Aug 5 2010

Empty Cradle, Broken Heart – Monthly Book Review

This month’s pregnancy and infant loss book review features Empty Cradle, Broken Heart.

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Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D. discusses the heartache of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. This book is for parents who are grieving and looking for encouragement.

This was the first book I read after the loss of my twins. Reading these stories from others made me feel that I was not alone.  It includes information about death of one or more babies and offers support. It includes quotes from others who have experienced this heartache and who understand.

Chapter One discusses the ‘D’ word, expectations, loneliness, and our losses. As I continued reading it made me realize that I was normal. As I grieved I thought I was having thoughts that no one else had. I thought I was losing my mind. This book showed me that all my thoughts were normal and even went into detail about some of the thoughts I was having.

As a mom I found reading this book helpful in the sense that it talks about physical recovery and how to take care of our bodies. Some have had a D & C while others had a Cesarean. We have postpartum visits and some need advice for breast care. There is information on how to handle these issues. If you are anything like me you may have had trouble sleeping in the early days of grief. There are tips to help with this and I found them very helpful.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to someone who has just had a loss. There is great information about making decisions after your baby’s death. We had to make so many decisions without any knowledge or help. If I had read parts of this book while I was in the hospital I would have been so grateful. It discusses burial, memorials/funerals, keepsakes, rituals, and memorializing your baby.

At the end of each chapter there is a section of points to remember. This is a good area to go back over certain points and even highlight things you want to revisit. I found this extremely helpful in helping to organize my thoughts.

There is a special chapter especially for fathers. It talks about the social expectations that are placed on fathers and their grief. This chapter touches on many key points that could be helpful in a father coping with grief and his emotions.

Not only is this book great for parents, but doctors and nurses could also benefit from reading it. Many hospitals do not give input or advice as to making decisions. This is so important as I know too many parents who have walked away from the hospital without photos or memories of their baby. Even if a friend or family member wants to read this book, let them. The more insight they have the more they will understand your grief.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is grieving, whether it is the first stages of that raw grief or later down the road. It was great for my husband and I to read after our loss and it has now been 9 months and I continue to pick it up and revisit certain chapters. You may cry as you read, but know that it is okay to cry.

– Submitted by Jill A.

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*Interested in submitting your own pregnancy and infant loss book review? Please to have your review(s) published on Grieve Out Loud. Please include book title in your e-mail.


Jun 3 2010

One Year Book of Hope – Monthly Book Review

Each month we will be posting a book review dealing with pregnancy and infant loss. This months review comes from our team member Melissa Joy C. who has reviewed Nancy Guthrie’s One Year Book of Hope.

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I casually ordered a book online a few months ago—it was one of those times on Amazon when I wasn’t quite at the $25 mark and wanted to reach it in order to have free shipping. So anyway, I (almost haphazardly) added one more book to my cart before checking out. It was The One Year Book of Hope, by Nancy Guthrie.

I considered saving it for January, to use as a formal daily devotional for 2010; you know, since it is organized into a “one year” format. But I couldn’t wait and decided that I needed to crack open its cover. I needed to know that hope still exists—and couldn’t wait those couple of weeks. Because some moments, I just don’t see it—hope.

On one of the first pages, there is simply this quote:

Comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it.
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end:
if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth–
only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.
~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Then I read the “Acknowledgments” page – that’s when the tears began.
I took off my glasses, wiped my cheeks with my sleeve, took a sip of tea, and turned the page.

Two sentences into the “Introduction,” I lost it again. Something about the phrase “loss that changed everything about your life in an instant” hit me hard. She gets it. Guthrie gets it. It isn’t just one thing in my life. It’s one thing in my life that suddenly, instantaneously changed everything. She goes on, and another phrase pinpointed reality for me when she mentioned “all the questions that taunt us in the midst of tears and keep us awake in the night.” I’m not sure which is worse—that scenario or the nightmares when I do sleep. But either way, she gets it.

Guthrie shares the story of losing their baby girl due to Zellweger Syndrome. She says, “Though we had shed our share of tears during her life, and while I was hopeful that those tears would lighten my load of grief after her death, it didn’t seem to work that way.”

During some of my pregnancies, I have hoped it would work that way too. But nope, it doesn’t. She goes on, “It seems to me that most losses aren’t just one loss, but a series of losses. For a while I grieved Hope [her daughter]’s death. Then I grieved her limited life. Then I grieved our loss of potential.” A series of losses.

Later in the “Introduction,” Guthrie explains something her sister-in-law shared with her. When asking how you can get through and deal with the death of such a dearly loved one, her sister-in-law said “‘Manna.’ She explained that just as the children of Israel were dependent on God to provide manna to sustain them every day while they wandered in the wilderness, I had to depend on God to give me the manna I needed every day to sustain me as I grieved my loss… Every day.

Wow.
Stop crying.
Wipe those tears, Melissa, you’ve gotta keep reading.
Look at the next page.

Processing pain and embracing its lessons are daily endeavors. Every day we need a little more light to illumine our darkness.” I am not alone. Manna.

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This devotional is set up into weeks—52 of them, with five devotionals in each week that go along a central theme. But while it is designed to be a year-long study, if you are like me, you won’t take that long to read it. There are days when I don’t pick it up at all, but when I do—I will read 2 or 3, or maybe a week’s worth of all 5 devotionals. It’s just that good. There are Scriptures, personal anecdotes, prayers, and meditations for each day. Each week’s theme has been a blessing to me—themes like Brokenhearted, Why?, Miracles, The Mysteries Of Heaven, Angels, Storms, Finding Purpose In Pain, Blessing, Prayer, Waiting, and Letting Go.

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So that’s my new favorite book.
It’s my new lifeline, I think, really.
I am more than halfway through the book now, and glean something from its every lesson. The pages are dimpled with my tears and I think every page is full of underscores by my trusty pen.

If you are a bereaved mommy, especially a Christian one, I think I can safely say that you need to read this book. I am praying that God would use this book in our lives, that He would renew our hope, and that we would have the courage to continue reading—and living.

– Submitted by Melissa Joy C.

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*Interested in submitting your own pregnancy and infant loss book review? Please to have your review(s) published on Grieve Out Loud. Please include book title in your e-mail.


May 7 2010

Life Touches Life – Monthly Book Review

Each month we will be posting a book review dealing with pregnancy and infant loss. Our first book review comes from our team member Melissa who has reviewed Lorraine Ash’s Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing.

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Life Touches Life by Lorraine Ash covers loss, heartbreak and hope – dealing specifically with her stillborn daughter, but can relate to all babyloss.

This was one of the first books I read after my son Jack died. For me, these stories made me feel less alone and anything that does that is priceless. Now, five months later I still remember two distinct things about this book.

The first one is a quote said by a nun shortly after the birth of Ash’s daughter. In the book the author writes about “never being the same again.” This quote has come into my mind at various times since I first read it, almost like a personal reminder to myself. Like some sort of encouragement that I should not try to be the person I was before this happened to me. I think to me, it is one more thing I do to remind myself that I am normal and that the process that I am going through is normal.

The second thing is the first time I read this book I rushed through the last three chapters and was upset about the ending. I wanted to read that everything worked out in the end. I think at the time I needed to read things that would tell me that everything works out and that somehow I was going to be fine. The second time I read it, I read it with more compassion and took more time and realized that it does work out in the end.

I reread the book for this review and while I am sure I read the whole thing cover to cover the first time I took a bit more time to pause and think about things the second time and it has been valuable. It was like I did not read the same book before, this is the type of book that reaches out to you whether you are just first experiencing loss or it has been months, even years ago. There is something in it for many different people and if you can, read it twice.

There is a natural and spiritual side to Life Touches Life that I really connected with. Ash is religious and while I am not a religious person, I think of myself as a spiritual person. Ash described coming to grips with what happened as a force of the natural world, and that her baby will live with her in spirit.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone in any period of their grieving; it was great for me to read soon after my son died and now, five months out it was wonderful to read again.

– Submitted by Melissa

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*Interested in submitting your own pregnancy and infant loss book review? Please to have your review(s) published on Grieve Out Loud. Please include book title in your e-mail.