Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First Glory Babies gathering

Below is the bulletin announcement for our first gathering. If you have any ideas for this gathering, please call, email, or post a comment. I want women and their husbands to feel comfortable to come, and to be as outgoing or as anonymous as they desire. I want them to leave feeling encouraged, validated, and understood. Two ladies have agreed to share parts of their stories of loss, but I'm not yet sure what else the night will look like.

You are invited to join the Glory Babies ministry as we gather for a night of encouragement and fellowship.

Tuesday, August 12 at 7pm in the Parlor.

Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP to Melissa through the e-mail below or contact her at 706-1822 should you have any questions.

Glory Babies is a ministry that walks with women through the losses of miscarriage and stillbirth.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Not forgotten

This is another excerpt from my friend's blog:

I am continuing to work on my garden. I am almost done with all of the rock and landscaping, now I have to pick out what types of plants that I want to put in there as well. This project has been very meaningful to me b/c I feel it is a way to honor Caden and to never let him be forgotten. Forgotten, that is a word that has come up a lot lately. I do feel that way very much lately. I know a little bit of why I feel that way, but don't entirely understand it. I really don't want Caden to be forgotten, and in my efforts to be the best person I can be, I think that if I am happy and doing well, then I am forgetting him. Even though I didn't get to know him really, I would have liked to have had the chance to be the best mom that I could be. When I think about wanting to have another baby, I think that I am such an awful person for thinking that way b/c my son is not here. How can I ever be happy again, when there is so much pain inside me. At times like this I see myself taking thousands of steps backwards. Going backwards is the most awful thing for me to do in my own eyes. I just don't know what to do sometimes and just cry and cry. It is so hard to go back and deal w/ things that I thought I had gotten through already.

For the longest time I have seen God as a good God, and I still believe that, but for a while now, I think to myself what is the use? Like today, I remembered to pray for a friend was going through a very scary medical procedure, and while I was praying for her, I said to God, " I don't even know if you hear me anymore, but please be w/ my friend and protect her and give her a sense of peace and calmness as she goes through her procedure." It make me so very sad when I hear myself say those things. I don't want to be mad or angry w/ God, and I know that he is only looking out for me, but I just don't understand him right now. Even so, I still pray and hope that he will hear me someday. Maybe one day I will know why I have to suffer so much right now.

When we lost Caden, I felt abandoned by God, my friends, & family off and on so very many times. I felt like every time that I was pushed to hurry through my grief and be ok again, that Caden was being taken away from me all over again, that pain stings more than I will ever be able to express.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ups and downs

Below is an excerpt from a blog that a friend of mine wrote. Her son was stillborn last November. Please keep her (and her husband) in your prayers. She graciously gave me permission to include it on this blog. Reading it I am challenged to be a better friend, to be more authentic, and to never quit evolving into who God has created me to be. May you be blessed as you read this.


I finally gave my friend her quilt/blanket that I made for her tonight. I had it finished a couple of weeks ago when I couln't sleep one night. Going to her baby shower was one of the hardest things that I have done. I couldn't even look at the things that she got, especially the clothes. I never got to have a shower, and I will never have that same excited feeling again. I wish that I could have that back, but I guess that is all part of my healing process. I hope that one day I can actually be somewhat joyful and attend a baby shower for friends.

A lot of people ask us how we are doing? It is so easy to say "Fine", when really we have so much on our minds and hearts that we aren't sure if anyone is really wanting to know how we really are. So here goes.

My husband: He has been reading this book about a pastor in Olathe who lost his college aged son. The book is about what he is learning through his grief process. A lot of what the book has to say hits home and he can definitely relate to it. I think that it is great to have a man's perspective on grief. His sometimes wonders how Caden would have been at this stage. He would have been 7 months old. My husband right now is in so much need of encouragement. He needs some kind of reassurance that life is going to get better than it is right now. He also wants to move on but not forget Caden and feel good about life again. I am proud of him though, b/c he is still continuing to reach out to other guys and invite them to do things with him or play on his sports teams with him. He is so good about that kind of thing. He also has been so much more open about how life is just hard sometimes, and I see him reallly searching for the truth GOD and what GOD wants him to do in his life. He doesn't have things all figured out, but he is showing me that when things are so super tough and we don't think we can do it, we are wrapped up in the arms of Jesus and he will sustain us.

Me: I have my ups and downs and when I am down, I am REALLY down. All I can do is just cry when I have those down times. It is so hard to explain or even be a part of. I so much want to be different and joyful. I feel as if grief has taken so much away from who I am that I can't see who I am becoming again. I really struggle with that. Right now the hardest place for me to be is church. I wish it weren't so, but I praise God so much at home and in my own time and place and have seen glimpses of God in a very private and personal way, that when I am at church, I feel like I am just there to be there. I feel like I have been labeled "The Girl Who Lost Her Son." I wonder sometimes if my life or Caden's even matters at all to anyone anymore. I love the people at my church, but sometimes it is so hard to be there. I sit by myself sometimes, and it hurts so much that no one stops to ask me if I would like to sit with them. I also have felt like I need to go to the altar every time I have the chance to just thank God for getting me this far. I often would love for someone to come and pray with me just to know that they still care and that I still matter and that Caden still matters, but a lot of times that doesn't happen. I know that many people have no idea what to say or do, so they say nothing and do nothing. That sometimes makes it worse for me, because I think that they just don't care. I get the feeling that people just don't know how to be around me right now. I am so completely lost when I am at church and just don't know where I belong or fit in. Do I even have a place right now? My only child is not with me, but I did have a son, I am not too old, so where does that leave me? That is what I am needing constant prayer and support to find that place where I belong again. I feel like I am starting all over again, and it is soooooooooo hard.

Real quick. I have come to terms with some aspects about Caden dying and my guilt and such. I recently read a book called " A Room of Marvels." In the book the author goes to heaven where many of the people that have died or that he had impacted in some way are in heaven taking him on a journey to his special room. You know the verse " In my house there are many rooms,... I will go there to prepare a place for you" (my very paraphrased version). Anyways, his daughter is there. She died when she was 2. She is the one that asked God to let her father take this journey. He sees all of the people's lives that he has touched in one way or another that he never even knew about. The last stop on his journey is into his "room" where his daughter is waiting for him. She talks to him about why he is always so sad and in pain when he thinks of her. She assures him that she is just fine, and doesn't have to be crippled anymore. In heaven she is "perfect". She wants her daddy to not be in so much pain b/c she isn't and that some day they will see each other again. But for right now she is saving his "room" for him until he comes. That was such a touching chapter that I cried the entire time I was reading it. What I learned from it to relate to myself is that Caden is ok. He is waiting for me and wants me to be happy. He knows how much I miss him and the life that we could have shared together, but he is in perfection and doesn't have to feel any pain. He knows that I will be happy again, and he wants that for me. He is looking down on me and wants me to do the best I can and to keep looking to GOD for my strength. He is with me always. What a great thought.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Resources summaries

The following are books we've reviewed and found useful in this ministry:

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One
Kathy Wunnenberg. 235 pages.
A consumable resource for the parent who requests daily guidance through the many emotions affiliated with grief and loss. Author draws attention to Biblical characters who experienced similar emotions. Space available for guided journaling. While not specifically directed at infant loss, this could prove to be a valuable resource. Scriptural. Recommended for the grieving parent.
On Grief and Grieving
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler. 232 pages.
Addresses the five most common stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Chapter on “Angels” and the afterlife are questionable. Includes practical advice regarding children affected by loss, suicide, memories and taking care of one’s self during a time of bereavement. Not scripturally based (not inherently un-scriptural, just not purposely based on the Bible). Recommended for both the grieving parent and the grief partner.

SIDS & Infant Death Survival Guide
Joani Nelson Horchler and Robin Rice. 312 pages.
Information and comfort for grieving family and friends. An endearing collection of personal stories of those who have lost babies due to SIDS. Artfully compiled to address the serious issues of defining SIDS, funeral arrangements, marking the holidays, loss to grandparents, etc. A great resource for this specific type of infant loss. Not necessarily scriptural. Recommended for both the grieving parent and the grief partner.

Grieving God’s Way
Margaret Brownley. 314 pages.
A collection of 36 short chapters addressing various moments and activities that encourage healing. Ideal for the person who is unable to sit idle during the season of grief. Short daily readings. Recommended for the grieving parent and the grief partner seeking active ways to encourage healing. Scripturally based.

When You Don’t Know What To Say
Harold Ivan Smith. 87 pages.
A short, concise work equipping each grief partner (healer) with more than words or actions to aide the person who is grieving, but gives the proper posture when committing to walk the journey of grief. Scriptural. Highly recommended for every grief partner.

I’ll Hold You In Heaven
Jack Hayford. 113 pages.
A concise work addressing the questions often raised by those who have lost a baby to miscarriage, SIDS, stillbirth and even abortion. This booklet addresses he reality and significance of even the tiniest little being. It answers the question, “Where did my baby go?” And it directs the bereaved in how to walk with the assurance that the child will one day be held on Heaven. Recommended for both the grieving parent and the grief partner. Scripturally based.

A B Cs of Healthy Grieving (A companion for everyday coping)
Harold Ivan Smith. 170 pages.
The precise handbook gives daily encouragement while coping with the various stages and emotions due to loss of a loved one. Each ‘devotional entry’ ends with an “I can…” statement which enables the grieving person to press on. Recommended for grieving parents. Not scripturally based.

Silent Grief
Clara Hinton. 192 pages.
This work chronicles one woman’s walk through her own grief at the loss of a baby. Together with other people’s stories the author addresses such issues as the immediate pain of loss, well meaning friends, and moving on. It is a bit like reading through another person’s journal. Recommended for the grieving parent. Scriptural.

Empty Arms
Pam Vredevelt. 166 pages.
Beginning with the author’s own loss due to a stillbirth, the reader is taken through the long journey of loss and grief. Vredevelt artfully weaves medical information together with her expertise as a counselor to answer many haunting questions of why. She addresses the loss to husbands, spiritual/emotional battles, and well-meaning but bumbling friends. Through knowledge and helpful suggestions, this book equips both the grieving parents and the grief partner. Scriptural.

Safe in the Arms of God
John MacArthur. 171 pages.
MacArthur addresses the difficult questions of a baby’s eternity. When people say, “Your baby is in heaven,” can we be sure of that? He addresses the inherit sin of mankind and the innate innocence of little ones with direct scriptural references. Ideal for the person who needs Biblical proof of these truths. Recommended for both the grieving parent and the grief partner. Scriptural.

Safe in the Arms of Jesus
Robert Lightner. 92 pages.
The author provides a sound basis for our hope that little ones truly are “safe in the arms of Jesus.” Lightner argues that the one who is unable to make the decision for/against salvation in Christ before his/her death is not bound by the requirements of sin. An insightful read for either the grieving parent agonizing over the question and for the grief partner who is often faced with the question. Scriptural.

Empty Arms
Sherokee Ilse. 70 pages.
Having experienced, miscarriage, stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy herself, the author addresses several pertinent issues dealing with the death of a baby. She addresses the immediate issues/needs in the moment of loss as well as the long term needs of the grieving. Concise, helpful. Not scriptural. Recommended for both the grieving parent and the grief partner.

Good guilt, Bad Guilt – and what to do with each
Becca Cowen Johnson. 174 pages.
Author explores the difference between good guilt, the purpose of a healthy conscience, and bad guilt, the shame that condemns. Cowen Johnson explores family expectations, religious expectations and cultural guilt. Chapters 12 through 17 address the actions needed to alleviate guilt in a healthy, God-inspired way. Scriptural. Recommended for the grieving parent who is crippled by guilt at the loss of a baby.

When the Cradle Is Empty
John and Sylvia Van Regenmorter. 162 pages.
This book addresses the many issues couples experiencing infertility may face. As multiple miscarriages are common for infertile couples, this may help those struggling with two types of loss; the loss of a baby and the loss of hope. The couple addresses such issues as faith during loss, high-tech methods to achieve pregnancy, and finally the end of the journey. Scriptural. Recommended for the grieving parent also dealing with infertility.

The Blessing Book
Linda Dillow. 131 pages.
The author addresses our reactions to different types of fear and pain as seen throughout the Psalms. The book is a guided study useful to anyone dealing with difficult circumstances. Scriptural. Recommended to grieving parents and the grief partner who desires a shared biblical study.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Secondary losses

A good friend of mine is a marriage and family therapist. She attended our recent Glory Babies partner training and (as usual) provided some great insights. One thing she talked about was secondary losses. She drew a diagram - but I'm not sure how to get that on here...I will if I figure it out! Basically, there's a circle in the middle of the page. Inside that circle you write down the loss (for example, a miscarriage). Then draw larger circles around that first circle - kind of like the rings on a tree. Each outer circle represents secondary losses. With a miscarriage, examples of secondary losses include the anniversary of the loss, the due date and anniversaries of that due date/birthday, Mother's Day, going to a baby shower, finding out a friend/sibling/coworker/etc is pregnant...the list goes on and on.

These secondary losses are things that can bring on all the emotions of the initial loss like a flood, often unexpectedly and out of the blue. By brainstorming potential secondary losses, you can anticipate those hard moments and take out a little bit of their sting. They will likely still be difficult, but oftentimes it is a tiny bit easier when you know they're coming, and you can even begin to process through them and decide how you'd like to respond (not that we always respond how we'd like to).

At that same training, one of the partners who attended said that one of her secondary losses was on her own birthday, because she had pictured having a new baby on her birthday that year and there wasn't one because of the miscarriage. This tool can be used for any type of loss (death of loved one, loss of job, disappointments in any area), and is something you can not only use for yourself, but something you can walk through with another person who experiences a loss. If you have ideas of other secondary losses that can occur with miscarriage, post a comment on this post.

"simple" questions

I remember getting ready to graduate from college, bombarded by questions from everyone wanting to know "what are you going to do now?" Then, once I had a job, the question was "when are you going to date?" You know where this is going.... Next was "when are you getting married" and then of course "when are you having a baby?" It seems that we are always looking to the next possible stage of life, and always "encouraging" others to move to what we perceive to be that next stage. After our miscarriage (our first pregnancy, so no other kids), people continued to ask when we would start our family. It had become a painful question, no longer small talk between two aquaintances. One of the worst questions was on Mother's Day, when lighthearted "jokes" were made.

I have two main problems with this kind of questioning. First - why the pressure to do the next thing? I am no more whole as a parent than I was as a spouse; no more whole as a spouse than as a single...etc. The questions, while seemingly innocent, give off an assumption that someone is lacking, missing out, incomplete, if they have not moved to the next stage (whatever that is) or are at least moving in that direction.

Secondly - of all the various stage questions to ask (college, degree, job, spouse, kids, etc), asking about a baby is perhaps the most painful. We need to THINK before asking this question. Perhaps the couple is waiting before starting their family - this seems to be the assumption most people make when asking the question. Perhaps they do not want kids at all (for a variety of reaons) - for those who really want a baby, this option is almost unfathomable, but it isn't a wrong option. Perhaps they have tried but have been unable to conceive. Or, perhaps they have lost one or more babies to miscarriage or stillbirth. Asking when they will start their family just jabs at the already painful place in their hearts.

Let's stop assuming. And stop expecting that everyone else is on the same path, with the same desires and goals. I realize that we ask because we are interested about the other person, and don't really know what to talk about. So we ask about the future, or about what we think the future does or should hold. Let's be creative here. Think of questions to ask that don't immediately hit on possibly painful areas. Share something about yourself, or strike up a conversation about the weather. Or ask what they're looking forward to in the near future, or where they see themselves in five years.

Just think. Don't assume. Imagine different situations and how your questions/comments could affect the other person. Be sensitive. And remember - these aren't "simple" questions.