Happy Easter my Love….

Dearest Keaton,

Mama and Papa miss you Sweetie and hope you had a wonderful Easter in Heaven.  It must have been glorious to be able to spend it with Jesus.  At Church today, I was a bit distracted by the little ones around us wearing their bright Easter outfits and couldn’t help but smile at them.  It was also great to see the older children rush outside after the service, excited about the much anticipated Easter egg hunt that was planned. 

I often see other toddlers around your age and wish that I could catch a glimpse of what you look like now.  Thankfully, when I close my eyes and kneel down to pray after Communion, I often feel your presence quite strongly which can make me teary of course; but these are bittersweet moments that I really do cherish.  It is so nice to be able to spend time with you at Mass son, what a beautiful gift…   

What really matters to us is that we know that you are happy and safe in heaven.   Even though we wish there was a way you could be here in our arms, we know that you never really left.   You will always be a part of our lives and that will never change. 

Going to the cemetery for a visit seems to ease the ache in our hearts and we like spending time there.  Daddy and I like to trim the grass around your special spot with scissors, clean your marker with fresh water, pick out the weeds in the children’s area and tend to your plants.  We hope you like the little bunny figurine we left in your flower pot and will come for another visit soon…

Goodnight Sweetheart,

Mama & Papa


Daffodils For My Darling: The Gift of Hospice

Earlier in the week, I was at an event and there were a number of businesses and non-profit organizations there.  As I walked past some tables, a vase full of flower stems caught my eye and I met a friendly woman at the Abbotsford Hospice Society booth named Marion.  We ended up chatting and I told her that I had visited the local hospice in my area after we lost our son a couple of years ago.  She immediately held out her hand and reached out to me with sincere care and compassion.  Marion told me that she also lost a loved one and was now involved with raising funds as the Capital Campaign Manager for ‘Help Us Light The Way’ to support the services offered by the Abbotsford Hospice. 

We both agreed that hospices are needed in our communities and can make a difference in the lives of families missing a family member or dear friend.  For about a year after Keaton died, I received excellent one-on-one grief support from a well-trained therapist.  It amazes me that the services offered at the hospice were free of charge.  Grief counselling and various support groups are available to those living in the catchment area.  Contact your local organization for more information. 

Many hospices need support to be able to continue providing services so it is important to keep them in mind if you are looking for a worthy cause to donate to.  For example, think about setting aside gently used items and bringing them to a hospice thrift shop.  How about visiting one of these thrift stores the next time you want to go shopping for a unique treasure? 

Monetary funds are needed, but hospices are often looking for volunteers so the gift of time, or resources such as books on grief and other items are welcome.  Businesses can help too!  For example, Lakeland Nurseries kindly dropped off a large donation of flowers for the Abbotsford Hospice to hand out to people attending the event.  Before I left, Marion made sure to give me a bunch.  “They are in honour of your son” she said knowingly with a smile. 

I went home with a fistful of neatly bundled stems topped with little buds and wondered to myself how long it would take for them to grow, but I didn’t have to wonder for long!  Overnight, they bloomed into full daffodils and bright yellow flowers greeted me in the morning.  What a nice surprise…

Through a ministry that I have started, I am collecting teddy bears to give to bereaved families.  I received a message just this morning that someone wants to send me a few dozen teddy bears.  She is moving and thought it would be a good time to pass them on.  How great is that?!  These bears will be lovingly delivered to the local hospices and hospitals in surrounding areas and given directly to parents and siblings missing a little one.  For myself, receiving the gift for Keaton knowing that someone has taken the time to care makes me think about what little things I can do to let others know that they are not alone.        

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one and would like support, consider seeking out services that may be available in your community by contacting: 

bcbereavementhelpline.com.  In the Lower Mainland 604.738.9950 and throughout BC 1.877.779.2223

If there is a hospice nearby, it might be worthwhile to see if grief counselling, support groups and events are available. 

To support the Abbotsford Hospice Contact:

Marion Keys, Capital Campaign Manager – Help Us Light The Way at 60(four).852.2456 or MarionKeys(at)abbotsfordhospice(dot)org or visit them at abbotsfordhospice.org  


Great news!  Canuck Place is expanding services to the Fraser Valley.  The Canuck Place Children’s Hospice will be located next to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital. 

The Surrey Hospice Society is hosting a Walk of Remembrance & Dove Release on May 7th.  I participated in this event last year and went with a group of other bereaved parents that I knew.  It was meaningful to be able to release a dove for Keaton and walk with others who understood my journey.   I wish you peace in yours…       

Note:  If your organization would like us to publish a link to help promote an event for bereaved families, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to do so. 

Infant Bereavement Workshop May 30th – Details

If you know of anyone who might benefit from attending this session, please let them know!

Mon., May 30th 6:30pm – 9:30pm 

St. Nicholas Church – 20675 87th Ave., Langley (Walnut Grove), BC

SPEAKERS:  Denis E. Boyd, MA, Registered Psychologist & Donna L. Crombie, BA

This workshop is for those grieving the loss of a younger child, infant or baby who has died at birth, or during pregnancy as a result of stillbirth or miscarriage.  It is also geared towards caregivers and volunteers dedicated to supporting these families. 

Hear from an experienced therapist who works with bereaved families and a parent who will share her faith-based journey in search of hope and healing after the loss of her baby.  Discuss healthy ways to work through the grief process and ideas on how to honour your child.  You are not alone…meet others who understand what it is like to love and miss a little one.

Denis Boyd has been providing counselling for over 30 years.  He has special interest in assisting individuals and couples in areas such as grief, stress and marriage.  Donna is a Babylost Mom and coordinates events and workshops to help support bereaved families.Discuss ways to work through the grief process and ideas on how to honour your child.  You are not alone…meet others who understand what it is like to love and miss a little one.    
Who might be interested in attending?  Parents, adult family members and friends.  Professionals and volunteers who support bereaved families after the loss of a young life are also encouraged to attend.  Note that caregivers will be given the opportunity to hear first-hand the kind of support bereaved families need, as well as share ideas with one another in a group setting.  

Topics that will be covered include the following: 

·        Grieving a baby, infant or child
·        You mean I’m not going crazy?
·        Dealing with potential abandonment by friends & family
·        Healthy and unhealthy grief reactions
·        Differing grief patterns e.g. why does my spouse not understand? 
·        Coping strategies and getting better
Surviving the Loss of a Baby:  A story of Faith, Hope and Healing
·        The roller coaster ride of grief
·        Finding grace in grief
·        Towards hope
·        Healing as an ongoing process
·        Once a mom always a mom…where do I go from here?

Interactive Discussion & Group Work
·        Coping through ‘angelversaries’ and other significant dates
·        What has helped or hindered in the recovery after a loss whether it was an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, stillbirth, early infant death, SIDS or the death of a child 3 +
·        Honouring and remembering your child
·        Effective strategies and resources to support help bereaved families

Cost:  $30/person or 2 tickets for $55.  After May 16th – $35/person or 2 tickets for $65.  Partial proceeds will be donated to organizations that support bereaved parents.


Pls. call: Denis Boyd & Associates at 604.931.7(two)11 to pre-register.  Email:  info(at)littlelightofheaven.com for more info.

The Birth of Our Little Saint into Heaven


My Faithful Search for a Doula

The Difference Sandy Made in Healing My Heart 

Excerpts published in “The Doula Spirit” Summer issue 2009 (printed with permission).

~ In Loving Memory of Baby Keaton, born into Eternal Life January, 2009 ~  

After being forced to wait for nine years, our miracle child was due January 19th 2009.  At first, I wasn’t sure about having a Doula at our birth; however, the more I thought about it, the more I warmed up to the idea.  We were scheduled to deliver at the hospital, and it made sense to have someone else there to consistently support me and my husband as we were both ‘hospital-phobic’. 

We only had a handful of pre-natal classes left, and the instructor talked about the benefits of having a Doula, and I also just purchased a fabulous book, “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.”  After watching a few more birthing videos in class, and seeing how much support a birthing coach can provide, I now knew that hiring a Doula was the right decision.  It was already December, and baby was due to arrive just over a month later.  We realized that we made up our minds a little late, and securing someone for January was going to be nothing short of a miracle. 

In my heart I knew that for me to be completely comfortable, I wanted our Doula to be Christian, and if possible, Catholic.  Why?  I knew that I would likely be praying between contractions, and wanted my birthing coach to pray along with me, just in case I forgot the words!  I planned to have my rosary close at hand…

I went to the Doula Services Association website, said a quick prayer, and started my research.  I was specifically looking for practitioners that had web sites so I could narrow my search efficiently.  A few Doulas had dedicated email addresses thereby indicating that a related web site existed, and one of them was Sandy Lopez.  I was pleased to find that her web site handmaidendoula.com featured the tagline “One of God’s greatest gifts is motherhood.”  It is truly a gift that I was blessed to be a mother after having to wait for so long.  It turns out, Sandy was of the same faith, and after meeting with her several times, and speaking to her references, I was able to put my mind at ease.  In more ways than one, I am so glad that we chose Sandy as our Birthing Coach.       

Four days before our due date, I went into labour.  After my water broke, and between the contractions which were now only 10 minutes apart, I felt concerned and tried to connect with our baby.  “Talk to mommy!” I urged our son or daughter while rubbing my tummy.  Throughout the pregnancy, I would often ask our little one to “talk” to me.  Usually without fail, I got an answer within minutes and “Doodle Monkey” would respond with many kicks and jabs, but not this time.  At 1am in the morning, we sped to the hospital as contractions were down to about 6 minutes apart.  I felt in the pit of my stomach that something was terribly wrong.  “Please let our baby be ok…” I kept whispering under my breath.

When we finally got into the assessment room, the Nurses tried to find the baby’s heartbeat.  They searched and searched, but still could not find it.  I had heard the sweet and familiar “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” sound of our child’s heart at the doctor’s office just two days before.  Pointing to the lower left-side of my bulging belly, I tried to be calm, and explained “the baby’s heartbeat is always right here!” and asked that the Nurses please check again.  I didn’t like the grave looks that they had on their faces.  An ultrasound wand was then placed on my stomach, but they could not detect any movement either.  After hearing this, I told my husband to call my parents right away and asked them all to pray.  I also urged him to call Sandy our Doula for her to come to the hospital.  My husband took my hand, made his best attempt at a smile, and reassured me that they were on their way…

I was now motivated to deliver our baby quickly so that the medical staff could do whatever was needed to save our son or daughter.  After only 45 minutes of hard labour, with Sandy and my mom at our side, our baby boy was born, but it was too late.  Our precious son had gently passed away only hours before his birth.  It turns out, he had his fist wrapped around his umbilical cord, and cut off his own circulation.  There was nothing the medical staff or I could have done to save him.  We were all devastated and it was clear that everyone in the room was shaken.   

The doctor gently wrapped our son up in a towel, and carefully placed him in my arms.  He was absolutely beautiful, and just looked like he was sound asleep.  Our son was born with such a peaceful look on his face; his lips formed a cute little smile reassuring us that he was happy, and that he had already soared to heaven.  I cannot even begin to describe how I felt as I cradled my son’s lifeless body for many, many hours.  I wasn’t at all ready to let my newborn go…We named our little angel “Keaton Dominic” and miss him terribly. 


Our baby boy at peace


We will always love and miss Keaton; however, we have not lost faith.  We were sent many caring people like Sandy to help us get through such a shocking, and difficult time.  It may be hard to believe, but I am at peace with Keaton’s death.  I know my son is in heaven which means he is being taken care of, and is very happy. 

I experienced firsthand the positive way in which birthing attendants can impact the healing process.  There are many things that Sandy did which helped us bond with, and take care of our newborn.  It was Sandy who prompted to us create meaningful memories by taking pictures of Keaton, suggesting that we unwrap, and take a good look at our son, and to dress him.  I have now come to realize how significant these gestures of love are in the grieving, and healing process.  The following letter I wrote to Sandy provides a clearer picture of what I mean: 

March 9, 2009

Dear Sandy,

It was great speaking with you today, thank you for all your encouragement, and support as well as your prayers.  As I mentioned, you were an important part of our pregnancy, and an integral part of the memories of Keaton that we now have to cherish.  As you know, we were in complete shock when I delivered our precious son; we likely would not have done some important things that I am so grateful to have done because of you.   Much of this precious time was a blur, but the suggestions that you made to us at the time have made all the difference in our healing. 

For example, I was afraid to even fully take a look at Keaton at first, but I am now glad you mentioned this, and encouraged me to do so.  We also weren’t sure if we wanted photos, and my hands were too weak to dress him myself…Looking back, I would have been heartbroken if I did not have those initial photos to remember Keaton by, cry over, and smile at.  I yearn for the chance to see, and hold my baby boy again which I cannot do until we meet him again in heaven.  The pictures you took are the only ones we have where I was cradling him.  I am afraid that had you not been there, I would have kept Keaton all wrapped up.  Thank you for suggesting that it was alright to take a look, and to dress him.  I have read other parents’ stories of how they were not given the opportunity to bond with their baby.  It is now tragically too late for them to do these important things that I was able to do.  

We are also very thankful for the care that we received from the Doctors, Nurses and Social Workers and we wish to help support them when they care for parents like us.  As a result of our experience, I am planning to create a short resource sheet meant for hospital staff to provide to patients.  This letter is specifically meant for future parents who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth or shortly after birth.  If you have any suggestions that might help, I welcome your thoughts, and value your professional opinion.   I am working on this as I strongly feel a calling to do so in memory of Keaton’s beautiful life.    

I look forward to meeting with you again, to share our experiences and to hear in detail how you helped us deliver our blessed little angel into God’s hands.  I appreciate your offer to write down our birth story.  I hope this is not too much to ask…

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for us please let us know.  We will try to conceive another miracle child, and will be certain to give you a call as soon as we find out we are pregnant, but will give ourselves time to grieve our first born in a healthy manner before doing so.  We greatly respect you, and your experience, and we are so fortunate that God lead us to a Catholic Doula who shares our faith.  We will ask little Keaton to pray for you, and your family, and to also look over all the other mothers, fathers, and the babies that you help deliver.  Thank you again Sandy!

Peace & hugs

Keaton’s Mommy & Daddy


Additional Note:  To find a Certified Doula, visit Doula International and you can do a search by location and area of specialty.  In BC Canada, visit the Doula Services Association of BC where you can also do an online search.