. We don’t have to greet every day with a perfect smile. Some days require all of my energy to throw back the covers and put my feet on the floor. And on those days, that is my something. And on others, I have learned to bargain. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

You are under no obligation to greet every day with a smile

I used to feel so much pressure to perform; to meet a certain standard at work and in life. And the worst part was, the bulk of this pressure was internal; something I demanded of myself. And then my son died, and I realized I didn’t have it in me to keep up with these illusory standards.

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Notes for the Bereaved -  You are under no obligation to keep anyone in your life for any reason. You are allowed to protect your own peace. - Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

You are under no obligation to keep anyone in your life

When I was new in my grief, I both gained and lost people…The one thing I didn’t expect was that I would have to remove some people from my life because they weren’t capable of providing support without worsening my grief.

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