Death of a child

Mamas on Bedrest: Silence can be Golden

January 27th, 2014

Good Monday Morning, Mamas!

When it comes to someone who is grieving, silence is golden and less can definitely can be more.  As I told you last week, a friend lost her 20 something daughter and it has sent me and the women in my women’s group into a tailspin. We have been consumed by how we can help her, what can we possibly do to make this time better for her. The truth is, there is really nothing that we can do to make this time better for her. It sucks and will likely suck for a really long time-likely forever. But Regena Thomashaur, the infamous Mama Gena of the School of Womanly Arts, offered an excellent article published in the New York Times by David Brooks. I strongly encourage you to read this article, tuck it away and refer to it when someone you love is grieving, or, and I hope this doesn’t happen to any of you, in the event that you encounter a loss. Here are the highlights:

Do Be There: So often people think that the grieving familly needs space. Nothing could be further from the truth! Coming and sitting with someone who is grieving (or in despair on bed rest!!) is so comforting. You don’t need to say anything. You don’t have to have any answers. Your presence is your present. Please share this priceless gift!!

Don’t Compare-Ever! Grief is not a game of tit for tat or one upmanship. The events your are witnessing are very profound for the person who is experiencing them. You may empathize, and you may have an equally profound experience. But allow your loved one to have their experience, simply be a witness to their experience and their journey.

Bring Soup-You may not know what to say, but if you notice something that can be done, do it! Dishes need washing? Wash them. Groceries needed? Get a list and go grocery shopping. Anything that you can do will be appreciated, and many times its those subtle, non-verbal expressions of love and support that have the most impact and are never forgotten.

Don’t Say You’ll Get Over It!-When someone suffers a devasting loss, they will never get over it! They will forever be changed by the event. They will move on from it, they will learn to live with the results of the event. But they will never get over it. Respect that your loved one is forever changed and that they will develop a new “normal” to which both you and they will have to adapt.

Be a Builder-This is quite possibly my favorite suggestion of all of the suggestions in this article. When a catastrophic event happens, everyone rushes in and wants to help. After the immediate surge of activity; the initial loss and the ceremonies that ensue, the family is still left with grief and sorry. It is then, after all of the “appropriate” steps have been taken, after all the socially and morally correct displays of grief, sorrow and comfort have been displayed, that the family is often left to fend for themselves. In this article, David Brooks refers to these people as “Fire Fighters”. They rush in at the time of crisis, provide emergency assistance and are then on their way. A “Builder” is someone who is there long after the intial emergency response. They stay for as long as it takes for the family to get back on their feet and they move along with the family as they establish a new “normal”. Builders are needed as much if not more than “emergency responders.”

Don’t say, “It’s all for the best” or try to make sense out of the situation-When I had my second miscarriage, I recall someone saying to me, “Well, it’s probably for the best. This baby wasn’t developing well and probably would have had a lot of problems.” Really?? I know many parents of special needs children and while it is a daily struggle, I don’t know of any of them who would rather be without their child. But this is not the point (except to say that this is a totally absurd thing to say!). When tragedies strike, don’t try to lighten the impact or make sense of it. It hurts and that is all there is to it! It’s not for the best, it simply happened. Be with the family in the moment.

 

I want to emphasize that this is an amazing list of very useful tips for dealing with those loved ones going through the grieving process. It is my sincerest hope that none of you mamas ever has to share this list with loved ones as they are trying to comfort you, but I do hope that when you go to comfort another-and life is such that you will be called on to comfort another-you have some really useful tools to guide you as to what to do. Be well mamas!!

 

Mamas on Bedrest: When a Mama Loses a Child

January 20th, 2014

Grieving mother and grandmotherMy friend’s daughter died yesterday. I have a very heavy heart today as a result.

I hesitated to write this blog as I didn’t want to be a “downer”. But loss is a part of life. I experienced the loss of 2 pregnancies and was devastated. And while I will in no way attempt to compare the loss of my 2 pregnancies with my friend’s loss of her 20 something daughter, I feel a pain in my heart for her as a mama.

The loss of a child is unfathomable, yet each year thousands of mamas endure this heartbreak. We, the friends of my friend, are doing what we can to surround her with love without being smothering. Right now there is a lot of family around and arrangements are being made. So we have made the decision to be present, but for now, to step back and to allow my friend and her family to do what they need to do. Then, in the coming  weeks when all of the “formalities” are complete, be present as much as she’ll allow.

One of the things that was critical for me when I was moving through my miscarriags was to have people to turn to and to lean on much later in the grieving process. People are wonderful intially. But I found that months later I was still sad and many people didn’t get that. I am so grateful for the friends who, even 9 months later, were willing to sit with me and allow me to cry over my loss. My friend is going to need a lot of support in the coming months, far more than I needed and perhaps even professional help to navigate this process. It will likely take my friend years to come to terms with the loss of her daughter – if she ever really does. My aunt says that she still feels sadness over the loss of my cousin and he passed away at 43  years old in 2001.

So what does this have to do with Mamas on Bedrest?

Our commmunity has been very VERY fortunate in that we have not experienced many losses. To date, I know of only one mama whose bed rest experience did not result in a live birth (if there are others, please let us know how we can support you.). We support eachother, offer tips and to date, it seems to have had a positive impact. Granted, we are a relatively small community, but I do believe that our community has played a role in mamas being able to survive the rigors of bed rest and to endure the unending days of boredom and monotony.

I have written about pregnancy loss and the loss of a child before. For those of you mamas who have lost a pregnancy or a young child (infant) I want to call your attention to some grief resources found in a previous blog. They are wonderful and while not for every one, perhaps you’ll find something of benefit. Lastly, I’d like to invite you to join our community. We are a wonderful group of women and the love, support and wisdom never ceases to amaze me. Feel free to post comments here on the blog or send private messages to info@mamasonbedrest.com.

Please keep my friend and her family in your prayers.  Thanks so much.

Mamas on Bedrest: Heartbreak for 3 Mamas

January 16th, 2012

Ever begin reading something that so grosses you out yet you can’t put it down? That is how I felt reading, “Death On Ice” an article in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Men’s Journal.

According to this well written article by Jeff Tietz, in the Span of 16 weeks last year, the National Hockey League saw 3 of its players-Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard-die. Belek and Rypien took their own lives. At this time, it is unsure if Boogard took his own life but with a substance abuse problem and depression, odds are moving in this direction.

These were big guys, “enforcers”, guys paid to go out onto the ice and “beat down” players on the other team in defense of players on their own teams. They played little hockey. Their main task was to “defend” the honor of their teams. But the repeated blows to the head that each man endured likely contributed to his demise. The article describes how each of these men had likely suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) a brain disease often connected to massive blows to the head and is known to exacerbate if not cause depression, rage, addiction and memory loss.

The article described and showed photos of, often in more detail than I was used to stomaching, gruesome bare knuckled battles between these (off the ice) “gentle giants”, colleagues and friends . The last to lose his life, Derek Boogaard, was a mere 29 years old but holds the dubious distinction of delivering the most devastating blow in hockey history. In a battle with another enforcer from an opposing team, Boogaard delivered a punch of such force that it shattered opponent Todd Fedoruk’s face, shattering his eye orbits, his cheek, jaw and his nose. Plastic surgeons had to reconstruct Fedoruk’s face using titanium plates.

I’m no hockey fan. I’m neither a fan nor a subscriber of Men’s Journal. The subject matter made me physically ill as I read it and more than once I felt as though I would throw up. But in the midst of reading about the brutal battles and the sad endings of all of these young men, I couldn’t help but think aboout their mamas.

As I sat there, watching and waiting while the dentist applied sealants to my almost 6 year old son’s molars, I couldn’t help but wonder, did Mrs. Belak, Mrs. Rypien and Mrs. Boogaard ever imagine in their wildest dreams that their darling baby boys’ lives would end in such tragedy? The irony wasn’t lost on me. As I sat there waiting while my son’s dentist applied sealants to his 6 year molars, I swallowed hard when I read that one player had lost 7 teeth during his career in Hockey. When I considered all that I went through to conceive and carry my babies to term, I just can’t fathom them being involved in such brutatlity. Did Mrs. Belak, Mrs. Rypien and Mrs. Boogaard ever imagine?

Mrs. Belak, Mrs. Rypien and Mrs. Boogaard were mamas just like you and me. I don’t know if any of them had difficult pregnancies or were on bed rest, so I don’t know if they endured steroids, repeat ultrasounds and the fear that comes with knowing that you may lose a child that you desperately want. But I am willing to bet that they did all within their power to bring their baby boys into this world. I know that they loved them beyond measure. And I say without hesitation that they nurtured their boys to manhood. Perhaps they nursed them as babies. They changed their diapers, held their hands as they learned to walk, stroked their cheeks when they were sad or ill, kissed boo boos and soothed all the ills of childhood. They may have even been the ones to teach their sons to ice skate; on ponds and rinks in their hometowns, their young sons wobbly and weaving as they learned to balance. I am sure that they were as proud and thrilled as anyone when “their boys” made it into the National Hockey League. What mama doesn’t want her child to live his dreams? But I wonder if their joy turned to dismay and then sheer horror when they realized what their “baby boys” were being asked to do.

As I sat there, looking at my own little boy, my heart just broke for these women. I can’t imagine anyone hitting my son, and not with the force and intensity that these men endured! When I look at my son’s smooth, cherubic face with the scrawly adult teeth growing in and I know that I could kill anyone who even looks at him cross-eyed! I suppose this’ll change as he gets older, but I wonder if these mamas felt that way? And what of Todd Fedoruk’s mama? She must have been horrified when she saw her baby’s shattered, bloodied face.

The National Hockey League is reviewing it’s policies and procedures in light of these deaths . So far, there has been no ruling on the role of “enforcers” and the brain trauma these men endure (let alone the depression, substance abuse and behavioral disorders).  But one can’t ignore the fact that the repeated blows that these men’s bodies endure-the brain not withstanding-is brutal and had to have been contributory if not causal to all of their deaths. Boogaard’s family has donated his brain to Boston’s Center for the Study of  Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE). Perhaps Boogaard will contribute more in death to hockey than he was able to contribute as an actual player to the sport.

Somehow I doubt that will be much comfort to his mama or to Mrs. Belek or to Mrs. Rypien. From all of us here at Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, our hearts go out to you on the lost of your baby boys.

Additional information on the tragic life and death of Derek Boogaard came from Nick Coleman.