Monday, June 24, 2013

Miscarriages, Stillborns and Infant Death are Just as Real a Loss

When people have miscarriages, have a stillborn child or suffer the death of their infant who perhaps only lived a short time after birth it is just as real a loss.  It includes the loss of hopes and dreams for the child, but also is a true loss of a person, someone they loved!

People go through this type of loss often don't have the types of supports in society that other types of loss traditionally do. Hopefully that is changing. These losses are just as real and can be just as traumatic! 

Hospitals seem to be learning that this is a real issue and aren't all treating, for example, a miscarriage or stillborn child as "just tissue" anymore.  Depending on the situation, sometimes preparations can be made ahead of times and the family/parents can work with a palliative care team.

What is truly making a difference is in individual situations, where parents are allowed to hold their child and bond, but also acknowledge the reality of their situation, their loss and the love they feel.  It gives a chance to say hello and goodbye!  These feelings are very real. Treating it as the real thing it is can go a long way in helping the parent(s) grieve their very real loss.

I will explore this more in future posts and hopefully have a guest post as well. This is just as important as other losses! The more we create the awareness of this, the more it might help those who are friends and family of the bereaved understand and learn to feel more comfortable with the situation as well.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Victorian Bereavement Memorial Pictures

Hello There,

 A few years ago, I became intrigued by something that I discovered quite by accident. I mention them here because I thought it was very strange, but actually began to understand how it was done because of transportation issues.

In Victorian days, in Europe and America, when someone in the family passed away, they were usually "on display" in the family home, not at a funeral home. Visitors were usually received at the house to remember the loved one and to give their condolences. Also due to lack of modern day preservation techniques, the loved one's body couldn't be preserved long enough to "wait" for people to arrive. If someone passed away communication wasn't as easy because even when telephones became available, it was something owned by the rich. Most people didn't have phones after they were invented.   Letter writing and telegraph were the major forms of long distance communication. Traveling also was not as easy as hopping on a plane and being somewhere in a few short hours. There were horse-drawn carriages, trains mainly as the transportation. These certainly weren't as fast as airplanes or such as hopping in the car (our modern day kind!).   If someone passed away, a relative who was some distance away couldn't get there so easily.  With another new technology though, people were able to honor, remember, memorialize and share the loved one's image in a memorable and loving way with the relatives who can only arrive after the funeral.  This would be photography.

Photography being expensive, not as convenient as today, and also a fairly young technology, made it special. During Victorian times, people dressed up for photos in their best outfits. It was like sitting for a painting almost, except for a brief period.  Portraits and an emphasis on placed on strong family sentiment in the culture of the day made it a special way to memorialize and honor the deceased.  After one passed on, the person would often be clothed in their best and posed in position surrounded by family in a very loving manner.  Many families lost a high number of children due to lack of the modern medicine that we have today. The loss of life happened much more often compared to modern day. Unfortunately death was even more of a part of their life. These traditions were more common to their lifestyle because more things centered around the home.

Doctors came to the house.  Many things were delivered to the house such as different types of food, ice, milk. Things were also sold by traveling salesman. The family didn't run to the market all the time. People didn't go out for entertainment as much as we do. Families would play games, work on crafts, read, write, among other types of entertainment, which took place inside the home. Other traditions and rituals such those that surrounded life events such as holidays, birth celebrations, wedding parties, and the rituals of celebrating one's life after his or her death were focused on in the home.

Here is a sweet loving video of these types of photos with some loving music. I chose not to include some of these types of photos here out of sensitivity to those who might not want to see it.  You can also google or search on You Tube for more of this type of thing. I chose to share a brief one on children.  It's easy to see the love and preparation they put into making these as a memorial tribute to their lost loved one. 

Renewal and Exploration

When I last posted here in this blog, I was having a difficult time doing it.  It became too painful and difficult so I stopped. The pain of dealing with the loss of my dad was becoming more difficult and real. I wasn't able to give anymore.  On occasion, I have thought about doing it again, but became caught up in some other things.

I have reasons for starting up again. One good thing is that it is not generally for negative experiences that want to write here again.  I think what I write will be helpful and insightful to those experiencing grief and bereavement, but it will be interesting to me.
On Monday, May 20th, I'm starting to take a summer class at my local university which is called Thanatology Institute.  It will be an intensive class of four hours a day, four days a week for several sessions. It is a well-known class in the area and is not your regular "Death and Dying" class (which I've already taken and gained so much from years ago). 

There will be well known guest speakers and great assignments. I've wanted to take this class for the past twenty years!  I'm finally getting my chance.

In this blog, I want to share thoughts, experiences, insights, any materials, etc. which may be helpful or interesting.

Yesterday was the two year anniversary of the day I drove the most difficult (energy and emotionally draining wise) and fastest drive of my life to see my potentially dying dad in the hospital after going through another very stressful event the day before!  Today, I would have been sitting in his ICU hospital room with him and my brothers. He was hooked up to at least 13 IVs and had several serious machines keeping him alive.  He died that following Saturday when we made the painful decision to remove his life support.  He did go peacefully with the last few breaths being his own.

I think these anniversaries will be interesting and insightful to experience during this class time.  I want to use this time to share things here with whomever it may help, but I think I may also help myself.

In the past when I wrote here, I tried to keep it as open and universal to all who might read it. I tried to keep it less focused on spirituality, even though that's a potential component of dealing with grief and loss. The reason I kept it that way was so I didn't exclude anyone. Because what I'm writing will be more personal, I will probably include more of my own spiritual beliefs in here.  This may be helpful to some and may not be helpful to others. My intent with this is not to preach my own personal beliefs to others, but actually more to help others in whatever they make get from it. The items you see in here over the next few weeks may on occasion reflect some of my spirituality and I ask that you keep an open mind, as I will also try to do when I write it.

Any thoughts you wish to express in the comments on here, I would love to see here on any post in this blog actually!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by.