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How Do You See Them?

“How do you see them?”

This was the first time I’ve ever been asked this.  I didn’t know how to answer at first. We made a hard choice not to name our babies, we didn’t do a ceremony, we chose to let them live facelessly. Whether that was the right choice or not, I can’t say, but I can tell you, it leads you to be unprepared when you get a question like that.

Recently, a friend posted an image titled “What grieving parents get talked to about vs. what a grieving parent wants to talk about.” One of the points is that a grieving parent wants to talk about their child that they lost, they want to speak about them, they want to say their name, they want to get that chance to share that special light with someone else.

Being asked “How do you see them” was the first opportunity I’ve had to take a moment and talk about them, not as a point of pain, of hurt, or grief, but as pieces of me that are no longer here. Individuals.

So how do I see my losses? I see them as energy, to be honest. Not as ghosts, so no need to call up a young priest and an old priest, but as something extra in the environment around me.

Their energy gives me patience and perspective in the grief of others. To sit in those feelings and be supportive to help empower and acknowledge them.

Their energy allows me to be vulnerable and acknowledge that even though my cup may never be full,  it is not broken.

Their energy I am convinced gives their older sister energy, which isn’t so great at 5:30 AM on a Saturday, but it is great when she puts that extra energy into other kids and people that seem way beyond her years.

In our sucky club of pregnancy and infant loss, there is so much we want people to know, especially because we are never asked. As many on this blog have posted about, the darkness of grief is present and encompassing. Ask questions like “How do you see them?” because even if you don’t get an answer right away, or an answer that makes sense, or maybe even you feel uncomfortable,  that acknowledgment means the world. That opportunity means the world simply because you are shedding light and acknowledging the gravity of the grief that is, not at some superficial level, but at a deep and important level.

Category : Paul , Volunteer Bloggers


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It’s Not Your Fault

“It’s not your fault.”

I remember that is what most people said to me when I revealed to them I had miscarried. My doctor was the first one to say it. It seems like a good thing to say and it is true. It isn’t our faults. Somehow, our bodies know to take control over a situation that isn’t going to work out.

It’s a good thing to say, doesn’t mean it’s easy to believe. I have blogged before about fault in miscarriage because I feel as though I still struggle with it. How can one not think it’s their fault? When something bad happens, we feel the need to find the source. In this case, I was the one carrying the babies, so, therefore, it’s my fault. It seems to make sense, but it’s the easy way out. 

A friend of mine recently sent me a Thought Catalog blog post regarding trauma. It starts out with “what happened to you is not your fault.” It details how we all have bad things happen to us, things that we never asked for or wanted. We are not to take responsibility for the loss, but we need to take responsibility for how we heal.

We are not responsible for what our bodies decide is good for us. As easy as it is to allow ourselves to slip into our grief and hide from the world, we need to take responsibility for our grief.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put that way, “healing is your responsibility. ” We have little control in terms of pregnancy. Yes, we make the decision to get pregnant. Sure, we eat well and take care of ourselves to ensure the baby is healthy, but overall, our bodies decide what will happen. Nature takes over. We surrender ourselves to chance. When these bad things happen though, we do have control over how we process it. Accepting this control and embracing this new understanding of what can happen can actually be a form of a gift. Sounds absurd to refer to a traumatic event as a gift. When my daughter was born, she was in the NICU for three days because she was exhibiting seizures. I blogged about this in a previous post. The seizures were caused by a stroke they think occurred at the time of delivery. She is doing very well now and has had no serious side effects, but 15 months later I am still blaming myself. Even though the doctor said, “It’s not your fault. It just happened.” I still struggle with placing blame on myself. 

When a traumatic event such as a miscarriage or any type of pregnancy loss occurs, we are faced with a decision to retreat or come out stronger. In an uncontrollable situation, the control we can take is over our journey of grief. It takes a lot of strength and inner peace to begin to accept our losses or bumps in the road as gifts. They are learning experiences that hopefully will make us better people. Isn’t that why God gives us challenges…so we can prove to ourselves that we can get back up and move forward?

Category : Kate , Volunteer Bloggers


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A Forgotten Date

Early one morning last week, I was sitting at my dining room table, still half asleep, scrolling through my phone when it hit me: I had missed it.

This was the morning of February 7. It was the anniversary of the day we said goodbye to our daughter. February 6, 2020, had come and gone without a flicker of recognition of the day.

As I got ready for my day, I was filled with thoughts that I can only describe as a mini panic. What did this mean, that I could miss such an important day? I even had scheduled a Through the Heart meeting on February 6 without ever making a connection to the date. Did it mean I was forgetting? Did it mean I didn’t care as much? In that quick instant, I felt like a failure. How could this happen?

There was a time when February 6 was a date I never could have imagined forgetting. It was seared into my brain. And although I am confident there are snippets of that day that will never leave my memory, apparently I am no longer tethered to a date on a calendar the way I once was.

Now, I know that the baby herself will never be forgotten, but the pregnancy, the loss, and the aftermath have become more of one big jumbled event instead of a series of dates and milestones.

I feel the theme of my writing lately has been about allowing oneself some grace. And yet as much as I write about it, it doesn’t come any easier. I have a lot of thoughts about what I could have done differently over the years while coping with our three losses even though I know I can’t change the past and dwelling on it does me no good. But every now and then something will trigger a thought, a memory, and I wonder why I didn’t handle things differently.

This has been a tough parenting week for me and I’ve really been letting the stress of it all affect me. But as I thought about this blog post this morning, I realized that my toughest day parenting is still easier than February 6, 2013 – the day I walked out of that doctor’s office without my child. And regardless of whether I remember that specific date, I will always remember that day, and nothing will change that.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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What Remains

It’s hard to believe a year has gone by since we lost my grandson Liam. I remember what a difficult time it was and how we were unsure about if and how we should hold a memorial. Even though he was stillborn, I believed his life should be honored. Since my daughter-in-law was recovering from having miscarried, we opted for something simple and meaningful. We had a mass offered for Liam at my church, followed by a family reception at my home. It was an honorable way to remember Liam and grieve his loss.

At the time, I really wasn’t sure what memorial options were available. I came across the book What Remains: The Many Ways to Say Goodbye: An Anthology, edited by Sandi Gelles-Cole and Kenneth Salzman. It wasn’t what I expected, but many of the passages moved me. I was hoping for more of a “how-to” checklist for planning memorials, but this provided personal stories of how people honored and remembered their loved ones in death and how they themselves wish to be remembered.

I was surprised by how often people spoke of the relief and peace that came to them through their grief. They spoke of feeling the presence of the departed among them. One writer noted that she was “fatherless and fatherful.”

Humor was also present in several of the stories. One writer shared the constant back and forth argument between his parents about his father’s request to be cremated. His mother could not envision telling her neighbors that her husband was “in a jar on top of the TV.” One day when the son came to visit, she waved two certificates in his face as it they were winning lottery tickets. She had purchased two plots at a local cemetery. Not a mention was made about his dad’s preferences until his death. His mother had one final wish also–at the funeral, a small box was lowered into the 6-foot grave. “Your father’s ashes are in the box. It was a great price on a plot, I couldn’t let it sit there empty,” whispered the mom to her son.

Several noted non-traditional resting places for their loved one’s cremains. In one poignant piece, a woman writes about scattering some of her husband’s ashes at places that were meaningful to them during in their relationship. He had not wanted a funeral, but after his death she wanted some way to honor his memory.

The strong bond between owners and their pets who have “crossed over the rainbow bridge” was even addressed. Pets are truly like family and losing one can be like losing a family member.

One quote at the beginning of the book immediately struck me— “You only truly die when your name is spoken for the last time.” The greatest fear of two friends who had each lost a daughter—one at age 9 and the other at age 17—was that they would be forgotten. Remembering those we have lost keeps them alive in our hearts and minds. Speaking of them and celebrating their lives in whatever way we see fit keeps them present in our lives.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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A Vortex of Grief

I’ve been trying to write this post for more than 2 weeks, but the words just won’t come – at least not coherently, anyway.

January 9, 2016 was my due date for baby #2. I planned to write a blog post as I do every January 9th, but in the days leading up to it, I just couldn’t. Last year Sean & I decided that on each angel baby’s birthday, we would give them a name. The first one was easy; this one, not so much. As I thought about the process of yet again choosing a name for a baby who is not here, I just didn’t want to do it.

On that day, I told my husband that I was struggling and he reminded me of something I tell others all the time: there is no right way to grieve and there is nothing I HAVE to do.

So often with loss milestones we put pressure on ourselves to do something. Because if we don’t, it means we don’t care enough – or at least that’s what we believe in our minds. (Or maybe it’s just me that does that, but somehow I have a feeling I’m not alone.)

I’m proof that loss isn’t something you just get over. It’s not a wound that completely heals over time. It’s been almost 7 years since I began this journey and I can’t think of a more appropriate word than that: journey. So much has changed over that time. And while there has been a lot of progression forward in terms of healing and being at peace, there are also so many times when I feel I’ve regressed into a vortex of grief where I’m just trying to make sense of things until I can eventually break out again.

I had (have?) a lot of guilt about not naming the babies when they passed but that’s just not how my brain works. I need to process what is happening first, then go back and reflect on it later. Only as time has gone on, revisiting the idea of giving them names hasn’t come any easier. Sometimes I feel I messed up by not doing it right away. I am sure that at some point, Baby Kelly #2 will be named, but I’m not sure when that will be.

Even after weeks of thinking about this, I feel this piece still isn’t all that coherent, or at least doesn’t have much of a point. But maybe that IS the point – pregnancy loss is messy and confusing and scary and frustrating and overwhelming and sad.

It’s just really, really hard.

Category : Karen , Staff/Board Members


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Happy Birthday

My due date was January 16, 2018. I wish I were sitting here trying to control a 2 year old and a 4 year old instead of writing this blog.  I wish I were putting the finishing touches on a birthday party for this weekend. I wish I was stressed out, trying to get those final RSVPs.  Instead, my daughter and I will be blowing out the candle on a cupcake for the brother she never got a chance to meet.

It’s always an emotional day (even though it’s only the 3rd year), but this year seems a little different. I’ve carried a lot of guilt with me over the past 2.5 years. Even though I logically know I did nothing wrong and it was not my fault, it still hurts that I wasn’t able to protect my baby and bring him into existence. Today, I’m not feeling as much guilt. Maybe that means I’m healing? Maybe it means that day by day, I’m getting just a little bit better without ever forgetting.

My daughter came home from a friend’s birthday party the other day, where there were two newborn babies. She asked me why she doesn’t have a brother or a sister. I reminded her that she does (as we have fur babies). She’s too young to understand and the guilt I had for not being able to protect her brother will, I’m sure, carry into guilt that she doesn’t have any siblings here on earth.  Guilt and grief are ever changing and present themselves in so many different ways.

So tomorrow, we’ll get a cupcake and we’ll blow out the candle. But please know that the candle I hold for you will never go out.

Happy Birthday, Hudson.

Category : Jessica , Volunteer Bloggers


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A New Day is Here

On February 21, 2020, I will celebrate my 40th birthday. Life has definitely thrown some hard balls my way, yet I feel like I am living my best life ever. This year I want to focus on the simple things. Like the saying goes, stop and smell the roses…or lilies. I am tired of carrying my anxieties and regrets into a new year. When I look back 10 years ago on the eve of my 30th birthday, I was at a crossroad. This was not my first time at that place, but I was completely empty, no reserves left to keep up the facade that life was good. In that moment I could continue down a dead end or take a leap of faith and make a change. I decided to jump into the unknown.

One of the things that was holding me back was a false belief that things could not get better. I had convinced myself that this was as good as it gets. And how sad it was! I knew that this is not the life I dreamed of when I was a little girl. I was in a toxic relationship, in between jobs, a thesis away from graduation, and just miserable. I told myself that I was not meant to be a mother and when asked about kids I joked that family and kids were at the bottom of my to-do list when in actuality it was on my top 10 list that I wrote in my journal. I allowed people and circumstances to dictate my day to day. I was existing not living.

Life is full of hardships, but how we respond in these moments will not only define us but refine us. If you are not getting better in the good and in the bad, then you need to reevaluate your place in life. It is important to stop and take a look around you. What can you modify? What can you remove? And most importantly, what new can you bring to your life to rejuvenate it? In my case, it was mostly the people around me I needed to leave behind because to reinvent myself I needed to surround myself with self-sufficient individuals who will build me up and not tear me down. I was getting older and needed to put away childish things and focus on being mature and taking control of my life.

Fast forward 10 years and I am happily married with 2 handsome boys. I graduated with my Masters degree and just recently enrolled into another graduate program. I am more confident in my professional life. Getting to this point in my life was hard, but it was on my terms. I understand that I must be an active participant in my blessing. I must get up when I fall. I must ask for help. There have been disappointments, but a lot more blessings. And that is what I want to focus on this year. I look around me now and I have so much love embracing me. I look at my oldest son Titus who will start Kindergarten this August and I am amazed how fast he is growing and learning. He teaches me something every day like did you know about the Zebramosa?  Yes. This is a real fish. And then there is my rainbow baby Roman who truly is our angel boy and brings sunshine wherever he goes. Did I have this all planned out 10 years ago? No. Is it better than I expected when I took that leap of faith? Absolutely.

Even though its been 10 years, I am still healing from the past pains and heartache. Everyone heals differently in their own time, but do not become captive by it. Use it to fuel your passions and goals forward. If you are grieving, join a support group. If you need a helping hand, schedule an appointment with a therapist. And I find that I am my own worst enemy, so start journaling so you can remind yourself of who you were, are and designed to be in God’s eyes. The sun rises every day no matter the condition of the day, rain or shine. Isn’t it time that you take back your sanity, your heart, your mind, your soul, your spirit, and your life? Like an artist, get a new canvas for 2020 and start creating a new masterpiece of your life.

Category : Tracy , Volunteer Bloggers


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If you’ve come to this blog, it likely means you have suffered a pregnancy loss of some type. We are so sorry you have found yourself here, but hope the stories of life after loss can help you on your road to healing and recovery. Remember, we are all in this together!

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