"We have no right to judge anyone's path if we haven't been in that place ourselves. And even then, no two people's journeys are exactly alike. You think you know what you would do in a particular situation, but the truth is, until you find yourself there, you have no idea. Please don't judge anyone's grief journey. Be there to love and support and encourage." - The Kimmels
God has been using His people to minister and pour out His love to us during this difficult time. One of the many sweet and thoughtful gestures has been the gifts of remembrance jewelry. Remembrance jewelry is a wonderful way to acknowledge the loss of a friend or family's child while creating a special keepsake that they will treasure forever. I have been blessed with such caring friends and each package I have received, I have cried tears of joy and happiness. Each morning I have the opportunity to switch between the necklaces. Additionally, I recently had a friend send me an Etsy gift card so I could chose something special on my own. I ordered a cuff bracelet this past weekend with footprints and the words hand stamped: Forever in my heart. I am so excited to receive it. I wear one of these necklaces every day.
Before I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Ava, I heard a song on the radio by a singer called Plumb. I liked her so much I went online to find more of her songs. I discovered her music on YouTube and came across one of her songs called, "I Want You Here." After about a minute, I stopped listening to it because it was about the loss of a child and incredibly sad.
"I can't even imagine having a miscarriage," I thought to myself.
Fast forward 9 months.
I lay on my bed, curled up in a ball weeping. My body recovering from a D&E and my brain mentally trying to process the phone call we just received. We had been notified that our dead baby was ready to be transported to a funeral home for cremation. "No parent should ever outlive their child!" I said sorrowfully to my husband.
Moments later my phone vibrated. "How are you feeling?" a friend texted. I didn't know how to respond to her. I couldn't describe the pain and loss that overwhelmed me. At that moment I remembered the song, "I Want You Here" by Plumb. I typed the song into YouTube and watched the whole thing.
Oh, how that song now speaks the words my tears cry!
I responded to my friend's message by texting, "This is how I am feeling" and gave her the link to the song.
How time changes things.... January of last year my husband and I were discussing when to to start trying for another child. The following January we were making funeral arrangements for our 18 week old daughter.
"There is a club that no one wants to be a part of and only members know how expensive the dues are. " - Krystle K.
Miscarriage is a topic that many people prefer to avoid. For some, it is because they are uncomfortable with talking about death. For others, they feel unsure of what to say when it does happen to someone they know. I remember after we lost our baby, a friend of mine warned me that people were going to say things that were meant to be supportive but would make us feel worse.
"Give them grace" she said.
She was right. David and I were and continue to be surprised, shocked, and even horrified by some of the comments that have come our way.
After recently sharing a personal negative incident with a friend, I felt led to write a post on what NOT to say to miscarriage survivors. Increasing miscarriage awareness and sensitivity in our culture is vital if we want to love, support, and encourage our loved ones in the right way during their grief and loss.
I have heard several painful stories from women, who like me, have had their hearts broken by joining "The Club." Friends and family may think they are being helpful in their responses, but it can actually hurt the grieving parents more - only adding to their pain and grief.
What I have listed is not an all inclusive list, but a sample of things that were personally said to David and I after Ava died. Hopefully, this will help those who read this post to understand how to be more sympathetic to those friends and family members who have lost a child. In a future post I will also be focusing on positive things to say and ways to bless miscarriage survivors.
Disclaimer: If my friends/family feel they might have said one of these things to us, please don't feel guilty. We know that you did not say anything to be cruel or purposely hurt our feelings during this difficult time. ********************************************************************************
Don't assume you know what is going on behind closed doors.
We live in a condo on the second floor.The day we learned our baby died we came home and cried our hearts out. I couldn't sleep at all that night and went into our spare bedroom to grieve so I wouldn't wake up my husband and son. The next day we received a horrible, nasty note taped onto our front door. Please be aware the note contains some vulgar references.
"You'll have more children."
Let's be honest, you don't know that. A dear friend of mine has had three miscarriages in a row. If a friend's husband, wife, or even their dog died, nobody would respond, "You'll find another husband - wife - get another dog." To those who think that this helps us feel better please consider this: Even if we could have several more children, they would never be the daughter we lost and we will always miss her. Our child is irreplaceable.
"Time Heals All Wounds."
Time does not heal all wounds. It just puts more space between the times you remember the events that gave you these wounds. There are some hurts that never stop hurting, no matter how faded the scar is. I believe Rose Kennedy says it best.
"At least you weren't farther along like so and so when she miscarried."
Please don't compare our loss with someone else's and make us feel like our grief should be any less. Grief is as individual as a fingerprint. Diminishing someone's grief based on a time-line is dismissive and hurtful.
"I understand what you are going through because..." or
"I know how you feel because...."
"The Dead Baby Club is one in which you don’t choose to join, you just find yourself in it. What someone who has not joined The Club cannot grasp is that; it doesn’t matter “how far along” you were. From the second I saw that + result on the pregnancy test I was a mom, I had a baby, my life was forever changed. I had plans and a future with this child. But then all of a sudden it was all taken from me and I was left wondering if I was even able to have children." - Krystle K Unless you have personally experienced a miscarriage or death of a child, it is literally impossible to comprehend the emotions and feelings that a woman faces every single day after her child dies. The physical healing of a woman's body along with the hormonal changes that can occur can be traumatizing and only add to the intense pain.
A woman's body becomes her enemy following a miscarriage. I was in my second trimester when Ava died. My milk came in and yet I had no baby to hold in my arms and feed. Even after I "dried up" six weeks later, my breasts randomly started gushing milk. It was a horrific experience.
Please don't try and assume you can relate. Saying that you can "understand" or "feel" what we are feeling minimizes our grief and loss.
"Why are you crying?" or "You look/ are looking so sad"
"Maybe you should go to the doctor's. You shouldn't be crying so much"
Tears are how our heart speaks, when our lips simply cannot find the words to describe the pain we feel.
Tears are not the mark of weakness, but messengers of overwhelming grief and unspeakable love.
- Washington Irving
Our child died. Yes, we look sad. We are sad. We have empty arms. We will never know what it feels like to snuggle, cuddle, kiss, or hold our sweet baby girl. We will never experience Ava's first cry, smile, or giggle. We will never see our daughter play or be tickled by her big brother. We will never get to hear her sing sweet melodies, dance and pretend to be princess. All of our dreams and hopes for Ava were crushed in an instant when we were told, "There is no heartbeat."
Grief is not a disorder, disease or sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve. - Earl Grollman
"At least you have another child."
Before you suggest to a grieving parent that they should be grateful for the children they have, think about which one of yours that you could live without. Having other children does not take away or lessen the pain of losing a child.
"Everything happens for a reason."
Miscarriages do happen for many reasons, however this statement does not provide comfort because many times parents do not have a reason for the miscarriage. Even if there is a medical reason, parents still have a difficult time dealing with the loss.
Gripe and complain about being pregnant.
Any mother who has miscarried would give anything to be exhausted, feel fat, be dealing with morning sickness and a host of other pregnancy symptoms, if she could give birth to a living baby. If you're pregnant and you know a mother who has recently lost her baby, please remember to be sensitive when you are around her.This doesn't mean you can't talk about anything in your pregnancy, just do so with tact.
Nothing at all.
Silence... Perhaps you think your silence will help ease our pain? It can actually be quite hurtful. Silence can send the wrong message, especially if you're close to those grieving. Silence comes across as if you don't care. We want to talk about our pain, grief, and baby we will never hold. It helps with our grieving process. Please don't distance yourself from grieving parents when they need you the most.
After our precious baby girl died, my husband and I discussed having a private ceremony or memorial. Unfortunately, after our negative experience with Marlatt Funeral home and their delay in giving us Ava's ashes, our hearts had changed. Instead, David suggested building something in her memory. I had just read a miscarriage quote that said, "Planted on earth to bloom in Heaven." I suggested to David that we create a garden memorial box in remembrance. I am thankful to have a husband who enjoys wood working. David immediately got to work designing her memorial and I began to hunt for the perfect plaque.
I started looking on Etsy, but kept coming up empty handed until one day I discovered it. It took my breath away. Ava's name means "like a bird" and the plaque I found was exactly what I had been envisioning in my mind.
I burst into tears.
Working with Scott from Insignia Works was amazing. He customized the plaque and shipped it almost immediately with a very kind note in his email back to me. Here is the link to Insignia Works.
After a lot of labor with the African Mahogany that we picked out together, David finished the garden memorial and we attached the plaque. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined.
We didn't get to see our sweet baby girl bloom here on earth, but when I imagine her in heaven she is playing in a field of flowers and blooming.