Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Secret Garden- September

What has helped you through out this new life the most. Is it your family? Your faith? Support groups? A ritual? Music? Physical activity? A new interest? It could be anything. Tell us about how whatever it is has helped you. 

The things that have helped me the most are:
1) Group and Individual counseling (w/Irene Kokatay) at Santa Barbara Hospice. Without this group of people, I would certainly not be where I am today. Andreas and I started going to counseling about a week after we lost baby Shiloh. We were referred to SB Hospice by Michael Cruse, a clinical social worker at SB Cottage Hospital (the staff there were absolutely amazing, btw). At first I dreaded going (actually, I still do! I ALWAYS turn into a crying mess), but I love that Andreas and I have a set time to talk about Shiloh, with people who can understand what we've been through, and continue to go through on a daily basis. It's very comforting to surround myself with those that can understand my feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, purposelessness. I find grief to be very isolating and the never-ending emotional roller coaster to be so tiring. Losing a child is also very hard on a marriage, so not only did Andreas and I both need to work separately on our grief and on ourselves, but we also needed to work together on our relationship. We both have had to adapt to our 'new normal'. 

2) Making Shiloh's memorial website. I'd have to say this is the most therapeutic of all. Andreas created the skeleton of Shiloh's website when we 'escaped' up to Big Bear for a few nights, about two weeks after Shiloh was born. We walked around the forest during the day and at night, sat in front of the fire drinking hot chocolate, talking, thinking, dreaming about Shiloh and making her website. It was a great outlet for me at the time because I had all of these things that I wanted to say to her, but didn't have a chance to. There are also so many people that never had the chance to meet Shiloh after she was born, so this was my way of having people remember her and put a name to her face. It also gave people who haven't experienced a loss some insight into how Andreas and I were coping and what we were feeling. I added a blog to Shiloh's website called Whispers to my Angel and continue to update it monthly with letters, poems and information from the media. I've heard from many women that my site is helping them to deal with their grief as well. I feel so honored that these women are able to find comfort there. Through this site, Shiloh has touched so many lives. This makes me so proud.

3) Being artistic (I call it my 'artistic grief')- writing letters and poems, writing Shiloh's name on the beach and on flower petals, taking photos, making terra cotta pots with lost babies' names and messages, making and engraving healing clay rocks, planting flowers, lighting candles for Shiloh, framing and hanging photos of her around the house, making photo albums and writing in her baby book.

4) Walks on the beach. Being near the ocean makes me feel close to her. It's so beautiful and cathartic to feel the breeze, smell the ocean air, and to just clear my head.

5) Blogging/Talking to other babylost women, helping them with their grief, hearing about their experiences and how they made it through amidst all the sorrow and emptiness. They also give me hope of having healthy, LIVE children in the near future


after iris said...

I too have had a creative explosion since losing Iris.

The beach sounds like a magical healing place. I'm land-locked and I loved your desciption of it.

with love, Jess x

Jeanette said...

I've just read through some of your poems, and they are great...not at all the right description,but I understand them as a babylost mother.
Thank you.

kimberlee said...

I find the ocean incredibly healing as well. But we live far from an ocean.

Sophie said...

I had an art explosion too after I lost my Jordan. And I feel closer to her at the beach as well.

I've been reading some of your poetry. It evokes some strong emotions... They are painful, but beautiful in their honesty.

I like the idea of making memory rocks with engravings on them. Will have to give that one a go someday... that and the flower pot. :)

So sorry about your loss of Shiloh.xx

Holly said...

Although I haven't been in counseling for losing Carleigh I have been through it before and it helped me so much. Being able to talk and sort through your feelings in a nonjudgmental atmosphere is so freeing.

Doing things in her memory is so nice. I know I like to write letters even though I don't do it often.

Once A Mother said...

I love the idea of "artistic grief" it is so helpful to have these outlets.

Kelly said...

Dear Rachel and Andreas,
it's part of my daily routine to check out your site. Even though we are far away, I am so grateful that you have this site so we can have a small glimpse into your lives, your journey. Shiloh's name is repeated in many people's hearts and minds.
I'm sorry I didn't think to try to meet up in NY- cross-country seemed worlds away!! When you are in Germany again...
big heart,