Holiday Grief Support Resource Link

With the holidays quickly approaching, I would just like to share this link that lists some helpful suggestions concerning grief and the holidays: This site contains suggestions for those who have lost someone close, as well as suggestions for those who would like to support someone who has lost a loved one.

There is no “magic pill” that will make the holidays easier to navigate nor any article that will provide all the answers to handling grief during any and all occasions. Grief isn’t a “one size fits all” thing, and neither are suggestions for walking through grief during any particular period of time or occasion. There isn’t anything that will take away the deep grief of the loss of a loved one, but perhaps there are suggestions on this link that will help in some way during this holiday season.


Always a Mother

I always wanted to be a mother. I was one of those baby boomer girls, while growing up during the “second wave” feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, who felt that being a mother was what I wanted to do with my life. To me, choosing to be a mother – and a stay-at-home mother – was equally my right and choice along with any other choice being promoted at the time. I wasn’t a mother or a stay-at-home mother by default; I knew I could do and be anything I chose to be. It was my choice and one I do not regret.

When we found out I was pregnant with Eric, we were so excited. At the time, it wasn’t considered necessary to have an ultrasound, either to monitor the development of the fetus or to find out the sex of the baby. We decided to wait until the baby was born and let it be a surprise. It was fun to speculate on whether we were having a boy or girl. Quite honestly, we thought we might be having a girl and had a girl’s name picked out: Kirsten. (After Eric was born, Joe’s great-aunt asked us what we would have name the baby if it had been a girl…and then, obviously not crazy about our choice of name for a girl, promptly told us that it was a good thing we had a boy!)

Eric was due July 5th, and in the middle of June I had been put on bed rest because of high blood pressure. At the time, we lived in Southern California in our very first cute, little home…purchased without air conditioning…and were having an unseasonable heat streak during that time! Whew!! Was I ever hot and uncomfortable!! Miserable!! We would open all the windows at night to let the cool air in and close the curtains and windows first thing in the morning to keep the hot air out. By noon, it didn’t make any difference; it was just plain hot indoors and out.

I went to my regular doctor’s appointment on June 28th and was told that it would probably be at least two weeks before the baby was born, that the baby was still high and hadn’t dropped, no signs to indicate labor was close at all, first babies usually are late, etc. I cried all the way home and pleaded for God’s mercy!

I went into labor first thing the next morning, six days before my due date. Needless to say, my doctor was very surprised to hear from me! Eric was born that evening via C-section (he was in distress because the chord was wrapped around his neck), 7 lbs, 11 1/2 oz. Beautiful, perfect baby boy. We were absolutely ecstatic!!

Jason followed three years and one month later, 9 lbs. 10 1/2 ounces, also six days before my due date. Our doctor had agreed to try a V-back (vaginal delivery following C-section), which not very common and was considered a high risk delivery at the time, as long as the baby didn’t get any larger than an estimated 8 pounds. (My doctor ended up teaching not too long after Jason was born and used my delivery as an example of a successful V-back.) Everything went really well and Jason was born early on the morning of July 29, 1982 with minimal medication during the delivery. Beautiful, perfect baby boy with auburn hair. What a wonderful, busy bundle of sunshine and love!!

Jenna was born two years minus two weeks later. Once again, we chose not to know the sex of the baby. People asked us over and over, “Aren’t you really hoping for a girl since you have two boys?” And we would answer – with total honesty – that it didn’t matter to us whether it was a boy or girl as long as the baby was healthy. The first thing Joe said, though, after Jenna was born was, “We got our girl!” When I said something later to him about it, he hadn’t even realized he had said it. I think in his heart he was hoping for a girl, but would have been equally happy with a boy. And what a daddy’s girl she was – and still is! We were so happy to be parents of our two beautiful boys and our beautiful baby girl!

Two and a half years later we lost a baby in utero at 19 weeks. We don’t know why the baby died, but it did. It was just one of those things that happen in life.

People had told me before Eric was born that I wouldn’t believe how much love a person could feel for his or her children when they are born and as he or she watches them grow. They told me it was so much larger than I could ever imagine.

They were right! Sometimes I felt like my heart couldn’t contain so much love for my children and joy at watching them grow. I rejoiced with every joy they felt. My heart also hurt with every hurt they felt. The “mama bear” rose up in me, wanting to protect them from every slight, every nightmare, every meanie or mean thing that tried to hurt my precious kiddos. I wanted – and still want – the absolute best for them!!

I will admit that Mother’s Day is not an easy day for me. On one hand, I feel so incredibly blessed to have given birth to three beautiful, healthy children. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to stay at home with my children, homeschool them, and watch them grow and learn. I love spending time with Jenna, Eric and our grandkids. I celebrate the adults Eric and Jenna have become. I love them with my whole heart and I celebrate being their mother.

On the other hand, I would rather fly under the radar and skip Mother’s Day entirely because it hurts. It emphasizes and spotlights holes in our lives. It emphasizes what was and will never be again. I miss my boy so much – Jason should be here, alive and well, living his life to the fullest. Neither my mom and nor Joe’s mom are with us, and so Joe and I belong to the “motherless son” and “motherless daughter” crowd – we have no mothers here on earth to whom we can wish Happy Mother’s Day. As a fellow blogger, author Marcy Blesy, said in a recent post, I feel a little fractured on Mother’s Day.

I am, however, always a mother first and foremost – and I am very glad to be one. I fiercely love my children with my whole heart. I will always want, hope and pray for the best for them. I am a mother to four children. I know that I will see Jason again and meet the baby we never got a chance to know on this earth. I also know that I will see my mom again.

On this Mother’s Day, my thoughts and prayers are for those who are missing their mothers, for those whose lives don’t exactly fit into the Hallmark card moments, for those who desperately want to have a baby and are encountering struggles in fulfilling their dreams, and for those who are missing their children who are no longer with them.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day


Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members on work to prevent causes of these problems.

Health care professionals recognize that trends of recent years, such as smaller family size and postponement of childbearing, adds another dimension of poignancy to the grief of parents who have lost infants. More than 700 local, national and international support groups are supplying programs and strategies designed to help parents cope with their loss. Parents who have suffered their own losses, health care professionals and specially trained hospital staff members are helping newly bereaved parents deal constructively with loss…

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 314, has designated the month of October, as “Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month” and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.

NOW, THEREFORE, I RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-eight and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirteenth.

Ronald Reagan
Former President
United States of America

Supporting the goals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

October 4, 2001

Mr. ARMEY submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Government Reform


Supporting the goals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Whereas each year, approximately 1,000,000 pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a newborn baby;

Whereas it is a great tragedy to lose the life of a child;

Whereas babies sometimes live within or outside their mothers’ wombs for only a short period of time;

Whereas even the shortest lives are still valuable, and the grief of those who mourn the loss of these lives should not be trivialized;

Whereas more than 35 States have designated October 15, 2001, as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day;

Whereas the observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day can give validation to those who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or other complications;

Whereas Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day will provide the people of the United States with an opportunity to increase their understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies; and

Whereas Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day will enable the people of the United States to consider how, as individuals and communities, they can meet the needs of bereaved mothers, fathers, and family members and work to prevent the causes of these deaths: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives supports the goals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.



Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Remembering all those who have “lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or other complications.” You are in my prayers today.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

A very black year

From my journal dated November 2, 2002:

Yesterday I was reading a book written by a hospice worker on how to help grieving people, and it made me think about the baby we lost. I remember thinking of that as a very black year for me.

We weren’t really wanting more kids…thought we were done at three. Then I got pregnant in the fall of 1986, due June 13, 1987. We didn’t initially tell a lot of people (or even the kids), because Joe and I were trying to get used to the idea ourselves.

We had reconciled ourselves to the idea of four kids, could feel the baby move, and were excited and looking forward to having another baby when I started having some problems. I went to my ob/gyn who sent me over to the hospital for an ultrasound.

I knew something wasn’t right when the technician kept the screen away from me and then left so the doctor could talk to me. The doctor told me that there was no heartbeat. The baby had died.

I called Joe at work and told him. We had to decide whether to schedule a D&C or to wait for the baby to miscarry naturally. I was 19 weeks pregnant, nearly half way.

The problem with waiting to miscarry was not knowing when it might happen. With three kids under the age of seven at home, the doctor felt it might be too traumatic for them…and for me if I were by myself while Joe was at work. We decided to go ahead with the D&C.

We scheduled the procedure at the hospital for the next day, January 30, 1987. They decided to put me totally out during the procedure…for which I was very grateful.

It’s called an “incomplete abortion” – at least that’s how they had it listed on my paperwork. A miscarriage is your body aborting a baby who has died. If they do a D&C, it’s the same procedure as they would do for an abortion. They “help” your body complete the miscarry/abortion process.

The next day, Joe took the kids out to a friend’s house, and then we went to the hospital. There were some major problems at work that day, so Joe spent a lot of time on the phone with a co-worker trying to take care of things while staying with me. Needless to say, he was very distracted and not a whole lot of support.

They got me ready to go into the operating room, and the anesthesiologist asked me what number [of baby] this was. I told him number 4 and started to cry. He was very sympathetic, telling me something along the line that “at least you have three” and that we “can try again.”

After the procedure, they put me in the OR recovery room. It was late in the afternoon, so I was the only patient. I was freezing, shaking, and nauseous from the anesthetic. The nurse that was “watching” me was so busy flirting with some guy that she hardly paid any attention to me.

When she finally came over, I told her I was really nauseous. She put a little pan beside me. Then she started wheeling me down the main hallway of the hospital to the room where I was to finish my recovery.

At the time, the OR was away from the outpatient recovery room, so we had to go down main hospital halls with everyone else – all the visitors, all the regular foot traffic, all the janitors, everyone!

About halfway there, I threw up. The force of throwing up caused my stomach muscles to push out all the pooled blood from the surgery. It soaked me and the thin blanket that was on top of me. It was a lot of blood. As a matter of fact, they had to keep me longer than most because I wasn’t stopping bleeding.

Anyway, I’m sure it was quite a sight for those walking by – a blood-soaked, retching woman being pushed down the halls. Talk about incompetence! It was awful. I was so embarrassed on top of feeling physically terrible. Joe was absolutely shocked when they pushed me into the outpatient recovery room where he was waiting. What a mess!

While Joe and I were in the outpatient recovery room (after they got me cleaned up), a nurse came in and asked if we wanted to see our baby. We talked about it for a while…it was an agonizing decision. We tried to decide if it would help us. Did we need a chance to say goodbye or would it make it even harder? Such a horrible, difficult decision. We eventually decided not to see the baby.

I had a really rough, long recovery because of my reaction to the anesthesia. Joe took me home and then went to get the kids. When I called to say he was on his way, my friend asked me how I felt. I said, “Punched in the stomach, physically and emotionally.”

When I went back in a few days to my doctor for my check-up, I decided to ask the doctor whether it was a boy or girl. I just really wanted to know to help myself with my reactions losing the baby. She was really taken aback by my question. She told me that when they preform a D&C, it’s just like an abortion. The baby is not delivered in tact. She said they use a powerful suction that sort of sucks the baby out in pieces so there was really no way to tell if it was a boy or girl. I didn’t know that…it was so hard to hear. I guess I should have asked more questions at the onset, but I was so shocked at the time to learn that the baby had died.

I told her about our conversation with the nurse, and the decision we made. She was so upset!! She was upset with the nurse for asking us that question about seeing the baby, said she must have been an anti-abortion activist who didn’t know she (the doctor) didn’t do abortions. The nurse must have thought that we didn’t want the baby so were aborting it…instead of taking the time to find out the fact that our baby had died.

The doctor was so appalled that someone would have asked us that. Who knows what the nurse would have shown us if we had said yes!! The doctor said she was going to try to track down whoever it was…don’t know whatever happened there.

I remember they announced in church that we’d lost the baby, but I don’t remember anyone saying anything much to me about it. Another gal and I were pregnant at the same time, due within days of each other. I don’t remember the subject every coming up again, not even between Joe and me.

That summer my dad had some serious heart problems and nearly died. By August, we had to transfer him from the hospital to a nursing home. All of the nursing homes in Wyoming, which was where my folks lived at the time, were full. There were no openings anywhere. We had to move Dad to Denver, 450 miles away from home.

My sister and I flew to Denver to help Mom. That was an agonizing time. It was so hard to see Dad so sick and dwindling away. My strong, independent Norwegian dad – so far away from home and in a nursing home. I think I grieved more then than when he died.

It was on a Sunday morning six months later when we got the call that Dad had died. We told the kids that my dad – their grandpa – had died and was in heaven. I remember Jason, who was 5 1/2 at the time, cried and cried. He was so sad that he wouldn’t see him again.

And so now, all three of them are together – my dad, Jason, and our baby we never got to meet.