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

Miscarriage and Rights

What are your rights during a miscarriage?  Some find out after the fact, when it is too late.  This is an informative article called Your Rights During Miscarriage published by Elizabeth Ministry International.  Although it is in the context of having a miscarriage in the US, many of the points still apply.

Related to this topic is the Letter to Parents before leaving the hospital and Tips for Healthcare Professionals that I wrote when I suffered the loss of my firstborn son.

 

 

Post Partum Depression Seminar

You are not Alone!  Coping Strategies for Baby Blues/Post Partum Depression & Anxiety

April 4th, 2017 from 7 PM – 9:00 PM 

Post-Partum-Depression-photo

Presented ByDiana Ayres, M.A., Registered Clinical Counsellor and Donna L. Crombie, Elizabeth Minister

Location:  St. Nicholas Church, 20675 87 Ave., Langley, BC

Will you be giving birth in the next few months?

Have you given birth recently?

Do you sometimes feel anxious or think you might be depressed or worry your spouse might be?

Have you suffered through infant loss and are pregnant again or recently had a baby?

Feeling lonely and need of support?

Post partum depression can greatly affect couples and their families.  Feelings being of worried, anxious or depressed are more common than we think.  Diana and Donna are new moms and would like to create more awareness about this important topic.

This seminar will go over signs and symptoms of perinatal and post partum anxiety and depression.  Diana will discuss ways to cope, gain support and thrive and Donna will share her story about infant loss and having subsequent children.

Pregnant couples, new parents, supporters and family members are encouraged to attend.  All are welcome!

Cost:  By donation

To register or for more info: 604.931.7211 – denisboyd.com

Jesus Blessed Them

How wonderful it is to know that Jesus blesses our children…

Happy 8th Birthday Keaton!  We love you to the moon and back, and around n’ round again….we miss you dearly.

Mark 10:13-16New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Jesus Blesses Little Children

People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

 

 

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!

What not to say…

When a baby dies during pregnancy, I’m not sure what might be more hurtful, for a friend to not say anything at all or to utter a platitude such as “it was meant to be” or miscarriages are common“, or “be glad it happened early – you didn’t get a chance to get too attached”.

I’ve spoken to bereaved moms and dads and there are mixed feelings.  A couple I know felt angry when close friends didn’t even acknowledge that their son died and stayed silent.  Even a platitude would have been better than nothing.  Others have said that they would rather someone not say anything.  A safer response might be to acknowledge the death with “I’m sorry to hear you have lost your baby, there are no words…”

Personally, I now try to look behind the words at people’s intentions.  For the most part, others just want to make things better somehow.  In some cases, that person wants to reassure themselves that you are going to be ok because they are unaware of how to console you.  If someone you love says something hurtful, you could let the person know and try to gently make them aware about why the specific comment isn’t helpful.

It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has endured the death of an infant.  Before the loss of my children, I likely made such comments myself.  If you are supporting a friend or colleague who has had a miscarriage, this article does a great job of explaining What Not to Say When Your Friend has a Miscarriage.

Are there specific phrases that you’ve heard and want to share?  If so, also note what you would have liked to hear instead.

 

Elizabeth Ministry Launch – Vancouver, BC

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Day

Please join us at these two events, we’d love to meet you!  More info. can be found on the events page.

Read Archbishop J. Michael Miller’s message for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  It is wonderful to have support from the Archdiocese of Vancouver and Catholic Cemeteries for Elizabeth Ministry, thank you!

Watch the promo video

Let’s Make Lemonade

I’ll admit, I hardly watch TV and stopped watching the news and reading newspapers a long time ago.  A bereaved mom shared a TV clip on social media recently and I thought it was worth sharing here.

I warn that it is apparently a “spoiler” if you happen to watch the show “This is Us”.  Even if you don’t watch TV, forget that this is part of a show.  This short clip stands alone  and speaks volumes.  Note that I in no way endorse this TV show or know anything about it so I cannot comment beyond what is in this actual 4 1/2 minute snippet:  This is Us – The Art of Making Lemonade

This clip captured some of the feelings we had when we were told that our baby had died.  We were in shock.  It was difficult to process information and I remember having to ask the same questions more than once before I was able to begin to understand what was happening.

I think about the importance of health care professionals and how sharing personal experiences with patients can help them connect with patients.  After I gave birth to our stillborn son, I was frustrated with all the people that were constantly in and out of our hospital room; upset with all the blood tests, blood pressure taking, questions and decision-making that I was asked to do.  When the shift changed, I held my breath knowing I would have to do it all again with different medical staff and practitioners.

My anxiety eased a bit when I was assigned a nurse who shared that she had also suffered the death of her stillborn baby a number of years ago.  After hours of frustration, I felt safe in telling her that we just wanted to be left alone and only wanted people in the room if it was absolutely necessary.  I felt I could trust her when she explained what medical procedures and paperwork needed to be done and why.

Before her shift ended, she made a point to let me know that even though her first child was gone, she now had a family and that there was hope.  This nurse also seemed to choke back tears when she told me that she was asked specifically to look after me knowing that she had a similar experience.  As well, it turns out my mom who is a retired maternity nurse, trained her a number of years ago and indicated that mom was a great mentor.  When she heard who I was, she wanted to be assigned to me.

I’m grateful for the care we received at the hospital and I applaud the doctors, nurses, social workers and other support staff who go that extra mile  to  relate to their patients on a deeper level.

These brief, yet meaningful interactions where we share our stories of love and loss offering comfort to one another is the reason I’m involved with Elizabeth Ministry.  From one bereaved mom to another, thank you…it is time for me to share this kindness and continue to make lemonade.

Do you want to join me?  Feel free to contact me if you want to start up an Elizabeth Ministry chapter at your parish.  I’d love to hear from you!