Beautiful. Graceful. Strong. Resilient. Courageous. Soulful. These are just a few words I would use to describe the mothers I met on a retreat over Mother’s Day weekend. We met on a little Island off the coast of Seattle, called Whidbey Island, where we were surrounded by the healing power of the ocean and God’s creation in nature. The majestic trees of the Pacific Northwest towered over us, in a sense protecting our hearts from the outside world so we could turn inward. Life was in bloom all around us while we were, in our minds and emotions, letting ourselves touch death again by talking about our deceased children. They sky was bright blue and seemed to open up the heavens, sending the spirits of our children down making them palpable in the hearts of their wounded mamas, who miss them so. We needed this. We ventured from all corners of the United States, from different walks of life, all carrying our different stories of loss and trauma. But there are a few things we did have in common: the need to talk about our children, the desire for our children to be recognized and remembered, and the yearning to feel accompanied in this loss. And that is exactly what this retreat accomplished, among many other things. [Read more…]
I think one of the strongest desires of those of us who lost a child is to feel them again, in some way. To perceive their presence again, somehow. To notice the signs they might send, images or symbols that are reminders of their life, or messages they want to deliver. They are no longer in our arms but we so desperately want to feel or remember them again, which is a confirmation of their existence, however short it was. Ever since her passing, I have felt that there was a veil between Gianna and I. There is the obvious veil that her death brings: she is not physically with me anymore. But there is another veil. A veil that took time to understand and one that is still clearing away. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was initially. But after some time and numerous therapy appointments, I now understand. And my life is now a journey to pull away that veil, constantly searching for Gianna’s light amidst the shadows that her traumatic death brought to my life.
For some (if not most) bereaved parents, the death of their child is tied to deep shock, sadness, and trauma. Whether is be the shock of finding out your child has no heartbeat at an ultrasound appointment, having to endure a D & C, delivering a lifeless baby, or watching your child die in your arms, there is virtually no human being that comes out of these experiences unscathed. These experiences leave an indelible mark on the human heart and most of the time leave a gaping scar. Like many other baby loss parents, my daughter’s traumatic birth and death left me mentally and emotionally wrecked. My labor was deathly long and excruciatingly painful. The emergency C-section ended in silence, as Gianna was delivered brain dead and unable to breathe on her own. After four days in the NICU, Dave and I watched her die in our arms. We then drove home with an empty car seat, only to come home to an empty nursery. The following week, I had to dry up my breast milk, plan her funeral, and lay her to rest forever. It was beyond our worst nightmare. [Read more…]