Light a Candle: Join the Nation in Remembering Your Baby!

Honoring Your BabyOn October 15, at 7:00 pm in all time zones, families around the United States will light candles in memory all of the precious babies that have been lost during pregnancy or in infancy.  Too many families grieve in silence, sometimes never coming to terms with their loss.

We hope you will join us in this national tribute to create awareness of these tragic infant deaths and provide support to those that are suffering.

Help create a ‘wave’ of light across our nation!
Congressman Tom Latham of Iowa introduced a House Resolution supporting the Goals and Ideals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, October 15th, and calling on the President of the United States to issue a proclamation encouraging the American people to honor this special day of remembrance. 
We encourage you to contact your local Congressman’s Washington DC Office and ask him or her to Co-Sponsor House Resolution # 222.  For more information, and to guide you in your efforts, please visit http://www.october15th.com.
 
See more ways to Remember Your Baby adapted from the book, Hope is Like the Sun.
 We run this article each October to keep our readers informed on this important, annual event.

October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

October is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month

In 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Unfortunately, the President had a very personal experience with infant loss during his first marriage, when his newborn baby died just 7 hours after birth.

Many states have declared October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, but remembrance and events are seen throughout this important month.

What do this mean to you? Awareness Month is a simple way to open the door to conversations about your feelings and your baby. You may want to talk to your family, friends, your community or maybe your spouse or significant other about your child who died.

Wearing a pink and blue Pregnancy Loss Awareness Ribbon during October, or anytime, is a great way to increase awareness and honor your baby. You can buy a Pregnancy Loss Awareness Pin by visiting StockPins.com. The pins are well-made, inexpensive and arrive in a few business days.

Pregnancy Loss Awareness Ribbons can be handmade with pink and blue ribbon or purchased. The pins should be worn on the left-hand side just above your heart- where your baby already lives.

We post this information each year to share this very important event.

How to Help a Loved One Who is Battling Addiction

HopeXchange is proud to welcome guest blogger Bethany Hatton. Bethany, a retired librarian with 32 years of experience, created PreventAddiction.info after her oldest grandson became addicted to opioids. Though she discovered there is no guaranteed way to prevent addiction; she was able to find many helpful resources that can keep the public up to date on the latest prevention, addiction, and recovery information.

Photo via Pixabay by Free-Photos

Photo via Pixabay by Free-Photos

Millions of Americans suffer with addiction to substances, and unfortunately, it can be an extremely difficult behavior to break free of. Some individuals rely on substances to help them get through tough emotional times, while others have undiagnosed mental health disorders that can seem minimized by drug abuse, although in reality, substances only make things worse.

It can be disheartening and even scary to watch someone you care about descend into substance abuse, in part because it’s so hard to know how to help without pushing them away. However, it’s imperative to reach out if you believe a loved one is engaging in harmful abuse of a substance. ADrugRehab.org points out, “Addiction is tricky and calculating, and it’s the only disease that can take more than one person down with it, if it is left unchallenged. Addiction dramatically alters the lives of not just the addicted person, but of everyone within his or her vicinity, namely family and friends.”

Here are a few of the best tips on how to help someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Do some research

It’s important to educate yourself on the symptoms, causes, and warning signs of substance abuse before anything else. Knowing these things will help you keep an open mind when it comes to helping your loved one. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything right away; addiction is a very complex disorder that has many different causes, and no one treatment is right for everyone. For reference, some of the warning signs of substance abuse include:

  • Refraining from engaging in social activities
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Mood swings
  • Sudden decline in performance at school or work
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

These symptoms can also be indicative of a mental health disorder, however, so look for telltale signs that your loved one is engaging in unhealthy activities, such as a powerful scent of alcohol around them, dilated pupils, confusion, or cognitive issues.

Give them love and support

Every individual who is battling addiction is different; some people don’t even realize it’s become a problem until a loved one speaks up. Some suffer from depression and feel they are alone. Others feel guilty or sad about a past occurrence and use substances to numb the pain. Let your loved one know that you are here for them and that you love them, and the earlier the better. Don’t wait until they’ve had legal trouble or have lost a job to show your support.

Hold back the guilt

Many people who are battling addiction know that what they’re doing is harmful to their own health and to their families, but can’t physically break the addiction. They may already be feeling guilty, so it’s a good idea to refrain from bringing up topics that will add to it. Instead, be supportive and use phrases like, “I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you.” Not using words of blame and focusing instead on how they must be feeling will show them that you’re genuinely concerned and want to help.

Many people who are engaged in substance abuse become defensive when confronted about it; others are simply in denial. Be prepared for either reaction, and encourage your loved one to seek help. Let them know that they can move at their own pace and that you will be by their side to help them through even the hardest times. Assist your loved one in looking for a counselor or therapist, or in finding an online therapy group if they are unsure about how to get started.

Beauty From Ashes: Turning Grief into Gratitude

HopeXchange is proud to welcome guest poster Tricia Moceo. 28. Single mom. 2 years Sober. Tricia works for Recovery Local, a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. The company was founded by and staffed with recovering addicts cultivating recovery resources through sharing their own experience, strength, and hope. Find Tricia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trici a.moceo

flowers_newGrief has a funny way of creeping in and demolishing everything in its path. January 10, 2013 life, as I knew it, was completely uprooted. My mother had a massive heart attack and unexpectedly passed away. I vividly remember the chaotic events that followed. Instantly I sought out oblivion through any mind/mood altering substance. My remedy of choice was one I danced with for years: opiates. Chasing the dragon, in hopes of avoiding any feelings of grief, I progressively withdrew from the reality that my mom was no longer here. I took on the responsibilities of running our family business, maintaining the household, and taking over the motherly duties left behind by mom. I was incapable of fulfilling my self-induced pressures without the aid of my analgesic. Eventually, I was drowning in full-blown addiction, running from the pain of my mother’s absence.  

Divide. Destroy. Rebuild. From mom’s passing to my newly adapted vices, the dynamics of our family had changed. Grief and trauma became our reprieve. Eventually, my consequences warranted change and I sought help. I left for treatment with the preconceived notion that I was only addressing my substance abuse issues. I convinced myself it was the drugs that led me astray not my inability to process emotions. My father was smart enough to send me to a dual diagnosis facility and it saved my life. I entered treatment broken and rebelling against the vulnerability. Unbeknownst to me, I was surrounded by professionals that refused to allow me to avoid the grief that overcame me. Left with no escapable option, I acted as if until I gratefully accepted change.

I remember sitting in a caseload group and being asked if I ever dealt with the loss of my mother and why I blamed myself. Immediately I was engulfed with anger. The group facilitator intervened and challenged me to write a “goodbye letter” to my mother. I wanted to puke. I trembled at the idea of hashing out ancient resentments and regrets. Most of all, I was most fearful of accepting the permanence of her fate. I journaled every painful and joyous memory I shared with my mother. After writing the letter, addressing past regrets and letting emotions flow from pen to paper, gratitude rushed over me like sweet summer rain. I felt immediate relief and I was given a whole new perspective.

“Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Upon saying my goodbyes and relieving myself of the bondage of my unsettled resentments, I acquired the ability to put myself in my mother’s shoes. This warranted compassion, understanding, and most importantly grace. I was grateful for the memories I shared with my mother. Even though I couldn’t make peace face to face with my mom, I was able to process my grief through the vulnerable and intimate exercise. I felt like I was finally free, no longer enslaved to the pain that became my identity. As time passes, I miss my mom more every day but my love for her grows stronger. Today, I get the privilege of sharing my anguish and heartache with other women going through similar adversity. My goal is to spread hope and encourage other women to walk through the pain of grief without the aid of any mood/mind altering substance. I value every moment exactly as it is and I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for every person in my life.

If you are struggling with grief, be mindful that there is no cookie cutter way to deal with the overwhelming feelings that follow. Allow yourself to feel every emotion as it ebbs and flows, without judgment. Avoid isolation and reach out for support from people you trust. Grief is all-encompassing but there is hope found in the most unexpected places. Support groups and tapping into family and friends saved my life. If you need advice or just someone to listen, feel free to reach out to me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tricia.moceo

Stop the Pain: How to Avoid Self Medicating in Times of Grief

HopeXchange is proud to welcome guest poster Alice Munday. Alice is a freelance writer from Virginia Beach, Virginia. In recovery herself, she is dedicated to helping those who struggle with addiction.

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How To Avoid Self-Medicating In Times Of Grief

Of all the emotions we feel as humans, grief is among the most powerful and complex. The death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, and any number of other unexpected negative experiences can lead to times of sorrow during which feeling better seems like a downright impossibility. At low points like this, it is important to be conscious of behaviors that will be constructive and those that will actively undermine the healing process.  Self-medicating is undoubtedly one of the most potentially devastating behaviors for getting through periods of anguish. Using alcohol, drugs, or other means to self-medicate during harrowing times lures people in by offering relief with the cruel twist of it only being temporary and actually counteractive to coming to peace with traumatic events. To avoid going down this path, it is helpful to keep these things in mind.

Let Yourself Experience All Your Feelings

The pain of loss is a difficult thing to experience, but not going through the entire cycle of mourning makes you more likely to turn to unsafe coping mechanisms later on. It is vital to experience and express the emotions you feel and deal with grief adequately. Quickly replacing the loss with a substitute or even refusing to attribute your despair to its true source are telltale signs that you may be trying to accelerate the cycle.

Be Aware Of Grief Triggers 

As you work through your feelings, you can make the process easier for yourself if you identify and avoid things that you know will cause you to feel more extreme distress. There are several common factors that can elicit these feelings. When dealing with the loss of a loved one, for example, anniversaries of their passing or missing them during the holidays can easily bring on a wave of emotion. Similarly, being the same age as someone when they passed or certain places, smells, and rituals with strong connections to that person can all be challenging to face. Acknowledging what specific things trigger you can help you explore productive and healthy ways to deal with them.

Reach Out For Social Support

Friends and family can often show up in droves when a traumatic event first happens but then gradually fade back into the woodwork when you would still benefit from their presence. Identify the people who you can turn to at any time and who will help you whenever you need it. It can also be worth it to find a support group with other people going through a similar, specific grieving process so you can help each other along the way with an underlying empathy and understanding that you may not be able to find elsewhere.  Honor The Loss With Something Productive 

One of the hardest parts of going through periods of suffering is toeing the line between honoring a significant loss while also moving on with your own life without feeling guilty. Figuring out a way to pay homage with an activity that is productive for you can help you strike that balance.

Postpone Major Lifestyle Changes

Making big decisions in the wake of a traumatic event can lead to additional stress and anxiety that can prove to be too much to handle. If possible, delay making any major changes like moves, job changes, and other similar things until you know that you are ready to handle the added burden.

Seek Professional Help If Needed

If you have already found yourself turning to self-medicating measures, it helps to find a professional solution to help you as soon as you can. Integrated treatments for grief and substance abuse take a two-pronged approach and treat you both medically and therapeutically with detoxing and therapy. Achieving sobriety is the priority, and then a therapist can help you move through the underlying causes of your grief to avoid a relapse.  Grief can feel so overwhelming and unique to you that it can be difficult to find ways through it without turning to self-medicating, but there are always ways you can find respite without endangering your health. You are never alone, and people and places to help are never too far away.

 

 

 

“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.