|Block O Love |
“I had been up late unable to sleep and my sweet baby girl Phoenix Quinn had been so active. I was having contractions so when my husband got up for work I asked him to stay home with me because I thought we would be meeting our baby early.”
I have learned so much by blogging and teaching as The Condolence Coach, and encourage readers to increase their sensitivity and skill in responding to different types of loss. One size does not fit all.
Death of a Child: age is irrelevant!My lessons about what a parent feels at the death of a child began with book research; I met women who had faced tragedies and found unique peer support in organizations such as Parents of Murdered Children and Compassionate Friends. The urge to express sympathy is a beautiful part of being human but it is full of pitfalls. Saying “I know how you feel” is just one of them. Offering a rationalization--”at least you got to hold her”-- about the baby or child’s age as a formula to determine degree or duration of grief, is another one. Sheryl will never forget the knock on her front door and the message delivered by a uniformed police officer; losing her son in a car accident propelled her into Grief 101. She has never graduated from that ‘class’ but Sheryl and her husband did progress from simply receiving the support of other Compassionate Friends parents to being chapter leaders in their community.
Don't Hide the LifeI learned from Sheryl how important it is to recognize the person: use the baby or child’s name and do not hesitate to talk about him or her.
“Don’t try to protect the bereaved from their own feelings. My child’s memory will be with me forever and my emotions will be what they will.”This concept is exactly what prompted me to reblog an essay by Alexis Marie Chute, 5 Lessons Little Kids Teach Us About Loss. A life is a life--even when the loved one is no longer present. She wrote:
“My seven and four-year-old kids bring up Zachary all the time. If someone dies, they mention Zach. If I am asked how many kids I have and I say, “Three,” I am immediately corrected. “No, Mom. You have four kids!” they say proudly. Sometimes I worry how others will respond to this behavior from my children, but then I give my head a shake. Talking about those we love, even if they have passed, should be the most normal thing in the world.”
Grief: Feel it, Don't Fix itWhen I discovered and began writing about Angels Above Baby Gowns, a home-based volunteer organization supporting parents whose infant has died, I interviewed many women with infant loss stories. Through facebook, they learned how to donate a wedding gown or...they may have been fortunate to deliver in a hospital with neonatal bereavement support. I accompanied the Angels Above Baby Gowns team as they made a delivery of preciously crafted memorial gowns to a birthing center.
When a baby does not survive, Roxanne initiates steps to support the grieving parents: a simple tag is placed on the door of the mother's room to remind staff and visitors of the bereavement.
She creates a decorative certificate called a Record of Birth, honoring the birth no matter the survival outcome. And, if culturally appropriate, she will take inked impressions of the infant's hands and feet.
Angels Above Baby Gowns are frequently used during the farewell period. At this hospital, parents are invited to bathe, dress, and cradle their baby. Roxanne explained:
"This is something you can't fix. There is no timeline and we don't rush a family. After dressing a baby in a beautiful gown or wrap, we take photos. A 'bereavement gown' provides tremendous comfort to parents and later, that gown will be a special keepsake--even bearing the scent of their child. Gowns for boys are uniquely accessorized such as having a tiny bow tie.
Even though they are in shock, parents love every keepsake."
Read more posts about baby gowns:
- Angels Above Baby Gowns: Soothing a Terrible Loss
- Angels Above Baby Gowns: Someday I'll Meet My Brothers
- Angels Above Baby Gowns: A Time to Tear and a Time to Mend
- Angels Above Baby Gowns: Heartbeats and Lightening Bolts
Thank you for caring!