A great weekend at Faith's Lodge

I'm slowing at posting this because things have gotten kind of busy ... which is a good thing when you are a small business owner in a poor economy.

Sherokee Ilse and I lead a couple's retreat at Faith's Lodge in northern Wisconsin on Mother's Day weekend. It was a fantastic experience and once again reminded me of the many blessings Kathleen's life has brought me.

Being around young families who have had more recent losses is never easy, and it almost sounds strange to say we had a fun weekend ... but we did. There was much laughter and certainly a fair amount of crying, but the openness and sharing that took place is what meant the most to me. Hearing parents, men in particular, talk about how their lives have changed and their priorities rearranged since their loss, gives me hope that all the pain we have experienced has not been for nothing. It once again proves that it is possible to learn and grow from even the most horrendous experiences that life might toss at us.

Each of the couples at the retreat had a very unique story -- but those stories also shared a common thread. These moms and dads loved and wanted their babies and they will spend the rest of their lives remembering and honoring them, learning to incorporate their memory into their own present and future. I have no doubt that they will be successful in doing that, and their children will continue to touch countless people in the years to come.

If you are not aware of it already, check out Faith's Lodge, and consider spending some time there. It truly is a place of healing and hope.

A Father's Day Poem

Sherokee Ilse, is a good friend and co-author of the Couple Communication book we just published. She and her husband, David, have been good friends of Monica and mine since shortly after our babies died. Our baby's lives brought us together and in the last 25 years we have shared many good, and some sad, times together. Sherokee just sent me this poem she recently wrote and asked me to share it. Here it is:

Who Remembers You?

Dad, supporting mom along the way
Waiting for the time and day
When you can hold your daughter or son
And you can finally be the one
To toss your babe above your head
And tuck him in his waiting bed
Make a toy or buy a drum
Your time was near, but did not come.

Who knew you would be standing nigh
And have to prematurely say goodbye?

This day is yours and yet it's not
The others don't see the many tears you fought
To hold within and look so strong
As you tried to do nothing wrong.

On this your special Father's Day
Remember your baby who would want to say,
"I love you Dad. You are the one.
I'll always be your daughter or son.
Feel my kiss upon your cheek
And know that someday I believe we'll meet.
Until then, let your tears come, (or not)
And love my mommy lots and lots."

S. Ilse 2009

Abuse has no excuse....

Hey... I am a part of several infant loss discussion groups around the world, and one of the things that I have been hearing about is men who are having trouble dealing with their grief and are turning to some level of violence (emotional or physical) as they become more and more angry.

Few people understand anger, helplessness, and low self-esteem better than I do. If you are experiencing any of those feelings (or others), my heart goes out to you. But I think it's important that everyone remember that even during the most difficult times, we have choices. While we can't change what has already happened and need to remember that our baby's deaths were not because of a personal failure, we must take responsibility for how we move forward.

As time passes, if you find yourself getting more and more angry about your situation and feeling hopeless, know that lashing out at your partner or other children is not a viable option. Most likely the way you are acting is not normal for you and may even be hard for you to recognize.... but if ANYONE is saying that your behavior has become hurtful, listen to them and be willing to take a long hard look at yourself and how you are coping. If you aren't willing to do that, you may find yourself alone. ASK YOURSELF -- Is that what you want? Is that what your baby would have wanted for you?

As difficult as it is, there are ways of letting off steam in a much more productive way.
At the very least, post a comment here or contact a friend or professional you trust.
Start taking steps to heal by allowing yourself to be honest,
Remember that you are not alone,
Know that you are not a terrible husband or father,
Understand that your pain is real and justified,
Realize that the choice to take positive steps is yours, and yours only

Finally, keep in mind that there are those of us who have gone down this road before you, and because of that, we want to be able to help in whatever way we can.