Christmas is About a Baby

christmas-star-77979-m As 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 2015 and beyond.

Should I Go? Help for the Holidays

holiday chestnutsHolidays and special events are normally a time of joy and celebration, however they can become a painful reminder of your loss. Seeing family members, making decisions, and attending the holiday activities you usually enjoy can take on a different outlook after the loss of a child.

If you begin feeling sadness during the holidays or a special occasion, think about why you are feeling that way; process those feelings and accept them.  It is a perfectly normal reaction to your grief. Taking this step ahead of time may help you to avoid some uncomfortable moments in public.
Should I Go?
Ask yourself if you are ready to attend family gatherings or parties. This will give you the opportunity to let someone know your decision in advance. Knowing that you would have planned to share your new baby at these celebrations could make them difficult and even tearful for you. Give yourself the option to gracefully bow out of the activity. Asking yourself these questions before a special event may help:
  • Can I handle this? Is this something I would enjoy? If so, it could be a good way to lift your spirits.
  • What does my spouse think? Will it cause problems if I do not attend?
  • Would the holiday or special event be the same if I don’t attend? Deciding not to attend a Christmas play will not take away from the holiday season; however deciding not to attend Thanksgiving dinner will certainly change the Thanksgiving holiday.
Thinking through these questions ahead of time can help you arrive at a decision that is right for you, and one that will not negatively impact your spouse or your family.
The above is an excerpt from the book Hope is Like the Sun.

Be Brave: Grief is Not for Wimps

courage-945002-mEvery October I remember the child I lost. I didn’t lose my child at the mall, or get separated at a park. I actually didn’t “lose” my child at all…my baby died. Even all these years later, it is still difficult to say it like that. My husband and I had waited ten years to have children because I traveled frequently and I was finally settled and ready. But our “best laid plans” were about to take a horrible turn.

It was just before Halloween and I was 3 months pregnant with our first child. My two sisters had five children between them and I was finally going to join them in growing the family. I had not considered, even for a moment, that something could go wrong. But something went terribly wrong. Over the next few weeks my pregnancy unraveled and my baby, and my hope for a family, was gone. In the empty space where my baby had been was confusion, disbelief, anger, numbness and incredible pain.

Read 9 Things Never to Say to a Woman Who’s Had a Miscarriage

Fourteen years have passed. We now have two perfectly healthy, and perfectly wonderful daughters and I smile and get misty as I write these words about them. But I do still think back to the child I will never know. I wonder what my baby would have looked like and sounded like and what kind of person he or she might have been. I still wonder…but it doesn’t hurt as much now. There was a time that just typing these words would have left me sobbing. Time does heal, but it doesn’t make us forget. I do still think about my baby. Especially this time of year. But now, I can wonder and move on, as anyone who is grieving must do at some point.

If you are hurting from the pain of grief, remember that time will go by. The intense pain will pass and one day you will notice that the daggers of grief are now a dull ache. Your life will return to a new version of “normal” and you will go on. Be brave enough to remember the loss of your past and move steadily toward your future.

Breaking the Silence

Robin WilliamsLast week, we lost a comedy and screen legend and my heart is still heavy. We were forced to say a sad and early goodbye to stand-up comic and movie genius, Robin Williams. The firestorm of comments that erupted following his death, apparently by his own hand, has been amazing and incredibly unsettling at the same time. While droves of Robin “fans” shared memories and condolences with his grieving family, others took the opportunity to chastise Robin (?) by leaving hurtful remarks and belittling the actor on his families social media accounts. Experts than began chiming in to state that his suicide could have been prevented.

I have watched and listened in silent horror and I can stay silent no longer.

It is painfully obvious that our society still fails to be able to frankly discuss death with compassion and without fear of the conversation. We consider ourselves to be a “modern” society and yet we struggle with dying and grief in ways our ancient ancestors did not. Our modern medicine and ideas have left us ill-equipped to deal with the inevitable event of death and dying. We still find ourselves speechless and uncomfortable during times when our grieving friends and family need us the most.

Read “Nine Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving”

As someone who has had personal experience with these painful matters, I can tell you that it is impossible to pile any more pain, grief, guilt or sorrow onto Robin’s family. You never stop asking yourself if you could have done more…you never stop second-guessing the steps you took, the words you said, the comfort and help you tried to offer. You never stop asking yourself the painful questions that will have no answers.

The only silver lining to this incredibly dark cloud is the public conversation that is now happening about mental illness and suicide. If there is one thing that could make us smile after all of this, it is only the possibility that these conversations could save just one person. Let us find ways to join the conversation to help those grieving, with broken hearts, and those struggling with the grip and pain of mental illness.

“Man Handle”: Men and Grief

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 misunder-standing.
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.

Minnie Driver Movie on Stillbirth: Own the DVD!

Return to Zero

Return to Zero

Did you miss the release of “Return to Zero” Minnie Driver’s new movie on stillbirth? The movie is now available on DVD!

RETURN TO ZERO is based on the true story of a successful couple, Maggie (MINNIE DRIVER) and Aaron (PAUL ADELSTEIN) who are preparing for the arrival of their first child. Just weeks before their due date they are devastated to discover that their baby son has died in the womb and will be stillborn.

The movie shows their struggle with the grief of loss and the toll it takes on the couple and their marriage. After deciding to divorce, Maggie finds that she is pregnant and the two reunite for an anxious journey through the difficult pregnancy.

Read more about it and order the movie at the Return to Zero website.

The Silent Storm: A Father’s Grief

The Silent Storm: A Father's Grief

The Silent Storm: A Father’s Grief

Fathers can sometimes be forgotten during the grief of miscarriage. Although society expects a woman to show emotion and sorrow, it often expects a man to be the ‘strong one’ and protector of the family. This can lead to great frustration and lack of support for fathers.

Fathers may find it hard to talk about their loss. Men can have difficulty in expressing their emotions even in the heart of grief. To others, it can appear that fathers are unaffected by the pain of miscarriage, and this could not be farther from the truth. A man’s difficulty in putting his feelings into words can cause even his wife to question or doubt the depth of his grief.

Males also experience grief in a more internal and logical way then their female partners. They may handle their emotions through physical activity, work or hobbies. Again, this gives the impression that they have returned to normal routines with little or no impact.

Our culture often leaves us wondering just how to relate to a man facing grief. In many cases, friends and associates will ask, “How is your wife doing?” rather than tread on the shaky ground of male emotions. This can lead to anger and resentment for fathers who can feel a lack of support. They may even begin to feel anger toward their wives who are receiving the attention they crave, but dare not ask for.

Men and women face a very different grief process. These differences can leave each one feeling alone and frustrated. It is critical that husbands and wives work together as a couple, but still allow the space that is needed to grieve as individuals.

Keep in mind that men often have feelings on Father’s Day similar to those that strike women on Mother’s Day. Offer the same considerations for him and ask how he would like to spend the day.

The above is an excerpt adapted from the book Hope is Like the Sun

    

NY Med Episode Shows Pain of Miscarriage

NY Med Episode Shows Pain of Miscarriage

NY Med Episode Shows Pain of Miscarriage

Amid the gun shot victims, violent patients, life-and-death heart surgeries and general mayhem, I was pleased to see a story on last week’s NY Med episode that showed a couple’s miscarriage. As a loyal fan of the show, even I can applaud the choice to fill a spot that could easily hold another gritty, eye brow- raising piece, with an honest and painful depiction of the couple’s loss.

The story took on even a deeper meaning when the emergency room doctor who was assigned to examine the young mother, shared that she had a miscarriage herself just 2 weeks earlier. She spontaneously shared the shock she felt and the sadness of her husband as she received the same news, at almost 12 weeks pregnant.

It was so refreshing to see a doctor who truly understood what the couple was facing and one who had the guts to share her own heartache on live t.v. in the hopes of comforting the couple. She made a point to remind the grieving mom that the miscarriage would not have any affect on her chances of having a normal pregnancy next time.

As the show wrapped up with a grateful mother who was going home with the new kidney she received from her son and an ecstatic heart surgery patient who received a second chance at life; the final image was even sweeter. The emergency room doctor and her husband shopping for baby clothes. The doc, now 6-months pregnant, was sharing the special moment with all of us who have suffered loss and reminding us that there is hope for the future. May we all have the courage to hope.

Where Did All This “Stuff” Come From?

Where Did All This Stuff Come From?

Where Did All This Stuff Come From?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been moving to a new home! That explains why I haven’t posted in little while. My husband and I hadn’t moved in 15 years, and throughout our packing, lifting, storing and unpacking, we kept saying the same thing to one another, “Where did all this stuff come from?”

We thought we were doing “okay” in the clutter department. I like to keep things I might use again and my husband likes to get rid of things. As a compromise, I have a garage sale- religiously- every year. Anything that doesn’t sell gets donated, never to be seen again.

However, as we put our entire lives into boxes, we were shocked at the sheer mass of it all. Where did it all come from? How did we collect so much stuff?

It made me think about a lot of things as we hoisted it all into our new house and filled up the 2-car garage that had been so carefully cleared for our arrival. I wondered how much of the boxes, bags and bins we really needed?

As I began unpacking, I decided I would not put anything we really didn’t need into the new house. I grabbed some empty boxes, wrote “Garage Sale” on them, and started filling them with things we wouldn’t use.

I wonder how much emotional “stuff” we are all holding on to? Are we dragging our past anger, grief, sadness and bitterness everywhere we go? Let’s clear out our emotional baggage and over-filled boxes and make more room for the good “stuff” in life.

World Premiere of Minnie Driver Movie on Stillbirth!

Return to Zero

Return to Zero

“Return to Zero” World Premiere — Only 3 Days to Go!
The momentum is building for the World Premiere of RETURN TO ZERO on LIFETIME this Saturday, May 17th at 8pm Eastern / 7pm Central!

The press has been amazing! We’ve been featured on Ellen, Entertainment Tonight, the CBS Morning News, and you can tune in to see Minnie discuss RETURN TO ZERO on “The Talk” tomorrow!

If you haven’t seen the RTZ trailer yet, you can find it on our website at www.returntozerothemovie.com.

We’ve redesigned our site to make it easy for you to view our most recent videos, pre-order the DVD and find information, helpful links and a discussion guide for the film!

Even with all of the amazing publicity, we still need your help over the next 72 hours to get the word out about this important and silence-shattering film! This is an amazing moment for this community and we need your help with the final push!

Here are 5 ways to help promote the RETURN TO ZERO worldwide premiere this weekend!
1. Post ‘tune-in’ messaging on all your social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, your blog, etc., and/or ‘share’ RETURN TO ZERO Facebook messages and retweet RETURN TO ZERO tweets!

2. Download the RETURN TO ZERO Facebook cover image and post it to your Facebook page! Here’s the link!

3. Download the RETURN TO ZERO ‘Print at home’ flyers from our site and distribute them in your community. Here’s the link!

4. Host a RETURN TO ZERO viewing party at your home or designated location and download ‘Customizable Viewing Party invitation’ to invite friends, family, etc. Here’s the link!

5. Word of mouth – spread the word via phone calls, emails, talking to your friends, family, and even texting, etc., about RETURN TO ZERO premiere this weekend! There is no advertising more effective than word-of-mouth.

International Premieres!

RETURN TO ZERO premieres in the UK on Lifetime on Sunday, May 18th at 21:00!

RETURN TO ZERO premieres in Southeast Asia on Lifetime on Tuesday, May 20th!

Tune into our RTZ Facebook page for more information on international premieres as that information is made available to us.

RETURN TO ZERO–DVD Pre-Order
You can now pre-order the “Return to Zero” DVD on Amazon which ships in mid-late June. It is filled with over 75 minutes of extras–14 behind-the-scenes videos to 5 incredibly moving short films handpicked from the RTZ community.

RETURN TO ZERO–COUNTDOWN SHOW and post-film DISCUSSION
Thanks to Jonathan & Carrie of STILL Project and Carly Marie of Project Heal, we are proud to announce that we’ll be having Google + Hangouts both BEFORE and AFTER the film airs!

The COUNTDOWN SHOW begins at 7pm Eastern and features writer/director/producer Sean Hanish and Kiley Hanish and producer, Paul Jaconi-Biery. Plus, we’ll be doing live “look-ins” with viewing parties across the country!

The POST-PREMIERE DISCUSSION begins at 10:30pm Eastern where the “real Dr. Claire” Dr. Karla Iacampo and grief educator Cath Duncan will take you through the RETURN TO ZERO Discussion Guide for Bereaved Parents.

RETURN TO ZERO – the Retreat
I’m proud to announce that Kiley Hanish is going to be hosting Return to Zero retreats later this year. Her focus is on women who have been through the loss of a baby and how one can journey through grief to healing. You can find more information about her upcoming retreats and sign up for her mailing list here.

And you can always find out more about the film and find helpful links and information about stillbirth and neonatal loss here on our webiste!

Only 3 more days until we break the silence together! Let’s make every hour count!

Sincerely,

Sean Hanish
Writer, Producer, Director
RETURN TO ZERO
Father of Norbert, Roxie & Cannon