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...
When our daughter, Lucy, died in Nov 2017, it felt like all of life was sucked out of me. I was going through the motions to get through each day. Being in community with other bereaved parents brought me comfort and hope that one day I’d feel joy again. Part of me didn’t believe it. Hating the unknown, I desperately wanted to know when and how I’d feel joy again.
I remember the first time I genuinely felt good. Not necessarily happy, but a little bit like myself again. I was attending a bereaved parents retreat at Faith’s Lodge about 4 months after Lucy’s death. The whole weekend felt oddly normal because our hard experiences were shared alongside laughter about a whole bunch of things like taking one of the dads sledding for the first time (who was not from Wisconsin).
Slowly, I felt small moments of happiness over time. My body was resting and healing. My heart was, too. But even still, I hadn’t felt pure joy. The type that makes you smile from ear to ear without a worry. Unfiltered. Honestly, I was worried that being happy or having laughter was somehow betraying my daughter even though I knew logically that wasn’t the case. I thought that grieving kept her more present in my life and I was afraid about how things would change if I somehow grieved less. I was also jealous that other people could just be happy and feel joy and here I was - stuck and without my daughter.
About a year and a half after Lucy died, my husband and I went out for a hike. We were headed to a section of the Ice Age Trail that we hadn’t done before. We parked our car and heard that there was a small percentage of thunderstorms but it was going to hit north of where we were. It was a 90 degree June day, and sunny. We got on the trail and started hiking. Not even a half mile in, dark clouds started to come into view from the west. Sure enough, rain was coming and coming fast. We could hear the thunder in the distance but decided to trek on. Maybe it would miss us. Minutes later, we were surrounded by loud, continuous thunder. Sheets of rain fell on us. We were immediately soaked, laughing, in awe of our luck and also the weather. It was a warm summer downpour. The thunder told me that “the angels were bowling” as my dad says, and I was listening for Lucy’s strike. I’m proud to share that she got a few that day. It rained so hard that the fields we hiked through had standing water up to our knees. The M&Ms in our trail mix melted from the heat and rain. We laughed and laughed. I finally felt pure, pure joy. And Lucy was still beside me. Both things were proven to be possible.
I recently read the following quote and loved it: “If you have just a little fun today, it’s a sign that maybe the future will hold even more fun for you. Fun isn’t just fun—it’s hope.” -Linda Richman
Know that there is joy and hope in your future, too. You deserve to feel it when it comes. Let it wash over you and consume you. Your baby(ies) will still be there, and they’ll be so glad to see that smile on your face again.
Jenn, Mama to Lucy Jane
My then 4 year old son had a week of excitement of being a big brother before our world changed. I experienced a 15 week pregnancy loss prior to my son being born and since then my partner and I have always felt anxious with pregnancy announcements. We decided to wait for after our anatomy scan to tell J that he was going to be a big brother. Our anatomy scan went very well and we were elated to find out that we were having another boy. We came home that night and told J that there was a baby growing in my tummy and he was going to be a big brother. My sweet J is a sensitive soul and does not like change, so the next hour was filled with lots of questions and big feelings. Then, as we were brushing our teeth before bed, he said “Mama, I actually think I will like having a baby brother” and my heart was at peace. Later that week, we told other close friends and they all shared that J was going to be the best big brother.
One week after our anatomy scan we had a medical scare that brought us to the ER but after some tests were told that everything seemed fine. A few days after that I went into PPROM and was admitted to the hospital. I was there for 5 days before our son, BJ, died. I remember coming home while J was out with my mom and she told him about BJ. As soon as J came home, he had big tears and can’t-catch-your breath sobs and my heart broke all over again.
When we got to hold BJ, I was mesmerized with how many features J and him shared. Full head of hair, perfect eyebrows, a cute button nose, and square toed feet. I always wonder if BJ would have grown to continue to look like a J mini-me and if their personalities would have been similar. My sadness still comes seeing J around younger kids, when we are around friends and they all have 2 or more children, or when I have to fill out back to school/enrollment forms that ask about family structure. J doesn’t talk about BJ often but when he does it is always with a mix of sadness and longing. J has a brother in heaven and I hate it.
Mama of J, BJ and Davis
This story was originally shared at the St. Mary's Pregnancy and Infant Loss memorial, and we're sharing it again here with permission.
Hi, my name is Beth, and in 2016 I had an ectopic pregnancy. We call Baby Blueberry, because that’s the size they were when we discovered they had implanted in my fallopian tube.
My husband and I had been married for YEARS before we decided we were ready to start a family. For four glorious weeks I experienced that blissful and naïve pregnancy that I’ve since realized is TOTAL fiction, but we convince ourselves is real so we feel like we have control.
I did the things pregnant women are supposed to do. I stopped drinking coffee, ordered my ramen without the runny egg, and lamented the raw oysters I wouldn’t be eating on our upcoming trip to New Orleans. I was going to excel at pregnancy because that’s what I did - I set my sights on a goal and accomplished it.
We all know where this is going. At my first OB appointment, we didn’t see Blueberry on the handheld ultrasound. I was so confident that I literally didn’t register concern as I booked a real ultrasound appointment for a week later. The cramp in my right side also didn't concern me. It blows my mind to think back on - I didn’t give it another thought, other than I was looking forward to the next appointment.
My world came crashing down at the ultrasound. It was impossible to fathom how there could be a problem and we wouldn’t even know until it was already over. It was a hard reality to accept - that there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t think or work our way out of it. And it was a little murky whether Blueberry was still alive or had already passed, but it also didn’t matter because the pregnancy was not viable - and could kill me - either way. My only choice was how we would terminate the pregnancy. I actually didn’t find the answer to whether or not there was still a heartbeat until months later, going over a medical report with a perinatology team.
The piece of pregnancy advice that I followed that I REALLY regret is waiting to let family and close friends know, because what if something happens? We didn’t get the chance to tell our loved ones until we were calling from the emergency room, and Blueberry was never a reality for anyone but my husband and me. And then I went through the loss in silence and with barely any support, because I didn’t want everyone to know that we were trying to start a family after so many years of squashing that question.
It was extremely hard and isolating - especially because the message I was getting was that I needed to get over it, and why was I still feeling sad?
My big revelation - which was driven home after a subsequent loss - is that we want so badly to be in control, and so we subject ourselves to all the advice do all the things. When things work out, we pat ourselves on the back and say “Yes, I did this. I did everything right”. But the horrible flip side to this is that when things go wrong - as they often do - it must also be our fault.
How much control do I actually have over the things that are meaningful to me? It’s a lot less than I thought before I first got pregnant. It’s hard to accept, and I still find myself railing against it. But I also appreciate that - I think - I see the world more clearly than I did before my pregnancy and loss journey. A pop culture analogy that suddenly clicked for me is when Harry Potter first arrives at Hogwarts is able to see the horses pulling the carriages that are invisible to his classmates.
Written with love by Beth, Blueberry and Calvin's mom
I remember the excitement of that day, April 14th, 2020.
I remember getting the date of when we would finally meet.
I remember November 30th like it was yesterday.
I remember checking in at 6am.
I remember the nerves when the nurses went to go get the doctor.
I remember the room being quiet.
I remember the emptiness when he told us the news.
I remember the feeling of holding you there.
I remember leaving with just a box as now you are my angel.
I remember it all like it was yesterday.
I remember Alister Enzo, for that is your name
Kayla, forever Alister’s mom
To Savannah Mackenzie,
You were a beloved and precious one to all,
god knew what he was doing so he gave you a call.
In my stomach you loved to kick and play,
I wish you would have seen one bright sunny day.
It’s just not fair that you didn’t get to live,
To show everyone all the love you had to give.
You would have been an angel sent from above,
I would have treasured you and gave you all my love.
I didn’t get to see you off on your first day of school,
Or let you cry on my shoulder when a guy acted a fool.
I didn’t get to see you graduate and go on to bigger better things
I bet you would have soared as if you had imaginary wings.
You could have become president and known what to do,
You would have done a great job and god knows this - it’s true.
But on November 3rd god said “you come with me…”
And “Don’t worry about them, you leave them up to me.”
I know you’re looking down,
With beautiful eyes of brown.
I wish I could see your smiling face,
But I know you’re in a better place.
Love Always and Forever,
Dear Miriam Lyra,
How can it be seven years since you left your watery home inside of me? In the beginning I could barely make it through each day. Time seemed to stretch like taffy as I tried to go through hours without you. In some ways it helped to think of you with your siblings who had died before. Maybe you, Sam, and Oren were running through the forest together or dancing invisibly in the garden? But in other ways the fact that three of you had died just made it worse. How could this happen again? What did I do wrong to deserve this? Now that was a silly question I know. No one “deserves” this pain. The better question was, “what do I do now?” But asking the big philosophical WHY popped up anyway as I tried to make sense of it all.
I bet you were cute. I only saw one photo of you and it was a grainy ultrasound photo from after you had died. How I wish I could have snuggled you in my arms my darling. Would you have had curly hair like me? I bet you would have had one heck of an attitude at times. Ha! You would have given me a run for my money! I would have loved every minute, even the tantrums- ok maybe not “loved” but I would have loved you! I still do.
Just because you died doesn’t mean I love you any less. I will always be your mother. I may not be able to help you put on your mud boots, but I can look up at the stars and tell you all about them. Maybe you can hear me. Heck, maybe you know way more about stars than I do! I can do things in your honor, things I think you would have liked to do. Last year we bought a lot of toys and games for the Respite Center. Your brothers helped me pick them out. We thought about what a 6 year old girl might like. Wish you could have shown us by being here.
Your brothers and I will be sending you extra love on July 9th. That is your special day. Send some love back to us if you can.
I miss you,
It’s the holiday season and we’re supposed to be thankful. Society tells us that we’re supposed to gather together with friends and family and tell each other how thankful we are and, in general, be celebratory. After all, we’ve made it to another holiday season, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case for all of us. Sure, we’ve made it to another holiday season, but is that worth celebrating? As bereaved parents, the holidays can be anything but celebratory.
Our family’s version of celebration is how we incorporate our daughter Lucy into the holidays. Lucy’s funeral was the day before Thanksgiving three years ago. That makes the holiday season that much more difficult, and for us, we do what we can to make sure Lucy is part of our holiday traditions. One tradition we have is on the day after Thanksgiving, we pick out a wreath and place it at her grave. We also have a stocking that is hung next to ours. And in the years before she was born, we always said we’d get a real tree when we have kids. So, every year, even that first year, we’ve picked out a tree and decorated it. Because our version of celebrating involves her.
To us, it’s important to celebrate and incorporate Lucy into our lives, not just during the holidays, but always. Creating new traditions is important. For me, it helps me reconnect with her in my own ways. And when others ask what we did over the holiday, I tell them with pride just as they would talk about their kids. She wasn’t just part of our lives; she IS part of our lives. Forever.
Your children are part of your lives as well, and I hope you’re able to find traditions that celebrate them, not just during the holidays, but every day.
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.
For Information & Support:
(call or text)
3rd Thursday of every month,
beginning September 2023
For details, please visit us on Facebook or Instagram
Bereaved Parents of Madison, Inc
PO BOX 46511
Madison, WI 53744
If you are making a donation in memory of someone special, please let us know!
Bereaved Parents of Madison Inc is a 501(c)(3)