My father in law passed away the day we landed in Cuba, exactly two weeks ago.
There were no warning signs, no goodbyes. One day he was here; and the next day he was gone.
I’ve become numb to loss. So much so that my mind wouldn’t let me process another loss. My heart has already been broken into so many pieces, I didn’t think there were any pieces left to break. Until I read his obituary.
He was a man who has touched many lives. He was wise, and kind, and gracious. He gave up so much to serve those around him. He was dedicated to prayer, followed where God led him, and he loved fiercely. And he will be fiercely missed.
It’s never easy processing loss when it blindsides you. It fills you with regrets and sorrows too deep for words. It rips open wounds you thought were healed. It shakes you to the core.
Grief is messy, and life is fragile. It is so fleeting. One moment we are here, and the next we could be gone. We never know when our days will end.
George, we are heartbroken that your days here have come to an end. And we painfully rejoice that you have been united with the One you so fiercely sought after.
I’m caught in a dance. The dance between life and death, hope and despair. Stuck somewhere between belief and disbelief.
Some days I keep it together. I’m strong and full of hope, laughter falling from my lips.
Other days I fall apart on the inside. My emotions escape me, my impatience surprises me. And I’m ridden with guilt.
The cloud of grief quietly consumes me, but I don’t even know it.
I’m a peacemaker. A nine to the tee on the enneagram. I avoid conflict, I run from my inner turmoil. If I’m being honest, I don’t really want to face what’s going on in the inside, and I don’t want to do the hard work of truly processing my grief. I’d rather just keep coasting, and ride along on the silver lining.
I don’t want to be caught in this dance. In the tension of the back and forth; the knowing and not knowing.
I want to be free. Free from this grief; free from this pain; free from it all.
In this life we aren’t guaranteed immunity from pain, or death, or grief. We aren’t immune. But we can survive it. We can be free. We can walk in hope.
We can dance the dance of freedom, with hope in our steps, all we have to do is take the first step.
What has been one of the most painful seasons of my life has also been one of the most joy filled. It’s a bittersweet dichotomy. The beauty alongside the pain. They go hand in hand.
I wouldn’t have Eliyanah without the loss. I wouldn’t have Ezekiel without the shameful journey of pregnancy before marriage. The pain, the shame, the guilt, the questions, I’d do it all over again. A million times over.
I want to connect women in what could be one of the most painful and isolating experiences of her life. I don’t want you to suffer in silence; to question in isolation. I want to help you wrestle well through the valley, with each other.
We need each other. We really really need each other. We weren’t meant to ride through the waves of grief alone. We weren’t meant to hide our questioning of the very foundation of our faith. We were meant to wrestle together; to fight together; to sit in the pain… together.
No matter where you are at in your journey, you are welcome here. If you’re questioning your faith, you are welcome here. If your faith in Jesus has never been stronger, you are welcome here. If you’re angry at God, you’re welcome here. If you’ve walked away from the faith, or never had any to begin with, you are welcome here. You are welcome here.
I want this to be a safe space for you, as you wrestle through one of life’s most difficult turns. I want you to find healing here in this community, regardless of what healing looks like to you. I want you to be loved and accepted regardless. And in the process I want your sweet little ones to be remembered.
We remember alongside you, we wrestle with you, we sit with you. We get it. We get the pain, we get the heartache, we get the confusion. And even still, we choose to hope with you.
Surrounded by “perfect” Christians I quickly felt out of place.
We tend to hide our imperfections. We say there’s room for grace, we speak it out loud, but don’t confess our own need for it.
We put sin on a scale. And I felt like the prostitute weeping at Jesus’ feet with no one around me saying “me too”.
There’s room for grace. You need it. But me, I’m good.
My step dad died unexpectedly 4 years later. I stood tall, and proclaimed “God is good. He gives and He takes away” as though he was the one who caused the blood to pool in his belly and destine him to the grave.
“God is Sovereign. He is glorified in all things. Even by sending your step dad to hell.”
I was offered platitudes. Confusing my belief in God. Was God still good? Would a good God cause this? I started losing my trust.
A year later my heart and my body rebelled. A beautiful facade. Still in ministry, but behind closed doors I was walking away.
The distance grew to the point where I threw myself on the floor and begged Jesus to take me back. Never again I told him, never again will I walk away.
Pregnant before marriage and a shot gun wedding, I reflected on that broken promise. A wanderer in the desert, once thought to be filled with the Holy Ghost brought to her demise again.
Thrown into motherhood. Empty.
I birthed my second born son at 20 weeks with no heartbeat. Mine was growing faint.
Birthing the third and the fourth too soon. My heart died.
It revived with the birth of our fifth. She was alive. God had answered the prayers I never prayed. He answered the silence.
Then the silence returned like a heavy blow when I birthed our sixth at 18 weeks with no heartbeat. Jeremiah. Our weeping prophet.
Weeping over all the heartache. Over all the wanderings. Over my broken soul.
I miss Jesus. I miss the real Jesus. Not the Jesus tied down by bad theology and perfect Christians. Not the Jesus who sends my step dad to hell and causes my babies to die. Not the one who causes bad things to happen just so he can bring good from it.
I miss the one who weeps with me. The one who’s heart aches over the injustices of the world. The one who gets angry when babies die. The one who picks me up time and time again when I wander and fall.
In honour of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, we are honoured to share Kayla Leskiw’s story with you. Kayla is a Christ Follower, a wife, and a mother. Her and her husband, Branton, have three children Heaven-side (Lyric, Arianna & Lael), and they just welcomed their Rainbow Baby, Orlo, earlier this year. Kayla is passionate about health & wellness, and she radiates hope, joy and life.
This is her story.
The air was cool and snow was coming down on an early February morning. Cuddled on the sofa wrapped in a sweatshirt, covered in blankets, new ideas were swirling around. I was preparing for an interview just a few days away, after quitting my job a month prior with plans to trust God and “slow down”. It had been two years since deciding to try and conceive, and we were still waiting on those two pink lines.
A new job opportunity came about in between leaving my job and “slowing down”, and counter-intuitive to my plans of chilling out for a bit, I was itching to create, to perform, and to impress. There was only one hiccup: I suddenly became quite ill. EXHAUSTION came over me like a freight train, and my head was numb while my brain felt foggy. Telling myself I could power through, I continued drafting a rough outline for my presentation upcoming that week. Until I just couldn’t any longer. Calling my husband, Branton, I asked him to come back home and take me to a walk-in to see what was going on.
We casually entered the white-walled walk-in clinic with plastic chairs lined up in rows. There were only two others waiting, and I was thankful this would be a quick in and out, so I could get back to my corner on the sofa – I had so much work to do! The doctor called us in within twenty minutes, and I started explaining my symptoms to him. Tired. Foggy. Exhausted, even after a full night’s rest. Achy all over – joints, boobs, everything.
He stopped me, and asked, “Could you be pregnant?” Catching me off guard, I nervously laughed, “Oh no… we’ve been trying to conceive for two years, but I don’t believe it’s possible we’re pregnant now.” Looking in Branton’s eyes, I added, “Right??” And there I saw it – that same hopeful glimmer in his eyes before every pregnancy test we’ve taken over the years. This is one of the attributes I love most about him – his ability to hope like he’s never been knocked down. Quickly guarding my heart, I made some joke about peeing into a cup and pretended as if I didn’t have any hope at all. But I did…
I went into the bathroom, orange mini pee cup in hand, and paused. I sat down and prayed, “Lord, this is crazy. I know it can’t be true. I know I’m not pregnant. But I know that anything is possible through you. Lord, I pray that this time it could be true. I pray that here in this suburban walk-in clinic – here in the least romantic setting possible, in this moment – I am pregnant.” Closing the lid and washing my hands, I walked out, placing that mini pee cup in the basket for testing, and took a seat next to Branton.
We sat in silence, then small talk, not allowing ourselves to dare to dream out loud just yet. Minutes later, the doctor called my name. I stood up, and looking at Branton sitting down, motioned for him to join me. Walking down the hallway, I grabbed his hand. We entered a new white walled room, and I sat on the crunchy paper covering the patient table.
“Well, your test came back and you’re pregnant, so we have to alter the dose of medication I was going to prescribe.” Staring at him, I thought I misheard. Nervously laughing, I said, “I’m pregnant?” He confirmed again, and I burst into tears, smiling, mouth wide open from shock, once again grabbing for Branton’s hand. “We’re pregnant!??”
We were ecstatic. Straight away we drove to the nearest baby store, and bought a onesie, “Best Auntie”, to go and surprise my sister who was working in the area. From there, we started googling cribs, strollers, car seats – the whole enchilada. I got my Pinterest board going (priorities right?? 😅), and started dreaming of nursery decor. Our infertility story finally had the end chapter. We made it!
Miscarriage never crossed my mind. We saw his heart beating at our 6.5 week ultrasound appointment. I video taped the sweet sound, and we showed our family. Weeks later however, my nerves started getting the better of me. Sharing with Branton, I explained how I had a bad feeling, second guessing every lack of symptom, and telling him I felt “different”. In an effort to ease my mind, we planned a 10 week ultrasound appointment at a private clinic, followed by a hotel reservation to celebrate. It was going to be the best Friday date night ever.
Until it wasn’t. Until I exposed my stomach to the ultrasound gel, eagerly looking up at the screen. Until we saw our baby – motionless. Floating.
I was so shocked the emotions didn’t hit just then. We walked out, numb. Opening the truck door, climbing in, I broke down. This was supposed to be our final chapter, with the happy ending being our baby boy, Lyric.
I was angry with God. Why would he tease me?? What was the point of this?? I was heartbroken. Wow. This HURT. My heart literally felt as if it were shattering, leaving pieces of me strewn all over the ground. I ached and longed to have my baby back with me – alive and well in my womb.
And then I started digging into some Scripture. Stories of loss, stories of heart ache, stories of hope. I found hope especially in Psalm 139:
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
That meant our Lyric did matter. That meant he was sought after by our Heavenly Father.
I found comfort in knowing where Lyric was, and knowing he was in the most perfect of homes, something I would never have been able to give him. That helped. I learned to thank God, even through the pain, all while begging him to give Branton and I another baby to hold in our arms.
And then we were back to square one. Months went by and no pink lines. Maybe Lyric was our fluke. Maybe we weren’t meant to be parents. Maybe we were meant to be world travellers, and career all stars, instead (that’s always the alternative right? 🙈).
But then I remembered God’s promises. I remembered that if we have faith, we can move mountains. I remembered how much God loves me. I remembered all the shitty things I’ve ever done that He wiped away clean, forgiving me. And I pressed in. Nothing else was healing my heart, and I knew that if I believed God to be All Mighty and All Powerful, a God who loves me, and a God who desires me, He could heal me. At least I could ask.
I picked up a journal and started carving out quiet time. Whether before bed or after work, outside in the sun, in the bath with a candle, or even in a coffee shop. I would just write. Open up my Lyric journal, and write. Just letting the words pour from my heart to hand. I would start these entries one of two ways: “Dear Jesus” or “My Baby Lyric”.
Everything I was feeling – all the hurt, the pain, the questions – I gave them to Jesus. Before long, tears would be splattering the pages, and I would feel a presence of comfort wash over me. Even when the words were angry, scared, or confused, I would hear, “I am with you. With me, you are not broken. In your weakness you are made strong. Consider it joy when you face trials, for you there is great joy ahead.”
I grew up in a Christian home, going to church twice every Sunday, catechism class every Tuesday, memorizing Scripture every Friday. And yet, it wasn’t until after losing Lyric that I finally felt as if I KNEW Jesus. That I could call out to Him, and He was actually there. That there was a line of communication.
Lyric brought me to truly start to know Jesus. It’s as if he looked down from heaven, grabbing my hand ever so gently, saying, “It’s okay, mama. I am well taken care of here, and I want you to meet someone.” I was writing to Lyric, but I was getting to know Jesus. It was the first time my heart felt completely vulnerable to allow Jesus in to take a peek. To look around, and equip me with the tools to put it back together, this time stronger.
For the first time in a longtime I created space to get to know Jesus, rather than cramming him into a box for one hour on a Sunday morning.
After losing Lyric, we lost two more pregnancies, the third finding out at our 12 week ultrasound that her heart was no longing beating. Hearing those words, “I’m so sorry… there is no heartbeat…” once again, threw me back into a dark downward spiral, back to feeling angry with God.
The difference however now, was that this time I knew Jesus. This time I already had a foundation of a relationship established. As angry as I was, I knew how much He loved me. I continually found comfort knowing Lael (that is what we named our third baby; meaning, “belonging to God”) was loved more deeply than I could ever imagine, in the heavens with Jesus. And if that thought truly brought me comfort, then I must also believe that God is good and loves me too. Otherwise, why/how could I find comfort believing our babies were in heaven with a cruel, mean God?
This thought gave me perspective on the days that I would get angry with God – on the days the grief flooded over me in giant waves.
So we kept hoping, kept dreaming. Don’t get me wrong – it hasn’t always been happily running through fields of sunflowers as we hoped and dreamed. It has been more like climbing a mountain exposed to all the elements, with the rocks and the views. Through it all however, faith has given me this fierce hope and knowledge that “there is great joy ahead”.
Our greatest joy, our dream come true, arrived June 30th, 2018 at 5:59pm on a beautiful Saturday evening – Orlo Wesley. Five years from the beginning of our journey to meet him, our rainbow baby is here. Our bringer of light.
Yesterday marked one month since I birthed Jordan into Heaven. But I completely forgot until this morning.
I was reflecting on yesterday, and was wondering why I was having such a difficult day emotionally. In addition to it being the one month mark, I also had a super frustrating appointment with my family doctor – I won’t get into details, but basically I walked out feeling unheard.
The anniversary dates, the subtle reminders, they can hit you like a ton of bricks without you even realizing it. You can walk through your day wondering “why the eff do I feel like garbage?” And it isn’t until later you realize why.
People often ask how I’m doing. And honestly I don’t know how to answer that question most of the times. I’m ok. But I’m also not ok. And it’s ok to not be ok. I’m taking each day at a time, and learning to be gracious with myself and others in the midst of it all.
I’m slowly learning how to walk out this journey with all it’s questions, fears, and doubts. I’m giving myself grace to ask the hard questions, and to wrestle with the doubts in hope. Because that’s the thing… in the darkness of this journey there is still joy and there is still hope.
So today, I choose hope. I choose to believe this darkness won’t last forever. I choose to believe there is joy in the journey. I choose to believe God is still by my side. I choose to believe.
What is something you need to choose to believe today? I’m standing with you friends.
In honour of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month, we are honoured to share Laney’s story with you. Laney is a wife, preemie parent, and loss survivor. She is mom to Brynn (7), Josephine (4), and Walter (1), and her two Heaven Babies Riley & Spencer.
This is her story.
I wish I had a simple story of loss like some other people. Does that make me sound like a horrible person, it probably does. I should explain myself more.
I wish I had a story similar to others so that I felt I could connect more about my loss. I didn’t have a “miscarriage”, I didn’t have a stillborn baby, I suffered a loss as rare and unique as the condition that created my story in the first place. That makes it a hard story to tell, I find myself saying I had a miscarriage just to help myself feel better and to explain it easier to others, but I wish there was a better word in the English language for it.
I had hopes, dreams, and carried life, until it was lost, and I had grief, pain, and suffering instead.
In May of 2016 I lost my twins at around 14 weeks. My story of loss starts about 6 weeks before that, at my dating ultrasound.
I had two beautiful girls at home, and my husband and I knew our family wasn’t complete yet, so we were thrilled when we discovered that we are expecting again! My first two pregnancies were typical, both were C-Section deliveries, but nothing really made them difficult. At my dating ultrasound I discovered that we were going to be doubling the amount of kids we have, because, whoa, I’m carrying twins! We told everyone, we were so trilled and shocked and amazed and ready for this adventure. We celebrated these two new little lives with so much joy.
Three days later I get a call from my family doctor, asking if I am being followed by anyone, and if I have any questions. Nope, none here, I’m just so excited to be having twins! Looking back, I now see why she called. The next day I get a call from my midwife, she sounded a little off, I assumed this was because I would have to transfer care due to carrying twins. I’m standing in the Ikea parking lot, when I hear the words:
Something is wrong with one of the babies, none of us in the clinic have ever seen anything like this before.
We’ve sent a referral to see a specialist, I don’t know what this all means, but in situations like this with one baby, it typically means termination, I am so sorry. I knew her heart was breaking for us.
The scientific name for what I had was a heterotropic twin caesarean scar pregnancy, which essentially means that Twin A had implanted into my scar tissue from my previous deliveries. Twin B had implanted elsewhere and was doing okay. We were told by the office when I called that because I was still so early in my pregnancy, there was a chance that Twin A could still move, so we would wait and see and have an ultrasound in a few weeks.
We hoped for the best as we went into the hospital, my ultrasound took three hours, it was very quiet. There was an OB reading reports that day who came in to talk to us. He looked sad, I remember that, he looked sad and confused. He said most of the other specialists were away at a conference, but he had called the Chief of Obstetrics and he was going to meet with us as soon as he got back. He told us that it really didn’t look good.
The hardest part was the waiting, and the hoping.
Knowing I was carrying and sustaining life to these two babies, who I didn’t know if I would ever meet. Hoping that things would change; that maybe this all was a mistake and that my babies were going to be just fine.
A week later we sat in an office in the hospital as we were told how bad it actually was. How no one in the hospital had ever seen a case like this, there were no records of this anywhere in the province, or the country. No one knew exactly what they were supposed to do with my case. If I was pregnant with only one baby who had implanted there, they would recommend immediate termination as my life was at risk. But with another healthy baby there, we had to make a decision.
I knew I had to do whatever I could for my child, I would do anything short of dying, which they reminded me numerous times was NOT an option as I had two other kids at home who needed their mom. I decided that we would terminate Twin A, in the hopes of saving myself and Twin B. I named them that day, my sweet Riley Corwin and Spencer Cerys, names for either boys or girls, middle names meaning friend of the heart for Riley, Twin A, and love for Spencer, Twin B.
My procedure was scheduled, for a little over a week away. Once again I was left carrying my twins, knowing I had made a choice to end the life of one of them. We knew that Riley was not growing at the same rate, there wasn’t enough blood traveling to the placenta. That decision still haunts me though, even though I know it was the right one, Riley and I had a lot of talks about it. About sacrifice and love, and what that really means. I came to terms with what it meant, but I still cry about it regularly, always playing the “what if” game.
The night before I went in for surgery, I put my girls to bed, they knew that one of the babies wasn’t growing in the right spot, and I told them that tonight they could say goodbye to Riley. They lay on my tummy and sang songs, they whispered their “I love you’s”, and they said tear-filled goodbyes. It hurt and was hard to experience with them, but I knew they were a part of this too, they needed to get the chance to say goodbye. To let Riley know that even though we never met, the love we felt was so strong.
As I was still pregnant with Spencer, I could not go under general anesthetic during the termination without putting that pregnancy at risk too. So I was awake, as they went in vaginally, as they put a needle into the heart of my baby to stop it from beating, as they watched on a monitor to make sure everything was okay. As they tried this new procedure that they had never done before, all hoping that it would work. I was in pain from every part of it, I was in pain from my breaking heart, but I knew it had to continue so we could try to save Spencer. They asked repeatedly if I wanted to stop, I knew I couldn’t. I had to try everything. I couldn’t give up, I was in this no matter what.
That night I was placed in a semi-private hospital room with a mom who had just given birth. Her baby was in the NICU, so thankfully there wasn’t a baby in the room.
Instead it was a parade of people coming in to celebrate with flowers, and balloons, and laughter. It felt so cruel.
I still don’t know what they were thinking, putting me in there. But I do know that I had an amazing nurse who stayed with me, and rubbed my back and held me while I silently sobbed.
The next day I had an ultrasound, Riley’s heart had not yet stopped, it should stop soon, they said. I had to come back to the hospital in a week to check and see how things were progressing.
Now I was waiting again, waiting for my baby to die, waiting to find out if my, our, sacrifice was worth it.
A week later we found out that both twins hearts had stopped due to the procedure. We lost both babies, even though I did everything I could, even though I went through hell, I still lost both of my precious babies.
I will never forget the sound that came out of me when our doctor told us. It wasn’t a scream or a cry or a sob, it was animalistic.
It was raw, heart-wrenching, grief.
We had to spring right into action after we found out; bloodwork, two doses of methotrexate to stop the pregnancies, booking a D&C.
The D&C showed just how complicated the pregnancy was, how involved and risky the whole thing was to my life. How serious the situation was.
I was released from the hospital on Mother’s Day 2016.
Like I said, it’s not a simple story of loss.
But it is my story of love, of sorrow, of sacrifice, of endless hope.
It’s my story of faith. Of discovering that God isn’t manipulative, He doesn’t make people beg for miracles and then refuse them. I remember saying to my husband that if God fixes this, I don’t think I could believe he was a loving God anymore. Why would He choose to heal our baby, and not someone else’s. Why would He save our kids, and not the ones killed by mass murderers. Because He isn’t a God who picks and chooses who he takes care of based on how many prayers you pray or how strong your faith is.
He’s a God who sits in the mud of life with you and wishes he could take it all away, who loves you through your darkest and hardest times. He’s a God who loves, and who journeys with us through the darkest of valleys.
He doesn’t take it all away, life happens, and He is with us through it all. That’s what my faith is anyway, that’s what I choose to believe.
It’s a story of amazing and loving medical professionals who did EVERYTHING they could, who held me, who cried with me, who helped me survive, figuratively and literally. It’s amazing doctors who admitted they were flawed and did not have all the answers, but they were willing to give their all to help us out. It’s nurses who understood, who cared, who loved, and who snuck me treats. It’s how they all gave me back hope. Hope that one day, we would be able to try to have another baby.
In June 2017, our rainbow came hard and fast and strong. He’s a fierce one, and I believe it’s because he has the love of three babies in his one little heart.
Grief runs deep in my bones. Five times I’ve had to say goodbye to my babies. At different stages in my pregnancies, their tiny hearts gave out, and I may never know why.
Each time we have experienced loss, we’ve seen the importance of community in a time of need. We’ve learned what has been helpful and what hasn’t as we’ve been given room to grieve our losses.
For too long, miscarriage has been swept under the rug, and women have been left to navigate all the confusing emotions alone. As I’ve walked this road, I’ve become passionate in joining the choir of voices breaking the stigma, and letting other women know that they are not alone; they do not need to grieve silently.
I want to give women the freedom to grieve, to speak their babies’ names, and to provide insight into those around them on how to best support them as they walk this journey.
I’ve compiled a little list on what we’ve found helpful support-wise in our grief journey. I hope that you find it helpful too.
How to Support Someone Walking Through Pregnancy/Infant Loss
This has been by far the most helpful thing for us. The last thing I wanted to do after our losses was cook. I was tired, emotional, and in pain (physically and emotionally). I was in recovery, much like after giving birth to a living child. If we bring meals to parents of a new baby, we should also bring meals to parents suffering through pregnancy loss. A friend of ours organized a meal train using Take Them a Meal. This way we weren’t getting a million meals on the same day and packing out our freezer. It’s also super helpful to know that sometimes the parents don’t actually want to visit when you drop off a meal. I’m super social so I don’t mind interacting face to face during meal drop-offs, but not everyone wants to, so be mindful of that.
For families with living children, the parents may need help with child care, or may just need a break. Offer to take their kids to the park, or out for a play date, even if it’s just for an hour so mom can rest. You could also offer to walk their older kids to school or to pick them up.
If you are close enough with the family, show up and start cleaning. Even if it’s just tidying up the dishes, sweeping, or whatever. It helps alleviate a tedious task that they most likely do not feel like doing in their time of grief.
After experiencing our 5th loss, we were and are in desperate need of a vacation. We have two living children, and we have never actually been on an extended family vacation. A close friend of mine knew this, and she rallied for friends (and even people we don’t know) to donate towards a trip fund so we could go somewhere as a family. I legit cried when she sent us the money; uncontrollable sobs. This has by far been one of THE most generous ways our community has supported us. You could also rally people together to raise money for whatever other needs arise. Some families may need to pay for medical expenses (if they are in the USA), or extended work leaves (currently most workplaces do not give you a leave of absence when experiencing a miscarriage).
Send a book
If your friend likes to read, send a book related to loss or grief, that may help her/him walk through all the complicated emotions of pregnancy loss. I’ve listed some of my favourites in a blog post here: Book Resources The one I like to send the most is “Grieving the Child I Never Knew” – it’s a short devotional that walks through various aspects of the grief journey, and I found it the most helpful in my own journey.
Send a Card
In my opinion, sending a card is always a good idea. Even if it’s not acknowledged right away, know that your friend most likely has opened it, read it, and cried a few tears. It shows that you are thinking of them in their time of loss, and making the effort to send a card means a lot. One of my favourite card makers, specific to loss, is The Noble Paperie.
Send a Memory Token
For example a necklace with the baby’s name (if they named baby), or one that symbolizes baby. A couple of friends have sent us beautiful pieces – one from Seeded Hope with seeds that symbolize all our babies, and one from Smile Sophie that is a nest with eggs. Other examples are stamped jewelry with initials, stuffed animal, custom embroidery (Little Nest Embroidery), etc. Again, this one is dependent on your friend and what she likes/dislikes.
Gift Package for Living Children
If your friend has living children consider bringing them a little something. Things we’ve loved are colouring books with crayons, hair bows, stuffed animals, etc. Even the smallest of things that make the children smile.
Send flowers, or a plant
Some people love flowers (me!); they smell nice and they are pretty. But for some, it can feel like a funeral home if A LOT of flowers are sent at the same time (we legit ran out of places to put all the flowers). If your friend is a plant person, consider sending a plant that lasts.
Say their name
If they named their baby, acknowledge the baby by name. Don’t be afraid that it will upset your friend. Your friend has not forgotten their baby existed, and they have not forgotten their name, so say it. It won’t make them sadder, they will be glad to hear the baby’s name.
Acknowledge Key Dates
Send a message or card on key dates such as – Original due date, date baby passed away, mother’s day, father’s day, etc. Key dates can be ridiculously hard, and it’s comforting knowing others are thinking of us and our baby on those dates.
Be Mindful of your Words
Blanket statement platitudes, even though well-meaning, can be hurtful. For example: “Everything happens for a reason”; “God gives and takes away”; “at least you can get pregnant”; “don’t worry you will have another”; “at least you have living children”; are NOT helpful. Instead say something like: “This really sucks”; “I don’t know why this has happened to you, but it sucks”; “I’m here for you”; “I’m thinking of you and ‘baby’s name’”, etc. When in doubt, just say “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Listen and don’t force your friend to talk
Don’t offer advice, just listen. Give your friend the space and freedom to bring up the loss when they are ready to talk about it. Just sit with her/him, and let them verbally vomit all over you if they are ready.
When in doubt, wine… always wine. One of the best things during our 4th loss was when a friend came over with a bottle of wine and just sat with me on the couch, and said “this f#*!ing sucks” and let me just cry it out. Coffee also works too, if your friend is a coffee or wine drinker. Again, depends on the friend.
Hopefully, you find some of these things helpful when walking with a friend through loss. One thing to note is that everyone grieves differently, everyone has different personalities and processes things in their own way. What I have found helpful, or not helpful, may not be the case for everyone. Always take into consideration who your friend is, what their personality is, and read their cues. What’s worked for me, may not work for them.
One last thing, from the bottom of my heart I want to say – I’m sorry. I am so so sorry that you are walking this road too, or that you know someone who is. I know the pain all too well, and all the complicated emotions that come with grieving a loss like this. Know that I am walking alongside you, I’m fighting with you, and I’m thinking of you and your little one always.
This week, in honour of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day we are honoured to share Heidi’s story with you. Heidi is mom to two Earth-side babes, Eleanor and Henry, and one Heaven-side babe, Wunder. She is also the seamstress behind Darling Emma Handmade.
Here is her story.
It’s the reminders of you that hit me the hardest.
The other day when I picked up a pile of sewing I had been working on, two teeny, tiny bows I had made, just for you, fell to the ground. My heart sank as I picked them up, knowing you would never wear them.
One of our good friends was going to give us a bed. That bed would be for your big sister, and your big brother would get her bed, and you would sleep in the nursery where all our babies have slept when we brought them home. I welled up with tears as my husband reminded me that our friend needed an answer about if we wanted that bed. If we did take it, I would think only of you every time I looked at it. So, I said no.
As I was cleaning and tidying the house for Thanksgiving, I came across your brother’s ultrasound pictures. My soul felt crushed as I sank to the floor and realized I didn’t even have one picture of you. I will never know if you have a rounded tip of your nose like me or a slight hook at the end like your daddy. From even the first picture with your brother and sister, I knew whose nose they would have. I will never see your sweet profile in this lifetime.
I will never get to see if you have dimples, or if you will have blue eyes, or a head full of golden hair. I will never get to nuzzle my face against your soft skin and breathe you in. I will never carry you with me for nine months and finally hold you in my arms. I will never hear the sound of your cries or your giggle. I will never see the rise and fall of your chest as you sleep peacefully tucked into me.
There are too many things about you that I will never know this side of Heaven.
But every single one of these little things that remind me of you also remind me that you were here. You existed. You were present within this world, if only for a little while. You changed my life.
You were and forever will be my baby. I will carry these small, meaningful memories of you with me, my darling Wunder, always. Although these reminders can sometimes make me sad, they also make me so, so happy and grateful to have known you.
I wish I could tell you this happy go lucky, awesome faith filled story of how Jesus got me through my miscarriages. But the truth is, I’m still in my valley, and God still feels really far away. Like a distant cousin who has forgotten I exist. I know deep down this is NOT the TRUTH… but that’s how it feels. I feel abandoned, I feel downtrodden, I feel utterly hopeless. And the thing is… that’s okay. The Bible is full of stories of people who have yelled out to God asking where the f#*! He is and why he’s left them to rot and die… not that I’ve been reading the Bible lately, because to be honest it makes me pretty mad sometimes (but that’s a whole other post for another day.. if I ever get around to it).
My faith has taken a hit, and as a result it’s taken the back burner. I’ve been walking around an empty corpse, waiting to be revived but not wanting to do any of the work. Because to be honest, where did the “work” get me… It got me to four dead babies.
I want the relationship without the work. Read your Bible every day. Pray every night before you go to bed. Go to church every Sunday. Give your money to the church. Basically sign your life away and ignore the hypocrisy around you.
But I’ve become a hypocrite among them.
I’m full of anger, bitterness and donuts.
I feel like a schizophrenic “Christian”. Wanting to rid myself of the label and desperately wanting a touch from Jesus.
I had this dream once that I was sitting in a boat in the calmest waters I have ever seen, have ever felt, have ever touched. It was this beautiful moment of just me and the water. It sparkled in the light. It was all around me. And in that moment, I knew Jesus was there. I want to go back to that place. I want to be there in that moment again. I wish I could just close my eyes and be there.
Rid myself of the anger. Rid myself of the pride.
Cast off the bitterness, the hurt, the fear.
Drop the hypocrisy.