From the depths of sorrow, to finding peace and hope, our members have so much they want to share about this unexpected journey we are on...
It’s been a couple of years since my son was stillborn, and I can still vividly remember the fog of grief and uncertainty about the future that I felt in the following weeks and months. My wife’s pregnancy was abruptly and unexpectedly over, and our hopes and dreams for our future with Calvin died along with him. Life felt both overwhelming and pointless. It was hard to focus. It was hard to look forward to anything. I was so angry that this terrible thing had happened to us. Why us?
More than anything else, I remember the isolation. While he was so real to me, Calvin was an abstract concept to nearly everyone else. Few people other than a handful of family members and friends came close to understanding what we had lost. Some gave unhelpful platitudes, or would ask how my wife was doing and ignore how I was doing. Most either avoided the subject or avoided me completely because they didn’t know what to say. On my first day back at work, only three people in my office of forty talked to me at all. I felt the expectation to grieve quickly and then move on. Either be okay, or pretend to be okay. The world didn’t stop just because mine did.
Support group was a place of refuge. For one night a month, I could talk about my son with people who acknowledged that he existed. I was allowed to be sad, angry, proud, jealous, or whatever else I wanted to feel. I could share pictures of him. I could talk about my experiences with people who actually understood because they had similar experiences. By going to support group, I realized that even though I felt isolated in my regular life, I wasn’t alone.
Gradually, the fog lifted and I was able to move forward. Life didn’t get back to normal, but a new normal emerged. I came to understand that nothing in life was guaranteed, which helped me better appreciate each moment and each day, and to live life on life’s terms. I learned that by focusing on the things in life I had influence over, I was better able to avoid stressing about the things out of my control. I recognized the vital importance of having a community of people supporting each other during life’s difficult moments.
In the years since, my wife and I have continued to keep Calvin’s memory alive by remaining engaged with the loss community. We attended a retreat with other grieving families at Faith’s Lodge. We have participated in numerous BPoM events and found new friends. I have especially enjoyed the camping and bonfire events where I could specifically connect with other dads. My wife found meaning by being a community volunteer for the HUGS program. In fall 2019, I was proud to testify along with dozens of my peers at the State Capitol in support of a bill that would create an income tax credit for parents of stillbirths.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the crushing weight of grief that I felt in the beginning would eventually give way to pride, meaning, and purpose. If you are early in your journey of grief, please know that you have a community of people ready to walk that journey with you. You are not alone. Life will get better again.
Brian C., Calvin’s Dad
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We are taking submissions for articles to share in our monthly e-newsletter. We believe it is healing for parents to share their experiences and valuable for the both community to relate and professionals to gather a better understanding.
Each of these stories was featured in an e-newsletter and distributed to parents and professionals in our community. We hope that parents reading these stories will feel less alone and that the caregivers and professionals that we trust can learn from our experiences.
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beginning September 2023
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Bereaved Parents of Madison, Inc
PO BOX 46511
Madison, WI 53744
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Bereaved Parents of Madison Inc is a 501(c)(3)