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Helping Hearts to Heal

This is a Facebook project I ran throughout March with the aim of supporting Mothers, Fathers, family and friends in the month leading up to Mother's Day. I wanted to share ideas, provoke thought, invite exploration, encourage honouring and celebration, raise awareness and promote healing. I wrote a post for every day, took a photograph for most days and posted them for anyone to see. It was about helping bereaved Mothers to feel nurtured, supported, recognised and loved on Mother's Day.

I share them here, so that they may be of some small help to someone in the future who needs them.

 

Helping Hearts to Heal

30 Ways to Honour Yourself and Your Precious Child

 

As Mother's Day approaches, this will be my 3rd without Lily, I go through a reigniting of the intensely painful emotions surrounding her loss. Beyond my control and wildly fluctuating all bets are off as to how I will find my way to peace during this conflicted time. One thing I've learned is that the anticipation is ALWAYS the worst part, by the time the day itself arrives I have usually worked through enough of my emotions to actually have a gentle day celebrating and honouring Lily and Myself as a Mother. But, what for many is a day of pure joyous celebration of motherhood, has for us become a time of conflicted emotions and sadness. All of my family feel it, Patrick, Lily's Daddy, worries about me, Lily's grandparents miss their little granddaughter, and yet we manage to navigate a path that brings us together and acknowledges all our feelings.

 

With this journey in mind, I thought it might help to each day between now and Mother's Day  share an idea of ways to honour yourself and your little one. 

And for those of us who may know a Mother dealing with the loss of her child (and ESPECIALLY if that was her only child), continue to acknowledge and recognize her on this day.

People get so uncomfortable and often feel the need to “err on the side of caution” so as to not upset the person they care so much about. This, however, often leaves a Mother simply feeling forgotten. A card, a phone call – even an email – wishing her a happy Mother’s Day can go farther than you could ever know. While she’s on her own path of redefining where she now “fits” on this day, you are helping her to know. She fits where every other mother fits – in the spotlight. She’s still a mom, and she still needs to know that she is viewed this way by everyone else.

 

With Love and Light,

Val x x x  

1st March 


 DAY 1: Helping Hearts to Heal; Know That You Will Survive.

 

If your loss was recent you may think you can't get through this - but you can and you will. I left the country for my first Mother's Day without Lily, I couldn't bear to be surrounded by happy families celebrating, we ended up in Belgium where they weren't celebrating anything! Although I was a howling mess leading up to it, we ended up having a lovely day. I took control of what I could, and made decisions that supported my wellbeing, we gently survived our first Mother's Day. I know leaving the country was a little extreme perhaps… but it was what I needed to do.

Spend a little time thinking about what will help you to survive, don't limit yourself, give yourself permission to 100% take care of you! When you have some ideas, share them with people who understand and support you, with their love and support you will find a way through that feels right for you. Talk about your feelings with safe people, the act of expressing them renders them a little less powerful, and enables a clearer view of what would best nurture you.

The first Mother's Day I simply survived, the second I embraced, the third…… well that story is yet to unfold.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

 

2nd March

DAY 2: Helping Hearts to Heal; Understand The Difference Between Grief and Mourning.

 

Grief is a constellation of internal thoughts and feelings. It is the weight in your chest, the churning in your gut, the pain in your heart and the rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts that have become your constant companion since your baby died.

Mourning is honouring your loss through the outward expression of that grief. It is the crying, the talking, the journaling, the creating, the telling your story. 

Ask yourself : have I truly been mourning the death of my child or have I restricted myself to grieving? 

I have found huge comfort in sharing Lily's story, with the friends who truly want to understand and be with me on my journey to healing. Writing down my thoughts and feelings gives me a way to appreciate where I am on my journey and discover things I didn't even realise I was harbouring. Getting creative - in any way, externalises the pain and gives it a place to rest. Tears cleanse the body of toxins and allow release of the intense emotional build up that if left inside can become overwhelming.

Finding a way that suits you to express your pain outside of yourself. Over time, and with the support of others who love you, to mourn and honour is to heal.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

3rd March

DAY 3: Helping Hearts to Heal; Move Toward Your Grief.

 

Our society teaches us that emotional pain is to be avoided, not embraced, yet it is in moving toward our grief that we can be healed. The only way to get to the other side is through. I notice that I've been resisting attending to my feelings of grief when I become tearful again, tears are a sure sign that I need to spend some time with my grieving. It can be as simple as taking a few moments to breathe deeply and slowly and acknowledge the depth of my longing. To allow myself to fully feel my feelings, sometimes it helps to speak aloud my thoughts - no censoring, just give them flight into the universe. It is what we resist that persists, what we embrace and bring into the light is released.

The wound is the place where light can enter in, if we expose our woundedness and embrace it, it will heal. When I pay attention and discover the exact nature of what is on my heart - then I can take action to heal it. I may need a friend to be witness to my pain, to help validate my feelings and hold my hand as I expose the truth within me.

Today I have befriended my grief, I know it cannot swallow me up if I confront it, little by little, day by day, moment by moment - but easy does it, and don't do it alone. Go gently, embrace gently, release gently. 

H.O.P.E  Hold On Pain Ends!

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

 4th March

 

DAY 4: Helping Hearts to Heal; Speak Your Baby’s Name

 

It is ultimately healing to speak about your baby and call them by their name. Even if your loss was early in your pregnancy it is a significant step toward healing to name your baby. I was recently with a mother who named her baby boy 49 years after his birth and spoke his name for the first time. She said “ I suddenly realised that the baby I had lost 49 years ago had never, ever had a name. He was born at five and a half months into my pregnancy, and the hospital policy at the time was to remove ‘it’ and to say nothing. I never really grieved for my baby.” She named him Bruno, and with his name came an image of a smiling baby wrapped in a blue shawl. She spoke his name, and with it she could fully feel her loss. “ Bruno became a real presence for me, my long lost baby, with me at last after so many years”

Sometimes others are afraid to speak your baby’s name in your presence out of fear that it will be painful to you. If you speak their name, others will know that they can too. I love to hear Lily’s name used when we speak of her, it is music to my ears to hear her acknowledged by others, knowing that she lives on in their hearts too.

At first it did bring tears to my eyes, but I was thankful to have them triggered so I could release them, there is sacredness in tears. 

Honour your baby and yourself by speaking your baby’s name, in the early weeks and months it may feel like a stab to the heart, but with time it becomes easier, softer, and transforms into an expression of the essence of love for your baby.

Hearing Lily’s name is like a snowflake landing on my cheek - it stings a little, yet I am so grateful for its melting tingle, like a kiss from heaven, it reminds me of the beauty and fragility of life.

Love and Blessings, Val x x x

 

5th March

 

DAY 5: Helping Hearts to heal; Get Away From it All.

 

Sometimes a change of scenery can help to reveal the unique texture of our lives. New people and surroundings can help us to see our lives from a new perspective, and assist us in our search for meaning. Temporarily abandoning your environment and spending time in one that’s entirely different can be deeply transformative.

We went to Belgium for the weekend where they weren’t celebrating Mother’s Day. It didn’t cost a lot and it was so worth it. I was a howling mess before we left, I was raw, feeling like all my nerve endings were on the outside of my body. It was a welcome distraction from the intense turmoil I was feeling inside about where my place was as a mother when Lily is my only child. Do I qualify? Am I a mother? Do I celebrate? Do I deserve? were just some of the myriad of questions and doubts that were destroying me and rendering any clarity impossible.

The answer I have found is YES!

Away from any pressure, I found myself strangely at peace, I was surprised by the serenity that felt like a blanket of protection surrounding me. I woke early and had some quiet time with my thoughts. We had a gentle day walking in parks, looking at beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, eating chocolate! in a place with no previous associations, where I was given the gift of time and space to make peace with my inner conflicts and just love Lily, love Patrick, and most needed - love and be gentle with myself.

That first Mother’s Day was about finding a way to survive, it was an important step toward my healing. The day came and went much more softly than I could ever have imagined.

Ask yourself : What would best serve me this Mother’s Day?

When the answer comes, be brave and know that you are worth whatever it is that would help bring you some peace and perspective.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

 

6th March

 

DAY 6 : Helping Hearts to Heal; Communicate Openly With Your family.

 

Your partner, your surviving children and your parents are hurting too - each in their own unique ways. Nobody can, or should try to, take away the hurt, but talking about all your thoughts and feelings helps everybody feel supported and understood. If your family is not so comfortable with talking openly about their feelings, you can be a positive role model, allowing others to share theirs as well. It’s never to late to communicate openly with your family, such discussions may be painful at first, but I promise you that over time, little by little, everyones grief journey will be eased and soothed.

My family were not so good at sharing feelings - and I felt vulnerable at first sharing mine, but I found that by initiating sharing I actually opened the way for them to show me how much they cared. They also found release in being able to talk openly and we helped each other through this deeply painful time. Rather than ‘putting on a brave face’ it was authentically sharing where I was at that brought us together, reduced feelings of isolation and always eased the huge knot inside me that developed when trying to hold it all in.

Communication is essential with your partner, give each other permission to grieve differently and have different needs. Express your needs and feelings, people can’t guess at what you may need. I needed my partner to not only acknowledge me as a mother, but to celebrate with me, help me to feel deserving. I had to express this directly which was difficult, having been raised not to ask for my needs to be met. Patrick could then understand what was important to me and show me his willingness and desire to ‘be there’ by taking positive action. He gave me some beautiful lilies and wrote me a card that I treasure beyond words.

Communication from the heart, authentic, open, and nonjudgmental is the key to navigating the rocky terrain ahead, listening and loving are its uniting results.

As with everything I share here, please take what feels right for you, and leave what doesn’t, you will find your own way, gently, carefully, little by little your heart will mend.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

 

 

7th March 

 

DAY 7 : Helping Hearts to Heal; Write a Letter to Your Baby.

 

Sometimes articulating our thoughts and feelings in letter form helps us not only to understand them better, but it is a beautiful positive action we can take in our child’s honour.

Choosing a beautiful card, setting aside time to write, connecting with my feelings, connecting with Lily, connecting with my love for her, making an outward manifestation of all that I want to say to my beloved baby - is a soothing and deeply personal act of love.

I have done this many times for Lily, finding it particularly helpful around anniversaries and special dates. It gives me a time and place to focus on my feelings and thoughts, to continue nurturing and attending to the unique relationship I have with my daughter.

I feel comfort and peace once I’ve done it, I feel ‘up to date’ with Lily in a way that is tangible, and that simply keeping it in my head or heart doesn’t quite achieve.

It is a time to commune with her spirit and be her mother again in a healing way. I tell her what I am missing, how much I love her, what I wish we were doing together, how much I loved her when she was safe inside me. Anything and everything - there is no right or wrong. I cry - but then when my tears subside, my heart feels peaceful and strangely complete. When I feel ready I put card or note in her special space in our home. There it stays until I am ready to put it safely into her memory box with her other treasures.

Breathe deeply and slowly,

Open your heart,

Write from your heart,

and let your love pour out onto the page.

I wish you a healing, loving, connecting time.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

8th March

 

DAY 8 : Helping Hearts to Heal; Write a letter to Yourself.

 

An intimate act of self love, a hopeful exercise in transformation.

At several times in my life I have written a card to myself, at times when I needed encouragement, or to be more compassionate towards myself.

I begin by writing positive loving things I would like to tell myself, or that I might wish a close and trusted friend would whisper in my ear so it goes directly to my heart.

Be kind, be gentle, be loving and compassionate, be your own best friend.

Relinquish demands, surrender judgements, allow forgiveness, envision the future!

Then write some positive affirmations in short focused sentences - these can be good things that you might be finding it hard to connect with right now, positive achievements, personality traits, qualities, dreams, desires. Write them in the present tense, no one need see this, it is for your own nurturing, so let yourself play, big yourself up - go for it!

 

What hopes do you hold for yourself?

What fears or obstacles do you want to overcome?

What internal resources do you inherently possess?

What goals do you aspire to?

In what ways can you seek to love yourself more?

 

Some of mine have looked like this.....

 

I am a loving mother

I am doing the very best I can

I am healing

I am learning new ways of being that nurture and nourish me

I am experiencing beautiful gifts from Lily every day and share them with others.

I am ......

I suggest keeping the card somewhere safe for six months, or maybe a year, then reading it again. The things written now that may feel like a stretch, that maybe seem hard to believe, will, I have found, have become a stronger, clearer, deeper and more present.

Wishing you a healing time experimenting with this powerful and transformative action.

Val x x x

 

9th March 

 

DAY 9 : Helping Hearts to Heal; Visit a Special Place.

 

Take time out to visit a special place: maybe it’s going to the cemetery or the place where your baby is buried, maybe it’s where you scattered their ashes, maybe it’s a hilltop or woodland, or place where you went while you were pregnant.

You may like to go alone, to have your own connecting time, or you may prefer to invite a close friend or family member to accompany you, you may feel comforted by their presence.

Let it be a time of reflection, let the emotions come, bring them into the light and release them.

This is a time for you to connect with your child and check in with yourself.

This act of remembrance and reflection can bring new perspective - your baby’s gift to you. Their gifts will be many, we just need time and space for them to be revealed and gently become our new normal.

Time out like this assists me in rising above my sadness, it helps me to recognise and appreciate the incredibly intense, beautiful and heartbreaking lessons that I have learned through the loss of my child. Lily’s brief whisper of time here with us has brought blessings beyond previous comprehension, experiences and connections beyond measure.

I take time out to give thanks to Lily for the unique gifts she has given and continues to give. We stand stronger, together, with love in our hearts, the purest and most undeniable love for our lost little ones, and for each other.

Love and Blessings

Val x x x

 

10th March 

 

DAY 10 : Helping Hearts to Heal; Buy or Make a Special Keepsake in Honour of Your Child.

 

Gathering a collection of keepsakes is a healing balm for my grieving. Doing something for Lily and myself is a positive outward action that gives me comfort. If she were alive I’d be buying or making all manner of things for her, it is a natural instinct and thirst that by being given expression is quenched a little.

The act of choosing what to do; the time spent with my focus on creating or gathering the most beautiful token of my love; the allowing myself to continue to mother my baby girl in the only ways I can now; surrendering to the urge to make her special place in our home beautiful; acknowledging the inner yearning to have visible, tangible, treasures that mark significant moments along this journey - are all acts of love and healing. Finding creative ways to honour that deep inner yearning and to fulfill those needs and instincts is a gift you can give yourself.

It doesn’t matter what it is, all that matters is that it speaks to your heart, that it feels ‘right’ for you. Keep an open mind, let whatever ‘it’ is find its way to you, you will know it when it comes.

I have collected candle holders for Lily’s table, I made a butterfly to hang in the window, I have bought flowers for her table, they make it so alive and vibrant, brought a feather back from a walk, collected hearts and angels. It is simply expressing through positive action that helps to heal my heart, and I hope it will for you too.

With love and blessings,

Val x x x

 

11th March 

 

DAY 11 : Helping Hearts to Heal; The Healing Power of Touch.

 

Since ancient times it has been recognised that physical contact with another human being has transformative and healing powers.

Grief can take a huge toll on our minds, our bodies and our spirits.

Our bodies are designed to carry children and keep them safe until they enter the world. When this fails, our entire belief system and trust is broken along with our hearts. 

With the awareness that many women, including myself, find their relationship with their body has altered since the loss of their baby, this step towards healing that sometimes broken bond needs to be taken gently.

I felt astranged from my body, all these changes had taken place during my pregnancy yet I had no baby to show for it! I found it difficult to embrace these changes afterwards and sought help with making that re-connection.

Through finding a gentle, compassionate, understanding therapist I found that massage was a healing way to re-establish a loving connection with my body, relinquish tension, restore emotional equilibrium and rebuild trust. 

Taking time out to nurture yourself and give yourself the gift of healing touch can be profoundly releasing and restoring. I urge you to choose your therapist wisely, and go gently, it was many months after my loss that I eventually felt able to take this step, don’t rush, give time time. You will know when or if this feels right for you.

Touch often replaces words when words are inadequate. A simple hug, an arm around your shoulder or having your hand held by another can activate the release of chemicals in the body which soothe and calm. Reach out and touch - it is healing medicine for the soul.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

 

 12th March  

 

DAY 12 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; The Healing Power of Music.

 

Grief is exhausting for the body, mind and spirit. Energy is drained simply warding off the intense pain, trying to contain it or give it some boundary. We can long for a temporary reprieve, time to escape for just a little while from the enormity of our reality. 

Music can be that escape: it is a soothing balm that lifts the spirit, calms emotions, restores vitality and purifies the soul. Letting a melody take over for a moment while you rest can be profoundly healing to the body and soul. Music has the power to touch the soul, and can often sum up what we are feeling better than words.

Music can also be used as a way to access and vent feelings and emotions that may sometimes feel stuck or be difficult to release.

Science is now discovering the links between musical frequencies and vibrations and their healing affects physiologically and neurologically.

Music is quite literally a remedy for the body and soul that may be taken as often as desired without any fear of overdose or harmful side effects.

Music is cathartic. I have Lily’s music, which I play when I need help connecting with my feelings and allowing myself to really connect with her. There are times when I can’t listen to certain music because I’m not ready or willing to ‘go there’, and at other times I am playing the same song over and over because I ‘need to go there!’

Music is sometimes like a meditation or a prayer, resonating and awakening my sense of awe, uniting me with the Universal Energy, the Great Mystery. It is a deep, rich, infinite expression of the soul.

Take a moment: settle in a quiet place and listen to a favorite piece of music. Be still, close your eyes and completely absorb what you hear. Let your mind go and just feel the music with your heart, become the melody and the song.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

 

  13th March

 DAY 13 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Write a Poem. 

 

Reading baby loss poetry can be both cathartic and heartbreaking, it releases emotions and helps the tears flow. It eases the sense of isolation as other’s experiences touch our hearts and reinforces that we are not alone.

It may inspire you to write your own poetry, and although this process may be difficult at the outset, its initiation can be valuable in helping to untangle thoughts and emotions.

A gift to your child and yourself, an honouring, a celebrating, a commemorating, and a validating personal tribute to your grieving and healing journey.

Let go of self judgement, start where ever feels right for you, and just let the words flow. Abandon any preconceptions of how it ‘should be’ allow yourself free expression and explore, you may be surprised at how much there is inside you just waiting to pour out. 

Mary Oliver, poet laureate, writes, “Poetry is prayer, it is passion and music, it is beauty, comfort, it is agitation, declaration, it is thanksgiving…Often poetry is the gate to a new life…It brings new thoughts or welcome remembrance of old ones. It offers simple pleasure, complicated joy, and even, at times, healing.

The power of writing what is in our hearts, and sharing our pain, is a balm. Slowly you start to see that weaving something beautiful about your child and your love for them is what may quiet the storms or at least allow you to survive them.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

 

14th March 

 

 DAY 14 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Keep a Journal.

 

It wasn’t that long ago that journaling was considered an odd use of time—at best, “navel gazing.” However, since research confirmed there are a number of benefits, including stress reduction and emotional healing, that result from writing regularly about emotions and thoughts, journaling has become something that “normal” people do.

Keeping a journal has many positive benefits, enabling us to work through turbulent emotions, gain insight into our place on the grieving journey, reflect on where we used to be and see where we are now. It is a therapeutic activity, a record of your spiritual journey, but I have discovered it’s so much more. When practiced regularly with a particular focus, journaling becomes a spiritual discipline—a tool that actually helps you grow and has intensely cathartic results.

Journaling is another way to offer ourselves a safe outlet for our grief. The process of writing taps into something primal, personal and pivotal, it appeals to our most basic emotional urges.

It involves paying attention, it helps to articulate the swirl of emotions so that we can see what is real in this moment. An uncensored exploration of “what’s up”.

Sometimes in grief we have thoughts racing through our minds telling us how to feel, how to behave, how to think, what to believe. Your thoughts may run wild, you may feel you have no control, or that there is something you’re supposed to do, or that you’ve forgotten something, and on and on. Watching thoughts is a good way to become aware of all the ideas moving through you. It gives you a chance to slow them down enough to take a look at them and to see which ones really need your attention and which ones can be acknowledged and let go. Watching Thoughts helps you realize that you have choices about what you think about. 

Pouring my heart onto the page, externalizing my pain, fears and anger, my guilt, my sorrow, my loss. Letting it all spill out until what’s left is my love, my gratitude, my forgiveness, my acceptance, my peace of mind and peace of heart.

Expression is the key to deeper healing and journaling can help you find your voice.

Love and Blessings

Val x x x 

 

15th March 

DAY 15 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Draw or Paint it Out.

 

Creativity enhances healing, getting absorbed for a while in some creative act can order your thoughts and for a short time distract you from your anguish.

You don’t need talent or previous experience to get creative, just a few pencils, crayons, paints or whatever you have to hand - and follow your heart. Allow a theme to come to you and let your hands flow over the paper, without censoring let an expression from your soul emerge, it doesn’t have to look pretty, it just needs to be real.

The first time I tried to do this it certainly wasn’t pretty! I sat outside with paper, crayons, pastels etc and tried to force it to come - I was self-conscious and felt restricted, frustrated and embarrassed as attempt after attempt felt contrived and expressionless - then I began to get angry! For the first time I began to hit my anger over Lily’s death, I could really feel it and knew this was the moment to release some of it. I ran upstairs to find some old wallpaper, not wanting to loose contact with it or bury it again before I had chance to express some of my hitherto deeply suppressed anger.

I took the paper into the garden, put it on the ground, all my pens and crayons seemed useless, I needed something much more visceral than that - I was pacing like a animal trapped by my fear of the enormous anger about to explode - I began smearing fist fulls of soil onto the paper, nothing was black enough or messy enough to convey my emotions, but as I kept going - my anger spilled out on the paper, then tears came, I was screaming inside, and the paper began to look how I felt inside - black, torn, messy, broken, black earth and teardrops mingled to mud until a quiet emerged - I was done, there it was, my brokenheartedness before me.

In the early weeks and months after Lily’s death I was afraid that one day I would find myself screaming in the street or supermarket car park “ my baby died! ” This experience in the garden turned the volume right down on that, expressing my anger safely in the privacy of my own space was deeply freeing. I don’t think my neighbors saw, or would have dared question me even if they did!

Now I was emotionally free to create something of more conventional beauty.

If you do try this yourself please look after yourself afterwards, it is very powerful and nurturing yourself afterwards is essential - a warm bath, eat something, drink water, ground yourself. Consider sharing what you have done with a close and trusted friend who will be sensitive with your vulnerability and recognize your bravery, this is an exercise in being a creative warrior.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

16th March 

DAY16 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Take a Moonlight Walk. 

Earlier this week I took a walk at dusk to photograph the sunset, the moon was already high in the sky as the sun went down. I had just had a difficult day and felt utterly drained, but my desire to capture the setting sun drew me outside. I listened to my instinct and off I went.....

As I walked homeward I noticed my moonshadow beside me, gradually as I walked my spirit was enveloped by the quietness and magic of that moment  and my being was soothed and uplifted, I felt blessed to be witnessing the beauty and sacredness of our earth.... By the time I stepped inside again I was transformed, relaxed and peaceful.

If you can, go to a safe place and take a walk in the moonbeams of tonights full moon, or even sit by a window basking in the moonlight or simply stand in your garden for a while absorbing the moon’s healing rays, commune with your baby and your soul for a while, let the power of the moon bathe you.

Full moon is a time when we experience heightened emotions so it is important to ground ourselves as much as possible by doing physical exercise and eating regularly. Breathing deeply of the crisp night air on full moon and offering up your innermost feelings can be amazingly liberating.

Wherever you find yourself on this full moon night, take this magical moonlight into your heart.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

17th March 

DAY 17 ; Heaping Hearts to Heal ; Name a Star. 

“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.”

There are many internet companies offering various packages to enable you to name a star, I must point out however if you “buy a star”, the only place the star will bear your chosen name is in that company’s register. It is not an official naming, it is a symbolic gesture. Also be sure that the chosen star registry will name a star that is visible in our sky and not on the other side of the world. With all that said, do your research, and if the idea appeals to you, it can be a lovely token of remembrance.

There are also beautiful Twilight Beach Star Names by Carly Marie, she is a baby loss Mother in Australia who will write your baby’s name in the sand under the first star in the sky.   

On a handful occasions in the year when there is no wind at low tide and there is a clear sky at Christian's Beach, there are the most beautiful colours at twilight when the first sparkle in the sky appears. Twilight Star Names are only available a few days a year for ordering as the conditions at the beach need to be completely perfect. Because these photograph opportunities are rare please do not purchase this type of image if you need it in a hurry as the wait can be lengthy (up to 4 months). They are all one off original writings and can be found at Carly Marie’s Seashore of Remembrance. 

This is Lily’s Twilight Star.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

18th March 

 

DAY 18 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Light a Candle 

In many different traditions lighting candles is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express, it is a symbol of love, hope and remembrance. There is a soothing, healing effect in lighting a candle, watching its hypnotic flickering flame is calming and relaxing. It offers us a time to connect with our baby heart to heart.

My personal grief rituals are loving activities that give me a sense of connectedness, healing and peace, as I light the candle I say in my mind this prayer, or simply say Thank You Lily aloud.

"And I will light a candle for you, to bring light into the darkness, your light will shine always and your name will be spoken often, I love you with all my heart and thank you for the beauty, magic and purpose you have brought and guidance you give. Thank you Lily."

There is a primitiveness in fire that resonates deeply within, the externalized fire represents the internal inner flame of our immutable spirit. Watching a flame is meditation, it focuses intention and is a beautiful practice for healing. The  Feelings of grief and sadness are elevated by the presence of light, we hold the intention of love, healing or peace while lighting the candle and envision it radiating out into the world.

I light candles for Lily, I light candles for all the little ones who are with her, I light candles for their parents, siblings and grandparents. I do this consciously and with reverence, the action is a prayer, an honouring, a remembrance  and an act of love. When I feel so powerless to help, one sacred thing I can do is light a candle.

We also have our Eternal Flame wall on the Tigerlily Trust website where I can light a virtual candle for your little one, it is my privilege to do that if you wish it. Just leave your baby’s name and DOB below and I will let you know when I have done it.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

 

19th March 

 

DAY 19 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Remembrance Jewellery. 

Remembrance jewellery can offer a unique source of comfort when living with the overwhelming grief of losing your baby. It provides a point of focus for your memories and  a tangible symbol of the all too brief existence of your little one.

The daughter of a dear friend of mine presented me with a necklace she made for me in memory of Lily, it means so much to me, it is my touchstone, it keeps Lily with me and it brings me a sense of peace. I feel so blessed that she made it with so much love. I have added a beautiful fused glass pendant to the necklace that was made specially for me by a local jeweller called Jo Dix.

I met Jo at a time when my heart was aching with sorrow, just over a year after Lily's stillbirth. I needed something to help me, it was Christmas time, and I was missing Lily terribly. I took myself out to a small local Christmas craft fair to give myself some gentle distraction from the pain. There I saw the most angelic, etherial piece of jewellery and felt a rush of warmth in my heart. The piece was too big to sit next to my delicate heart pendant comfortably, so Jo offered to make me a smaller one. This now lays with my heart and Lily's heart and brings me untold comfort.

There are some very sensitive, nurturing artists out there who will make you something special in memory of your little one, or I have found that when I’m hurting and need something to console me, if I go out with an open heart something usually presents itself to me and I know that Lily has guided me towards this healing treasure for my comfort.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

20th March  

DAY 20 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Use The Serenity Prayer. 

God....  Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

This is a little prayer with huge power. I found myself repeating it on a daily, if not hourly basis, in the early weeks and months after my loss. I still use it daily as a mantra that has profound impact. It enables me to separate out my sometimes tangled thoughts and feelings so that I can more clearly see any action I can take. You can leave out the word God if you prefer, to simply recite it as an affirmation.

God... Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...

My baby died..... give me the ability to accept this truth and not fight reality with ‘what ifs’, ‘should haves’ ‘if onlys’ and the myriad of tortures I can create in my mind. It simply is, and no amount of mind bending illusion will change it. I am asking for a serene state where I can accept ‘what is’ with equanimity.

Courage to change the things I can.....

Feelings of powerlessness can be very strong when your baby dies, I needed reminding that I did have power over something. The thing I can change is my perspective as I behold the reality of my loss, my thinking as I view this reality. I can discern what responsible action I can take that is within my power to aid my healing. Change starts within and works its way out.

The wisdom to know the difference....

Help me to recognise what things I can change, notice when I am not living in reality, and understand what things do or do not work in helping me to find peace. 

On one level it is about learning to accept external circumstances that we cannot change. But on a deeper level, the prayer points to a fact about our inner life: We cannot directly control our feelings. However, we can influence our feelings through two factors we can control - our thinking and our actions. My actions can bring me deeper peace, and my heart will tell me what to do.

Love and Blessings

Val x x x 

21st march

DAY 21: Helping Hearts to Heal ; Practice Random Acts of Kindness. 

One small, thoughtful gesture can make someone else’s day.....

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” Dalai Lama.

"Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" Anne Herbert.

This can be as simple as giving a smile to a passing stranger, or saying good morning, or paying someone a compliment. It acknowledges them as a person and you never know just how much they may have needed a smile or affirming word.

Spread kindness by writing a neighbour an uplifting note, or giving flowers to a friend. There are countless ways to offer kindness to another and create a spiral of compassion and positivity.  Living expressions of beauty and kindness expand our spirits and energize our souls. What we give out will be returned to us... We reap what we sow... So why not sow kindness, it nourishes the soul.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

22nd March 

 

DAY 22: Helping Hearts to Heal ; Create a Special Space in Your Home. 

 

Since Lily died it has been important for me to have a place for her in our home, to include her in our family. She will never fill our home with toys, pictures, laughter, endless clothes washing, or stories from school. But she does fill our home with LOVE.

Lily's place is there for all who visit us to see, it has framed pictures of our sweet baby, her ashes, candles, fresh flowers, an angel, a teddy and a number of other little keepsakes and mementos I have collected or friends have given to me for Lily. It changes throughout the year, at the moment with springtime here I have a little Easter bunny and a glass heart painted with flowers. It is in our lounge where we sit each evening and it is beautiful, especially with the candles lit at night.

Creating a space for your child is a beautiful and ongoing experience. You can keep on changing it, collecting things to include, reflecting the seasons and your journey towards healing. It is a place for reflection and connection, I sometimes write a card to Lily saying all the things I need to say to her and place it with her ashes, especially for special dates and anniversaries.

 If you have other children it can be a beautiful, gentle way for them to remember and honour their sibling. They can add their own treasures, a drawing or painting, or write a letter, what ever feels natural for them.

I suggest if you do this to photograph it every so often, then as you look back you have documented your journey through grief, you can see how it and you have changed. I highly recommend this as it is a valuable step in the healing process. I wish you a deeply healing and connecting time creating a special and sacred place for your little one.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

 

23rd March

 

 

 

DAY 23 : Helping hearts to Heal ; Take a Walk in Nature.

 To see a World in a Grain of Sand

 And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

 Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

 And Eternity in an hour.  William Blake.

 

 Nature is healing and restorative, breathing deeply of fresh air, feeling sunlight on my face, listening to the sounds of nature, bird song, the wind in the trees, gently taking in the world around me nourishes my soul. Yet I can still resist giving myself this simple medicine.

I know walking helps to clear my head and settle my emotions, it can also be a meditative process, paying close attention to the details you see. Sometimes just 20 mins in a place of beauty transforms my attitude and renews my courage to embrace the present moment. Sometimes I talk to Lily as I walk, or imagine her walking with me, and often I am given the gift of some indescribable beauty that I know she has sent for me to witness.

Often as I walk I see such simple purity in nature that enlivens me and speaks to my spirit, when I can see the miracle and beauty not just in a grain of sand but in a blade of grass, a wild flower, a bird, a white feather, a cloud, a sunrise, a smile, a song, a hug or anything that speaks to my heart, I see little miracles and unexpected wonder all around me. It reconnects me with gratitude and awe and enables me to gain greater perspective, it humbles me as I become more sensitive to the divine magic all around me, it is medicine for my whole being. Today I could quite literally feel the greenness around me doing me good - green is the colour of healing, I stopped for a while to just absorb it’s healing letting it’s lushness enter my eyes and soothe my soul.

Commit to taking a beauty walk, attune your senses to nature and explore the magic all around.... go on a healing adventure!

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

 

24th March

 

 

 

DAY 24 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Plant a Tree or Flowers

Let your love grow.

 

Planting a tree, whether it is at your home or a location that allows you to plant a tree, is such a special way to remember your child. It also gives you a special place to visit where you can reflect. It is a lasting, thriving, growing memorial that will flourish for many years to come.

 It can be very healing creating a beautiful space in your garden for your little one. Choosing plants and flowers, perhaps decorating a stone, incorporating a wind chime or windmill, adorning their special place with whatever feels right for you - a sacred act of love and honouring for your cherished child. If outside space is restricted you can use a large container to make your special garden, I have a beautiful miniature acer that a dear friend gave me in Lily’s memory in a pot in my garden.

Choose plants that suit your soil, consider colours, textures and scent. Lavender is healing, chamomile is soothing, rose is the scent of love, jasmine a heady uplifting fragrance, or herbs such as rosemary or thyme so that you can run your hand over the plant and inhale their amazing scent. You might consider symbolic plants - forget-me-nots (memories), bleeding hearts, baby’s breath (innocence), sunflowers, lily of the valley (sweetness). You might like flowers to attract butterflies and honey bees. 

The planning and researching this special project is part of the therapy, immerse yourself in its creation and it will become a living expression of your love.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

 

25th March

 

 

 

DAY 25 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Talk about Your Child.

 

 

 

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief.... and unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

In expressing grief openly, sharing your grief outside yourself, healing occurs. Ignoring your grief won't make it go away; talking about it often makes you feel better.

 People don’t always know what to say.  I found I wanted desperately to talk about Lily, to bring her to life through my words and memories, to make room for her in conversation and in my experiences.  Some people will worry that bringing your baby and your loss up in conversation will be upsetting to you.  It’s helpful to let the people in your life know what you need. Yes I’ve often cried when we talk about Lily, but this is a gift. I don’t always recognise when I‘ve been ‘being strong’ keeping a lid on my emotions, until some dear friend helps me to ‘go there’ remove the lid and let out some of the tears. I am so grateful to those friends for speaking Lily’s name and showing me she is in their hearts and memories too. 

 Speaking of your precious one is ok, it’s healing, it’s brave, it’s validating, it’s celebrating, it’s honouring, it’s ‘normal’, and it’s breaking the silence. Death does not unmake a mother! In fact we become more resourceful in our mothering, and every memory and detail becomes a lifetimes treasure, every creative act an expression of our love, every word a way to go on mothering our purest little ones who couldn’t stay.

 Acknowledging my baby’s existence, remembering the gifts she has given and continues to give, the lessons she taught and the tremendous joy and love she brought is my living tribute to her. Anyone who is willing to join me in remembering her is welcomed, I need to share her and not be alone in my remembering.

 For anyone who has endured baby loss we have a closed friendship support group on Facebook called Tigerlily, if you want a place to share with other baby loss parents who understand because they’ve been there, please request to join and we will welcome you.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x 

 

26th March

 

 

 

DAY 26 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Spend Time Sharing With Someone Close.

 “You are the Mother of all Mothers” Angela Miller.

 Acknowledging grief is a painful ongoing task that we do in ‘doses’ over time - ‘telling our story’ over and over again can be a vital part of our healing process. In the early days it is as if each time we tell our story, it becomes a little more real. It also lets others in, to be part of the journey with us. Recounting such meaningful and poignant details can help solidify them in our memories and allow others to witness our love and the uniqueness of our relationship with our baby. I have found such comfort, when I later mention something and my friend remembers how I told it to her before and reminds me of the small details that help me to review my journey, my relationship and aspects of my experience.

 Find people you can trust who will be sensitive to your needs and who will listen to your story over and over again without judgement. Help them to know your baby. Describe the undeniable beauty of your baby, and the special moments you shared together, there will be so many - from the first moment you knew you were pregnant, all the milestones along your pregnancy journey, to the time you had to say goodbye and beyond.

 I will share with you an example of how I believe Lily is still communicating with me today - so we are beginning to plan a wedding, oh yes! and searching for a venue (stressful for a perfectionist) visited a few places etc to look at our options, knew of a place we thought very lovely but not certain if it was the place for us, but something kept bringing it into my mind, my gut was pushing me to enquire further. I decided to google it last weekend and there on the website was a beautiful picture of candles very similar to the ones I made for our Tigerlily Trust Remembrance Celebration last year. It was a video clip so I clicked on it  AND - my jaw fell open - the accompanying music was a very unusual piece that we had playing at Lily’s funeral! It’s just not the sort of music you come across just like that - I truly believe that was Lily saying ‘thats the place mum, c’mon get on with it!’ Another Lily story to add to my memory bank.

 Allowing yourself time on Mother’s Day to share with someone who loves you, the love you exude for your baby, gently sharing the joys as well as the heartbreak, is honouring yourself as a mother, and allows others to honour you too.

Love and Blessings

Val x x x

27th March

 

DAY 27 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Mother’s Day Origins.

 

In previous years by now I was beginning to feel Mother’s Day approaching like a freight train with no breaks heading right at me. The first Mother's Day that came just under 5 months after Lily arrived stillborn into my arms was filled with conflict, fear, deep sorrow, and many questions. Do I qualify to be included on Mother's Day? Do I deserve recognition? How do I come to terms with valuing myself as a Mother even though my baby has died? 

I was afraid of going out and seeing other Mothers being celebrated. I didn't know how I would get through the day, I felt shattered into a thousand tiny fragments.

I learned my first important lesson in how to deal with all of this..

SHARE how I'm feeling, tell someone who understands, tell them exactly how messed up I felt - get my feelings validated by someone who loves and cares. Give myself permission to be completely honest, knowing my vulnerability would be respected and my words kept confidential. I also learned at that time about the origins of Mother’s day and this eased my turmoil.

In the early 1900s in America, Anna Jarvis officially founded the traditional Mother's Day to honour her own Mother Ann who lost 7 of her babies! It was created in honour of a bereaved mother! 

It is now celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in May in many countries around the world. Here in the UK we celebrate Mothering Sunday on the 4th Sunday of Lent. It grew out of the 16th century practice of annually visiting one's mother church, and being reunited with one's children on this day. The traditional Mother's Day has become an emotionally difficult day for so many of us who have lost our babies, and is an over commercialised distortion of the original, and bereaved mothers are completely forgotten.

We can use this day to speak up about the true meaning of Mother's Day, to celebrate our connection, our babies and children, to reclaim our right to be part of Mother's Day.

If you chose to celebrate with us, you may like to gather with close family and friends who understand, who will celebrate you and your babies and children. Have a special day filled with love, light candles, buy fresh flowers, look at your ultrasound pictures, visit your special place, celebrate your motherhood and all that surrounds it. Celebrate your strength, your beauty, your grace and share it with the world.

Together we can heal x

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

28th March

 

DAY 28 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Collect a Memento for the Day.

 

A symbolic gesture to help heal the heart, a thing of beauty to represent love and healing - whatever it may be. I have blown the cobwebs away by searching for heart shaped stones on the beach and instead returned with a sea tumbled fragment of glass, its beauty reminding me that the sharp rawness of my pain has been softened and smoothed by time, and that my brokenness is being transformed into something of renewed beauty and worth by the storms that tear me apart.

I have bought crystals to hang in the window, so that every day the sun shines upon them rainbows dance on the walls and remind me of hope. I found a tiny rose quartz angel in a shop one day, rose quartz is the crystal of the heart, it reminds me that grief hurts so much because I loved so deeply and I am grateful that my heart can contain so much love. The colour magenta always reminds me of Lily, so I collect anything magenta that sings to me of Lily. I still keep a piece of magenta ribbon I wore around my neck for Lily’s funeral draped over my dressing table mirror, when the breeze catches it on a warm summer evening it reminds me that her spirit is always with me.

If you keep an open mind and look with the eyes of the heart, something will speak to you and you will know - without doubt, that it is meant for you. 

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

29th March

 

DAY 29 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Plan Your Day.

 

So what’s a mum to do? Many people find developing new rituals to be helpful. Hopefully the 28 posts I‘ve made so far may have inspired you with a few possibilities that might appeal to you.

That said, other mums may find it easier to crawl into a hole and wait for the day to pass. It really comes down to what is right for you. 

“I don't know how to react. My body says I am a mother, with stretch marks, and widely set hips… but I don't have a baby. I am suffering a loss so great that I cannot begin to explain it.

I guess I have two choices. I can curl up and ignore it — change the channel on the radio when commercials for flowers come on. Stay out of stores, keep the television off, and hibernate until it is over. Or I can embrace it. I can set out and purchase my small Mother's Day gift and maybe a card for my mother. Visit with my family and acknowledge how wonderful it is to be a mother.”

If this is your first Mother’s Day without your child, listen to what YOU feel is right for you! Don’t listen to me or anyone else who tell you what you SHOULD do. Other holidays will, without a doubt, be difficult especially so the first year, but due to the intense focus put on you as a mum, this just may be the most difficult one to endure.

After I did some self- enquiry, and uncovered my worst fears, prior to Mother’s Day, I then shared those fears and the power they held over me was reduced. Then I set to and made a plan - time alone to have some private space to acknowledge and embrace my fragile self and do what ever felt right in that moment. I dusted and tidied Lily’s space, set the fresh flowers I’d bought in a lovely little vase next to Lily’s ashes, I wrote her a card telling her how much I loved being her mummy, I played lovely music, I wrote a card for myself reminding myself to be gentle today and of all the good qualities I have connected with since being Lily’s mummy.

Then when I felt ready we went out with my parents, we spent a beautiful quiet afternoon in the sunshine, stopped off at a gorgeous tearoom for chocolate and cakes, we walked, we talked, we laughed, we cried, we shared about Lily, we embraced one another, and before we knew it we’d survived Mother’s Day. 

You are a Beautiful Mother, let your light shine.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x

30th March

 

DAY 30 : Helping Hearts to Heal ; Celebrate; You are a Beautiful Mother.

 

“ A Mother is not defined by the number of children you see, but by the love that she holds in her heart” Franchesca Cox

 

You are a beautiful Mother, you always will be - forever more. Death does not unmake a Mother! Once your baby was conceived you became a Mother, you deserve the same attention and honour as all mothers on this day. No, it’s not the way you had planned. No, it’s not how it should be. But you are still a mother. You carried life in your body and did your best for your little one. Your heart beats for your baby. You would do anything to change the outcome. You are everything a mother should be. 

When a baby arrives, be it for a day or a month...

the fragile spark of a tender soul, the goldfish flutter known only to you...

you are unequivocally changed....

the tiny footprints left behind on your heart make you a Mother forever.

“Today let us recognise all Mothers: the ones who nurture their children here on earth, the ones that carry some if not all of their children in their hearts, and the ones who yearn just to conceive a child.” Carly Marie.

Always remember, sweet mama, that.... You are amazing. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are brave. You are enough. You are loved. And You are not alone x. You truly are the Mother of all Mothers, a Warrior Mother through and through. Let yourself gently celebrate - for you are still standing, still breathing and still loving and surviving.

Love and Blessings,

Val x x x