Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From a Man's Perspective

This month we were blessed to hear from a man who has walked this grief journey. So often, women come to our monthly gatherings and wonder why husbands grieve so differently - or if they are even grieving at all! It was great to hear about the male perspective from someone who has experienced loss firsthand. Of course, we acknowledge that just as women grieve uniquely, each woman somewhat different than the next, all men will grieve uniquely. Still, it can be helpful to become familiar with some generalizations.

Men want to fix things, including the sadness that a wife feels during a loss. They know they can't fix it, but they still try. And when it doesn't work, they often turn to something else, like a job or hobby, where they can experience success at fixing something. While women often want to talk about what they're feeling or experiencing, often times men simply don't want to.  It can be helpful to take men at their word when they say they're doing just fine. The best we can do is be sure the man knows he has space and freedom to talk if/when he wants to. Not talking does not indicate not caring/feeling/grieving.

Our guest indicated that Father's Day, from the perspective of a loss, is not as hard for most men as Mother's Day is for most women. Rather than going crazy trying to create a meaningful Father's Day, perhaps asking the man what he'd enjoy doing, or if he feels it's important to acknowledge the day at all, would alleviate some of the stress and pressure women often feel as the "holiday" draws near.

Men want their wives to be happy. In general, men are supportive of things that make the wife happy, whether it is time with friends, pursuing an interest or hobby, or eating out.

Our guest helped us understand that many men do not bond with the baby very much until the baby is born. That is hard for most women to understand, as they often have a strong emotional attachment during pregnancy. This could explain, in part, why there is often such a discrepancy between the way women grieve after a loss and the way men grieve.

The bottom line was to keep lines of communication open, remember what the spouse was like in terms of emotional sharing before the loss, pursue healthy "happy" activities, and continue investing in the relationship.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hope and Seeds in the New Year

We were blessed to hear from Cathy this month, as she shared from her experiences both as a master gardener and as a woman who has experienced both infertility and miscarriage. She was gracious enough to share her notes from the meeting, which we have below for you!

First, here is a link to her blog, on which she wrote about seeds and hope. Enjoy!

1. IcebreakerDo you have a favorite hobby that you really enjoy, that feeds your soul?
For me it is gardening…Gardening is hope – I love to see a seed come to life or a plant growing.  I love to get excited and expect the fruit of that seed…Broccoli is growing right now and I can taste it on a plate with butter even though it will be several months…
I completed Master gardener training in 2006 – seed lectures -Seed Catalog…show examples – comes at the end of December/early January – seemed silly to me at first.  Why now in the middle of Winter would I order seeds for the spring?  HOPE..Is it ok to hope in the middle of Winter?  We have all experienced through loss what a “Winter” feels like…hopeless, lonely, long, hard.
Hope is a seed of sorts but I will explain that in a bit…

2. What do you think of when I say the word hope?  Definition of hope is: The expectation of future good.  Bible says in Proverbs 13:12 “ Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire comes, it is a tree of life”  (gardening reference!)  I grew up hearing the phrase “Don’t get your hopes up.”  This was said by those who loved me and didn’t want me to get hurt but it affected me…I decided it was better to play it safe…but this is really contrary to the Christian Walk…Jesus is all about HOPE and expectation.

3. My story brief….9 years infertility – our son Noah was born - 2 more years infertility – miscarriage(s) – 4 years infertility after that…  Infertility is not just one loss, although I had that kind too (miscarriage), but it is loss after loss every month…..So hard to continue to hope for good things/ gifts from God.  I wanted another baby, end of story.  But through it all I saw God birth other things in my life through my small amount of hope (the size of a seed)…ministry, hospitality, gardening, writing.  Have you seen God birth other things through your life during your Winter of loss?

4.  To hope is to take a risk.  When we allow ourselves to hope, we risk many things: Getting hurt, looking silly, failing, not being successful…….What makes you afraid to hope again?  The Bible tells us how many times we should forgive (70x7) but what about How many times we should hope - even after loss? 
I Corinthians 13 is the love chapter, but there are always three characteristics woven together – Faith, Hope, and Love….we know that the greatest is said to be love.  
I Corinthians 13:7 says  “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. “ 

5.  Romans 4: 16-22 (18) New Testament reference to Abraham saying “Who contrary to hope, in hope believed so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “so shall your descendants be…as numerous as the stars.”  We are the “seed of Abraham” that is referred to.
HOPE is the open door which God’s miracles can walk through, but we need to keep the door open by continuing to hope the best we can…through the strength that God can give us….reading His word, getting together for support with others who have walked the same journey, plugging into a church body.
Psalm 39:7 “ And now Lord what do I wait for? My hope is in you…”

6. Dried flower example….looks hopeless, no life, finished producing….Seeds are shaped like little arrows and are actually new plants when put in the ground with love, sunshine, water, soil.  Even when things don’t look promising, when they look hopeless- small seeds of hope can be inside of our hearts too, planted and ready to grow into something beautiful if we will always HOPE!