Courtesy Ashley Grimm(EMMETT, Idaho) — An Idaho mother mourning the loss of her 4-year-old son is sharing a message to parents in hopes they’ll soak in every moment they have with their children.
Ashley Grimm, 31, of Emmett, Idaho, told ABC News Tuesday that her advice to “hold your babies tight” was inspired by the recent car accident that took the life of her toddler, Titus.
The mom of six posted the heartbreaking note onto Facebook on July 15, where it’s since received more than 396,000 shares.
“It was my way of journaling the lessons that I had been learning and pouring my heart out in a raw, transparent way,” Grimm said. “I never dreamed that it would touch so many lives. I’m just a person and I lay in bed and cry. I’m not this superhero mom. People that have lost children, I want them to know that it’s not out of the question, that they can [get through it]. It’s one day at a time.
“My kids, they’re already lost their brother,” she added. “I said [to myself], ‘You have to get up and be strong, or they’re going to lose their mother too.’ That’s what keeps me going.”
Grimm said on June 2, she and her husband Nick were taking their seven children to Garden Valley, Idaho, for a family reunion.
Grimm drove the couple’s truck with five of the kids in the back and Nick took the couple’s motor home with the other two children.
Driving at 45 miles per hour, Grimm said a large rock rolled in her path.
“It’s a place that’s notorious for falling rocks,” she said. “It’s a dangerous highway, but I saw the rock and I thought I could clear it. I was thinking, ‘I’m going to straddle the rock,’ but the rock hit my axle and it spun us straight to the side of the cliff.”
Grimm said the impact left her trapped in the car. Titus’ body was ejected from the vehicle and he was trapped under the van. Grimm would later learn from her son Jude, 8, that Titus had unbuckled his seat belt to switch seats with his brother, she said.
“Everyone was crying and screaming,” she added. “I don’t know how, but [Titus] was out of the vehicle and I can’t even remember what part [of the van] was on him. I just tried to lift it and poor Jude was trying to help me. At this point, people were stopping and calling 911. I just rubbed his tummy. At that time, I was just in denial. I knew in my mind he wasn’t breathing, but I wouldn’t believe it. I was convinced he would be resuscitated. I didn’t know that he had died at the scene.”
Police and paramedics who arrived at the scene informed Grimm that Titus had not survived the crash. The other children were not injured and Grimm suffered from wounds caused by shattered glass. That day, Grimm said the only injury she felt was a “broken heart.”
Today, Grimm, her husband and their children — Jonathan, 12, Hannah, 9, Camille, 9, Jude, 8, Ariel, 6, and Alice, 19 months, are all attending grief counseling. They each have a journal where they write about their feelings on Titus, Grimm said.
“I had bought myself a journal, but one of the kids had lost theirs, so I gave them mine,” she recalled. “It was one of the harder days. I woke up in tears missing him. I was taking the kids to places where I was observing other children with their parents. Any little boy running around would warm my heart. I’d look at other parents and I knew they loved their kids, but they don’t know how precious that gift was and how quickly it can be taken away.”
In an effort to encourage parents to “take in every moment,” Grimm said she took to Facebook to share her story.
She wrote, in part:
“Go hug your babies right now. Soak in their smell, look at the innocent sparkle in their eyes that is lost somewhere between childhood and adulthood. Really feel how they squeeze you. Set down your phone and see them through the lens of your eyes not only the lens of your camera. Remember the feeling of their head on your shoulder, their hand in yours, their sloppy kisses on your cheeks. Nurse them one more time. Sleep is overrated….”
Since sharing her post, Grimm said she’s received upwards of 9,000 Facebook messages from mothers and fathers.
“I suppose that when you go through something like this, all the things that parents fret about sort of seem trivial,” Grimm said. “I’ve gotten so many messages from moms that say they had ice cream for dinner in honor of Titus. Those are my favorites. I do hope that something positive can come out of the loss of my son. The most incredible thing about Titus was his infectious joy and love for life. Even though he’s gone, he’s still touching hearts.”
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