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

In Honor and Loving Memory of Our Children

Editor's Intro:
Welcome to Part IV 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 once 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: When confronted with the first pregnancy and healthy birth of a child after the death of your own child, did you fear that your child would be completely forgotten or that your child's identity would be lost due to the newly born next child? If so, can you talk about that fear a little? Can you say a little about how you came to terms with this fear? Can you say a little about how/what/when you finally realized that *both* your child and this newly born child could/would/did/do exist at the same time and that neither one of them cancels out the existence of the other...

It was a full three years after our son's stillbirth before I had to really deal with any pregnancies in my everyday life. I had 3 very good, dear friends get preggers, 1 stepdaugher, and and then various folks from my writing and artistic life -- all preggers at the same time!!! And let me tell you, at first, it was pure hell. I just wanted to run away from all of them. BUT some interesting things happened.

Three of these people really came to me face-to-face with tenderness and love and caring and said something like, "It still sucks for me, too, that your Dakota is dead because I want him here, too. And I want my child to know your child. And I want to know your child. And I want you to know my child. And I hate that he isn't here for any of us. And I want to know how to include you in our journey now because I don't want to lose you, too." AND THEY MEANT IT! They understood that I desperately wanted to be invited to the baby shower, BUT ALSO wanted to be excused from attending. And they were each kind enough to make one-on-one time with me after the shower for us to really talk, to explore hopes and fears, to see the gifts, to be together -- AS A MOTHER WITH A DEAD CHILD AND A MOTHER WITH A CHILD ON THE WAY -- TOGETHER!!! They taught me that there was room in this world for ALL our children!!! Their children didn't cancel out my child. They were gifts sent straight from my son in heaven, I'm sure of it.

Mind you, there were others who were not so gracious and understanding. They simply did not want to look at my "mother of a dead child" face and deal with any of their own fears. So I let them go away. Not easy to do because it is more loss on top of loss. BUT I could not wear some "la-la" mask around them either, so let them go on their merry way and wish them the best. Buh-bye. If I had grasped on and tried to keep these others in my life, it would have been a relationship of scarcity and fear that said there was only room for their living children and no room for my dead child. I don't need that in my life.

SO!! I am eternally grateful for those who have big enough hearts and visions and world-perspectives that they accept me whole, including my bereaved parenthood AND are willing to let me witness their living parenthood.

The first pregnancy and healthy birth that I confronted, was the birth of my best friend Shaun's baby girl, Mikaili. We were pregnant together, due within 2 weeks of each other. It was so hard, the day I met that baby. She was so precious and perfect and as I held her 3 day old form, I wept for my baby, not yet 2 months in the ground. But I knew that this child would always be special to me, and that I would always love her and look at her and see what I should be dealing with and enjoying.

I think that my biggest fears with her, were that she wouldn't like me!!LOL!

I do not think that my child will be forgotten because of her, in fact, Mikaili's mom said that she thinks that Amanda Joy is Mikaili's gaurdian angel. And that makes perfect sense to me, because I have not ever recieved signs from Amanda, but everytime I am with Mikaili, I seem to see really beautiful things, like butterflies and sunsets and rainbows. Maybe it is just coincidence, but I really think it is true! My baby is watching over Mikiaili, they would have been best friends in life, just like their moms!

I haven't had any subsequent children. Charles is my only child. I do get people from time to time that say...'there will be other children' as if my first born doesn't matter. I usually respond by saying, 'That may be true, but Charles will always be my first born and he will always be a part of my life whether or not I have future children.' My Mom acknowledges that she is a Grandma to Charles. She is considered to be my main family. Knowing that she feels such love for Charles is more important to me than anyone else's response to Charles & future children that I may have. And most importantly, what I know and feel is what really matters. I am a Mom to Charles.

I am so impressed at how nice all of you have been answering this question. I think that the title of my answer could be "Angry."

One of the first babies to be born after Lily died that I knew the mom pretty well was my friend, Jessi and she named her baby girl, Ryann. She also smoked a pack a day throughout her pregnancy and did with her first as well. This bothered me immensely because smoking increases the risk of a placental abruption dramatically yet I didn't smoke and I had a placental abruption -- there is logic there somewhere, I'm sure of it.

Anyways -- I must be a really horrible person because I AM NOT GOING TO HOLD THAT BABY. I don't want to look at that baby. I totally know in my head that baby did not do anything to me but I CAN'T DEAL WITH THAT BABY. Plus, I don't want to flatter myself and think that baby needs my love -- it gets plenty so i admire from afar.

Another baby that I AM NOT EVER GOING TO EVEN BE IN THE SAME ROOM WITH is my husband's best friends baby girl, Emma, who was born about a month after Lily -- we were pregnant together. This is the girl who came into my work the week that she had her bitching about how much she wanted to have the baby and be in labor and how uncomfortable she was and how she was so sick and tired of being pregnant and how they had sent her home from the hospital.

WHAT AN INSENSITIVE BITCH!!! I wanted to tell her that at least they didn't send her home WITHOUT HER BABY!!!

Whatever, the point being -- I don't think I've gotten to that beautiful point Stephanie mentioned about being able to realize that the existence of other babies does not negate Lily.

The point is that they are here and Lily's not here and I'M PISSED OFF. I don't understand why they get their babies and I don't. I DON'T UNDERSTAND, I DON'T GET IT.

So, anyways, that's how I feel.

Hope I didn't offend anyone.


Melanie, you are not a horrible person, you are where you are at... if I were to be honest, I saw the question and skipped it.... then I read everyone else's answers and knew I was no where near that and again decided to skip... but then reading your answer, I decided to share to let you know you are not alone. We are not horrible, just can't come to that place yet. I am angry as hell... they tell me I
shouldn't have anymore, so I have no use to see other's babies or hear about pregnancies or anything... I would never be able to hold a baby, go to a baby shower or any thing like that. I suppose I am lucky that I have no siblings that are pg right now because I really don't think I would go near them.... I don't know... I was highly impressed by these answers but again, it reminded me how I am no where near the others... but don't down are who you are, no one has to compare with others... that is what makes us special and unique... we all deal with our grief our own way...sending you lots of hugs

I read all of your answers on this question and I can relate to all of your experiences. For me myself, currently being pregnant, it's never really been a thought to me that this child would somehow replace or lessen Raeyn's place in our family. I have ALOT of fears, but not that. I feel sad at times because I know that I will share things with this child & Ahren (my 10 year old)that I will never share with Raeyn but I know that she has a special part of me...that in truth can't be jeopardized by anyone. She is and will always be included in our family's activities in some special way. This child that I'm carrying will know his big sister Raeyn as apart of his or her family. I can't compare my love for my kids, living or deceased, I love them the same. None of them could be replaced.
Keny Marie,
Mommy to Raeyn Jolie 11/9/02


Question 2: Right now I can imagine you smiling because...

Right now I can imagine you smiling because... I know you see our family trying to do our best without you, I know you know how much we miss you and love you, but in your name, in your memory, we try and get up each day and live the best we can. I think you are also smiling because you are assured that we will never forget you and that in itself tells you how much we love you. love mommy

the hospital listened to us and they're working at trying not to let anyone slip through the cracks the way we did. I imagine that you saw the brochure when I did and while I couldn't see the beauty in it at the time, I like to think now that you were so proud of us at that moment. Maybe someday I'll be able to smile when I look at it too.

you would be 3 years old and so full of fun and mischief....I imagine that you and Charlie would be getting into trouble constantly.....I can see you grinning, covered in chocolate....or mud....and Charlie sticking up for you to say it was his idea!!!

For the first time in the nearly four years I've been missing you, I'm feeling like life is improving though with some bumps along the way! Don't get me wrong...I still miss and love you...and I still feel that heaviness in my heart, because you're not here. However, I am beginning to see more light at the end of that extremely long tunnel which I keep journeying through. I may never reach the end of the tunnel until my own death, but at least I feel more at peace as I see more of that light ahead of me. I feel your warmth, and I know you're smiling when you surround me with such love on a daily basis! I dreamt of a little boy last week about the age you would have been now. He had sandy brown hair just like you and the most beautiful smile. You woke me up at 3am after that dream and I couldn't get that beautiful image of you out of my head! Thank you for showing me what you would have looked like as your human self! I can definitely tell you're very free spirited just like me! I love you with all my heart and soul, Charles! Love, Mom

it's almost your 1st birthday!!!!and we bought you a present. I have
a feeling you're peeking!!!! :)
~Keny Marie,
Mommy to Raeyn Jolie 11/9/02



Question 3: There is one place that you like going more than any place you have ever gone... Describe it to your child... as if they were setting in front of you, and you wanted them to see it with your words.

There is a place near where I grew up, called Castle Rock. It is a huge rock and piles of huge rocks just set on a little hill out in the middle of the prairie. The rocks are an off whiteish and brown and tan color with streaks of redish burnt orange through them. They are huge. In one spot, the wind and water and time has worn a hole clear through the rock, and it is big enough that a grown man can crawl through it! When you climb to the top, it is a plateau with some small boulders seeminly put there just for natural benches.

The best time of day to go there is evening, and watching for cactus, climbing to the top. We find a place to sit and settle in to watch the sunset. While we are waiting, we see deer come to drink in a stream nearby.

Then the sun sets in the most spectular shades of pink and purple and orange and blue. The clouds swirl the colors into each other, dancing in an end of the day celebration. The hues blend together slowly until it is completely dark. Then we pull out the flashlights and climb back down carefully and head home!

This place is the most peaceful place on earth for me. I have taken many friends and boyfriends out to see it, it is a natural place a wondrous place, so fun to explore over and over again! When I was young, we used to speculate on HOW the rocks got there.....and we decided that God caused them to be there after the Flood....I still believe that!

Castle Rock is truely beautiful!

The one place that I like visiting more than any other place I've gone to before is the Grand Canyon. My Dear Charles, It's the most beautiful place I've ever seen with my own eyes. It's like walking into a masterpiece painting with every color imaginable all molded together. Except this painting is real and you can touch it.

The air is crisp and clean. The scents are pure as nature. Close your eyes, Charles, and just breath...don't can hear nature's harmony in the breeze!

The most amazing sunsets are seen here. The rays of the morning and evening sun will enhance & highlight the colors along the Canyon's walls. It's a totally different view for the eyes during those times of the day. And in the night sky...the stars with their crystal clear brightness gives the feeling that you can reach up and touch a part Heaven!

If we camp there on the grounds, it's a wonderful way to awaken all the senses of the human body! There's all sorts of animals to see...I love wildlife! The deer and canyon squirrels will come right up to you begging for food! But don't let the Rangers see you feeding them!

Whenever I return to the Grand Canyon and it's time to leave, a bit of sadness comes over me. It was the last place my brother (your Uncle) and I vacationed at before he died two weeks later in 1992. I felt closer to my brother on that last family vacation then any other time in years. So, whenever I return, it's hard to leave...I can feel my brother there. And that's one of the reason's why I feel close to Heaven at the Grand Canyon.

I wish I could take you there. I've often thought of spreading your ashes there; however, I'm not sure if I can ever part with your cremains. I love you, Charles!

(Katie Smith)

My answer is: Well, my dearest son, you have actually be to LaPush with your father and I :) In fact you were conceived there on our honeymoon. LaPush has this amazing green lush river valley that spills into the ocean out on the coast on the Olympic Penninsula here in WA state. It is on Native American land, and as you drive into the village to the water front, I swear on my soul that the vibration of Mother Earth changes out there. The beach front is rocky and filled with drift wood in huge piles -- tree stumps and logs that are 3 times as big as a human! The winds are fierce, the sun is sharp, the big rocky island just off the coast is said to be a sacred burial ground. We have seen bald eagle mating out there. We have seen Orcas out there. We have seen Puffins nesting with their babies. We have seen nests of ladybugs hatching. We have flown kites, lit camp fires on the beach, counted 44 falling stars (or where they meteors or orbiting satellites?) all in one night. Your father loves it out there. Your Nanna loves it out there. Your Uncle Meko, Auntie Moon, and Uncle Michael all love it out there. I have not been able to bring myself back there since you died. But now, some four plus years later, I am aching for it again. Or maybe I am just aching for you.


Question 4: It seems that alot of you have tattoos that honor your children...what was the process that took you to deciding to do that? In other words, how did you come to make that decision? Have you ever regretted it? If you have other living children, have you included their names somehow? If you have decided not to -- why?

I do not have any tatoos at all.

When I made the decision to get my tattoo in memory of Tyler I knew it was something I had thought about for a couple of years and I knew that it wasn t something I'd regret getting because I'd never want to forget Tyler. He'll always be my son and I'll always want people to know that. It's one of the best things I've done for myself since he died. My mom wanted to know when I was going to get tattoos for my 3 living children... I told her that Tyler's tattoo is a memorial tattoo and I'd better never have to get tattoos for any of them.

I don't have any tattoos (yet). However, I've contemplated getting one since I lost Charles. I
think it's a creative way to express the love I have for my Son. I'd like to get a butterfly, because I
feel he visits me often in the form of one.

I have thought about doing this but I cannot bring myself to do so...If I did though I would do one with three little angels, and Put each of my children's names by them. I would do this because I want to treat all my children the same. Plus I do so much In Kirstin's memory. So I would do this one for all of my children.
Have a good day

I do not have any tattoos either... but I want one really bad... but I am scared so that keeps me from getting it....~Christine

I have other tattoo's , Raeyn's was my lastest one. I have never regretted my tats. They all represent something significant in my life. My first was my son's name when he was 2 days old. I knew eventually I'd get one for her but I never thought it would be a memorial tattoo. :( Besides my son's name...all the others seem less significant now. I got Raeyn's name with angel wings and a halo, RIP and her Bday when she would've been 2 days old. I LOVE her tat because it reminds other people of her. I'll catch a glimpse of it in the mirror and it makes her somehow a physical part of my day.
~Keny Marie,
Mommy to Raeyn Jolie 11/9/02

I remember the first memorial tat I saw. I was at a mom's group. This woman showed me this beautiful little ankle tat of her son's name. I flipped out and wanted one sooooooooooo bad. But geeeez those needles scare the crap out of me. Plus I'm a plus sized girl, so maybe it would look ugly on me?? BUT I did recently discover this pattern that is supposedly a Dakota Tribe symbol. How cool would it be to have THAT tat??? Hmmmmmm.....


Question 5: When you are so weary, you just want to lay down and sleep forever, how do you pull through and keep going?

I go into the bathroom and sit in a hot bubble bath and cry.

in answer to your question...i want to say that i do it for my kids or "God" helps me through or I think about the incredible strength of the human spirit and I remember all the times in history that people persevered and made a difference in their world BUT practically what I do is give myself a reward for "going on." For getting out of bed, for doing work for pay or not, for making sure my kids eat five fruits and veggies a day. That reward might be dinner out, it might be shoes, it might be chocolate, it might be a very dirty martini, it might be a very large glass of diet coke with lots of "bought" ice (I love to chew ice). These are all things that I can look forward to so I can do the little things that seem so overwhelming. I used to rely on people to do that for me, to pull me out of the mud but now I don't trust people so much so I guess I'm relying on "things." Or maybe it's just relying on yourself, I don't know. Sometimes, too, I forget that in the worst places, if I ask [my husband] to be there, he will be. Sometimes he disappoints, like all people, but many, many times he has pulled through and done the right thing at the right time (like let me lay in bed all day and watch the Food Network and read Harry Potter).

I do find extreme joy in my husband's eyes...he is my floatation kitty's cute face and my pups warm eyes.. The first warm sip of a fresh cup of mug of tea....the new harry potter book....I don't know what does it for you...just hold on .... hold on because that is what we can do....

Sometimes we just need a break from the crazies of every day life. When I'm craving that rest I give myself permission to take that mini-vacation. If I have to wait to take that break, I will walk away for a few minutes to take some deep relaxing breathes maybe even a power nap if possible. I tell myself to hang in there...the day is almost over. When I'm finally free to take that time out for myself, I'll run a long hot bubble bath and unwind with a novel or write in my journal. Sincere Hugs to All those with Weary bones...

Question 6: Everything has felt so doomy and gloomy lately -- I know we all have icky stuff and shadow issues we are dealing with in one way or another. But I'm wondering if there is anything you do or can imagine doing that just lets you feel like a normal, maybe even joyful, person for a moment or a day?

today, i decided that there is too much happening for me to try and control anything, even if i could do that, which i can't anyway :) so.... for the better part of today, i just did stuff. put some packets together to mail out, talked to my mom, put a few books together, did some reading about "life-drawing". made sure hawk & i both had yummy warm soup for lunch. and it was just a day. it was nice. on the imaginary, dream, total joyful side of things -- well, for me it is always about water :) I look at this photo of me in the pool at MISS 02 and then the photos from this last conference, and i just DREEEEEEEAM of next year -- and know that i'll have at least one day there where i'll be in that
pool for like 8 hours straight -- and will be with friends -- and will have yummy mexican dinner :) miracles,

This is a really good question.... I am not sure....I will put on a fun movie or a listen to some really great songs from my youth, sometimes that helps... I try and work on this though because sometimes I just stay down... and gloomy and I have a hard time recovering...I will be interested to see what others have to say.. great question...

Before last week my answer would have been a sullen, nothing. Nothing makes me feel normal. But...I was at the park with my boys the other day and it's this big wooden park that has all these steps and bridges and hiding places -- robbie calls it a castle. More like a big fort. Anyways, I very rarely play with them when we go there, I more watch to make sure they're ok. But I started chasing robbie and all of the sudden i was having fun. like little kid fun. going down slides and laughing. i guess i just "let go" for a minute. i felt like a good mom, like a fun person instead of the "downer."
~ Melanie

I also LOVE the water. My first choice is always to go to the beach or near the ocean. I live about 5 blocks from the bay so if I'm up to it, I'll walk down and just sit by the ater. It calms me. The actual beach is better. It's the smell, the sound of the waves. It's sooo relaxing.It takes evrything away...if only for a minute.

Lately though, I've had to settle for my bathtub, which in itself is a treat for me. I LOVE hot baths. I use vailla bubble, baby oil and "Purple Stuff" which is a mineral bath soak that smells like lavendar. I'll light candles & incense, play some music...usually Sade or something really mellow. Now, this doesn't take away my thoughts all of the time, but it does melt away the stress I feel physically and it helps me to relax.
Keny Marie,
Mommy to ^~Raeyn Jolie~^ 11/9/02

****When I scrapbook, I am transformed back to that day in the photos. I love to put the pics together in a nice layout with journaling.....just thinking of the fun we had that day makes me feel like I am a normal person again.

I feel Normal when I can work on web pages for Kirstin or when I do her scrap book. I like to make them look nice. Plus I love to go back to that day and just hold on to the moment where I can remember holding her.
God Bless
Mommy to Kirstin
Born sleeping July 17, 2001

If I'm unable to do something physically to perk myself up, I think back on something that has made me laugh in the past. I usually end up laughing out loud as I remember and it makes me feel good. For instance, recently I took a trip to the post office. I wanted to buy Cary Grant stamps. However, the lady helping me said, "I don't have Cary Grant, but I'll see if any of the other ladies have him." She went on to yell out to the other workers, "Do any of you have Cary Grant in your drawers?" I thought that was hilarious...I guess I have a warped brain...LOL! It must run in the family, because I later told my Mom in front of her friends and my Mom and I were the only ones that laughed about it. If I have the free time, taking a random road trip with my Mom or a friend makes me feel good, too. We just pack up the cooler with some drinks and snacks and head on out to anywhere and make a day of it! It's a great way to escape the doomy and gloomy of life even if it's only temporary.

For them from seed, nurturing them, and then watching them die...because I know I will harvest the seeds and plant them next year...digging in the dirt gives me oy...peace...quiet solitude...pride...self confidence....



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

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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