Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memorial Service ... and Burial ... and me just rambling

I've been wanting to write about the upcoming service for our sweet Journey since we met and talked with Sister Fran Donnelly at Resurrection Cemetery last week ... but for some reason or another I have not let myself sit down and write about it yet ... its not like the reality of loss can be avoided, it slaps me in the face every day. But writing about a burial service seems so final. We've spent two months thinking of where to bury Journey's remains ... we left the hospital with Journey's remains in a sort of jar inside a tiny container or coffin. I am glad we were able to do that ... I am glad that his remains came home with us, as odd as that sounds. But now the idea of turning his remains over to a mortuary so he can be buried is making me a basket case. I know and believe that the moment his heart stopped beating he was taken to the arms of Jesus, he is perfect and happy and joyful right now at the feet our God and Creator in Heaven. I know that what we have in this container is just his remains ... his broken, too weak to live here on earth body. But perhaps because that is all I have of him ... it hurts so much to let it go. I just want to be pregnant and give birth to my little baby!!!! I really don't want to be making these plans. But since I can't have what I so desperately want ... I am doing the best I can to have a place to remember him. I have let my stomach get all tied up in knots wondering where we should bury him? should we have a service? whats the best way to do this? can we afford this? will I make a decision now that I will regret later? I guess you can see why I am a basket case most days.

I feel there will never be a perfect or ideal scenario for burying one's child. Because losing a child in pregnancy or at anytime destroys any hope of life ever being perfect or ideal again. But I do know from experience that months or years later there can be regrets. We have lost babies to miscarriage before, and I very quietly and privately buried their remains in our own back yard. There was no service, I made no marker, but it was comforting for me to do this for them and comforting to me that I knew where they were buried. I often wished over the years that I had pushed for something more formal, that someone besides me had recognized and remembered their little lives. But I don't think anyone would have understood ... and I did not have the energy to fight the attitudes of those around me. It was all I could do to carry on with daily life and care for my living children, that took every ounce of the little energy I had left. Its such a lonely and sad way to feel. So when we lost Journey in May this year, I knew it could not be that way again ... I needed to have what I needed this time. I'm older, stronger, hopefully wiser and I have a better support system this time. And I believe in my heart that Journey is every bit as much a gift and a blessing as the 5 children who are still living here on earth with me. God created and formed each one of my 9 children (Psalm 139) ... He does not love one more than another, why does this world expect me to cherish and love my living children more or differently than the children who have gone to heaven before me? If any of our 5 living children were to die and go on to heaven before me, we would of course have a funeral and a burial and I would be expected and allowed to grieve beyond a week or two.

Our sweet Journey Peace was only 12 weeks gestation ... so no one expects us to have a service or burial, but how do I get closure without something like that? Its horrible to try move on with life feeling like everyone else has forgotten this sweet little baby that i so deeply loved and wanted ... still love and still want. And truthfully I am not even sure I want "closure" ... because to me that sounds like I'm closing those memories and feelings up in a box and forgetting about my baby ... moving on with life as if he never existed. I know thats what many people expect, but I know he existed!!! He was here and alive inside of me ... his heart was beating ... we loved him and dreamed of our family with him in it. It hurts so much to change our dreams, to no longer be counting down the days and weeks ... no longer be looking forward to ultrasounds and appointments ... to walk by baby clothes in the store and know there is no reason to buy them. I want him here so badly ... Some days I can make my way numbly through the day without tears, but then there are days like today, when I think of him all day long and my eyes hurt from crying so much. Why is it so wrong for me to grieve ... to want to honor his memory? Why do I feel I need to defend this need? How could anyone ever see an ultrasound with a tiny heart beating away and still try to tell me its not really a baby? its not really a big enough loss? Why would people think I can just "go home and hug the kids you do have, and that will make it better" or "forget this unfortunate pregnancy and move on." WHAT???!!!! Right now, please imagine those cartoons where the character is angry and steam is blowing out his ears and eyes and his face goes beat red as his head starts to spin and then suddenly BAM!!! The character blows up from the intense pressure. That is me lately, so full of emotions I might just explode! Why do people put mothers of miscarriage through this? Its insane! And it probably adds to why so many of us often feel like we are going insane. Really? Is it that insane to miss something we so loved and wanted?!?

I guess I know why I've been hesitant to write about this for the past week ... there has been a lot of stuff bubbling up inside of me. I suppose a blog about my journey through loss is as good a place as any to let all the bubbling out ...
I must not be the only one who feels this way about our babies, our miscarriages and lour losses, because since Journey's heart stopped beating May 4th, I have found so much more support than ever before. I'm grateful for modern technology and the way it has helped connect me with others who understand what I am feeling and going through. I'm grateful to all the brave moms that stepped out and had the energy and courage to defend their feelings and desires to remember their angel babies. I'm grateful for the books and articles and forums those moms wrote and share. I'm grateful I have been able to read so many women's stories of loss, and grateful for the bible study on pregnancy and baby loss I am taking part in and the photograph course for baby loss mothers that I am doing ... and I am grateful to Resurrection Cemetery for providing an opportunity for moms and families of miscarriage to bury our babies and grieve. As much as I would love to have a service and a burial and a grave marker just for our sweet tiny baby, Journey Peace, its proving not to be financially possible. I just hate how money and finances affect everything (that is a whole other post all on its own for another time). But I know I am not alone in this. And places like Resurrection Cemetery are doing wonderful things like quarterly burial services free of charge for families who would like to take part. Our baby, Journey Peace, will be buried with other angel babies who died before they could be born. There will be a a service and a grave marker with an angel on it and a date ... just not any names, as there will be quite a few buried together. I am so thankful for the kind and compassionate people who came up with this idea and who donate their time and money to make this happen. I will have a grave to visit, a place I can lay flowers if I so choose. An if we do decide to donate money to Resurrection Cemetery at some point in the future, they are building a Children's Memorial Garden by their beautiful pond, they have a statue of Rachel weeping there and a memorial wall facing the pond where children's names can be engraved. So, though we will not have Journey's name engraved on a grave marker I do hope we can one day place his name on that wall. I can't put into words why this is important or helpful or healing ... I wish I could. Maybe then other's would understand. Maybe then other mom's would not be expected to move on with life without first grieving and seeking the kind of closure or healing they need.

Last night I took our small coffin with Journey's remains to our back yard and i started snapping pictures ... because that is what I have learned will help me heal. Is it what every baby loss mom should do? No, certainly not. Everyone's loss is different, everyone has different feeling and they get expressed in so many different ways. There is really no right way to grieve. Each of us should be allowed to find our way, to grieve or cry when we need to, to sing or dance or creat or photograph or talk when we need to ... I'm learning step by step and maybe by sharing what I am learning I'll help another baby loss mom, or the friend of another baby loss mom. Or maybe its just the path God has me on to help me heal ...

It is what it is:


  1. Heather, this is something I know alot of women feel. It's amazing how you put it all into words. I'm praying for you this week. And I will be there with you on the 6th. Love to you friend...

  2. Heather, Thank you for putting this all down in writing and sharing this. I know that this service is not going to close a door, just give you some peace and open a whole new chapter. I am glad that photography has given you a sense of healing as well. These photos are such a beautiful way to remember Journey Peace. I especially love the first one in the open field with the gorgeous field. xoxo.

  3. Heather Dawn,
    Thanks for pouring out your heart. You have expressed what many grieving moms have felt or wanted to be allowed to feel and express, but didn't or couldn't. Again, I'm so sorry for your painful loss of Journey Peace. He was a gift, a blessing, a miracle. I look forward to meeting him in heaven. I love the pictures you've taken--beautiful.

  4. WHat a beautiful tribute and step in the mending process. Mended things are never quite the same, but they can be stronger than before. Prayers for you and your family.