Hope and healing for those who suddenly find themselves in the most terrible sort of grief
For those who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of a baby within the first year, this gentle resource offers:
stories of hope and wisdom;
practical advice and guidance, based on the experience of many;
comfort and ways to honor and remember.
Naming the Child creates a community of love and support for bereaving parents and siblings after the loss of a baby, written with a light touch and sensitive spirit.
"When I was nineteen weeks pregnant with my second child, Emma, I had a miscarriage. Its impossible to know ahead of time how such an experience will impact you or your marriage. I recognized many of the challenges I faced in Naming the Child. I can say with confidence that this is an amazing resource."
lawyer and mother of three
My son Andrew died exactly ten years ago today, October 23, 1999, nine days after his first birthday. No one would describe me as emotional. And yet the wound still remains remarkably raw.
Andrew's short life isn't a frequent conversation any more, except inside our family, because there is nothing new to talk about. When parents talk about children, it is almost always how they are changing. Andrew, however, is forever our one-year-old.
Unfortunately for me, memories seem to fade faster than the sense of loss. For my wife, neither the memories nor the pain have faded. I know my wife's memories remain vivid because they are beautifully captured in a recent book by Jenny Schroedel called Naming the Child: Hope-filled Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death
In the book, she recounts the experiences of a number of families who suffered losses like ours. Reading the book, I am amazed at all the things I have forgotten about both Andrew's life and death.
The title of the book comes from a quote by one of the women who was interviewed who had an ectopic pregnancy: "Naming an unborn child is a powerful thing. It is a way to acknowledge to the world that God already knows. A way to say 'life is precious - this life is precious.'"
This is not the sort of book you read for fun at the beach, but if you know someone who recently miscarried or lost a young child, I highly recommend it.
|New York Times - Freakonomics - Steven Levitt|
Verdict: A sensitive, spiritually oriented compendium of voices of bereaved parents; recommended for public libraries with large perinatal loss collections. Background: Schroedel (The Everything Saints Book; The Everything Mary Book) terms infant death a "forbidden room," which most people prefer not to enter, deal with, or talk about. She draws on conversations with and pieces written by bereaved parents to present brief, practical suggestions for parents and those around them. Topics
include the importance of naming the child and finding comfort in touch, words, one's marriage, and other children. While the anecdotes in this book are unique, the advice overlaps with such other books on the topic as Michael Berman's Parenthood Lost and Pat Schweibert's Still To Be Born, Perinatal Loss. A short list of resources is included.
"Hope-filled reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Death."
This subtitle gives the broad-brush strokes of the contents of what is truly an exquisite book on a challenging subject. Over eleven chapters of 150 pages, the author invites us into "the forbidden room" of infant death. She is herself a wife, a mother, and a survivor of infant loss as the dedication to her infant brother Garrison, suggests. An Orthodox Christian with a masters degree in theology, she brings to her work a rare and welcome depth and breath of spiritual perception, gentle, and inviting. Through poignant personal sharing, inspired quotes from the bereaved, captivating story telling and good orderly direction in the form of specific suggestions closing each chapter, Jenny Schroedel shows herself to be a competent and compassionate guide. Her personal spirituality is respectfully woven through the paragraphs like a golden thread.
The real life stories of real people, many of whom I know personally, are both devastating and grace-filled. Without exception, they requested that their real names be used. They were not interested in protecting their identities or shrouding the realities they experienced and continue to experience. These grieving parents, siblings, and other family members and friends entrusted their most personal moments into the author's care. And she honored their trust.
Jenny Schroedel adroitly fashions a pathway through the grief, confusion, and heartache lifting the veil of secrecy and shame from what characteristically in our society is a disenfranchised loss. She exercises a precious ministry by, among other things, understanding the importance of naming the child, no matter the age or stage of that child's development. She addresses the essential issues faced by those experiencing peri-natal loss with holy respect and reverence.
This book will provide basic information, solace and even, I would say, will serve as a rudder for sanity in the troubled times that follow the loss of a child. For those in caretaking roles: counselors, ministers, and others, this book will offer insights and provide a template or sensitivity to the myriad issues raised by these particular losses.
Essentially, as Jenny expresses so well: "God is the one who holds every memory of every child tightly, tenderly, against the backdrop of eternity." This is the cradle of her work.
I can wholeheartedly recommend that you make space in your heart and mind and on your bookshelf for this precious witness to hope and healing that can emerge from the precariousness of our life's experiences. It will draw you into a place of spiritual beauty and be a balm for your soul.
|Lyn Breck, RN, CAC, II, LPC|
Jenny Schroedel has never lost a child, and openly admits this in her book. But she has been the confidant of a number of women who have, and "longed to weave them [these stories] together into something cohesive so that bereaved parents would feel less alone."
She's done a marvelous job. The book is gentle, firm and strong and full of faith. Even if you've never lost a child, make sure you have tissues or a handkerchief close by when you read this book, because the stories in it are going to make you cry. It's Jenny's very objectivity that makes the book so strong. She clearly empathizes with the women she spoke to about the subject, and her pain for their loss comes through on every page. So too, does her admiration for their and their husbands' courage and ability to move forward through the pain to a complete life on the other side of the death. But because that pain has never been hers, she doesn't fall into a maudlin state or wallow in pity and self-pity. She sees clearly and objectively and because of this is able to frame these women's stories to give a feeling of hope, of love and of compassion along with practical, down-to-earth and helpful comments and suggestions.
The book begins with the introduction, and Jenny's explanation of how it came to be written, then moves through the issues that parents face - naming the child, pregnancy and birth, through things they can do to make the loss real and help the grief be expressed: touching the child, speaking about him or her, the care they need and others can give, the strains on a marriage because of the death. She deals also with what a lot of the women told her - that long before medical science figured out there was a problem, something from deep inside told them that all was not right. She discusses what happens in a subsequent pregnancy, and how many almost re-live the previous one, and how other children in the family deal with a sibling dying and what can be done on the anniversary of the death of the child.
By and large, the stories are told by the parents themselves, although Jenny does condense and explain. But every chapter is headed by something written by a woman whose infant has died and the entire book is based and structured around their experiences and the wisdom they have so painfully garnered through their loss. All the suggestions and practical advice are drawn from what they found worked for them.
This isn't a feel good book in the sense that you come away with a satisfied glow of a good read. There is too much sorrow in it for that. Moreover, it will bring up memories of our children who have died; of nieces and nephews, grandchildren, cousins and "would have been friends" who died before we could meet them properly. But there is so much hope and faith permeating every page that you close the book with a feeling of peace and serenity, confident that "God is the one who holds every memory of every child tightly, tenderly against the backdrop of eternity."