25 September 2010

Babylost Father's Day

International Babylost Father's Day - September 26th
For Mikayla, Ethan, Caleb & Charlotte's Daddy
With love xxxx

21 September 2010

Our Tribute to You - Part 1

Charlotte's Memorial Service
Tuesday 27th April 2010

I walked this day in absolute disbelief, completely wrapped in a blanket of shock. The thought of burying my baby today was literally too much for my mind to comprehend. My heart was aching but my mind had shut down.

"During the first week of loss, the bereaved walk around behind some invisible shield, His shield, which is like a blind coming between us and the most painful part to come; we are numb and protected from the truths hitting us all at once. I believe this is God's grace that He gives us so that we cope during the first shock of our news. He doesn't ever take His grace away, but there does come a time when the blind is opened, and the flooding light that comes back in rushes upon your senses with the awful clarity of raw truth."
Grief and Grace - A. Axelby

We arrived at the church early and waited with our family in a side room.
I was feeling hurried and tense. After a little while, the funeral director gently averted my attention to the little white coffin waiting in the corner of the room. Surprise and shock overwhelmed me, the casket was so small.... so final. As everyone left the room, we held her and gently placed a tiny chain with a broken heart pendant around her neck.
On it, we had engraved the word 'Mummy'. I wear the other half.
A precious, unforgettable time...

We waited at the entrance to the main hall... the tiny casket in Grant's arms, the children holding my hands.... the music starts (We Dreamed of You). I know that there are many people there but I can not bring myself to look at anyone. How do I respond? At the front of the church there is a beautiful arrangement of pink and white flowers. In front of these, we placed the tiny casket and lit six candles, one for each member of our family -  symbolising that Charlotte would always be our fourth born child, our daughter - forever a part of us and our family.

14 September 2010

5 Months Ago

The following tribute was taken from 'Shaming the Strong', written by
Sarah Williams. Sarah's baby girl Cerian was born still at 35 weeks. 
Cerian had a condition that was 'incompatiable with life.' 
Sarah read this tribute at her daughter's funeral.

My heart echos these words, as today I remember my precious girl born 5 months ago.

"People normally write tributes to recollect the memorable things that loved ones have done and to celebrate achievements... you spent your short life resting in a hidden place.
But had you lived a long life crammed full of activity and accomplishment, I could not have been more grateful to God for you, nor could your life have had more value and significance to me. I am so grateful to you for taking me to a quiet place of intimacy with God - for giving me a glimpse of the nature of His love.
There was nothing you had to do to earn my love. I didn't require anything from you before I loved you, not even your physical normality. I loved you simply because you were mine.
You were not precious to me because of the things you did. Your worth was written into your being from the very first moment of your existence. The value of your person was not measured by your usefulness, nor was your identity composed of hard-won achievements or the gleanings of experience.
Thank you for helping me hear an echo of God's eternal love for us.
Thank you for giving me a message and a song.
You whispered them to me in the secret place, but I will shout them out. I'll shout them to a world afflicted by activity, obsessed with strength, afraid of weakness, outraged by deformity and intimidated by death.
You (are) precious... because you were created and given as a gift. I am privileged to have carried you. As a mother, I honour you and all that your life has been."

10 September 2010

Preparing Their Hearts

How do we include the children in the service? How much do we expose them to? Should they attend the burial? Will the experience frighten them? These were some of the tough questions we wrestled with before the funeral. Our funeral director, who had had a lot of experience in this area offered us some wise council. He challenged us to consider our reasons for not wanting to include the children in some areas. After all, we had included them in everything up to this point. They had met their sister, they had held her, could they not cope with her funeral as well? What would their imaginations come up with if they didn't attend? What would we say, when in the future they asked us why we didn't include them in the funeral? We began to realise that we were the ones who were afraid, the children would be okay. A new question arose: How do we prepare them?

"Dear God, help us as we try to explain death and resurrection to our children. Reassure us about the ability of children to understand and their capacity to believe, and make our faith equal theirs. Then grant us the right words at the right time to satisfy the mind and comfort the spirit of our children. Amen." William H. Armstrong for 'Water Bugs and Dragonflies' - D. Stickney

We decided to begin by reading them a story adapted by Doris Stickney called 'Water Bugs and Dragonflies.' It is a story that helps to explain death to small children. It is about the miracle of transformation, when water bugs change into shiny dragonflies moving from life in the pond to the wonderful new world of sun and air.

"No one can predict the reaction of children to this story. The world of imagination is more real to them than the visible one. They surprise us with a clear grasp of that which we would make complex. And with unerring honesty, they see through our flimsy pretenses."I don't know," is an honest admission. But, "I believe" gives our children confidence in a future to be anticipated and in a Creator whose plan can be trusted."
D. Stickney

When we had finished the book, we began to walk the children through the funeral day, to prepare them for what they would be confronted with. It was very painful for Grant and I to share with them the realities of death and burial, as we were exposing them to subjects which we would have preferred to protect them from. They were shocked at first, but this quickly gave way to a calm acceptance, as we weaved the confronting subject of death with the beautiful hope of eternal life.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote about the experience of losing her best friend at 9 years of age in her book 'On Asking God Why'.
"My playmate was dead. The sight was very real for me. It was not a shock. Children are not shocked at things. It is their elders who cannot face reality. I was awed and solemn, and I thought about it for years afterward. It was a very wise decision of my parents to take me to the funeral."

From 'Grief and Grace' by A. Axelby -
"Heaven - The children learned that they now have a sister waiting for them in heaven, someone they want to meet again. A tie has been formed with heaven that gives them another reason to look forward to that day when we will all be reunited as a family."

We concluded by telling them that Charlotte's funeral provided a wonderful opportunity for them to be able to personally honour their sister. One way they could do this, was through their attentiveness to her memorial service and their behaviour. This could be their gift to her -

The day was now prepared...
The children were ready as they could be...
It was time to face reality...

"People were bringing little children to Him in order that He might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant, and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."
Mark 10:13-15 NRSV

03 September 2010

We Dreamed of You


"As a midwife, the issue of grief and loss is always a difficult and challenging one. Caring for a dying or deceased child, or a bereaved family however, is such an honour and privilege. I did not always feel this way. As a student midwife, I felt completely unprepared and incompetent to care for these families and thus, it was suggested to me to embrace this topic and to try to overcome my aversion to it. A wise woman informed me that 'Midwifery was not all happy and beautiful. That some women went home with an empty womb and empty arms. But this too was a journey, a celebration of life'. I then wondered, 'How was death a celebration of life?' I have been a singer and pianist for many years, and so decided to attempt to understand grief and loss through lyrics and music." Devon Plumley

We Dreamed of You
Music and Lyrics by Devon Plumley

Verse 1
We were travelling down the road of life
When we learned that we would have a child
Emotions overwhelmed us,
Surprise, turned to love and joy.

Verse 2
Plans were made for your arrival,
We changed the house around to suit your needs.
We made space for your crib, soft toys, for everything,
We'd bought for you.

We wanted you.
We dream about you
Sweet child of ours
We'll pray for you.
And everyday you are in me,
I love you so much
Sweet child of ours,
We'll pray for you.

Verse 3
Then the time went by so slowly,
I felt you grow and move inside me.
Each day that you were in me,
I prayed for you.

Verse 4
Then that day arrived, I'll never forget,
When we learned that we would lose you.
I can't explain, how I felt at that time,
But I just cried.

I love you so much,
Sweet child of ours,
We pray for you.

While we were in the hospital awaiting the birth of our baby girl, the staff gave us a package to look through and inside this package was a CD. Interested, I put it into my portable CD player and listened... 
I  played it over and over again, listening to the beautiful music and to the words which told my story! I was about to have a baby who I 'wanted' and 'loved' and 'prayed for' and I too, had now 'lost' her....
The words were very hard to hear, but strangely enough they were also a blessing, because this song put my thoughts and feelings into words. I knew that this was the song that we were to play at our baby's funeral service. It reflected what our hearts wanted to say.

I have played this beautiful song only once since Charlotte's funeral, as it evokes so many memories and feelings. However, I am sure that it will bless us again in the future, when we listen to it and remember a precious little girl who deeply impacted our lives.
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