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...
A Letter to Loss Mamas
There will never be the right words to convey the depth of my sorrow for the loss of your sweet baby. No one should have to experience the loss of a child, regardless of age or gestation. Please know that while you may feel alone, you are not. You may not know it, but there is a supportive community of other mothers of loss who will be there to guide you. They will reassure you of two things: it’s not your fault and some day you will be able to carry this loss more easily.
It's not your fault. There is still so much we do not know about the human body, which is maddening. Please know that you did everything right with the information you had available at the time. You were a fighter and if your love and strength were the sole factors in a different outcome, then it would have happened. Your sweet baby knows how much you love them and wanted them. You did everything you could, even if it may have meant putting yourself at risk. Please find peace in the time you carried your sweet baby and the way you got to say good-bye. Embrace the memories of the first ultrasound and the first kicks. Know that they felt your love when you’d talk, or sing, or read to them.
Take heart and be strong. I know how easy it is to fall into darkness and despair, but it’s important to look towards the light, even when it feels like you’re drowning. Reach out to your family and friends. Understand that they may not know the right thing to say or do. Forgive them for this. Tell them what you need. Let them comfort you. You deserve their comfort. Please don’t punish yourself for this. Your child would not want you to live your life in despair.
Your child matters and will always matter. Say their name. Look at their picture. Hold their blanket and think of them. Keep their memory alive however you feel necessary: plant a garden, make donations in their name, give them a stocking at Christmas, or include them in your family however feels right to you.
This will always hurt, and you’ll always miss them and wonder “what if?” but please don’t let this define you. You are more than the sum of your losses and struggles in life. Honor your child by living how you think they would want you to live. Care for yourself as you would want to care for them.
Our Unique Grief
[On] October 1, 1991 — our son, Stefan James Teigland Narum, died. He lived for 12 days.
To say Stefan lived 12 days is not quite right. He was with his mother for nine months, and his relationship with her was both loving and intimate. And everything was fine for those nine months…until the moment it wasn’t. And then the world as we knew it fell apart.
There’s not enough time or pages to contain the thoughts of those twelve days Betsy and I had with our second child, and the journey of grief following. Five years later I would complete a masters thesis on perinatal bereavement for my marriage and family therapy degree. Looking back, I suppose I was trying to help others, but maybe with all that writing and talking I was really just trying to get my head around what happened to our son and to us his parents. Grief includes seeking to understand, but we don’t move forward because we finally receive some answers, but because we’re finally able to live with the questions.
The death of a child is every parent’s greatest fear. I recently turned 60, and I would’ve gladly stopped at 31 and given my remaining years to Stefan. I wasn’t offered that option, as many bereaved parents know…as you may well know if you’ve had a similar experience. We grieved Stefan while we also cared for Ingrid. For parents whose first child dies, they wonder what it means to be a parent when their hello also means goodbye. For us, our little 2-1/2 year-old daughter gave us solace and hope. But we were sad for her, too.
What is unique about perinatal death is that we parents don’t have a story to tell, we have no joyful pictures to share. With Stefan are no happy memories, and his only home was an isolette in the NICU at UM Hospital in Minneapolis. When a baby dies it’s the loss of what could have been, what might have been and, yes, what we feel should have been. Nevertheless, those 12 days were the most honest and real days I have ever lived. Life, and what’s most dear, was never clearer. And those 12 days are 12 more than some parents get. We were grateful for every moment we had with Stefan, for the time his grandparents and aunts and uncles had to meet him.
Grieving parents say there’s a hole in their heart with their child’s name on it. This is a sacred space, a holy emptiness, not to be filled in this lifetime. To all you parents who have experienced the death of a child, I am profoundly sorry. I do not know what you went through, because that experience and relationship is uniquely yours.
Though Stefan’s life was not filled with joyful moments, it was filled with love. We are grateful to have met him, held him, and in the goodbye let him know there’s a love that will bring us together again. May that promise and the hope sustain us all.
—Peter Narum, Stefan’s dad
(and also Ingrid’s & Soren’s dad!)
This piece has been edited from its original format with the author’s permission. Written initially as a devotional, we would be happy to share the unedited version with you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The two best guardian angels
I still can't believe we just passed 4 years since we lost Tatum and we are quickly approaching 2 years since we lost Saylor. July 29th 2016 started as such a happy day as we were going in for our 10 week check up with our doctor. My husband had gone to work as it was just to measure and listen to the heartbeat that day but it quickly turned into one of the worst days of my life. I remember feeling like this is a dream when my OB said she couldn't find the heartbeat and I needed to go to the hospital for an ultrasound. There was no way I could drive myself so I called my husband and he picked me up. We had the most quiet ride we've ever had, Neither of us said anything, he just drove with his hand on my belly. We got inside and had our scan that confirmed Tatum did not have a heartbeat and we needed to decide what we wanted to do. A week later we went in for our D&C and I never felt so empty in my entire life. How is this my life? God, why did you choose this path for me?
Life went on and we decided it was time to start trying again. We became pregnant with Saylor and it was such a joyful time. We were traveling home to visit family and shared with some of them that we were pregnant. We had just hit 14 weeks of pregnancy when we got back home and I woke up in so much pain and bleeding. I didn't want to believe what was happening but deep down I knew that there was nothing I could do and that Saylor would never be placed in my arms and I would never get to bring her home with us. Life seemed to go by in a haze, I felt so empty and lost.
No one can prepare you for the way you will feel when you lose a child and how much it will hurt. We celebrate their lives every year with a birthday cake and honor them during the holidays. I sure wish they were running around my living room instead of running around in heaven but I also know they are 2 of the best guardian angels I could have ever asked for.
Nicolle, mother of Tatum Clark Glen Ward and Saylor Hollis Bliss Ward
Share your story!
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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