Grief Journey Q & A, Pt. II
Compiled by Kota Discussion Group

In Honor and Loving Memory of Our Children

Editor's Intro:
Welcome to Part III of our Grief Jouney Q & A. The content here 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 couple times a week and invites all members of the discussion group to post answers. In addition to answering on the group, some 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: Have you had to deal with a close relative or friend's pregnancy when you were desperately trying to conceive again? How did you manage to get thru that?

I had to deal with my [sister in law] announcing her pregnancy about a month after Amanda died....she got pregnant the week Amanda passed away....for the longest time, I thought that her baby stole my baby's soul.....I couldn't look at her or hold her or even talk about her.....she is now 2 1/2 and I am ok with her, but once in a while it gets me, that my daughter would be 9 months older than her.....while SIL was pg she lived in another town, so I was able to avoid she is pg again and lives next door, that is super hard....thank God they found a house to move to and will be moving in the next 3 weeks, 8 hours away!! That will be much easier for me.

I also had to deal with a bunch of friend's pregnancy's, there were 18 of us pregnant the year that Amanda died....I had to watch ALL of them give birth to healthy babies, in the months following my loss...we moved out of that town the next was too hard.

I have cried and cried until I thought that I could not cry anymore....yet the tears keep comming.
It is very hard to deal with others pregnancies now.

Yes, in fact we had to deal with like 7 of them all at the same time a year ago. These were the first pregnancy's in 3 years since our own's son's death -- the first we could not avoid or get around.

Handling each one was different though -- just as grief is different for each individual. These people around us who were pregnant were all individual and different in the ways they dealt with us, too. How to explain?

For instance, there were several who were pregnant who just wanted to go "lala" thru it, never talk to us about Dakota, were just not at all in the reality we are in. Therefore, we just all fell away from each other. I didn't talk to them. They didn't talk to us. And they have gone on "lala" through their lives. Which is totally fine. But is also not something I want in my everyday life because it is so naive and just not "of me".

Then there were two *very good friends* who have really really really understood Dakota's life and death. These two friends really talked to me. Really said to me, "I know this isn't a *la la* experience because Dakota taught me something and so I want to share this with you and I want to know from you what to ask of my doctors..." etc. These women knew the risks and looked at them as something that any parent would want to know and try to do the best they could to prevent those risks, etc. These women both told me that they would actually say little prayers to Kota to say that if he were on the other side with their unborn children, then would he be a guide and protector to the unborns. These women told me that they *felt* Kota with them in delivery. These women invited me to their baby showers, but never expected me to come, and so made time to see me privately after the showers so I could give them gifts and we could talk in quiet reality about the "shower" experience for them. They *included me and my son* in their lives. Dealing with them was pretty easy. Because it was real. Because we all honored each other. We all gave credence to the reality we all were living.

Then there was one that was complicated by the fact that the mom was a teenager. This one was very hard for me to deal with. I love her. She's my stepdaughter. I love her child. He's our grandson. She definitely talked with me about Dakota and included us as much as she could. But there were so many other things going on with her mother, the baby's father, the in-law family who are Mormon. That one was complicated and, at best, I have kept it all at bay because the circumstances just kill me. I thank God/dess for the safety and continued healthy living of both daughter and grandson, but I have so many fears for them. I want to help in their lives, but I can't. Rather, I chose to take a position of distance and let everyone live as they wish, have their own triumphs, their own mistakes, and stay out of it. Not the healthy rosy family picture I'd like. But it is a situation that, again, is not "of me" -- and when I try to get in there to be a part of it, it just kills the living cells of my heart. So I hang back and "let it be".

Anyway, so you can see that "managing to get through it" is very individual for me...for whatever that is worth...k-

Although it was nearly 10 years ago after our first two losses, I will always remember one dear friend who wrestled with having to "tell me" of her pregnancy. She herself had suffered two losses and "knew" the feelings. What helped most was our honesty with one another...Don't get me wrong, it was HARD!!!! But I found myself spending more time with her, helping her out around the house, as she had some complications. Being immersed in her pregnancy rather than avoiding it helped me. to this day, her little one who is now nine is special to me...I remember how being with him helped to heal my aching broken heart. His mom's love really helped.

(On another note, in these past four years since the loss of our last baby it has been really hard, especially since we ended in loss. That's another chapter that I'm still 'writing. Sometimes with not
much success!)

Thanks for listening!

Actually yes. Ashley died 10/29/97 (it took us 3 1/2 years to have her). I resumed my fertility medications in 12/97. I got pregnant in June 1998 but miscarried my second baby 7/28/98. I felt so broken and useless. It was Thansgiving 1998 and we were at my in-laws. We were playing cards with my in-laws and my hubby's brother and his wife. They made the announcement at the table. I was shocked. I could feel the tears starting so I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I thought I could control myself but long story husband found me 25 minutes later curled up on the bathroom floor sobbing uncontrollably. I was so embarrassed. Amy and Curt felt bad and Joe explained to them that I was happy for them but with everything we have been through sometimes our emotions are uncontrollable. They were very understanding.(They are the only ones in his family that we talk to at this time....huge family fight.) His parents ont eh other hand ignired what had happened and were mad that I had disrupted the card game.

Oh my. My hubby's dear friend just had a baby girl, Emma, a few weeks ago. of course we were preggers together and she has a little boy close in age to mine. although i don't like her, we did spend time together. now we don't see them at all because neither rob or i can handle any kind of baby girl. sad, i know. so selfish of me. i just am very jealous of her and her healthy baby. very, very jealous and i think it is very very unfair. i don't care how silly i'm being.

I've been very jealous.

There are friends who've announced their pregnancies to me and I've ended up just avoiding them, some even now that their babies are here.

There are a couple of friends that I haven't felt any such animosity towards. One is 14 weeks now and she was very understanding when I told her about Adam. A new close friend just had a baby in June, but she's been very supportive and because she has been where I am now, I know she understands. I even went to visit her in the very hospital where I lost Adam and I was okay with it. It's the ones who've really made an effort to be understanding that I am more willing and able to keep the lines of communication open with. The ones who don't realize how sensitive a subject it is with me...or the ones who do realize, but end up being worried or afraid to say things around me - especially the ones who are honest and have told me how difficult it must be for me to hear about their pregnancy woes - are the ones that I have a hard time with.

I haven't tried to conceive again since my loss. I have dealt with several friends and relatives pregnancies, since I've become a bereaved parent. It's not easy to say the least. Especially when my best friend got pregnant just 6 months after I lost Charles. I was jealous, envious, angry, scared, and depressed to list some of the various emotions that came with her pregnancy and ultimate healthy, live birth of her precious baby boy. I was happy for her, but really sad for me. I always ask myself, "Why?" Why do they get to have healthy living children, but I lost Charles? It doesn't seem right nor fair. To manage and get through such difficult moments of others being pregnant, I usually will journal, chat with a fellow bereaved parent that understands, take a scenic drive to clear my thoughts, or just
cry...sometimes a good cry is the best medicine! I just take each moment as it comes and deal with it in the best way I know possible.
~Katie D. Smith, Bereaved Parent to Charles Christopher, Stillborn on 11/6/1999


Question 2: In what ways has your church/religion helped you/not helped you deal with shadow issues of grief?

My church hasn' personal faith has carried me through....if I didn't believe, I think I would have turned to drinking.

Church and religion, aye? Well, I'm pretty cynical about stuff, but I can say that *my investigation* of *world wide religions, rituals, belief systems* has helped me tremendously. At the very least, this investigation opened my eyes to the fact that grief is world-wide, bereaved parents are everywhere, and there are far too many children dying everyday in this world.

In a general way, things that have helped me:

- I found out that in the Jewish faith, bereaved people are not expected to attend party or celebratory functions or even gatherings outside of their regular services at synagouge, for ONE WHOLE YEAR!!! They are not expected to "be over it" in a few weeks.

- I found that in the Mexican Catholic traditions, they celebrate Day of the Dead every year where families gather in the cemetaries to clean and decorate graves with toys, ribbons, colored lights, flowers and more. They then have a party right there, with music and food and candy and costumes. It is one of the "true roots" of Halloween -- but their costumes have meaning. Their remembrances happen every year. They start building ofrendas or remembrance altars in their homes in the beginning of October and they tend to them all month. Every year for an entire month, they are honoring the dead, recognizing grief.

- I found that in the Buddhist faith, they have a bodhisattva called Jizo and there are large Jizo garden throughout Japan and other parts of the world -- a couple of them in the US -- where bereaved families are welcome anytime. Jizo is a little like Saint Christopher in Western Systems. Jizo is protector and gaurdian of bereaved parents, pregnant women, children, travellers. Jizo is called upon in everyday life, acknowledging that any transition can be exciting, but also dangerous, and may call forth grief. The Jizo Garden at the Jizo-in Zen Monastery in Clatskanie, Oregon, is full of Jizo statues that have been clothed or decorated by bereaved people, including notes, toys, memorials to children who have died.

And a lot more...but you get the picture...I just don't believe there is any single religion or manifestation of "God" that holds the *entire* truth. I think they are all valid and hold pieces of the truth. I think when we weave them all back together, there is truly a more whole picture, a closer manifestation of Peace on Earth. But as long as they are all divided and calling Ghihad to kill each other in the name of one religion or another -- then that is not peace. And bereaved people will suffer because the rules held fast by one religion or another -- where as I think bereaved people could have a full expression of all that grief brings if they could share thru the many different rituals and services offered by *all*.

Just my thoughts...k-'s been an evolving road to all of this...and I must say that for the most part my Church has helped me in my grief. My Church, for this part, my Church community...those helping caring
people that I actively had to search out for support in so many of the issues. I must also admit that I had been disappointed in the lack of knowledge and outreach in our Catholic Diocese, and that is
when I finally began our SHARE group with the amazing bereavement coordiator of the diocese. In my opinion, these three years have opened many hearts, eyes, and ears of clergy and bereavement
ministers therin. Pregnancy and infant loss, as we know, is a most silent of sorrows, and awareness is growing inour area due to our group and several wonderful hopsital-based groups in our LI area.
Lots of work to be done, but "family by family"...we are reaching out. My dream is for bereaved families not to have to search high and low for help when they don't have the energy or the strength to do so... Thanks for listening...

My personal relationship with God and his Son are what have kept me here. God has carried me through all of this. As for my church. We are trying different churches right now. The one we attended when Ashley died was awesome. They were there for us in our time of sorrow. We are forever grateful to everyone there. However, we have decided to move on to a different church. We miss everyone at our old church but it was too hard to hear the same congregation sing the same songs that were at my daughter's funeral. It broke my heart every time. So we decided it was time to move on.

When I lost Charles, I had a strong belief/faith in God; however, I didn't belong to a church. The day I gave birth to my stillborn Son, I meant the hospital chaplain who was a Pastor at an area church. She welcomed me to talk with her any time and she has remained in contact with me since that fateful day. She helped me with Charles funeral arrangements and offered to do his baptism and final services. Her church welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts with much kindness. Although I know longer belong to that church, I will forever be grateful to them for all the care they provided to me. And I'm very honored to have such a wonderful friend as Pastor Ann. She has been extremely
helpful in many ways. My faith in the spiritual world has also given me peace of mind that Charles is at peace.
~Katie D. Smith, Bereaved Parent to Charles Christopher, Born Still on November 6, 1999



Question 3: What is the one thing that makes you think of your child the most?

Seeing other little baby girls with dark hair and brown eyes. Also every day when I wake up without morning sickness and a heavy belly, I think of her and am reminded of what I lost.

The answer to this one has changed over time for me. At first it was the 11th of each month -- just hitting the eleventh day was another tick on the calendar of him being gone.

But now the thing that comes up most is his name. There is a new little actress getting lots of press these days -- about 7 years old, named Dakota. arg. There's a new animation out and one of the bears is named Kota -- well they spell it Koda or Coda as in kodiak bears, I'm sure, but it sounds the same on screen.

Oh and there is always the Dakota Sport trucks and always seem to land in the parking spot right next to us. Doesn't matter where we are, on or off island. There's always one of those trucks.

ONE THING???? This is a near-impossible question to answer!! A good one, all the same...
The "one thing" that makes me think of our children in heaven is what might have our family....the "spaces" they would "fill, where grief and growth has replaced them....One thing....a zillion-trillion things could not contain my thoughts!

The one thing that makes me think of my Son most is every night when I look at his bears that surround his urn and wish him a good night, and every morning when I wake up to a silent house knowing that he's not here.
~Katie D. Smith, Bereaved Parent to Charles, Stillborn 11/6/1999

My living children.

Well it is actually two things...
1) Another little girl that is the same age as Ashley.
2) My second daughter, Cori. She was born just before Ashley's second birthday.


Question 4: Speaking of signs...What are some things that have happened to you that you felt certain were signs from your child?

A tiny bird that appears out of nowhere and lands right beside us not moving.... a butterfly that stays with us for long periods of time, a rainbow in a cloudless, rainless sky, a gust of wind at the cemetery on a calm windless day that rings the chimes when we are there, acts of love that happen out of nowhere to comfort our family.

The time when Eric and I went out separately, within the same hour, without the other knowing and purchased star votive candle holders on Adam's due date...The cupcakes that spelled out Adam after Emma's birthday party...On his birthday when the balloon holding our notes got stuck between the house and the tree and the balloon re-do the next day when the new bouquet of balloons were stuck for a few tense moments on a very high branch of one of the evergreens on the side of our house. And the time that Emma came running out of her room one morning, insisting that the doctor was going to help another baby out of my belly.

Hard to say. Used to be that we'd see his name -- which used to be unusual -- in unusual places. Like once before we were preggers, but knew what his name was already, we hiked up to Paradise at Mt. Rainier with friends. When we got to the top, we split into two groups, boy & girls, headed for the
separate bathrooms. When we girls came out, Monica noticed that someone had written into the snow, in huge capital letters, "DAKOTA". I thought it was Hawk. But then the boys came out, and none of them had done it. We sort of stood there staring at it in disbelief.

Then on our honeymoon we were listening to a "manifestation" tape in the car. It is a very relaxing kind of thing, and Hawk said, "Stop that tape till I find a place to pull over so that I don't fall asleep driving." He pulled over at the next spot available where there was a large boulder in front of us -- what do you think was spray painted across that boulder in a large cap letters? "DAKOTA"

Stuff like that. Used to happen all the time before his death. Now, I guess it does still happen, but it's different now. My heart falls to aching now instead of leaping for joy, you know? ugh.

I always feel Charles' spirit surround me. It's a feeling that I have...a touch that warms me. I do get signs from him too. Every year on his birthday in November after the monarch butterflies have migrated south, a single beautiful monarch butterfly visits me. Recently, I had moved his first teddy bear to an area by his urn in my room. I made my bed and left the room for about 5 minutes. I was home alone. I came back into my room, glanced over at his bear. It had been moved to the other end of the table against some Peter Rabbit books. I wonder if he wanted me to read a story? I know in my heart it was Charles.
~Katie D. Smith, Bereaved Parent to Loving Son, Charles, Born Silent on 11/6/1999


I have never experienced those types of things...if I see a butterfly, I think, what a gorgeous butterfly, not "ohhh that must be from Amanda." When I find a penny, I think, ohh a penny for Charlie's piggybank, but not, "ohhh a penny from heaven from Amanda.". Etc. I guess I am too practical to see that type of thing. Or maybe just to pessemistic?? Whatever it is, I am very disappointed to not get signs from her....BUT the reason for this may be, becase she is gaurdian angel for Mikaili, a little girl who was born when Amanda was supposed to be. Mikaili's mom and I were best friends, and she told me when Mikaili was about 3 months old that she felt that Amanda was her daughter's gaurdian angel, that she was getting signs from her..So that may be why, she is not here, she is there with them....



Question 5: Has there been a song that has made you think of your child... if so, what song and perhaps share some of the lyrics with us! [PLEASE NOTE: Because of copyright laws, we are not at liberty to publish lyrics in full here without express permissions from the artists. So for these answers, we are simply sharing as much as we can about the song title for you to discover the music/lyrics on your own.]

Ugh. I have to say that there was this one song they played at Kota's funeral. I don't hear it a lot -- I think it was called like "Time to Say Goodbye" or something -- by one of those tenor kinda singin' guys. I hear it in Italian eateries a lot. Anyway, it isn't a pleasant association though. I hate hearing it. It brings me right back to that gawd awful room with everyone just standing around looking at the hysterical mother and Hawk just sobbing next to me and no one ever even telling us we could open that goddamned casket to hold him one more time -- to hold him at all in my case since i never did get him in the hospital. I hate that song.

The only song I like hearing is "Kota's Song" when Hawk sings it. That's the only one that will ever be a "good" one for me -- and even that one is a comfort only because it fully speaks of my aching. If that makes any sense at all...
k -

Glory Baby
Words and music by Nathan and Christy Nockels
Sung by Watermark
From the CD "All Things New"

"A Visitor From Heaven"
by Twila Paris

Hello, Goodbye
by Michael W Smith

Only One
by Tracy Chapman

I Believe
by Diamond Rio


Question 6: I can't help but smile when I remember...

the feel of her little feet pushing at my she was anxious to get out and see the world....I miss that feeling of life under my heart.

I can't help but smile when I hear music that it seemed you would dance to, when I was pregnant with you certain songs would come on the radio and you would just jump all around... I love to remember my pregnancy with you, it was such a special time. I love to remember feeling your fingers and toes and your little body jumping all around until all you could do was roll back and forth because you ran out of room....

I can't even think of an answer to this question -- isn't that pathetic? My hub is really the optimistic one, but I tend more toward cynicism and pessimism. So I really don't know. When I think back to those "happy" pregnant times, all I think is how stupid I was, how naive and ignorant, how disgustingly pampered I'd been my whole life to think that time was mine. I guess I do smile now when I hear someone talking about "living a life of abundance" or how they have a good life because they "chose love instead of fear" or when they put their faith in the "Goddess and the abundance of Nature" because that is all such crap. If that stuff were really true, then you would have to look me in the face and tell me that I am responsible for my son's death because I wasn't thinking about love and abundance, right? But I was thinking all that -- doing yoga and all that bullshit. So I smile now when I hear someone say that shit because I know that they are still in "la-la" land and have illusions of control. But it's a cynical humor.

When I remember how excited I was when I found out you were a girl! I was so scared to be pregnant and sick again and so scared that I would be a bad mom to your brothers while I was puking my guts out and then that ultrasound tech said that you were a girl and I was so amazed. I had gotten so used to little boys -- to their roughhousing and guns (i, too, was one of those moms who said no guns and then ended up with stick guns) and their just plain dirtiness. And then there was you and I thought constantly about dance classes and pigtails and little skirts and red shoes and velvet winter coats and all of those things that don't matter. What matters is you were really my little baby girl -- in my body and in my heart. I gave you a girly name -- Lily -- because I treasured that about you. I miss you.

I can't help but smile when I remember...Seeing you for the first time in that peaceful little chapel. You were at such peace and so very beautiful eternally sleeping in that antique oak doll's cradle. I smile at that memory with sadness, too. With a smile comes many tears as I remember you. I smile as I look back on that day, being able to spend time with you, hold you, kiss you, admire every angelic feature of you. There was a special glow surrounding you that day. I felt your tender soulful
presence there with me. The warmth you gave me that day will forever live on within me. I know you would have been an amazing person that would have done many wonderful things in his life. Just as I also know that you are an even far more amazing angel that brings comfort to me each day. You have a beautiful soul, my precious Charles. I miss you during every waking moment, and I miss you as I dream of the life we could have had together. You will forever live on in my heart, and I will always love you!


We'll have more Q & A in October...

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.

Loss  | Vashon | Services | Art | Poetry | Store | Contact

© 1999 KotaPress All rights reserved.  ISSN 1534-1410
Please direct comments regarding this web site to