“Tough” Love: 9 Tips for Grieving Couples

Father's Day Can put a strain on grieving couples.

Father’s Day Can put a strain on grieving couples.

Father’s Day can stir a mix of emotions after a miscarriage. Fathers and Mothers can be affected by the event – which can be a painful reminder of loss.

You will often hear that grief and loss bring couples together, but it can actually do just the opposite. It is possible to emerge on the other side of grief with a closer marriage, but it does take work.

Here are some tips adapted from the book “Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death” that can help your marriage survive the stress of loss:
1. Give each other the freedom to grieve in an individual way. Resist the temptation to feel that your way is the only way to handle loss. Do not be fooled if it seems that your spouse has not been affected by the loss.
2. Remember the good times. Think about activities you enjoy as a couple and make time to do them- even if you do not feel up to it yet.
3. Expect tough times. Be tolerant with your mate and understand that you are both going to fail each other during this turbulent time.
4. Do not lash out at one another. In a weakened state of grief, this will only push you apart. Find constructive ways to release the stress and anger of grief.
5. Prepare for change. Loss and grief change people and it will change the face of your marriage. Decide together that this trial will bring you closer and commit to your relationship.
6. Reach out. Resist the urge to spend time away from your mate or reach out to others who better understand your grief.
7. Avoid placing blame. Tossing accusations at your spouse will only place a wedge in your relationship. Understand that feelings of guilt, anger, and confusion are normal during this time.
8. Love each other. Be sure to offer the hugs, cuddling, and love that each partner needs to feel secure and supported. Be sure to resume your physical relationship as soon as possible.
9. Seek information and support.

Educate yourselves on grief and try to understand one another. If you are having difficulties resolving your grief as a couple and you feel your marriage is in trouble, get help immediately! Do not wait until it is too late to seek help.

There are no easy answers for couples dealing with pregnancy loss. It is crucial that you make the decision to put your marriage first and then do it!
Lisa Church is author of “Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Death” and founder of HopeXchange, a company dedicated to helping women and their families facing miscarriage.

Father’s Day After Loss: Men Have Feelings Too

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 After the loss of a baby, Father’s Day can be a painful time for men that isn’t widely discussed or recognized. They will often hear friends and family asking their wives how they are doing, but rarely do men recieve the same type of attention. The lack of understanding and support offered to men makes grief a very complex and difficult situation for them.
It may sometimes appear that a man is not experiencing the pain of pregnancy loss. It is critical to understand how men and women grieve differently. Life experiences, along with cultural and personality differences mean that men and women are going to have separate, but equal dealings with grief.
If the lines of communication and support break down during loss, you will find a man feeling alone and unsupported. Here are some ways to help a man during grief:
  • Remember that men normally grieve in private- not in public. You may not see outward signs that a man is grieving, but do not be fooled. Understand that a man in grief will find himself in a difficult position- he will be shamed if he expresses deep emotions in public and he will be shamed if he does not.
  • Be aware that men often experience anger differently then women during grief. While women may tend to point anger inward, men often direct their anger outward. This can manifest as anger toward you or even God. Remember that expressed anger is a normal and healthy response, however hostile behavior is not.
  • Listen. Remember that some men want to talk, but they feel there is no one to listen. A man may also be uncomfortable putting his feelings into words. Encourage him by listening during those times when he does talk about it.
  • Ask what you can do. It is very important to ask what you can do to be of service to a man during his grief, and then do your best to meet his needs.
  • Keep an open mind. Remember that grief is an individual experience. Assuming that a man is not feeling pain if he grieves differently than you will only cause strife and misunderstanding.
Dealing with pregnancy loss is difficult for anyone. Understanding a man and him giving the space and support he needs will be critical.
The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death. We share this article each year near Father’s Day.

Am I a Mother? An Answer for Grieving Moms

Am I a Mother?

Am I a Mother?

Are you spending this Mother’s Day wondering if you are, in fact, a mother? 900,000-1 million women in the U.S. alone face this question every year after suffering pregnancy loss.

“For women who experience a miscarriage during their first pregnancy, the question of motherhood is an even greater one,” says Lisa Church of HopeXchange, a company dedicated to the support of women and their families facing pregnancy loss.

Mother’s Day is the most difficult holiday a woman must face after pregnancy loss. A time that was supposed to be a celebration of a new life and a new motherhood becomes a time of sadness and grief. Church’s book, Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death, encourages women to use the holiday to remember their babies, rather than making it a dreaded event to endure each year. “Nothing will lesson the pain of Mother’s Day, but with some planning you can make sure the day has meaning for you,” says Church. Here are some tips from the book that can help:

– You Are a Mother.

The best gift you can give yourself on Mother’s Day is the acknowledgment that you are a mother. You may not have a baby to hold in your arms, but you do have one in your heart.

– Let Your Family Know What You Need.

If you feel uncomfortable being recognized as a mother at a banquet or other function, substitute an activity you would feel good about. If you would rather not receive or wear a flower, then wear an item that helps you to connect with your baby, such as a piece of jewelry that includes the baby’s birthstone.

– Remember Your Baby.

Mother’s Day can be a great time for a husband and wife to talk about their baby and what the baby meant to them. Take a walk, have a quiet dinner, or just set aside some time to remember your baby together.

– Decide Ahead of Time.

The way you chose to spend Mother’s Day should be your decision- and one you make ahead of time. Setting time aside to remember and talk about your baby will make you “feel” more like a mom on the very day designed to do that. Church also reminds women that their spouses may experience similar feelings on Father’s Day, “so be sure to ask how he would like to spend the day.”

We run this article each year to help grieving Moms handle Mother’s Day.

Self Help: Are You Practicing Emotional First Aid?

We’ve all heard of “first aid” for the body, but how about emotional first aid? We all go to the doctor when our bodies don’t feel well, but we often try to deal with our emotions and our minds without any help at all?

Watch this compelling TED Talk that focuses on our emotional health and ways to heal common heartaches.

Facing Tough Times? Music Can Soothe the Soul

music

I recently lost someone I love to cancer. We talked almost every day until her treatment took her out of state. Many of our conversations were about staying strong, having hope and our faith. I often felt helpless watching the endless procedures she endured and the unrelenting side effects of chemo.

We shared a love for music. So one of the small things I felt I could do for my friend is send her uplifting songs to listen too. Every morning I would carefully choose a song for her and text the link to her phone, along with a short message. This was my daily routine for over a year. When she went into hospice, I decided to make a playlist for her, so she could listen for hours at a time.

And then she was gone…

I miss her so terribly. There are mornings I get up and think about what song I would have sent today. In spite of my grief, I am so relieved that she isn’t suffering any more. And I know in my heart, that she is dancing around in heaven right now.

When I went to my friend’s funeral, her husband shared with me how much it meant for her to have the music. He talked about the difficult times she spent in the hospital, and how she would play the songs to get her through.

Are you going through tough times right now? I’d like to share the music with you that I sent to my friend. Here is a link to Laura’s Playlist. I hope it will uplift your spirits and bring you peace.

kloveLooking for a positive radio station? Check out K-Love. You can listen online, or look for a local station near you.

May your body and soul be well.

Heart of Darkness: Tips for Healing an Angry Heart

6 Ways to Survive Being Alone on Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we are please to welcome guest blogger Michelle Peterson to HopeXchange, with an important topic for this time of year. What if you are alone, or feel alone, on a day set aside for love and romance? Michelle has the answer!

Michelle Peterson believes the journey to sobriety should not be one of shame but of pride. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.

Photo via Pixabay

Photo via Pixabay

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you can see heart-shaped candies, heart balloons, Valentine’s cards, and other trinkets everywhere you go. If you are not dating anyone special or have just recently broken up, these things will serve as a reminder that you are all by your lonesome on the most romantic day of the year. Technically, you are not actually alone – 44 percent of adult American population is single. Almost half the population of the country is sailing in the same boat as you – take heart!

Instead of hiding away on Valentine’s Day, why not celebrate your singlehood this year. Here are six amazing ways to survive being single on V-Day.

  1. Put Yourself FIrst – Be Your Own Valentine

Often, you get carried away with the entire idea of romantic love and forget to love the most important person in your life – you. Especially if you’ve had a particularly tough year or are celebrating a milestone–such as a certain number of days, weeks, months, or years’ sobriety this Valentine’s Day, why not become your own Valentine and indulge in self-love. Go for a massage, treat yourself to a movie, or just curl up with a good book. Whatever you choose, do something you enjoy that will help lift your spirits!

  1. All the Single Ladies and Gentlemen – Celebrate Friendship

Valentine’s Day is the day we celebrate love – no one specified that it has to be romantic love. Get together with all your single friends and raise a toast to your relationship status. If you are not feeling like throwing a party, spend your day with your best friend. You can spend the day playing video games, watching movies, enjoying your favorite drink, or even going out for lunch or dinner. As Kelly Wheeler rightly said, “Love is temporary… but friends are forever.”

  1. Spend Some Quality Time with Your Pooch

What better day than Valentine’s Day to recognize the furry friend who’s been giving you unconditional love all year. Take your dog to the local dog park for some play time or do some Valentine’s-inspired, dog-friendly crafting. Whatever you choose to do, they’re sure to enjoy the extra attention and the quality time with your four-legged loved one will give you a boost as well.

  1. Plan an Anti-Valentine’s Movie Night

Instead of watching the sappy romantic movies on Valentine’s Day, plan a movie marathon that is totally Anti-Valentine’s. Include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in your list as this movie is set in a world where it is possible to use a memory wipe procedure to erase painful memories of your past relationships. The best movies to watch are horror flicks – if you are scared out of your mind, you will have not time or inclination to think about anyone’s single status!

  1. Pay a Visit to Your Gym

Exercising is perhaps one of the best ways to get rid of your bad mood on Valentine’s Day. When you exercise, you release endorphins that not only reduce anxiety, but also make you feel good. Check to see if there are any classes scheduled for the V-Day. Choose the one that you have always wanted to try, but didn’t think you could manage it. When you finally come out of the class, you will be a whole lot more confident and happy.

  1. Do Absolutely Nothing – Just Chill

There is no way you can avoid all the Valentine’s Day trinkets and lovey dovey couples, when you get out of home on this day. It is not necessary that you have to make any plans, you can just sit back and relax at home. Approximately 45 percent of US households subscribe to Netflix, and if you are one of them, it is time to binge-watch all the series that you’ve been missing out on.

The best and the most simple way to survive being alone on Valentine’s Day is to make yourself feel good – so go buy flowers for yourself or get yourself a nice gift. Make it a day about you!

Christmas is About a Baby

christmas-star-77979-mAs I look back over the Christmas Holiday that just passed, there was another story of grief and loss; a baby that was never born. The grand daughter of a good friend experienced a miscarriage that was followed with three months of physical complications and pain. Her emotional saga finally came to a close with a final procedure that took place the week before Christmas.

It has been a very difficult time for the family.

I thought about how many times I have seen and heard about stories just like this one in my many years of supporting families who are dealing with the grief and loss of miscarriage. The “regularity” in which it seems to happen is striking and disheartening. It could become easy to focus on this very sad reality. But then I think about all of the new babies that I have welcomed into the world this year, and years gone by, with gifts and showers and notes of congratulations.

Just like anything else, we can choose to see the tragedy the world can bring, or the hope we all long for. During the Christmas Season we tend to turn our thoughts to the joy and peace we’d like to have all year long- not just while we attend festive parties, eat our goodies and tear open gifts with family and friends.

When the tree is taken down and the gifts have all been put away the spirit and joy of Christmas can disappear as well. It can be tough to hold on throughout the year- especially if we are dealing with grief and pain. Unless we remember that Christmas is about a baby- a baby that was born to bring us a peace and hope that does not fade when the decorations are put away. Want to know more about this baby? Would you like to know a peace that does not get packed away in attic each year? Find a pastor, rabbi, priest, church or trusted friend who can tell you more.

May you find and keep the Christmas spirit throughout 2018 and beyond.

This post is run each year during the Holiday Season. May it bring you peace in the year to come.