Teddy Bear Tins

October 22, 2009


Dear Aiden,

The leaves are turning colors, shades of orange and red and yellow. In the morning I hide from the cold under my blankets, preparing to jump out from them with the same resolve it takes to jump into a chilly pool in the summer. The days are shorter and the air is crisp. It is my favorite season. I had waited for Autumn, to feel your spirit on the breeze as I stand outside. But I feel lost. It doesn't feel the same as it used to. It's too dark, and too cold, and the trees don't seem to have their normal glow.

By now you would be crawling. I can picture your cute little diapered bottom as you speed down the hall at your mommy and daddy's apartment. You'd make drool bombs and gurgling noises and happy squeals. You'd smile with a goofy grin, with a few new teeth making an appearance. You'd hide your head on my shoulder when I held you, shy and a flirt just like your daddy was at that age.

I want to take you to the pumpkin patch and show you all of my favorite Autumn traditions. I'm going back to the same pumpkin patch I went to as a kid. They still have the same hay-ride and you-pick-it fields and indian corn. I want to prop you up next to an enormous pumpkin and take a picture and post it on facebook. My handsome nephew for everyone to see!

I miss you, and Autumn seems more like Fall.

You are a thousand winds that blow.
You are the sunlight on ripened grain.
You are the gentle Autumn rain.

Love you always,
your auntie

October 9, 2009

Supporting Bereaved Parents

I'd like to post some helpful information for family members and friends of bereaved parents, because I've learned in the past months that even people who have the best of intentions just may not know how to support someone who has lost their child due to stillbirth. It seems like the death of an infant is in some ways different than other deaths. Perhaps it's a bit more taboo to recognize because of the magnitude of the tragedy. But there are some truly simple and straightforward pieces of advice that I feel can go a long way:

(Adapted from www.griefspeaks.com)
* Be there for them. Grieving parents retreat from the world for a while, so make an effort to keep calling, visiting and let them know that you are there if they need you.

* Acknowledge their loss, and don't pretend it never happened. Even an early miscarriage can cause significant and lasting grief for a couple and that loss should not be ignored or minimized.

* Refer to their baby BY NAME, if they had chosen and announced a name. Many grieving parents are comforted by this because it means that we acknowledge that the baby existed, even though for a short time. This advice in particular is HUGE. Referring to their child as "the baby" can make their angel sound more like an incident than a person.

* Listen to them. They may need to talk about the loss of their baby; some parents keep photographs of a stillborn baby and want to show their family and friends. Just follow their lead, and talk when they need to talk and listen a lot.

* Offer to help them commemorate their baby. Some parents keep a grief journal or memory box with thoughts and mementos of their lost baby (hospital blanket, bracelet, shower announcement, lock of baby's hair, photo, pictures of mom pregnant).

* Remember that grandparents and siblings also grieve. Many will need support as well.

* Avoid saying, "it was for the best," or "you can always have another baby." Many people use statements like this in an effort to comfort and reassure the parents but it is the last thing grieving parents need to hear.

* Don't avoid the parents. Acknowledge the anniversary of the couples' stillborn delivery. It allows people to know they are not alone and that others are grieving too.

* Show sensitivity. Acknowledge that other's happy news may be painful for the grieving parents. Don't be angry at them if they can't attend a baby shower, baptism, or other ceremony at this time. They probably already feel guilty and isolated enough.

* If you find yourself struggling for what to say, just say, "I am so sorry for your loss," "I am praying for you," "We think of you and *child's name* often."

Basically: acknowledge, actively care, show support.

And finally, remember that grief is a process. No one ever "gets over" the loss of a child. Your life will go on, but theirs will never be the same.