How to honor a loss anniversary, and other thoughts

A local loss mom friend and blogger over at Surviving the Loss of Baby Sidney is approaching the first anniversary of her son’s death and recently sent an email to family and friends with suggestions for how to mark the occasion, including the following:

First, I am asking people to do something kind for themselves or someone else on May 4th. This can range from smiling at someone in the street or allowing yourself to sleep in, to donating your time or money to an organization that you believe makes a positive difference. I need to know that at least a little bit of good came from Sidney being part of the world for the short time that he was here.

Second, if you would like to, please send us a stone from a place that is meaningful to you, with a slight description of where you found it, so that I can put it at his grave (Jews traditionally leave stones when they visit graves of loved ones. While the reason behind this seems somewhat unclear, my favorite explanation is to indicate that the loved one is remembered and thought of, with an object that lasts longer/is more permanent than flowers).

Finally, do not be afraid to let us know that you are thinking of us, and to say Sidney’s name. Hearing Sidney’s name does not upset me–what upsets me is that he is dead. Instead, knowing that others remember him makes me feel like I do not have to carry him around in my heart alone. Lighting a candle in his memory (or sending us candles, trees, buying us stars, making a dedication in his name etc–I hope I have included everyone/everything) or simply reaching out to tell us that you remember him, has meant so much and will continue to mean so much.

I love the idea of doing something good in his name on that day, and wanted to pass it along as a suggestion to my readers for honoring any lost children that you know. I wasn’t aware of the Jewish tradition of leaving stones, but my daughter loves rocks and always leaves one at Luke’s grave, so I will have her pick one out for Sidney, and we’ll plant some flowers next to Luke’s bench in our garden as well, so our boys can be together.

In other musings …

The other day I was wearing a hoodie (before April suddenly turned to July) and in the pocket I found a memorial necklace that someone must have given me at some point, only I have no memory of receiving it. I received a lot of jewelry after Luke’s death, and it’s hard to keep track of who gave what, but I still feel bad about blanking on this one.

After spending so much time obsessing about fetal movement during Wyatt’s pregnancy, I thought for sure I would be counting phantom kicks for weeks after he was born. Strangely enough, though, that already seems like a distant memory, and I can’t even remember what the movements felt like, or what it was like to be chained to my KickCounter app.

Wyatt has been sleeping for longer stretches, and last night he slept through the night, until just after 5 a.m. So that’s obviously great if he starts doing that consistently, but now I also need to decide whether to throw in a middle of the night pumping session, because, well—holy boobies, Batman.

I took Zoe to her 4-year checkup last week, and when the nurse practitioner asked Zoe to list who lives at home with her, she named myself, my husband, Wyatt, and Luke, which made my heart swell, but then when I said, “Well, Luke lives in heaven,” the nurse practitioner said, “Awww, is that a pet?” and I wanted to punch her, but Zoe kept talking, and the moment passed.

I suppose it’s marginally better than my encounter at Zoe’s third-year checkup, when, after I informed the doctor of Luke’s death, she said she wasn’t aware that losses could occur that late in pregnancy.

At Zoe’s birthday party, while I carried Wyatt in a sling, I struck up a conversation with the mom of one of Zoe’s classmates. She is a perfectly lovely and sweet person, but I don’t think she knows of my loss, and she mentioned that Zoe’s friend was born when her daughter was only 2, and it was difficult to have two children of that age, and it’s so much easier to have a baby around when they are 4, and more independent. And I wanted to tell her that Zoe should have been 2 when her first brother was born, because normally I don’t have a problem telling people about Luke, but I just couldn’t figure out a way to bring it into this otherwise innocuous small talk, and so I didn’t say anything, which made me feel sad and also guilty, like I wasn’t honoring Luke properly. It also reminded me of how much of a gulf will always remain with other moms who haven’t experienced a loss, and how conversations can still catch me off guard, and break my heart.

Recently I’ve attended a few services at our local Unitarian Universalist congregation. I suppose I’ve been searching for something different, as our current church didn’t provide any support when Luke died, and his death also further cemented my agnosticism, wherein it’s difficult to believe in a God who would allow children to die, but it’s also difficult not to believe that some kind of being was responsible for this amazing, incredible universe. Anyway, the UU church actually cares about things like climate change, and people’s suffering, and everyone is really friendly, and the pastor (is that what you call him?) this past weekend gave a sermon (is that what you call it?) addressing a racism controversy among the higher ups of the national organization. His openness was refreshing and something I’m not used to. So I like it there, but when it comes to spirtuality, basically I am still kind of wandering.

 

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12 thoughts on “How to honor a loss anniversary, and other thoughts

  1. Thank you for sharing on baby Sidney. I’ll be thinking of him and will do something nice on May 4.

    OMG – I cannot believe the NP’s comment and the doctor’s comment last year!!! Holy smokes!

    The gulf between other mothers. Yes.

    I grew up UU. Yes, it seems like they actually think about and care about a broader spectrum of shit, which is refreshing for sure. I’m a wanderer right now too…

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      • Oh gosh – this was in my childhood, so I can’t be 100% sure… I think it is pastor/sermon or maybe pastor/message. But it could have changed or could vary from church to church. One of my BLM friends here goes to a UU church too. Mark and I recently tried a more liberal, Methodist church. It was good, but it conflicts with Joel’s naptime, soooo we haven’t been back. Mark grew up very devout Lutheran, so it’s crazy that he agreed to the change, but tragedy will do that to you… But yeah, I’ll try to answer any questions you have! -Your fellow wanderer

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      • I grew up Catholic, which is basically Lutheran, and it’s of course very different from UU. But there are parts of Catholicism, and Christianty, that I actually like, and other parts not so much, so it’s difficult to know what to do, and it’s all very confusing.

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      • True! But now mine look like deflated balloons, and they’re saggy af. #leaveittometobenegative But of course I’m thankful I was able to do it for 8 months!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! I commented on a different post a while back about MPFD. I’m happy to say our little girl made it and was born on April 3 and is doing fine! I am so glad to hear you are past that hard part of kick counting and worry as well. Congratulations on your new little one! I wasn’t prepared for the wave of grief that came afterwards though, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. There is definitely a hole in the middle of my children where my Sadie should be. I have a four year old son, and I’ve gotten comments as well about how I was smart to wait for him to be older, but he would have been two if I’d had it my way as well. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,and while I haven’t questioned my faith (it really helped me get through, actually), this past two years has been a lot of praying and wondering and studying and learning and seeking for me too. Some things I found really personal answers for, and some I’m still searching. So you’re not alone there either. -Carissa

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    • Carissa! Somehow I missed this comment when it came in. I’m so glad your sweet baby girl made it here earthside. It is wonderful to hear you have found at least some answers through your faith. I hope to make it there someday too. Thank you for the update! I always love to hear good news.

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  3. Thank you so much for posting this, and for remembering Sidney alongside Luke.

    It really means a lot. In some ways, I had the opposite experience with religion. I am skeptical of organized religion in many regards, but Eli is in preschool at a temple, and they really held us up that first month. We had people bringing us meals everyday for more than a month, the rabbi (who we did not know beforehand) came to the hospital and cried with us, and people really reached out. I actually don’t really know what I believe about God, but three different rabbis actually reached out to me, coming over at various points, and they all said that they weren’t going to tell me that this was part of God’s plan, cried with me, and instead said it was a huge tragedy, so I appreciated that. They don’t seem to believe in a God that metes out punishment, or something like that.

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  4. Pingback: Total eclipse of the heart, placental results, and other ramblings | lukewyatt | life after stillbirth

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