SHARE Atlanta - Grief Support The Significance of You and Your Baby

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SHARE Atlanta Grief & Healing
"The Significance of You
and Your Baby...
Permission to Grieve..."
Written and compiled by Marcia McGinnis

So many times our grief is diminished by others who believe that,
because we never rocked our babies to sleep at night,
never sent them off to school or welcomed them back home,
we miss them less than we would an older child who died.

Jennifer G.
SHARE Atlanta

Main Topics Found in this Workshop...(new 8/97)

Significance of Our Baby(s)

"Permission to Grieve"

Why Pregnancy and Newborn Loss is Unique

Every Child's Gift

The Significance of Our Baby(s)

"I hurt so much,

I am confused by conflicting 'input' - do I need to 'move on' when I can barely get through a day without crying or feeling real pain?"

"Grief is the emotion felt at the death or loss of a significant person."

This quote is from Sister Jane Marie Lamb's book Bittersweet...Hellogoodbye.Our newsletter editor, Jennifer Greer wrote the following article to address this statement:

The Significance of you baby...,

So many times our grief is diminished by others who believe that, because we never rocked our babies to sleep at night, never sent them off to school or welcomed them back home, we miss them less than we would an older child who died. Remember, your child was a significant person to you, if not to another living soul, and the loss of that child is reason to grieve.

Nowhere in the definition is there an age requirement.

When you got pregnant, there was no test to see if you knew your baby well enough to love him or her. You loved that child instinctively. He or she was significant to you before conception and throughout your entire pregnancy, no matter how long it lasted. Who else in your life could cause you to eat more healthy foods, abolish bad habits, and welcome nausea and weight gain? How much more significant could a person be?

Your grief is a tribute to just how significant your child is to you, and no one can take if from you. (Jennifer Greer, '96 -SHARE Atlanta)

~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Thinking about what grieving means...

On our path of grief we have to get pass "what should be" (having and holding our baby and all that goes with that) to fully realizing "what is" (no living child and the loss of all those dreams) to discovering "what will be" (altered life plan/goals, etc.). To do this we must accept grief as a normal, healthy method for healing from the pain of a loss. We have to give ourselves permission to grieve.

What do you mean "Giving ourselves permission to grieve"?

Grieving in our society is not openly acceptable much past the immediate loss.

The public, in general, allows two weeks for the grieving process! Our traditions are not clear on what to do after a couple weeks of mourning. Usually, most everyone around us reacts with much sadness and support immediately after our loss.

To relieve the sorrow and tension, and because(in our situation) only the parents truly bonded with this child, parents are encouraged to "move on."

This is especially true for a parent who loses a baby "no one knew." Of course, the parents-to-be feel as though they knew their baby. For most of us, the dream to have a baby started in childhood and is carried by society in all its expectations. This confuses the parents who still have an intense desire to have this child with all the hopes and dreams that have been forming as this baby was "becoming." This intense desire, coupled with their feelings around the loss cause much confusion and pain.

Grief is a process that lasts more than two weeks.

While it is hard to appreciate others who want us to move on, we do understand that they want the best for all. The problem is, most people really are not sure what is best. We at SHARE Atlanta know, from years of reaching out to bereaved parents, that the pain from this loss is very real.

For many people there is a growing guilt when grieving does not end after two weeks. It is very upsetting to have such intense feelings and be made to feel that these are abnormal because we "really didn't know this person or that this was a little loss that should be quickly healed". In reality, we lost a part of us, a part of our future and a part of our dreams. Because of this confusion, parents who have experienced a pregnancy or neo-natal loss, often need permission to grieve.

We do know that the degree of pain around a loss varies with each individual and family.

Our reaction depends, a great deal, upon the circumstances at the time of our loss. Given these facts, SHARE Atlanta strives to be there for every parent who wishes support as they venture down the path of grief. It is grief that is felt - grief from the loss of someone you loved, someone who was to become even more special to you. Marcia McGinnis, 1997


Dreams of Nightmares

What others take for granted
has been denied to me.
My innocence has been shattered,
my dreams have been taken away.

When others become heavy with child,
they smile, they dream, they plan, they glow.
When I become aware of life within,
I panic, I cry, I wait in fear.
For the pain to start and the life to fade

While others dream of pink and blue,
my nightmares are painted in red and black.
I talk only in whispers of
ultrasounds, tests, and shots.
Praying and hoping that my baby will not die.

Teresa Cox
March 1990
SHARE Atlanta

~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~

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Please explain some more why pregnancy and neo-natal loss is so unique?

SHARE Atlanta realizes that there are many reasons that others, as well as the parents, find this type of grief so very hard to understand. Below is the list we hand out at our meetings, as well as at our inservice workshops - a list that has lead us into many a discussion! Notice that all of these are centered on relationship issues. (Our third monthly topic of five is "Grief and Relationships."

  • Death is rarely expected at birth or during pregnancy

  • Baby not known by friends and family

  • Society fears and does not understand the lasting impact of this type of loss and encourages the parents to move on.

  • Parents often denied permission to realize that they knew and loved baby(even though they feel that they do)

  • No readily available mementos or memories

  • As in most deaths - a sense of loss of control and guilt prevail

    Marcia McGinnis, 1997 SHARE Atlanta


    Most of these issues are relationship oriented. The poem below speaks to many relationships: parent/child, spiritual, others - This mom knew her child, and she will "carry" her always.

    For Lauren

    Lauren Elizabeth
    Where are you now.
    Not within my womb.
    Not within my arms.

    But oh my child
    I'll tell you where you are.
    You are everywhere.
    Lauren is everywhere.

    You are within my mind.
    Within my heart
    Within my very soul.

    Lauren, you are with me.
    With me as you always were.
    Others were not able to see you
    Nor could they touch you
    But I felt you. I felt you
    If only for awhile.

    For now, my child, you shall live with our Lord
    In His place rather than mine.
    We must move on in our worlds.
    Together as only you and I will ever know.

    As I move on in this world
    I take you with me.
    Seeking to find a place for you to rest quietly
    and peacefully within my heart.
    Within my soul.
    Lisa B.
    SHARE Atlanta 1990

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~

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    Every child's gift...

    The death of our baby causes loss of control (a "secondary loss").

    No one chooses to have their baby die. When it happens we have no control of the situation. We are left with empty arms, memories, and grief.

    Choices are important.

    If we realize the importance of giving ourselves permission to grieve and, slowly become aware that we do have options along our grief's path - healing can begin. If we are blessed, those around us will support us as we continue to move along our path.

    Hopefully, we can come to a place where our baby's life and death can hold something so special that painful memories become bittersweet, and we can say our child's presence has become an important part of who we are. Then, as a living child would, our baby helps us to become more of who we were meant to be. The love stays...forever in our hearts.

    Every child can give us this gift. (Marcia McGinnis, 7/97)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~Forever in Our Hearts~~~~~~~~~~~~

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