Good morning Father,
I’m not sure where to begin, so I’ll just jump right in...
My husband and I had our first child, a baby boy we named Thomas, on March 9, 2005. He died the next day (due to an injury at birth). He was buried from St. M on March 17th and is resting with my Grandparents in S Cemetery.
It’s been a very, very long road. And there have been many, many times when I was very tempted to (and probably should have) seek the support of Father W. and, after he left, you. But I didn’t. I was too embarrassed to admit how shaken my faith was – and how horrified I was by that fact. My faith has always been something that gave me great comfort and strength in times of struggle and sorrow, but somehow it failed me. Or I failed it.
Anyway, I’m doing okay. I come to Mass every Sunday searching for something that will help me heal, even though I’m still often angry and confused. The fact that we have been unable to conceive again since the death of our son hasn’t helped in that area, but I know God has a plan and a reason for having us go through the sorrows and trials we do in this life. Knowing that doesn’t always help when I’m missing my son so much I feel like my heart might literally break in two, but at least it helps me keep some perspective.
Okay, that’s the background (and what a lot of information it was...).
Anyway, Mother’s Day is an extremely difficult day for me. I suffered two miscarriages before losing Thomas, and I’m now dealing with secondary infertility. It’s agonizing. I love that mothers are particularly remembered during the Mass on Mother’s Day, and it’s lovely to have all mothers stand up and receive a special blessing.
But I wonder if maybe next year you could make a point of also mentioning mothers like me – those who have lost their children (through miscarriage and infant loss). And maybe even those who are struggling to become mothers. There was a special intention for people who have lost mothers this past year, but no mention of those of us who might have lost our children. In my case, all of them.
Mothers in mourning are a forgotten group in so many ways. No one likes to talk about dead babies, after all. We grieve quietly in order to avoid making other people uncomfortable, but all we want is to have our sorrow acknowledged and to hear the names of our lost children spoken to us as though they did exist. Because of course, they did.
Actually, I’ve been thinking a lot about talking to you about having an annual Mass of remembrance for children lost to miscarriage and perinatal death. I know how much it would mean to me to have a special evening to remember my son and my other two lost children - a safe night surrounded by other people who truly understand. A night just for us to remember, grieve and celebrate that we gave life, no matter how tiny that life was.
I would be more than happy to help organize such an event. I thought it would be nice to ask those who planned to attend (and even those who didn’t) to submit the names of their children lost to miscarriage and infant loss so they could be included in a program of some sort. There is nothing sweeter than seeing my son’s name in print. It seems like such a small, insignificant thing, but it’s absolutely huge to me.
October 15th is officially Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in the US, but it’s recognized as such in grieving circles here too, so perhaps a date close to that might be appropriate.
I know you must have people coming to you all the time with their special interests and I apologize if I’m just another one of those folks, but I hope you’ll give all this some consideration. When I had my first miscarriage women literally came out of the woodwork to tell me their stories of loss. I was in a choir at my old church at the time (before I officially moved to St. M) and as soon as everyone knew what happened, the floodgates opened. I was told the story of at least 10 lost children in that one choir, often over tears. I was floored. It never occurred to me that so many people experienced loss like this because women just don’t talk about it. Unless, of course, it happens to someone they know.
That’s why I think an evening of remembrance would be so wonderful and healing for so many people. It would give us a chance to remember together. And, as I said, I’ll do anything to help. I’m a writer and my husband is a designer, so between the two of us I’m sure we can work on announcements and the program – or whatever else you need.
Okay, I’ll cease and desist now. I only intended to ask about a mention for mothers in mourning on Mother’s Day...but sometimes I ramble.
Thanks so much for listening, and for everything – particularly those comforting words of wisdom that keep me coming back each Sunday and help me heal and make sense of this life and my place in it.
And his reply...
Thank you very much for sending me this note. I can imagine the pain and difficulty it must be for you with that loss. Certainly, I would be glad to sit down with you and look at how our parish could respond to this in a sensitive and caring way. I will be away this week but next week when I get back I will be in contact and perhaps we can meet to discuss this.
Thanks again for coming forward with this, talk to you soon,
I revealed slightly more than I intended to (Clomid makes me ramble), but actually I'm glad I said everything that I did. Not only am I thrilled to know that he wants to meet with me, I'm relieved to have finally, FINALLY admitted that I'm waging an epic battle of faith. I said it out loud. To a priest - to someone who gets God a lot better than I do. To someone who maybe, just maybe, can help me understand him better too.
I somehow feel a thousand pounds lighter today.