Monday, December 28, 2015

Glow in the Woods

Stillborn letter

I'm so honored to have my letter, "To my before self," featured on Glow in the Woods.  It is a beautiful site where grieving parents can connect truthfully and honestly.  Please read it here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Grieving Introvert's Guide to Surviving the Holidays

We introverts already have to navigate the holidays carefully and build in time to recharge.  However, add grieving a loved one and the holidays become even more complicated.  Here is how I - a fellow grieving introvert - am getting through this holiday season:

Find meaning.  If you want to do activities this holiday season, put your energy towards meaningful things.  Bake your loved one's favorite cookies.  Make a memorial ornament.  Do an act of good or kindness in your loved one's memory.  

Restore.  Treat yourself to something that is healing.  A massage.  Yoga.  Your favorite walk.  A soul run.  Writing.  Some quiet time reading.  Try to get a little fresh air every day, even if it is cold.  

Connect.  Grief makes us feel isolated from the rest of the world.  Make meaningful connections this holiday season.  Spend time with the people who you love and warm your heart.  Or maybe a big function is more appealing because you can be more invisible.  Or alone!  Turn down invitations for events where there will be a lot of small-talk.  Allow yourself to leave whenever you want.  Don’t want to host a big Christmas dinner?  Don't!

Forget the gifts or shop online.  People who love you understand if gifts are overlooked this year.  If you want to shop, skip the dizzying overcrowded mall and stick to online.  

Feel.  Cry.  Smile.  Wail.  Laugh.  Whatever emotion you are feeling - and sometimes they change in a nanosecond - feel it.  Don’t push away a feeling because you think you need to be “happy” over the holidays. 

Indulge.  After the shock of grief wears off, I have an urge to pack up and go somewhere far, far away.  Maybe this is a good time to get away from the memories of your old traditions and try something else.  Or a time to splurge on a special item.

Forgive yourself.  This holiday season, there are no expectations.  This is a time to keep life simple and quiet all the “extra.”  Prioritize who you spend your time with and keep it meaningful.  Otherwise, it will be too draining during this already deflating time.  Self-care and healing are the most important this holiday season.  “No” is a perfectly acceptable response and let go of any guilt associated with it.   

I hope your holidays are quiet, healing, and meaningful. 

Stillbirth, grief, introvert, holidays

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Honoring your stillborn child this Christmas

If you are like me, the joy of the upcoming holidays is numbed by the grief of our stillborn child.  I find it hard to join the mainstream happy holiday spirit, so I have been reflecting on ways to bring meaning to our bereaved family this holiday season.  Here are some ideas that are comforting to us:

Burn a special candle for your loved one throughout the holiday season

Buy a gift you would have given your loved one and donate it to a child in need

Buy or make a memorial ornament - I love these two: 

Stillborn memorial ornament
Picture property of
Fill a clear glass ball ornament with strips of paper with messages and wishes for your loved one

Stillborn memorial ornament
Picture property of
Fill a clear glass ball ornament with belongings from your baby – her hospital bracelet, hospital hat, charms that were given to you, or other remembrances

Start a new holiday tradition

Hold a candlelight vigil – gather friends and family, light candles, and listen to Christmas carols

Set a place for your loved one at the dinner table.  If that’s too difficult, invite someone from your loved ones past to dinner

Hang a stocking for your loved one

Donate to a charity in your loved one’s name

Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one – her grave, a memorial tree, etc.  Bring flowers or another comfort.

If you can’t do the big family Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner, then don’t!

If you need to be surrounded by family and friends, then do host a big Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner!

(This is where I think there is a difference between introvert and extrovert grievers – and that’s OK!)

What are your family's traditions?  Please share them with me!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The baby in the photo

Stillbirth poem

Who is the baby in the photo?
The one I nestled in my womb for 40 weeks,
Labored for, screamed for, pushed for and then cried for.
Who was robbed from me at birth,
Arriving silently and still.
The one who I knew so well -
Full of life,
Kicking, punching, and rolling fervently.
Happiness, futures, hopes, and dreams,
Now a mystery of what-ifs.
Who is the baby in the photo?
The one who is still and lifeless,
With blue cheeks and plum lips -
My own flesh and blood,
Who is quietly sleeping,
About to wake up at any moment.
Who is the baby in the photo?
The one who is so familiar
Yet such a stranger.
What are the sounds of her coos? 
The smell of her breath? 
The look of her smile?
Who is the baby in the photo?
A daughter
A sister
A granddaughter
A cousin
A niece
A friend
Who is the baby in the photo?
A stranger who I’ll never know