New Year: New Hope

A friend shared with me that her “word” for 2016 is hope. What a wonderful word- and an even better guiding force for the next few hundred days. She also shared an awesome TED Talk that focuses on that very thing- hope. If you are searching for more this year, desperate to leave behind the pain and grief of last year, this video is for you! Watch and be inspired!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P2nPI6CTlc

Christmas is About a Baby

tree

As I think back over last year’s Christmas Holiday, 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 2016 and beyond.

Note: This article is an update to a similar post we ran last year. We thought the new, happy ending was worth sharing. Enjoy!

Pure Happiness

In the middle of a challenging and frustrating week, I received the most amazing news. After two very difficult losses that caused a strain on an otherwise heathy marriage, a longtime reader had her miracle baby. I am overwhelmed with joy for this brave mother and father who had the courage to try again, and received the greatest gift – a healthy baby boy.

Completely caught up in the many stresses of my life, I felt a peaceful joy in looking at the pictures of this much-loved new life. I found myself going back to the pictures when I needed a lift because I couldn’t stop myself from grinning ear to ear when I looked at them.

I was reminded that the important things in life are often quiet the ones – not the blaring noises of my unhappy co-workers, my “stacked to the ceiling” laundry room or my overflowing “to-do” list. The pure happiness I felt when I looked at that little baby’s beautiful face is what I need to focus on. Laundry room…you’re out of luck.

“In Motion” or Emotion? How Men and Women Grieve Differently

 Men and women often find themselves feeling alone during grief because nature (and society) has equipped us to handle it so differently. These differences can make it harder to connect during the times we need it most, so we must work to understand one another.
 
Men
 
 When facing loss, men generally put their feelings into action. They often experience their pain physically rather than emotionally. A man may tend to focus on goal-oriented tasks that require thinking and action. For this reason, he may put his efforts into planting a memorial garden or writing a eulogy.
 
In other cultures, men have been noted as using rituals to relieve the pain of anger or grief. Physical ceremonies such as shooting bows and arrows have been observed as outlets for grief and sorrow.
 
Activity can give men a sense of control and accomplishment as they experience grief. Even if he decides to share details of his loss with friends, it may likely be during shared activities such as fishing or sporting events.
 
Men will often react to the stress of grief by exhibiting behavior that scientist refer to as “fight-or-flight.” This type of reaction means that individuals who are confronted with stress will either react aggressively (“fight”), or withdraw or flee from the situation (“flight”).
 
A man will often allow himself to cry during grief, but he will usually do so alone, or even in the dark. This may lead other family members to believe that he is not grieving at all.
 
Women
 
In general, our society teaches women that it is acceptable for them to be open with their feelings. They will often feel a greater need to talk with others and share their emotions with supportive friends and family members.
 
In many cases, women seek non-judgmental listeners who are comfortable with a show of emotion. This provides them with an outlet for the grief they are feeling.
 
Women often respond to the stress of grief with a reaction called “tend-and-befriend.” This means that they may feel compelled to protect or nurture their children or others (“tend”) and seek out social contact and support from others (“befriend”). For this reason, women may have the desire to join a support group, while men, on the other hand, generally do not.
 
Even with our society’s ability to accept strong emotions and feelings from women, it is typical for our culture to criticize them as they deal with grief. All too often, women are said to be too sentimental or even ‘weak’ when they are seen expressing the painful emotions of grief. This causes some women to feel the need to suppress their feelings, or believe that they are failing to be ‘strong.’ However, it is often found that women are experiencing the grief- feeling the pain, while others around may be avoiding grief work.
 
 The above information was adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun: Finding Hope and Healing After Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Infant Death.    

 

 
 
 
 

Welcome to the HOPE Community!

Welcome  new and returning readers from our HOPE Newsletter! I know it’s been quiet for a very long time and we apologize for the long silence. We’ve had a lot of work going on “behind the scenes” creating our new blog and migrating some of the HopeXchange website to it’s new home here! There are still changes to come as we continue to make improvements.

We look forward to offering you more up to date information and posts on our new blog. We will continue to offer support to women and their families who are dealing with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. And more importantly, we look forward to the chance to interact with you, and allow you to communicate with one another.  This will be a true community and safe place to heal. Let’s make the most of this new opportunity and the support it can offer to each and every one of us.

I read this quote today and thought it fit this new group so well:

 “Grief and sadness knits two hearts in closer bonds than happiness ever can; and common sufferings are far stronger than common joys” ~ Alphonse de Lamartine, French Poet

Let us be strong together.