Coping with grief and loss

November 13, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Prevention & Safety, Races, Weight Loss

threads_002Today specifically is a significant day for me.It is November 13th, the same day I lost my tiny baby girl a number of years ago.Samantha was simply born too early, lived five hours and died the same day (it happened to be a Friday the 13th).  I now put on a race every year on Memorial Day to honor her.  Visit RaceForGrief.com to learn more.

At the time I lost her, I was 22 weeks along and my cervix simply didn’t want stay closed.In the ensuing months, I learned about a condition known as incompetent cervix.  This problem lead to long arduous subsequent pregnancies; with surgery, limited activity, extra weight gain, stress and worry. Each pregnancy I had a stitch or cerclage placed to keep the cervix closed (a painful surgery I might add – I had four of them – ouch!).With my next pregnancy I was 10 weeks flat on my back on bedrest; it was during this time that I learned that I am not a lay-there-and-do-nothing type of person and running helps me cope with anxiety. I am a high energy, outdoorsy do-it-yourself kind of girl. I learned that you can only watch T.V. and reading books so long –and 10 weeks is way too long! With another pregnancy I developed gestational diabetes and was on insulin. My education in diabetes management and nutrition proved to be helpful as I recall my doctor stating “You are the best diabetic patient a doctor could hope for.”The way that I looked at it is that I was the steward over that little unborn baby body and wanted to do all that I could to give that baby a chance despite my own body’s frailties.However, I found the frequent trips to the hospital several times a week for stress-tests difficult with aligning babysitters for two other small children, the time for travel and testing all on top of regular high-risk doctor visits. Not to mention the expense of it all.

It has been many years since her passing, and even with all the difficult moments, I’d do it all again to have the four beautiful children I have today.After losing our first baby, we didn’t know if we where going to be able to have children, so this is truly a wonderful miracle!  I believe in eternal families and believe I will see her again.

You may be asking why I am sharing such a personal story.The reason why is that I know others suffer grief and loss and often suffer in silence feeling they are alone.I want them to know they are not alone.There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my little girl and want her here with me.Science has come a long way since then, and I always ask “what if” she was born now, could something have been done that was not an option for us years ago?But, I have been fortunately enough not to suffer a miscarriage.I have a grave to go visit, and I know she was a girl and was able to give her a name.I have felt the wonderful kicks of a baby growing inside me which many women long to experience.No matter how difficult this was, there is something to learn from all experiences in life.

Until this day, I hadn’t dealt much with loss.Well, I had a special cat that I loved dearly that died when I was a little girl and another cat I had died in college.That was rough for me (I’m an animal lover).Three of my four grandparents died before I was born so I didn’t experience those losses personally.  While earning my Gerontology Certification at the Utah State University I took a Death and Dying class and I remember trying to put the concepts to use.I think they were very helpful for me, so I wanted to share a few of them.

How to cope with loss (specifically miscarriage and loss of a baby)

-Know that it is normal to feel a huge range of strong emotions from fear, anger, blame, love, and disappointment after experiencing a loss.

-Give yourself time to grieve and heal.

-Remember – there’s no “right” way to grieve – everyone is different.

-Talk about your feelings with others.

-Cry – it’s is okay to cry.I found myself crying in the middle of the grocery store when I heard a baby cry a few aisles over or when I saw a commercial with a baby in it.Cry all you want – it’s okay (men too!).

-For me time seems to heal.I can now visit the grave (which I couldn’t do for sometime after).I can talk about her with my children without bawling all over the place now.

-You may want to get involved or join a support group:

_33-inch-logo

SHARE Parents of Utah

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support

801-272-5355

They hold a Walk to Remember event every October

(National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month)

Links:

SHARE Parents of Utah on the Web

National SHARE Parent Resources

National Share Office on Facebook

The Sharing Place FB page – Salt Lake City

caringconnections_image

University of Utah – Caring Connections

What to say to someone that has lost a baby or had a miscarriage:

Question:How can you express your concern without saying the wrong thing?

-It’s okay to say “I don’t know what to say.”

When I went back to work after I lost my baby girl, I could see that many people felt awkward and didn’t know what to say to me.Many people even avoided me.That was difficult.I appreciated those that said “I didn’t know what to say, but I want you to know I thinking about you.”

-Give them a hug.This says “I’m here for you.I care.”

-Listening and allowing the person to talk about the experience can help them sort through their emotions.Ask about the experience.

-Tell them that you are thinking of them and you care.

-Make arrangements to take in a warm meal.It shows you are thinking of them and want to help.Sometimes simple daily tasks are difficult for a grieving person.

-Write a kind note or send flowers or a card.

-Other things you could say are:

“I’m sorry.”

“What can I do for you right now?”

“I’m here, I want to listen.”

“This must be hard for you.”

-Allow the parents to make the decisions for funeral arrangements for the loss of a baby; don’t assume they want you to “take over.”This helps them experience the reality of the death.

-Know that grief doesn’t end at the funeral.Remember special days with a card or call.

Stop!Don’t say these things.

-“Don’t worry you are young, you can have more children”

-“You have an angel in heaven.”(They don’t want an angel in heaven, they want the baby)

-“This happened for the best.”

– “Don’t be sad. Don’t cry.”

-Don’t share all the stories of the people you know that have had loss.It diminished or makes light of their experience. This is their time to share and your time to listen.

-“Get over it and move on.”Allow them time to heal and it may take longer than you think it should.

-“Better for this to happen now, before you knew the baby.”

Even though the parents had little, if any time to “know” the child, the parental attachment is still strong.

As you can imagine, Memorial Day has taken on a whole new meaning for me now and this unique experience has given our family opportunities to talk about death with our children.I have learned that it is important not to tell children that the baby is “sleeping,” “on a trip” or “lost” – these words can frighten children.When we visit her grave, we simply tell our children she is dead, she was born too early and died.We believe in life after death and that we will see her again someday but until then I will always remember her as I promised her in my arms before she passed away.  She has touched my life and helped me to appreciate the dear children that I can embrace and love today.  When you loss someone, you never forget them, you just learn to live without them.  Please join me and my family to honor your loved one on Memorial Day.

Sincerely,

Coach Lora Erickson

aka Blonde Runner

RaceForGrief.com

Dedicated in loving memory of my little Samantha.

You touched my life – I will never forget you.

Love Lives On

Sung by Mallary Hope

Chorus

Even though I cry like crazy

Even though it hurts so bad

I thankful for the time God gave me

Even though we couldn’t make it last

I’m learning how to live without you

Even though I don’t want to

And even with you gone

Love lives on.

Watch the RFG event video on You Tube

rfgcrop

Annual Event on Memorial Day in May

www.RaceForGrief.com

Click here to learn more about the race.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

18 Responses to “Coping with grief and loss”
  1. Leslie says:

    Lora, I’m so sorry to hear of the little one you’ve had to say goodbye to too early. That must’ve been and I’m sure at times still is so difficult. I’ve had 3 miscarriages (I say that NOT to make lighter your experience) and I enjoyed your post, there was plenty of good advice in there. Hope today is a day of peace and love for you.

  2. Susan Jumonville says:

    Lora, I am so sorry to read about the loss of your beautiful girl. Thank you for sharing your story, grief and love. I know you have touched many lives, including ours. God bless you and your family.

  3. Lora says:

    Leslie and Susan. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  4. Myra says:

    Lora,

    Oh that is such a tragedy!!! You are truely an amazing woman.. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for sharing it with us. I think I can honestly say that is every mothers nightmare. This must be a very hard day for you. Know that you are loved and by sharing your story you may be able to help others!!!

  5. Lora says:

    Myra – it is a tender day. Thank you for your thoughts.

  6. Marni says:

    I still vividly remember your phone call about this (on a Sunday morning) and the funeral. I remember visiting with you at your home afterwards, and you saying, “I just don’t want people to forget her.” I promise, I haven’t.

    I’m glad you keep her alive for your other kids. I had a baby brother that died before I turned two because of a variety of health issues they found after he was born. I never got to meet him, but I’ve wondered how different phases of my life would have been if he were around, and I still feel very close to him. Families really are forever.

  7. Lora says:

    Thank you for remembering her Marni – that means so much to me.

  8. Julie says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss! You are such an incredible woman, you learn from life’s lessons and keep going. I’m excited to learn about the resources you have to share for women! Thanks you

  9. Erin says:

    Beautiful words. When I was three years old I had a little sister who was born still. A lot of what you said I have heard my mom express over the years. I never got to see her and always wondered what she looked like or how my life would have been different had she lived. It was for this reason I joined the Now I Lay me Down to Sleep foundation to provide photos for these sweet families. Thanks for the reminder of why we keep doing it.

  10. becky says:

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute to your daughter. I appreciate your sharing and plan to share with some of my clients who can relate. I am so sorry for your loss.

  11. Zjani says:

    A friend suggested your website and I am glad she did. I had my little girl at 21 weeks 2 years ago and my liitle boy at 20 weeks 1

  12. Zjani says:

    A friend suggested your website and I am glad she did. I had my little girl at 21 weeks 2 years ago and my litle boy at 20 weeks 1 year ago. It is hard not to feel alone sometimes. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know I am not the only one that has gone through this, and is always helps to read about others. You are an amazing person!

  13. Maurine says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Lori. Grief is sure hard to deal with. I was blessed with two healthy kids before three miscarriages. It is hard to explain how I miss those babies to be even though no fetus grew each time. And I have had many dreams seeing my oldest brother as a grownup even though he died as a baby.

  14. Stacey says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. I agree that time does help. We lost our first at 13 weeks and I still think of that baby from time to time. I was blessed to have 7 others, but there are times that I still feel someone missing. I so appreciate your tips on what to say and what not to say. It’s important to have support after a loss and it’s hard when people say the wrong things out of discomfort or inexperience.

  15. Thank you for sharing your story & for reaching out to others. This means a lot, coming from a recent angel mommy signing up for this years race! Would you been open to me sharing this on my blog? I have one where I just talk about my thoughts & emotions on my journey, & another which I am just started for awareness & support (www.yellowmondaysproject.blogspot.com) where we wear yellow every Monday in memory of my daughter stillborn at 28 weeks & all angel babies!

    Thank you for being an inspiration & for also giving us hope for rainbow babies to follow!! The girls in my support group I started on fb will surely appreciate this!

  16. Coach Lora says:

    Hi Jennifer. You are welcome to share this on your blog. I love your yellow shirts idea! Thanks for your support!

  17. Cecilia says:

    Hi Lora,
    Thank you for sharing your story, so much…

    I am so sorry for the loss of your baby girl.

    I had a miscarriage in May 2009 and started running a few months later. I did couch to 5k and then went straight into training for a 10k which I ran on December 21st, 2009.

    It wasn’t until the day after the race that I realized that December 21st was the due date.

    Now my Dad is dying and I find myself wanting to run again. I just put two and two together and did a search for running and grieving, which is how I found you.

    Thank you. It’s so important to bring this grief in particular to the light. It’s one shared by so many women, but so rarely talked about. I loved the video for the race, big tears…

    ox
    Cecilia

  18. Bill Carruth says:

    Lora, I’ve been curious several times about our connection here and this story sort of explains it. I’m always sad to know that people have to deal with the loss of little ones or children of any age. Sounds like you hanlded it very well. My first loss would be 40ish now. Golly it takes a long time to deal with it. God bless you

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!