Category Archives: Deb

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The Very Unmerry Month of May

We are certainly living through difficult times, perhaps one of the most challenging in history. Covid-19 is wreaking havoc across the world and our country and shows few signs of letting up. With no therapeutics or a vaccine, venturing outside has become frightening. I limit my excursions to early morning walks with my dog Kovu, given that I am a high-risk individual. For the first time since New York’s lockdown, I ventured out with Keith to take in Albany’s tulip fest, albeit from the car. I actually felt carsick from not having ridden in a vehicle for such a long time.

For many, May has always been a difficult month. Mother’s Day and the surrounding festivities can be extremely hard for those who have lost their moms or for moms who have lost a child. It can also be tough for those who, for any number of reasons, did not have the mother they deserved. Mother’s Day often brings a sense of profound loss.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. We tend to push mental health issues under the rug. Much like certain other illnesses, if you can’t see it, it doesn’t seem to exist. While many experience some depression or feelings of loss during this month, daily life in the face of a pandemic can exacerbate these feelings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely brought many changes to how you live your life, and with it, uncertainty, altered daily routines, financial pressures, and social isolation. You may worry about getting sick, how long the pandemic will last, and what the future will bring.

Many are experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, sadness and loneliness. And if you are predisposed to mental health disorders, they can worsen. It’s important to learn self-care strategies and get the care you need to help you cope.

While professional help is certainly available, there are ways you can help lessen stress. Here are some helpful tips recommended by the CDC to managing stress and coping with change in our daily lives:(1).

• Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
• Take care of your body by taking deep breaths, stretching or meditating; by eating healthy, well-balanced meals; by exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep.
• Make time to unwind. Start with activities you enjoy like painting, knitting, or reading.
• Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

For me, sticking to a daily routine has helped keep me busy and away from all the “what if” thinking in this uncertain time. I also try to focus what I can do, not what I can’t. While I am unable to hold my newborn grandson Rory, I am able to see him from a safe social distance. I know his brother Liam is watching over him from above. But most of all, try to stay positive and find the beauty in each day.

1 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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Choose Hope

We are living in challenging and fearful times. Our normal routines have been upended and we don’t know what the future holds for us and our families.

I am working on channeling this surreal experience into something more positive. The more I think about it, the more fear seems to imply passivity and giving up control. Fear often keeps you frozen in inaction and afraid.

A few months ago, I had a bout with vertigo. As I was getting out of bed, I felt like I was spinning. It continued for several days and I felt so dizzy I had to use a walker. Needless to say, it was quite unnerving. Once diagnosed, I did attend two vestibular therapy sessions, which seemed to help.

I thought I was 100% better so I went back to my normal exercise routine at the Y. Once in the pool, I started doing the backstroke. When I reached the deep end and turned around, I kicked off from the wall and the next thing I knew I was under water. I was terrified. Luckily, the lifeguards were right there and although I was able to right myself, they helped me out of the pool.

I was afraid to lap swim in the pool and resigned myself to missing my favorite Y event, the indoor triathlon. However, my friend Cindy, a swimming instructor at the YMCA, offered to work with me. I put it off for a while, then finally decided I wanted to conquer this fear. And, I still had time to register for the tri. I arrived at the pool 8 am sharp Monday morning. Cindy got in the lane with me and asked if I was afraid. I blurted out that I wasn’t afraid but concerned. She smiled and said she would be worried if I wasn’t. An AHA moment! That’s when I realized the big difference between fear and concern. Had I been fearful, I never would have gotten back in the lap lane. But by being concerned, I recognized I needed to take precautions (such as stopping if I felt dizzy and not pushing off from the wall to quickly). Concern put me in charge; I was not ruled by fear. And yes, I did complete the indoor triathlon.

Onto current events. Yes, this coronavirus is serious stuff. As someone over 60 with a preexisting condition I am in the high-risk category. I am also thinking about my daughter-in-law, who is due to deliver in April. She miscarried last January, and we are all praying that she delivers a healthy son. I think about the world he will be brought into. But no, I am not fearful; I’m concerned. Taking control of what I can has helped me deal with all the uncertainty. I can’t control the stock market, I can’t control the behavior of others, but I can control what measures I put in place to avoid contamination and help keep my family healthy. I am sad that I may not be able to see my newborn grandson soon, but it is a small sacrifice to pay. I’m pretty much staying at home, only going out to walk weather permitting.

What is helping me get through this difficult time is hope. As Maya Angelou said, “Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.” I am inviting hope.

Take care of yourself and your family. Stay healthy and realize that this too will pass. We may be physically isolated, but we don’t have to be socially isolated thanks to technology. With hope, we will get through this.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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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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Goodbye 2019, Welcome Hope

Last year was not a good year for our family. Not long after ringing in the new year, my daughter-in-law miscarried Liam. What should have been a joyous occasion—finding out the baby’s gender for the gender reveal party the next day—turned into a horrific nightmare.

I think of Liam often and pray for him and all the other babies who have left us too soon. I was going through my calendar reflecting on this year and all of a sudden, I stumbled upon an entry on what would have been Liam’s due date. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and the tears started flowing. I wept not only for Liam and his parents, but for all those who experienced loss this past year. I thought of all the things and events we would not experience with Liam—first birthday, first day of school, hugs, holidays, and “I love yous.” Not just the big things, but the little things too—like trips to the park and the ice cream store—all the memories I have with my now-grown children. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

It’s hard to be hopeful after losing a child or grandchild, but this is what the new year offers us. An opportunity to believe and hope that things will be better; that we will be able to weather any storm that comes our way. But let’s not forget the opportunity we have to help others weather the storms that come their way. I was amazed by the outpouring of love and support I received after we lost Liam.

It’s often the simplest act of kindness that goes the longest way. I recently got together a friend I worked with over 15 years ago. She said she still has the card I sent her over 20 years ago when she miscarried. Quite honestly, I don’t remember even sending it. I realized then that a mere acknowledgement of someone’s pain can go a long way.

My resolution for 2020 is simple—be hopeful, be kind, and be loving to all. Wishing you an abundance of hope, kindness, and love in 2020.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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Giving Thanks

Being thankful and grateful can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with profound loss. It’s often easier to live in the land of what could have been—I wish my grandson had lived, I wish I could have borne children, I wish I didn’t have congenital heart disease, I wish my husband wasn’t handicapped…

However, in this time of giving thanks, I try to pause and consider that I am truly blessed and have much for which to be thankful.

I am thankful that my husband and I were able to adopt two beautiful children when they were infants and that they become loving, caring adults.

I am thankful that my son and daughter-in-law live close to us. We were there to be present and support them when they lost Liam.

I am thankful for modern medicine and the surgical team that undertook my complex open-heart surgery almost five years ago.

I am thankful for my husband of almost 35 years. It wasn’t always easy, but we’re still together.

I am thankful for my granddaughter. She brings such joy and laughter to our lives.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head and food to eat.

I am thankful I can still be physically active. I may be slow, but I go!

Finally, I am thankful for organizations such as Through The Heart, which provide comfort and support for those grieving the loss of a child.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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A Loss of Innocence

In a strange way, pregnancy loss is also a loss of innocence. It’s like when you were younger and thought that your parents would be around forever, or that nothing bad would ever happen. Unfortunately, because pregnancy loss is often not talked about, I never really thought about it or discussed it with anyone.

That changed when I lost my grandson, Liam. I had joined a club that I really didn’t want to be in. But I found comfort in sharing this devastating news. I was amazed by the number of women who shared that they too had lost a child or grandchild. I could see that even though many of them had gone on to have other children, the loss left an aching hole in their hearts. I truly don’t know if I would have the courage or strength to try again after such a loss.

We just found out that our daughter-in-law is pregnant. The loss of innocence I experienced with Liam has left me filled with “what-ifs.” I find myself slipping into a dark place. However, I know that my daughter-in-law will be closely monitored during the pregnancy, which gives me some comfort. I can hold Liam close to my heart and honor his memory, but I mustn’t fear for another loss. I need to have faith and hope for the miracle of a successful birth. I recognize it is in God’s hands, not mine. Yes, pregnancy loss may take away our innocence, but we cannot let it take away our joy and wonder at the expectation of a new life.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


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Appreciating Winry

We lost our grandson Liam when his sister Winry was almost two years old. While we don’t see her that often, now that summer is here, we will probably see her, my son, and my daughter-in-law more often, especially since we have a pool!

Winry is slowly coming into her own and I appreciate her uniqueness more every time I see her. She has an infectious laugh and delights in chasing our dog Kovu around the house when she visits. We never had a dog when my children were growing up, only cats, so watching Winry and Kovu interact is a delight.

Winry’s individuality and personality are beginning to shine. This was so evident when she was here a week or so ago for a swim. She got over the initial shock of landing face down in the pool and had a wonderful time bobbing up and down in the water and “swimming” with her parents. We had an impromptu cookout afterwards, and Winry ate like it was her last meal, ice cream and all!

I know I will miss sharing these and other experiences with Liam. I remember fondly going to my grandparents for a special meal or accompanying my grandfather to his office on a Saturday to “help.” I want to share many such experiences with Winry and cherish her being in my life. So often we take life for granted.

I sometimes need to remind myself what a gift life is. When I was born with a congenital heart disease, the nurse told my mother I would never live. Well, I just turned 62 this week.

While I wish I was given the gift of watching Liam grow and develop, I need to be thankful for Winry and those in my life and not take their presence for granted. I am thankful for the privilege of being able to raise my two adopted children into adulthood. I am thankful for my husband who has put up with me for over 30 years.

Yes, we mourn those we have lost. But we must remember to love, cherish, and appreciate those who are with us.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers


Welcome!

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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