A Poem

Told by: Matt

My darling little angel, It’s so sad to see you go, But God has a higher plan for you, That much I do now know.

You’re time with us was very brief, It was not meant to be, But you touched my heart so very much, My lovely sweet baby.

Now you’re sleeping up in heaven, With a smile upon your face, But in my heart I’ll keep for you, A very special place.

You’ll never be forgotten, Forever in my mind, A sweeter soul on God’s great earth, No man could ever find.

 

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We Miss Her, Too

Told by: Anne

My sister in law and I were pregnant at the same time. She lost her precious baby girl somewhere between 20-24 weeks. Even though we’re not close, it hit me hard. My husband and I sat and cried and cried when we got that call. Our hearts just ached for them.

We didn’t know our baby’s sex until birth, but we had a girl too. She’s 14 months old. My sister in law and brother in law have come to visit my mother in law several times (she lives only a few minutes from my husband and I), and we disagree on whether we should just go over like we used to when they would visit.

My brother in law has seen our baby once when we brought our son to play with their son, but my sister in law had stayed home that time. So she has still never seen our baby, and I don’t blame her… I feel like we should stay away unless they ask to see us.

My husband’s heart still breaks for his brother. And I know, looking at our little girl, he thinks about the cousin she would have. I think about her too. And her poor parents who will always mourn her.

miss you

Photo Source (unconfirmed): Melody Godfred

Jaisie’s Daddy

Shared by: Jalisa

My husband and I have been married 5 years, and have struggled with infertility just as long.

He has been my backbone and encouragement through all of this emotional strain. I don’t know where I would be without all the love he has for me and our precious angel baby. He attended every doctors appointment and does everything he can to make sure his family is always taken care of. I’ve never met such an amazing person as him.

love

 

 

 

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Practically Bereaved Fathers

Practically: almost but not entirely.

The root of the word, practical, can also mean realistic, responsible and non-emotional.

Examples from practically bereaved fathers:

“Honey, if carrying to term is so hard, maybe the doctors are right and we should just induce now.”

“Why are you pumping your breastmilk?  Haven’t we been through enough?  I want my wife back.”

“You’re going to have to get over it, honey.”

“We can’t dwell on this forever.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

To the bereaved mother, who is grieving emotionally, these sorts of messages, in word and action, can further the divide you have and deepen the chasm of your heart that tells you that you are all alone and that your feelings can’t be trusted with anyone, even your beloved.

From one bereaved mother to another, I whisper to you, sisters, that the Practically Bereaved Father is not grieving less than we are.  His grief is not almost but not entirely.

To the men who carry heartbreak with stoicism, with strength, stamina and a straight face, stillbirthday recognizes your hurting heart through it all, and the unique obstacles you face, those of doubt, criticism and shunning as you seek so desperately to protect us mothers, your women, while our journeys are marked by wailing and flailing and impulses and seemingly irrational decisions and screaming and stomping and crying and dying inside.

Please, forgive us as we’ve doubted you, belittled you and rejected you.

We need you.

And your experiences matter, and your own healing matters.

We have a large section of resources here at stillbirthday just for bereaved fathers - including Practically Bereaved Fathers.

 

 

 

 

Show Me a Miracle Today

This weekend I spent the most beautiful time with fellow allied healthcare professionals: doulas, midwives, friends.

On the flight home, I was overwhelmed with appreciation for their receptivity, participation, and our shared sacred space.

And, I was flat tired.

So I rested my head against the plane window and shut my eyes, preparing to sleep the entire flight home.

Then, I felt movement in the seat next to me.

As the person was getting settled in, I kept my eyes closed, and I was relaxing and enjoying the sense of fullness I had from my time in the workshop.  Such amazing women, such a sacred circle.  Feeling deeply humbled.  And tired.  I mentioned that.

As the plane began its slow first movements, I began to feel a cool trickle splash onto my right shoulder.

I thought, perhaps, that the person seated behind me might have dribbled soda over the back of my seat as they were getting settled into their chair.  I imagined an apologetic person, with bags and a soft drink, awkwardly fumbling and squeezing into their seat.  I remained still, in exhaustion and in forgiveness.  I didn’t care that it was spilled on me.  I was tired.

The trickle continued.

The trickle continued and interrupted these warm, wonderful thoughts and my foggy, sleepy brain with its cool wetness.

As my thoughts shifted to bring more attention to this splashing, I realized that I might need to say something in order for it to stop.  I finally opened my eyes and said “What is that?” as I turned to see, still expecting to see someone fumbling and apologetic.

In turning, I quickly noted that the person seated next to me was a very tall older gentleman, dressed formally, perhaps traveling on business.

My abrupt break of the silence startled this man.

When I looked up to see the figure I imagined would be there above me, with their dripping soda, I found nothing.

For a moment, I was totally confused.  Where was the cool splashing coming from?

The air conditioner was blasting just overhead and behind me, spilling cool condensation.

The man next to me asked the flight attendant for a paper towel for the water.  And that is how our conversation began.

“What were you traveling to Dulles for?”

As much as I am virtually always prepared and eager to talk about pregnancy and infant loss awareness and support, I hesitated before engaging in conversation – remember, I was tired.

He was visiting family for his nephew’s wedding, I learned, and, I told him about the workshop.

I began slowly, trying to even explain the magnitude of the workshop, but the awe and the beauty of it entered into the words and I began to awaken, feeling a fresh sense of rejuvenation and excitement.  Shifting in my seat away from the window, I could feel a vibrancy as I explained the importance of pregnancy and infant loss awareness and support.

He listened, sitting quietly.  Deliberating.  Can he trust this woman with his experiences?  Then he spoke.

“My wife and I lost a child.  It was many years ago.”

He choked the words out, tears filling his eyes.  I saw such softness, such unexpected and genuine sadness.

Slowly, respectfully, carefully, he and I began to unpack pieces of his story.

This precious mother, his beloved wife, gave birth to her first child via late miscarriage, all alone.  She didn’t have subsequent children.  And she didn’t talk about her loss.

I shared with him, how I felt so deeply shamed when I learned that my child was not alive.  How so much of my pain was because I would have to tell my beloved husband that his child was not alive.  How terribly guilty I felt, that my husband would endure so much pain.

We talked about the importance of being honored and validated, and the importance of our loved ones allowing us to learn how to be parents to children who are no longer alive.

I felt drawn to talk more about some of the reasons we are silenced in our grief.  Mothers and the weight of shame: that if our child gets hit by a car, for example, it seems easy for us to point our finger at the driver and blame them for the death of our child.  As a pregnant mother, we don’t always really have that.  We blame ourselves – deeply.  The blame, while it holds anger and isn’t necessarily productive, it comes from a place of love.  A place of wanting to protect our child but not being able to.

And then this older, tall, well dressed man, for a moment was unable to stop his tears from spilling over onto his long face.  With difficulty, he spoke.

“My first wife, was pregnant with twins.  She got in a car accident.  The twins died, and so did she.”

Pausing to compose himself, he continued, softly,

“I was so angry with her.”

As we continued to unpack some of these most sacred experiences, we looked together at his memories of him entering into his new marriage, a bereaved father.  How his new wife must have hurt for his losses.  How much she loves him, and didn’t want him to hurt.

And what she may have felt like experiencing the loss of her first and only biological child, knowing she would tell her beloved that his child was not alive.  What she may have felt that would mean for their marriage.

He spoke.
“I know today, that my first wife died of a broken heart.  She died because she couldn’t live without her babies.” 

Through our time together, it had been revealed to him that perhaps his wife has carried the grief silently, of her child who was born and who died via miscarriage, because she loved her husband deeply, and felt guilty.  She didn’t want him to blame her, to be angry with her, as he was with his first wife for getting into a car accident and the loss of his twins.

Right there on the airplane, he forgave his first wife, after holding so many years of anger and blame.  And with a new countenance, he and I chatted about ways he can honor his twins from his first marriage, how he can honor his child from his second wife, and what these things could mean for their marriage, for his beloved wife and for her own release and joy and healing.

We talked about how to learn to be a parent to a child who is not alive – and that it is never too late to start to learn how.

Finally, our flight ending and our conversation closing, this man, unfolded a magazine he had carried on with him.  It was folded at a page with a small prayer written at the bottom of the page:

Dear God, show me a miracle today. 

He spoke.

“I prayed for God to show me a miracle today.  You were part of a miracle.”

Doran, set the date for our workshop so many months ago.

My husband, agreed to the workshop, purchased the flight, and arranged with his work to be with our children during what I knew could be a long and challenging weekend for him.

This man, his family were a part of this, as they planned for their wedding that would bring this man traveling.

I very, very rarely share these precious moments I have with stillbirthday parents.  I’m sharing this today, because I hold hope that this man’s wife might find it.  That she can know that I hold her experience with love and gentleness.  That she is a beautiful mother.  That she is worthy to heal.

I believe that indeed I was part of a miracle - but I believe so many others were as well.  It is my hope that those who were a part of this, will know about it, that we all can be moved by the gentle orchestration of things, that you were a part of something bigger than you knew, and that we can all remember to be mindful and prayerful for every opportunity for healing.

And to consider that getting splashed with cold water just may be the Holy Spirit tapping you on the shoulder so that you can turn to see the healing happen.

 

The storyline in this video reminds me of this man.  To this man, if you are reading this today, may you be encouraged that you and your wife remain in my prayers.  You are worthy to heal.  It is never too late to learn how to parent your children who are not alive.

Thank you, for blessing me beyond measure, for our shared moment in the clouds as we honored our deceased children.

And to his wife - may you know that you are not alone.   May you find a fresh sense of love splash upon you.

 

SBD Speaks

These are little photos that we share at our stillbirthday Facebook page, as a way to invite others to finding us here, directly at stillbirthday.  If you like any of these, you can find them – and more – at our Facebook page for sharing.

 

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Alive in Heaven

Sunday, September 23 is International Bereaved Fathers Day.

From now until September 15, you can download a free eBook version of Mark Canfora’s book:

Alive in Heaven:

A Child Died

A Father Cried

And God Answered

Just visit this link, and in the left sidebar you’ll see “Download eBook”.

Enter in your name, email, and this code:

markjr1985

This is a story of a boy, eighteen years old, who committed suicide.  It’s a story of a family, coming together to find their way, to find God’s way, in their healing.

Seeing his son in the morgue, the rope marks around his neck, brings back memories of the day Marky was born, with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Looking back on that day, Mark remembers how fervently he prayed for his child’s survival.  This book brings you through the intimate, devastating experiences of a father begging for his son’s life to be preserved, to losing his son eighteen years later, and of that broken, devastated father turning to his own Father for answers, mentorship, guidance, restoration and hope.

September 15 is the anniversary of Marky’s arrival in Heaven.  Thank you Mark for this generous offer.  May bereaved fathers find comfort in your message, in the legacy of your son, and may you find comfort in these days ahead.

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