Julia had done everything right.
She had practiced safe sleep for Lila, but what the doctors hadn’t told her was this: even if you do everything right, sometimes babies still die. Julia kissed her baby goodnight, apparently healthy, and in the morning she was gone. How does one ever rebuild?
Will you donate this weekend and have your funds doubled to offer Julia the support she deserves and needs? Please help us meet our match!
If you met Julia, you would love her immediately: she has a twinkly smile and, despite the circumstances under which I met her, laughs easily. But the most beautiful thing about her is how enormous her love for Lila is. It is palpable in the room when Julia is there, this huge, beautiful love that cannot be extinguished. When she talks about Lila, Julia’s face lights up. She speaks enthusiastically and with passion, and the room gathers around to get to know this little baby through her mother’s words.
Living in the world as a bereaved mother, Julia feels like she is living a dishonest life. “I want to be honest, but I feel like I’m making other people so uncomfortable if I tell them my story. I feel like I have to protect the people around me by not talking about her”. Julia explains that when she does decide to tell someone that she had a baby who died, “ I have to be dishonest in my reply back and act to them as if I’m more okay than I actually am… Infant loss is almost stigmatized. It’s just such an awkward thing to talk about.”
This situation that Julia finds herself in is one that has been shared for the past 12 years over and over in the Empty Arms support group circle. To tell, or not to tell? And where does the line lie that falls between your own discomfort of lying to protect someone else, versus the struggle of living a lie just to make everyone’s life easier?
Will you donate this weekend to help Julia have a safe space to be herself?
Fortunately, Julia has found a place where she can truly be herself-- and where she never has to lie about how she’s doing, what she’s feeling, or how hard it is to just “be” in the wake of such an enormous loss. Julia’s family found Empty Arms on the day that Lila died, and Julia came to her first meeting with her parents only two weeks after Lila’s death. As the three of them tearfully shared the unbelievable reality they were now facing, they felt support coming from around the circle. What had been too hard to say in public, was now able to be said. They have not missed a meeting since.
“I feel so much more genuine and real at the group. After a meeting is over, we always feel a sense of relief. Even though sometimes I find myself reluctant to go because I know I’m going to face difficult feelings, once I’m sitting in there it is incredibly healing and helpful. For those 2 hours of the month I can just let myself feel sad, and feel the feelings and show how I feel. Empty Arms is my two hours a month that I can unleash everything that I’ve been bottling up for the past month. Its a true relief because it’s like a weight lifted -- you are literally lighter, you’ve passed the weight of your grief on.”
We are so grateful to be able to offer Julia and others like her a space to be themselves. It has been our experience that with a place to truly feel, bereaved parents are able to weave their babies into their lives in positive, sustainable ways, allowing them to grow and thrive. Please help us to continue to offer this opportunity to people in the Pioneer Valley!
Please click here to donate to our June Giving Campaign. We have a generous donor, grandparents Norman and Jeanne Reynolds, who have offered to match our next $1500 raised! This will bring us close to 3/4 of the way to our $10,000 goal! Please join us to make our dreams of helping all SIDS families come true.