Guest Post by Stephanie Crawford
As a facilitator of pregnancy and infant loss grief support groups and an advocate for positive healing, I often meet people who say “I feel like I’ve been sad too long” or “I can’t seem to get over this”. Many families convince themselves or have been convinced that there is a time limit to their grief. Like at some point they will hit their grief ceiling and should start reeling it in a bit.
As a mother who has experienced pregnancy loss, I know that grief is not something you get over, it’s something that you mold to be what you need it to be.
On February 7th, 2011 my son Simeon was stillborn at 39 weeks. I went to the emergency room because I did not feel him moving and during an ultrasound the technician stopped what she was doing and told me she would be right back. Soon after the doctor came in to say “I’m sorry, but your baby has no heartbeat.” Ten years later, as I tell that story I still get an ache in my heart and my stomach turns as I replay my emotions from that night. My grief never “went away” and I didn’t “get over it” because although Simeon was stillborn, he still was born. He was still my baby. I still had so many memories, hopes and dreams that were put to a halt when his heartbeat stopped.
One piece of advice I always give to families experiencing this type of loss is to be kind to yourself on this journey. Feel your emotions when they come but have a list of things that are helpful to you when your feelings get overwhelming. We often start to feel our emotions and then we get upset with ourselves for feeling so much. We cry and then apologize to those around us because it feels awkward at the moment. We remember our babies but only in silence because we are afraid to make others uncomfortable. These are all attributes focused on pleasing other people, but they don’t really do anything for our healing. Feelings are necessary, crying is a form of release, and remembrance is a way to ensure that our children live on forever. We should never apologize for or try to rush any of these moments.
I have learned that as you grieve, you will find coping strategies that work for you and will start to understand what you need to continue the journey in a positive way. You will find passion from your pain, you will make new connections and you will continue to make memories that will carry you through the hard times. You will find your voice to tell your story. You will help your loved ones understand what you need and how you want to honor your baby.
No matter how far along you were when you experienced your loss…
There is no timeline for grief.
There is no time limit on your emotions.
Ten years later I still talk about my baby, I still cry on milestone days, and I still wonder who he would have been. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Propa City Community Outreach, with Stillbirthday, is inviting you to submit your angel baby names to be read during their virtual Hearts Release Boston event on October 31st.
Please fill out this short form ASAP to have name(s) written on a flower paper heart at the event.
Stephanie Crawford is a Boston Public School Kindergarten teacher with a Master’s degree from Lesley University in Moderate Disabilities. She is the owner of Belle Joie Doula Services and is an active community organizer, trainer, advocate and consultant. In 2011, Stephanie founded the non-profit Propa City Community Outreach to assist mothers impacted by pregnancy loss along with their families and friends. She founded the organization after her son Simeon Jelani was stillborn on February 7, 2011. She named the Grief Support program Team Simeon in honor of her son and gave it the tagline “Because He STILL was BORN”. The success of this initiative led to its expansion to include people of all ages being trained to advocate for positive healing in themselves and in their communities. Stephanie is the mother of baby angel Simeon and rainbow baby Amani. She is the godmother to 18 beautiful children, a daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She has made it her mission to be a light to souls who feel lost using the purpose and skills that God has given her.
REGISTER NOW: RNE’s 28th Annual Family Building Conference will be held on Saturday, November 13 and will be fully virtual. Join us!