This is a raw and honest account of what it is like to struggle after your child is stillborn, Losing Iris: the quiet despair of a child stillborn featured in The Guardian. I myself can related to a lot of what Sarah describes, perhaps you can too…
*Infant & Child Loss Remembrance Service*
& Teddy Bear Tea
St. Nicholas R.C. Church - 20675 87th Ave., Langley, BC
Remembrance Mass Service: 1 pm
“Teddy Bear” Tea Reception: 2 pm hosted by St. Nicholas Parish & local Elizabeth Ministry Chapters
*RSVP: Ann & Donna – info(at)littlelightofheaven.com
Prayers will be included for parents and family members who wish to honour the lives of all children gone-too-soon, including;
- Children of any age
- Infants & Toddlers
- Babies lost shortly after birth and through Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- Babies who have died during pregnancy for any reason (e.g. ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, complications and stillbirth)
Couples who are trying to conceive and those struggling with infertility; parents who are expecting and those on a waiting list to adopt; as well as parents who lovingly chose to give up and/or welcome children through adoption and fostering will also be remembered on this day.
TEDDY BEAR TEA
Everyone is welcome to attend the reception immediately after the service. Families will be offered a teddy bear in honour of their child through Elizabeth Ministry. These teddy bears have been kindly donated by organizations such as Signal Hill and Gardens of Gethsemani.
Families can enter the name of their child in the “Little Book of Life” and light a candle for their little one.
This event is open to everyone from all faiths and backgrounds, especially bereaved parents and other family members including children, as well as those who support grieving families.
*Please RSVP so that enough programs, candles & refreshments are available.
NOTE: The Teddy Bear Tea is being hosted by St. Nicholas Parish and organized by *Elizabeth Ministry (EM) - St. Nicholas and St. Matthew’s Chapters. Future EM programs and events will be scheduled. Contact Donna or Ann to receive updates.
*Elizabeth Ministry is a faith-based, peer mentorship volunteer organization that celebrates the sanctity of life and honours the lives of all children. If you are interested in donating a teddy bear or refreshments, volunteering or starting a chapter at your Parish, please contact us:
Ann, Elizabeth Minister St. Matthew’s Chapter – annamsing (at) yahoo.com
Donna, Elizabeth Minister St. Nicholas Chapter – info (at) littlelightofheaven.com
The following is a short summary of the service for email invites and church bulletins etc.
Infant & Child Remembrance Service & Teddy Bear Tea – Sat., Feb.18
St. Nicholas Parish – 20675 87th Ave., Langley, BC.
Mass 1pm, Teddy Bear Tea reception to follow.
Come celebrate the lives of all children who have died at any age, including those lost as an infant or toddler and those who have died during pregnancy or birth for any reason. Bereaved parents, relatives and friends of all faiths and backgrounds welcome. At this service, families are invited to light a candle and enter the names of their children in the “Little Book of Life“. All are welcome!
Teddy bear donations to be given to bereaved families through Elizabeth Ministry (St. Matthew & St. Nicholas Chapters). Please RSVP: info (at)littlelightofheaven.com and visit littlelightofheaven.com for more info.
Keaton’s 3rd birthday and “angelversary” is coming up in a few days – 3 years old already, wow! As I look back, in some ways I am amazed at how quickly the years have passed. Yet, three years ago, I distinctly remember each moment painfully dragged on and I asked myself if I would be able to stand one more day without him.
Day after day, I remember being conscious of the very act of breathing. It is like I had to force myself to breathe in and out between bouts of sobbing. Slowly but surely, I managed to put one foot in front of the other taking tiny little steps towards healing. I had to focus on very simple accomplishments at first; making myself eat breakfast, getting out of my PJs and taking a shower, walking out to the mailbox – check, check, check.
Admittedly, Keaton’s first birthday was hard. We made cupcakes and decorated them with sprinkles and we sang “happy birthday” with such sad voices. My family brought birthday balloons to the cemetery and we went for lunch. We celebrated because it was important for us to mark this special day and remember him. I knew I would have been more upset if we skipped his birthday cake altogether.
Keaton’s 2nd birthday was not as sad for us. We went for fish and chips and took a walk along the beach. Before long, I hit my stride and moved ahead in my grief journey by leaps and bounds. Connecting with other bereaved parents and starting this blog really helped. I still battled the occasional road block of course, but those are always to be expected.
A babyloss friend shared with me that her grandmother lost an infant, yet celebrated her baby’s birthday well into her 90s. It was not as common back then to even acknowledge infant loss and I applaud her! What a great role model for my friend’s family. I plan to do the same thing for Keaton and look forward to many, many more birthday cakes for my son.
This year brings about new beginnings, dreams and goals and a different kind of relationship with our son, one that I believe he would have wanted for us. I’m excited to celebrate his 3rd birthday. I still miss him like crazy and wish he was here to celebrate, but when I think of him, I can’t help but smile. The thought of him brings me pure joy. Our belief is that Keaton is here with us – he not only hears us, he participates in his own special way in our family.
No matter what, we will always celebrate Keaton’s birthday in our own way. This year, we ordered custom birthday cakes so that we could share them with each side of the family. We will visit Keaton at the cemetery and go for dinner. I will write him a birthday letter and also got two beautiful Sunset Butterfly photos by Carly Marie just for him. I can almost feel our birthday boy beam from ear to ear!
There are many things that families can do to honour their heavenly infants. A eco-friendly balloon release, having young children participate by blowing bubbles, a donation to a local charity and for some, a graveside birthday party – you name it! Whatever speaks to you, however you want to honour your child, I pray that these moments bring you and your family much joy.
Today, we celebrated The Feast of the Epiphany which marks the end of the Christmas season. I’m happy that we happened to attend morning Mass as we got the last glimpse of all the Christmas decorations at the Church. We stood in front of the manger scene, wise men and the fresh evergreen trees to soak them all in. As I waved to Baby Jesus and turned to leave, part of me regretted the thought of seeing all these things disappear for another year.
These items are merely physical reminders of Christmas however. Father reminded us that “the Holy Infant Jesus is born in our hearts each and every day”. Are we willing and ready to follow the star and seek Him out? It is one thing to recognize the presence of the humble newborn King in our lives, He is within us and those around us, living in our midst. But what are we going to do when we manage to find Him?
The Magi were guided by their beliefs and followed the bright star to Bethlehem. When they finally arrived after a long and tiresome journey, they rejoiced when they found the Infant Jesus. They offered Him symbolic gifts on bended knee, recognizing that He was the greatest King of all.
This Holy child represents for us a burst of radiant light in the darkness, a promise of hope like no other. As they turned to go back home, the wise men listened to the warning of the angel and as we can only imagine, were forever changed along with the shepherds.
The journey of grief can also be a long, dark and lonely road. At times, it may feel like it is impossible to continue putting one foot in front of the other, and trudge along enduring the pain and sadness. I sometimes felt like I was going in circles, head down, with little direction and with no end in sight.
If you can related to this experience, I urge you lift your head and to keep your eye on the star. I pray that the glimmer of light will lead you closer to Him. The only “gifts” that I managed to offer at the beginning were grief, fear and mourning. I didn’t think they were worth very much at all, but was advised to “give” them to God anyway and this would help me in grief. Really?! I questioned. I tried, but it felt weird at first. How do I offer “up” my suffering to Him? What good would that do? I didn’t get it.
In time, I recognized that my burdens did become lighter as I put more trust in Jesus. Instead of grief, hope started to seep into my heart. The debilitating fear I felt was slowly replaced with faith, and I was no longer as afraid. When I thought of Keaton, I began to experience moments of complete peace which eventually outlasted the episodes of sorrow and mourning. Ahhh, THIS is what “they” mean…
What I learned to recognize is that I could not experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit and remain the same. As a friend, wife and mother, I felt myself changing. It was a revelation for me that The Lord actually wanted me to give Him these things and gladly received my offering. In turn, I was given the peace and reassurance that my son was safe in heaven and the best part was that we had the opportunity to be with Keaton again. Forever. Forever is a long time and worth waiting for, don’t you think?
As my deep sorrow lifted, I began to recognize how blessed we were to have our son, even if it was for a short while. I have come to the realization that God loves us and our children more than we could ever know and wants us to all be together for eternity. If we continue to accept His love more and more each day, heaven can become closer and closer and feel more within reach.
Sometime when I hit low moments and really miss my son, I have to gently remind myself that Our Heavenly Father also knows the pain of losing His only Son and that He gave Jesus up so that we could all be together for eternity one day.
May the Infant Jesus live in your hearts and your upcoming year be filled with His peace and everlasting love.