Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lift My Spirits So That I May Be Of Use

Happy are they who know good and do good.
Their love for the good feeds them continually.
They are like trees planted near the river,
whose roots go deep and wide.
They thrive, bear fruit in season, and
weather drought without wilting.
Those who are not so grounded
will blow around like dry leaves in the wind.
Root yourself in Good, and live. 
Psalms 1

It is amazing how some baby loss mamas decide to honor their baby by giving something of themselves to help others through this continual journey of finding a new normal. I have discovered so many helpful websites and programs and there are too many to cover in one blog post so today I will focus on three women who have all lost a baby and who have helped me immensely the past 6 1/2 months, not to mention the countless mothers they have helped and continue to help find peace. 

Jennifer Stocks~ My Tangible Peace

On October 8th, 2000, Jennifer lost her daughter named Madison Grace to SIDS. She creates beautiful custom sculptures with your babies likeness for an affordable price. Here is an excerpt from her website.
“Now I pour my heart and soul out here because I have learned some things about myself and about the whole grieving process during the past decade. The first thing that I have learned is that there is just not enough information out there for bereaved parents. I'm not talking internet, but more along the line of books, studies, and reports, the things that are out there really only cover the first two years of loss not how to survive your lifetime. 

The second thing that I have discovered is that I have found the tangible piece that I have been searching for. A friend emailed me a forward of Camille Allen's hand sculpted, "Marzipan Babies". Now, with a little more research I've learned that these creations are not made from marzipan, but out of polymer clay.

As of this year (2011) I am proud to announce that I have finished my 671th piece. I still enjoy my quality time spent pushing and sculpting my beige clay.  When it comes to grieving there are no rules or guidelines. What I have learned from my research is that bereaved parents go out seeking pieces or memento's of their deceased children. They search for that tangible piece that will forever keep that child physically close. Although the memories will always be there, it's in that physical, touchable, loss that is the hardest for the parents to cope with. For years I would scan the shelves of stores, craft fairs, whatever, for SOMETHING that would bring a piece of her back to me. Every now and then I would indeed see something and I would buy it but it wouldn't give me the peace that I was so desperately searching for, it only satisfied that desire for a short time. By making these little guys I have found my peace, My Tangible Peace, and I want to share them with whoever is interested.”
She created this beautiful miniature sculpture of Marcus for us in December. I cherish it and I am so thankful she is there to offer this meaningful service.
You can find her here http://www.freewebs.com/mytangiblepeace/ and here http://www.etsy.com/shop/mytangiblepeace

Carly Marie Dudley~ Christian’s Beach
Here is a recent news article about what Carly does, it is much more concise and clean than I could be if I attempted to describe it. She wrote Marcus name in the sand in November, 2011.

By Margaret Price, Wanneroo Times 
Healing hands... Carly Dudley with her husband Sam and children Ocea (2), River (4) and Scarlett (6). Picture: Bruce Hunt

WHEN Carly Dudley began writing the names of deceased children in the sand at local beaches three years ago, little did she know the journey it would take her on.
Now, more than 14,000 names later, Carly’s special “ministry” has generated many other initiatives, which bring comfort to grieving families.
These include “memory boxes” and miscarriage gift packs for King Edward Memorial Hospital, memorial services, a Luminous Light friendship group and a card service for special anniversaries, such as a due date or birthday.
Carly and husband Sam, of Banksia Grove, created Christian’s Seashore in 2008 in memory of their son who was stillborn on Australia Day in 2007.
They also have three daughters, Scarlett (6), River (4) and Ocea (2).
A dream inspired Carly to write “lost babies” names in the sand, usually at sunset, to honour their lives.
An initial three names from the dream quickly became 70 and then 2500 as word of the ministry spread worldwide via the internet.
Carly loads a photograph of each name on her site with words of remembrance from families as far away as the United States, Israel, China and Europe who want to remember a child, including miscarriages, on a “beautiful West Australian beach”.
The couple believe the service has helped their own grieving process while offering comfort to others who may have nowhere else to turn.
“I think what Carly does shows there is still so much beauty in life although you might not feel that way at the time and for a long time after you lose a child,” Sam said.
“She shows there is so much to live for.”
Depending on the weather, Carly spends several hours at Mullaloo Point most nights of the week responding to requests, which flood her website.
“I write an average of 25 names a night,” she said.
Carly said the “massive snowball effect” of initiatives from the ‘names in the sand’ project, such as the Luminous Light friendship group and memorial services, filled a need among bereaved families.
She said Luminous Light was a place for mothers of lost babies and children to “hang out” together, and to assemble packs including blankets, candles, photo-frames and teddy bears for the newly bereaved.
“On August 19 every year, the anniversary of when I started writing names in the sand, we deliver the memory boxes to King Edward hospital,” she said.
“This year we filled the entire chapel with boxes.”

Rebekah Brewer Mitchell~MEND

Rebekah Brewer Mitchell is the founder and president of the MEND (mommies enduring neonatal death) organization which is a ministry that reaches out to women who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death.  Her son Jonathan was born and died on June 25th, 1995. One year after losing her son she decided to create a legacy for him by creating MEND to reach out to other women struggling to find a way to live without their children in their arms. 

Since then the organization has put on a walk to remember every year in which a beautiful ceremony is held during the month of October to acknowledge and remember our babies. Families set up booths with the tangible memories they have of their angles and everyone gets a chance to talk about their lost children. Each family who registers for the walk gets an ornament with their babies name, during the ceremony when your babies name is called you get to walk to this beautiful tree and hang your ornament. The walk ends with a breathtaking balloon release where pink balloons are released for baby girls, blue for baby boys and white for unknown gender. Families can write messages on the balloons and you can invite any friends or family who want to come so it is a great way to involve extended family in remembering and honoring your baby.

The walk came for us just three months after we had lost our Marcus and it was so incredibly healing. It was a very emotional day and I have a separate blog post about it if you would like to read more about our particular experience but it was so encouraging to see mommies lifting their subsequent children up to the tree to hang their baby’s ornaments.
The second wonderful event that MEND puts on is the Candlelight Christmas Ceremony. This is a smaller more intimate event where families come to remember their babies during the holidays. Holidays are a very difficult time for most baby loss mamas and Christmas especially. This quiet and peaceful ceremony is a wonderful way to take a step back during the busy holiday season and have a whole night to reflect on your baby’s life. 

For more regular support a MEND support group led by Rebekah meets once a month in Irving as well as several other helpful groups such as a subsequent pregnancy group and an infertility group. Every quarter Rebekah’s husband Byron comes to the meeting to lead the daddy’s group where the men can have a chance to talk about their feelings separate from the main group. On facebook MEND has created a closed group where you can talk with other women going through the same thing on a daily basis. Both the support group and the facebook group have been a tremendous help for Marc and I during this hard time. We went to the first meeting available after Marc died and we have not missed a regular group meeting since. The subsequent pregnancy group is also wonderful since we are pregnant with our second child. Subsequent pregnancies are a scary time and it is so important to have other moms who know what you are going through.
I cannot thank Rebekah enough for all the hard work she has put into the organization she created over the past 16 years. MEND has spread from the DFW area to many other locations as well and continues to touch the lives of everyone who is lucky enough to find their way here after a loss.
Please check out the MEND website for more information about this wonderful organization. http://www.mend.org/support/home.asp

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