For the month of November, we displayed a beautiful "Thankful Tree" in our Center for Child Loss. Sweet little leaves were decorated with the names of the babies we are missing each and every day. After experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss, we know that the holidays can be overwhelming, daunting, and even more of an emotional roller coaster. We hope this tree reminds you that there is room in heart for both grief and gratitude and that your baby is with you as you continue to travel this grief journey.
Pictures and videos were shared on our Facebook and Instagram during November. Thank you to everyone who shared their babies' names with us and for the loving messages appreciating the tree.
Bereaved parents are masters at hiding their emotions. Carrying on with work and putting on a happy face so co-workers don’t ask insensitive questions. Saying everything is “fine” when it most certainly is not. Pretending to have moved on and be okay with attending a friend’s baby shower. Becoming experts at forcing back tears, avoiding certain aisles at Target, and ignoring the insensitive small talk at holiday dinners.
Except it's impossible to ignore the harsh comments, reminding us "it's time to move on" or "don't worry, you'll get pregnant again." The reality is everything is not fine. None of it is fine. Grief is beyond exhausting. The heaviness weighs down on bereaved parents every single day. It's a constant battle of taking steps forward and then having triggers interrupt any progress we felt we made.
Finding a support system to walk alongside in the grief journey is important. Being heard and seen by others who have similar loss stories can make an incredible impact on your own healing. We are here when you need to let your mask down (figuratively and literally). It's okay to let someone help you carry the weight of grief. ❤️
by Jillian, Patrick's mom
I follow a lot of pregnancy and infant loss groups. The last couple of days have been filled with posts defending Chrissy Teigan. It has triggered so many emotions to hear of the backlash she is receiving for sharing her experience and pictures. I have been very open about Patrick. But in those first few months after his birth I tried to do what I thought I had to. I tried to hold regular conversation with those that visited. Laughed. Joked. But I will tell you that in those few months I honestly did not think I was going to survive it. One night, over three months later, and after a bottle of wine, I decided to sign up for the March of Dimes walk and share Patrick in a more public way. I was so scared of the response I would get. But it was amazing. And it saved me. He was being acknowledged and there was no better feeling. It wasn't about me or Pat. This was about Patrick. We held our son while he died. That instant love we felt with the girls was no different for him. The thought of just acting like he didn't exist was debilitating. We were asked if we wanted an obituary. The fact that it was even a question was hurtful to me in that moment. Everyone else gets one, why wouldn't he? He was here. He existed.
For those that believe some celebrity had time to pose for pictures, I'm happy this is something you clearly never had to experience. Studies have proven the old way of dealing with baby loss were actually damaging women. So hospitals evolved. There are actual organizations that work with hospitals to come specifically for these moments. We didn't have a chance to have one there, but the nurses knew enough to take our phones and snap away. I had no idea until a couple of days later. And I am so thankful. We don't see what others might see. We see Patrick. We see our only moments with him.
Keeping Patrick to myself was sending me in a direction that was not good. Sharing him sent me in a direction that has kept our marriage strong and given us three beautiful girls.
You don't need to understand or agree with someone's coping skills. But respect them. Or at least keep your opinions to yourself before you cause more damage.
This is where we share more resources and YOUR stories - your loss matters, your baby matters, you always matter.