Grief Journey Q & A
Compiled by Kota Discussion Group

In Honor and Loving Memory of Our Children

Editor's Intro:
This column will hopefully become a regular feature here at KotaPress. Its content is generated from an online discussion and support group for bereaved parents. The creator of this Grief Journey Q & A is Stephanie Marrotek who posts questions once a day or every other day and invites all members of the discussion group to post answers. In addition to answering on the group, so members have elected to share their insights in a more public way through this column. Our hope is that you will find some spark of inspiration or comfort or help here. These words are not offered as prescription for the ways we "should" handle grief. These are just insights into how others are managing day by day after the death of a child.

The Q & A

Question 1: If I could walk into a magical angelic room for an hour today and my child would be there... if they could speak with us and understand everything we say... what would be the one thing that we'd want to say to them before they leave again forever?

I would say this to my Son: "I love you, Charles...I've loved you from the moment I gave birth to you.
I'm sorry that I got into that vehicle accident...I'm sorry my seat belt wasn't positioned safely to protect you from death. I'm sorry I wasn't aware of my pregnancy. I wish so much that things could have been different. I never wanted you to die. I want to be a Mom to you in every aspect of the definition. I want to wake up every morning and spend my whole day with you...take trips to the park
and zoo...bake books...spend time together. I want to teach you all the things you need and want to know in life. I miss you so much. I only wish we could have had this lifetime together. I know we'll be together again someday in Heaven, but until then, I'll miss you & ache to hold you in my arms." -From Katie

If I could be with our heavenly children for just a moment, I would simply tell them each that I will love them forever. Holding them would be pure heaven...their touch, their physical touch....ahhh, someday, someday!!! -From Martha

I would say I LOVE YOU, a million times. -From Stephanie

The one thing I would want to say is that " I love you Nora, loved you from the moment I knew you were with me and have never stopped loving you, I will love you forever. You are a part of my heart."
-From Christine

I would tell Tyler that I love him very much and that I'm sorry I didn't hold him and spend more time with him. I would also tell him that he will always be a huge part of my life and I will not give in to the silence of stillbirth imposed on me by society. I'll be a loud mouth until I can meet him again in heaven. -From Kim

I would apologize to Kota for not seeing and holding him. I would try desperately to explain why I chose to not do those things at the time. I would ask him what color his eyes are!!!! I would ask him to forgive me for being such a crappy mom that I couldn't even bring him here safely and then that I didn't even see him. I would tell him that I know different things now, and if I had to do it over, I would have definitely done it differently. I would want to just hold his hand for a few moments. -From K.


Question 2: Who is the one person, thus far that has been most helpful in your healing journey? Tell why.

The one person who is the most helpful to me is my younger sister, Kimberly. She has never had a baby, or lost one. But she seems to understand on a level that no one else does. It could be because she was there when Amanda was stillborn and she held her and wept over could be because she is just a very sensitive person. It could be because I feel I can be completely honest with her and she will still love me....whatever the reason....Kimberly has been my biggest support. She remembers Amanda's birthday and special days, and sends me encouraging emails and cards. She tells me that she misses Amanda too, and what a difference that she made on her life. When I am upset about it and depressed, she seems to understand in a way that no one else can. And she listens! That is one of the biggest helps, someone who listens without judging or trying to fix it. At Christmas time, she remembers and does not try to ever change the subject when I need to talk about her. She recognizes that there is an empty spot in our family and that no one will ever fill it. At times when I am down and do not tell her why, she knows. And she just encourages me so much! I thank God for my little sister, she has never experienced a loss and I pray that she never will, but she is the one person who has helped me to work thru issues that I couldn't alone. I sure do love that sister of mine!!! -From Stephanie

The one person who has been most helpful in my healing journey was an e-mail buddie of mine from Texas who's daughter was stillborn just a few months before Tyler was stillborn. She validated my pain every step of the way. I don't know what I would have done without her! -From Kim

The one person who has been most helpful in my healing journey has been my best friend Rachel. She never once has faltered, she has been completely understanding and always there for me. She treats Nora as one of my children, never forgetting a special moment I had with her. She has sent articles to me, remembrances, cards every month, she has been amazing. She is my last before Nora friend and I treasure having her in my life. I can tell her anything and she listens and understands and just "holds my hand" since we live 900 miles away.... but I am blessed to have her in my life, and I truly feel I would have never made it without her. - From Christine backbone, my lover, my best friend, my angel's father has kept me together even when he was falling apart. He took care of me through my pregnancy which I was sick and hospitalized (the majority of it) and then when we lost Raeyn. I have to say that I've learned to lean alot on my faith. -From Keny

The one person, thus far that has been most helpful in my healing journey is Michie. I called Neo Fight a week after my loss, desperate for someone to talk to that understands. Within ten minutes of leaving a message on the Neo Fight 24 Hour crisis line pager, Michie returned my call. We spoke for two hours. She was the first person, that I felt comfortable talking to about Charles, and she was the first person to truly understand. Her Son was stillborn, too. She has been amazing support and the greatest of friends, since my loss. If I hadn't found Michie, I wouldn't have received the support that I so desperately needed after my loss. I will always be grateful for not only her kindness & continuous support, but also for her understanding and caring friendship. If there's anyone on this Earth that deserves an award or acknowledgment for all the care and love one has for others, that person is Michie. Thank you, Michie, for everything! All the hugs in the world couldn't repay Michie for all she has given of herself! -From Katie


Question 3: When asked "How many children do you have?" How do you reply?

I'm a total masocist about this one. When people blindly ask, most of the time, I just come right out and say, "Hawk & I have a son together who died at birth." It gives me a perverse pleasure to be able to know if I want people around me or not, immediately, because in reply to this they will either:

1) Sputter, change subject, walk away, whatever -- in which case I know not to waste my time.


2) They actually meet my eye and reveal some loss of their own or ask me questions about Kota. And then I know investment of time with this person will not be a waste.

It's a blunt litmus test. But I must also admit that sometimes, I just don't have the energy. At those times, I just say no or don't answer or tell them about Hawk's living kids and let it go.
-From K.

I say I have 2- Charlie is 5 and he is our earth angel and Amanda would be 3 had she lived, but she is living in Heaven with Jesus now. -From Stephanie

I reply I have three children, two on earth and one in heaven, and if they ask I tell them my baby died. I do not share about the other three that were lost to miscarriage, they hold a special place in my
heart, but don't feel like being offended... I feel bad about this, and in time, this may change. But it has been 7 years since I lost the three and didn't even acknowledge them until last year... Nora
was a learning experience which taught me about grief and how to grieve .... - From Christine

I only say two, but I feel guilty every single time! I guess I try and justify this by the question I really do only HAVE two children with me, my third is with Jesus. In my heart I always say to myself I have three. I don't tend to share Montana with people until I get to know them as friends. What worries me is that our two girls pick up on this and I have noticed that when Maddison now draws pictures of our family she is not including Montana any more. Really not sure how to handle this! -From Steve

I have gotten used to saying that I have 3 living children. Sometimes I will get a wierd look and then the change of a subject other times people want to know more and I don't have a problem telling them about Tyler. -From Kim

This is a difficult question for me to answer. It depends who is asking me the question, and it depends on how I feel at that moment. My only child, Charles, was stillborn. I haven't had any other children, since my loss. Due to the circumstances of my loss in not knowing that I was even pregnant until I gave birth meant that everyone who knew me at that time didn't know either. It took me a long time to crawl out of my 'safe bubble' to share Charles with others. Mostly, I will tell other bereaved parents that I have one child, A Son, and he's in Heaven. My closest friends and some family know about Charles, too, and I will always refer to him as my Son. He may not be physically here, but he'll always be my child. If a stranger asks, I usually reply, "I have one child...he would have been 4 in November this year, but he was stillborn." And I don't tell all strangers/acquantainces, just the ones I feel comfortable in sharing. As I walk more into my journey of grief, I have learned to share Charles more with others. Or sometimes say this, "I have no living children." Then if someone asks, I share Charles. And if not, then I don't offer any information. -From Katie

In all honesty, it depends upon whom I am speaking when the question arises. I try hard to acknowledge our four babies in heaven, if it seems to "fit" the scene. Usually I respond, "We have eight children." To which people usually say, "God bless you", either with smiles or sulky incredulity and if the response is positive, I will generally add and four in heaven... I will NEVER forget the occasion of being at my first bereavement-facilitator-training and I met this one woman (who was a nun) and she asked how many children we had, and I responded the easy answer...and knowing the area of our support group, she then asked if we had experienced any losses....and I said, "yes, four..." To which she responded, Martha, you don't have eight children, you have twelve. (tears, here...) Needless to say, I love this nun to this day!!!

Actually, this wonderful woman was also the catalyst to getting our support network started. It was from a Memorial Mass 4years ago, acknowledging the grief of families who had a pregnancy/infant
loss... that a "core group" was begun and here we are 3 years later. Haven't seen that "core group" in awhile, but our GAPS group is strong nonetheless! :) Heavenly connections, I like to call these.
Sister is very busy in a large parish with all forms of bereavement support and she has been a constant companion to so many families since the WTC tragedy (only miles from her parish), so we don't see her often, but is part of the fabric of our group. She continues to coordinate the Mass each year...always increasing awareness and educating the clergy as well. She's an angel, and I'm blessed to know and love her! Thanks for listening!
- From Martha


Question 4: I can't believe that people ask me have I gotten over you. I want to get over the pain, but I never want to get over...

This has always seem like the dumbest question people ask. I am a parent. If my child were living, would you ask me if I have gotten over my child yet? No. So why are you asking me if I'm over my child who is dead. While my parenthood may manifest differently because my child is dead, I am still a parent -- always well be. So I have gotten over the huge bouts of pain -- though I still sting with I see four year olds who look something like you might have -- I have not, and will not ever, get over the fact that I am a parent. And with that in mind, I'll continue to be a "different kind of parent" for the rest of my life. Though the manifestation and expression is different, I am like any other parent, and our kids are our kids forever. -From K.

I NEVER want to "get over" the joy of being pregnant with each of our Little Ones... the excitement of new life within me, the gift of life in our family. I will always be my babies 'Mommy....and I will never "get over" that treasured part of my life. I believe that they are each distinct wonderful heavenly souls...and there is no "getting over" that! Just try me!! -From Martha

I can't believe that people ask me have I gotten over you. I want to get over the pain, but I never want to get over... the love deep in my heart for you.....the memory of holding your tiny form....the feeling of giving birth to you......and the joy that I had when I was pregnant with you.....I never want to get over the pain of losing you, for I cherish the pain, it reminds me of what I lost. -From Stephanie

I can't believe that people ask me have I gotten over you. I want to get over the pain, but I never want to get over you. I will never forget you, I will never stop loving you, you will always be a part of me , I never want to forget a single memory, good or bad of my brief time I spent with you. Even if I had the opportunity to go back and do it again, knowing the outcome, I would, just so I could be with you again...I love you Nora and no one, nothing, time can never change this...I will never be over you...for that would mean I have stopped loving you and that will never happen. -From Christine


Question 5: Sometimes late at night, when I lay awake and can't sleep; I think about...

All the places I have been before, not locations, but spots in Life. About Amanda, and the difference she has made on my life. I plan the next day's events and menu. And sometimes I think of regrets ... and then realize that I am happy here where I am, I have all I NEED, the rest is just WANTS. -From Stephanie

I think about what would have been...What our family's life would be like without the losses of our babies...Also, WHY, oh WHY!!! do so many babies have to die???? And who is taking care of all these bereaved families? And I wonder if I am making a "drop in the bucket" of tears...Then I remember what Mother Teresa said in an interview, when asked something akin to "how can you possibly take care of all the poor and sick?" and she wisely said "One person at a time"....enough said! -From Martha

My Son, Charles, and the life that could have been. I think about the things we've missed out on already and the things that have yet to come. Things that will be missed like his first day of school and all his firsts that will never be experienced. I lay awake in a silent house knowing and feeling that my precious child isn't with me. It's not only an empty house, but an empty feeling. It's too quiet and too still. And when I can finally fall asleep, I sometimes dream of the life that should have been. -From Katie

Sometimes late at night, when I lay awake and can't sleep; I think about... all the things I haven't done yet, about all the bereaved parents out there who feel alone and isolated, about all the children who have died too soon. I get frustrated because there is so much I want to do. And yet I continually get caught up in the "making-the-ends-meet" game where we are just scrambling with all this meaningless work to just keep a roof. And then I see documentaries about films like Frida and hear that it took Selma Hayek 8 years to get that film made, but she kept at it, she didn't compromise, she stayed focused on what she wanted for the heart and soul of that story until it was done. And I should be inspired, but instead I am more frustrated with myself because I'm not sure I have that kind of focus and conviction for fulfilling the legacy my son's life and death left for me.

Sometimes late at night when I can't sleep, I think that I really should get a prescription for sleeping pills so I can just get some rest :) but also those are the times when ideas come to me. Ideas for how to get my words out there -- we own a press, but I have four books done with no way to fund printing them BUT late at night I thought about doing the layout for them anyway and processing them as ebooks instead of print!! *That* I could fund right away. So...

I think about the work...I wonder if there is enough time to finish everything I have started -- or to start everything I've thought of... I know that every second is a gift and that death can come for us at any moment. And so, until then, I'm sleepless with thoughts of the work to be done. -From K.


Question 6: It helps me to feel better when I...

Share with other bereaved families who have lost a baby.
Call my Dear Friend, Michie.
Give a hug to my Mom or ask for one.
Post at Kota Group.
Write some poetry or write in my journal.
Work on Charles' memory album (a life long project). Or do something in his memory.
Take a scenic drive alone or with my Mom.
Go spoil myself at the beauty salon if my pocket book allows that.
Sometimes I visit the Garden of Angels at St. Francis South Campus in Indianapolis where I planted Charles' Peace Rose. Truly a breath of fresh air to sit in the garden, journal and clear my head.
-From Katie

it helps me feel better when people acknowledge that Nora is indeed a baby... a real loss... my third child, my daughter, when they reach out to me with love and comfort and concern. -From Christine

It helps me to feel better when I reach out to fellow bereaved families with bereavement support and all your names. It helps me to feel better to take spend time with you, with each of you, to remember, to write, to devote time to loving you and to always remember...I'll love you forever! -From Martha

It helps me to feel better when I take good care of myself to be sure I'm getting enough sleep (hardly ever though!), not eating a lot of sugar, getting plenty of water, and making sure I at least get outside once a day! But after all that, I still have days when I just plain old miss my kid. And at those times, the only thing that makes me feel better is to kabitz with other bereaved parents. They are the only ones who fully appreciate the breadth and deepth of life-after-the-death-of-a-child. -From Anon


Question 7: I think I miss you most when...

I wake up in the morning to a quiet house.
I visit with friends and family knowing you should be there, too.
I'm with my friends who have children around your age.
I play with my kitty knowing you should be playing with him, too.
I take road trips with my Mom, I feel you should be with us!
It's such an empty feeling to know you aren't here.
I wake up from the most beautiful dream of you and realizing it was just a dream.
I miss you all the time, Charles! You're forever loved!
-From Katie

I think I miss you most when...I see little brown haired, brown eyed girls with purple dresses on and pigtails in their hair....and I think, that should be MINE! -From Stephanie

I think I miss you most when I watch your brother and sister playing together, holding hands when they walk, having quiet whisper talks. I miss you most when I am brushing your sister's hair wondering what color your hair would have been, how long it would have been. I miss you most in the still of the night and the brand new morning. I miss you most on quiet days.... I just miss you. -From Christine

Lily, I think I miss you most when I see your daddy playing with your brothers, chasing them and making them laugh until their little bellies ache and they are out of breath and I think...what a wonderful life you would have had, what wonderful big brothers you have, what a big hole there is in our family now. -Melanie

I see a blonde or brown eyed girl or boy who is either 9, 6 or almost 4 years old....and I wonder what you might be... When I see a newborn, full of innocence, the sweet smell of babies... When I reach out to another bereaved family, feeling once again, the sting of loss, asking you all to guide your Mommy to help... ALWAYS!!!! -From Martha

When I see other four year olds and see all the things I'm missing with you. Or when I see your stepsister with her baby or any other sleep-deprived parents who are dealing with the day to day, dirty diapers, feeding schedules, leaking breast milk, stuffed diaper bag, stroller that won't open, screaming in the middle of the night, teething that has no comfort -- and I realize how much we didn't get to do with you. And then there are all the events and sunsets and cool stones at the beach and sweet ducklings and a million other things we never got to show you. Basically it just sucks all the time without you. -From K.

Question 8: I visited your grave or memorial site today...

W we took pictures of your resting plavce and put flowers on your marker. Charlie found some pretty pebbles and arranged them around your name, almost like he could read it....I straightened the cross that my Dad, your Papa, made for you, and tightened the ribbons on the wreath I made.....I wept for the promise lost, and your Daddy comforted me. When we left, we were silent and somber...all thinking of the girl who never got to be. -From Stephanie

I visited your grave ... it was so hot.. your flowers are starting to wilt so we heavily watered them. We sat there staring at your headstone.. noticed the rainbow on your headstone was fading. Thinking about having that retouched...Corey and Abby gave you kisses..they argued over who can take care of the grass around your stone. It sometimes brings a smile to my face in a bittersweet way... still the sibling thing no matter where you are a constant presence. Each of them wanted to spend some alone time with you, as they always do, talking to you, sharing with you. I gave you a kiss...looked up at the sky...sent lots of love. wished you were here... Abby sang you a song.. Corey just let tears roll down his cheeks...they both miss you so much. We all miss you.
-love mommy

I don't have to go far to visit you as I have your cremains in an urn resting on a table in my bedroom. You're surrounded by teddy bears. When I need to escape the craziness of life, I'll also visit your memorial site...The Garden of Angels. I seek peace and solace there. I find comfort there. There a
breeze presses into me, and I wonder if you're sending me a hug! -From Katie

Though we don't have a specific memorial site as such, I visit my gardens each day (sometimes several times a day!) and marvel at the growth and beauty of the baby rosebuds and the beautiful buttercups...and I remember you all...loving your beauty. I am at peace and filled with your love.... -From Martha

Your urn is on a stand next to my side of the bed surrounded by dried flowers from your funeral, your bank full of those cool quarters, stuffed animals, a few things with your birthstone, the big sign of your name that uncle meko had made, artwork your daddy did for you, the womb book i made that has your name and info in it, and some other things. I look at your things a lot. Contemplate them as I'm going to sleep. Am thrilled to have them as tangible reminders of you each morning. Your daddy, too, looks at those things sometimes. But most others simply ignore you are even there. I don't care about that anymore though. It is my private time and place to be with you. -From K.



About the Kota Discussion Group
This is a discussion and support group held online thru the free services of Yahoo Groups. Stephanie Marrotek is the host of the Grief Journey Q & A. The full group is moderated by the staff of KotaPress. The answers given in this Q & A were offered by the generous hearts of the members of our online group. We cannot thank you enough for your candor and honesty.

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