Friday, May 29, 2015

D-Day

written by Jessi Snapp
June 2, 2014, the day I call "D-Day," was the worst day of my life. It was the day my son received his diagnosis. A day a rarely speak about. Now, I realize that it may sound strange because some may assume that the day my child died would be the worst day of my life. 

It wasn't.


The days leading up to that spring day are days that I will never forget. They were tortuous, unrelenting and cruel. Just weeks prior we found out our baby was boy. We sent to an elective ultrasound center to find out the sex a little bit earlier than we would have otherwise. We were in complete bliss knowing we were expecting another boy. The lady who performed the ultrasound never uttered a single word about the possible complications there were with our son. A part of me hates that she didn't say anything, but another part of me thanks her for letting me have that joy because it was one of the best days of my life. One I will cherish forever.


A few weeks later, I had to go into the doctor’s office for my anatomy scan. Though I felt it in my gut that something wasn't right, I passed it off as paranoia after suffering two previous losses. Seeing my son just weeks before led me to believe everything was fine, I had nothing to fear. As the scan began, the ultrasound tech was silent. Completely silent. Just minutes later, I was sitting in a different room waiting to talk to the doctor.


He said there were a few concerns, but he didn't have good enough equipment to know the extent of the issues and it could be nothing. Before I knew it, I was in a perinatologist office receiving an upper -level sonogram and having blood drawn. We had to wait 10 days for the results. 10 days that felt like torture, 10 days we worried, and 10 days we still clung to hope that it was nothing.


On day number 10, early in the morning, I received a call. The words slipped out of the doctor’s mouth... "Trisomy 18... I'm so sorry." My world grew foggy as I scrambled to write down all the information on a scrap piece of paper. I hung up the phone and stumbled my way to the top of the stairs and into my bedroom. I shut the door behind me, dropped down to my knees, and screamed as loud and as hard as I could. I just sobbed and kept begging, "Please... not MY baby!" "Why my baby, God!"


The world never felt so cold, so dark, and so desperate. I don't even know how I managed to pick my lifeless body off of the floor. I am pretty sure someone had to do it for me. The following morning we were back at the perinatologist having another ultrasound and learning that there were things so severe with our son that his life, should he survive, would be limited. I felt so lost and so incredibly confused at how it was even remotely possible that a baby could receive a death sentence before they even had a chance to take their first breath. As we left the office, my husband held my hand tightly. We walked through the long hallway to leave the building and I slowly felt my world fade away into nothingness. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't walk, and I felt like I couldn't go on.


The pain I felt was indescribable. I was mourning my son's life before he had even passed away. It felt like everything I loved was being ripped away from me and there wasn't anything I could do about it. My world was shaken to the very core and every inch of me was broken beyond repair.


Diagnosis day caused irreparable damage to my heart and soul. It will be a day that forever haunts me. As I approach the one-year anniversary of this day, the pain re-emerges just as raw and real as it was on June 2, 2014.

In spite of it all, we managed to keep going, we managed to keep loving, and we managed to find joy.







Choosing love was the only thing that saved my soul from becoming stuck in the darkness of that day.
~ ~ ~


Jessi Snapp resides in Indiana where she is pursuing her master’s degree in social work. She is married to her wonderful husband, Karl, and she is a mother to one living child and three in Heaven. After enduring two losses to miscarriage, Jessi became pregnant with her son Silas Edison who was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at 20 weeks gestation. Silas was born and passed on August 20, 2014. Though his life was brief, he is loved for a lifetime. In Silas’ memory, Jessi turned his nursery into an art studio where she creates custom memorial art for other babies gone too soon. You can find her heart-centered work at LuminousLightStudio and on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Supporting Carry to Birth Families

By RaeAnne Fredrickson

It takes a brave and loving family to make the choice to carry a baby for as long as possible after learning that baby will not live. There is nothing harder than simultaneously doing everything you can to fill up a little life with love, while also trying to figure out how to say goodbye (something no parent ever wants to do). 

No family deserves your respect and support more than a family who Carries to Birth. 

Carry to Birth (also called Carry to Term) families are unique. They are a family who says "my child's life is precious, no matter what". They are a family who puts their needs aside for the sake of filling their child with love, and the chance to say goodbye in a peaceful way, face-to-face, with the child they would do anything to protect. They are a family who would go to the ends of the earth to save their beautiful child. But they are also a family whose hearts are broken because they know that's probably not going to the case. 

If you know a family who made this courageous and loving choice, please take time to let them know you're thinking of them. Whether carrying now, or many years post-loss, there is never a bad time to support a Carry to Birth family, and never a bad time to remember their precious baby. 

Here are some ways to help:


Supporting a Carry to Birth family doesn't need to be complicated. It can be as simple as a text or email to say "You are amazing for loving your baby with all your heart, no matter what". Or a card in the mail to say "I'm with you and thinking of your sweet baby".

A gift card for meals, or gas, or to Target, etc is another way to lend a helping hand. Very hard days can and do happen all the time for Carry to Birth families. It doesn't matter how longs it's been since loss. Some days, just having a meal that you didn't have to prepare can be a tremendous help to a heavy heart. Make a few meals, purchase a gift card, order a pizza, show up with a bag of healthy groceries, whatever works for you, and give them a night off from cooking. 

Writing the baby's name in chalk on the sidewalk, or in the sand on a beach, or in the snow, or on a napkin, or anywhere you can dream up is a wonderful way to show the family you care about their extra special baby. Grab a pen, write baby's name and send a photo to the family. Without fail, they will love it and the fact that you took the time to show you care. 

Listening to the family share about their story, their special baby, and/or their grief is another way to show support. It works best if you lovingly keep all opinions to yourself, and simply allow them to share from the heart. The best way to try to understand is to listen without expectation. No advice needed! Just a listening ear and an open heart. There is nothing you can say to ease the pain of loss, so don't feel you need to try. When in doubt, a simple "I'm so very sorry" is the best thing you can say.

If the family is still carrying their sweet one, you can make a care box for baby's arrival. It can include things like hand/foot molds, an extra special blanket, lovely scented baby wash and lotion (for bath time with baby, then for the family to smell in the months to come after loss), a special stuffed toy (for cuddles with baby, and to hold when the family's arms are aching), a journal and pen, and things for mama like scented lotion, chap-stick, healthy snacks for the hospital, etc. (Remember, this brave mama is still going to labor and deliver like any other mother. She needs all the things typical mamas need as they prepare for that day.) A beautiful keepsake box to present it all in is wonderful because they can keep baby's special things in it later.

There are some wonderful books for families who are currently carrying their special babies, and for the loss of a baby.

A Gift of Time
I Will Carry You
You Are the Mother of All Mothers

You can find many more ideas - including what NOT to say - on our For Family and Friends page. Thank you for support the amazing families who do All That Love Can Do <3. 



~ ~ ~

If you're a Carry to Birth family, what are things people have done for you? What ideas do you have for family and friends who want to support you?



~ ~ ~

RaeAnne Fredrickson is mama to Samuel Evan Fredrickson, her beautiful son who was diagnosed at 15 weeks gestation with a fluke and fatal condition called PUV. She and her husband knew they wanted to make the most of every moment possible with their son. They carried him until he was born on April 14th, 2012. He lived for 4 hours and died in his daddy's hands. She misses her precious son every single day, and created All That Love Can Do to help other families make the most of their time with the special babies. She runs All That Love Can Do, co-created Still Mothers, writes for Still Standing Magazine, and blogs at The Love We Carry

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Didn't Know

by Bethany Conkel

I didn’t know he would steal my heart.

I didn’t know my arms would never be the same after holding him.

I didn’t know that his image would be imprinted in my mind forever.

I didn’t know that a hint of his fragrance would bring me right back to that moment when they placed him on my chest.

I didn’t know that so many things would make me think of him.

I didn’t know I would miss him so much after having such a short time with him.

I didn’t know that he would make me more compassionate and loving.

I didn’t know that he would allow me to love his father even more.

I didn’t know he would make me a better mother.

I didn’t know he would change the way I viewed the loss of a loved one.

I didn’t know that he would inspire me to help others walking this road.

I didn’t know he would allow me to have deeper friendships.

I didn’t know he would teach me to not take things for granted.

I didn’t know his existence would encourage me to become educated on topics I didn’t even know existed before he came along.



I didn’t know he would be loved by so many people.

I didn’t know that he would give me something to rejoice over and be thankful for.

I didn’t know that he would teach me how joy can permeate sorrow.

I didn’t know he would be worth every moment of pain and heartache.

I didn’t know I could (or would) love him so deeply.

I didn’t know my life would be forever changed.

I just didn’t know…

I was asked why I didn’t end my pregnancy if I already KNEW what would happen…

The fact is I DIDN’T KNOW. And, if I had ended my pregnancy because of what I thought I KNEW, I would have never truly KNOWN


~ ~ ~


Bethany Conkel lives in Ohio and is married to her wonderful husband, Eric. She is the mommy to two amazing children – one who is in heaven, the other here on earth. Bethany carried her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel (meaning: “work of the Lord”, “given by God”) to term after receiving the diagnosis of anencephaly when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Amalya lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord’s hand. After he passed, his liver, pancreas, and whole body were donated to scientific research. Bethany has since created a website about neonatal organ, tissue, and whole body donation called Purposeful Gift to help other families explore the option of donation. She is also a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through Stillbirthday.com and serves with Sufficient Grace Ministries.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

One When There Should Be Two

written by Kim Jackson

Two tiny heart beats flickering on a screen. Twins! Amazing miracles that I've wanted my whole life, and there are two of them. My heart enveloped them immediately. They were my babies. They were so wanted, so loved from the first moment I saw their tiny flickering hearts.  I started planning for two car seats, two cribs, nursing two babies, chasing two toddlers, helping two little ones with homework.

Then all of that was gone, just gone. My one baby would never come home. She might die in utero, during birth, or at most several days after she arrived. All of the sudden I was planning for the birth of one baby and the death of the other. I was robbed of the happy pregnancy, planning for a perfect baby. How do you remain excited and hopeful for one baby, knowing that their twin won't live? How do you not let fear overtake you, fear that you won't ever get to meet her, or that something would happen to him?

And yet, she was alive at that moment. Looking at her on the screen with her perfect heart beating in time with her brother's. Watching her kick and punch him like a true sister. How could I deny that she was alive? She was alive and perfect as long as she was with me. 

Fast forward to the best day of my life. Both babies born alive! Both amazing and perfect in my eyes.

Twins! Tessie and Noah

Then she left. The void was instant and horrifying. Well meaning people say "at least Noah is healthy", "be grateful for what you have", "you're better off with just one anyway" and other such statements that tear my heart to pieces.  No one will ever realize how grateful I am for my handsome, smart little man. In fact I'm also grateful for the time I had with Tess. She came into my life for a short while, but changed my heart and soul forever.  She was worth the pain and sorrow!

I think, in my experience and what I have heard from other moms who have lost one or more of a set of multiples, though grief is horrible, it is the strange dichotomy of feeling that is the worst part for us. Many survivors have to fight hard against significant obstacles. We know what could have happened to them. We know that we could have nothing, and we don't. We have our survivors. They are amazing. They are fighters. We want to celebrate all their milestones. We do celebrate those achievements. And yet, there is always in the back of our minds, "there should be two". So while we are ecstatic when our baby laughs for the first time, or rolls over or takes their first steps, we mourn the fact that their twin is NOT here to do these things. It is like someone is squeezing our hearts. Joy and despair, love and pain coexist constantly. One minute your heart is bursting with joy over a new skill your child figured out, the next you can't breathe from the pain of knowing you won't ever get to see your other baby do that. 

And then there is guilt. Guilt that we couldn't protect our baby. Guilt that we can't be purely happy for our survivor. Guilt and sorrow for what they lost out on. Not just on their sibling, their twin, but also on the normal happy parents that they could have had. You don't want them to think that they are somehow not enough. They are everything. They are why you can push through the pain of not having their twin. Then when you are happy, that little stab of guilt that you aren't thinking about the baby you lost. How can you be happy when they are not here? How can you laugh and smile when their spot is empty? Does that mean you don't love them as much as the baby who is here with you?

I am sure that I sound bipolar. Someday I feel bipolar. I never knew that these extremes of emotion could exist in one person at one time. People want me to get back to being "me". I am me.  I am who I am now. I have been irrevocably changed by the short life of my little girl. In many ways for the better. A woman I know said it best, if you take a vase and throw it to the ground so that it shatters, then pick it up and glue it back together, it may look similar but it will never be the same. It is forever changed. Not necessarily for the worse, but definitely changed. I am learning to allow myself to feel my emotions no matter how conflicting. Starting to allow myself to let go of guilt.

How can you help a parent who has lost one of a set of multiples? The same way you would help anyone who has lost a child. Allow us to grieve. Know that we are beyond grateful for what we have. Don't feel you need to remind us of our blessings. We know. What I need people to know is that Noah and Tess were two separate individuals. They may have grown together, but they are not one. Having Noah does not negate the loss of Tess. Losing Tess does not negate the joy of having Noah. Everyday I fall more in love with my son. Everyday I miss my daughter. Everyday I think "there is one when there should be two".
~ ~ ~

Read more of Tessie and Noah's story HERE

Kim recently wrote an adorable book called Two Little Monkeys.


It's the story of a set of twins, one of whom has a life limiting illness. It's about the love their mother has for both of them and they have for each other in utero, shortly after birth and after one of them passes. It is meant to show that love remains, even when death separates family. You can order a copy HERE*. 

*proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the perinatal bereavement program at Kim's local hospital and or the wny perinatal hospice program. She says, "Both programs helped me immensely when I was pregnant with Noah and Tess and helped me to get amazing memories with my little girl".


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Honoring Mothers Project: The Letters


Today is Mother’s Day. For many women, it’s a day that’s not at all how it should be. Before you read today’s letters, please take a moment to hold in your heart all the women trying to survive this day without one or more of their children. 


The following letters were written to some very special loss moms, from family and friends who wanted to honor them this Mother's Day.

If you were unable to send in your letter on time, please feel free to share a note to a special loss mom in the comments below.

To all the lovely mamas who have to face this Mother's Day without one or more of her babies, we send our love to you, and honor your motherhood. You are a beautiful mother <3

To Jenna Edwards, from Mary Ellen Lewis


I would like to honor my beautiful daughter, Jenna Edwards, who is the amazing mother to Greyson Lewis Edwards. She is the strongest, most dedicated mother I know, even though her darling baby boy was gone from this world the day he was delivered. She was a Warrior Mama as she delivered Greyson on September 30, 2014, knowing she would never hear his little cries, or see his beautiful eyes, or feel his sweet breath on her chest. Jenna continues on every day, since Greyson came into her life, to honor him and remember him in very special ways. So I want to celebrate her motherhood this Mother's Day, and every day. She is Greyson's mommy and always will be <3

To Amee, from Katie Butler

Amee,

I know that every breath stings. I know that it's impossible to get up in the morning. I know, and I wish that you didn't. I felt completely betrayed by fate when it took your sweet girl. Persephonee. I felt like I had paid the price for all of us, for our family. I still rage about that -- this shouldn't be our lives, this is a mockery of what should have been. I, we, miss her every day. There's a Persephonee-shaped hole in our days. In our hearts. I know that you are the best mother possible for Persephonee. No one could have loved her and taught her as well as you and Chris did. Every time she smiled, it was your smile. Her laugh, your laugh. She embraced life in a way that was simply amazing -- all because you and Chris taught her that way. Our love for her will never end, ever. Ever. Ever. And our love for you will never, ever, ever end, either. I love you. I love that you came into our lives, and have made such an impact - by being you, by loving my brother, by bringing this amazing little girl into the world and showing me how to be a mother to my own daughter. Persephonee. Persephonee. Persephonee. She still makes an impact, whenever I say her name. In public, in private. People know about her and want to know more. Those that haven't met her feel like they have had a little glimpse into her amazing life. I'll share her story, every day that I breathe. I'll share her impact on our world, and the world at large. Again, I love you. I wish I could lessen the pain that this holiday brings. I'll be saying her name, and we'll be blowing bubbles up to Heaven for her. - Katie

To Fran Ambrose, From Kerry Ambrose

For my sister Fran Ambrose, I'm so proud of you, for staying so strong, Skye-amor is so very precious and will be in our hearts forever, an amazing girl just like her mummy x x

To Tanya Loewen-Watson, from Audrey Unger

Dearest Tanya, On this Mother's Day weekend, harder than the usual hard days, I pray for a measure of peace to fill your weary soul, your aching heart, and your empty arms. Your daily battle to mother all of your five children is admirable, fulfilling the needs of the little bodies present around you and remembering your daughters who left much too soon. Your courage to face the challenges of each new day and to speak up about your grief so that others may understand shows the incredible strength that you carry within. I see the amazing, wonderful person that you are, shining through the tears and continued grief. There are many moments and days when you do not feel brave, but to me it seems that Mothers of Loss are amongst the bravest of us all. On this Mother's Day, take some quiet moments to celebrate you and your journey of motherhood.  
Love and hugs, 
Audrey Unger

To Elizabeth Oliver Heenan, from Michal Estrela

Elizabeth,
I want you to know that I think you are strong. We both had a miscarriage at the same time and started this loss journey. Even through your pain you have been a cheerleader as woman after woman has her rainbow. You are a shining example of how to keep on hoping and how to share in another's joy when you aren't sure about your own. I think about Sunflower a lot. I picture him/her playing with my unnamed babies and with my Matthew, and I always see your Sunflower in a field of sunflowers. Know that you are thought of by me. You are amazing.

To Amanda Niño, from Brenda Sanchez

Amanda, you are an amazing mommy to to Korie Jade Niño.. Creating Korie's special 3rd day is a beautiful way to honor her life and memory. Just as I feel my girls' sending strength and love, I'm positive Korie is sending you the same. Look for the little things, those little miracles and blessings, that you never noticed before. Know those moments are from your beautiful baby, Korie! Much love and light!

<3 Brenda, mommy to Lily and Lucy Rose To Melissa Dyrdahl, from Christina Rucker

Melissa, where do I even start?! You are amazing. I am so proud of you. You chose to give Edison life, even though you knew his time with you was going to be short. You selflessly gave him the chanceto grow, even though each day was full of worry and pain. You chose to sing, and dance, and dream with him. You chose hope and faith, through the doubt and fear. You chose to embrace whatever time God gave you with E-man. You chose to LOVE that little boy, with all your heart, knowing full well of the heartache ahead. And although God had other plans, you are choosing to celebrate E's life, you are choosing to keep his memory alive, you are choosing to love him more and more each day, even when the pain seems unbearable.

You are forever Edison Ray's momma, and you are what this day is all about! Happy First Mother's Day, Meme!!! Celebrate through the tears! "All is well, momma!" We are so proud of you!

Love you!
~ Auntie T.

To Angela Miller, from Kris Aikens

Sweet Angela, I count you among my blessings! We met through the loss of our precious boys Noah and Cooper (who probably arranged it), two grieving moms. But as I have come to know you, I have found a friend, a confidant, someone who "gets it", but most of all one of the bravest most inspiring moms I know! You took your tragedy and turned it into a mission. Through your book, thousands of other broken hearts are being mended, and women are realizing that they are not alone on this hellish road. But I want you to know, I see you, I hear you and I know the gut wrenching, heart shredding pain that you had to wade through to birth that gift to the grieving community. All that you go through - to bravely mother Noah still... At the same time that you lift up so many. I just wanted to take this chance to tell you what an inspiration you are to me of how much love can do! Noah will never be forgotten because his incredible mom is making sure of it. Love you friend! Kris Aikens ( Cooper's mom)

To Michal Estrela fromJohn Schmoldt and Family

For Michal Estrela and her beautiful son...Matthew William ...your story is filled with a mothers love We love you...Aunt Salsa, Father John and Jen-

To YOU, from RaeAnne Fredrickson, Samuel's mama, creator of All That Love Can Do

Beautiful mama,
I know how hard today is for you. It’s so far from what it should be for you and my heart aches that your arms are not full, as they should be. I wish more than anything the world could be put right and your baby returned to you. Please, always remember, you are brave. You are beautiful. You are the best mother there is. You did everything a mother could possibly do for her baby and it’s not your fault that death is a thief. You are amazing.

Today, on this very hard day of triggers and reminders, please be extra gentle with yourself. You deserve just as much – really, more – love, respect, and admiration as every mother. You deserve to be honored and so that’s why I’m writing this to YOU. All your baby knew of this life was love. That makes you the best mother there is.

I know it’s not happy, so instead I’ll wish you LOVE, PEACE, and REST this Mother’s Day. You are a beautiful mother <3

Love and hugs,
RaeAnne

Friday, May 8, 2015

On Mother's Day

by Jenna Gassew


This Mother’s Day seems to be a tease. After losing my son in October, I find myself tortured by the holidays that pass. It’s one of those days that should be filled with holiday spirit, friends, and family, but the reality is it is just another day to remind me of his passing. I wish more than anything people would bring him up, or ask to see a picture, but I realize child-loss is one of those taboo topics many people don't discuss. I am not quite sure why because after losing my son, I realized it was more of a reality for people than most thought. I often find myself feeling lost in the world where moms clean up bottles, change diapers, and are running on three hours of sleep. I am lost because those roles are not a part of my everyday routine. My role as a mother now is to visit my son daily at his resting place, decorate his spot for certain holidays he celebrates in heaven, and plan events to create awareness for the fatal birth defect, Anencephaly, that took him from me. I wondered if some people would even consider me a “mom” since my son passed, but then I realized while my arms are empty, my heart is so full of the love I have for my son, and that is what being a mom is all about.





To the Mom’s whose arms are empty this Mother’s Day:
Because of you, my world changed for the better
Because of you, we became a family
Because of you, my life plans became our life plans
Because of you, I did everything for a reason
Because of you, my body changed into a beauty I never knew
Because of you, my body carried not one, but two heartbeats
Because of you, I got to look true love in the eye
Because of you, I cried tears of joy
Because of you, I held the whole entire world in my arms only to say goodbye shortly after
Because of you, I was strong when you had to leave me
Because of you, I learned the value of life is not measured in time
Because of you, I held an angel
Because of you, I am a mom
To my son:
Momma loves you so much. Happy seven months in heaven! We miss you more than you will ever know.

~ ~ ~
Jenna Gassew is from outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Rosemont College with a degree in Mathematics. She is the mother to a beautiful little boy in heaven, Shane Michael Haley. Shane was diagnosed with Anencephaly at 13 weeks gestation. Jenna and Shane’s father, Dan, decided to create a bucket-list on which they took Shane to various places such as Phillies games, New York City, and Ocean City, Maryland. Shane was born October 9, 2014 and lived for four precious hours where he spent his whole life loved. She continues to bring awareness to Anencephaly in honor of her son. More about Jenna, Dan, and Shane’s journey can be found on  their face book page, “Prayers for Shane.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hope

by Alex Hopper

hope / hōp / 1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. 2. an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstance in one’s life.

As humans, we are naturally inclined to hope. From an early age, we are told to hope for the best, hope for the future, and to not lose hope. And many times our hope is realized. We maintain a positive outlook that everything will work out in the end, and it usually does; but what about when it doesn’t? What happens when we remain hopeful, but that for which we hope is lost? In this case, our longed for, prayed for, hoped for, precious child dies. After months or years of preparation, desire, and hoping we are left empty-armed, broken-hearted, and utterly hopeless. In an instant, our world comes to a halt. The sun is blacked out, time stands still, and our lives are shattered. In our shock, we feel that our reality is the truth, and that the world has truly ended.

And yet we quickly realize it hasn’t. The earth still spins, the sun continues to rise and set, the moon appears each night. The world around us races on, the lives of others are seemingly unchanged, and we realize, nothing will ever be the same. We will never be the same. As time passes, the gap grows wider, and the isolation sets in. [Most of] the world is not kind to the hopeless. Our “worst case scenario” reality does not mesh well with the, all too popular, “happily ever after” ideal. Most of the world would rather close the door to the bereaved. Our pain is too difficult to look at. It rips away the veil of delusion, and exposes that tragedies can and DO happen. And not just to other people. As a form of self-preservation, many will turn away, in hopes that denial will protect them from such a tragedy. But it won’t. Death can not be outwitted, nor tragedy skillfully avoided. Try as we may, at some point we all must stare death in the face. Whether it comes vying for our own life, or the life of someone we dearly love. It becomes clear that no amount of hope or optimism can prevent death from striking.

After death strikes, we are left in the dust of grief, struggling to clear our eyes and see a way out. Just as the cloud surrounds us, threatening to bury us alive, and we fear we will never again see the light of day, we see it. A barely visible pinhole ray of light. Something we thought died along with our child: it is HOPE. Because although grief is unrelenting, so is hope. True hope is inextinguishable. Though we know now that children can die, and that tragedy can happen at any moment, we also know the value of life. And though life can be devastating, it is beautiful, and so we choose to hope. We hope for a day that our heart will beat without breaking, for a day when the clouds will part, and the sun will shine on our face again. We hope for a day where the beauty of their life weighs more than the devastation of their death. Grief may be forever our shadow, but hope is the light ahead us, that keeps us walking forward. One step at a time, until we see them again.


hope / hōp / 3. an unrelenting, inextinguishable, providential force that allows us to move forward, one step at a time, even in the face of unimaginable adversity and disillusionment.
~ ~ ~

Alex Hopper is a writer in North Carolina. She is married to her beloved, Trent, and mommy to her angel, Cyrus. Cyrus was diagnosis with a fatal birth defect in the womb at 12 weeks. He was carried with love until he was born at 33 weeks on November 25, 2013. He lived for 1 hour and 9 minutes. His life was short, but his legacy lives on.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Honoring Mothers Project

Mother's Day is one of the hardest holidays to face after your child has died. It's heartbreaking and terrible. Not only because your beautiful child missing -- a fact that makes every day hard to face -- but also because so many people forget that you are still their mother. Mother's Day has become almost unrecognizable from it's original goal of being a day to celebrate all mothers, including loss moms. Instead of looking forward to a day of gifts and flowers, breakfast in bed, or brunches, loss moms hide in their homes with only broken hearts, empty homes, and pictures in their head of how life should be. And this is not okay. A loss mother is just as much a mother as the one whose children are all with her. She deserves just as much respect and admiration as any other mother. In many ways, she deserves it more, as she had to do the unthinkable and give her child back. She is brave and beautiful beyond imagination. She is a mother.

Once again, this year, All That Love Can Do would like to honor the special loss mothers in your life. Maybe it's your daughter, maybe it's your wife, maybe it's your friend, or niece, or cousin, or co-worker. Maybe it's a special person you've never even met, but have followed through a blog, or page, or through other social media. However you're connected to this mother, this is your chance to tell her how amazing she is. How beautiful and wonderful and strong she is. How special she is to you. A way to say, I see you and honor your motherhood.

Beginning Wednesday, May 6th, and going until Sunday, May 10th (Mother's Day), All That Love Can Do will be sharing notes to these moms. Written by you, for her, as a way to show the world that she is still a beautiful mother.

Would you like to honor the special loss mom in your life?
Here's how you can participate


Any time between now and Sunday, May 10th, write a note to the beautiful loss mom you'd like to honor and send it to us in a private message to our Facebook Page. It can be a few words, or a full page note, whatever you'd like. This is your chance to tell the loss mom in your life how amazing she is. Tell us why she's super special to you and why you want to honor her. Please be sure to include her full name and her child's name(s), so she'll know it's for her when we post them. 

Together, we can help the special loss mom in your life know she is loved, she is remembered, and she is a beautiful mother.

If you have any questions, or when you're ready to submit your note, please contact RaeAnne by sending a private message to All That Love Can Do, here

Let's make this Mother's Day a beautiful day for all mothers.

**If you'd like to see notes from last year, click HERE.**
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