Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Miscarriages, Still Borns, and Loss-- Honoring my Brother and Mom

11 years ago today was a very heartbreaking day for my family. My mom was 35 weeks pregnant with my brother and he was a still born. The weight, emotions and tragedy of the day are all too heavy and I truly can't believe it was eleven years ago. Jeremiah would have been going into the 4th grade. I know he'd be wrestling with my brothers and being a crazy addition to our family. When this day comes every year I always wonder the kind of boy he would have been. Although I didn't have the opportunity to know his sweet little heart here on earth, I know someday in Heaven we'll be the best of friends. 

Today, I wanted to honor Jeremiah and really showcase my mom. A spectacular woman with strength and dignity. She's experienced a lot of heartbreak in her life but she is the most beautiful individual I know. She uses the hard times to encourage others and be a light for Christ. Miscarriages and stillborns are more common than we think and so I wanted to interview my mom and give you the opportunity to hear her heart and the encouragement and advice she has for women who have or are experiencing the same thing tragedy of loosing a child.

With that being said, I'll let my mom take it away.

"There are so many aspects to grief and especially the grief of losing a child.  It was a difficult and painful journey especially through the first year as special dates came and went without one of our children there with us to celebrate the milestone.  There was such a hollow feeling.  I felt like I was going through the motions so often. I really thought I may never be able to laugh again.  

One of the hardest parts of grief for me after losing Jeremiah was seeing people for the first time.  What should have been a joyous greeting became difficult and often awkward.  People are so unsure of what to say to grieving parents or grieving people in general.  I always knew in my heart that their awkward words were not a reflection of a lack of empathy.  They just didn’t know exactly what to say.  Words like “God has another angel” or  “God must have really wanted Jeremiah with Him” felt so hollow.   I didn’t want anyone to spiritualize why my son wasn’t with us anymore.  I just wanted someone to say…”I have no words.  I have no answers.  I do know that their is a God in heaven who loves you more than you can imagine and He loves Jeremiah too.  I know you are hurting.  I want to hear about Jeremiah when you are ready to talk about him. We love you!”  Those friends who allowed me the space to freely talk about our son and to grieve whole heartedly were the ones who I needed to be with during those dark days of grief."

1. What was the most encouraging thing you were told after experiencing the loss of a child? 

One of the most encouraging things for me after Jeremiah’s death was digging in to research still births caused by cord accidents.  I was able to turn my grief into something very productive and share what I learned with others.  I found a doctor in Louisiana who was actually doing a study on cord accidents and still birth.  He was a wealth of information and was the reason we felt empowered to try for another baby.  He told me that there were things that I could watch for in my next pregnancy that would help me to know if my baby was experiencing distress from a cord issue.  In fact, when I was pregnant with our next child Benjamin the following year, I participated in his study and was able to have him monitor Benjamin nightly  after 32 weeks gestation until he was born.

2. What helped you to get up every morning and continue to live life regardless of the deep pain you felt?

Our living children Abi, Zak and Nate and my husband, John, were the reasons that I was able to press through my grief along with my faith which gave me new hope.  It was a time of deep reflection and growth for me spiritually.  I had to decide if I really did believe that God was for me even after losing 2 babies two years in a row.  I chose to walk by faith and not by sight.  I chose to rejoice in the blessings that I had.  I chose to seek God in a deeper and more personal way.  I would never choose to walk down that road again, but the Lord was so very faithful to bring beauty from ashes.  I clung to a few verses during that time:

They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more…
I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.  Jeremiah 31:12-13 (NIV)
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty

    instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor. 

Isaiah 61:3(NIV)

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.  My soul clings to you: your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:7-8 (NIV)

Those who sow in tears 
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
Will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.   Psalm 126:5-6 (NIV)

3. What's the biggest piece of encouragement you could give to women who have experienced the loss of a child?

Allow yourself to grieve.  Talk about your child as often as you want.  Don’t feel badly when you are not “ok”.  Grieve well.  If you don’t let yourself grieve now you will grieve later.  If  you are a person of faith, cling to the things that you know to be true.  Seek a counselor or friend who can speak truth over you and to you in the midst of the darkness and fight for joy, it will return!

4. How do you honor Jeremiah? 

We have had birthday parties for Jeremiah and released balloons on some of his birthdays. We had a garden for him in Maryland.   Last year on his 10 year birthday, John and I went on a trip.    I cannot believe it has been 11 years.  He would be in 4th grade and I am certain he would be wrestling with his brothers and probably playing hockey just like them.  Though we don’t get to see him grow up on earth, I have every confidence that he is growing up in heaven and we will have a great reunion one day!  He is one of my treasures in heaven!

 If you want to read my family's full story, you can head to this website. My mom made it after Jeremiah died to share her story and lots of information about cord accidents. 
Thank you so much for reading y'all! I hope this encouraged you in some way.
Happy Tuesday! 

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