Wednesday, May 22, 2013

children and bereavement

How to help your kids mourn the loss of a family member

My older daughter was almost five when I had Andrew.  Throughout my pregnancy, we have been very open. We read books and she spoke to the baby. D. was convinced was her little brother. She even chose his name.

We were told that he was going to die the evening he was born. I asked my pastor's wife to bring D. and her younger sister G. to come to the hospital. During the twenty minutes car ride, my pastor's wife explained to her that her baby brother was very sick and would go to Jesus very soon.

When D. came to the ICU  to see me and the baby, she was very calm and just said that baby was going to Jesus. I asked her if she still wanted to call him the name she had chosen, she said yes. She was happy to touch him and later cuddle him. When she went home, she kissed him good night, and said, "see you in heaven."

Baby didn't die that night, he survived for almost two months. I was in the hospital, and D. and G.  came to the hospital creche, and we had lunch at the cafeteria. We spent time with the baby. One of the most touching thing she did was draw a family picture with baby up in the sky with wings. She explained to me that baby was an angel. I cried.

Every often she would make a picture and give it to her baby brother. Some kind ladies had knitted lots of little toys and the charge nurse asked her to chose one for herself, her sister and her baby brother. She did this, and then asked if she could give one to all the sick babies. We buried the toy with her brother, and to this day, ( twenty years later) she still remembers this.

The night baby died, I came home. She wouldn't go to sleep and bawled her eyes out. She screamed why we didn't bring baby home. If we had brought him home, he wouldn't have died. My husband and I held her tightly and explained to her that baby was very sick. He would have died even if we brought him home.

For his funeral, I made a big bouquet of flowers, she made a little posy. It turned out with his little coffin, my bouquet was too big to put on top of it. Her posy was just right. She never forgot this.

She went back to kindergarten, and she explained to her teachers that her baby brother had gone to Jesus. We had previously informed the teachers about his sickness so they would be aware of our sad scenario. The teachers were very good and caring to her.

I told her any time she wanted to visit his grave, I would go with her. We went to the garden and pick flowers when we went.

The key to helping your kids is communications. If you have a Christian faith, it is easier. A child has the innocence and will accept death easier when he/she thinks about going to Jesus.

Her teachers helped her in her grief by writing in a journal.


A film that breaks the silence about stillbirth.


Based on a true story, RETURN TO ZERO tells the story of a couple who, just weeks before the delivery of their son, are devastated to learn that he has died in the womb and will be stillborn.
Grief and trauma nearly destroys their marriage, until they learn they are again pregnant, and must navigate their way through a terrifying and turbulent pregnancy with the help of an empathetic doctor.  With warmth, humor, and exploration of the human spirit RETURN TO ZERO casts a light on an all-too-often overlooked subject.

Hi all - please check this out - it's amazing. We've just signed up to become a local leader. Please share this with as many of your friends/family members as possible and get pledges coming in - we will be helping to break the silence. Come on guys - lets do this :-)

Monday, May 13, 2013

International Bereaved Mothers Day

While I was holidaying in Australia, I forgot my fellow bereaved mums. I came back to read many posts of bereaved mums who are hurting on Mothers' day. 

 I repeat this post I did last year on  International Bereaved Mothers Day was created by us in 2010 and it now falls on the first Sunday of every May.

To many of you, this is news. To many of you, I hope you never have to celebrate this. To a small unfortunate group, this is reality.

A swan plant provides nourishment to caterpillars of Monarch butterflies.  Not all caterpillars grow like Eric Carle's Hungry caterpillar and grow up to become butterflies. Some of them die, and they drop to the ground. This is a sad fact of life. At Pt Chevalier School, we have big bushes of swan plants. My students learn about life and death. I told my students about my baby who died. They often ask if I am sad. Today, I read someone saying, our deceased babies will never leave our hearts. Our hearts need to grow bigger and bigger so we can be like the swan plant, and provide more nourishment for more  caterpillars.

It was only after 17 years after I was bereaved that in 2007, at Mt Albert Baptist Church on Mothers' Day that a prayer was said for those who have lost their mums and also for those mums who have lost their children. 
On the second Sunday in May, when everyone is celebrating Mother's day, they forget there is a group of women who couldn't. Because for many of them, they should have been Mothers, but they couldn't. Even I have other surviving children, My heart remembers Andrew. 

It is good that some bereaved mothers themselves have chosen the first Sunday of May to celebrate this day. I dedicate this day to all my blogger friends who are bereaved mothers, and facebooks friends, and friends where ever you are. To the Sands mums. Others might not remember but, we stand in sisterhood, because we belong to this special club. To the newest member, C who is not even one week old as a member.  In Chinese, a child's birthday is called SHOU NAN RE, a day of great suffering. This is a super duper SHOU NAN RE.

This May 13 will be hard for you. I pray for you.

International Bereaved Mothers Day was created by us in 2010 and it now falls on the first Sunday of every May. This year’s day is on Sunday May 6th 2012.
This special day was created to honour and celebrate mothers who carry some if not all of their children in their hearts rather than their arms.  In our modern day society, mothers who are grieving the death of their babies and children are usually forgotten. The traditional Mothers Day has proven to be an emotionally difficult day for so many mothers around the world.
On this day each year we come together to celebrate our connection, our babies and children and our hope for the future. We look at their ultrasound photos, polish their urns, lay flowers at their graves, visit special places and light candles in their memory.
Sunday May 6th 2012, get together with your closest friends and family who understand and celebrate you. Celebrate your children.

Documentary: It's OK to cry which featured a group of bereaved mums and an interview of me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mothers' day

I have never seen these burgundy red sun flowers. They were grown in a private garden in Sandringham.

On this day,
While most people celebrate Mothers' Day,
Many are not aware,
There is a group of mothers who had lost their children,
Some never got to hold them.
These bereavement could be recent,
They could be ancient history.
It's the same,
In their heart,
There is a void.
Mothers' Day can be a bittersweet.

These red sunflowers look like they were stained with blood,
Blood from a broken heart.
This is how a bereaved mother's heart is like,

Flowers to Mother's grave.

we took these flowers to Mother's grave. I saw the lilies, and thought of Father's funeral. We were given stalks of flowers, and I was given a stalk with lilies. I stood holding the lily and thought of Andrew's funeral. I gasped the stalk unable to throw the lily into Father's grave.

An aunty whispered to me, throw the flower, give it to your Dad. My hand was immobolized. Eventually I threw it in because the extended family and friends had to wait for me.