book: responding to grief

I am here now

griefquoteI have been sharing a lot here on this blog about my journey with grief. I also want to share with you the journey towards the beautiful gift that came with it: the publishing of my first book Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple

The intent of the book is to allow couples to work towards a healthy grieving process, even while they are in it. I envisage parents receiving so much understanding, acceptance and support by reading the book, that they feel encouraged to share it with others. I envisage these parents to donate books to hospitals, bereavement centres, social work departments, OB offices etc of their choice, in honour of their baby/child.

The planned publication date is Sept, 1st 2014 – in honour of the birth of my daughters Ananda Mae, turning three this year and Amya Mirica, always in our hearts.

¸.•´*¨`*•✿ Nathalie Himmelrich
❥ My website: www.nathaliehimmelrich.com
❥ About the book: www.grievingparents.net

~ share to care ♥ care to share ~

I am here now
Grief has made me more real
more myself than I have ever been
I can be true to myself
and disappoint another
because I stood eye to eye with death
I handed over my daughter
to be the soaring spirit
she was meant to be
and even though I was disappointed
(and that’s mildly put)
I knew she was and always has been
True to her own soul
~ Nathalie Himmelrich

The quote is part of the interview series on ‘Grieving Parents dealing with the Loss of their Child’ which will become part of the forthcoming book ‘Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple’. Find out more about the book on the links above and the following FB pages:
http://www.facebook.com/grievingparents.net
http://www.facebook.com/nathaliehimmelrich

Photo by Luch Bernhard Photography, Byron Bay

Making and Changing Meaning

Quote_on_picture

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 www.GrievingParents.net 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

 

Happy AND Grieving?

... with or without you?

… with or without you?

Not possible. Some say. Others experience it.

I had first hand experience of being happy AND grieving at the same time from day 1 of my grieving journey.

Ananda Mae, my older twin was with me and I was learning to be a new mum.
Amya Mirica, my younger twin had passed away in my arms and I was learning to a be a bereaved mum. The reality was that both experiences of joy and melancholy, laughter and tears, happiness and sadness lived side by side. Adoring a baby, feeling the immensity of love at the very same time at falling into the abyss of sadness over her identical twin sister never growing up together, holding hands and giggling together. If you cannot imagine this, here is what it looks like.

I do not believe that is BECAUSE I had twins. I believe this is because the apparently opposite emotional states live on different sides of the same coin => life.

Many grieving parents have written about ‘feeling guilty’ of their laughter or wondering “how I can I ever be happy knowing that my child has died?”
Can you? Should you? Must you? Do you WANT to? Would you child want you to be happy again?

The post of WordPress’ Daily Prompts has reminded me to write what I had in my mind for some time: What does happiness post loss look like to you?

This is why I’m writing. Not just this and other blogs, but also the book:

GRIEVING PARENTS – Surviving Loss As A Couple

This book is not a memoir about my loss. It is neither a book written from the perspective of a therapist having worked with countless clients experiencing loss. There are plenty of books out there, if you are looking for one of those.
This book is focusing on the effect parental bereavement has on the parents and their relationship. It is about surviving loss as a couple and the remerging of grief into a life of joy and melancholy, laughter and tears, happiness and sadness. Not either or but AND.

Great resources to find happiness again:

Open Letter to Mum and Hope

~ AMY & Mimi ~

~ AMY & Mimi ~

Dear Mum,

We are coming up to Christmas again and I’ve been thinking…
Today, as we walked through the village, I realised that yesterday was probably the first 19th of the month that I didn’t consciously think of it being 23 months since you left us, Mum. Just minutes later I heard the church bells ring, which always remind me of your funeral, as if they were asking: “And?” Another minute later I ran into the priest who spoke on your funeral which was the first time I met him since then. I smile and shake my head in the realisation of these elements converging in time.

Truth is that this week I have been saying that I found a ‘good place’ with you, Mum, not being here physically anymore. 23 months later. There are other challenges and disappointing expectations that I have to let go of that resulted from your departure but they are mine, not yours, not because of you.

Dear Hope,

A week ago, I had been asked the question again: “How many children do you have?” and I heard myself answer “One.”  A minute later I corrected myself and told the story of Hope & Passion. Even though I didn’t really know the person who was asking it was clear that sitting across a table having dinner the conversation sooner or later would reveal that “one” as the answer wasn’t the full truth. And, I don’t like to omit your presence, even from a ‘stranger’.

So where am I in regards to you, I wonder. Hm, I don’t think of ‘missing’ you every day, like I used to. You are present every day, whether it is in conversations with AMY or in my last thought before going to sleep, as I gaze upon the picture of me holding you, which is in line of sight. I think of you with reference and gratitude.

It is however still kind of hard to see people walking around with twins, more so with identical twins. I have to admit that I’m jealous of their experience of seeing the kids grow up together, every day. I decided to let go of the expectation that this will ever change and if it will, I’m welcoming that shift too.

Looking back at last Christmas, things have changed. I have changed.

My deliberate dive into Parental Bereavement in writing my book “Grieving Parents – Surviving Loss As A Couple” has done and is doing it’s work with me. I am honouring my path in what I consider one of the biggest lessons in my life: dealing with loss.

With Love, N.

The Sunshine Award

sunshine-award

The SUNSHINE Award

Thank you A Mourning Mum – with an ‘oh’ of surprise I found Living Without My Twin Sister nominated on her blog for the Sunshine Award. I have seen these kinds of awards in a few places but never really understood how they work and didn’t bother finding out. But today, I will 🙂

I found many images but not really a page explaining it so I’m going on what A Mourning Mum has said: “After looking into more information about the award it is a virtual way to connect bloggers who are talking about the same things and want to acknowledge each other.”

Given you are reading my blog posts, you might have found that even though there is the sadness of having lost my daughter, the purpose behind my blogging is to bring more LIGHT into the matter of parental bereavement and other grief. So – a bit of ‘sunshine after the storm’, as the title of the recent book of grieving mothers says, is a welcome change and a continuous endeavour with the changing November weather in Switzerland (and I can tell you WE can ALWAYS use some MORE sunshine here).

I am honoured and pleased that you (or anyone) have found my blogs helpful, supportive and inspiring.

Rules of the Sunshine Award:

  • Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post.
  • Link the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award.
  • Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

10 Questions about Me:

  • Why do you blog?   It is my desire to bring light to other grieving people. I want people to know they can and should mention Amya and my mother. Not because or how they died should hinder anyone to speak about them, they exist, not physically in this world but nevertheless they exist. 
  • What is your favorite movie? Avatar
  • What is your favorite food? Zwetschgenwähe (a kind of prune cake), swiss chocolate, raclette (Swiss melted cheese dish) 
  • What is one of your favorite quotes? -:: “Every being you meet is an angel in disguise.” ::-
  • What do you do to relieve stress? write and sleep, would love to do more exercise (yoga and pilates) but a toddler keeps me ‘running’ 
  • Who or what inspires you? Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and my friends and musicians Deva Premal and Miten
  • What is your biggest fear? My daughter Ananda Mae dying 
  • What is your biggest dream? Having my book ‘GRIEVING PARENTS – Surviving Loss As A Couple’ published and being read by people who are then helped through their process of grief
  • What is your best piece of advice? Listen to your heart, follow your heart
  • What are you most proud of? My daughters Ananda Mae and Amya Mirica and those souls that I had with me/inside of me who I was not able to carry through the whole pregnancy

My 10 Nominees

I did chose some blogs of other grieving mums but also other blogs, which have inspired me lately.

  1. A Mourning Mum – a mum growing up with 2 children here and 2 children in heaven
  2. Carly Marie Project Heal – Carly is such a beautiful humble person who is an amazing artist with a huge heart
  3. Return to Zero – The blog with stories of people’s loss
  4. Lori Does Maryland – Lori is a really grateful and inspiring mother
  5. Chasing Rainbows – a touching story of Kate’s family
  6. No Holding Back – Katie’s blog about her journey through motherhood & loss of a twin due to Twin-to-Twin Transfusion (TTTS)
  7. The Matt Walsh Blog – especially the blog post “You’re a stay at home mom? What do you DO all day?”
  8. Adam Cahill’s post on Still Standing Magazine – a father’s perspective and beautifully touching words on child loss
  9. The Conscious Heart – Janet is an amazingly insightful women, here is her blog on femininity, sexuality, relationship etc.
  10. From Passion with Love – my daughter’s blog, she was PERSISTENT begging me on her knees to be in! 😉

My 10 Questions

  • Why do you blog?
  • Who is your role model?
  • What is your favorite holiday place?
  • What is one of your favorite quotes?
  • What or who inspires you?
  • What is your biggest fear?
  • What is your biggest dream?
  • What is your best piece of advice?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • If there was one thing I could give to the world it would be…?

Thank you A Mourning Mum – you have made my day with your raw of SUNSHINE!

Everyone Wants To Write a Book

Want to OR Write a Book?

Want to OR Write a Book?

According to a study, 80% of the people interviewed said that ‘they wanted to write a book’. Besides the question about who they were interviewing it seems something I have heard a lot lately from people I know.

So here I am too: I am writing a book! 

I first wanted to write a ‘book’ when I was 12 and started writing a story in a notebook. I didn’t get far. I knew how to write a story but had no clue ‘how’ to write a book and given that ‘a’ story does not make a book, I gave up.

After many assignments and essays during my studies I started writing articles and currently I have published an amazing number of 467 articles. I have to say I’m impressed at myself, given that English is my 4th language.

Again, writing article does not make a book but here I’m NOT giving up.

Why am I writing this book?

As many grieving people have experienced, we receive some tremendous support, sprinkled with some more and some less helpful tips and some tremendously inappropriate clichés.
In order to process all my tumultuous time following my daughter’s and my mother’s death, I personally was led to write many blog posts. While I shared the deepest and rawest of my emotional roller coaster I also shared practical suggestions on how I felt best supported. So in response to what was not helpful, I also wrote about what WAS helpful and what COULD be said instead of those clichés which in fact are often just well meant attempt to ‘say something’ at a time when no words do justice.

I also had people asking me for help in their process of grief, which came naturally for me given my profession but also my personal experience.

Through all of this I have been encouraged to write more and in specific a book.

GRIEVING PARENTS BOOK – CHALLENGES TO FACE AFTER LOSS

First I didn’t know how or when or for whom really? Now I do: Grieving parents and the challenges they face as a couple in the aftermath of loss

Following weeks of research I found the perfect match between my professional experience working with clients, especially in the area of relationship challenges and grief, as well as my personal experience of the challenges in my relationships, especially the couple’s relationship following our grief. Given my research, there is plenty of material for grieving mothers, supporting children in their grief, dealing with grief in general etc. but so far I only found very few dealing with the couple’s relationship post grief, especially when losing a child as it affects both parents in some form or other. Given my personal experience I know how challenged I have and still am at times in my relationship with my husband.

What is the book about?

So here we are and this is where I need your help: If you are or know someone who is a ‘Grieving Parent’ I would LOVE you to answer my questionnaire in research for my book. A book is only as good as readers think who have READ the book. So you tell me what you want to have in the book! Here is the survey: https://de.surveymonkey.com/s/RMTP7WW

15 October – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Beautiful picture with curtesy of Carly Marie: http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/

Beautiful picture with curtesy of Carly Marie:
http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/

Today is the 15 October and this means Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day‘. The Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Movement began in the United States on October 25, 1988, when then-American President Ronald Reagan designated the month of October 1988 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

It is also with great pleasure that I would like to announce that I have narrowed down the topic of my forthcoming GRIEF BOOK: Grieving Parents
Keep looking out for news on it’s publication date in 2014!

This is  a great day to remember all the parents who have lost their babies during pregnancy, neonatal death or during infancy. Remember that grieving a child is a life-long endeavour. Remember that parents will always remember their child in whatever way or form is right for them. Remember that they won’t ‘get over it’.

If you want to know how you can help a grieving parent or understand what they might be going through, here are some good articles to read:  Wishes of an Angel’s Mum and Dad (more…)