The holidays can be hard, especially if there is a child, or anyone really, missing from the picture, so here is your bill of rights for a healthy holiday season. Use these rights to put together a plan of how you will face this difficult time of year for the grieving. I cannot take credit for creating these "rights," it was done for my work newsletter, so I have altered a few to fit the needs of those grieving the loss of their babes through miscarriage or stillbirth.
1) you have the right to take care of yourself: to eat right, exercise regularly, and get enough rest.
2) you have the right to have mixed emotions: happy, sad, frustrated, angry, guilty, afraid, and thankful.
3) you have the right to cry when you are sad, smile when you are happy, and not feel guilty about either.
4) you have the right to say no to any holiday activities- to pace yourself differently. You also have the right to change your mind about a previous commitment.
5) you have the right to share your feelings, or not. You also have the right to choose who you share your feelings with and who you don’t.
6) you have the right to solitude: for planning, thinking, reflection, introspection, prayer, and relaxation.
7) you have the right to remember your baby in a meaningful way and incorporate him/her into your holiday plans and traditions.
8) you have the right to ask for help from friends, family, your church, or other group.
9) you have the right to follow old traditions or make up new ways of celebrating the holidays.
I hope this can help you alleviate a little stress and heart ache during the holidays!
Sunday, December 14, 2014
The other day I felt rather sabotaged by my grief, I found myself amidst many thoughts I hadn't entertained for a long time, and even some new thoughts that just brought on an overwhelming sadness. Over the summer I began a career as a hospice nurse, my morning started with thoughts of joy at the course my life was taking, supporting grieving families both in my job and in a support group for miscarriage and still birth. I thought back to that tiny babe that I carried for seven weeks, how despite a short life she was able to shape so much of who I am. I thought of the way that her untimely and unexpected death by miscarriage taught me to grieve and support others in grief. I thought of how one of the most devastating events in my life had become one of the most important. I thought of the way that God used a tragic event to show how powerfully He can bring beauty from ashes. Very quickly, though, the peace I was feeling was snatched away, I became sad, I began to cry, I was filled with this grief over questions that I will probably never have the answers to, the one in the forefront of my mind "did she feel scared during her death?" In Hospice we have a policy that no one dies alone, and I began to think of this tiny babe inside of me who had no one to hold her hand as she died, no one to whisper words of comfort in her ear. As I allowed my heart to be consumed with the hopelessness of those thoughts, I was reminded by my Saviour, by Sparrow's Saviour, that she wasn't alone when she died, I was holding her, as I did every second of her life. I was also reminded that there was no fear in her death, I imagined her very simply falling to sleep and awakening in the glorious presence of her Heavenly Father, of her creator, of the one who ordained her very being and life. And I knew that there was no thick, overwhelming silence, that even though I couldn't whisper words of comfort, that she awoke to the songs of centuries of believers who had entered heaven's gates before her. As sad as I felt, and as much as I longed to hold that little girl, I knew that the hopelessness that I was feeling was a lie, that her death wasn't the end, it wasn't the end for her and it wasn't the end for me. For Sparrow, it was the beginning of an eternity spent in the presence of the one who held her entire life in His hands, and for me it was the beginning of a career, or rather a life, dedicated to holding the hands and hearts of the grieving.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Today I heard a song that always takes me back to the week that I was waiting for the results of my HcG (to confirm or deny my miscarriage). The chorus has words that I imagined saying to the life growing inside of me; "Be strong in the Lord and, never give up hope. You're gonna do great things, I already know. God's got his hand on you so don't live life in fear, forgive and forget, but don't forget why you're here. Take your time and pray. These are the words I would say." As I sang along to these lyrics I had a peace that surpassed all understanding and I heard God whisper "it's going to be okay," and I felt like things were going to be okay. Unfortunately I received a call days later that everything was not okay, and I had even less understanding of that strange peace I felt days earlier. I counted it as a fluke, a desperate mother's final hope, even delusion because I wasn't okay, things weren't okay. It wasn't until today that I actually understood that peace, that I understood why God whispered those words "It's going to be okay." Four years ago it wasn't okay, I wasn't okay, and I couldn't see any way that things would be okay, but as I look back over those four years I can say that I am okay now. Don't get me wrong, not a day goes by that I don't think about my baby and wonder about life with her, but I can also look back and see the good in her very short life and death. I can look back over the last four years and see my own personal growth as a mom, as a Christian, as a nurse, and as a person in general. I can look back over the last four years and see the lives I have been able to speak into. I can look back over the last four years and see the compassion and understanding that I have gained for others. I can look back over the last four years and see the impact that one life, even one that never was, can have on others and the Kingdom of God. I can look back over the last four years and see that I am okay, and I know that the peace I was given on that day four years ago surpassed my understanding, but it did not surpass the understanding of my God who knew, even then, that it was going to be okay. I can look back over the last four years and see that God was faithful in fulfilling the promise that "it's going to be okay."
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
There is a strangeness about a day that should be a birthday, but isn’t; about a day that was the anticipation of a birth, but passed full of nothing more than heartache and grief; about a day that was meant for someone special, but that someone isn’t there. For the last three years this day has come and gone for me, and it is coming again, and it will go again, and there is a friction inside of me, a rubbing of grief and celebration, of sadness and joy, of sorrow and thankfulness. March sixth marks the day that I should have met my first child, that day never came for me and while that grieves me, I can't resist celebrating; celebrating that she existed, no matter how short that time was, celebrating the impact that she had on my life, and celebrating who I am because of her life and loss. Even so, on the other side of that celebration, comes the strangeness and the friction, the sadness of not having her here against the joy of knowing heaven is her home, of wondering what life and her birthday would be like had she been born that March day against the joy of knowing that her life has only known the perfection of living with her Heavenly Father, and of really not knowing what that day should look like. Should the day be solemn? should it be joyous? Do I let it pass like any other day? Do I mark it with something special? I am never quite sure what it "should" look like because I'm not sure there is an answer, I'm not sure someone can tell you how to spend the anniversary of the due date of your baby that didn't make it to her due date. Is it any wonder that the mother's heart feels so adrift in grief? Getting lost under this tapestry that has been woven of grief and joy, never really knowing what you should do yet trying to follow the direction of a heart that has been broken. Ultimately that's what it comes down to, though, following your heart, whether that heart is in a million pieces, those pieces have been picked up, are in the process of being repaired, or have been put back together with a baby sized hole left in it. So as March sixth comes and March sixth goes for the third year in a row, I will rest in the tapestry that has been woven of my grief and joy and I will celebrate the life I carried even if that life isn't here to celebrate with me.