Help and support after the death of a child (Archives)

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Help and support after the death of a child

A light gray stuffed elephant nestled between sage-green military boots

Identities

Someone looked at this website the other day and commented that, if you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t know I was in the military. I never intended to keep this a “secret.” Mainly separate. But how much can you separate of your core identities?

Image of the Air Force memorial at sunset, with the Adrian's Elephant logo superimposed on top (photo from Canva)

For Supervisors: Supporting Military Members after the Loss of a Child 

As a supervisor, the most important thing you can do when supporting a military member after the loss of a child is to understand this loss is significant. Regardless of planning or length of gestation, your military member has lost much more than a pregnancy; they have lost an entire human being.

"It doesn't always have to be a NEW beginning." overlaid on the Adrian's Elephant necklace photo (Miranda Hernandez)

It Doesn’t Always Have to be a NEW Beginning

Sometimes I think we can get caught up in the idea of a new year being a fresh start. We look forward to everything being different on 1 January. But will it be? Are we leaving this pandemic and the rest of our lives behind us? Or do we carry these things with us into each new day?⁠

Close up of a white flower with skinny pointed petals, taken in Victoria, British Columbia (Miranda Hernandez)

The Words We Use Matter

I think we are all familiar with the golden rule, but one of the most powerful things I have ever heard was to follow the platinum rule: treat people how THEY prefer to be treated.⁠ The words we use matter. And if you can’t say something kind, or supportive, maybe don’t say anything, at all.

Introducing the Sea Glass Parenting community; a community for parents after the loss of a child.

Introducing the Sea Glass Parenting Community

It’s been commonly noted that the English language doesn’t currently have a word to describe a parent whose child is deceased. ⁠I choose the term, “Sea Glass Parent.” It acknowledges both the Broken and the Beauty in my life. It’s a metaphor, and also a piece of unique beauty on it’s own.⁠

Rear view of Miranda facing the ocean. Miranda is wearing a loose pink shirt and her dark hair is down on her back. (Synch Media)

3 Years, 3 Months

3 years, 3 months ago, Adrian was born silent into this world. This year, in my year of outreach, I am shouting his story from the rooftops.

My pain has a purpose. Please stop trying to take it away from me. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

My pain has a purpose

I understand your intentions in wanting to take away my pain. It’s hard to see someone you love hurting. It’s hard to acknowledge there’s nothing you can do. What I need you to understand: (My) pain has a purpose. It speaks to the love I hold for my child. In seeking to take it away, you take away my love as well. You take away ME.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: I know how you feel… Rewritten: I don't know how you feel, but I'm here to listen. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

I know how you feel

Humans are hardwired to find points of comparison. It’s how we build community. It makes us feel less alone. In some cases, though, comparison feels minimizing. This is especially the case in loss. This is something to say instead.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: Everything is going to be fine.  Rewritten: I'm not going to tell you everything is going to be fine. I understand grief is hard, and no amount of positive thinking is going to make up for the loss of your child. So I will simply tell you that I love you, and I'm here for whatever you need. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Everything is going to be fine

When someone you love is in pain, it’s natural to want to comfort them; to reassure them that everything will be okay. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with permanent changes like death, sometimes this simply isn’t the case.

Gentle wishes for bereaved Dads on Father's Day. May the day be kind. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Father’s Day

Fathers Day 2020: Gentle wishes for bereaved dads on Father’s Day. May the Day be Kind.

Sea lions on the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

Child Loss Retreats

If you have the resources, attending a retreat for parents, couples, or families who have lost children may be a valuable way to devote time and space to your child and your grief.

Tree branches over the Kawai'i coast (Miranda Hernandez)

Imagination

Of course you can imagine. You look down at your living child and the possibilities rush over you. You imagine everything, and it terrifies you.

Tree limbs over a pond (Miranda Hernandez)

Awareness Isn’t Enough – Preventing Suicide Starts with Understanding

Three years ago, I would have said suicide was cowardly. I didn’t understand, then, how quickly life can change. Suicide may not be an ideal answer, but I better understand the complexities behind the issue now. Awareness isn’t enough—suicide prevention starts with understanding.

Mountains of Kaua'i, Hawai'i (Miranda Hernandez)

Warning Signs Prior to Adrian’s Stillbirth

I have heard some people say that stillbirth isn’t preventable. And that’s a hard subject for me, because while some deaths just happen, Adrian’s didn’t have to. There were warning signs, and while they were minor, they shouldn’t have been dismissed.

Sunset on the California Coast

“Strong”

Many people told me I was “strong” when I was deep in grief. I think it’s meant as a compliment. It doesn’t help, though. I don’t FEEL strong. I feel broken. This life isn’t a choice I made, like running a marathon or getting a PhD. It isn’t something I prepared for and overcame. It simply happened.

A Letter from the In-Between (Write Your Grief) | overlaid on image of Miranda staring off into the distance (Synch Media)

28 Jul 2018 – A Letter from the In-Between

I’m not actively suicidal, but this is the beginning. This is the in-between stage; this is where it starts. This is what it looks like when someone is crying out in pain and the entire world tells her, “You’re strong; you’re fine…Simply because I’ve decided you’re not allowed to be anything else.”

Sunset on the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

2 Jun 2018 – Peace

This year has been hard for me, but it’s been a clean kind of hard. Most people understand grief is a thing. Most people understand pain surrounding death. I don’t think most people understand what happens afterwards.

Sunset over the Pacific 1 - Feature

26 Feb 2018 – Nuclear Bomb Part 2

I call it a nuclear bomb. It’s a conversation ender. You meet someone, you’re making good small talk, and then they ask about your family. I will never deny my son. He is a permanent part of me. And so it happens — I tell them, “Yes, I have a child. He died shortly before he was born.” And everything stops. It’s no longer a casual conversation.

Title: A Letter to My Fellow Bereaved | overlaid on an image of the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

18 Feb 2018 – I Love You

I want to wish you happiness, but I don’t know if you want that. I didn’t want happiness after the death of my son. It felt disloyal.

Sign found on sidewalk

Signs

I fight against happiness. I think that if I let myself smile, I will lose sight of my grief. I will lose him. Again.

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