Being able to reach out to others....

One of the greatest gifts I got from Kathleen's life was the feeling that I was better able to understand other people's pain -- especially when it involved the loss of a child. There is something about being a member of this "club" that provides a bond with others who have shared at least a similar experience. While I would give anything to not be part of it, I have to admit that my life seems a lot richer for having met so many wonderful people ... people that I got to know only because we shared the loss of a baby.

I know that especially for those whose loss is more recent, the thought of having the energy or even desire to be pillar of strength for someone else is not high on your list of things to do. But I hope you will consider how much the understanding and compassion you can offer others with similar stories means to them.

For those of you who have been a part of a support group, you probably can better understand what I'm saying. Sometimes just being in the same room with other bereaved moms and dads can help with the loneliness and feelings of hopelessness. While there will be a time when you know it's right for you to move on from that group, you will have likely gained a lot of strength from the stories you heard, the outlooks on life you witnessed, and the wisdom that was shared.

Almost 20 years after Kathleen's stillbirth, my nephew and his wife experienced the full term stillbirth of their daughter, Lillie. The circumstances were eerily similar and there was no doubt that it was difficult to have so many painful feelings brought to the surface once again. But ... I honestly believe that they received the outpouring of support they did because of the things we, and our entire family, learned from Kathleen's death. The bond that we now share with them is one that no one else can completely understand, and that makes it incredibly special.

Have you found yourselves relating to others in a way you would not have prior to your loss? Does it make you angry that you know how they feel, or does it feel good to know you are there for them?

Share Your Dreams

This is one of those posts where I know I might not get any responses, but I'm going to write it anyway.

Do you remember what you thought, felt, dreamed of, when you first found out you were going to be a dad? When first hearing the news, whether it's our first child or fourth, many of us picture ourselves fathering the expected baby. It might be envisioning yourself pacing the living room in the middle of the night with a baby that won't stop crying. Maybe it's taking the child to their first matinee on a Saturday afternoon. Or, maybe it's anticipating the day they will leave for college and wondering how you will ever be able to afford it?

So, what happens when those dreams are shattered? The dreams certainly change, but do they go away? It seems like we not only get robbed of being able to live those dreams, many of us never even get the chance to share them with anyone. Being guys, we sometimes think that to do that would somehow be strange

So, if you like, I hope you will use this blog to tell us what you felt and what you imagined your life would be like with this child. I think it will be good for all of us to know we weren't alone in having dreams, and hopefully it will feel good to have a place to let the world know what they were.

Any takers?

Grief and Technology

I am curious as to whether many of you have an opinion about the most effective ways to receive long-range grief support in today's high tech society?

Obviously nothing can replace the hug or face to face meetings one gets from family and friends. But for those who don't feel that support or live in a smaller community where support groups may not be readily available, what has worked for you? What hasn't? What would you like to see offered?

The internet opens new worlds for all of us every day. Blogs, web sites, chat groups, online memorials, are all becoming more plentiful and I know many wonderful people who invest hours and hours of effort into their outreach to others via these outlets. But, what is missing? What do you find is not as helpful as you hoped it would be?

The company I co-own, A Place To Remember, is always looking for the most effective ways to reach families at the time they need it. That's not easy, since none of us put losing a child on our list of short or long range plans. And certainly, when in the midst of shock and extreme sadness, having to search for help can feel overwhelming. Sadly, every day we hear from people who have stumbled upon a resource they think is wonderful, but they wish it had been available (or they were aware of it) at the time they needed it most.

The high tech world and grief don't always seem to feel like they should go together, but in fact they do. We just need to figure out the most effective way to harness the best of what is available.

Any thoughts?