Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Storm

By Alex Hopper

“You've never seen it miss this house and miss that house, then come after you.”

In the movie Twister, Jo screams this as she describes how it felt when an F-5 tornado destroyed her home and killed her father when she was a child. I’ve seen that movie about 100 times and that quote never stood out to me until after my son died. Because I realized, that is EXACTLY how it feels.

Child loss entered our lives like an angry, violent storm, seeking to destroy everything in its path. It swept us up and pummeled us into the ground, doing its best to kill us. It was as if everyone around us was basking in the sun, while we were nearly swept away. But Death doesn’t aim. It is an erratic storm, unbiased in its destruction – a spinning, driving force that only seeks to demolish.

We used to walk in the sun, feeling its warmth upon our face. Then one day we heard the wind howling in the distance, we watched as the skies turned gray. An echo of thunder sent a ghostly shudder down our backs - an eerie sign of what was to come. But it was far enough in the distance for us to believe it would pass us by, to believe that we might be spared. We received a premonition of the future, a fatal diagnosis, but there was nothing that could be done. We searched the skies for hope, seeing only darkness. The once blue skies became as dark as night, as the silhouette of a vast vortex was revealed. We ran and hid. It found us… and descended upon us with a gale force wind, burying us alive. It came straight for us and what we held most dear, our son. Nothing was left untouched - the dust and debris of our lives now strewn across the earth.

We felt targeted -singled out and alone.

But after the storm passed, we emerged from the dark cellar of grief to see others straining their eyes towards the sun. We saw others looking at the scattered remains of their lives - digging through the dirt and ashes trying to find just one piece intact. Our eyes met over our shattered lives, our pain reflected in theirs - and we were united. United as survivors. Walking with one-another, we began to rebuild our lives from the leveled foundation. Knowing that another storm could be just beyond the horizon but continuing on, sharing borrowed hope until we find our own.

~ ~ ~

Alex Hopper is a writer in North Carolina. She is married to her beloved, Trent, and mommy to her angel, Cyrus. Cyrus was diagnosis with a fatal birth defect in the womb at 12 weeks. He was carried with love until he was born at 33 weeks on November 25, 2013. He lived for 1 hour and 9 minutes. His life was short, but his legacy lives on.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Phoebe's Story, by her Mama

By Misty Jassey - Knowing Phoebe Ann

When I found out that I was expecting another baby, I was not flooded with happiness. We were in the end stages of building our house and facing another major move and we were not hiding our stress well. But, after my eyes went big and my shoulders fell, I remember smiling. Because, even in what seemed like the worst timing, my heart couldn’t help but be happy. I mean, it was a baby! What better thing could I fill up a new house with than a new baby? Nothing. 
So, we shared our joyful news and quickly planned to kick Troy out of the new office he hadn’t even had the chance to move into. But, as you know, our plans had to change. May 21st of this year, we found out that God did not have the same plans that we did and we had to lay them down. We were told that our daughter had a condition, anencephaly, and that her life could not be sustained outside of my body. 

In our fog of shock and grief, we heard the word "terminate" and together we firmly said, "NO". She was alive. She was our daughter. Above all, she was a creation and image bearer of Almighty God. We were completely devastated and completely honored to be chosen to protect her life, however long it might be. So, we made new plans. Now, we held them more loosely, but we made plans to hold Phoebe when she was born and we prayed expectantly, hoping that we could spend time with her alive on this earth. In fact, I changed the way I prayed to God. I still prayed for His will to be done in our lives and with sweet Phoebe. But, God knew my heart wanted more and I asked for it.

I asked to hear her make a noise. I asked to see her grasp her brother’s hand. I asked that Amelia could get her to suck her finger. I asked for more. I felt good about it and I didn’t see why God wouldn’t grant me these things. 
In the midst of celebrating her life and feeling her move, I kind of forgot that my plan might be different than God’s plan. On August 15th, God let me know, with a quiet stillness I hadn’t felt in months, that He heard me and still had chosen His way over my way. Nothing we ever wanted or ever planned was left before us. 

On August 25th, Phoebe Ann was born. And she was wonderful. It was 10 days between the time she passed and I gave birth to her body. Long story short, we chose a more natural induction method to keep our birth and burial plans in place. My body wanted so 
badly to do its job of keeping my baby where she should have been. There was much convincing that had to be done to change that and the wait was yet another trial. 

Phoebe's precious little body showed the signs of her being gone for many days. We never really saw her as she was. Seeing her, empty of all signs of life and seeing her with many signs of death in its place, was indescribable. After careful dressing her, we allowed her brother and sisters and then other family to see her. Her siblings thought she was the most beautiful baby doll they had ever seen and fought for turns to hold her. There was so much joy and so much grief together in the same place. It was not our time. It was not our plan. It was absolutely not our prayer. 
I read a beautiful book written by another mother, who also carried her baby with a fatal birth defect. She likened losing her daughter to Mary Magdalene, who broke the bottle of expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet. She wrote that, “This offering was always meant to fall from your hands.”. I believe that. Phoebe Ann was never intended for me or Troy to keep. The way her body was formed was all in God’s design, in His plan for her and for us. He didn’t have His back turned and miss something. If I wanted to blame someone in this great tragedy of loss, I could blame Him. I have blamed Him. But, I also trust Him. I trust that no matter how good my plan seems, no matter how holy, His plan for us is better. I trust that no matter how right my way seems, His way is always leading to a more beautiful place. 
I would liken this experience much more closely to the scripture that tells us to take up our cross and follow Christ. But at every turn, He has asked us to lay down our arm loads of plans and desires to take up our cross and follow Him. Somehow, we gather more plans and desires along the way that are not always His own. And again, He asks us to lay them down, get a better grip and keep following. That sounds so inviting, right?
One thing I asked God for when we found out Phoebe’s diagnosis was for joy. It seemed so impossible then. But, I can honestly look back and see hundreds of joys. - People being the hands and feet of Jesus - The church being the church - Friends and family surrounding us with love - Growing closer to my children - Sharing with others who have lost and grieving with them - People taking our names and Phoebe’s name before the throne of an Almighty God in prayer (That always takes my breath.) - Feeling and knowing my precious girl as she grew - Feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit when we needed it most - Knowing His love in a whole new way
All joy.
But, the greatest joy I now have is the joy of the hope that is in me. The joy of knowing my Savior has prepared a place for me, a place for our Phoebe Ann, more beautiful, more wonderful, more glorious than any place I could give her on this earth. She is more loved, more whole, more perfect than we could have ever made her. My dream for my children is not happiness on this earth, but joy found in an eternity spent with Jesus and Phoebe is already there!
Why God chose me as the one person on this planet to know Phoebe Ann better than anyone ever could, I do not know. But, it is my greatest honor and I will forever be grateful.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Creating a Remembrance Table - Part III

By Dave and MaryJo Carlson, Samuel's Grandparents

This is part III of III. Read I - Read II

Our Sweet Samuel, Each day we have loved seeing all your things on your remembrance table.  We have had many people come and look at it.  The ones that are the most curious are children that visit our home.  They like to touch your picture and ask all about you.  They think you are beautiful and we agree.  They like to ask all about heaven.  We wish you could answer the questions we imagine together.  Today our 3 little neighbor children were here.  We talked about animals that are in heaven and how much fun you must be having with them.  Their dog has been very sick and today they had to say goodbye to her.  Her name is Pippin.  They wondered if you would look for her and help her to feel welcome in heaven. I think your table helped them to talk about their sadness and the joy of heaven. 
On day 9 we added two things from Oregon.  Your mama and daddy moved there last year with all your special things.  But you already know that. They made a special place in their home just for you. It is so perfect!  Your aunties visited your mama and daddy this summer and brought back these two very precious things from their trip; a real leaf that has been preserved and a rock turtle from the Sea Lion Cave.  They just knew you would have loved the sea lion caves.  We think they are right.  Do you play with the sea lions in heaven?

On day 10 we moved your light from the stand it usually sits on, to your table.  We bought this light for the first Wave of Light we participated in the year you went to heaven – 2012. Your little light shines in our hearts each and every day Samuel.

Your remembrance table would not be right without books.  Here are just a few that we have for you.  Your mama and daddy read books to you all the time while you were here with us.  We continue to buy books in your memory.  You know lots of books were donated to the library near your house in Mankato in your memory on your 2nd birthday.  I like to think of all the families that check out your books and read your name and say it out loud. Day 11 was the day of Samuel’s books.
On day 12 Grampa hung the candle we bought together for this year’s Wave of Light.  Here it is right by the word love. We practiced lighting it for you.  It will be a very special night again to light the world with love for all our babies that are with you in heaven.  I bet you all stop and look down from heaven and cheer when your light shines up to each of you. We can just hear all the children of heaven squealing and imagine seeing you all jumping and clapping “there’s mine and there’s mine, oh look there’s yours…”. So much love shining up to you.
One more candle for day 13.  There is a loss mama who makes beautiful butterfly drawings in the sand in Australia for all the loss families.  Her name is CarlyMarie.  She made one just for you, Samuel.  We took one of the pictures of your sand butterfly and put it on a globe. We added some sand and a candle to light inside and laid some shells in front of it.  It is a beautiful blue, one of our favorite colors to remember you with.  It reminds us of the color daddy and grampa painted your room while we waited for you to be born.
It is almost the day for Wave of Light.  Day 14 and our table is complete. We light our candles. A part of your table has always been there.  Your table sits right under our shelf that always has the manager scene on it, we never put it away.   A mama that had to give her son back too.  We can think of no better place to have your table then under the story of Jesus, the light of the world, who gave his life so that we can be together forever with you in heaven, Samuel.  Samuel, you are already there, free from pain and sorrow; safe and happy and know only love. You have always only known love.  We can’t wait to be with you forever!
October 15, Wave of Light – we light the world with the light of our love for you, our beautiful little boy that we desperately miss each and every day.  You light up our lives with LOVE.

Sending lots of hugs and hundreds of kisses,
Grama and Grampa

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Worst Welcome Letter Ever

by Megan Coker

Dearest Mama,

I don’t want you here.
I love you, but I don’t want us to have met.

I love you so much and I don’t want you in my club.

You’ll hear it referred to as that often- a club, and the crappiest club ever.
(Child loss, that is.)

And that is exactly what it feels like sometimes… a club that houses the only people who “get” you.

But you are kind and good, just like so many of us. You don’t deserve this any more than any of us do. No one deserves this. So when it comes to this I don’t want to be able to get you and I don’t want you to be able to get me.

You have invited me into a sacred place. You have asked me to witness your hello and your goodbye. You are allowing me to say hello and goodbye to your baby too. You have welcomed me into your life and given me the blessing of your friendship.

I am honored. I will take those priceless photographs. I will hold your hand. I will love your baby and mourn her with you.

But I wish I couldn’t do any of that. I wish you weren’t joining the club.

Since you are, and since I love you… I must welcome you.

This is my first time. But my arms are open.

I will cry with you and yell with you. I will lie quietly in your bed with you. I will take walks for fresh air with you. I will smile with you and laugh with you. I will help you talk about your memories with this daughter. I will never forget her name.

The rest of the world will still see you. You won’t be invisible. They will still love you. They will still love her. This month they’re all raising awareness for us- awareness of too many incomplete earthly families. We’re one in four, you know. That’s a lot. They know that’s a lot. But there isn’t much they can do. So instead they’re all rallying behind us. They’re funding research for our babes. They’re loving on us and being reminded to pray for us. The world is trying. This month, times around our babies’ births and deaths, holidays, and other occasions… they are aware.

But mama, you and me? We will always, always, always be aware.
There will never be a moment that we are not completely aware.
Our club membership card will slap us in the faces as we wake up from the minutes of sleep after exhausting days and nights full of performing our club duties:
and none of it will bring our children back to our arms.
So all in all, life in the club is not very rewarding.

You can’t get back out of our group. I’m so sorry. Our daughters will never come back to us here. Your girl and my Eden are together and away from us. We might as well be together too until we can meet them both in Heaven. Only other people in our club will understand you best, anyway.

And sometimes, we might not even understand you. Sometimes, we will miss the mark with you. I know it happens to me. It is such a lonely path to take, one that none of us would choose and one that all of us struggle down. So, while we might not always understand, we will always be gentle with your heart.

The dues for membership are way too damn high.
We won’t ask much from you besides that you help us remember and love our babies and extend us the same grace too.

Once in our club, you will experience a change in how you view the outside world. Feelings might include:

etcetera, etcetera.

Please know that these feelings are normal, no matter how alienated you are made to feel for them.

The lives of the people around you are going to go on. And though you’ll be glad for them, that will be so painful.

You will watch babies be born, engagements, weddings, new achievements all around you and wonder how your life could come to a complete halt while everyone else’s continues down a happy trail.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter will all still happen without our babies here. What a cruel thought: we will endure our children’s milestones without them.
We will endure them together. I’m just sorry that we must.

I want to save you from this. I want to save your baby. But I can’t.
I want to tell you that it will be alright. But it won’t.
I want to tell you that the pain goes away. But from what I can gather, it doesn’t.

All I can tell you is that I will be here. And I know that some days you will not even want me here. That’s okay too. I will always give you as little or as much space as you need in the moment.

With your fellow club members, you can be real. You can tell us of your jealousy, guilt, anger, and fear. We will never judge you for any of it. You will find that we’ve also been jealous, guilty, angry, and afraid.

We are here. We are always aware of you. We know your pain. And we will love you every day of the year.

I hope that you feel the warmth of the arms of every grieving mother. I pray that our support will shine on your face like the sun. You are welcome here. You are safe here.

With Love,

Eden’s Mama
~ ~ ~

Megan carried Eden Olivia to birth in June 2015 after receiving a diagnosis of a severe Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia in the Bilateral form. Eden lived for 40 minutes. Megan is Ryan’s wife and together they follow his Army career. She has found a way to honor Eden’s short life in capturing the beautiful moments of others through starting her photography business, Eden’s Garden Images. Each day has its new challenges for both Megan and Ryan but they are learning to lean on each other through it and work steadily on strengthening their marriage. Megan finds healing through writing about Eden and remembering their beautiful time together.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Creating a Remembrance Table - Part II

 Dave and MaryJo Carlson, grandparents to Samuel Evan Fredrickson.

This is part II of a series of tutorials for creating a Remembrance Table in preparation for the Wave of Light on October 15th. Be sure to read Part I and Part III

Dear Samuel,
We did some more work on the table that’s all about you. We are sharing it with all our friends whose children and grandchild are in heaven with you.
Our second day of creating your Samuel’s Sacred Space Table just has to have bunnies.  As you know this is one of your nicknames that your mama and daddy call you, “our little bunny”.  We couldn’t stop at just one so we are going to play a game with you called ‘find the bunnies’.  Can you find all of them on the table?  You have enough fingers on one hand to count them all. We love you, little bunny boy.
The third day was easy because that’s the birthday we celebrated with you this year, Samuel, you are 3 years old!  We can’t believe how big you are getting. We bet you can run very fast and maybe love playing chase with all your friends in heaven.  Use your eyes and find where we are hiding the # 3. It’s in a very special lap to represent what we wish we were doing – holding you on our lap and telling stories. Grandpa is really good at that.

Day 4 adds a great big S. S is for Samuel, the sweetest boy we know.  S is for stretching your arms way out wide and saying SO BIG; yes you are.  S is for your smile that melts our hearts when we think of you.  S is for the someday that we will be together forever and never, ever apart.  
The letter S is made of metal which is very strong, just like our LOVE for you.  Day 5 we add the word love (also made of metal) for there is no better word to describe how we feel about you. The word love is only 4 letters long but our love for you goes on and on and on…
On day 6 we hung your prayer flag that we made for you this summer. We love to see and say your name and it has another bunny on it, this one with a fluffy, puffy tail.  We think you’d love baby bunnies – the real ones are so cute, just like you. Now that we think of it you probably play with bunnies all the time.
Grampa and Grama were shopping the other day and a sign caught our eye.  You can see we bought it for your memory table to add on day 7. You are forever present in our hearts, day in and day out.  We imagine you in everything we do.  Do you hear us when we talk to you? Oh we hope so

Day 8 we added a rock that usually sits on top of our piano. We see it all the time.  We sure miss you each and every day.  Your name is music to our ears and so that is why we chose to have it on the piano.  Right next to the rock is a beautiful angel that your cousins picked out when we went to the state fair this year.  When it’s nice outside she sits in our Samuel garden. We made it just for you.  Sometimes we have to look for where she is hiding as she likes to check out all the flowers that are blooming or play in the fairy garden house.  Do you play in heaven’s gardens Samuel?We're going to keep adding to your special table, to get it ready for the Wave of Light on the 15th. Our next post will be when we're ready to light your special candle!
~ ~ ~
Dave and MaryJo Carlson are Samuel Evan's grandparents. Their daughter, RaeAnne, carried him with all her love after learning of his fatal diagnosis during pregnancy. She created All That Love Can Do in his memory. MaryJo runs the private group for bereaved grandparents, ATLCD_Grandparents. They live in MN.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Thing About Miracles

by Jessi Snapp

I have serious issues with the word "miracle." It makes my stomach turn, heart palpitate, and knees weak. When I hear it, it evokes a visceral response - mostly because of the context in which it is spoken. Someone gazing into the eyes of a precious baby melting with joy, "Oh! What a miracle she is!" Yes - life is a miracle. Life is hard yet fragile, precious, and not promised - but a miracle none the less. Somehow, it takes death to make the sanctity of life even more clear.

"Pray for a miracle and he will be healed."

Those words and many others like it were uttered to me throughout my pregnancy. People around me were convinced that they would see a grand miracle take place before their very eyes. One that would restore their faith and breathe hope back into a broken world. Convinced that my son would be born healed and completely healthy. Until he wasn't.

"Maybe if you prayed harder, he would have lived."

Those words were declaimed to me in riotous indignation after my son's death. Like somehow I had killed him with my lack of faith. Somewhere along the line I became unworthy of a miracle because I didn't pray hard enough. I didn't have enough faith. I didn't believe enough. I was so baffled that someone could actually believe my son's death happened because I didn't pray hard enough. Did they honestly think that was true? More importantly, were they right? Words spoken by a dear friend of mine say it best -

"There is no stronger prayer than that of a mother asking God to spare her baby's life."

When we made the announcement about our son's life limiting condition, I felt that many people brushed over the seriousness of it with words of hope, faith, and prayers for a miracle. I, of course, wanted a miracle to happen. I prayed, I screamed, I begged, and I pleaded for a miracle - but a part of me knew. I just knew that he wasn't going to be healed no matter how much I wanted it. No matter how much I prayed for it, medical reality hung over me like a dark cloud. It cast shadows upon my hopes, my heart, and upon my faith.

After a while, prayers and hopes of healing turned into simple prayers. Prayers that graciously asked for what we wanted most - time. Prayers that acknowledged the inevitable, but still begged and bargained for days, hours, even minutes of time. I prayed that we could hold him in our arms alive. That in itself would be a miracle to us. That was the miracle and the hope that I began to ferociously cling to.

Miracles happen every single day. They just may not be the miracle you had hoped or prayed for. How hard or how much you pray doesn't determine if you are granted a specific miracle. Because if the strongest prayer is that of a mother asking for her child's life to be spared - there wouldn't be such a thing as a grieving mother. Our babies would outlive us all. And we would never know this anguish.

Some may think that a miracle didn't happen for my family, but it did. My son was and is the miracle. Because even in death his life continues to manifest such power and such hope. Beyond anything that I alone could explain. The lives he has touched, the impact he has left – it is all pretty miraculous to me. How one tiny little baby, who never took a breath, could reach the hearts of others and speak to them in a hundred different ways is nothing short of a miracle. Not exactly the miracle everyone had in mind. But I now know that there are different kinds of miracles. Little ones that present themselves in unexpected ways. We just have to be able to see them through the disappointment of not getting the miracle we wanted more. I had to rid myself of the false idea that miracles only come in grand gestures of divine intervention. Because sometimes miracles dwell even where there are crushed hopes and dreams and those are the ones that are so incredibly hard to see.

Even after enduring the loss of my son - I still believe in miracles. Just not the way I did before. Instead, I look for the miracles others don't see. The ones that are graciously placed in front of me every day that others wouldn't give a second thought to because they aren't big enough or grand enough to be recognized. The ones people typically don't see because they are far different from their idea of a miracle.

When I was pregnant, a silly little fortune cookie told me, "Believe in miracles." So I did. I just wish I would have known what it really meant. Because my miracle came beautifully wrapped up in a feeble baby boy who fit perfectly in my arms. He was tiny and his life so very brief. But he is no less a miracle. He is my miracle. And I will never stop believing in the power and hope that continues to manifests in his life.

~ ~ ~

Jessi Snapp resides in Indiana where she is pursuing her master’s degree in social work. She is married to her wonderful husband, Karl, and she is a mother to one living child and three in Heaven. After enduring two losses to miscarriage, Jessi became pregnant with her son Silas Edison who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at 20 weeks gestation. Silas was born and passed on August 20, 2014. Though his life was brief, he is loved for a lifetime. In Silas’ memory, Jessi turned his nursery into an art studio where she creates custom memorial art for other babies gone too soon. You can find her heart-centered work at LuminousLightStudio and on Facebook. She is also the newest contributor for Still Standing Magazine. Look for her writings, coming soon!

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Love of a Grandfather: A Tribute

by Bethany Conkel

The following article is a tribute to an incredible grandfather who loved his grandson unconditionally.

This afternoon (Oct 2, 2015) I lost my father very unexpectedly from what we believe to be a heart attack. He was young – only 56. He was an amazing man, an incredible father, and a wonderful grandfather.

He was one of the first people we called when we learned my son had anencephaly and would not live long after birth (March / 2012). He was one of the people who encouraged us to carry our son to term, and not just carry him to term, but to fully embrace our son during my pregnancy and celebrate the time we had with him while he was still inside me. I remember my father telling me that he wanted to be a grandfather to our son – even if it was only during the pregnancy! He was devastated that our son would not be staying on earth long, and he said he wanted memories of his grandbaby regardless of when he had to make them. I remember looking at him and thinking, “There’s no way I can do that. No way can I celebrate during a pregnancy that I know will end in the death of my baby. How? How am I supposed to do that? How can I make happy memories, let alone allow others to do the same?” As we continued to talk, the idea of embracing this life fully began to grown on me and I was able to see the importance of what he was encouraging me to do. The idea of creating a bucket list took form and became a reality.

My father took part in the bucket list in many ways. He would talk to our son through my belly every time he saw me. He would often would kiss my pregnant belly and tell our son how much he loved him and how glad he was to be his grandpa. My dad also took the time to read to my son – he had written a novel several years before my pregnancy and he wanted to make sure his grandson heard his book! It took hours… and my dad loved each one of them. I would sit next to him on the couch and he would read and read and read; he finished the book shortly before my delivery date. My dad came to a special 3D ultrasound and beamed with pride as he watched Amalya move on the screen. My father, a long-time pastor, also incorporated my son into many of his sermon. He was truly able to make memories with his grandson.

My father was at the hospital the entire time on the day we delivered Amalya. He prayed over us before I left for my scheduled C-section and was one of the first to greet us in the hall when I was finished. He made sure to be the first grandparent to hold Amalya and ohhhh, did he beam with pride! 

When we realized that it was time for Amalya to pass away, my father sat next to me, laid his hands on him and prayed over him as his heart slowly stopped beating. He was truly a proud, proud grandpa!

My father insisted on being the one to perform our son’s memorial service, even though he knew it would be difficult for him. He spoke about the amazing impact our son had on the lives of people all over the world. He spoke of the legacy our son had through his organ and whole body donations. He spoke of the way the Lord used him, even with a brief life. He also spoke of the love he had for his grandson.

Shortly after receiving our diagnosis, I remember my father telling me that our journey was going to be difficult. He said there would be days where I would question everything. Days where I would cry. Days where I would be angry. Days where I would want to share my son with the world, and others where I would want to hide away. There would be days of joy and excitement, but also days of sorrow. He told me no matter what type of day it was that he would be there for me every step of the way. And, he was! I could always be honest with my dad about how I was feeling in regards to my son. He was always there to listen, support, encourage, and love me – regardless of the day, feelings, or emotions.

After Amalya’s brief time here on earth, my dad continued to be an amazing grandfather to the memory of our son. He loved to hear about the lasting impact our son had through his organ and tissue donations. He was thrilled for me every time I was invited to a public speaking event to share about Amalya’s life. He would also brag to complete strangers about the things his grandson had accomplished in his short time here. My father and I frequently had conversations about Amalya and he would always say how thankful he was to be involved in his life.

This past year, on our son’s 3rd birthday and heaven day (September 10, 2015) my Father made sure I was not alone, rather that I was able to spend the day with him and my mom. The last picture we have of my father was taken that day. He was kneeling the ground next to my mother blowing bubbles in memory of Amalya.

He was truly an amazing grandpa all the way to the end. 

The day before my father passed, we had a conversation over lunch about a few of the ways Amalya’s legacy continues to grow and some of the upcoming events that I will be speaking at. He was so proud!

When I learned that my dad passed I couldn’t help but think how excited he would be not only to meet his Lord and Savior, but also to see his grandson again!

Sometimes I think it is easy to forget about the love grandparents have for a grandchild whose life was (or will be) brief. It is easy to focus on the mom and dad, but for some reason the grandparents get overlooked. I want to take this moment and thank all of the grandparents who have loved their grandchild during a brief life and continue to love them even after they have passed. I hope you were able to make some amazing memories with your grandbaby while they were here on earth. If your grandbaby is still here, I hope you are able to embrace the time you have and are able to create memories with your grandbaby, even if it only during the pregnancy. Your love and support is so very, very appreciated. It is felt and has a lasting impact.

~ ~ ~

Bethany Conkel lives in Ohio and is married to her wonderful husband, Eric. She is the mommy to two amazing children – one who is in heaven, the other here on earth. Bethany carried her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel (meaning: “work of the Lord”, “given by God”) to term after receiving the diagnosis of anencephaly when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Amalya lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord’s hand. After he passed, his liver, pancreas, and whole body were donated to scientific research. Bethany has since created a website about neonatal organ, tissue, and whole body donation called Purposeful Gift to help other families explore the option of donation. She is also a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through and serves with Sufficient Grace Ministries.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Creating a Remembrance Table - Part I

By Dave and MaryJo Carlson, grandparents to Samuel Evan Fredrickson.

October is the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is the Wave of Light.

This is part I of III. Be sure to read Part II and Part III.

"Where but in the present can the eternal be met?" 
- C.S Lewis
Our dear Samuel, 
You are so beautiful and you are so loved! How can we not remember you? How can we not still talk about you? How can we not celebrate you? How do we wait what might be a very long time to be with you forever? A precious little boy who stole our hearts the second we heard he was on the way and has forever changed us for this life and the next - Samuel Evan Fredrickson - April 14, 2012 was hello and goodbye until we meet again FOREVER. 
It has been over 3 years since we met you face to face; touch to touch. How can it be that we still wish time has not moved forward but forever stood still.

Stood still so we could keep you here with us.
Stood still so we could scoop you into our arms and never let you go.
Stood still so we could say everything we wanted to say to you.
Stood still so we could smother you with kisses and hugs and cute little sayings.
Stood still so we could be your grandparents and have you here with us… 
…rather than wishing time stood still.
We love you, Samuel!

We look back and realize a person will truly never know what this feels like until it happens to them. We don't know what it means to lose a child in the way our daughter and son-in-law do. But that doesn’t keep us from remembering with them, supporting them through the rest of this life as they try and find a way to live without their ‘little love’. (We love that term our daughter and son-in-love have for our grandson Samuel) He’s our little love too, just in a grandparent way. We are so very appreciative that there is a public recognition of this horrible, nightmarish, life altering event of infant loss. For every parent who has been given this tragedy deserves to be upheld publicly with respect and honor for their bravery and courage of living after loss. And - I should add - with most people wanting you to stop talking about it and just go on with life.

This year for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, we are decorating a remembrance table for Samuel. It will have things that we have had out before and in different places around our house but for this year we will daily build a 2015 table of remembrance for him until October 15 when we join others around the world for Wave of Light as we light our Samuel candle. Our table is not far from our front door for all to see who visit us. Here is a picture of what is on it when we started:

We have moved these things to another spot in the room and are now ready to build our Sacred Place of Remembrance for our precious Samuel Evan. Each day we'll be adding additional items.
October 1sttable covering 
A close friend of the family made this quilt for Samuel while our daughter carried him. It was displayed at his memorial service. 

The matching pillow reminds us that we got a glimpse of heaven while Samuel was with us. 
We added a collage of his photos, and now the table is ready for us to create a special place for him leading up to the 15th!

We will add to this daily and update all of you on as we get closer to the 15th, with his candle ready to light.

We encourage everyone to set a sacred place of remembrance for your child/grandchild that waits for us in heaven.
~ ~ ~
Dave and MaryJo Carlson are Samuel Evan's grandparents. Their daughter, RaeAnne, carried him with all her love after learning of his fatal diagnosis during pregnancy. She created All That Love Can Do in his memory. MaryJo runs the private group for bereaved grandparents, ATLCD_Grandparents. They live in MN.
Powered by Blogger.
Design by Luminous Light Studio | All Rights Reserved