Category Archives: Deb

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Finding Holiday Joy

To be sure, this will be a holiday season like none other. As COVID cases continue to rise, it appears we will need to modify our usual holiday traditions.  Instead of gathering around a big table for holiday feasts, we will be having “virtual” dinners assisted by technology. We will need to mail gifts rather than hand deliver them. The fun and festive holiday cookie exchanges may turn into virtual recipe exchange Zoom parties.

Those who have experienced loss or hardship over this year may unfortunately find this holiday season exceedingly difficult. They may be unable to experience the comforting touch or in-person support of a loved one.  Personally, I live in upstate New York and my daughter lives in Florida. She experienced some mental health issues stemming from COVID and more than anything I would love to go visit and comfort her. However, I am high risk and have opted to err on the side of caution by staying home.

I am hoping to have at least a brief socially distant visit with my granddaughter Winry and my “rainbow grandson” Rory. We have only seen them a few times since the pandemic hit and I miss them terribly.

I am thinking about how to get through this holiday season.

First, I suggest setting reasonable expectations. Maybe you don’t need to visit every shopping mall nearby—rely on online shopping if need be. Also, buy gift cards for presents that support local businesses to help stimulate the economy. Or, donate in someone’s name to his or her favorite charity. Especially during this difficult time, focus on what people need more than what they want.

Second, modify your holiday traditions. My daughter used to love making holiday cookies and desserts with me. I’m thinking we’ll plan a virtual baking party before the holidays.

Third, engage in the holiday festivities at your own comfort level. Do what your spirit and heart lead you to do if it’s been a difficult year. If you want to play holiday music before Thanksgiving, go for it! If you are not up to decorating at full throttle, don’t.  I know my decorations will be rather low key this year and will consist of those that hold the most meaning for me.

Fourth, enjoy the quiet and stillness of this holiday season. Use it to connect with yourself and nature. One of my favorite activities is walking in the Pine Bush Preserve after a snowfall. Everything feels crisp and new.

Fifth, embrace the faith, hope, and joy that are always part of the season. Believe that things will get better.

Finally, whatever your faith tradition, remember the reason for the season. Be present in the moment. Rejoice!

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers

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The “What Ifs”

As I get older, I find myself spending too much time on the “what ifs,” particularly during the current Covid crisis.  While reflection can be healthy, helpful, and oftentimes results in personal growth, it can also lead me down the rabbit hole of despair if I’m not careful. However, it helps me to realize the many possibilities in life.

In the stillness of the early morning, I often wonder what if my grandson Liam had not been miscarried. He would be almost two years old now, and I imagine him running around and playing with his big sister, Winry. I envision them being close, loving siblings. While Liam is now an angel, we were blessed with a grandson, Rory James, some four months ago. I don’t have to wonder how Winry would react to a younger sibling—I see the love and caring in her eyes.

I often wonder “what if” I had been able to bear children—what they would have been like, how many we would have had, etc. However, doctors advised me not to get pregnant because I have a rare congenital heart defect, Ebstein’s Anomaly.  But we were able to adopt two beautiful children—birth siblings.  We were truly blessed with the gift of parenthood and it has been wonderful to watch them grow into strong, secure, adults.

I often think about the different paths my life could have taken—what if my dad was not killed in the service when I was  six months old, what if I had gone into the Naval Academy (my acceptance was rescinded because of my heart condition), what if I married someone else, and so on.

But my faith compels me to accept that this is the life I am supposed to be living, for better or worse. In spite of the many challenges life may throw my way, I choose to make the best out of any situation and try to find the silver lining. I genuinely believe that each one of us was put here for a purpose. It has been my intention to find ways to use the difficulties in my life to help others. And in doing so I find I get much more back than I give. For example, while I hope others find comfort in reading my blogs, writing them has given me an outlet to grieve and remember Liam.

We all face uncertainties and difficulties in life. While it’s often hard to navigate through the rough waters, take comfort in the fact that calm seas will return.

Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers

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The Isolation in Grief

I always thought I was an introvert, but dealing with this pandemic has shown me how much I really need and desire the friendship  and support of others. As a “high risk” person, I have only left my house for doctors’ appointments and to take walks in my neighborhood.

I used to not have a problem with isolation. I realize now that this was my choice, not something forced on me.  I remember coming home after my open-heart surgery exactly five years ago. While I was elated to be home after my seven-week ordeal in the hospital and rehab, I was not expecting the sense of loneliness and aloneness that eventually crept in. Once my husband went back to work, the days seemed to drag on forever. I was blessed to have visitors, but they were few and far between.

Now, as we must socially distance, I again feel this sense of loneliness. While some places have opened up, I am very hesitant to go out. I would love to go out to eat or even go to a store, but I don’t think it’s worth the risk. And I anticipate it will be this way for a long time. At a recent appointment with my cardiologist, I asked if he thought I could plan a trip to Walt Disney World in February to participate in a 5K. He just looked at me and shook his head no.

Grief also brings these same feelings of aloneness and isolation. I remember feeling so alone when we lost our grandson Liam. It was like my heart had been ripped out of me. I felt unmoored, unsure what to do and how to help my son and his wife.

Tentatively, I reached out to people and shared my loss. I was floored by the number of women who said that they too had suffered a miscarriage. They understood the pain and suffering I was going through.  I didn’t feel so alone.

Miscarriage had always seemed like the elephant in the room. Seen, but not talked about. In recent years Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Carrie Underwood, and Meghan McCain have all spoken publicly about their miscarriages, in hopes of breaking the culture of silence.1 This openness and sharing can only help us deal with the pain of loss and with the devastating psychological effects. A recent study published earlier this year found that 29% of women suffer from PTSD after a miscarriage, 24% have anxiety, and 11% experience moderate to severe depression.2

Know that you are not alone in your grief. Reach out to others so they too can not feel alone.



Category : Deb , Volunteer Bloggers

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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.


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


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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