Wednesday, May 26, 2010

circle of silence

So you are a bereaved parent. You want to talk about it. You need to talk about it. But when you do people around you get uncomfortable. They don't know what to say. And the things they do say are usually not helpful. Or they change subject. And you become quiet. You don't want to make people uncomfortable or force them to talk about your child. Yet the longing continues. You are quiet but inside you are screaming. And without release the longing only grows more intense. Until the day you burst, or withdraw..

So you are a good friend or a family member. You want to talk about it. But you don't know what to say. And you are afraid that bringing up the loss will cause unnecessary pain to the bereaved parent. You don't want to cause pain or tears. And so you stay quiet.

It's the circle of silence.

Both want to talk about it but no one does. We want to avoid discomfort. But how can there not be discomfort when the death of a child is the subject? And why is that not okay? What's wrong with tears? Tears that in truth you the friend did not cause. They were already there waiting desperately to be released.

Did you know that 98% of bereaved parents wants to talk about their loss? If you assume your bereaved friend does not want to talk, then you are really betting they are a part of the 2%. Is that a bet you are willing to take? A true friend wouldn't.. But what do you say?

I am so sorry for your loss. For what you are going through.
I am here if you need someone to talk to or cry with.
I can't comprehend your pain, but it must be so hard.
I don’t know what to say...

Ask simple questions, and listen.

Break the circle of silence and listen.

Thank you Jolene for breaking the circle of silence.
It's because of you I write this blog.
Thank you Leanne, Linda, Lisa, Tami.. the list goes on.
But it could be longer.

Will you break the silence?
The circle of silence.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

forgive me

Today's sermon was about making peace. Peace with yourself. To forgive your past sins that God has already forgiven and get rid of all the baggage we carry around. I have things I carry around. Not sins, but regrets. Things I don't seem to be able to forgive myself for. Things I could have done better, differently. Things I feel embarrassed about. Things I feel guilty for. I know I am not to blame, I know I didn't do anything wrong, I know I reacted 'normal' - my logic tells me all these things, yet my heart aches from guilt.

Guilt for not listening to my own body. If I had listened and taken it easy, maybe Kathleen would still be here. But (my logic says) you listened to the doctors who said all was fine. You didn't know the future. You didn't know...

Guilt that I had given birth to her at a gestation where she could not survive. That I couldn't stop it. But (my logic says) you can't stop a labor. You can't control when it starts, or when it stops.

Guilt that I felt relief once labor was over. Relief that the physical pain was over. Relief that the anxiety of the past seven weeks had come to an end. How could I feel relief when I had just given my daughter the death sentence? But (my logic says) it is 'normal' to feel relief when pain ends, when anxiety ends.

Guilt that I almost didn't hold her! What mother does not want to hold her child?? Her dying child? But (my logic says) you were scared of what she would look like. You were in shock. You did not think clearly. How grateful I am for my nurse who encouraged me to hold her. Who could think clearly for me when I couldn't...

Guilt that I didn't tell her I loved her!! All I remember saying to her was "I am so sorry" and then I just held her, silently. Why did I not speak to her? She could hear me. Why didn't I tell her over and over how much I loved her? But (my logic says) you were drugged. You were in shock. And she knows you love her. You told her in the womb, you've told Jesus to tell her. She knows.

So here I am, feeling guilty, yet reasoning with myself. You see, I know that I didn't do anything wrong. I know I acted on the knowledge I had. I know that I did the best I could for one being in shock. Yet the guilt is still there. Most of the time I'm okay, but then without warning it creeps back to the surface. Guilt.

Maybe guilt and grief just go hand in hand.

How do I explain something I don't even understand. Why am I writing this when I don't understand. Maybe my hope is that by sharing, healing will begin. That guilt will lessen.

Maybe it won't. Maybe what I need to hear is that Kathleen will forgive me. Even if there is nothing to forgive. And if there was, she would. But I just wish I could hear her say it. Say 'I forgive you mom'. I know that's not possible. Or is it? Mackenzie (from The Shack) did. God allowed him to see his dead daughter, talk to her, tell her he loved her, ask for her forgiveness.

Forgive me.

Friday, May 21, 2010

bursting my bubble

Today I burst my protective bubble and faced pain.

I went to the hospital with another woman, mother, bereaved parent, to take pictures of a newborn. It wasn't a happy day though. Not like when my Kaden was born 3 months ago. This baby was stillborn. Beautiful and perfect but without life. I was there with 'forget me not' photography - a part of Providence Hospital services that takes pictures of babies that have passed away, or will pass away. Something I never imagined me doing. Something I never wanted to do. Something I thought I couldn't do. But God works in mysterious ways and God works our hearts.

When I was first faced with this opportunity my initial reaction was 'absolutely not'. I cannot face this pain, this raw pain of newly bereaved parents. I know what they are going through. I can feel what they are going through. I physically hurt for them. How can I go there and keep my composure? I imagined that to be impossible. Yet my second reaction was to pray. To hand this over to God. As I did I knew in my heart I was meant to do this. At least give it a try. And so there I was at the hospital.

It was painful. But I held it together and I survived.

And I could go home to my baby. Hold him and kiss him and thank God that he is in my life. What a miracle. What a blessing. My day went on. Not unaffected, but it went on. I took care of my family, I went shopping, went to the playground, even did a family photo shoot. And from time to time my thoughts would wander back to this family at the hospital and I'd say a little prayer for them. That they would find comfort in the midst of the pain. That they will receive all the support they need on the hard journey ahead. My heart is broken for them - but it is broken every day, and that's okay. I am learning to be okay with it, to live with it. The Lord will use this broken heart. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

We CAN do whatever God wants us to do.
So today I burst my bubble. And I'm okay.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

our protective bubbles

Not too long ago I listened to a sermon. A sermon about how most of us tend to live in protective bubbles consisting of our safe lives, family and careers. We don't want to face the world around us. A world of pain and suffering. Of 26.500 children dying every day from hunger and poverty. Facing it is too hard, too painful, too overwhelming. So we live in our protective bubbles, protecting us from anything raw and too upsetting. If we are faced with it, we change the channel or turn the newspaper page. But Jesus didn't turn his back on the suffering. He was "a man of sorrow.. acquainted with grief". He had compassion for the sick, the widows and the orphans. He didn't protect himself from the pain of the world, the pain of people. Instead it broke his heart and moved him. Shouldn't our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God?

But a broken heart, that's hard. It hurts. It's much easier to not face it. To not think about the many parents out there even in our little part of the world that have lost a child or am going to, knowingly or unknowingly. Even I don't want to think about it at times. It's hard to keep on just doing your daily life once your thoughts are on the pain and suffering, to be unaffected. Yesterday I heard of a couple loosing 4 daughters age 2-11 in a fire. How devastated they must be. And yet the world continues on like nothing has happened. At least so it seems. I remember going shopping shortly after I lost Kathleen. Everybody around me was just going about their daily business. I wanted to scream. I wanted them to know that I had just lost my precious baby. That my world was collapsing. But inside I knew that no one really wanted to talk about it. And still don't. Unless they too have lost.. The death of a child seems to be a taboo subject. Why? Is it because it's too painful to talk about, to think about? Is it because they don't want to be reminded that awful things happen, and that it could possibly happen to them? Or do they think it's just best to forget and move on? But there is no moving on after the loss of a child. We can only move forward, slowly. We will never forget. We don't want to. We shouldn't. Rather we should use that pain to help others. Others in pain.

How can we make a difference in this broken world? By facing it. By facing the broken people, the pain and suffering. Let's rejoice with those who rejoice; but mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).

Let's face the world, good and bad.

Let's burst our protective bubbles.

A gift from
They burst their bubble, and faced the pain.
May God bless them as they help others.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

measuring loss

Sometimes I don't share with people at what gestation Kathleen was born. I just say she was born prematurely. They don't understand she was a fully developed baby. How can they? They didn't see her. Her little but perfect body. Perfect fingers and toes. Oh how I treasure those prints. How do we measure loss? In time? The lady I met at the playground the other day who lost her daughter at age 16, has she suffered a greater loss than me? Or my friend who lost a baby at 12 weeks, has she suffered a lesser loss than me? Do we take into the consideration that she had been trying for 10 years when we measure her loss? Or how about my friend who lost a baby at 6 weeks, but for the sixth time. Or is my loss in fact greater than the lady I met in the park because I didn't get to experience 16 years with my daughter? No, loss can not be measured. Not in time. Not in amounts. Not in any sort of way. A loss is a loss. A loss of dreams. A loss of hopes. A loss of a child.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

holding my baby

I love holding my baby boy. I feel so blessed and overwhelmed. You will often find a little tear in my eye but it's usually a tear of joy, not of sorrow. I still find it hard to believe that he is here, alive and well. It seems like yesterday that I held him for the first time, so full of happiness, so full of relief.

Yet as I hold him I think of Kathleen, more than I have in a long time. It makes me realize so much more what I have lost. What I have missed out on. I wonder what it would have been like to hold her, full term, alive and well. I wonder what she would have looked like.

The other day I asked God if she suffered the two hours she lived. It's a thought I have been struggling with lately. It seems odd that I haven't really considered this until now. I have had so many other thoughts, just not that one. In this journey of grief you never know when things will surface. But God answered me. He said, "It is not important. You held her, and now I hold her - that's all that matters".

We held her.

Friday, May 14, 2010

who am i

I am a bereaved parent but I am more than that.

I am a Christian, growing and learning slowly, realizing it is a life long journey. When I think I am finally truly trusting and leaning on God, He stretches me a bit further. As much as it is uncomfortable I want to be stretched. I want to become the person He intended me to be. Who that is I don't know quite yet. I probably will never know. But He knows. He is molding me. Continuously. And I know He is doing so through life. Through circumstances. And God is my helper, my rock in hard times. He hasn't spared me from the loss of a child, but He has helped me through it. Because of it I believe I am now stronger, more compassionate, more sensitive. I am a better person. But I can be better.. So the molding continues.

I am a proud wife, married to my best friend for 13 years. I am so glad I am sharing this journey of life with him. I could not imagine anyone better to do it with. His love and care carries me through when I need a shoulder to lean on.

I am a mother of three. Kaleb who is four years old, Kathleen in heaven who is two, and Kaden who is twelve weeks old. My boys are such a blessing and bring me so much joy in life. Their smiles and laughter brighten up my day. I am blessed indeed.

I am a scrapbooker. A photographer. A videographer. A perfectionist with its advantages and disadvantages. My husband calls me an artist, bless his heart.

I am not a writer. Don't expect anything profound in these blogs. It is just a heart poured out from a non-philosopher and from someone who's first language is not English but Danish.

Who am I? I am still figuring that out. Aren't you?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

butterfly tears

Just over two years ago our little family released some butterflies. Sounds beautiful doesn't it? Yet silent tears were flowing down my cheek. It was my daughter's funeral.

I see a butterfly and think of her. Kathleen Rebecca. How can I not? She was only with us for two hours but we loved her from the beginning and she will always be part of our family. We will always love her, always miss her.

I am writing this blog because of her. Because I need a place to share my thoughts, my feelings, my journey - a journey that she has taken me on that I never imagined. Because of her I am changed forever. I see things differently, I respond differently. She has impacted me and I know she will continue to impact the world - more than some do a whole life time. She will not be forgotten. She lives on in me. She is part of me. She is my daughter, now and forever.

Now and forever.