I have always believed that those who leave Earth go to heaven.  Family, friends, and pets all have a spot in heaven when their time comes.  I have come face to face with loss over my 30 years of life.  I have lost three of my 4 grandparents, my baby girl, and several pets.  I have learned that things change when you loose someone close to you.  I have also learned that grief is different depending on who you loose.  For my grandparents I was in a state of shock for part of the time, attended the funeral, felt sad, and continued on with life.  When I lost pets I was sad, but moved forward rather quickly.  I was comforted to know that they were in heaven now, a safe place.

When we lost Samantha the grief was totally different.  A year later I still grieve.  It has taken on many different shapes and form, but it is always a part of me.  There was a part of me that knew she was in good hands, she was in heaven.  However, it was hard for to accept that she was there.  Unlike like my grandparents’ lives or even my pets, her life was much shorter.  Even though her life was shorter, she deeply touched me in ways that only the loss of a child can do.  At the cemetery there is a special place for all the children who are buried, it made me wonder if there is a special place for all the little one’s gone way to soon to heaven.

I was given the following poem by a good friend of mine.  She has helped me a great deal through all of this.  She lost her little one many years ago and one of the helpful things she said to me right away was “Benjamin is up there helping Samantha.  She will be in good hands.”  The  poem “Heaven’s Nursery” has helped to create a visual perspective on what it is like for Samantha up in heaven.

Heaven’s Nursery

Author: Unknown
In Heaven there must surely be
A special place,a nursery
Where ‘little spirits’ not fully grown
Go to live in their Heavenly home.The angels must attend with love
Tiny spirits on wings of doves,
The choir of angels must sing lullabies
Maybe quiet their tiny cries.

The Father must come by each day
To cuddle and play in a special way
These tiny spirits left earth too soon
Little ones called Home from the womb.

These sparks of life did not perish
But came to the Father’s love to cherish,
To grow and be taught in his own arms
Safely away from all earthly harm.

The comforter was sent to earth at once
To the parents who lost their little one
Their hearts so ache,their arms feel empty
The question ‘why’ seems so tempting.

Then all at once in the midst of tears
There comes a peace that stills the fears
The parents share the Father’s own need
To hold their tiny spirit being.

They relinquish their own desperate hold
And release their baby to the Father’s fold,
Then comes an angel to whisper the truth
Of a nursery in Heaven bearing rich fruit.

Of tiny spirits chosen to worship the Father
A place that couldn’t be filled by another,
Called to be spared from the struggles of earth,
Chosen to be one of Heaven’s births.

So Father,whisper words of love from me
To our unborn ‘life’ in your nursery

 

There are so many different perspectives or analogies on the loss of a child and grief.  I have heard it compared to the seasons, weather, a book, and so much more.  The following poem really struck me, especially near the end when it talks about strength and now being able to face anything.  I also like how it talks about how the loss has made me the person I am today.

To some it may seem like a I am different person and to others it may not.  But to myself, I feel different.  I look differently at the world around me.  I don’t expect.  I hope.  I hope that one day our family will grow.  I hope that I can help others through their grief and healing process.  I hope that people will begin to truly understand what it is like to loose a child.  I hope to watch my dreams soar.

Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in other’s eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so that they don’t hurt quite so much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

-Author Unknown

 

I wanted to share something I found on grief that came across.  It has been helpful to me to read and hear, so I thought I would share.

I came across a piece by Lesley.  I like how she puts grief and healing into simple, but powerful words. “I need to be kind to myself and give myself permission to do what I needed to do to make it through, even if that means saying no.  Grief is unpredictable, you can’t explain it, you can’t always control it.  There is no right way or wrong way to do it and no two people do it the same way.”

Saying no has been hard for me, especially when at work.  It wasn’t until I gave up my classroom that I gained a stronger voice.  Becoming a building sub has given me a sense of freedom in so many ways and has helped to me really take care of what I needed to.  I had a tendency to push the emotions down as far as I could and submerse myself at work.  By the end of the Summer I realized I wasn’t any good to any one and I wasn’t taking care of myself well.  Now, if it doesn’t fit into my schedule or with the direction I am trying to head, the answer is “no”.

Grief is so unpredictable.  At the beginning I lived minute by minute, even task by task.  Over time I have been able to move into hours and days.  Now I can live moment to moment.  By living in the moment in front of me I am able to really focus on the important things, find the true blessings of that moment, and learn from what it may bring.  I am also able to help others and really truly be present.

I think one of the best words I heard was after I returned back to work.  It was from a parent in my classroom who had lost a child to Turner’s Syndrome at 27 weeks.  Her experience was similar to mine, however she said to me “I know what you are going through, but I don’t.  We all grieve differently.  Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.”  She really understood and I have turned to her a couple of times to help me through things.  But like she said, we all go through it differently.  There are some things or points we all go through, but how we handle it and how we go through it is slightly different.  She also gave me hope because she has a family of 3 children, as well as her little angel baby.

Grief is tough process, but with the right support you can find your way through it all.  It takes time and you have to allow yourself to go through it.  We all grieve at some point in our lives.  Remember to take care of yourself, be honest, and surround yourself by those you can trust & support you.

 

 

I have been struggling with what to write on this weekend for a post.  For whatever reason I was having a hard time deciding what to write about.  So, I decided to turn toward something I know and enjoy…photography.  My passion for photography has greatly grown over the years, but in the past year it has been my way to capture the life around me.  I generally will hide behind a camera rather than be in a photo.  Last year I would find it even more difficult to be the focus of the camera as it was hard to smile on the outside sometimes when I felt like falling to pieces on the inside.  I have learned that there will be good days and there will be bad days, and photography helps me to get through it.  I want to capture all the beauties of the moments around me and use photography as a way to help me heal as well.  Below is a little video I put together with some of my favorite photos I have taken from the past year.

 

 

I wanted to take a moment to share a special poem that I wrote about dragonflies and what they mean to me. Dragonflies have a special meaning to me.  A dragonfly brings a message of comfort and peace from our little baby girl.  A dragonfly helps to give me a connection and way to feel closer to Samantha.  In honor of her, I am passing on the blessing of a dragonfly to you.  It is my hope that it will provide a sense of hope, comfort, and strength.

Dragonflies

By: Liz Lauterbach

Such beauty and grace, delicate and light

Washing calm and peace throughout

Bearer of comfort and strength

A little messenger, dropping by to say hi

Sometimes lingering, sometimes just but a moment

Soaring high, sparkling in the sun

Heavenly connection, closer to you my angel

 

One year ago today Samantha joined our world.   Our beautiful baby girl with her angel wings.  She has taught me a lot about life in the past year and how precious it truly is.  No more making excuses.  I have filled this past year with all the things that mean the most to me…Raun, family, friends, photography, writing, travel.  I take moments and try to live them to the fullest.  I have experienced new opportunities that I would have never done before, that were typically out of my element or so I thought.  I have begun to simplify what I can, so that when unplanned opportunities arises I can jump to the occasion.

Do I wish that she was here with us instead?  Every day I do.  I wish that I could be the one to hold and raise her.  But, I know that she is in good hands instead.  If she can’t be in my hands, then I am at peace to know that she is in God’s.  Her tiny footprints left a spot on my heart for the rest of my life.  I love you baby girl, Happy Birthday!!

(I took this photo the weekend of Samantha’s due date.  I wrote the poem to add to this special photo in honor of her birthday.)

 

 

Samantha is a our beautiful little girl who went to heaven on January 27, 2011.  She was 17 weeks old when we experienced a miscarriage.  As parents of a child who went to heaven instead of home with us, we have been finding ways to honor our little girl.  We have been doing different things to honor our little girl.  The sky is the limit of what you can do to honor your little one.  Follow your heart and do what means the most to you.  Do what is special.

 

While at the hospital the nurse made sure that Samantha was weighed, her hand prints & footprints were done, and pictures were taken.  They also made sure we had a keepsake box to take home with us.  That keepsake box has gone from one box to two now.  The next day we were able to press her tiny little hands and feet into clay.

A week later we took part in a memorial service on February 5, 2011.  It was a beautifully done service at Resurrection Cemetery.   Samantha, along with the families of 25 other little one’s gathered on this special day.  Afterwards, we had Samantha’s name written on the memorial wall at the Children’s Memorial Wall and Healing Garden in Resurrection Cemetery.

 

In late Spring I came across Carly Marie and her website.  She lost a little one of her own and now she uses her gift of photography.  She writes names in the sand on Christian’s Beach in Australia and then takes a photo at sunset capturing all the beauty in the water, sky, and your little one’s name.  I decided to have Samantha’s name added to the waiting list and on June 24 (the same day my niece was born and Raun’s birthday as well) I received Samantha’s name photo.  It is truly beautiful!

Shortly after we lost Samantha I had the urge, the need to create a blog and website.  MyInfantLoss.com was created out of this feeling and realizing this is a way I could get our story out there, and hopefully help other’s who are on this path too, as well as connect with them.  Raun had a memorial necklace made for me that: has footprints stamped into a heart shape, Samantha’s initials (SJL) on the back, and two crystals-one is her January birthstone and the other is the July birthstone that represents her due date.  Raun’s mom also gave us a memorial garden stone that in Spring we can make a little memorial garden.  At Christmas time we added a dragonfly, blessing, and poem by me to our Christmas cards.

Many other good things came out of our loss.  Raun began a website talking about living the backyard life-http://www.backyardlifeblog.com.  We now have a completely different perspective on life and we do only what means the most to us.

  

 

What does your heart puzzle look like?  Mine is filled with Raun, Samantha, family, friends, the future, and myself.  What is a heart puzzle?  It is how your heart is divided up.  For those of us who are more visual, like me, think of your heart us a puzzle.  It is made up of different pieces of your life.  Over time those pieces change.  Just like any other puzzle, if a piece is missing it’s not complete.  Likewise, you can not move another piece to fill that spot.  Your heart is complete, whole, no holes.  You may change the number of pieces or what they represent, but no matter what it will still be complete.

Holes, voids call them what you want.  It is that inner feeling that you get when you loose someone close to you.  There is a spot that never feels quite the same.  Over time that void seems to fill back in, but never the same as it was before.  It is forever change, but it fills back in.  No matter what, there is still a part of you, a part of your heart that has been forever touched.

When you are expecting a child, an addition to your life, the pieces of your heart puzzle seem to gain another piece.  When you loose your child through miscarriage, infant loss, or stillbirth you still have that spot.  It is reserved for that special little one.  It is only for them and nothing will replace that spot.  When you grow your family, more pieces are added.  Your heart is complete, ever changing, your life.  The things you yearn for, hope for are what is in your future.  Over time, you will take those things from your future and they will become a spot all their own in your heart puzzle.

When Samantha went to heaven I felt a deep void, a hole if you will.  Over the past few months I have so desperately wanted to be pregnant and grow our family.  To have that void filled back in.  Having another child won’t fill that feeling of void back in.  It will add another piece to the puzzle.  What I realized recently is that in a way, that void has been filled back in.  In the center of it is Samantha and what her little tiny footprints have left behind.  It has been filled in by all that Samantha has taught me, the support that I have around me, and a new perspective on life.  As much as I wanted to have the chance to raise our little girl, I know she is in good hands.  I believe some day soon, I will have the chance to raise our children here on earth and some where in the future we will all meet again.

If you were to fill out your pieces, what would they look like?  Start with you in the middle, make sure there is a spot for future, then fill in the rest with what is most important and brings the most meaning in your life.  So, what is your heart puzzle?

 

After Samantha, I found it hard to genuinely smile and laugh.  I could make myself do it, but my heart wasn’t in it.  In my mind I was thinking, I shouldn’t be laughing, shouldn’t be happy, shouldn’t smile because I am grieving.  Because I was grieving, if I did any sign of fun and happiness I thought it meant that Samantha didn’t matter any more and that I had moved on.

I remember Raun and I went out to dinner in the Springtime and we had a long conversation.  It was then that I heard some of the most helpful words.  He told me “it is okay to smile, to have fun, to be happy.  It doesn’t mean that you have forgotten or that you have moved on or that you aren’t still grieving.  Samantha is always a part of us and always will be.  We will move forward and she will go with us.  You can still grieve, yet feel happy and joyous.”  This combination was weird for me and took me a little while to be alright with the concept.  There are times when I am happy and sad at the same time.  Yes, I am still grieving and still healing, but right now I can see the joy in the moment and the blessing.

In one day I can go from having something trigger the tears to later seeing a moment of happiness.  As the past year has gone by, there have been fewer triggers in a day and more moments of happiness.  Are there still things now that make me end up shedding tears?  Of course!  But most days I can make it through with laughter, smiling, and remembering.  I feel like the grief comes and goes in waves.  Occasionally a tidal wave hits.  I have learned to expect the unexpected.  I don’t always know when a tidal wave will hit, but the best I can do is to take them when they come.

The best thing I can do is acknowledge how I feel.  No matter the feeling-good, bad, or ugly- I validate what I am feeling and move forward.  I am taking what I am feeling and hearing to learn and grow through this process.  I still take life day by day, one step at a time.  Sometimes I have go minute by the minute, other times I can go several hours.  I have made sure, especially more recently, to have the things that mean the most to me and bring me the most happiness surround me in my life.  That means I…

  • surround myself with people who are truly there and who want to have a relationship that will grow over time.  I surround myself with those who are supportive and allow me to be me.  I surround myself with family and friends.
  • have reinvested in my interests.  I enjoy being outdoors, so when I can do something outside I will.  I have a passion for photography and have decided this year to revamp my photography website.  I have been reading more and traveling more.

Can you smile?  Yes, you can.  It is okay.  Even though you are happy, doesn’t mean you aren’t still grieving.  Smile and laughter will do your heart good and help you heal.

 

Happy New Year!  Today 2012 begins.  With a lot to look forward to in a new year, I want to take a moment to reflect on 2011.  This past year has been a very busy year for us.  It has been filled with firsts, lesson’s learned, travel, big celebrations, and loss.  I have gained a new perspective and met a lot wonderful people.

We had two big celebrations this year.  Raun’s little sister (who is like 22) got married over the Summer.  It has been fun to watch her grow up.  We also celebrated my grandfather’s 95th birthday.  95 years!  Can you believe it?  I can only imagine what it would be like to have been around for the past 95 years.  He has seen a lot of firsts and new things over the years.  I pray that he still has many more birthdays and celebrations to go.  I have learned a lot from my grandfather over the years about family, faith, and values.

This past year we had our first pregnancy.  Something that should bring so much joy and excitement quickly turned when I experienced a miscarriage at 17 weeks.  The result, was a beautiful baby girl who we named Samantha Jean.  She was only here with us a brief while, but her little tiny footprints have left so much behind.  It is because of her I began this website, began to reach out to others in a whole new way, made some new friends and built wonderful relationships, strengthened old relationships, learned a lot about myself and Raun, and began to change the way I look at life overall.

Raun and I have taken the opportunity to travel this past year.  When I say travel, I don’t mean abroad.  We did some weekend getaways to places like Bayfield and Stockholm, WI.  We visited family in both Wisconsin and Missouri.  We enjoyed good travel, great company, of course good food, and many photographic opportunities.

Loosing Samantha has made a lot of changes in my life.  I have begun to fill my life with the things I truly enjoy, to weed out the things that don’t have meaning or interest, step out of my comfort zone, and really put what I value first.  Near the later part of the year I made the big decision to give up my classroom and become a building sub.  It was a tough decision, but it has been one of the best choices I made.  It has brought much needed peace, relief, new opportunities, and rejuvenation.

What will 2012 bring?  I haven’t the slightest clue, but I will continue to hope, plan, and dream.  I hope that we will grow our family.  I plan on continuing to do the things that mean the most to me, spend time with family, connect with friends (perhaps over a cup of coffee), and travel.  I dream to rebuild my photography business and to reach out to others who have experienced a pregnancy loss or infant loss.

This past year I have taken one word with me.  It helped me to get through the tough days, gave me hope, and created a sense of peace.  That word was trust.  2012 brings a new year and a new word, with the help of an Illuminate class I took I decided to make a conscious choice about what word I want to carry me through the new year.  I have been trying to decide between two…strength and believe.  With all that I am hoping for and dreaming for, my word is going to be…believe.  It encompasses so much and with my one word mantra, I will continue to grow and will be able to make it through the year with a strong foundation.  What does 2012 look like for you?  Whatever it may be…I hope your year is filled with relaxation, happiness, laughter, and many blessings.  Happy New Year!  Here’s to a great year!!

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