Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Parenting After Loss

Last night, as Justin and Ben sat coloring with his brand-new pencils chosen from the treasure box after pooping in the potty, Ben stated, "I miss Lydia."

"What?" Justin asked, unsure if he heard him correctly.

"You miss Lydie, buddy?" I asked.

"Yeah.  I miss Lydie.  I sad.  She dived," he continued.

I told my oldest child that I missed his sister too.  That if she was here, I bet she'd be on the floor coloring next to him.  That she didn't dive, like into a swimming pool, she died.  His dad told him that means her heart stopped beating.  We told him that it's okay to be sad, that we're sad too, and we'll always miss Lydie and carry her in our hearts.

Ironically, at the moment of Benjamin's first proclamation about his sister, I was shopping online... after googling "picture books about death."  It's not the first time Ben's said his sister dived and made the motions of diving headfirst into the swimming pool.  We clearly have some educating to do.

Your advice is welcomed.  This is uncharted territory for me.

Quite frankly, it sucks that I have to have these conversations with my almost-three year old.  I hate that this is my reality now.


A friend told me recently that Josephine will grieve too.  That she was born into a grieving family and she'll grieve for the sister she never knew.  That just because she's the "rainbow," born after the loss, doesn't mean she won't have her own grief to carry.

And she's right.

My son and daughter will grow up wondering and wishing.  And they'll ask me a lot of tough questions in the meantime.


Today, Obama made a much needed announcement about gun control.  And I cried listening to his words: "Second Amendment rights are important, but there are other rights that we care about as well.  And we have to balance them... Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first graders in Newtown.  First graders."  When I first heard about Sandy Hook, I, like so many other mothers (I was pregnant with Ben at the time), responded by saying, "I can't imagine."  I couldn't imagine kissing my child goodbye as he got on the school bus on a mundane Friday, and never seeing him (alive) again.

I cried today, because now I absolutely can imagine the horror of those parents.

I can imagine it all too well.


Also, do you know there were children named both Benjamin and Josephine who died at Sandy Hook?  Took my breath away when I read that one.

I can imagine all too well.


Ben slept in our room until he was 8 weeks old, and once we moved him to his own crib, I remember thinking we should have done it earlier.  I planned to make the move earlier for Lydie.  And this was of course, before we had a movement monitor.  Or even a video monitor.  Just the old-school sound monitor for the oldest child, when we were parenting only living children.  When tragedies happened to other people and statistics were comforting.

Over the weekend, we finally got Josephine's Angelcare monitor set up in her room.  I asked Justin when she would start sleeping there and he replied that would be up to me.  I told him I'm not ready yet.  She has slept a foot away from me every single night for 12 weeks now.  I don't know when I will be ready.

Hopefully sometime before she's in college.


  1. I don't have any really great advice for parenting after loss. My daughter is 8, my rainbow twins are 4, sometimes they will ask a question/make a statement and it stops me dead in my tracks. Wait...what did you just say...
    The books on grief for my daughter, they didn't help...the explanations we thought she never got... except she would tell people at daycare when they asked about siblings she had a brother that "got dead". She understood in her own way. I went to therapy and after a period of time we starting sending my daughter to play/art therapy. I think that is about the only thing that helped.
    I still have no good advice, you just survive and move forward, not on.

  2. Oh, Heather. It's so hard. My method for answering questions has pretty much been to be as honest and straightforward as possible without being frightening (e.g., explaining that someone has to be really very, very sick before their body working, etc.). And I understand so well the paranoia--mine is different of course, but there's a sameness in it even so. I am so very sorry that you understand it, too. Love to you.

  3. Bode says he misses Bear (and Ella, our dog). Or "I'm a little sad about Ella and Bear. They died." He asks lots of questions about heaven. The most heartbreaking questions are about if they can visit. He brings it up at least once a week. We try to answer as honestly and directly and simply as possible, just as you did. We acknowledge that we will all die too, but not for a long long time so he isn't scared.
    Oh, he slept in our room for 5 1/2 months (with snuza) and transitioned to crib just fine (with video monitor of course,ha)

  4. I just blogged about this today. Gah! It is so hard. The advice I got from the experts when I wrote an article on this topic is that you should be as honest as possible. (Go to seleni.org and search for "talking to children about stillbirth.") Eleanor used to tell us all the time that she was going to go to Heaven to visit Genevieve. Oh my goodness! First, you can't go visit. And second, you are never ever ever allowed to leave us.

    I'm sorry you have to go through this. I will say that, good or bad, I do feel like Eleanor is now a lot more emotionally mature than other kids her age.

    1. Thanks Sarah. That was a helpful article. And quotes from Molly and Renel too! The stillbirth community is so small (and far too large).


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