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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Notes from the front for Notes to the Everlost

Notes from the front  for Notes to the Everlost 
(for Kate Inglis’ blog called Glow in the Woods.)

Dearest Kate- thank you does not suffice...

Like the couple in Edmonton who told you “we’re not sure if we belong here...”, all... sure...  I belong here.

I lost a sibling, a stillborn brother. 
I was 22 mos. old.
Nobody told me about my mother’s stillborn child until I was 30. It had been a dark, shameful secret.

The seeds planted, the losses multiply still, like toxic vegetation: my mother was unable, perhaps unwilling, to grieve the loss of her stillborn son. 

She disappeared into depression for many months, then walled herself off from intimate connection - from me.

I lost my mother then.  My 4 younger siblings followed suit to a greater or lesser degree, aware or not. Perhaps the secret locked my father out as well. Perhaps.

I lost my mother and my stillborn brother when my mother/his mother,  lost her son - still borne.

When I learned the truth at age 30, I began the forever process of unravelling the gnarly skein of 
secrets, silence and denial.
Still borne.

That did not prevent the overflow of thwarted emotional intimacy from derailing my relationship with my beloved daughter.
She is creative, stunningly beautiful, intellectually distinguished, kind, compassionate, and confused. That is our loss.

For 10 years, she and I  slogged through the pain, rationally mostly, sometimes not. Three years ago  (she was 33),  we mutually decided to suspend our efforts to connect. 

I undertook a deep and deeper submergence into my psyche and into my soul. It was a life/death pitched battle. Through the agony of despair, excruciating pain, and the murky ether of no ground, I learned to grieve.  And finally, to connect with myself. The fragments are coming together like bits of shattered magnets.
July 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn
Dear Carolyn,

I think you DO belong. I have done some research on bereavement and stillbirth and in my reading have often encountered the assertion that sibling grief is often overlooked and even forgotten. As someone who had a 3-year-old daughter when my baby was stillborn, I have always been keen to try to understand her grief and the long-term effects on her of the death of her sister. I worry too about the ways in which I feel I was a terrible mother during the first year especially after our loss. The focus in forums like these and in much of the literature on stillbirth and grief is mostly on the mother - but stillbirth - and other kinds of baby death - affects the entire family and that has to be acknowledged more openly. I'm sorry for the way losses and grief piled up in your family. I do have some hope that the spaces we have like Glow in the Woods allow for some outlet for grief, give us a space to talk in, to wail and moan and express our grief, that was denied to older generations of women. I have hope that this helps us and in turn helps our family. Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience. I know that I value it deeply. I'm sending a little love your way and a welcome to this community if you need it.
July 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJLD
Dearest JLB:
What a surprising and welcome response to my post.
I was overwhelmed.
I felt I was taking a risk with my post because the grief of mothers(parents) who have lost
a child to stillbirth is so specific and has an immediacy and urgency about it. I get that.
Frankly, I prepared myself for backlash.

Your compassionate and educated response is profoundly
welcome. It represents the very first time in my life(other than professional counselling),
that I have been affirmed in my grief as a sibling of a stillborn.
That is significant!

I would love to communicate about your research, if you are amenable.
With gratitude, Carolyn
July 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn
my mother lost her younger brother, he was stillborn and it was never talked about- this was in the 1940's and no one thought it was a good idea to talk about a baby who died. my mom only knew a few facts- he was a "blue baby"- whatever that meant- a blood disorder? term for stillborn baby? she's not sure. she heard the term in whispers between her grandparents and remembered it. she thinks he may be buried near her father's family gravesite. was never brave enough to check. does not know if he even had a name.

what she does know is that she lived in an alcoholic household. her mom lacked coping skills, because she was encouraged not to grieve, at all. this does not sound like a healthy functional environment to grow up in. when you have these emotional black clouds ever present, and no way of knowing what you are up against.

my mom did okay in her. she found her way. on the day she came to see me after my daughter was stillborn, I took her to the nursery to see the remnants from her birth and funeral. the coffin came with a teddy bear, which I kept after she was buried. my mom held the teddy bear, looked it over, held it for a while, and then totally broke down. she barely spoke thru her tears about her little brother- about how he probably was never given a teddy bear in his coffin, let alone a name, or the proper place in his family, who all loved him but were not ever allowed to express it. so, she cried as hard as she could then, as a bereaved sibling, for the first time, as a 60 year old woman.

why we ever keep these secrets is beyond me. if I had to keep my experience as a mother of stillborn children quiet, if I was expected to do what my grandmother was asked to do, I am sure I could not survive it. I would have drank myself into oblivion too. as it is, I have a hard time coping, and I have had endless support.

I am glad to know you read kate's book. I read it as well, and it helped, even after all these years. like a divining rod for finding your grief.
July 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterss
Oh gosh, Carolyn—if you're still popping back here, I wanted to say thank you for sharing your story, and for reading. Of course you're welcome here. I can't recall a single moment of backlash in all my years at Glow. It's such a complicated thing, what loss can do to love. There was much I couldn't write about in Notes for the Everlost—similar threads to your story, but not my story to tell. The reverberations, though, were devastating. Pain festers unless we get some light and some air on it. Even if we're uncomfortable looking at it, existing with it in sight. That's the lesson I took from it all. Tonight I'm wishing you the fortitude to give yourself light and air. Love is complicated sometimes. Sometimes, we need space. Often not forever... we change so many times in our lives. I hope time softens the edges for you.

I'm sorry it took me so long to see your post—I'm here less often these days, but still come back to peek in from time to time, and just had to reply in case you come back. I'm sending you lots of love. xo Kate
August 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKate Inglis
Dearest Kate-
Thank you for your most generous response/
virtual hug. A wonderful affirmation. I am grateful for your

It is heartening to learn that the participants in Glow enjoy the
openness of spirit to recognize “other” versions of loss.

Yes, I am finding ways to support myself through the grief
( pain snd anger). Further, I am enjoying the support of a caring team of friends and professionals.

A key learning, in my case, has been that the grievous event and its multiple repercussions, do not define the essence of my self.
Repositioning my boundaries. Achieving that belief required several years of therapies and the deepest of self- care including yoga, massage, meditation, swimming.

Maybe anecdotally consistent, is the denial by my family of origin, about the crushing impact on all who are touched by stillbirth, by the loss of a child.

I send the warmest of embraces to you and all who are courageously living with grief.
In love, light and peace.
August 21, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Conde