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Archive for March, 2008

We have completed the entire program offered by Retrouvaille, which saved our marriage from a horrible divorce.

However, the following 2 weeks after our intense weekend retreat was an absolute nightmare. I had written a post the night we returned from the retreat with high hopes in salvaging our marriage. I was on a marriage high that Sunday evening and came crashing down when our relationship hit some rough waters within the next 2 weeks.

Valentine’s Day was included in the hellish aftermath of the retreat. Every holiday for the past few years I recall being very shitty. Something would always set me off on “special days” so intensely that I would explode and the memories of the day would be thrown into the round file. Maybe it was the stress of something other than that of everyday life. I really don’t know, all I know is I do not have a good memory of any holiday.

Now several weeks into the program and we are able to talk to each other differently and actually talk. This is a huge achievement for us. We had lost interest and respect for each other and avoided talking at all costs. This behavior occurred well after the stillbirth of our son Tanner and after our subsequent pregnancy. This emotional roller coaster we were on was bound to fly off the track.

Looking back and thinking about all the factors that contributed to the stress in our marriage makes me wonder how we lasted this long

  • God wasn’t present in both of our lives
  • The death of our first son
  • Getting married on unstable grounds
  • Getting married late in life, already set in our ways
  • He’s a Methodist and I’m a Catholic
  • A living son after the death of our first
  • He’s from the south, I’m from the north
  • He is an introvert, I am an extrovert
  • I like to talk, he likes to be silent
  • I am organized, he is carefree
  • He likes sports, I like gardening
  • He enjoys time with the TV, I enjoy working on the computer
  • He is strict with our son, I am more lenient

I have thought of myself as the poor victim in our marriage. How could my husband not want to help me around the house, offer to write a few bills, and just “do” something to help me out. My heart feels beat up, kicked, bruised, and bears many holes from the sadness and grief of the tragic events in our lives. The Retrouvaille experience has not healed the bloody holes in my heart, but they have stopped them from bleeding. These hollow entrances into the depths of my heart are orifices allowing me to receive more love from God and from my husband. I am not a victim anymore.

Some of the exercises of Retrouvaille made me uncomfortable and also made me realize how distant I was with my husband. I can only hope that other couples seeking marriage counselling or help find Retrouvaille in time to save their relationships from demise.

“Love is a Decision”

Retrouvaille offers even more support for your marriages. CORE- Continuing Our Retrouvaille Experience. These support groups meet once a month to help couples stay on track and be surrounded my other couples wanting to love each other for life. This international program is a hidden gem and I highly recommend the experience.

There are reasons behind our thoughts, our reactions and our feelings that you may not have pondered. None of them are wrong and Retrouvaille helps us to understand ourselves and our spouses. This allows us to move forward in the sunlight with the very person we’ve made this life long covenant with.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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The green satin memory box was filled with “things” I could touch while waiting for my Tanner to quietly be born. Nurse Tara brought this small box to me when I asked her what I should be doing while waiting. A booklet filled with support groups for pregnancy loss, options for Tanner’s body, a personal story of a couple’s journey having a stillborn baby and other information otherwise never thought of was to keep me occupied for hours. This was top secret information the nurses had hidden in the supply closets, only to be seen by bereaved families of dead babies.

I like to have my days planned out and needed to know what my next steps were going to be. I don’t like surprises and this was the ultimate surprise of my life.

Our room was very quiet and I don’t remember hearing any noise in the halls. I could really focus on the reality of what was happening, but didn’t. I found myself picking up the literature, reading a few minutes and then putting it on my lap to stare off into space. I never read anything in its entirety because my mind would easily wander and some other thought would distract me. This was my routine for the many hours of laying in that hospital bed.

The other items contained in the green satin memory box were generic keepsakes. I remember the 2 silver heart charms, an infant cap with a small piece of blue yarn tied to the top, a baby-sized tape measure and a very small comb. Was I supposed to use this comb on Tanner when he was born? Just like the reading material, I would look through the memory box and then set it on my lap, until I had the energy to look at it again. Over and over again, it was a very obsessive behavior completely out of my hands.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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Sympathy gifts given to comfort bereaved parents after the death of a baby usually have images of  sweet angel babies’. 

When our first son Tanner was stillborn I was obsessed with Heaven and if I’d be able to hold him again. Years later I am wondering about Angels, how they came about and why so many baby angel gifts are available. After Tanner died many sympathy gifts and cards had images of baby angels on them. I loved the pictures because they offered a beautiful visual of what my baby may look like.

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Angel decorative plates, angel statues and figurines, angel frames, angel jewelry, angel candles, books and music about baby angels, stuffed angel animals, angel ornaments, outdoor angel monuments, angelversary garden flags (found at http://greensborogardens.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/angelversary-garden-flags-for-pregnancy-loss/), 

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and angel pictures and paintings. The theme of our pregnancy and infant losses are usually that of a baby angel and what society chooses for us. Maybe it’s because the angel images are so sweet and innocent, like our Heavenly children. It was comforting to see these small children with wings, living in a place too glorious for words.

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I have been very curious about the evolution of angels and why baby angels are appropriate gifts for pregnancy and infant loss.

The word “Angel” comes from the Greek word “Angelos”, meaning messenger. So an angel is a “being” sent by a Divine Individual carrying a message. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all have references to Angels, where their significant function is directly related to the Divine. The word “Angel” does not describe physical features or traits, only their intended function.

The earliest documentation of the existence of angels were in the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve were escorted from the Garden of Eden by angels. However, these angels called Cherubim were celestial animals with wings having human faces.

Looking through art history books, an early vision of a baby angel was created in the 15Th century. An Early Italian Renaissance fountain piece of a young angel holding a dolphin was sculpted by Verrocchio. Maybe the change in the physical form of angels were influenced by this poetic era, newly embracing the physical world. It could have been a combination of political, social and religious changes that prompted artists to create such picturesque angelic images.

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We do know that the word angel is a “being” who is sending a message and a “being” directly in contact with our Divine. I would like to think that my Divine God allowed our stillborn son Tanner to send many messages to us. Our angels do give us signs and these messages are never taken for granted or thought of as coincidences. Open your hearts wide and receive your sweet angel messages.

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Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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Flowers, foliage or berries of plants within your babies’ memory garden or plants received as a sympathy gift can be dried and preserved. Early pregnancy losses, stillbirths and infant death are losses with horrific pain to follow. Flowers are the one thing I wanted delivered everyday after the death of our stillborn son Tanner. I love flowers, the colors, the fragrance and just being surrounded by them. Maybe I thought they would have lifted my spirits. They didn’t, however I was able to be visually content while I grieved for my son.

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Drying flowers did not enter my mind after Tanner died. Since we have 2 memory gardens for him and several house plants given in his honor, I am able to dry flowers and foliage whenever I’d like.

This is an easy craft and doesn’t require any special tools or knowledge. Flowers reminiscent of your sweet child can be framed, placed onto handmade cards, create bookmarks or placed into shadowboxes in honor of your baby. If you have flowers from your babies’ funeral or memorial service and they have dried already,they are unable to use in crafts at this point. The flowers need to be dry and flexible to be pressed or flattened.

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If you do not have a memory garden, pick flowers that remind you of your child, gemstone colors or some favorites you love.

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Make sure they are blotted dry with a paper towel. Place the flowers on wax paper and lay another piece on top. Take several books and lay on top to press. I would keep them overnight so they are nice and flat in the morning.

If the flowers are very delicate I use tweezers to move them. I purchased silicon gel to dry my flowers in the microwave within 30 seconds. If you do not purchase drying gel just keep them in the wax paper for several weeks. It is important to remove all excess moisture from the flowers and foliage before creating your tribute memorial. When removing flowers from the gel, use a paint brush to remove the excess gel.

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The flowers I’ve chosen are Helleborus (the large purple blooms), Purple-Leafed Plum, Daffodils, Vinca and the foliage of Loropetalum and Gardenia.

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I love to emboss and have invested in a light board, embossing tools and templates. You could easily write your child’s name, use stamps and ink, or purchase scrapbooking or wooden letters. A decorative corner punch was also used.

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A frame, paint brush, glue and backdrop paper is needed to finish your angel babies’ artwork. Just a dab of glue is painted on the backside of the flowers to hold. If you have a  steady hand, the glue isn’t necessary.

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There are some many wonderful crafts to utilize the flowers from your babies funeral, memorial services or those given as a sympathy gift. The blooms provide a tangible memento of your angel baby to frame, create scrapbook pages, handmade cards, or decoupage onto tile and decorative plates.

Preserve your angels’ flowers as a keepsake reflecting your love and their precious life

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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Many Churches will allow members and parishioners to select a small piece of Church grounds to create a memory garden. This is ideal if you live in a town house, condominium or an apartment and have no land to plant. Most Churches welcome these gardens because great care is taken in nurturing them. This will also help cut down maintenance costs for the church

Shortly after the stillbirth of our son Tanner, we joined St. PiusX Church and also their garden committee. We then got started creating Tanner’s Memory Garden in a high traffic area that had an existing holly tree in the middle. 

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We planted several different plants testing which varieties perform the best without being irrigated. Winecups, Lamb’s Ear, Dianthus, Lenten Rose (for winter blooms), Daffodils, Lavendar, Boxwoods, Garden Phlox, rose Campion, Anenome, Pincushion Flower, Candytuft and Salvia. After a severe drought in Greensboro last year we know what plants will work best.

Not only did we plant his garden, we installed a mortared stone bench perfect for a child. It was very difficult the first several months seeing other children running through Tanner’s garden, stepping on plants and pushing to sit on the bench. I have eased up quite a bit, however it still annoys me having to pick up cigarette butts and trash from his garden.

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Greensboro, NC is located in planting zone 7 , so we are able to grow annuals throughout the year providing year round color in Tanner’s garden. We plant pansies in the winter and periwinkle, marigolds and begonias in the summer months.

4 years after the creation of Tanner’s memory garden, many members are now aware of the reason for its existence. Life is so incredibly precious even in physical absence.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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If your girlfriend baby’s has died as an infant or early in her pregnancy she needs your support more than ever. These tragic losses not only affect her emotionally, but physically.  Most likely her baby was greatly loved even before conception and the following pain creates an overwhelming amount of grief.

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In the weeks after the loss of your friend’s baby, precious memories will be created for her to remember a child forever loved.

The suggestions are that of my own after loosing my stillborn son Tanner and hearing other stories of bereaved mothers at support groups, church functions and other experiences.

You already know your friend on an intimate level and the loss of her baby will allow you to grow even closer. It is frightening to imagine the loss of your own child, but your pain and your strength can comfort your girlfriend who needs you.

Some Suggestions to Help:

 I hope these suggestions help to comfort your girlfriend in one of the most tragic events of her life. If she is taking prescription medication for her grief, do not take what she says to heart. Grieving is hard work and bereaved parents may not understand what is happening in their worlds. Be Understanding, Be There and Be Her Friend.

If you are a bereaved mommy or daddy and would like to share the words or actions that gave you some comfort during the time of your child’s passing, you are welcome to do so in the comment box below.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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Our children who have died as a result of miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS and other tragic pregnancy losses are still a part of our family unit. There are so many beautiful ways to keep their memories close to our hearts through the art of many crafts. Remember your angels by creating something just for them. 

Poems, sky journals, zodiac signs, music, the season, nature, and other elements can help you tell and preserve your child’s story. Share your feelings as a family and participate in the creation of this special and unique keepsake forever treasured, honoring your baby.

 Please visit  Additional Memorial Ideas with images.

 Suggested Scrapbooking Supplies to Start Your Babies’ Memorial: 

  • Scrapbooking adhesive (glue, dots, tabs)
  • Scissors or razor blade and surface to cut on
  • Colored Cardstock (the colors of your child’s essence)
  • Pen to journal with (scrapbook safe- will last longer)

 Other Embellishments could include: 

  • Glitter
  • Gemstones
  • Ribbons

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  • Decorative Cording
  • Brads, Eyelets, Flower Pins
  • Yarn
  • Buttons

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  • Patterned Papers
  • Colored Ink

 Before Starting your Child’s Keepsake, Gather Everything in One Place: 

  • Mementoes
  • Shower Invitations
  • Pictures or Fingerprints of Other Family Members to include
  • Piece of Baby Blanket
  • Lyrics to a Special Song
  • Letters to Your Baby
  • Dried Funeral Flowers
  • All Relevant Dates
  • Positive Pregnancy Test (or picture of)
  • Sonogram Pictures
  • Lock of Hair or Sachet of Ashes
  • Journal Entries
  • Note the Sounds and Fragrance Reminding You of Them
  • Wedding Photographs
  • Religious Keepsakes
  • Sympathy or Congratulation Gifts or Cards

 After looking through craft, card or scrapbooking magazines, choose a design that may help organize your son or daughter’s story. You are welcome to copy a design on this site too.  Will the memorial have straight lines or will you tear the paper, creating soft edges? Will it have a combination pictures and words? Can other children help? Will your spouse contribute? Do you have animals to include?  

Take some time to cry and reflect on your baby. This activity cannot be completed in a day or not recommended. I feel very connected to Tanner after a good cry because his spirit seems to be inside of me, just the very place his life began . I hope you will find an ounce of peace creating your sweet babies’ scrapbooking memorial.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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We were all moved to another room, the place where Tanner would enter the world silently. The nurse on duty was very sympathetic and showed great concern for us. The cords were hooked up into my arm and the morphine slowly entered my veins.

Soon afterwards the anesthesiologist inserted the needle into my back to numb my lower extremities. All this activity was performed quietly while my supportive family stood in the room by my side. I did not want the television on or any other distractions for fear of missing something.

The nurse was to be relieved by another and I felt panicked about the change. I truthfully did not want her to leave because we had been through so much in this short amount of time. Nurse Tara  would be the angel to put the first hands upon my son.

I was immediately comforted by her presence. She was kind, spoke softly and made sure my family was comfortable by offering the room next door as sleeping quarters for my in-laws. She informed me that the white rose taped to the door was to let other staff members know what was happening in our room. I think my father-in-law used it because we were all very tired being up all night.

The hours dragged by with great anticipation of the pitocin to take effect helping Tanner on his way. I asked Nurse Tara how long this will take and what do I do. She couldn’t answer how long we would have to wait but kindly brought a green satin box for me. Inside this box were things I never thought I would ever have to touch.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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Not only does the season effect bereaved parents of pregnancy and baby loss, music may also provoke strong emotions associated with their sweet children. Even before the stillbirth of my son Tanner, I am very moved by the melody and lyrics of certain songs that touch my soul.

Do you remember the songs playing on the radio about the time your little baby became an angel? Did you purchase a music cd to play while rocking your precious baby to sleep? Was there a certain song sung or played at your child’s memorial service, funeral or memory garden dedication? Are there holiday carols ringing in your ears department stores played when you were grieving the loss of your baby?

Yes, to all of the above.

I purchased a lullaby cd months before Tanner was born. I pictured myself holding him in my arms while he fell asleep listening to the soothing songs and rocking him. I will listen to this cd when I feel like crying or am just in melancholy mood.

Tanner was stillborn September 28th and I can remember 2 songs that played over and over again on the radio. “My Immortal” by Evanescence and “Fallen” by Sarah McLachlan. My cries started from the depths of my soul and by the time they reached my exterior I was exhausted and needed to sleep. I could not compose myself when these songs played and also have a difficult time today.

Ave Maria is a beautiful song included on the lullaby cd I purchased just for Tanner and me. I would play this song over and over in anticipation of cradling my son in my arms. A church member also sang this for me at Tanner’s Memorial Service and I was so touched.

Christmas was only 3 months after Tanner’s death and I remember hearing “Mary did you know” being sung and had to walk out of the church. I am the emotional type anyway with everything on my sleeves for all to see, that’s me. When the death of my first born child sits on top of my forearm and a song reminiscent of him is played, my sadness can be read a mile away.

Annie Lennox is a musical artist and was the lead singer of the Eurythmics back in the 80′s. I loved her music because it was so powerful. I had no idea that the song “Angel” was for her stillborn child. When I was a teenager I didn’t care about anything but myself, let alone a musician whose child died. How different things are now. If you listen to her singing this song “Angel”, it is truly from her broken heart.

The music, the lyrics, the song titles that bring you and your baby together are another element to include when scrapbooking  or creating keepsakes remembering your baby in heaven.

What are the songs that bond you and your baby?

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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The next phone call was to my parents in Buffalo, NY. It was very early morning and I knew they would be sleeping when I called. My mother answered the phone because it is located on her side of the bed. With her sleepy voice said “Hello”. I did not sugar coat anything because of my shock and overwhelming sadness for the loss of my sweet little baby.

“Mom, Tanner is dead, he died,” I screamed to her in the phone. She said, “What!! What are you talking about? Where are you?” “Mom, they can’t find a heartbeat, we are here in the hospital” I told her. Looking back I think how absolutely horrible for her to be so far away and hear this heart crushing news. I wasn’t thinking about how they would feel telling them their 3rd grandchild would be born dead.

We just sobbed and sobbed in the phone to each other. I know there were nurses coming in and out trying to tell me what was going to happen next. I don’t remember this too well now. However, I specifically remember asking if I would have to undergo a C-section. They said surgery was unnecessary at this point and he would be born on his own. I was confused because this is not something I read in the pregnancy books. I needed to know how this would happen.  Will I have to push for a long time? Will he come out in one piece? I just could not grasp this.

Peace Love and Hugs from Above  www.justacloudaway.com

Diana

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