sharing your stories and remembering your children
By: Nick Carrington EPLA Editor
Dear Little One,
I wonder what your name is. That might seem strange; no one ever gave you a name. You were gone before we knew whether to buy you a blue or pink blanket, and names tend to follow such things.
But you’re a person, and people have names. I don’t like not knowing. One of the first things we learn about someone is their name, and in families, we attached meaning to those names.
Your father’s name is Adam. I can’t hear that name without thinking of someone who swallows books whole, digesting wisdom and rejecting folly. In our family, the name Adam means “prudence,” but not the unfeeling kind. It’s cloaked in kindness; the upspring of a big heart.
Maybe you’re an Adam, too. Maybe you would have read books for hours, unknowingly playing with your earlobe. Maybe you would have found your groove on the junior high dance floor. Maybe you would have tackled some of life’s hardest questions about virtue, liberty, and the brokenness of men.
Studious. Fun. Shrewd. But best of all, full of love.
But maybe you’re an Emily, like your mother. In our family, that name is synonymous with a relentless will, a will dedicated to goodness and beauty. I would never want to get between an Emily and the task at hand.
If you are an Emily, you would have conquered this life through goals and lists, motivated to heal the grief that we only whisper about. You would have harnessed your strong will (with some help from your parents) to attack pain and replace it with peace. You would have brought light to dark places, and rested in the evening with a glass of wine.
Strong. Passionate. Good. But best of all, full of love.
But I’m guessing you aren’t an Adam or an Emily. You are something between and wholly other. You take from both and make it your own. You may even have a little silliness in you, like your favorite uncle.
One day I’ll know -- not just your name, but what it means. Until then, Little One, know that while you never had a name in this life, you still mean so much.
Nick Carrington is an Editor for the EPLA and Associate Professor of Professional Writing at Cedarville University
By Maria Servold EPLA Editor
For decades, one of the hardest things to find after a miscarriage was support. In recent years, that has changed. Now, groups like the Early Pregnancy Loss Association and others are working to provide emotional, physical, and mental support after pregnancy loss.
EPLA provides information, in the form of resource folders and this blog, as well as physical support, with our miscarriage care kits. Eventually, we hope to help cover the cost of medical bills associated with miscarriage.
Another organization providing support is the Star Legacy Foundation. A national group, Star Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce pregnancy and infant loss, provide support for families after loss, and support research on loss.
One of the greatest things Star Legacy offers is a series of support groups, held online via video conferencing. This encourages anyone to participate, no matter their location. Sometimes, the hardest thing to do after a miscarriage is to leave the house and seek support. Star Legacy’s support groups make that hurdle much easier.
Support groups cover a range of topics including: pregnancy after loss, dads’ grief, and coping with SIDS/infant death. A list of support group meeting times and registration information can be found here.
Maria Servold is an Editor at the EPLA, Assistant Director of the Herbert H. Dow II Program in American Journalism, and Lecturer in Journalism at Hillsdale College.
By: Stephanie Gordon, EPLA board member and blog editor
Last fall, the Hillsdale College for Life group and the chaplain’s office hosted an event called Rachel Weeping, which was a prayer service of healing for the loss of infant life. The event took place in November at the college’s Christ Chapel. The evening was filled with scripture and prayer to remember those who died in the womb and in infancy.
Reverend Adam Rick, Hillsdale College chaplain, led the service, along with some student volunteers.
“The background for Rachel Weeping is a service my church in New England put together many years ago to offer a tangible way to grieve within the arms of Christian community and worship for mothers and families who had lost infant children in the womb or shortly after,” Rick said. “It has been offered by this congregation every year since it was first devised. It basically represents a slightly modified funeral liturgy with elements common to various Christian traditions. It was thought this was especially important for women who lost children in the womb because our culture doesn’t generally offer any kind of ceremony to mark this kind of trauma.”
Rick led the service, with the help of student volunteers.
“A key part of the service is the writing of a letter to the child in which, as the Spirit leads, they call the child by name and commend them to God. The letters are placed on the altar in exchange for a white rose, and afterwards they are destroyed by the officiating clergyman (burned and ashes buried).”
Rick said the service was originally proposed by the Hillsdale College for Life group. The service included several members of the club, plus musicians from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and prayer teams from both IV and Equip Ministries.
Local pastors, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, were present to offer pastoral counseling.
“We reached out to local churches and pregnancy resource centers so this service can be a ministry of the college to the outside community as well as to our own,” Rick said.
Hillsdale College for Life hopes to make Rachel Weeping an annual event.
Kathryn Wales, a Hillsdale local, and mother who’s experienced loss, said she was grateful for the chance to write her daughter a letter.
“I had talked to her and prayed with her for years,” said Wales. “But, the prompt to express and submit articulated thoughts and feelings was an important part of my grieving process. I recommend it to any parent who has experienced loss.”
By: Emily Carrington EPLA President and Founder
“Is the nursery done!?” A woman asked cheerfully at Bible Study.
“Oh, no. I guess I have been behind on that. I am not really sure it will be done before she gets here,” I responded politely.
“Oh! But you will want a place to put her stuff, and nest! It is just so nice to be organized before the baby gets here. I am sure you will be more motivated soon!”
I smiled and was glad the conversation had come to a natural close.
I was in my third trimester of my fourth pregnancy. This was the furthest I had ever made it, and I had every reason to believe that our little girl would be joining us in a few weeks.
But I couldn’t be sure enough to completely finish her nursery.
It wasn’t like I had ignored all of the preparations for the room. We had taken the wallpaper down and painted the walls. I had sorted clothes on a folding table in the corner, and I had thought about where to hang some of the art on the walls. Eventually, my best friend from childhood came to visit, and we spent the weekend washing and sorting clothes.
Over the next few weeks I did gain some motivation to prepare more. We put up the bassinet, and we opened some gifts. We bought a car seat and packed our bags.
But when we brought our beautiful baby home from the hospital, the nursery was far from done. There was no crib, there was no rocking chair, there were hardly any pictures on the walls.
The truth was, I just couldn’t. I couldn’t find the emotional energy to complete a nursery because deep down, I didn’t believe we were bringing home a baby.
I did not have gruesome thoughts; there were no medical worries. I had no logical reason to be so pessimistic. But after three pregnancies that seemed to vanish — why should this one miraculously end in a baby?
I did not complete her nursery until she was nearly 9 months old. By the time I was done, it was my favorite room in the house, a beautiful room laced with memories, love, and LIFE!
Now I see that even though I had lost each of my first three babies in the first trimester, their losses haunted me throughout my whole pregnancy with my daughter.
Pregnancy after loss is a unique experience full of unexpected challenges. Well-meaning people may not understand your lack of excitement or preparedness. Luckily, we are not alone.
I am thankful for organizations such as PALS that exist to help women walk through pregnancies after loss.
Check out their amazing mission:
“Pregnancy After Loss Support is dedicated to ensuring that every mom and her partner who is experiencing pregnancy after loss is able to find support and connection among both peers and health care professionals who understand and validate the unique and complex experience of pregnancy after a previous perinatal or child death.”
If you or a loved one are struggling with a pregnancy after loss I encourage you to reach out to PALS for support.
Emily Carrington is a freelance writer, wife, mother, and founder of the EPLA.