Finding Joy In Sorrow

I found this post of finding joy in sorrow and the struggle with infertility and thought it was appropriate as we celebrate this Lenten season.  It is important to acknowledge how painful it might be for some families grieving the loss of their child during Easter time.  I’m brought back to memories of my first post on Ash Wednesday six years ago and how far I’ve come in my journey towards healing.

Easter is our most precious gift and miracle, pain and sorrow turned into eternal joy.  In my darkest days I clung onto the hope of being able to spend eternity with my all my children in heaven.  When I felt like I could barely get through the day, I dared to dream what it would be like to hold them in my arms knowing I wouldn’t ever have to let them go…

Many blessings

Am I doing ok? The short answer is yes.

A family member recently sent me an email message.  She remembered Keaton’s birthday was coming up.  I’m touched that she did…

“Are you doing ok with Keaton’s birthday coming up?  Must be hard….”

My answer:

This is a good question.  It is really nice of you to ask, not many people do other than moms who have also lost babies.  I’ve come a long way, the grief is no longer right in front of my face all the time – just for brief manageable moments.  Counselling is a great outlet and I find that it is often some of the only times I can really let my emotions out.  The other babyloss moms I’ve met through the ministry have been a wonderful support too.

I missed Keaton when we went to the elementary school to watch the school Christmas play.  (Our 2nd will be attending the school soon and I thought it would be a good way to introduce him to it).  When the primary kids sang/danced, it suddenly hit me that Keaton would/should have been up there.  We should have been enjoying watching Keaton on the stage; his little brother should have been in the wings adoring his big brother, copying and wanting to be just like him; his baby sister should have been brought to Keaton’s classroom after the performance and showed off to all of Keaton’s friends and [my husband] and I would have had proud tears of joy watching our big boy dressed up as a lamb or angel.

Instead I fought off tears of sorrow wondering what our son would have been doing – and lost.  I’m glad it was dark in the gym, people would have looked at me in a strange way.  In many ways, I wouldn’t have cared.  It would have been a relief to let someone know that I was missing my first born child.

When my nephew stood in our living room and sang ‘Away in a Manger’ on Christmas eve the family was so proud as he remembered all the words, I thought of Keaton then too.

It has been too long since we visited the cemetery.  I feel guilty, yet I know Keaton understands.  We were planning on visiting his gravesite Christmas day, something we’ve done every single year since he was born, but the children and I were too sick to go out.  Rachel’s garden would have been decorated again this year, all decked out with poinsettias on the children’s plaques, candy canes lined up near the flower beds and bows in the trees.  I hope the decorations are still up, we’ll go this weekend to visit him.

Am I doing ok?  The short answer is yes.

Is it hard?  With two other children to run after, it is easy to become distracted.  When I get the rare moment and allow myself to express my love/grief, it becomes easier.  It is hard to parent a child in heaven, there is a constant longing to know what Keaton is doing, what he looks like and what kind of beautiful soul he is.

What can be hard is going over in my mind the questions and events of what “could” and “should” have been done the the days, hours and minutes leading up to Keaton’s birth.  Was there something I could have done to save him?  Why was he taken from us?  What would Keaton be like, what would our lives be like if our sweetie was here?  There are no real answers, this is what can be difficult to reconcile.

Thank you L for asking, I feel very blessed to have you in my life!

Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day weekend.  Woman can be great at being able to openly talk, cry, share and be supportive of one another after a loss.  Sometimes, it can be much more difficult for father’s.  There is a lot of pressure.

Fathers are expected to be the strong ones, the ones who are supposed to keep it all together.  They are there to make sure that their wives have a shoulder to cry on, to pick up the pieces and keep the family afloat, are they not?  ”How is your wife doing?” people may ask.  Expectations put on dads can be high.

The loss of a child can also greatly impact a marriage and has the potential to tear couples apart.  I’ve heard from others and have experienced myself how grief can be expressed differently between moms and dads causing anger, misunderstanding and resentment.  Hurting marriages can be restored through open communication, couples counselling and hard work.  Weekend programs such as Retrouvaille can be a turning point if it has gotten to the point of wanting to separate.

Grief however, can also bring couples closer together.  Take time to understand your partner’s point of view.  Have honest discussions about how you might express your grief and how it may differ from your spouses way of coping.

How can we as moms support our partners?  I’d like to share resources that are collected here on the Mothering Your Heart website.

Wishing you all a gentle Father’s Day weekend…

Shine

It’s been too long,
This path I’ve had to follow
And how I cried when you died,
Much too soon…
My child.

How was I expected to be
On this motherly journey -
Without your tiny hand,
Tucked safely in mine?
It made me shudder…

And yet, I believe that your soul
It lives, it breathes, it shines in me.
And I embrace this role as your mother.

Although I stumble
I feel His grace and I am humbled
Because you couldn’t stay,
My child.

It’s been too long,
This path I’ve had to follow.
Six years today, I gave you away
To Heaven
It was much too soon.

This path I’ve had to follow,
Might not have been my plan,
Yet I trust that your little hand
Will forever be here in mine -

So shine my child, shine…

Happy 6th Birthday Keaton

Love,

Mama

What to say on Mother’s Day

After the loss of a child, any holiday that begins with the word “Happy” makes people stop and think about whether or not they want to greet a bereaved mom or dad.  Mother’s Day isn’t “happy”, Father’s Day isn’t “happy” and birthdays, especially the birth dates of the beloved child who has passed is not a “happy” date for most of us.  The solution for most is to just ignore the person and date completely.  What good will it be to bring it up and make that person sad?

I get this reasoning, I really do.  But what happens is the mom or dad may feel isolated and alone, angry that no one cares enough to acknowledge the child that they are grieving.  Another bereaved mom shared this blog post and wow, does it make sense.

I’ll admit, before I lost my precious baby boy, I too was at a loss for words.  Although I’ve walked this journey of grief for the last five years, it is STILL difficult to figure out how other bereaved moms and dads will react if I acknowledge this not-so-happy occasion.  My “go to” phrase is this “I hope you have a gentle Mother’s Day…I’m thinking of you and (insert name of child here).

Hugs to you all,

Keaton’s mama

International Bereaved Mother’s Day May 5, 2013

I know how painful it is to “celebrate” or more like “endure” Mother’s Day with empty arms and a full heart.  This year, we have organized a Baby and Child Loss Remembrance Service to honour our children on Bereaved Mother’s Day weekend.  We will light candles, we will sing songs, we will pray and we will stand proud of being Mother’s of the little ones we still carry in our hearts.

On Mother’s Day weekend, Saturday May 11th at 7pm Pacific Standard Time, there will be an online gathering of bereaved parents organized by Carly Marie to celebrate the true meaning of Mother’s Day.  Will you join us?

Happy 4th Birthday Keaton!

Today is Keaton’s 4th birthday.  4years is hard to fathom.  He would be considered a little boy by now, learning to be more independent and attending pre-school.  At 4 yrs. of age he would no longer be a toddler and certainly not an infant – but Keaton will always be my “baby”.  In my heart, he will remain my newborn until I cross over that threshold into eternity. 

In heaven, I imagine picking him up as a new infant and living happily-ever-after.  And the beauty of it all is that there won’t ever be an ending.  We’d simply wait for each family member to arrive and have a huge family party/reunion.    

For Keaton’s 3rd birthday last year, we ordered custom-made birthday cakes and made a surprise announcement to our family that Keaton was going to be a big brother. 

Oh how I wish I could close my eyes, blow out the candles and have Keaton with us again.  This year, his little brother, now 4 1/2 months old, is in our arms and with us to celebrate Keaton’s special day….

January 16, 2013

Dearest Keaton,

Happy Birthday son!  You are 4 years old now and we long to see what you must look like.  Your papa and I miss you so much.  Thank you for watching over your little brother…he arrived safe and sound and looked just like you did when you were born. 

As we celebrate your 4th birthday, please send us lots of hugs and kisses.  We think of you all the time and can just imagine the kind of parties you must have in heaven.  Give everyone up there our love. 

Love you always sweetheart,

Mama, Papa and your baby brother 

xoxoxo