Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Share Parents of Utah | Fathers Day Message

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).
~ ALI:
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 WorldsLINK (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?
Adam Paul Green
Moms, here is a poem for you:  LINK #1 (Click Here).
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)
Poem: “My Dad” (November 2007):  LINK (Click Here)
~ Phil Collins, You’ll Be in My HeartLINK (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
Maximus Stone

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 info@shareparentsofutah.org.

Father's Feel Too w/Melannie & Carma
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
7:00-8:30 PM
South Jordan Library

Father's Feel Too w/Heidi & Stacey
with special guest Dr. Jake Andreason
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
7:30-9:00 PM
Jordan Valley Hospital

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tender Mercies

Tender mercies are the small gifts of love and friendship that come our way while traveling this path of heartache and grief. These are the moments that remind us that our little ones live on in our hearts and souls.

As an introduction, I am Heidi Files. I have served with Share Parents of Utah for many years. I currently serve as the Secretary and work closely with Melannie, Jaymie and Adam. I look forward to continuing to serve and support, with friendship and love, all those facing the heartache of loss. My hope is to help you all find your own tender mercies. 

In 2009 I was the mother to three handsome boys (who are now 14, 11, and 9) and the wife to a wonderful, loving man. With my previous experience, I loved being pregnant! I really appreciated all the good and bad things that came with pregnancy. When we learned we were going to have a fourth child we were excited and overwhelmed. Wow - four kids! Things seemed to be going smoothly just like my last three pregnancies. At our 20 week appointment, with all our boys present, we learned that they were getting a sister! A girl! After three boys, what in the world were we going to do with a girl? The excitement ran high with the daydreams of princesses and a sea of pink and purple.

As we neared those final weeks, having a baby shower and preparing and awaiting for the arrival of our princess, we learned she was still breach. She was very happy in her banana-seat position, as I called it. About a week before my due date we attempted to turn her. During that appointment we joked that we should just deliver her now since we were already there. I cannot tell you how many times I have returned back to this day and comment in my mind. After many attempts by the doctor to turn her, she did not budge. This forced us to consider different birth plan options. It got very complicated because I cannot have an epidural because I have metal rods in my back and scar tissue that blocks and has permanently damaged space for an epidural. We discussed how to go about doing a C-section and whether a "spinal block" would work or not. If it would not work then I would go under general anesthesia (which was worst case scenario for me at the time). My due date was Sunday, January 17.  The doctor did not want to schedule a C-section for Sunday and the OR was completely booked for that Monday, so my induction was set for the following Tuesday. I secretly hoped I would go into labor on my own before then. 

The days leading to her induction were filled with wishes and prayers that she would turn. I feared being put to sleep for her birth and miss her first cry. I sincerely did not want to miss her first coos and cries; Oh how I have enjoyed and treasured those first sounds from my boys.

Little did I know, not a sound would I ever hear from our sweet little princess.

I was very busy with three boys and all the last minute preparations to bring home our first daughter. I was not feeling well and by late afternoon on Friday, January 15th, I realized that her movement had lessened since lunchtime. I shared my concern with my husband and he offered to take me in to get checked. I declined and suggested we go home and get everyone settled into bed and then I would take a bath. Looking back on it, somewhere in my mind I knew she was gone, but denial is a very strong emotion. That evening, I finally made the phone-call in to labor and delivery and they advised me to come in. Because we were a one-car family at that time, I left my husband home to care for the boys and drove myself to the hospital. I kept telling myself, I am sure everything is fine. Even as I changed into a hospital gown, and spoke with the nurse, I would giggle and tell her I was probably overreacting. Deep down, I prayed that she would pick up our daughter's movement. The nurse pulled out the ultrasound machine and started to search for my baby's heartbeat; she was only picking up mine. She had another nurse come in and same thing. They reported that they had brought in an "old ultrasound machine" that just was not working properly and so went on to send orders for a "formal ultrasound machine". I was left alone with my thoughts, panic, and prayers that this was not happening that she really was just fine. Moments, but what seemed like forever later, my Knight in Shining Armor (my doctor) came in with the better ultrasound machine. I knew my doctor would make everything better. I trusted him. Just his presence put my mind at ease. As my baby's little body appeared on screen my Knight showed me where her heart was. It was no longer beating. Immediately, I sank deep into a place in my mind where all this was just a really, really, really bad dream, and soon I would awaken from this nightmare, in my own bed in my own home. Tragically, that did not happen - it was not a nightmare - it was real. I fell into the nurses arms in tears. I remember my doctor telling me he was sorry and expressing other un-recallable words of love and kindness. I asked my doctor to call my husband for me. I simply could not make the call.

On January 16th, 2010, at 10:10 AM, our sweet daughter Jocelyn was born still. 

My worst case scenario had become so much worse than I ever could imagine. I labored a natural birth and she was born breach. They placed this beautiful, perfect, 4.13 pounds, 18 1/2 inches of baby in my arms. How could this be? I prayed one last time for God to allow her to take a breath. She did not. 

We do not know why she passed. We only have speculations. Jocelyn's umbilical cord looked perfect and the only thing awry was her low, full-term birthweight. Because of this, we only sent her placenta off for testing and it came back with no definitive answers for her death.

Over the next days and weeks following Jocelyn's passing and birth, I felt lost and alone. I longed to reach out to others. My sweet family and friends were amazing and did what they could for support, but I longed for something else. I needed a place where I felt like I belonged because I no longer felt that with those around me. My world had ended and I was in this frozen state that I feared would never thaw or move forward. I was told by a friend of mine who also was my bereavement support nurse at the hospital about attending peer-to-peer support group meeting with Share Parents of Utah. Honestly, I was very reluctant to attend, but I agreed to go once and that was it. 

My husband and I attended our first meeting with Share Parents of Utah about month after Jocelyn was born. I was nervous and scared as the room filled up with other couples and mothers. At first I wanted to run out of there thinking, I do not need this. Needless to say, I stayed. I heard others share their experiences regarding their little ones. When it came to our time to share I felt this warmth and love wash over me. In that moment I knew we could get through this because we were not alone. I also learned that it would take time, support, and faith. During that first meeting, realizing we were not alone, I was able to find a place of belonging, it was the beginning of creating a "new normal". There were others who knew what I was feeling and were processing the heartache of their own loss and grief. My husband, John and I attended group support meetings throughout the rest of that year. We were able to spend time face-to-face with others, sharing, learning and working together. The tender mercies of love and friendship were being forged. This was a place where I knew I could talk about my angel and know that it was okay. In these meetings, I wasn't the crazy lady talking about her dead baby. I was a mom, with a beautiful daughter that had blessed my life and my family's life. I believe that my angel-daughter helped place these incredible people in our path for a reason. They truly are tender mercies of love and strength sent from heaven. I am honored to call them friends.

John and I have since been blessed with another little girl. Our rainbow is now three years old. Because of my healing and the volunteer opportunities that have presented themselves to me, I currently lead each support meeting held at the Jordan Valley Medical Center on the fourth Tuesday of each month. I am honored to be a part of that support to new families traveling on this heartbreaking journey, as were those who held me up in my darkest days. The pain of losing my daughter will never completely go away but the tender mercies of continued healing and new friendships can help us become stronger along the way. 

If you have not had the opportunity to attend one of our support meetings I strongly encourage you to attend. 
Each month we choose relevant topics to discuss that will help us on our personal journey of healing. 
May's meeting topics are Meaningful Rituals. 
Come ready to share or learn what others are doing to insure their baby's lives leave a lasting legacy. 

May Support Meetings

Meaningful Rituals W/Melannie
Wednesday May 11th, 2016
7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
South Jordan Public Library

Meaningful Rituals W/Heidi and Stacy
Tuesday May 24, 2016
7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Jordan Valley Medical Center

Mark your calendars NOW for our June (Father's Feel Too) and July (Children's Grief) support meetings. We are honored and pleased to have special guest Dr. Jake Andreason presenting in these meetings. We encourage all father's to come to our June meetings. If you know any father who has lost a baby, please invite them to attend. This is very exciting too! In July, a limited number of children are invited to attend one of two meetings. Children 11-18 are invited to our meeting held at the library and children 2-10 are invited to the meeting held at the hospital. RSVP's will be required and we will have specialized activities for them to participate in to help them process their individual grief (in a group setting). 

Dr. Jake Andreason earned his Doctorate of Health Administration and currently works at the Early Life and Child Psychology and Education Center. He is from Utah and prior to earning his Doctorate, graduated with his Bachelor's of Science degree in Psychology and Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. In addition, Dr. Andreason is a fellow bereaved parent and he understands, all too well, what we are experiencing. To learn more about him and his background click HERE

Other Upcoming Events

We invite you to join our team at the 2016 Running With Angels 5k at Thanksgiving Point on Saturday, May 21, 2016.  This event benefits Women's and Children's Services in Utah Valley (not sponsored by Share).  We will have a table set up so come visit us after you run/walk!  A few years ago, Pam Hansen spoke at our Walk for Remembrance and Hope and shared her inspirational story with us.  She created this wonderful event in memory of the children she lost and we have loved participating in this event for the last few years.  It is humbling and inspiring to see all the miles logged in memory of all the precious loved ones gone too soon.  Click here to register for the event - don't forget to join our "Share Parents of Utah" team!

For our families we support and serve up North, we'd love to see you at the Annual Race For Grief, this Memorial Day - May 30, 2016.  Register here for the 10K, 5K and 2 mile walk & Kids K (new in 2016).  The event begins at 8:00 AM at West Bountiful Park, Utah.