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|Posted on July 30, 2017 at 7:37 PM||comments (6022)|
THE ABSENT-MINDED GRIEVER: DISTRACTED AFTER LOSS
Before I lost my son, I was a fairly competent person.
I have never met a person that has suffered through the grieving process and come out unchanged. Some grievers find themselves unable to listen to certain songs. Many grievers are forced to battle depression or PTSD. Some grievers cannot bear to be alone. And some grievers, like myself, find themselves completely distracted and unable to focus.
I have driven home and not remembered the drive. I have arrived at the store only to completely forget why I drove there in the first place. I have forgotten words, names, and dates. My sister said to me last night, “Hey. Listen to me! And really listen, not ‘Rachel’ listen.” I have forgotten appointments and plans. I have arrived late more times than I care to remember. In a moment of stress, I actually backed quite slowly into a car that I would swear hadn’t been there a moment before. Most recently, I stood in the store desperately wracking my brain in an attempt to remember what I needed for my sister’s bridal shower. It wasn’t just one thing I couldn’t remember. My mind was blank.
Losing a pregnancy gives you so much to think about. And losing a second trimester pregnancy after years of infertility gives you some very serious and specific questions.
And most difficult to answer, of course, is “How do I live without my baby?” These questions swirl throughout my brain all day, every day. The questions have no real answers, and so they have no resolution. Who cares what that word is that I can’t remember or why I came to the grocery store? When my heart and mind are weighed down by grief and loss, and tough decisions, it’s awfully hard to focus on the mundane.
Since I lost my son, it feels like I’m just bumbling my way through life, trying not to bump into anyone. I’ve become the Absent-Minded Griever.
It seems to me that it would be easier if those of us who are grieving came with a warning label. “Hi! I’m Rachel. I’ve lost two babies in the last six months so I can’t even remember my middle name. My mind is a million miles away. Please be patient with me.”
What would yours say?
|Posted on May 7, 2016 at 3:41 PM||comments (209)|
A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love she holds in her heart. ~Francesca Cox
Honoring your Parenthood By: Rose Carlson, Program Director, National Share Office
I had my fourth miscarriage in April 1993; it rocked me to my core and brought me to my knees. That loss, more so than the previous three, left my heart completely shattered, and my hope, well, gone. Gone forever, I thought back then. Mother’s Day that year, just a few weeks later, was so incredibly painful, and I had not been expecting that. I had a living child at the time, my sweet little boy who was almost two. I loved him fiercely, but it was impossible for me to not think of my losses, the last two of which had happened only three months apart. It was impossible for me not to think that I should be celebrating motherhood not only as a mom to my son, but also as an expectant mom glowing and full of a new life after experiencing heartache and loss. It was impossible for me not think about how I should be spending that Mother’s Day filled with excitement about my growing family. Instead, I was a mom who could not get through a day without crying. I was a mom who had to force herself to leave town to visit her own mom on Mother’s Day. Even though I really did not want to, I went to church that Mother’s Day with my mom and my aunt. My faith, just as my heart, was tattered and torn, and I hadn’t been to church since the miscarriage. But, church was important to my mom and my aunt, so I put my anger at God aside, and I went. And then came that inevitable moment that grieving parents know so well—the moment when the priest invited all the mothers to stand. While I was already brokenhearted and sad, I wasn’t prepared for the tears that began to flow as I stood in the church where just a few years before, I had stood full of joy, hope and promise as my husband and I exchanged our wedding vows. I didn’t have to wonder if I should stand as a mother like those who don’t have a living child often wonder, and yes, it was a day I was celebrated as a mother, but it was also a day woven through with sadness and grief as I was no longer the mother I wished to be. I hadn’t yet fully recovered physically, much less emotionally, and that Mother’s Day was a wistful reminder of all I had lost. It was a day of confusing mixed emotions that I did not know how to deal with. That day, I remember feeling so envious of all the smiling moms in church, sure I was the only one who was feeling so heavy-hearted; with the perspective of time, I know now there must have been others just like me…moms missing children who were no longer with them. Neither my mom or aunt asked why I had cried in church. Back then, I had no one to tell me what I was feeling was completely normal; no one acknowledged the deep sense of grief I was feeling, and I kept my thoughts to myself. I felt rather silly, even a bit crazy, to be honest. Who was I to cry and be sad? I had a precious little boy sitting on my lap. I should be feeling happy, right? I wondered what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t just be happy for the child I did have rather than focus on the ones who weren’t there with me. Unfortunately, once you have experienced the loss of a baby, nothing is as it should be, and feelings are not so black and white. If this is your first Mother’s or Father’s Day since the death of your beloved baby, or even if it is not, whether you have living children or not, you may be dreading the holiday. You may have very jumbled up emotions and wonder how you can possibly celebrate as a mother, or even celebrate your own mother, when you are feeling devastated and heartbroken. However, with some planning in advance, it may be possible for you to find a peaceful way to spend these painful days. Hopefully, some of the following stories from other Share parents will give you ideas for ways you can comfort and honor yourselves as the very special parents you are. What most all parents want and need is to simply be acknowledged as a heartbroken parent, whether or not they have living children, and several moms shared meaningful ways they have celebrated and been honored as parents. Robyn, a mom whose first baby, Grace, was born still eight years ago, clearly remembers her first Mother’s Day. “I dreaded the day for weeks. I knew I was a mom, but I worried that no one else would remember me on Mother’s Day. I think I dreaded that more than anything! I wanted everyone to embrace me as a heartbroken mama who was desperately missing her girl.” Some of Robyn’s friends and family members did reach out to her, and she is grateful for that. “I will never forget the touching messages I got that day. It made my heart swell to know that other people looked upon me as a mother, even though my baby was not here.” Another mom, Holly, expressed a similar sentiment. “What meant the most to me on that first Mother’s Day was knowing that I was not the only one who thought of me as a mother.” Both Robyn and Holly, along with other moms, agree that the touching gifts they have received over the years mean the world to them. Lucy, who experienced a stillbirth and an early pregnancy loss before giving birth to her healthy son in 2013, will never forget her group of close friends who sent her drawings, cards, photos and other images of butterflies on the first Mother’s Day after her first loss. “They planned it so I received something in the mail every day of the week leading up to Mother’s Day. I cried every day, but they were good, healing tears, and as long as I live, I will never forget the love and gratitude I felt for my friends during that horrible time.” Robyn cherishes the letters her mom writes to her each year on Mother’s Day, letters that start out, “Dear Mommy” and end with, “Love you forever, your darling Grace.” Robyn also received a Mother’s Day gift she treasures from her husband on her first Mother’s Day after their second daughter was born—a necklace with both of their daughter’s birthstones. What makes it extra-special for her is that both of their daughters were born in the same month. “It would have been easy for him to only put one stone in the necklace to represent both girls, but I love that he put two.” Not everyone has family and friends who honor and recognize them as parents on these difficult days, which can feel like salt in your wound. They may think that sending you a card or doing something for you on Mother’s or Father’s Day will make you too sad, so they avoid reaching out to you. While it can be hard to not take this personally, try not to. Most people who love and care about you simply do not know what they should do or say. Do something memorable for yourselves, even if others do not.
© If you are spending the day with others, find a way to include your baby. Bring a bouquet of your favorite flowers or a candle to light during the meal. © Find a meaningful way to honor your baby. Spend the weekend performing random acts of kindness or make a donation to your favorite charity in your baby’s name.
© Write a letter to your baby telling him or her how becoming a mother or father felt along with all of the things you wish you were doing on Mother’s/Father’s Day. It can be very healing to get your thoughts and emotions down on paper, and if you make it a yearly tradition, you will have a treasured keepsake.
© If you attend a church that honors parents in a special way, take part in the celebration because you are most definitely parents! Sari, mom of twin boys who died, recalled, “I went to church with my family and when they asked for all the moms to stand, I stood up, crying the whole time, but I was a mom, I am a mom, and just because I wasn't carrying my babies in my arms, I was/am still their mother!”
© Plant a garden in your yard using colors you love or plants that have special meaning. Add to your garden each year, and don’t forget to take photos!
© If you enjoy being outdoors, plan a hike, picnic or other outing to either your favorite place or one you have not been to before.
© Make or purchase a piece of jewelry. Give a duplicate to your own mom in honor of her grandchild.
© If you have other children, set aside some quiet time by yourself early Mother’s and Father’s Day morning to remember, reflect and think about your baby before moving into the happy celebrations later in the day.
© Prepare your heart for others to not acknowledge how painful these days can be for you. If you have had another baby since your loss, you may feel hurt if someone sends you a card congratulating you on your first Mother’s and Father’s Day.
© If you are like Ashley and “just want to disappear through May” and do not feel up to celebrating these two days, that is okay. Give yourself permission to do whatever feels right to you, even if that means staying close to home or taking a trip away.
© Do not hesitate to tell others what you need. As already mentioned, most of your loved ones will be unsure as to how to best support you, and it is perfectly fine to tell your friends and family members how you want to acknowledge these days. Sometimes, just knowing that you want to be honored and celebrated on Mother’s and Father’s Day is all that others need to know to tell them you want them to celebrate you as well. Perhaps the most important thing of all that you can do on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is to find a special way honor your parenthood. Take Mya’s advice: “This year would be my official Mother's Day. It's kind of sad, but when I think about it I am still a mother. I plan on doing little things to pamper myself and make me feel good. Get a new outfit and get my nails done. We are still moms even though our child isn't with us physically. Our babies are still with us and would want us to enjoy and be recognized like everyone else.” Make it your priority to tenderly care for your grieving hearts in the same loving way you care for your baby’s memory. Embrace the day and celebrate yourselves as parents. Bridget’s mom, Laura, sums it up perfectly. “I just hope everyone remembers that they are a mommy. Please don't forget that.”
|Posted on April 20, 2016 at 9:40 PM||comments (1044)|
|Posted on January 18, 2016 at 11:38 PM||comments (225)|
From Francesca Cox -- Wildfeathers Wellness
A mindful way to practice self-care.
"Take a few moments in a place alone, with music and maybe candles and few electronic distractions. Allow your mind to find silence and thinking time. What is that you need? What things are you drawn to in this season of life? What types of music fill your needs? Who do you love to spend time with, if anyone? Are there places that mend your heart? Activities? Books? TV shows?"
Make a list of what you need to not just survive, but Thrive. Each day, look at that list and choose on item that you will give yourself that day. You may, of course, choose more than one item if you wish, but you have got to start somewhere!
|Posted on November 11, 2015 at 9:40 PM||comments (275)|
Grieving your childhttps://vimeo.com/143691844
|Posted on October 31, 2015 at 4:39 PM||comments (310)|
This article struck me because it talks about "Just an ordinary miscarriage." No miscarriage is ordinary.
|Posted on August 17, 2015 at 11:27 AM||comments (129)|
|Posted on May 31, 2015 at 8:28 PM||comments (4)|
Is there something you collect to remember your child by? A symbol that instantly makes you think of them? Do you have a place in your home dedicated to your child? Please feel free to share with us your symbols and/or space on the Facebook group page, or on Instagram and use #ChoosingYourBreath so we can find you!
If you are up for art journaling this week you can paste some pictures in your art journal from magazine or newspaper clippings in page or two. Fill these pages up with symbols, things, colors, places or anything that make you instantly think of your child.
|Posted on January 19, 2015 at 6:49 PM||comments (221)|
|Posted on January 19, 2015 at 6:25 PM||comments (221)|
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss
Andrea Werner Insoft, LICSW
There is no word in the English language to describe a person whose child has died. If your wife dies, you are a widower. If your husband dies, you are a widow. If your parents die, you are an orphan. All of these are tragic losses. But there is no word for a person whose child has died. That kind of death defies spoken language.
Our western society does not do a particularly good job of supporting people through death, grief and mourning. It seems that mourners are allowed 1-2 months and then it is back to the usual routine. Any mention of the deceased is done in whispers and behind closed doors. Nobody wants to upset the bereaved by mentioning his/her loved one. If this is how we handle the death of an adult, imagine how much more complicated it is to support someone after the death of a child.
When a child dies during pregnancy or shortly thereafter, it is hard to know how to mourn. How do you grieve someone you have never met, or met only briefly? And yet, the connection with that child started months earlier – at conception or even before. You have an image of what your child might look like. How you want to raise him or her. Piano lessons, baseball, chess. The options are endless, your future feels so bright and sure; and then, in a flash they are taken from you. You have to grieve your child and your dreams. Molly Fumia wrote, “Grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction, that must be taken. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love.”
I’d like to explain my word choice here. I specifically refer to people who have experienced a pregnancy loss not as having “lost” a child. You did not “lose” your child. You didn't leave your child in the supermarket. You have experienced the death of a very desired and longed for child…I call every grieving person who walks into my office a parent. It does not matter that you do not have a child living at home, tucked nicely into a bassinet with hand knitted blankets. You have loved a child just the same. You have wished for and dreamed of this child. You are a parent in every sense of the word.
Each person’s journey through this grief is unique. Some people may bristle at my calling them a parent. When a client tells me that he or she is not a parent, I respect that feeling. I truly do. But, I don't believe it.
As I write this article, it is a cold, damp January evening. The holidays have just passed and we are settling in for the long, New England winter. When I finish writing, I will turn on the TV to “veg out” a bit. And what will I see when I turn the TV on? Commercials. Many, many commercials for all sorts of child related items and activities. You know the ones; AT&T, Huggies, children with puppies. Well, to a couple that has suffered childbirth loss, this is far from the most wonderful time of the year. All the reminders of back to school shopping, sales and necessities only reinforce the isolation following the death of a child. How can you cope? How can you put one foot in front of the other and take the steps necessary to get through your day?
·Turn off the TV/radio.
It is too much and can be flooding. You may have been on the road to recovery and hearing or seeing a particular commercial can send you right back. And that is the nature of grief. Healing is not a linear process. It is more a meandering path. Allow yourself to wander the path and look at everything you encounter. Also, please allow yourself to get off the path and take a break.
·Surround yourself with people who understand. Or, if they don’t actually understand, at least they try. They are able to say things like, “Tell me what’s up for you today.” Or “Do you want to talk, walk, see a movie, get some coffee?”
·Realize that the goal is not to let go. I believe that the goal is to hold on. It is only in the holding on and the belief that this child will always be a part of you that you can heal.
·Talk about your child.
Use his or her name. He is real. She lived, if only for the briefest of moments. Your child touched you and has changed you.
·Embrace the ways in which you have been changed. Many clients tell me that they are so much softer around the edges. They are more compassionate. They are comfortable reaching out to others. Some say that had they known their pregnancy would end the way it did, they would not have changed anything about the experience. They are grateful that they got the opportunity to meet their child. Look for the changes you see in yourself and hold fast to them, for they exist because of your son or daughter.
·Find ways to honor your child and yourself as a parent. Plant a garden, name a star, send balloons up with messages for others to find, volunteer for an organization that has meaning for you. I have found that many people find solace at the Children’s Memorial Lighthouse in Edgartown.
I’d like to end with a quote from Harold Kushner who wrote so beautifully on the importance of living after the death of a child.
"We cannot choose. We can only try to cope. That is what one does with sorrow, tragedy, or with any misfortune. We do not try to explain it. We do not justify it by telling ourselves that we somehow deserve it. We do not even accept it. We survive it. We recognize its unfairness and defiantly choose to go on living. I now tell bereaved parents: you have inherited from your child all the years he or she never got to live… you inherited their unlived years. Those years are a precious legacy from them to you; use them well. Don't be afraid to enjoy life just because your loved one isn't there to enjoy it with you. Live their years along with your own, and feel their presence as you do so."
In this season as in all, I wish you peace, healing and hope.