Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I was reading my mom's Woman's World Magazine and came across this gem on page 42. I think it was the current issue; I ripped the page out so can't check it. Sorry for any of you fact checking my blog, lol

Be Good to Yourself!
Feeling like you don't do enough?
You do!
Pushing yourself to do more?
Please don't!
Life isn't only about to-do lists
Every now and then, it should be about wish lists- yours!
What do you want?
What do you need?
Pick something big or small and make it happen.
Everyone deserves to be happy.
Including you!

I like the idea that my New Year's Resolutions can be a WISH LIST instead of a To-Do List.

What's on your list for this year??

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gearing up for New Years

This week between Christmas and New Years is always a big blur to me. And I'm not a drinker.

It is a lot of nit-picky, clean-up stuff from this last year in preparation for a big fresh new DO-OVER of next year. It is kind of like how every Monday is a fresh start for my diet and exercise program (my program that I don't have.. I keep telling myself I'll start it next Monday.. a day that never comes)but NEW YEARS is HUGE! A brand new chance! To do it, get started with my goals. My chance to get organized, my chance to get my act together and really be where I want to be.

So, in preparation, I'll share a few of my 'inspirational' quotes I've got rolling around in my head.


"Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it."
— L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)


"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..."
-Dr. Seuss

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
-Dr. Seuss



You can’t do EVERYTHING. But you can do SOMETHING.
Helen Keller


15 minutes a day to create something beautiful. We can do so much if we just GET STARTED

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holidays Can Be Tough

How's everyone doing?

I'm kind of in a funk. It's like I only have 2 speeds- either furiously trying to keep up or totally comatose sleeping for hours.

I'm feeling really unbalanced. Frustrated.

I'm not sure the solution. And I'm not trying to bring you all down. Just sayin.

I know this is a tough time of year for so many. There was an excellent article in the Washington Post last Thursday called Facing the Holidays After Heartbreak. While it dealt with families dealing with both loss and separation (such as divorce) I thought there were some excellent suggestions by the author, Tracy Grant. I'm going to just quote parts of it but you can read the whole article here.

"...navigating the holidays can be exhausting... Finding the balance between the old and the new and keeping old traditions alive while creating new memories is the challenge..."

Cynthia Glass, a clinical social worker has these suggestions for starting traditions:

Honor the empty seat. Put together pictures or sayings about the person who is missing.
(This is Emily now- at one workshop I presented a woman told me she sets a place at the table to remember her missing child. One of my favorite suggestions I've ever heard is to have a toast to remember all those family members not at the table with you.)

Create a new tradition, perhaps taking a family walk in the woods. (From Emily: One woman told me her family has started doing a Christmas sunrise picnic at the beach)

Cut back on presents. Shopping can be stressful and overwhelming (Emily: and it is really hard to go out where you will see lots of families with babies or pregnant women. I do a lot of my shopping online to avoid that. I even use a grocery delivery service for groceries if I'm really having a tough time)

Spend time with people who 'get it'. Don't force yourself to be around people who make the holidays harder for you, even if those people are family members. (Emily: yes, yes, totally agree)

Do something spiritual. Not necessarily religious, but something that makes you realize you are part of somthing bigger, something that allows you to connect to art, nature or other people. (Emily: love this)

Realize you aren't alone in needing help. Helping people in a charitable way helps yourself, too. (Emily: I know many people use this opportunity to do donate or do a kindness project in honor of their baby. I've had people tell me they donate to Toys for Tots, food banks, leaving a large tip for a server when going out to eat, making cookies or snacks for the fire house or police station or whatever project speaks to healing your heart.)

The author says that 'sometimes a change of scenery is just what a family needs'. (Emily: I have had people tell me they plan a trip somewhere- the beach, or the mountains. Just someplace different.)

Now, this is me again:
I give you permission to do as much or as little as you can. Ask for help when you need it. Lower your expectations. Cry when you need or want. Take care of yourself. Remember to eat (not just Christmas cookies).

Actually, this is all good advice for me, too.
Hope today is gentle for you.
peace-
emily

Sunday, November 29, 2009

December ceremonies- National Children's Memorial Day

National Children's Memorial Day happens every year on the second Sunday of December and is observed internationally to honor the 80,000 children who die each year. Families around the world light candles at 7 p.m. in their corresponding time zones. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe. This remembrance ceremony provides the world with lit candles for an entire 24 hour period in order to honor the children we have lost, the children who lived and died, and who, even in death, continue to matter.

This year National Children's Memorial Day will be held December 13th

December ceremonies- Angel of Hope







The story behind this angel statue is told in the book "The Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Evans. In the book a grieving woman mourns the loss of her child at an angel statue in a Salt Lake cemetary. There have since been over 80 Christmas box angel statues placed around the United States. They are dedicated as places of love and healing for all those who have lost children. Many of them have candlelight vigil ceremonies around this time of year. It is customary to leave a white flower behind. If you look closely at the angel statue there is the word 'hope' hidden in her wing.

To check if there is an angel statue near you, visit the site Christmas box angel locations

I have several copies of The Christmas Box to give away- if you would like one, please email me at nickwilberg @ hotmail.com.

peace-
emily

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Congratulations to our winners!

Thanks for all your kind comments and emails! I feel so loved ;0)

Congratulations to our lucky winners!
the Mending Invisible Wings journal goes to LeannaR
the Amazon gift card and Willow Tree Angel goes to PamelaW

I've emailed you both.. thanks to everyone for entering.
I've had a few emails asking where to buy the journal- you can find it here

peace-
emily

Friday, November 27, 2009

Last chance!

Just a reminder today is the last day to enter my giveaway! Just leave a comment and send me an email. You can get more details here

Good luck!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Importance of Friends

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. Last weekend I had an old roommate visit (we aren't old, but you know what I mean). I haven't seen her in about 15 years and we had lost touch but recently reconnected on facebook. Anyway, I was making a big deal about having my kids clean up and telling them the schedule of how things were going to go while my friend was here. And my 4yo said it. "I didn't know you had a friend!"

It made me think.
I have sister in laws.
I have visiting teachers.
I have other folks from who come and go from my home.
but no, I really don't have many 'friends' in real life.

And yet, online?
Lots of people I consider 'friends'
They are the first to console me when I'm feeling sad
The first to congratulate me when I've got good news
The first to commiserate with me when I'm stressed or unhappy
They've sent me cards, chocolate, and gifts
They reach out and let me know they care

I do think online friends are real friends. Even though I may never get a chance to sit down with them in real life, we definitely share connections and get involved in each other's lives in a way I don't often do with people in the real world.

And today one of my online friends is hurting.

Some of you may know Yaya. She's awesome. She's funny and real, and she and her husband Josh have been through a lot- pregnancy loss, infertility, the ups and downs of adoption. And today she is hurting a lot. It's not my story to tell, but if you know Yaya, you know she is always reaching out to those of us who need support. And today she could use ours.

Go on over to her blog and send a little love.




((HUGS)) Yaya
Thank you to all my online 'friends'
I hope today is gentle for you.
peace-
emily

Just a reminder to enter my giveaway HERE

Friday, November 20, 2009

Book Review- Mending Invisible Wings Journal

Because I'm in a giving kind of mood, I'm going to post this little goodie I've been holding on to for awhile.



A while back the author Mary Burgess contacted me about reviewing her book Mending Invisible Wings: a Healing Journal for Mothers. Part of the deal was I would offer it as a giveaway to one of my readers.

I'm sorry I agreed to it. To give it away, I mean. I want to keep it for myself.

This beautiful book is a journal- meant to be interactive as you fill it out and write, draw or paint to express your emotions and (as it says on the back cover) "reclaim your body, your heart and your life". The pages are these lovely thick paper which begs to be filled. Throughout the book are little treasures of images, illustrations, sketches, affirmations, poetry and ceremonies.

This book has a definite earth mother/goddess feel to it so if you are looking for a Christian type of journal this is not it.

So, after holding onto it as long as I possibly could get away with I am ready to send it out in the world to one of you, lucky readers. I've decided to do it in tandem with my other giveaway. (Winners have been chosen- congratulations!)

Good luck!
emily

Giveaway!

To thank you all and to celebrate my anniversary of my blog I'll be holding a giveaway for the next week. I decided to give some of my favorite things:

You've heard me mention these fondly and often:

Mini snickers! Only I'll send you a full size snickers, lol.



A Willow Tree angel ornament- this one is called Angel's Embrace and is of an angel holding a baby.



and a $25 gift card to Amazon. I buy a lot of books, but you can spend it on whatever you wish.

Thanks! and Good Luck!
peace-
emily
THANKS FOR ENTERING! Congrats to our winner, Pamela!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Little Crazy!

So I've posted more in the past ten minutes than in the last 2 months put together. You think to yourself, 'What the heck is that crazy lady over at Stepping Stones up to?'. Well, I'll tell you..

I'm posting back issues of my newsletter, which is something I've meant to do for awhile (and I'm also avoiding opening all these boxes here in real life now that we are finally back in the house after the flood) but I found out something pretty amazing. My first newsletter was a year ago this week. The week before Thanksgiving. How cool is that?

Add to this the fact that I now have 100 followers. How the heck did THAT happen? I'm so humbled that anyone is interested in anything I might have to say. Let alone hundreds. Well, a hundred. and two.

But I bet you WILL be interested in this next thing I'm going to say.

To celebrate this perfect storm of my anniversary of my first newsletter, a year anniversary of my blog and 100 followers... Let's have a giveaway! It's about time, I'm thinking!

So watch here for details coming soon in the next day or so..

peace-
emily

Thanksgiving- November 2008 Newsletter

Thanksgiving can be a difficult holiday. It is often filled with family dinners, little kids running and babies being passed around for everyone to hold. There is a big empty spot in my hearts and hands as my baby is not here. Even after 6 years, I see the cousins born the same year as Gabriel and watch them getting bigger and thinking about what he should be doing right now.


And it is hard to be told I'm supposed to be feeling THANKFUL.

How do you handle Thanksgiving? If your loss is recent you may want to opt out of the big family dinner. That isn't always possible but you need to do what feels right to you. Maybe dinner can be held at a different house this year, or have it at a different time. Something to make it different than it always is.

One idea I heard that I LOVE is when everyone sits down to dinner have a toast to remember all our family members not sitting at the table with us. BRILLIANT. It is individual to each of us what that means, and can be done while with all family members, including grouchy grandpa or those who don't want to be reminded.

I have started a blog to share ideas on how to learn to live now our lives have a 'new normal'. I'd love your ideas as well. I hope you will visit and let me know how you remember your baby/babies when sending out Christmas cards. It is a question asked often and I'd love to hear your suggestions. I'll also be adding posts I'd love your input with- what type of books were helpful to you, what was the most helpful thing a friend said, etc. This blog is a work in progress and will be getting a makeover in the next few weeks.

I hope you have a gentle Thanksgiving.
peace- emily

Christmas- December 2008 Newsletter

A Family Time of Year


Many of us celebrate Christmas at this time of year. Some of us celebrate Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa, or Diwali or Solstice. In any case, this time of year is about FAMILY and it is obvious that the whole family is NOT HERE.

This is the time of year I am most often faced with the "it should be's". Gabriel should be 6 years old- I should be buying him toys and new pjs with cartoon characters on them and taking him to the mall to see Santa. I should be yelling at him to take his dishes to the sink and no, you can't wear that grimey tshirt to visit grandma's house and can he please pick up his shoes- for the millionth time? I should be taking his photo for our Christmas card and helping him do his shopping at the dollar store and decorating gingerbread men and don't lick that icing we all have to use it.

It is not an easy time of year, but several of you have shared ideas about how to include your child in your holidays. Several people mentioned buying special ornaments with their child's name and then sending them to grandparents and other family members. Some of you use a special footprint or angel stamp or punch to include your child in your holiday cards. I like to do a service project in Gabriel's honor. I donate to Toys for Tots, or from the Angel trees found in many stores.


If your loss is more recent you may not have any energy to do any of this. Do not feel bad about that. It might be right for you at this time to just hole up. Do something different Christmas morning. Drive to the beach to watch the sunrise. Go away. Go to church. Light a candle in memory of your baby.

Please come check out my blog. I have been working on it and trying to figure out what it is going to be, what I want it to be. I decided to rename it "Stepping Stones- a path to healing after the loss of a child" There is a wonderful quote I have heard that says "The trick is to make your stepping stones out of stumbling blocks". I want this blog to be a place where we can share our ideas. For those of us who have 'been there' can help support those who are 'there now'. For us to share our 'stepping stones' to healing.


There are so many things I wish someone had told me. How to get my name off baby mailing lists. How to dry up my milk that cruely came in anyway after I was sent home from the hospital without my baby. How painful the innocent question would now be when I was asked "How many kids do you have?" I invite you to stop by and read, or comment. If you have any suggestions of what you wish someone had told you, or what you'd like to tell someone else to help make this path easier I invite you to share it with us.

I am having a giveaway with prizes the week of Christmas- Click on my blog link below to get details about how to enter.


I hope this is a gentle holiday season for us all.

peace- emily

Peaceful New Year- January 2009 Newsletter

A Peaceful New Year


I'm new at this blogging thing- just about two months. I can't stop reading blogs. It is kind of like reading someone's diary. All these strangers I feel I know. So creative. So real. And they inspire me.

On the blog Tip Junkie there was a post about picking a 'word of the year'. This idea caught my interest. What is my word for this year? There are so many things I wish- Hope, Kindness, Strength. Success. Health.

And then I realized I knew my word already- I sign all my emails, all my posts the same way.

Peace.

I wish it for our country, I wish it for the world, I wish it for my life and heart.

I wish it for all of you. For all of us.


Click below to go on over to my Stepping Stones blog and enter my contest giveaway. It is easy- you just have to sign up as a follower and to get my newsletter. If you are reading this you are already halfway there!

An idea we have been discussing on Stepping Stones is that we need to create our children's legacy, since they are not here to do it themselves. Every March of Dimes, every donation of memory boxes to the hospital, every small act of kindness done in our children's names. That is the legacy we create for them. We can make the world a better place because they existed- if only for a moment.

I hope only good things for all of us this year.



peace- emily

Remembering the Love- February 09 Newsletter

Oh you got to you got to remember the love,
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love, spread love
Measure, measure your life in love.

~Rent, Seasons of Love~




I had read this post by Zil on her blog The Three Little Birds some time ago and I keep coming back to it.

I love this idea- to measure a life in love.

If I look back to when Gabriel died, I can see so much love expressed to me and my family. The nurses at the hospital who compassionately stayed with us (or stayed away) depending on what we needed. The memory box given to me at the hospital dontated by an unknown mom who had also lost her baby. Women from church who stopped by with meals. The coworkers at my husband's work who covered for him as he was out for a week.

But this is measuring my life by the love.

What if I measure Gabriel's life by the love?

In his so short life he was only loved- by his mom and dad, his grandmas and grandpas, his siblings, his aunts and uncles and cousins.

So I'm trying to do this- remember the love. Instead of focusing on the pain I felt, the fear, the sadness, the hurt and confusion, I am going to try to remember the love.

I'd like to invite you to pop by and see what we have going on at my Stepping Stones blog. Be sure to enter this week's giveaway- you may even win a little something.

I also wanted to show you LaBelleDame jewelry. These are beautiful pieces with items specifically for miscarriage , stillbirth and infant loss. I will be donating from the proceeds of any sales made when you click through my link.

I hope today is gentle for you.
peace-
Emily

Be Good To Yourself- March 09 Newsletter

"I do not think that means what you think it means"
Inego Montoyo, from the movie Princess Bride


A good friend of mine told me this year her goal is to 'be good to herself'. Every day she is going to work on treating herself well. I had to laugh, because my first thought of what this means is so the opposite of what she was talking about.

My first thought was about indulging myself- eating a bag of mini snickers bars, drinking diet coke, taking a nap and ordering fast food for dinner so I don't have to cook.

That is NOT being good to myself. I mean, it feels good while I'm stuffing my mouth full of cheap chocolate, but it makes me feel so bad later on when I'm all hyped up on sugar and caffiene and I can't button my pants.

I have always felt that drinking water and exercising were more like punishments. I need to change that mindset. How do I do that? I honestly do not know. I'd love any suggestions.

This is the other quote I've been thinking about:


"You can not do everything at once, but you can do something at once."
Calvin Coolidge


I am going to start small. Do something. One thing. Today. To be good to myself.

I think it is another part of creating our children's legacy- being a person they can be proud of.

I'd like to invite you to pop by and see what we have going on at my Stepping Stones blog. If you'd like. We'd love to have you.

I wanted to show you these bracelets Rose at SHARE is making. Aren't they gorgeous? They are even prettier and more sparkly in real life. All profits go to benefit SHARE and their work supporting bereaved parents.

I also want to tell you about the March Compassion Challenge. The idea behind this is that March 11 marked the tenth birthday anniversary of Kara and Hawk's son, Dakota Jones. They have challenged readers of their Kota Loss & Compassion Blog (and I challenge my blog readers) to do 10 random acts of kindness. I'm doing this in memory of Dakota, in memory of Gabriel, and in memory of all of our babies. If 10 is an overwhelming number, do just 1. One act of kindness in memory of our babies.

Now, if you are newer in the journey or even later in the journey but having a bad day cut yourself some slack! Do what you need to do. For me, I spent the first month in bed watching M*A*S*H reruns. I still have days spent in bed, but they are further and farther between.

I hope today is gentle for you.
peace-
Emily

We Are Not Alone- April 09 Newsletter

When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of the great family of the heavy-hearted into which our grief has given us entrance, and inevitably, we will feel about us their arms, their sympathy, their understanding.
- Helen Keller


My sister lives on the windward shore of Hawaii. She and her friend Crash took their children 'fishing'. They get a few nets, a big bucket of water and have a grand old time.

My nephew was walking along, struggling to carry this big bucket of water. And Crash offered to help him. After carrying it a bit she looked inside to see how many fish there were. None. Not a one. So she suggested maybe they could dump out the water and fill it up when they got closer to the fishing spot.

So many people are carrying burdens unnecessarily. Maybe we can help carry their bucket. Or encourage them to dump some of it.

We now belong to this club none of us wanted to join. I'm comforted to know there are people out there who understand. Who share my sorrow. Who can help carry my bucket, or to give me perspective on how to dump some of it. It makes all the difference in the world.

When Gabriel was born, before I was discharged from the hospital, I was given a business card for a grief counselor. I remember turning to my husband and saying "What good does talking about it do?" Now I know. Talking about it is all I can do. Every time I share Gabriel's story, I strengthen my identity as 'Gabriel's mom'.

I spend a lot of time reading other people's stories. On message boards and in books. And I appreciate everyone who reaches out to me. It helps so much to know I'm not alone in all of this. To know that no matter what I'm thinking or feeling it is normal. I'm not crazy. Or if I am, we all are.

I am now on the slippery slope of less than a month to Gabriel's Day. May 10th. Which happens to fall on Mother's Day this year. A double whammy. I hope this next month is gentle for all of us mommies missing our children.

peace-
emily

Mother's Day- May 09 Newsletter

I am sending this email early.. I think the week before Mother's Day can be so difficult- especially as it has chosen to rain all day and is expected to rain all this week. Anyway, I had planned to send this on Friday but decided some of you may need it early. ((hugs))- emily

I am thinking of all you moms this weekend. All you moms missing your darling babies, and especially those of you without living children. I'm so sorry they are not with you. I hope you get the recognition you deserve. I hope you get flowers, breakfast in bed and some special time to yourself. You are a mom. You love your child as much as any mom and deserve to be recognized.

You might be interested to know that Mother's Day is not just a holiday invented by the card companies to sell more cards. It started as so much more. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe (author of the poem The Battle Hymn of the Republic) was distressed by the devastating effects of the Civil War, and called for a formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. This crusade was taken up by Anna Jarvis, whos mother had been working to improve sanitation through what she called Mother's Work Days. Later, the first Mother's Day was celebrated in 1907 as a 'memorial day for women' in West Virginia. The custom eventually spread to 45 states, and the first national Mother's Day was finally declared in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson.

It is fitting that on this day that began with mother's mourning their sons we remember ALL mothers- those that have their children with them and those that are missing their children. Happy Mother's Day to all of us.

I wanted to let you know we have restarted our project of taking photos of names written in the sand. Our site has been renamed 'Aloha Remembered'. I love the fact that 'Aloha' is a word with many meanings, including 'hello, goodbye, peace, and love'. All these things I felt and said to my child all at once. We'd love to write your child's name and take a photo for you. We have decided to start charging for this so we can use it as a fundraiser and donate from the proceeds. You can find out more info here.

If you haven't stopped by my Stepping Stones Blog, why not take a peek? I'm not at my absolutely best this week but hope I'll be energized and focused once this week is over and I'm past Gabriel's anniversary. Until that time, you know where to find me. Holed up in my room watching M*A*S*H reruns and eating my way through a bag of mini snickers bars.

peace-
emily

Father's Day and Summertime- June 09 Newsletter

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns,
or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
-Abraham Lincoln


Hello, All!

I want to wish a gentle Father's Day to all the dads out there. You know who you are. Most of my readers are women, I suspect. But sometimes the men show up.

Grieving dads have a hard time- they are supposed to be 'strong' and often feel their role is to 'fix stuff'. Yet how do you 'fix it' when a baby dies? Impossible. So they put on their game face and hang tough. And then their wives accuse them of not grieving, or not caring.

It's a tough spot to be in.

Men grieve differently than women. I'm not a man so can't claim to be an expert on this. But I know I grieve differently than my husband. I spend hours online reading message boards and blogs. I make scrapbooks. I wear jewelry in memory of my baby. I cry.

He does none of these things. At least not when I can see them.

But he goes along with my projects. We've done March of Dimes. He designed my logo for my site. He lets me shut down when I need to, he gets the balloons for our balloon releases. He does what he needs to and lets me do what I need to.

So big ((hugs)) to all you dads out there. I hope this weekend is an ok one for you. Go do something manly with a hammer or some sort of power tools. Go golfing. Play some sort of zombie shooting video game. Whatever you want.

If any of you moms want to get a white rubber band bracelet for your husband, there is still time. You'll want to order it by Wednesday to make sure you get it in time. Click this link to order. I'll pop it in the mail asap.

I want to invite you again to visit my Stepping Stones blog. We've been talking about summer movies and how even in the movies babyloss shows up unexpectedly. Has anyone seen UP?

And then I want to tell you about my new project- SendOutCards. When was the last time you sent a greeting card? When was the last time you GOT one? Most of my mail nowadays are bills or credit card come-ons. I remember I used to get cards from my grandma, just for no reason. I've been sending a lot of cards and having a blast. It makes me feel good, and I hope it makes the people I send them to feel good. Click the link and you can get a free account to send a few cards. You can also use it as a fundraiser for your group.

I hope you have a great month, full of summer fun and sunshine.
peace-
emily

Father

Continued Parenting- July 09 Newsletter

They are not gone...Who live in the hearts of others.
--Native American Proverb


Happy July to you all!

I first heard the idea of "continued parenting" on my friend Kara's kotapress site. Your parenthood did not end when your child died- rather, it began when he or she was born. You can read her whole article here.

It makes so much sense to me. Granted, we are a 'different kind of parent'. We 'celebrate' angelversaries with balloon releases, we participate in March of Dimes. We have angel gardens and we know why October 15th is special. We do kindness projects and wear memorial jewelry. We are creating our children's legacy since they are not here to do it for themselves.

Kara is also the one who told me about research being done at Tufts University by Dr. Diana Bianchi. With each pregnancy, a woman is given fully functioning white blood cells from her child. Regardless of the outcome of the pregnancy, live or still, full term or miscarried, the mother is left with cells filled with the DNA of the child in her body. Cell that are fully working. Cells that show up first on site of infection or injury. Cells that work in brain even.

Our babies were with us such a short time but changed us forever- emotionally AND physically.

Kara is a grief coach, a talented artist, and a darn nice person. I hope you'll check out her blogs. She is currently accepting registrations for Grief: Finding Our Way group session workshops. They are offered online so you can participate from wherever you are located.

Kota Loss & Compassion Blog
Mother Henna

If you'd like me to write your baby's name in the sand please visit Aloha Remembered. We are currently doing this as a fundraiser to send a percent of the profits to SHARE.

((hugs))
peace-
emily

Parable of the Cracked Pot- August 09 Newsletter

The Parable of the Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots,
one hung on each end of a pole which he carried
across his neck. One of the pots had a crack
in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always
delivered a full portion of water at the end
of the long walk from the stream to the
master's house. The cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it
spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

Why?" asked the bearer.

"What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house.

Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.

But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?

That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers
to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."


It is funny. I didn't see that ending coming. I was relating to the water carrier- toiling along day after day and only getting half of what he should.

But we are the pot- imperfect, cracked, leaky. We try our best but end with less than we think we should have.

Look around. You may be influencing those around you in spite of your defect. Or quite possibly because of it.

None of us quite know the impact we have on the world.

peace-
emily

I know a lot of you are in the midst of planning awareness events and walks for the fall. Let me know if I can help you! The white "Remembering Our Babies" bracelets are perfect mementos for your event, or can be used as a fundraiser. I also have pins, clings, tshirts, hats and other items at my cafepress site. If there is something you are thinking of but do not see send me an email request.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A kind gesture

I opened my email today and found this beautiful photo from Holly (caring4carleigh)



How beautiful! I love it. Such a simple thing that means so much- seeing Gabriel's name and knowing that I'm not the only one who remembers him.

Thank you, thank you
((hugs))

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From a grieving mom

I received a very touching email from Holly. She said I could share it with you in the hopes that it may help someone else possibly feeling the same way to know they aren't alone. I appreciate so much her willingness to reach out. ((hugs)) to Holly. We are remembering your baby with you.
peace-
emily

Emily,

I stumbled upon your blog several months ago after I miscarried, and I thank you for putting your thoughts and feelings out there for so many of us looking for something to help us cope. Though every day is still a struggle for me, I find a small amount of comfort knowing I'm not the only one to experience this deep loss and struggle with its aftermath.

The hardest thing for me at this point is that it has been three months since I miscarried, and hardly anyone knows, making me feel as though I have no where to turn for help or comfort. We didn't want to spread the news until we heard a heartbeat. That day never came. My husband's parents and a select few of my girlfriends knew of our pregnancy, and when it ended no one would talk about it. No one called, no one emailed, no one came to our house to check on us. It was as if it never happened. In the weeks that followed a few calls came in. "I just wanted to give you your space, your privacy..." That was the last thing I wanted. I wanted, and still want, someone to tell me they are sorry, that they understand, that they would love to just come over and talk. Anything. I wish the whole dang world knew so I could at least feel like I can show how I feel on the inside, instead of trying to put on a happy face every day. I hate it. I feel like I act my way through every day, holding in my feelings and watching everyone else's lives progress while I feel like I'm at a standstill. Even my husband has moved on and doesn't understand why I still feel so horrible about our loss.

Not only that, but my best friend and I were due at the same time. She is still pregnant and has found out the gender of her baby. She's completely quit talking to me, and right now, as horrible as it feels and sounds, I'm glad. I hate it that she gets what we both wanted, and here I am in agony every day while she paints her nursery and picks out names.

I have finally arranged some counseling that I will begin in November. I have my reservations about talking to a stranger about this, as having a friend or loved one to speak to would be more comfortable. I just don't know any other avenues to take to help myself when no one knows I need the help.

If you can use this for your writing on your blog, please do. There may be a woman out there who is in the exact same situation and doesn't know where to go or what to do next.

Again, thank you for sharing your story.
Sincerely,
Holly

Friday, October 23, 2009

Asking for Help

This is what I've been thinking on lately. How are you at asking and accepting help? I pretty much stink at it. I just feel that I should be able to do it on my own. People offer "Let me know if there is anything you need" or even "What can I do to help" and I usually tell them I am fine.

I remember that when Gabriel died we were in the hospital for 3 days waiting for him to be born. And (this is really stupid) but I remember worrying because I knew that my lawn needed cut. It was really long to start with and my HOA gets really annoyingly picky about stuff like that. But I think this is a pretty good example, really. I'm sure one of my neighbors would have done it for us in a heartbeat. It is a concrete something that they could have done, if only I had asked.

Now we are going through this situation with our house. It has been 6 weeks and insurance will no longer pay for a hotel since they feel work should be done. But it isn't. Our house is not ready for us to move into. So we are at my mom's house. This is not ideal.

People are asking "What can we do to help?" and it is just so hard. The real answer is come help me clean up after all the construction. Bring me a meal or two. Watch my kids so I can work uninterrupted.

Instead I say "Oh, we're fine! Thanks!"

Why do I do this? Do you do it, too? Why is it so hard to accept help?

edited to add: I'm sorry if this is kind of a pity party. I don't really mean it that way. I do feel fortunate and know that things could be a lot worse. I'm glad it is just STUFF and not health issues or anything like that.

peace-
emily

Friday, October 16, 2009

Grieving the Loss of a Grandchild

Yesterday my article "Grieving the Loss of a Grandchild" was featured on the site GrandparentsTLC This is a great site that shows grandparents how to use technology to connect with their grandchildren.

I appreciate the chance to talk about how a grandparent can help their child when a grandchild dies. Not so long ago the attitude was that a mom should not see her baby, but instead should forget and have another child as soon as possible to get over the loss. It was a different time, a different generation. And grandparents are in a unique position that they are grieving the loss of their grandchild and also are seeing their child hurting. It's tough.

Click on GrandparentsTLC:Grieving the Loss of a Grandchild and check it out. Thanks to Grandpa Shayne for posting my article.

peace-
emily

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Our children

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and tonight at 7pm there will be a 'Wave of Light' as families light candles for their babies and place them outside for an hour. It helps so much to know that I am not the only one remembering Gabriel on this day.

I invite you to post below with your baby's name and if you'd like, a message, poem or quote for them.

I know there are many readers who do not or can not post here. If you want me to add your baby's name for you please send me an email at nickwilberg @ hotmail.com

Gabriel Wilberg
May 10, 2002
"a person's a person, no matter how small"
We love you, Gabriel. I know that someday our family will be together again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 2009 Newsletter

I am going to archive my newsletters here on my blog so those who are not signed up to receive them can see what they are all about. (If you'd like to subscribe you can do that on my blog sidebar. I send one email a month and you can unsubscribe at any time)

Intention and awareness are the primary ingredients of existence.
Eidyn Taliesin

"One moment of instantaneous awareness brings more
clarity than a lifetime of contrived meditation. That one
moment of instantaneous awareness introduces us to that
about ourselves that will never change. In this sense,
every moment would be the ultimate meditation, no
matter what the moment may contain."

Candice O'Denver

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.
Garrison Keiller


October has been designated as "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month", with October 15 as "Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day". And yet, how many people go about with no awareness of this topic at all?

I know that until it happened to me I had no idea that babies sometimes died. With modern medicine and all the prenatal testing available how on earth can something like this occur? Sure, it happened back in the pioneer days and maybe still in third world countries. But here in the US? In 2009? How can it be that nobody talks about this?

And I ask you. How many newspaper articles have you seen this month? How many news features? Magazine articles? Billboards? Emails? Facebook updates? Ah. Well, there you go. Little by little, one by one, we add our voice to those that talk about it.

Those who have never had to deal with this sad topic prefer to go about naively. And I don't blame them. I wish I could. It is a sad subject. But once it happens to you, once you have lost a child, you know there is something sadder still. That your baby will be forgotten. Ignored. That people will pretend that they never existed. And that, for me, is what awareness is about.

Spreading awareness to me is sharing my child. Saying his name. Educating folks that instead of being silent, all they need to say is "I'm so sorry". Awareness month to me is knowing that I am not alone in remembering my boy. Through memory walks, balloon releases, kindness projects and lighting candles others remember him with me.

I invite you to particiate in a 'Wave of Light'. At 7pm your local time light a candle and place it outside for an hour. And know that you are not alone in remembering your child.

I also invite you to stop by my blog and add your baby's name to our list of children we are missing. Together we can help each other not to feel so alone.

((HUGS))
I hope today is gentle for you.
peace-
emily
gabriel's mom

Wave of Light

Just a reminder that tomorrow, October 15, is designated as 'Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day'. I know WE do not need a special day to remember our babies but it is nice that it is there.

Tomorrow night there is a 'Wave of Light' to be held at 7pm- you are encouraged to light a candle and place it outside for at least an hour. In that way there will be a wave of light throughout the timezones as these candles help remember our children.

Also, tomorrow morning I will have a post here so we all can add our babies names. However did this blog get 90 followers? And yet I know that is the tip of the iceberg for grieving moms. ((HUGS)) to us all.

I hope today is gentle for you-
peace-
emily

PS: Flood update: They tell me I will be back in my home mid next week. Fingers crossed! I promise to be a better blogger when I've got better internet.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spreading Awareness

Thanks for all your kind words. I'm sorry I can't visit your blogs right now to respond. My internet here at the hotel isn't the best. But I appreciate your sympathetic words. We are doing well. Tired of living out of a suitcase here, but glad we are all together and healthy.

It is nearly October, which is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It is often overshadowed because it is also breast cancer awareness month, a worthy cause in itself.

Do you have any ways that you plan to spread awareness? I feel really unprepared. All my items are lost in my boxes that went away when they packed us up after the flood. I should have them back in about a month, I think.

This year I'd really like to send a press release to my local paper. Does anyone have one written they'd like to share with us?

I'd love to hear your ideas. Thanks for sharing them with me.
peace-
emily

Saturday, September 19, 2009

And the rain came down

Ok, it wasn't rain. It was a burst pipe in my upstairs shower. And although we were only out of the house for about 3 hours we came home to find our living room ceiling had fallen to the floor with a little waterfall and soggy soaked carpet on all 3 floors. After spending about 3 hours with a wetvac we decided to call insurance. So glad we did.

The water restoration guys have spent the last week ripping up carpet and opening up drywall to dry the house out. The thermostat currently shows at 98 degrees.

We came to the hotel expecting 5 days. Now it is looking more like 6 weeks. All our stuff is packed up and headed to a storage unit.

It definitely could have been worse. Our family is safe. Our computer, laptop, wii, all safe. But new paint and carpet all around, ba-bee!

So I will try to check back in and post in the next few days. But don't expect to see me at the Lancaster walk- all my awareness items I was going to sell are boxed up somewhere in my basement.

The one thing that I did forget and I feel terrible- I forgot to grab Gabriel's box from my living room bookcase. They packed him. I am so sad about that. I meant to take him when we left that first night but I was distracted and forgot. When I went back he had been packed. I am going over this morning to see if there is any chance to find out which box and liberate him.

Hope you all have safe and healthy weekends. I'll keep you updated.

peace-
emily

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Memory Walks

Every year there are quite a few memory walks held throughout the months of September and October. We try to go to the closest SHARE walk, which is 2 hours away in Lancaster, PA. I don't get there every year because it is always held the last weekend in September, which is my husband's birthday. He doesn't always love to go to memory walks on his birthday.

However, this year we will be there. If you are close, I hope you'll stop by. I'd love to meet you.

I'm always so touched by the candle lighting as our baby's names are read. And by the fact of how NORMAL we all look. You could see the group of us all anywhere- an amusement park, a farmers market, a movie theater. You'd never know we are any different than any other families. But we have all been struck by the lightning of losing a child.

You can find info on the Lancaster, PA walk here
or check the SHARE site for other walks in your area here

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ideas to remember your baby at the holidays

Tamara emailed me, asking: "This is out first year without Luci and the 1 year anniversary of her death and I wanted to do things differently to find a way to inlcude her and her sister that died in '96. I was wondering what you did different at the holidays if anything after your baby died. Would you be willing to share your ideas with me? Thanks!"

I have heard several wonderful ideas of how to remember our babies at holiday time. And let me say, for me that starts at Thanksgiving. I haven't done all of these. Heck, that first year I was lucky to be out of my pjs and participating at all.

I love the idea to have a toast at dinner to remember all the family members not at the table. How wonderful! It can mean different things to different people.

Some people participate in an angel tree project or toys for tots. Some people make a donation to a charity of their choice.

Some people hang up a stocking with their child's name on it and ask family members to a service or write a note to put in the stocking. These can be read together as a family.

Some people include their baby in their holiday card by using a sticker or stamp that has special significance like a star, an angel or a butterfly.

I'd love to hear your ideas. What will you do?

peace-
emily

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Byodo- In Temple












While I was on Oahu we visited the beautiful Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples. It was built in the 1960's to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii. It is a replica of the 950 year old Byodoin Temple outside of Kyoto, Japan. If it looks familiar to you maybe that is because it was used in an episode of Lost.

This gorgeous temple is so peaceful (until the groundskeepers start up the leaf blowers, lol) and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to visit. There are koi, black swans, and this really cool bell to ring before you enter the temple. It is said that ringing this bell brings happiness, blessings and a long life. It was funny to me because a little boy was hanging on the post ringing and ringing the bell- afterwards he told his dad "I'm going to be so so lucky!"

And in the gardens there are these plaques to put the names of loved ones. I saw a baby 'Angel', another one with the same symbol that may be a child "Haruko Mirai" and then Jamil Ma'ema'e Dubie who's plaque said "Kealani Aloha A Me 1999 “Unborn gone without a cry We mourn but go with God now In the Arms of the Angels and ?” I tried and tried to see what the last word was but it was covered by that flower and I didn't want to step in the landscaping. I THINK the last word was 'fly'.

Anyone lucky enough to get to Hawaii should stop in and visit this beautiful, peaceful spot.

Say It With Flowers

Look at this lovely lovely site!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Scrapbooking Your Baby

I'm back! Did you miss me?

I had a great trip, and have several ideas for posts I'll be blogging the next week or so. But top priority is something I need your help with.

I had an email from a woman who is working on a scrapbook for her little nephew, Adam. She asks " I was wondering what I could do to tell his story with out being drab. He only lived 3 hours so I'm having trouble putting what I want to say into words that would honor is short life."

Any ideas for her?

My first thoughts are to document stories such as the emotions in finding out they were pregnant, how the family was told, and the love and caring expressed. Also using quotes and poems. Maybe asking others to write letters to include or send photos of Adam's name written.

I'd love to hear your ideas. How have you scrapbooked or journaled your baby's story?

Thanks so much!
peace-
emily

Sunday, August 9, 2009



I'm off to visit my sister. Can I help that she lives in Hawaii? ;0) Wish me luck- I believe there is a hurricane headed that way.

I'll be back August 21. Take care of each other.

Is it just me or does this photo make us look like Siamese twins? lol

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lessons from Grief and Pain

"My grief and pain are mine. I have earned them. They are part of me. Only in feeling them do I open myself to the lessons they can teach."
-Anne Wildon Schaef




At first the pain was overwhelming. And then there came a time when the pain started to fade. And I MISSED IT. Because it felt to me that forgetting my pain meant I was forgetting my boy.

After a long while, I was able to step back from the initial grief and pain and it instead turned to tenderness towards my boy. And pride that I am chosen to be his mom.

I do think losing Gabriel taught me a lot. Patience. An appreciation for how much my parents love me. An unbefore-seen tender side of my husband. The fact that I'm a lot stronger than I ever suspected.

And mostly, a reminder to just lighten up about all the small stuff. In a flash, I was reminded of what is important. Family. Love. Our Health.

Has your grief and pain taught you any lessons?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

BP/USA: Signs from our Babies

I went to an interesting workshop called "Signs for Grief Relief". I thought it was going to be about how to tell if you are healing; instead it was about how to be sensitive to receiving signs from our children. It was presented by Sara Jessie Ruble, a grieving mom, Danine Florina, who has a background of working in hospice, and Jane Bissler, a clinical counselor.

They stated that our kids are always trying to get our attention- they want to communicate with us and we need to be open to it. They stated that 'seeing is believing, and believing is seeing' and you get to choose if you see signs or not.

To encourage signs, they suggest writing them down (including dreams and impressions), be aware of roadblocks such as grief emotions, and chaos. They stated that other people may doubt, but you need to trust.

What do you think of this? I am not sure where I stand. I'd like to hear your ideas and I'm respectful of both sides- those of us who believe in signs and those of us who don't.

I don't want to think that Gabriel is spending a significant part of his energy trying to get my attention. And yet there have been a time or two when something happens that makes me smile and wonder if my boy is saying "hi".

They are holding a spirituality workshop in Chicago in October- you can get more info here

Sunday, August 2, 2009

BP/USA What Helps the Most

A few weeks ago I presented a workshop at the Bereaved Parents of the USA Conference in NYC. One workshop I attended was called "What Helps the Most" by Elaine Stillwell. Her son Denis and daughter Peggy were killed in a car accident.

I think this is a very helpful list. I'm also interested to hear why YOU think has helped you the most.

Funeral service (a ritual of saying goodbye and remembering)
Loving support (friends, family and faith)
Talking (telling our story, sharing our child)
Books (wisdom from those who have walked before us)
Expressing your feelings
Sacred Space (place and time to meditate and ponder)
A Spouse who respects your way of grieving
Crying
Notes and cards (saying 'I care')
Giving your anger a voice
The love of a pet
response from the clergy
discuss feelings with spouse and family
journaling
visiting the cemetary
yoga, treadmill, walking
give yourself a present (tell yourself it is from your child)
religion/spirituality
support group
music
vacations
exercise
writing
planting a garden
watching the growth of an amaryllis (or other flower)
planning a memorial
hobby
quilt making
welcoming their friends
establishing a scholarship
volunteering
new routines and traditions (new ways to celebrate holidays, new friends)
doing crazy things (license plate with their name, give angels to everyone)
stay in the present as much as possible

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Family Traditions: Making Memories that Include Your Child

This is my workshop presentation I gave at the Bereaved Parents of the USA Conference 2009, and also at the SHARE conference 2007.

My name is Emily, and my son Gabriel was stillborn at 21 weeks in 2001. For a long time I waited for things to get back to ‘normal’ but I finally realized that I now had a ‘new normal’. I have spent a lot of time online reading message boards (particularly SHARE) and lately discovered blogs.
I think the reason I spend so much time reading other people’s stories is that it helps me to know that I’m not alone in all this- that I’m not crazy for what I feel. I had attended the SHARE conference a few years ago and really had a great experience so I’m glad I had the chance to attend this conference this weekend.


Family Traditions: Making Family Memories that Include Your Baby
By Emily Wilberg presented at SHARE 2007, BP/USA2009


I. WHY HAVE FAMILY TRADITIONS?

Look at a strong family and you are likely to find one with strong family traditions. Whether it is activities that the family always does, the everyday routines or ways they celebrate holidays and special occasions, these family rituals bring a sense of belonging, familiarity and routine to family members. In strong families, members become more committed to each other when they spend time together and create bonds. Traditions provide a sense of continuity, understanding, connectedness and love that strengthens family closeness. Family traditions are also opportunities for families to have ‘good times” and establish memories. Rituals touch the hearts of family members in a positive way and help members feel good about themselves and each other.

Family traditions reflect relationships between family members and how the family interacts with the community, culture or religion. Traditions help form the story line for a family’s unique history with each generation adding or deleting certain traditions that enhance the family story.

THEY MAKE YOU FEEL PART OF A GROUP: Provides a sense of belonging- a common language, common memories (Story- Christmas morning the kids all line up on the stairs to wait to go down to the tree. They did this when they were together as adults because it just felt like the “right thing to do”)

In times of uncertainty, families can strengthen their emotional defenses and relieve tension by creating special rituals and family times Gives you something in common. Something familiar and predictable in a hectic and ever- changing world. Family bonds are weakened by busy lifestyles. There is a tendency to entropy; to lose energy and coherence over time- like a gas dissipating until it is all but gone. Traditions are the glue to cement you close.

Importance of traditions crosses economic, cultural and religious lines. Christians celebrate Christmas, Muslims celebrate Ramadan, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving and across the globe families celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

II RULES FOR SUCESSFUL FAMILY TRADITIONS

SUCESSFUL FAMILY TRADITIONS:

A. INCLUDE ALL FAMILY MEMBERS:
Remember family members that are not with you- (Grandma’s recipe, or family away at college) Your babies were with you just a moment but changed your family forever. They are still part of your family.

Our society doesn’t do a very good job at allowing us to remember. As soon as someone dies we are supposed to get over it, and move on. Some people think we are strange, or morbid. Grief is a very personal thing. You need to do what is right for you and your family. This doesn’t mean it may be right for everyone in your family, too. You have to allow each other the space to grieve as they need to. Invite spouses, grandparents, siblings to participate but give them permission not to if they can’t. Try to not get hurt feelings. On Gabriel’s first angel date my husband did not participate- it was too hard for him.

B. ARE FLEXIBLE: Don’t be rigid- evolve as your family does- as get married, start own families. Establish new traditions as you need. Do what feels right for your family and family members at this time. Your needs may change.

Some times it will feel sad. I think that is ok. Sometimes it may feel gentle, or peaceful, or strengthening. At different times you may need different activities. Sometimes you want a private quiet thing like writing a letter to your baby or buying a balloon and letting it go. Sometimes you are ready for a bigger community thing- March of Dimes or an area sports night

D. INCLUDE SPIRITUAL, EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL ASPECTS. Some may be solomn, but it is also ok to have fun. Your traditions can include different aspects- physical (walking a labyrinth, March of Dimes, going somewhere special), emotional (attending bereavement conferences or a balloon release), spiritual (attend a mass or religious ceremony)

E. INCLUDE DIFFERENT SENSES: SMELL (scented candles, food), TASTE (food), TOUCH (different textures- sand, water), SOUND (songs), SIGHT (symbols)

G. OCCASIONALLY EVALUATE YOUR TRADITIONS: make a list- any you want to add? Any to get rid of? Have a MODERATE number. Don’t try to do it all. People do so much FOR their family they neglect being WITH their family. The house looks perfect but the people inside are irritable and frustrated from exhaustion. You may want to simplify. Keep the ones that are most important to you at this time.

H. ARE MEANINGFUL: do service as a family, do something together QUALITY TIME, handed down generations. Each year as they are re-enacted warm memories return

I. PHOTOS & STORIES- write it down, my family loves to look at scrapbooks- if you don’t have photos, keep an ongoing journal of ways you celebrate or remember. When you do something in memory of your child, write your thought in a letter to him or her.

IF YOU DON”T HAVE PHOTOS, you can still make ways to remember you baby. I have a few photos of Gabriel, but not ones I often share with just anyone. When we were asked to submit photos for the slideshow tonight I kind of stopped for a minute, but then I remembered my sand photo my sister took for me. She lives on the Windward Shore of Hawaii and there is a beach there designated as a place of ‘quiet reflection’. I love how it turns out- I’ve used that photo when I made a collage of my kids photos. It is a way to include Gabriel in our family photo collage.

I like to do scrapbooks, and on his angel day I take a picture of the sky that day and then I scrapbook that.



III. WHEN TO HAVE TRADITIONS?


A. CONTINUED PARENTING: The first I heard of this was Kara Jones on kotapress.com. You still have a connection with your child even though your child has died. You are still a parent even if your child is not with you.

Have a special place for your baby- can be area of your home or garden. One reason I am attending this conference is that SHARE is the only place in the world I am known solely for being Gabriel’s mom. He has brought me many friends I would not have met otherwise. That is my place with him.
Special time of day, week or year- sunrise, full moon. Can be time of day or yearyour baby was born. Sunday candles
Wear Jewelry with special significance
Angel Gardens/ Butterfly Gardens- butterfly bush, stepping stones, painted rocks
Symbols that have special meaning to your family- butterflies, ladybugs
Quotes/ Poems collection- special book, journal or scrapbook
Sponsor A Child (overseas)
Kindness Project- do good deeds in memory of your child
Scrapbooking Your Baby- ongoing scrapbook with your letters to your baby, notes about things you do in their memory, photos of the sky
Family Photos- include your baby with a symbol or stuffed animal
Tattoos


B. HOLIDAYS

Holidays have rich associations because they were created as a way to honor and celebrate those things that are truly important. We step out of our everyday routines and pause. On these days our connections to others matter above all else.

There is often the sense that someone is missing. Especially difficult are family gatherings and traditional holidays. It is common to feel great loss at the realization that your baby will never experience these holidays and special days with your family. However, it is possible to make some memories that do include your baby. Let’s look at some holidays and everyday things to do to include your baby in your family’s traditions.

Whole first year is full of ‘should have beens’ as you experience milestone dates or holidays. It is very obvious your baby is gone. You can keep their memory close by by remembering them on these dates. There are also ways to remember them everyday in your family activities. Your baby does not need to be forgotten.

Easter
Visit cemetery, discuss resurrection
Leave easter eggs at cemetery on other babies graves with a kind word to their parents
Pinwheels

Mother’s Day/Father’s Day
Gift from baby
Special jewelry items, bracelets, keychains
Card exchange

ORIGIN Mothers Day was originally intended as a call to unite women against war after the civil war. It was to remember Mothers whos sons had died in the Civil War. 1870 Julia Ward Howe wrote a proclamation as a call for peace. It started as a ceremony of bereavement and then as a movement for peace and action to stop the senseless deaths of children everywhere. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on May 10, 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. From there, the custom caught on- spreading eventually to 45 states. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

Kara Jones Quote: “Our society can commercialize all they want. Because in my heart of hearts I know the real meaning of this day came from pain, loss, and grief -- the same things I feel on any given Mothers Day. And from now on, when people urge me to celebrate the day, I will tell them this:

I'll celebrate with you as long as you will first mourn with me. It is the combination of the two that lends itself to the true meaning of Mothers Day!”


October- all month long, and particularly Oct 15th
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
Tie pink or blue ribbons around trees
Ask local radio and tv stations to have them announce that October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
Write an article and submit it to your local newspapers.
Sponsor flowers in memory of your baby in a church service or hospital.
Participate in a memory walk or memorial service.
Release butterflies, doves or balloons
Send off a pink or blue balloon with your Angel’s name and/or picture

Instead of Halloween, Day of the Dead
On November 1st in Mexico we celebrate the Day of the Death. Families create altars in memory of their loved ones and place in there pictures, their favorite foods and drinks, flowers. poems. Though the subject matter may be considered morbid from the perspective of some other cultures, celebrants typically approach the Day of the Dead joyfully. The traditional mood is much brighter with emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, and celebrating the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.

Thanksgiving- (or any family dinner event)
send thankful letters instead of Christmas cards
have a toast to remember all those not sitting at the table with you
leave an empty chair at the table, or place a rose across the place setting at that chair
if it is too painful to attend a big family celebration SKIP IT this year! Do what you need to do

DECEMBER:
DEC 6 Candlelight Ceremony
Angel of Hope Statue: Candlelight ceremonies at Angel statues around the country. Can find more info at http://caseproof.com/rpe/angels.php as well as a list of locations.

Located in a quiet, garden setting, Blanchette Park, St. Charles, Missouri is home to the National Share Office Angel of Hope. The angel's face is that of a child, its arms raised as a child waiting to be lifted. In its wing is inscribed the word Hope. The Angel of Hope, an exact replica of the Christmas Box Angel statue, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, stands as a symbol of hope for all parents who have experienced the death of a child.
To honor our children's memories, memorial bricks are being placed around the base of the Angel of Hope statue with separate walkways extending in various directions from the base of the statue. The statue and surrounding area is intended to be a place of peace and healing for all bereaved parents.
The memorial bricks are placed around the Angel of Hope twice a year in a brick dedication ceremony, held in April, before Mother's Day and Father's Day, and in November, in time for the holiday season. (contact SHARE for more info on bricks)


Dec- 2nd Sunday National Children's Memorial Day happens every year on the second Sunday of December and is observed internationally to honor the 80,000 children who die each year.. Families around the world light candles at 7 p.m. in their corresponding time zones. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe. This remembrance ceremony provides the world with lit candles for an entire 24 hour period in order to honor the children we have lost, the children who lived and died, and who, even in death, continue to matter.

Christmas-
Ornaments- buy a special one for your baby

Stocking for your baby- ask friends and family to do an act of service in memory of your baby and send you an email. Place the emails in your baby's stocking and open them as gifts on Christmas morning
Angel Giving Tree- buy and donate gifts for children that will not get many
Sunrise Breakfast
Christmas cards that include your baby- use a special punch or sticker in shape of star, butterfly, dragonfly, ladybug
Candles

C. SPECIAL FAMILY DAYS

‘Angelversaries’-

Angelversary n. 1. This word denotes the annual date of a child's death. This day is just as important to a bereaved parent as a birthday, and stillbirth parents are marking both birth and death on the same day. So it is different than a regular birthday. While "anniversary" might work, that often seems to celebratory a word for this kind of day. Angelversary is our answer to describing this most difficult day. (excerpt from Dictionary of Loss)

Some ideas:
watch the sunrise,
thank your doctor and nurses (if applies)
write a letter to your baby
Sky photos- sunrise, or sunset photos
Kindness project- Random Acts of Kindness, leave flowers anonymously
Attend a Mass or other religious events
Buy a brick engraved with your baby’s name (SHARE Angel of Hope statue)
Put an Ad in paper
Balloon release
Butterfly release
Birthday cake- candles
Build a Bear
Stuffed animals in family photos
Write a letter to your baby
Kindness Project: flowers for random people, leave big tip for waitresses, pay for person behind you

D. SERVICE PROJECTS & FUNDRAISERS

Memory Boxes to hospital
Blanket projects- provide blankets to babies
Hospital Bereavement Projects- make gowns
Sporting Event: angelmaxch (Stacy) on SHARE mom to Maxwell Christopher s/b 6/27/03 at 26 weeks It is fairly simple to organize the night. I call the Phillies as soon as group tickets go on sale and reserve about 200 tickets (we usually have about 150 people attend). I put a downpayment on the tickets (it is non-refundable, so I have to be careful about how many I buy! lol). We send out the invitations to everyone we know with a response card and a stamped envelope. We need all of our responses 1 month before the game. I think the hardest part is doing the seating chart -- we try to put our families together and groups of friends together, so it gets a little crazy sometimes (like doing your seating chart for your wedding!!)

March of Dimes
Other ideas: donate rocking chair to NICU, books to library, buy a bench at a garden (butterfly bench)

III. CONCLUSION

The jouney of grief is difficult. Be compassionate with yourself and don’t judge yourself or set your expectations too high. Let your grief be what it is, and let yourself be who you are, now with your new normal.

By creating traditions that bring the family closer, parents can strengthen the bond between family members and teach important principles they want their children to understand and live by.

When you start a tradition it is not so important WHAT it is, as long as it has MEANING FOR YOU

Your babies are always with you

I had sent this out in my newsletter this month but wanted to post it here too. Do you get my newsletter? I only send it once a month- you can subscribe right there on my side bar.

I wanted you to know about this awesome study going on at Tufts University. They have discovered that with each pregnancy (no matter if it results in a live birth or not) the mother's body gets white blood cells from their baby. These cells are active cells in our body- they show up to heal infections, even.

Maybe there is something more to 'Mother's Intuition'. We are changed, forever, with each pregnancy, with each child. A little part of them are always with us.

peace-
emily

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BP/USA: Butterfly Release









On Sunday morning they had a butterfly release- has anyone ever attended one? The butterflies come in these little triangles of paper and you can feel and hear them fluttering to get out of there. You have to hold them carefully in order not to damange the butterflies.

When you open the papers, some of the butterflies take off- up and away. Some of them flutter and land on nearby people (this less than flattering shot of me is because Eric's mom's butterfly landed on me and I was trying to hold real still) And some of them come out and then land on the ground and kind of flop around for a bit as they warm up and get going. My daughter's butterfly did that- it was pretty traumatic as we didn't know if maybe it was hurt or damaged but we were able to pick him up and put him on the bush nearby and he finally found his wings.

Here's the symbolic part- I thought of these little butterflies struggling, confused, trapped in the darkness and then released to fly free and beautiful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

BP/USA: Ron Villano

Over the course of the weekend we had the opportunity to attend several workshops (4 per day). The one I was presenting wasn't until the second day at the very last time slot. I was going to attend the workshop before mine in that room so I was there already to set up and avoid the stress. The plus was it was something that interests me- Grief 5 years Later.

So I was sitting there comfortably and as I was flipping through the schedule a workshop caught my eye- Embrace the Power by Ron Villano. My legs got me up and out of that chair and out of that room before I knew what I was doing. I just felt I had to attend that workshop. Has something like that ever happened to you? I try to not question my instincts, too much (and my apologies to the presenters of the other workshop as I jetted out of there too quickly to explain. Although I have no idea what I would have said. 'Sorry, gotta go!' They probably thought I was running to the bathroom, lol)

Ron is an interesting guy. Very dynamic. Very Italian. There was a lot of energy in that room. And it was packed.

The overall theme of his presentation is to 'Honor your loved one's life by living yours'. I like this a lot. It reminds me of the idea was have talked about before- Creating our Children's Legacy Our kids are not here to create their own legacy so we are doing it for them. He speaks in honor of his son Michael who was killed in a car accident.

Then also he has some rubber band bracelet wristbands- one says 'I choose to' and one says 'So What?'. The 'I choose to' reminds me of that discussion we had about 'I get to..' And the 'So What' is to remind you that it doesn't really matter what people think. If they think you are handling your grief incorrectly or you should be over it by now, or whatever. That is the answer for them. So what.

If you want to pop on over to visit his site it is RonVillano.com and he's got a book called The Zing

BP/USA: Grief Watch

We just got back from the Bereaved Parents of the USA Conference. It was a hard weekend, but I'm glad I went. I presented a workshop on Family Traditions: Making Memories that Include Your Child- I'll post that here in a bit. Most of the attendees had children that were older (twenties, thirties) but the one thing that struck me is this: Our kids are always our babies, no matter how old they are.

I'm going to do a few posts on workshops I attended and review the books I got in the bookstore. But can I show you my very favorite item I purchased? This little "Comfee Doll".




And also this shirt:



I just now realized both of those items are from the same site: GriefWatch.com When I went to their site to get the links, I realize that the director is Pat Schwiebert. She is the author of the book they gave me in the hospital- the book that helped so much and really made a huge difference.

When I found out Gabriel had no heartbeat, it was terrible. But the most horrifying part of it was when my doctor told me I was going to the hospital to be induced. I just wanted it to go away. I thought.

They gave me a copy of the book
When Hello Means Goodbye
and I spent 3 days waiting for Gabriel to be born. In that time, this small book turned my thinking around. It reminded me this was going to be my only chance to do some things to parent my child. This book is the reason I was able to hold Gabriel, and the reason I thought to invite his grandparents to come to the hospital to see and hold him. This book was there at a critical time and I am so thankful for it.

She is also the author of another book I bought at the BP/USA conference bookstore: Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After a Loss I really like this book. It is the story of a woman dealing with her grief by making 'Tear Soup'. Here is the recipe:

Grandy's Recipe For Tear Soup- serves one
one pot full of tears
one heart willling to be broken open
a dash of bitters
a bunch of good friends
many handfulls of comfort food
a lot of patience
buckets of water to replace the tears
plenty of exercise
a variety of helpful reading material
enough self care
season with memories
optional: one good therapist and/or support group

Directions:
Choose the size pot that fits your loss. It's ok to increase pot size if you miscalculated. Combine ingredients. Set the temperature for a moderate heat. Cooking times will vary depending on the ingredients needed. Strong flavors will mellow over time. Stir often. Cook no longer than you need to.

Suggestions:
be creative
trust your instincts
cry when you want to, laugh when you can.
freeze some soup to use as a starter for next time
keep your own soup making journal so you won't forget

Sunday, July 5, 2009

This and That

I just wanted to point you in the direction of the SHARE newsletter for this month. It is really quite excellent on making memories, including memorial gardens, journaling, creative arts and my own Aloha Remembered site

I hope you'll get a chance to check it out.

Also, speaking of SHARE, my friend Rose sent me this in an email this week:

How To Plant Your Garden

First, you Come to the garden alone,
while the dew is still on the roses...




FOR THE GARDEN OF YOUR DAILY LIVING,
PLANT THREE ROWS OF PEAS:



1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul





PLANT FOUR ROWS OF SQUASH:

1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness





PLANT FOUR ROWS OF LETTUCE:

1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another




NO GARDEN IS WITHOUT TURNIPS:


1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another




TO CONCLUDE OUR GARDEN WE MUST HAVE THYME:


1. Thyme for each other
2.. Thyme for family
3.. Thyme for friends


WATER FREELY WITH PATIENCE
AND CULTIVATE WITH LOVE.
THERE IS MUCH FRUIT IN YOUR GARDEN BECAUSE
YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.
NOT BAD, HUH?!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sweet Pea Stones


My friend Stephanie over at the Sweet Pea Project has a new project called Sweet Pea Stones

The Sweet Pea Project started when Stephanie's daughter Madeline was stillborn at 41 weeks. Stephanie has been able to do great good by returning to the hospital where Madeline was born and speaking to the staff about what she appreciated and what she regretted. One of her regrets was that she did not get to keep the blanket Madeline had been wrapped in during the time she and her husband held their daughter.

The Sweet Pea Project has been collecting blankets to donate to grieving parents who will leave the hospital without their babies. Her newest project is the Sweet Pea Stones- sweet little garden stones sculpted with your baby's name.

I hope you will visit her site and help support this wonderful cause. There are so many regrets when you lose a baby- not having a blanket to remember your time with your baby should not be one of them.

peace-
emily

Friday, July 3, 2009

Under the Tree



This month is kind of a getting to know you post over at Under the Tree

Hair Color: Currently brownish reddish but last time I went to the salon I went crazy and got a few bright burgandy extentions

Eye color: brown

Profession: I've got about 8 jobs; it makes my tax guy crazy. Some include production assistant for The Real Estate Book, recording secretary for a homes corp, and working at a theater camp for kids during the summer. I have my daycare license. I make about 100 bucks a year at each of them

Relationship status: Married


My Favorites:

Favorite color: black for clothes. red for food

Favorite movie: Happy Gilmore is one I always stop on if I'm flipping channels and come across it

Favorite animal: wild birds

Favorite store: 7-11. I love the quick snack fix available 24/7

Favorite childhood memory: One year the first morning of spring break we were all hanging around and my mom said "Hey, do you guys feel like going down to Florida? Go get your stuff" and we grabbed our swim suits and packed a quick bag and hopped in the car. It is like a 15 hour drive from Maryland to Daytona Beach ;0)

Favorite hobby: reading

Favorite song/singer: What I Like About You by the Romantics and Come On, Eileen by Dixies Midnight Runners. 80's stuff

Favorite book/author: so many, so many but maybe A Prayer for Owen Meany and then the Outlander series

Favorite school subject: English, I guess, but I was an Anthropology major

Favorite vacation destination: any hotel with room service

Favorite food: mini snickers bars

Favorite restaurant: Bob Evans or anywhere to get breakfast for dinner. I love biscuits and gravy


This or That


Coke or pepsi : I used to drink a ton of diet cola but haven't been able to take it at all since my last pregnancy. weird

Beer or wine: neither

Coffee or tea: neither

Apple Juice or O.J.: OJ real watered down with ice

Summer or Winter: winter but really fall

Cats or dogs: neither, I'm allergic (and by that I mean I dislike them. You say you dislike animals and people think you are one step up from being a mass murderer. You say you are allergic and people feel sorry for you)

Salty or sweet: sweet. and by that I mean chocolate

Plane or boat: plane

Morning or night: morning

Money or love: I'd love to have money

Breakfast or dinner: breakfast for dinner

Forgiveness or revenge: duh

House or apartment: townhouse

Like to cook: no


Have You Ever:


Got a speeding ticket: Yes,

Wished you were someone else: not usually

Cried during a movie: yes. lots

Describe yourself in one word:

Biggest fear: fire. running out of time. dinosaurs. sharks

Biggest mistake: not enjoying my 20s when I was there

Your proudest accomplishment: traveled around Europe by myself.

Dream job: getting paid to travel- writing guidebooks or reviewing resorts or something

Special talents: I don't know. I can usually see both sides of an issue

Where would you rather be at the moment: getting a pedicure. Or back in bed for a nap.

Famous person you want to meet: Stephen King. David Letterman. the Mythbusters guys

Song to be played at your funeral: God be With You til We Meet Again