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

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Help and support after the death of a child

Notes for the Support Team -  Your pain is important. Their pain is MORE important. Don't ask them to bear the burden of comforting you. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Your pain is important. Their pain is MORE important.

If a loved one comes to you in pain, take a moment and acknowledge your own feelings about the situation. You are allowed to have these feelings. You are allowed to grieve this second-hand grief. But please be cognizant of not reflecting it back on the person who brought it you.

Notes for the Support Team -  It's easy to disappear in times of tragedy. It's hard to live with yourself afterwards. -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

It’s Both Easy & Hard to Disappear After Loss

Sometimes you don’t understand the impact of your actions, or your failure to act, until the same situation happens to you. And when some of my own friends disappeared like I disappeared on my cousin, I understood how much it was hurtful. And I was filled with regret.

Notes for the Support Team - Words Matter: Original statement: Let me know if I can do anything for you. Rewritten: Can I bring you dinner this evening? Can I help you with the laundry? I'm going to the store this evening; can I bring you anything? -Miranda Hernandez, Adrian's Mother

Let me know what you need

When the bereaved are deep in their grief, they often don’t know what they need. Please consider offering specific things:
I’d like to bring you dinner this evening. Is that okay?
Would you be interested in a walk in the park tomorrow morning?
A simple change in phrasing makes such a difference.

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.⁠

Bay of Islands, New Zealand (Miranda Hernandez)

Businesses Serving the Baby Loss & Bereaved Community

One way bereaved families may honor their grief following miscarriage, stillbirth, or other forms of child loss is by creating art or other items to support the baby loss community. These are 98 artistic businesses and services supporting the baby loss and grief community.

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.

An open laptop on a desk with bluebonnet flowers on the right and photos of a mother and child on the left (Miranda Hernandez)

Blogs & Instagram Accounts about Child Loss & Grief

Reading other people’s experiences made me feel less alone after my son’s death. The 95 blogs listed here all have at least five blog posts, with at least one written in the past year. The Instagram accounts all have at least 2000 followers or a unique perspective on child loss or grief.

Moss-covered pond water in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba (Miranda Hernandez)

Facebook Groups & Online Support for Grieving Families and Bereaved Parents

One of the best means of support for bereaved parents and families is finding community with others in the same situation. This community can vary across different types of experiences and also through personal preferences such as religion. This post is a compilation of more than 100 Facebook groups providing online support to grieving parents and families.

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.

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.

"Pregnant woman with nurse"; close-up of pregnant woman's stomach and nurse with hand on pregnant woman's shoulder (Science Photo Library)

Requests of a Bereaved Mother for All Prenatal Providers

After my son died at the end of a term pregnancy in 2017, I created this list of things I would like to see done differently in prenatal care, both before & after loss. These are things that would have made a difference in my pregnancy. These things might have kept my son alive.

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.

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.

Close-up on a white envelope sitting on top of a yellowed handwritten letter. The envelope looks weathered. The words, "A Letter to my Commander upon the Occasion of the Death of my Child" are superimposed on top of the image (Vlana, Getty Images)

A Letter to my Commander upon the Occasion of the Death of my Child

Dear Commander; Dear First Sergeant; Dear Supervisor—Child loss as a military member is heartbreaking, and is especially complicated by culture and expectations that bereaved parents should be “strong” when they feel most weak.⁠ ⁠This is what bereaved parents in the military would like you to know.⁠

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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