Friendships 

I realise that quite often when I write about relationships in relation to our grief journey I’m often negative. People weren’t supportive in the way I needed, though I can’t tell you how they were wrong, because I don’t really know what would’ve been right. That’s tough.

The last few times we’ve visited what was home (I say that cause I don’t really know where home is now), I’ve said to some friends “if there was a time for you to stop being my friend, It’s been and gone.” We moved away nearly three years ago, we’ve had a miscarriage and lost a baby, I have changed so much as a person. If this friendship was going to fail, it would’ve happened already. 

Friendship has been such a funny thing for me, my whole life. I went to six schools, four in my five years of high school. I never really stuck around long enough to make real friends, or if I did I moved again and we were young and didn’t know how to maintain a healthy long distance friendship.

In my life now I have friends, not many who are still true ten years on (and some that are yet to reach that milestone but still just as true). This week, Thursday just gone, was Emmanuelle‘s second birthday. Every day in the week the postman came with something for Daniel and I (and there is still one to come!- joy of living in the regionals), there was more cards and gifts then I receive on my birthday!

I wrote this post, and now in reflection feel like for the first time I gave permission and articulated expectations of how to support me in grief. Remember. Acknowledge. And so many of you have done that, and we appreciate it so much.
Last year I felt so different emotionally. I felt like no one else remembered our girl; and as such all the grief, sadness and hurt I thought she deserved, it was me, and me alone, who was responsible for feeling it.

Not this year. She was remembered. Thank you. 



Friendships through grief are super tough. The griever (?).     —what’s the word for that?-–  changes so much from who they were, and in the transition have such raw and vulnerable heart, it’s tough to stick it out with us. But persevere, please. We are still here, we are just changing. It hurts so much when you don’t show you love us still, can love us through. Grief and loss, well, it reveals a trueness of our character; depth of faith, passionate and fierce love, vulnerable uniqueness. We’re survivors. Stick with us, survivors are the kind of people you want to be friends with.

Trust me, I have a few of them.

So friendships… I am blessed with the people who know and love me. I am blessed with a close circle of women who have loved me consistently and absolutely. As who I was, who I became, and who I am.


“I never understood sisterhood before walking through pain. Now, I don’t know where I’d be without it. I’m strong, yes. I try to carry others with me, yes. But without the ones carrying me it would be impossible.” 
Scribbles and crumbs 


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Anger | Forgivness | God 

The hardest thing about the anger of losing a child is you have no direction to aim it in. Instead just a quiver full of angry arrows and unlucky wherever they land.

 
Kind of the same as forgiveness… No one says sorry, mostly because they don’t realise they did anything wrong. When you lose a child, you want some response, though you can’t appropriately articulate it, then get angry and hurt when people don’t support how you feel they should. That’s probably one thing I struggled with in my grief journey, was offering silent forgiveness to people who didn’t realise I had to.  

I was never really angry at God I think… I think because I needed him more than I needed a definite target for my anger. He carried us so calmly through the storm of her diagnosis, waiting and then her birth I could never be angry at him for her life. 

I remember one breakdown moment where I blubbered to my mum on the phone about why didn’t he answer my prayers…. But see, Emmanuelle was not the first time I had to have complete trust in God and His goodness. I’d lost love, found love, felt lost, trusted when I couldn’t see, moved hundreds of kilometres away… When I look back, within my victories and valleys is constant proof that God is guiding my path. Knowing that he has always been there, I find it easier to trust him and find him more quickly in each new phase of life. He was right there, and still is today. 
Challenging  and confronting lesson for my faith;  New pain today, doesn’t change the fact that he was good yesterday.

We prayed for Emmanuelle, we thanked God for her, she perfectly fulfilled her purpose in our lives and now lives with Jesus. I have to be ok with that. And not ask too many questions, cause God isn’t giving Answers right now, and that’s ok for me. It has to be. 

  
When it comes to my belief in Jesus- I have to believe, I can’t doubt it or say it’s too hard, I need him. Even when life is crappy and hard, even when I’m not great at devotions, I need him. I survive knowing he is right there, always there. 

So there you have it, anger | forgiveness | God. #iwanttotalkaboutit 

I’ve learnt doing all this… I don’t actually want to talk that much about it… But I’m going to persevere! 

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Vulnerability | What I really want to say

There have been some topics in this hashtag project where I simply have not had anything to say. There are others where I have more than enough to say, but not the guts to say it. It’s called #iwanttotalkaboutit, but truth be told, some days I don’t. And that’s the tricky thing; on the one hand I feel like there is far too much silence regarding miscarriage and pregnancy loss and it needs to become more ok to talk about it. On the other hand, it is still such a private thing… a grief that shouldn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops for it to matter.

I was challenged by one particular topic because if I wrote truthfully, I’d probably offend some people. So do I write realistically about that aspect of miscarriage? Or do I not and not hurt feelings?

It really is an underlying question when it comes to miscarriage. Whether it should be significant or not is another — how will my actions or speech affect those around me? There are varying stages of importance when asking this question.

To begin with, you aren’t considering anyone else when experiencing your grief. Those well-meaning people who tried to be kind, but said the wrong thing which meant I was rude or blunt. That was grief not me, and it was so early after our loss I didn’t even remember them to later apologise. (Here’s a list of appropriate support/what to say)

Then after a little while, you are still feeling the myriad of emotions grief brings, but you have a filter. A filter that’s probably 80% tinted from society’s perception of loss and miscarriage. Then 20% human instinct, people are getting awkward. So you don’t always talk about it, because the appropriate time has passed, but in some circles it’s still ok.

Then so much time passes (apparently for others), it’s like grief shouldn’t matter any more. The few days of Facebook comment support has long gone, you should have definitely “moved on” by now. Anything you say now is awkward and definitely not appropriate. People didn’t know how to support when it just happened, now months on they really don’t know what right thing to say.

So not wanting to hurt feelings, or to make people awkward. But because this is what I want to say, but I don’t want to say it.

 

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When strangers ask me at the playground how many children I have, I say two.

When I fill out a sibling form, I only have two names to write.

When we had family photos recently, I just had to match my three boys and figure out my one girl outfit later.

When a six-year-old girl I teach asks me how I know her mum in front of the class, I say we are just good friends. When the silent answer is I have a baby in heaven too, and that’s how my relationship exists with the family.

When big brother talks, he says he has just one brother, because when his sister went to heaven, he was too little to understand and to explain it now would just be too many questions. (Though we have talked about her before, he has forgotten).

See the problem with all the vulnerability and talking about it — miscarriage, grief, loss, what ifs — is the one thing you really want to say, you don’t say because of that filter I was talking about above.

My two angel babies are grandchildren no one sees… Children that I don’t have to pack for on family holidays…. Big brother never gets to play with them… And I have no smiling photos of us all for people to see when they visit our home.

What do we have to say about their lives; nothing because they only exist in death.

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So what’s the one thing I want to say but never do?

“Can’t you remember them? Can’t you remember Emmanuelle as much as I do without me saying anything? Or having to remind you?

No, because in most cases, she’s just death to you. That or, not enough life.”

See… awkward now, isn’t it? Because anything you say will be because I’ve made you.

 

 

PS. This would be up there as one of the most honest things I’ve written and publicly shared. My intention is not to hurt feelings or cry for attention; rather I want people to understand that I can talk about how miscarriage affects different facets of my life until the cows come home, but there is one simple underlying truth; no matter how long it has been, and I’m not saying every day, but if you remember Emmanuelle without me saying something…. you would help my heart more than you could ever imagine. 

PPS. But if it’s only after I remind you that’s ok too.

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Triggers 

About eighteen months old… That’s how old Emmanuelle should be. Babbling away and sneaking into things with abeautiful big cheeky grin. Or so I imagine… That’s the big painful part- I can only imagine, I can not ever know. Little girls her age soften my heart. 
But if I’m really honest, the biggest trigger for my grief- the whole month of October. It was different earlier on, grief now doesn’t affect me daily. 
The end of September is when we had an ultrasound and learned of her diagnosis. Then it was weeks of tests, doctors and waiting…. The whole month just affects me. Makes me sad, I want to retreat and I’m surrounded by a constant sadness. I feel deep loneliness. The significance of her life was experienced this month, I count down the days to her birthday. And then it’s over, just like that. 
So triggers- red headed little girls (not that we know she’d have red hair… We’ll never know) and the month of October. 
Even two years on grief can be so isolating. 
I miss you little girl. 
  

depression | anxiety

Day five and six. Depression and anxiety. Big topics.

Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed. Some days I was angry. Some days I had no patience for our firstborn. Some days I was rude to Daniel. Some days I was rude to strangers. Some days I was sad. Some days I could smile and mean it. Some days I just ate ice-cream and cried. Some days I read novels or binged tv just to escape my mind. Some days I survived by prayer and the word alone. Some days I tried to turn from God. Some days I thought things I would never admit again. Some days I was ok. Some days I was good, some I was not. But I survived, breathed through the 24 hours to get to a new day. And then somehow, one day it just started to get easier.

Two days when we should share about how loss affects our mental health; there is so much… but for me two things.

I knew God was right there with me in my broken darkness. Faith was the fortress of my heart, it protected me, my marriage and my family.

The Awesome God You Are” Matt Redman

Let Your majesty speak peace to me


And chase my fears away


To my heart I preach Your sovereignty


And the power of Your Name

I’ll stand in awe of You alone

 

God let hope arise

And faith become the fortress of my heart

I will lift my eyes

And see You as the awesome God You are

Believe You as the awesome God You are

 

 

 

steady heart” by Steffany Gretzinger, Amanda Cook

Though the sky is dark


And the wind is wild


You’ll never leave me, You’ll never leave me

For me, God is the only way I made it through.

** In October, for Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, I’m participating in #iwanttotalkaboutit #YellowRosesCQ project with daily writing prompts.

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Support 

Five months before our first miscarriage, our little family moved eight hours drive north for ministry. Our families, except my brother, had already moved away from us and then we moved away from our friends who were like family. No one really knew about our first miscarriage….. Then came Emmanuelle. And we were still living hours and hours away from our real support networks. 

My mum got on a plane and stayed… My dad was a few days behind. And my in-laws would’ve been too if they were in the country. But it’s not appropriate for everyone to come invade space.
 
Perhaps the biggest act of support I remember was from four couples within the same immediate family. I was speechless and they made me cry. I was overwhelmed that I could feel so much of their love when they were so far away. 
They placed an online grocery order- for ice cream and treats, snacks and a new DVD for our biggest boy, and ingredients for a few of our favourite meals, and staples like milk, bread and toilet paper. 
Just randomly delivered to our door by a man, and it didn’t matter if I answered in two day old pyjamas. There was no invasion of space, no awkward conversations to be had- but boy o boy did we feel the love! 

I feel like sometimes people fluff around in these kind of posts so today, well, I’m going to be a bit more straight forward. Obviously all of these depend on your level of relationship with the family, so please use your own discretion. 


How can you support someone who has just lost a child? 

1) Food 

They won’t feel like it or want it, but parents need it. 
A grocery order is great- no awkward “do I have to invite them in?” “What’s the right thing for me to say?” 

BONUS- if you know them and what they like you’re guaranteed success. 
Frozen meals- text to organise delivery time, deliver in a throw away container that can be frozen and write what’s inside it on the lid. Quick knock and be on and off the doorstep in under five minutes. Don’t expect to go inside and please- if the child has a name, mention it. When you don’t it’s deafening. 


2) Siblings 

A new DVD gift, child friendly of course. Frozen nuggets or potato gems that just need to be thrown in the oven- simplicity. Because the siblings may be the only ones who actually eat, and the easier to prepare the better. A colouring in or ball is great- something for them to do without their parents. 

Say, “on Wednesday I’ll pick johnny up at 930 and take him to the park and out for lunch if that’s ok with you?” While the parents love their children, they need individual space also. Short bursts of love and holding it together is all that can really  be managed to begin with. 

  

3) Practical love  

After about a week, invite yourself over because you want to clean/cook. Come with a chocolate milk or peanut m’n’m’s, and clean the bathroom, vacuum the floor, tidy the kitchen. Or if you can’t, or circumstances don’t allow for that, say- “I’ve paid for two hours of cleaning with this company, when is a good time for them to come?” 
Don’t wait for us to ask for the practical help (Again this depends on your level of relationship). I already felt so much failure, I wasn’t going to then admit that I was falling behind at cleaning my bathroom also. 


4) Remember

Write the date in your phone calendar and set an alarm for a few days before and day of: one month, six month, a year… Send a card to arrive that week- I have one friend who times this so well and I’m so thankful.
The fear is that the child will be forgotten. We want you to remember but if we have to remind you ourselves it doesn’t matter when you say something, because you didn’t remember.



Remember the babies birthday, remember at Christmas and other holidays, especially the first ones, that for us someone is missing. 
Gifts such as an engraved necklace, pandora charm, picture book etc are lovely gestures when done in the right way.


4) TALK (perhaps most importantly)

– Use the child’s name, it doesn’t hurt us more, rather it is powerful that you continue to speak their name. It helps us. 

– don’t say you understand– even if you’ve had similiar circumstance, it’s similiar not exact. 

– be the first to make contact.. Don’t wait for the parent to reach out “when they’re ready.” Text or call or something. Even if we don’t respond, we read/heard it and that’s what we needed. 

– phrases like “this sucks” are appropriate to use. Because sometimes it just does. (Sorry mum)

– ” it’s ok, you can have another child.” – you don’t know that. 

– “There’s a reason for everything, they’re in a better place.” Just. don’t. even. 

– good phrases : “I wish I knew the right thing to say, just know I’m here.” “My favourite memory is….” 

– honestly, just say something, acknowledge our pain, our loss (no matter how young the baby). For a period of time, be prepared to be the one making the effort in the friendship- by chasing, inviting places and listening. 

Mostly- no one can be perfect in how they support a parent experiencing grief. The parent doesn’t even know the perfect way of support, and what worked for me will be different to others. But just try and do something, we’ll never be angry at you for trying. Everything about us and our life has changed, so expect our friendships to change aswell for a while. Please be patient with us. 
Support- simply- just do something, it’s way better than nothing. 





(This is also a great article- where the photo is from)

** In October, for Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, I’m participating in #iwanttotalkaboutit #YellowRosesCQ project with daily writing prompts. 

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Identity 

  

Who would she be? – a question I will never be able to answer. 
I don’t know what her baby temprament would be. What would make her giggle without stopping. What her favourite colour would be. How mr3 would be different if he’d had this sister to grow with. Would she let me braid her hair when it was long enough? What would she want to be when she grew up? How we would navigate the teenage years together? What would she become when she grew up? How would her life without death impact Daniel and I? See it’s not just a wondering who she would be… It’s the lasting effect her life and love would have on those around her also. 

Identity of a child lost…. A life time of unanswered questions and wonder. 

** In October, for Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, I’m participating in #iwanttotalkaboutit #YellowRosesCQ project with daily writing prompts.