While Share’s primary purpose is to provide support to grieving parents at the time of and/or following the death of a baby (at ANY stage in a pregnancy including miscarriage, stillbirth, as well as infant death), the secondary purpose is to provide information, education and resources on the needs and rights of bereaved parents and siblings. For immediate support, please contact us at 801-272-5355.
Sipping coffee and sitting across from a
long time friend, we talked about the
weather, her kids, our jobs, and our
husbands. With each break in the
conversation, I hoped she would ask
about Joseph and Grace. I hoped she'd
ask about how I am navigating the
grieving process, ask how it felt to be
back at work when I was supposed to
be on maternity leave, ask what it feels
like to celebrate Mother's Day with my
children in heaven instead of on earth.
But she didn't. And I lacked the words
to bring it up. I know this friend loved
me, and cared about how I was doing, but she lacked the words, too.
After our twins were stillborn, my
husband and I felt more connected
than ever. In the span of a few short
days, we had fumbled through so
much: hearing the fatal diagnosis, enduring labor and birth;
holding, meeting, and blessing our
beautiful babies; planning a funeral.
We had shared a powerful experience
and our love for each other had
instantly grown deeper and stronger. I
connected to Ryan, but disconnected from everyone else.
As always in life, some people
responded to our loss with beauty and
grace, knowing just what to say.
Others, armed with great intentions,
didn't know what to do. For the first
time in my life I felt like I was on a
different page from those around me.
My close friends, my siblings, my
parents didn't seem to "get it".
Frustration fueled feelings of
loneliness. Dwelling in this place didn't
ease my grief or support my healing,
but made it worse.
After much prayer and reflection, I
realized I needed to focus inwardly.
This was a tough situation, one with no
perfect protocol. It was uncharted
territory for me, my family and friends.
Instead of thinking "what can people
do for me?", I challenged myself to ask
"What can I do to help others support
I wanted people to read my mind and
was angry when they couldn't. I didn't
know what I was feeling, or what I needed but I expected other people to
know. I was desperate for others to talk
about my babies, when people
assumed they shouldn't bring them up.
I felt like I shouldn't have to spell it out
for people, but it was only once I was
honest that I was able to be supported
by others in a helpful way. Clearly
explaining my feelings and offering
specific examples of what would be
helpful was invaluable.
It is always easier to get along with
someone when you remember why you
are grateful for them. One of the beautiful lessons I had learned
from Joseph and Grace was how
precious each life is, including the lives
of my friends and family. I needed to
be grateful for what they had done for
me, not just in this chapter, but
throughout my whole life.
I also needed to be grateful for the
efforts of many. Instead of focusing on
what I didn't have, or wasn't getting
from others, I could be grateful for
what I did have... a loving husband, a
compassionate doctor, an
understanding boss, a thoughtful nurse
who took photos of my children. They
deserved my gratitude.
I began to think about how I had
supported others in the past. A friend's father had died and although I
paid my respects, I had not known
what to say. I didn't follow up with her
in the coming weeks or months. I
didn't mention her father when we
talked. Maybe that is what she needed.
Even with the best intentions, I
realized I had, many times, fallen short
of supporting others- not out of a lack
of compassion, but a lack of awareness.
I needed to have patience with those
around me as we all learn through this
Bring it up
Most people are very
willing to talk and listen when I make
the first move. Try saying something
simple like “I've been thinking a lot about Joseph and Grace lately."
Set the tone
Before getting together with a friend,
send a quick text or email saying either
“I am really looking forward to getting
together. I could really use a fun night
out and a few laughs.” or ” I am really
looking forward to getting together.
After a long week, I could really use a
chance to talk to you about how I’ve
been feeling lately.”
It isn't fair to have expectations of
people without communicating with them. Try saying "Making meals
and helping me with housework would
be so helpful and allow me more time
to rest and relax." or " Getting together
one night a week to talk would be really
helpful", "It is really touching when
you remember birthdays and anniversaries. "
Write a note to all the people who have
supported you, nurses, co-workers,
friends etc. Or try keeping a list of that
you can be grateful for during this
phase of your life.
Take the Lead
Begin some traditions or organize
events to honor your children and
include others. Try have a memorial
service, plan an annual birthday party
where you collect toys to donate, or arrange a service project in your
child's honor. Sometimes in life it becomes necessary
for us to help others help us. By
striving to display honesty, gratitude
and patience towards others, I was able
to manage my ever-changing emotions.
I finally understood that I could better
honor and love Joseph and Grace by
As a way of introducing myself
first, my name is Jake Andreason. I have been a member of Share Parents of Utah since
about April of 2015, and recently have had the opportunity to help out with a
few of the workshops offered. My background is in mental health having worked as
a therapist for several years. I am licensed in Utah as a Clinical Mental
Health Counselor, and I am the current clinical director for an outpatient mental
health clinic in South Jordan. All that being said though, I am not coming to
you strictly as a professional. My wife and I lost our baby boy a little over a
year ago, and that is what brought me to work with Share Parents of Utah. I can relate
to a lot of what parents may be going through as I am going through this myself.
What I want to talk to you about
today is related to understanding what a child goes through when struggling
with grief. Children can experience grief in a very different way than we do.
Some of this depends on age, connection to the loss, and the ability to manage
emotions as they come up. Younger kids may not fully understand, but can still
connect to the emotion(s) going on around them. Older kids may internalize things
in a different way. This may vary from just noticing that mom and dad are
upset, to fully taking in the loss of a sibling on their own.
The big thing to be aware of is how
your child expresses emotion. This can be tricky if your son or daughter
doesn’t know how to do this, or may be a little shut down. Younger kids don’t
typically understand this in the same way, so what you end up getting are
changes in behavior. This may look like an increase in moments of fear,
anxiety, or anger. With older kids, teenagers in particular, they may not want
to talk or it may go the other way and they have a thousand questions. Grief is
never a one way fix though. This means that each person has the right to feel
it, and work through it, in their own way.
kids struggle with grief because they don’t understand what it means. It is
helpful to take some time to talk about this. Younger kids do great with books
to read through followed by time to ask questions. Older kids may want
one-on-one time to talk. It is generally helpful to start with this step though
to get a better understanding of how they see grief.
this, we need to find an outlet to express emotion. Grief is a healthy thing
for people as long as you don’t get stuck. Younger kids tend to struggle more
when trying to talk about feelings. It can be much easier to use outlets like
drawing, painting, or playing with toys to process grief. When you have a
teenager that doesn’t want to talk, but clearly they look upset, it helps to
just have time together with them. Talk about music, movies, or anything else
they want. Often times, as they start to feel more connected, they
will begin to open up about their thoughts or worries. You can be there for them in this way
without having to push them to say something specific to you.
Things to Watch for
each child is different with this so as a parent you will know your child best.
Generally, what I tend to look for are things like drastic behavior changes. These
behavior changes may look like your child shifts from normally being very
outgoing to isolating without wanting contact from anyone, or your easygoing
child may suddenly become very angry and aggressive. This will generally impact
your child’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis and you may start to see
issues with school, friends, or family.
In these moments, you also tend to
get a struggle with expressing emotion to the point of shutting down or
avoiding. This is a worry if it gets deeper as the emotion can be consuming if
there isn’t a way to get it out. Depression and anxiety are common, but if you
ever start to hit points of self harm behaviors or statements of suicide stop
what you’re doing right away and get help.
Be Aware of Yourself
As important as it is to make
sure your kids are okay, also try to remember that you have to be there for
yourself. You can’t expect to take care of everyone else around you while
avoiding how you are feeling. This is very difficult to do as a parent because
we tend to put our kids first for everything. They may also benefit from seeing
you do this because you are showing them that it is important to take care of
It is important to know that
there are several resources available to you. Share Parents of Utah has done a great
job of providing a framework of people to connect with. There are options
available within this network to find answers to many questions, but
professional help is also available for parents, families, and children. The
time to look at a professional as an option generally will stand out as
behavior starts to really change, or daily functioning is impaired.
I am personally going to be
going through these particular areas in our July workshops. I am doing one workshop for
younger kids (ages 2-10), and one for older (ages 11-18). In these workshops we are going to practice
some of these techniques and go over a broad range of areas to watch for with
grief. It will be more hands-on to help give examples of ways to help kids move
through difficult emotions. These workshops will be by RSVP only, are open to anyone reading this posting and we will allow up to 10 families to participate on each date. Information for these workshops can be found on Share Parents of Utah's website under the Support Meetings/Workshops tab. Email email@example.com to reserve your spot(s) today! I look forward to meeting with you and your family and healing on this journey together.
by Adam Green | May 28, 2016 Anakin Skywalker, Mohammad Ali, General Eisenhower, Buddha and Tarzan. Although these men are an unlikely starting-five in any All-Star Game, each of these notable characters represents a breadth of influence and certain success. Let me explain why you should care. I would propose to you that right now each of these five individuals carry part-of-a ‘tune’ that could create a ‘healing melody’ for your life.
–What would you think if I told you that this ‘Motley Crew’ does have something new to offer you?
OBJECTIVE: My goal with this blog post is to help you see a different perspective. It is my hypothesis that by leading you through certain aspects of these five men’s lives, you will see your own reflection and realize some ‘stuff’ that perhaps you have forgotten about. Furthermore, I am not going to identify everything that I found preparing this blog post because I feel that by allowing you to discover the hidden gems in this blog post … it will actually make a bigger impact on your life. If you search … you will find. We all find what we are looking for. Let’s get started!! The accomplishments of these five men should make you want to pay attention to the possibilities forthcoming …
~ Anakin Skywalker:
‘Family’ is a strong and recurring theme in Star Wars. The Star Wars story begins with a fatherless young boy named Anakin Skywalker. Anakin makes a brave yet difficult decision to leave his mother behind on their home planet in order to more fully develop his unique, supernatural talents under the tutelage of the Jedi Knights. According to legend, for over a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the universe. Young Anakin’s goal was to study the Jedi Knight beliefs and practices (on another planet) with the ultimate goal of not only becoming a Jedi Knight … but to become the most powerful of all the Jedi.
‘The Force’ is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an ‘energy field’ created by all living things. The Force surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together. ―Obi-Wan Kenobi— Listen
Tragically, Anakin’s inability to control his carnal desires and emotions (i.e. specifically his anger) lead him down multiple unfortunate paths that placed him in a position where his thoughts, opinions and actions directly conflicted with the tenets of the Jedi Order. Gradually, Anakin, the once heroic Jedi Knight, becomes seduced by evil (i.e. the dark side of the Force) and Anakin morphs into the misdirected villain, Darth Vader. Darth Vader then leads a war to eradicate the Jedi Order and chaos ensues.
In a twist of fate, although Anakin does not know the destiny of his children until after he becomes Darth Vader, he eventually finds out the truth about his children (Luke and Leah). In the end, Darth Vader’s fatherly love for his son ultimately: (1) Helps tear-down the evil Empire he helped build, (2) Brings balance to the universe and (3) Re-establishes the unbreakable healing powers of the unconditional loving-bond between a father and a son.
The Takeaway: Despite many bad life decisions, the love shared between a father and child can change direction; can change circumstances; can change everything. Fathers, the love you have for your child can inspire you to do things differently and better … especially if you have enough courage and if you allow the love for your child (and their love for you) to ignite change.
I miss my boys William Hopkins and Maximus Paul Green. I think about them every blessed day since Melannie and I found out they were coming to us (2006). It is my belief that I will see my sons again somehow, someway, someday. Truthfully, I feel they are near me. I do not think they are ‘lost’ nor do I feel they are ‘alone.’ To me, they are ‘safe.’ I also feel we know each other well. They seem to influence my life at very random, yet clear, times in the most beautiful of ways. I also believe they chose me as their father. These things bring me comfort. This perspective also influences my business and personal decisions as well as the time I spend with my other kids: Bryston (22), Taryn (20), Elliot (17), Daphne (7 – rainbow baby #1) and Victoria (3 – rainbow baby #2).
After a particularly hard work-out while Mohammed Ali was training to regain his boxing Championship Title in “The Rumble in the Jungle (circa 1974), Ali was asked by a reporter, “Champ, do you like training?” His response was solid: “I hate every minute of training, but I say to myself: Don’t Quit – Suffer Now – Live the rest of your life as a champion.”
When my boys died, I broke emotionally, physically and spiritually; and I broke down again and again and again. The main lesson I now understand from this continual, repeating cycle-of-pain is that the only thing I can do … is to try my best at each and every moment. Sometimes I can only give 40% of my best while on other occasions I may be able to reach 100% of my best effort in order to make a difference.
The Takeaway: As father’s, we cannot worry about the things we cannot control. Not much comes easy any more. However, we have to keep going. We must push through. We have to hustle on. Gentlemen, we must live the rest of our lives as a champion (Father). Like you miss your child, I too yearn for my boys. Not being able to play ball with them or do other father-son activities is hard. Those goals and dreams did not work out for us and that pain is always there IF I want to go there. However, I’ve learned that doing other things with Melannie and my other kids makes me feel closer to my boys (somehow). I don’t get how that all works, but I do feel it is that way.
General Dwight Eisenhower once said that,
“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
What General Eisenhower means here is that ‘stuff happens’ and that the best laid plans will always change because life’s flow is a mystery and circumstances are always dynamic. The course of a well-thought-out plan will diverge. Now, Eisenhower is not saying: “Don’t Plan,” nor is he saying: “Plans Don’t Work.” He is simply pointing out the obvious that most of the situations we face in life have unknown detours and uncontrollable outcomes. A good father does not shy away from bad news. On the contrary, a good father stares into the abyss and brings insights back from beyond, never confusing persistence with blind stubbornness.
The Takeaway: Life is hard. Change will always happen. You can handle it. Fathers are people with all the same biases, irrational tendencies and emotional attachments as others. Father’s, you should focus on the few essential things that you can actually make a difference with and accept the fact that you can only do your best … and that your best will be better on some days than it is on others.
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” – Buddha. Does that mean that you must suffer every single moment? Absolutely not; but make no mistake about it, to get from where you are on your journey through life, to where you want to be, you are going to suffer. The death of your child has been tremendously difficult. The pain is real and sometimes pain knows how to hide well. However, to get what you’ve never gotten before you must do what you’ve never done before. And doing what you’ve never done before often is somewhere between uncomfortable and downright painful.
The Takeaway: Consider a Marathon. There is suffering on the last few miles of a marathon, but the sense of accomplishment at the finish line makes it all worthwhile. In our instant-gratification society, we need to remember that running a family with your spouse is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. There will be suffering during the various ‘mile markers’ (or phases of your family) but you need to remember that suffering makes you stronger. You can find your way.
I discovered something interesting this week while watching the opening scene of this 1999 Disney movie. The first three minutes of the animated film, Tarzan, reminded me of a perspective that I needed to rediscover. I had forgotten the foundation of this film and once I rediscovered that, it genuinely gave me a new path to new hope. https://youtu.be/x3u1_181N7g (1st Scene in Tarzan, 3:20).
What I realized is that there was a perspective that I had forgotten: the perspective that I missed was that of the child who was left without his parents (and not vice versa). ~ Phil Collins, Two Worlds, LINK (Click Here)
Put your faith in what you most believe –
Trust your heart – Let fate decide
Softly tread on the sand below your feet
Raise your head up – Lift high the load
Take strength from those that need you –
A new life is waiting
No words describe a parents tears –
No words can heal a broken heart
A dream is gone, but where there’s hope –
Somewhere, something is calling for you
The Takeaway: Allow yourself to feel joy. Allow yourself to feel your child’s love. Trust your heart. There are people in your life that want to help you and there are people around you that need your help as well. Let go of the things that are holding you back and fly. Soar.
CONCLUSION: It might appear on the surface that a side-tracked Sith Lord, “The Greatest” Boxer, a 5-Star General, a mighty Sage and a hollering Cartoon Character definitely do not have anything new to offer you. You could argue that they have nothing personal to offer you at all. Perhaps the skeptics are correct: There’s nothing that could potentially alter your course in life and teach your eyes to see with a different vision. Or is there? Someone is cheering for you. Did you get the message? It is you who must decide when to start training yourself anew. You ready?
I came to Earth so others could look inside themselves
To see what they are made of – not what I AM made of.
I was given keys to unlock hearts and open doors
However, it is you who has to use them.
Now that you know who I AM – Show me who you are.
When parents have a child die, no matter the age, they need comfort. Besides looking for support in each other and through family and friends, parents also find comfort by reading. Poems have a way of lifting someone’s spirits, allowing the individual to connect with what has been written. While the words may be difficult to read at times, they typically help the mourner connect with what is written. Certain poems bring comfort because it allows the parent to feel that their baby is at peace. LINK #2 (Click Here)
In the case of a child’s death, poems allow parents to read exactly what they are feeling, including: Feeling Overwhelmed, Sadness, Anger, Discouragement, Bitterness, Resentment, Despair, Disappointment and/or Shame. These feelings are normal and coincide with what is felt when going through ‘the Stages of Grief.’ By going through these emotions, one can find resolution and many times poetry can help. LINK #3(Click Here)
Come stop your crying, It will be alright – Just take my hand,
Hold it tight – I will protect you – From all around you –
I will be here – Don’t you cry
For one so small, You seem so strong
My arms will hold you, Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us – Can’t be broken – I will be here –
Don’t you cry – ‘Cause you’ll be in my heart –
Yes, you’ll be in my heart – From this day on –
Now and forever more
Please join us in June for "DADS AND DONUTS" and a very special workshop! The activities will be geared especially for Dad's and these two evenings will be like nothing you've ever experienced with our Support Meetings! Space is limited and we will accept the first TEN (10) Father's/Couples per night. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Father's Feel Too w/Melannie & Carma
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
South Jordan Library
Father's Feel Too w/Heidi & Stacey
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Jordan Valley Hospital