Am I a Mother? An Answer for Grieving Moms

Am I a Mother?

Am I a Mother?

Are you spending this Mother’s Day wondering if you are, in fact, a mother? 900,000-1 million women in the U.S. alone face this question every year after suffering pregnancy loss.

“For women who experience a miscarriage during their first pregnancy, the question of motherhood is an even greater one,” says Lisa Church of HopeXchange, a company dedicated to the support of women and their families facing pregnancy loss.

Mother’s Day is the most difficult holiday a woman must face after pregnancy loss. A time that was supposed to be a celebration of a new life and a new motherhood becomes a time of sadness and grief. Church’s book, Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death, encourages women to use the holiday to remember their babies, rather than making it a dreaded event to endure each year. “Nothing will lesson the pain of Mother’s Day, but with some planning you can make sure the day has meaning for you,” says Church. Here are some tips from the book that can help:

– You Are a Mother.

The best gift you can give yourself on Mother’s Day is the acknowledgment that you are a mother. You may not have a baby to hold in your arms, but you do have one in your heart.

– Let Your Family Know What You Need.

If you feel uncomfortable being recognized as a mother at a banquet or other function, substitute an activity you would feel good about. If you would rather not receive or wear a flower, then wear an item that helps you to connect with your baby, such as a piece of jewelry that includes the baby’s birthstone.

– Remember Your Baby.

Mother’s Day can be a great time for a husband and wife to talk about their baby and what the baby meant to them. Take a walk, have a quiet dinner, or just set aside some time to remember your baby together.

– Decide Ahead of Time.

The way you chose to spend Mother’s Day should be your decision- and one you make ahead of time. Setting time aside to remember and talk about your baby will make you “feel” more like a mom on the very day designed to do that. Church also reminds women that their spouses may experience similar feelings on Father’s Day, “so be sure to ask how he would like to spend the day.”

We run this article each year to help grieving Moms handle Mother’s Day.

Self Help: Are You Practicing Emotional First Aid?

We’ve all heard of “first aid” for the body, but how about emotional first aid? We all go to the doctor when our bodies don’t feel well, but we often try to deal with our emotions and our minds without any help at all?

Watch this compelling TED Talk that focuses on our emotional health and ways to heal common heartaches.

Facing Tough Times? Music Can Soothe the Soul

music

I recently lost someone I love to cancer. We talked almost every day until her treatment took her out of state. Many of our conversations were about staying strong, having hope and our faith. I often felt helpless watching the endless procedures she endured and the unrelenting side effects of chemo.

We shared a love for music. So one of the small things I felt I could do for my friend is send her uplifting songs to listen too. Every morning I would carefully choose a song for her and text the link to her phone, along with a short message. This was my daily routine for over a year. When she went into hospice, I decided to make a playlist for her, so she could listen for hours at a time.

And then she was gone…

I miss her so terribly. There are mornings I get up and think about what song I would have sent today. In spite of my grief, I am so relieved that she isn’t suffering any more. And I know in my heart, that she is dancing around in heaven right now.

When I went to my friend’s funeral, her husband shared with me how much it meant for her to have the music. He talked about the difficult times she spent in the hospital, and how she would play the songs to get her through.

Are you going through tough times right now? I’d like to share the music with you that I sent to my friend. Here is a link to Laura’s Playlist. I hope it will uplift your spirits and bring you peace.

kloveLooking for a positive radio station? Check out K-Love. You can listen online, or look for a local station near you.

May your body and soul be well.

Heart of Darkness: Tips for Healing an Angry Heart

6 Ways to Survive Being Alone on Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we are please to welcome guest blogger Michelle Peterson to HopeXchange, with an important topic for this time of year. What if you are alone, or feel alone, on a day set aside for love and romance? Michelle has the answer!

Michelle Peterson believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.

Photo via Pixabay

Photo via Pixabay

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you can see heart-shaped candies, heart balloons, Valentine’s cards, and other trinkets everywhere you go. If you are not dating anyone special or have just recently broken up, these things will serve as a reminder that you are all by your lonesome on the most romantic day of the year. Technically, you are not actually alone – 44 percent of adult American population is single. Almost half the population of the country is sailing in the same boat as you – take heart!

Instead of hiding away on Valentine’s Day, why not celebrate your singlehood this year. Here are six amazing ways to survive being single on V-Day.

  1. Put Yourself FIrst – Be Your Own Valentine

Often, you get carried away with the entire idea of romantic love and forget to love the most important person in your life – you. Especially if you’ve had a particularly tough year or are celebrating a milestone–such as a certain number of days, weeks, months, or years’ sobriety this Valentine’s Day, why not become your own Valentine and indulge in self-love. Go for a massage, treat yourself to a movie, or just curl up with a good book. Whatever you choose, do something you enjoy that will help lift your spirits!

  1. All the Single Ladies and Gentlemen – Celebrate Friendship

Valentine’s Day is the day we celebrate love – no one specified that it has to be romantic love. Get together with all your single friends and raise a toast to your relationship status. If you are not feeling like throwing a party, spend your day with your best friend. You can spend the day playing video games, watching movies, enjoying your favorite drink, or even going out for lunch or dinner. As Kelly Wheeler rightly said, “Love is temporary… but friends are forever.”

  1. Spend Some Quality Time with Your Pooch

What better day than Valentine’s Day to recognize the furry friend who’s been giving you unconditional love all year. Take your dog to the local dog park for some play time or do some Valentine’s-inspired, dog-friendly crafting. Whatever you choose to do, they’re sure to enjoy the extra attention and the quality time with your four-legged loved one will give you a boost as well.

  1. Plan an Anti-Valentine’s Movie Night

Instead of watching the sappy romantic movies on Valentine’s Day, plan a movie marathon that is totally Anti-Valentine’s. Include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in your list as this movie is set in a world where it is possible to use a memory wipe procedure to erase painful memories of your past relationships. The best movies to watch are horror flicks – if you are scared out of your mind, you will have not time or inclination to think about anyone’s single status!

  1. Pay a Visit to Your Gym

Exercising is perhaps one of the best ways to get rid of your bad mood on Valentine’s Day. When you exercise, you release endorphins that not only reduce anxiety, but also make you feel good. Check to see if there are any classes scheduled for the V-Day. Choose the one that you have always wanted to try, but didn’t think you could manage it. When you finally come out of the class, you will be a whole lot more confident and happy.

  1. Do Absolutely Nothing – Just Chill

There is no way you can avoid all the Valentine’s Day trinkets and lovey dovey couples, when you get out of home on this day. It is not necessary that you have to make any plans, you can just sit back and relax at home. Approximately 45 percent of US households subscribe to Netflix, and if you are one of them, it is time to binge-watch all the series that you’ve been missing out on.

The best and the most simple way to survive being alone on Valentine’s Day is to make yourself feel good – so go buy flowers for yourself or get yourself a nice gift. Make it a day about you!

Christmas is About a Baby

christmas-star-77979-mAs I look back over the Christmas Holiday that just passed, there was another story of grief and loss; a baby that was never born. The grand daughter of a good friend experienced a miscarriage that was followed with three months of physical complications and pain. Her emotional saga finally came to a close with a final procedure that took place the week before Christmas.

It has been a very difficult time for the family.

I thought about how many times I have seen and heard about stories just like this one in my many years of supporting families who are dealing with the grief and loss of miscarriage. The “regularity” in which it seems to happen is striking and disheartening. It could become easy to focus on this very sad reality. But then I think about all of the new babies that I have welcomed into the world this year, and years gone by, with gifts and showers and notes of congratulations.

Just like anything else, we can choose to see the tragedy the world can bring, or the hope we all long for. During the Christmas Season we tend to turn our thoughts to the joy and peace we’d like to have all year long- not just while we attend festive parties, eat our goodies and tear open gifts with family and friends.

When the tree is taken down and the gifts have all been put away the spirit and joy of Christmas can disappear as well. It can be tough to hold on throughout the year- especially if we are dealing with grief and pain. Unless we remember that Christmas is about a baby- a baby that was born to bring us a peace and hope that does not fade when the decorations are put away. Want to know more about this baby? Would you like to know a peace that does not get packed away in attic each year? Find a pastor, rabbi, priest, church or trusted friend who can tell you more.

May you find and keep the Christmas spirit throughout 2018 and beyond.

This post is run each year during the Holiday Season. May it bring you peace in the year to come.

Why Grief Can Lead To Substance Abuse, And What You Can Do About It

HopeXchange is proud to welcome guest poster Jeff Ferris. Jeff is the founder of RehabCentersInNJ.com, New Jersey’s premiere recovery service. He is partner with a network that has helped thousands of people get back to the road of substance abuse and mental health recovery.

Over the counter pain relievers

Grief is hard for anyone to deal with, but for a mother, it can be crippling or even deadly. There is no feeling that is as devastating as losing a child.

Many people know that it’s not the way God intended it. Children outlive their parents, but few know the real pain of a mother who’s in it.

It’s sad when other people pass away, but it’s just not the same as when a woman loses the baby that she carried in her womb and loved from day one.

I write this to let you know, as a WARNING, a mother can be susceptible to drug or alcohol abuse. This isn’t a stretch of the imagination, I know. But I wanted to bring comfort and let you know the alternatives, so that when you have better days it won’t be drowned out with artificial stimuli. Instead, the better day will be a step in the right direction to make the best of your time here on Earth.

It’s logical to think you just want to turn the pain off

When you lose a child, all the dreams and plans that you had for the child are shattered within seconds.

The reality of lost dreams cuts to the core of your soul. It is so sharp and piercing that your mind fills with thoughts such as, “What can I do to just make this pain stop?”

Substances Can Work Like an on/off Emotion Switch

It’s actually quite easy for someone to turn to substances at that time, especially if they don’t have any support from others. They may not intend to abuse such substances. The initial ingestion may just be an honest attempt to dull the excruciating pain.

Unfortunately, both alcohol and drugs, even prescription drugs, can grab hold of a person quickly in terms of physical dependence. Narcotic painkillers, for example, often hook legitimate patients before they even finish their first prescription.

Imagine the temptation of a woman who loses a child in a horrific surgical process and then realizes that the very pills that the doctor prescribed her could eliminate her emotional pain. Wouldn’t she be tempted to just keep taking those pills forever?

That’s just one real-life example. That particular woman didn’t develop a substance abuse habit, but it would have been easy for her to do just that- and it wouldn’t have been her fault in the least. Grieving women who do fall into these traps deserve some understanding.

If you are someone who is suffering from this issue right now, then you deserve some love. There are supportive people in the world who understand your pain precisely, and there is a way for you to get your life back on track

Alternative: What You Really Need as a Grieving Mother

The devastation that you’re going through needs a specific kind of attention. You have to enter into two battles: one that will help you with the loss of your child, and one that will help you with the substance abuse.

Many times, people try to offer condolences, and they don’t help because they end up saying the wrong things. What you need is a group of people around you who have grieved in a similar fashion and have come through it in good spirits. I’m glad sites like this exist to help you relate and let you feel like you’re not alone. However, a page on a site can’t fulfill our need for companionship, especially in devastating times.

You need people who understand how heartbreaking it is to have a life inside of you and have it ripped away from you at any stage. For your recovery, you can use a variety of resources. A full-blown rehabilitation center will give you the highest recovery percentage, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go that route.

You could sign up for outpatient rehabilitation, 12-step programs or counseling services that address your specific needs. If you’re a private type of person, you could perhaps get one good friend who will hold you accountable for your actions, encourage you, pray for you and do beneficial activities with you while you go through the difficult stages of recovery.

Self-help is not out of the question or ineffective by any means. You can fight the battle alone, but it is always better to have at least one other person in your corner.

Other in-home things you can do to help cope is:

  1. Drink Caffeine – it’s better than narcotics
  2. Try Art Therapy – any hobby will do, something to help build creativity
  3. Prayer – Giving yourself to a higher power can bring comfort and tie you into a community of good people

You’re a unique individual with unique circumstances, so your resolution may not be the same as someone else’s. You may want to contact a referral service or an anonymous hotline so that you can get someone who can refer you to the best resource for you. No matter what you do, remember that time and faith heal all things.

If you are not on narcotics then you are ahead. Sometimes we don’t care for much psychological babble about “grieving processes.” However, counselors and strong friends and family are the best thing for anyone grieving.

Please consider getting help. Professional or not, reach out, this is your time of need and good people are there to help.

I hope all goes well with you.

 

Remembering Your Baby: Forever in Your Heart

Candle heart

Light a flame to remember your baby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month is a great time to remember and memorialize your baby. Here are some tips we share each year at this time, adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.

There are countless ways to remember and honor your baby. No matter how much time has passed since your miscarriage, it is never too late to memorialize your child.

You can find comfort and healing by incorporating your baby’s memory into your life. Here are some suggestions:

–       Create a memory box. Include any mementos you may have from your baby. A positive pregnancy test, a toy, stuffed animal or outfit you bought for the baby (if you do not have one, then buy one). Anything you may have that reminds you of your pregnancy or your baby can be included, even if you just have a few things.

–     Make a donation in your baby’s name. Publicly acknowledge your child by making a charitable donation, or give something to a needy child that is the same age your child would have been now. Also consider submitting an article or poem about your baby to a newspaper or magazine.

–       Make something for the baby such as a quilt, a painting, a cross stitch, an outfit, a piece of pottery or furniture.

–       Buy a piece of jewelry that symbolizes your baby. Your baby’s birthstone, or an engraved necklace with your baby’s name can be good choices.

–       Plant a tree or garden in memory of your baby. You may even choose a houseplant or  indoor tree. Decorate the tree at special times of the year to remember your baby.

–       Add your baby to the family tree. If you named your baby, add him or her permanently to the family by including the baby in your family tree.

–       Donate baby items that you may have bought or received to a worthy charity. You may also do this in your baby’s name.

–       Have a celebration each year on your baby’s birthday or due date.

–       Include your baby in the hospital’s Remembrance Book. Most hospitals have a remembrance book, and even if your baby did not die in a hospital, you can contact the Chaplin at your local hospital.

–       Light a candle for the baby every evening until you feel you do not need to anymore. After that, burn it once a month, on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, or on special anniversaries.

Remembering your baby is a very personal thing.  There is no right or wrong way to honor your child. Taking the time to memorialize your baby will bring you closure and comfort as your move through your grief, and work toward recovery.