Month: May 2014

Making and Changing Meaning


Make meaning.

In the support group I went to for parental bereavement one man shared about the meaning of the pain he felt for losing his daughter. When people, in a well-meant attempt to console say, “time heals all wounds” he realised that he did not want this wound to heal as it was his way to be connected to his daughter.

During the first week after giving birth, while still in hospital and having my younger twin still laying in the baby’s morgue upstairs, I had someone saying those exact words to me. I know he meant well and in his world these words must have had meaning, but they just clashed harshly with the raw and open wound in my heart.

Besides the fact that this cliché is, in my opinion, totally uncalled for to say to recently bereaved parents it is an interesting neurological connection that happens when all we remember about our babies who died too soon is the pain we felt in those moments. The pain of not being able to see the child grow up, celebrate birthdays, see their first steps, hear their first words…

It is normal to loop around those saddening thoughts of missing and missing out. If this however is your only experience you might want to ask yourself about the meanings you have created so far and whether they still serve you.

I could write a book about the thoughts that were running through my brain at that time. This is part of why experiencing grief is so tiring, emotionally, mentally and physically. The amount of energy we spend on playing through those movies is huge. It takes a toll on our life. It definitely didn’t help the tiredness of sleepless nights that I experienced while breast-feeding my dead baby’s twin sister.

Some bereaved parents have started charities, fundraiser or made other contributions in the name of their babies who died. Some have come created a meaning of leaving a legacy in their child’s name or living a life to make their child proud. This might take a while, or it might not.

Creating meaning is an advantage we, as conscious human beings, have. The meaning of being pregnant will be different if you are 17 and didn’t plan it to when you’re 40 and just had your 13th attempt at IVF (in vitro fertilization). The meaning of having a child will be different if you know you are a single mum to when you know you have the full support of a loving husband and grandparents.

We create meaning. Even in the examples above the meaning from one person will be different the meaning of another experiencing the same.

Stay tuned to the forthcoming book Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple with its full chapter on Making and Changing Meanings –> check for updates

Some of the amazing fundraiser and charity and other contributions are:

Please mention your fundraiser, charity or other contribution in the comments!
Photo: Michael Goh, Perth


How Long Are You Meant to Grieve?


Photo Credit: Michael Goh, Perth

I’ve been pondering the question: How long are we meant to grieve? Not due to society or other things outside of ourselves.
How long are you meant to grieve for yourself?
How long are you meant to do or not do anything?

I read the following words this week. They might help you ponder your timeline of grief:

What is your experience? As much as others experience too…
In some way you
Might never ‘get over’ important loss
It will inevitably change you
You do however have the choice
Whether this change is for the better

Sometimes the weight of your grief
Overcomes you
One day will be better
One day worse
Allow it
And feel the pain

You will notice
That you doubt your resilience
Be patient
And become clear that grief
Even though it needs time
Brings healing in the end

Allow yourself to feel better again
To laugh with friends and have fun
Your life is full and fulfilled
To live is not an unfaithful betrayal of a memory
But a fulfilment of a promise to someone
Who only wishes the best for you

There might be a small place within you
Which will remain void
Appreciate its value
A stillness
An emptiness remaining may be the way
To keep in connection with them

If you feel
That your pain has robbed your life
Of any direction, purpose or joy
Reveal your emptiness
Take note
Write, talk, live

Life counts,
No matter how long or short it is
And it remains
Trust yourself and your heart
And that your life
Counts too, today, everyday

It may seem
That you never again will be happy
Be sure, that you will be
And that your joy will have a richness and depth
That knows is stems from your deep pain and your deepest healing.

Remember the reasons to live
There will be reasons now
You have got a future ahead of you
That is worth to persevere
And you deserve to find renewed purpose and joy in your life.

Remember your self, grieve… but also live.



The Gift to Myself


It is Time.

As part of the writing for my forthcoming book “Grieving Parents – Surviving Loss As A Couple” I have been conducting many interviews with other bereaved parents. I have spoken to fathers and mothers in various relationship structures at the time and following their loss.

I have been giving a Gift to Myself. Let me tell you how:

Communicating with these beautiful parents I noticed the way in which my whole body relaxed. Reflecting on their experience, opening into their emotions and truly being present to them allowed me to realise those aspect of my journey that somehow resonated. Even though the stories might not have been similar, there was a recognition on another level. My neurology settled and calmed down. Thoughts like “Ok, so that’s normal” or “Me too” or simply nodding my head in agreement where signs of recognition.

Recently I have been re-listening to those interviews and even though I knew their story, I noticed this calming effect again.

That wasn’t exactly my story but there is so much I can relate to.

– Sean Hanish

Speaking to Sean Hanish, director and producer of the first feature film on Stillbirth “Return To Zero” he expressed the exact same experience while talking to people he recently met on the premiere of his film. Carrie and Jonathan Fisher-Pascual confirmed this from their work with bereaved parents for their Project STILL.

Isn’t it time to stop thinking of bereaved parents as a bunch of sad people and learn how to be emphatic with them, with us? Start with yourself, if you are a bereaved parent and connect, communicate with others who understand and together let’s tell the world.