Keeping Their Memory Alive: Mikayla and Chase’s Stockings


DSC_0383-1We are coming up on the fifth Christmas since we lost our daughter Mikayla and the fourth since we lost our son Chase.  Newly bereaved parents have expressed how difficult the holidays can be for them, but even several years out from my loss there is always this sense of wonder when I watch my two living children enjoying the gifts and blessings of the Christmas season as I let my thoughts wander to what it would be like if all four of my children were here on earth with us. I remember that first Christmas all to well, it was so difficult to find joy amongst the grief.

I did find something that gave me hope though, something that gave me purpose…we called it Mikayla’s Stocking.  The last several years, of course, it was Mikayla and Chase’s Stockings, and we hope to do a version of it year as well.  This idea helped us  immensely during the holidays and I am sharing it now in hopes that if you are a bereaved parent yourself, it might spark some ideas of how you could do something in memory of your baby.  If you aren’t a bereaved parent, but know someone who is, I hope this will encourage you to reach out to that family during this holiday season.  See the bottom of this post for other resources that may help.

The thought of not having a stocking for Mikayla to hang with the rest of our family stockings was heartbreaking.  We could not stand the thought of that stocking hanging there empty on Christmas day…so we decided to fill it with good deeds and acts of kindness in Mikayla’s name that we spent time doing during the holiday season.  The idea was inspired by a fellow baby loss blogger, Mattie, in memory of her daugther Shyla.

It started by a letter that was sent out to our family and friends inviting them to join us in filling Mikayla’s Stocking with stories of good deeds and random acts of kindness they were inspired to do in her memory.  We then picked out a matching stocking with her name embroidered on it, and each day afterwards we thought of small things we could do to spread joy amongst our community and to help others days be a bit brighter.

Sure, there were lots of tears that first year…and sometimes there still is when I think about how very different our lives could be if Mikayla hadn’t died that year.  But keeping focused on doing things that would make her proud to call me mommy helped me survive those first holidays without her.

This was part of a blog post I wrote about her stocking that first year,

“Instead of hanging our four stockings on the mantle, with excitement for what little treasures might fill them on Christmas day,  I hang them with tears in my eyes.  Mikayla has a stocking, I cannot imagine it any other way.  I love seeing her stocking hung up with the rest of ours, our little family of four.  Instead of a doll dressed in pink, Mikayla’s stocking is adorned with an angel.  Instead of filling it with toys, I am filling it with letters from our friends and family that we will read on Christmas day to try to bring a little joy to that stocking that would otherwise be empty.”

We asked people to send us notes about what they did in these acts of kindness so that we could put them in the stocking.  We didn’t open them as we received them, we just tucked them inside her stocking.  On Christmas Day morning, we opened up all of the letters.  And that stocking was not empty on Christmas morning….it was overflowing with LOVE.

This project brought a lot of joy to our family during one of the saddest Christmas holidays we have ever celebrated.   We were absolutely awed at the letters and notes that were sent to us to fill her stocking.   I remember going to the mail box and each new envelope labeled with “Mikayla’s Stocking” filled me with such joy….someone remembered, someone cared.  For me, that’s all I really wanted for Christmas that year.  And if by trying to keep the spirit of my daughter alive, it helped brighten the spirit of even one person, I knew it was worth it.  I guess it’s how I grieve.  It helps me to know her short life had a purpose and that it continues to impact others.

It’s now been several years and I’ll admit I feel a lot less sad about the approaching holidays this year.  We have been so blessed this year, but I do still find myself wondering what it would be like with four little kids running around our house.  I don’t let my mind linger there for long though.  Instead I find myself planning how we are going to honor Mikayla and Chase this holiday season.

 

DSC_0152

DSC_0156Below are examples of our Letter from the first Christmas and also the one we sent the second year.  Please feel free to use these to draft your own letter if you’d like to invite your family and friends to fill your child’s stocking this Christmas.  If you do your own Angel Stockings, we’d love to hear your stories!

 

{YEAR ONE LETTER}

Dear Family & Friends,

First, let me thank you all for your love, support and prayers over the six months.  Thank you for sharing in the excitement of our second pregnancy and in the sorrow of our loss. Today is Nov 14.  Tomorrow will be 5 months since we said good-bye to Mikayla. We know each one of you felt our pain during the loss of Mikayla. We celebrate her life and, like a stone tossed into a pond, hope to see some of the far reaching ripples of the good things her life can bring.

As the holidays are approaching, we are excited to spend time with family and friends and watching the excitement in Jonathan’s eyes just overwhelms our hearts sometimes. But, we still feel the need to remember our daughter, Mikayla, this Christmas. Christmas is our favorite time of year and we have been searching for a way to keep it that way, even in the midst of our pain.  I found this wonderful idea from another mom whose little girl is in Heaven and was really inspired to do the same thing she did the first Christmas without her baby.

We have a stocking monogrammed with Mikayla’s name that matches the rest of our family stockings, but really don’t want to see it hang empty, so we have decided to enlist all of you to help us.  All that we ask is that sometime between now and Christmas, do something nice for someone, no matter how small or large. It doesn’t have to involve money–just commit a random act of kindness. When you do it, think of Mikayla and dedicate that act her. You can even leave a note saying, “This random act of kindness was done in memory of Mikayla Grace”, but you don’t have to. 

Please write down your act of kindness and send it to us and put “Mikayla’s Stocking” in the subject line or slip a note into your Christmas cards to us. I won’t read it. I will print it out the emails and put it in her stocking. Then, on Christmas morning, we will open up all the notes and read them. 

Feel free to share this request with your other friends and family.  Even if only a few of you do this, we will have a really beautiful thing to share on Christmas in our sweet baby’s memory and someone else (the recipient of your kindness) will benefit by a true example of the spirit of Christmas. I will pray that all of us will be struck by inspiration, that something will come to each of us, some kindness that we can share of ourselves, in Mikayla’s name and in her memory, to benefit someone else.   For idea’s and inspiration for random acts of kindness, visit http://www.missfoundation.org/kindness/ideas.html 

Thank you so much for your participation and your continued love and support,

Melissa, Mike, and Jonathan

 

{YEAR TWO LETTER}

Dear Family & Friends,

We are so, so thankful for our family and friends who have supported us over this last year and wanted to invite you all to do some random acts of kindness this Holiday season!  Last Christmas we invited many of our family and friends to participate with us in filling Mikayla’s Stocking with Random Acts of Kindness done in her memory, and we have decided to do something similar this year as well. It was such a wonderful experience for us and those that participated, helping us focus on the blessings we do have and the kindness of others.  

As most of you know, 2011 started out as the year of {HOPE} as we discovered we were expecting our third child. Unfortunately at a routine ultrasound on April 22, 2011 we were told that our baby had no heartbeat. While we were only 10 weeks along in this third pregnancy, we had already fallen in love with this child and our hearts were broken to know that he had already joined his sister Mikayla in Heaven. We felt our lives open to a whole different kind of loss, because while we felt this life was already our child, there simply wasn’t enough time to convince others how special this baby was or to share our hopes and dreams of this child with them. A few weeks after we lost him, we got the genetic results back that our baby was a little boy who died from Trisomy 22. We have named him Chase Gabriel, and while we never got to hold him in our arms he still remains within our hearts forever.

Last year if you’d told us that we’d be hanging up yet another stocking in memory of one of our children we wouldn’t have believed it. We know this too will be a difficult holiday without our two children, and we are searching for ways to bring joy to our lives and the lives of others again this year. We celebrate the life of both Mikayla and Chase, and hope we are able to continue to find ways in which the lives of others can be touched because of their brief lives touching ours. 

This year, we will be filling stockings again and if you’d like to participate, we ask that the acts of kindness are done with both Mikayla and Chase in mind. Sometime between now and Christmas, do something nice for someone, no matter how small or large. It doesn’t have to involve money–just commit a random act of kindness. When you do it, think of our children and dedicate that act to them. You can even leave a note saying, “This random act of kindness was done in memory of Mikayla Grace and Chase Gabriel”, but you don’t have to.

Here are some ideas:

  • Take your neighbor, friend, coworker some cookies
  • Make someone a meal
  • Compliment someone
  • Shovel someone’s driveway or sidewalk
  • Let someone cut in front of you in line at the store
  • Buy someone a cup of coffee
  • Donate money to any charity
  • Donate toys to the Salvation Army
  • Adopt a family with a one year old or a baby (Mikayla would have been 1 1/2 this year and Chase was due to arrive in November)
  • Buy someone who is hungry lunch
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter serving dinner
  • Volunteer anywhere

 There are so many ways to spread kindness and cheer this holiday season check out this website for more ideas: http://www.missfoundation.org/kindness/ideas.html

Please write down your act of kindness and send it to us by mail (email me at mikaylasgrace@gmail.com if you need my address) or email and put “Mikayla and Chase’s Stockings” in the subject line or slip a note into your Christmas cards to us. We won’t read it. We will print out the emails and put them in the stockings. Then, on Christmas morning, we will open up all the notes and read them.

Feel free to share this request with your other friends and family. Even if only a few of you do this, we will have a really beautiful thing to share on Christmas in memory of Mikayla and Chase and someone else (the recipient of your kindness) will benefit by a true example of the spirit of Christmas. I will pray that all of us will be struck by inspiration, that something will come to each of us, some kindness that we can share of ourselves, in Mikayla and Chase’s names, to benefit someone else.

Mikayla and Chase are on our minds daily and now to see them, instead of opening our eyes, we must open our hearts. We do believe that they both came into our lives to bring us the gifts we needed to continue touching lives through sharing our experience with others. They have taught us about love and about giving. They taught us all of that, and then they left. Through us, and through you, their gifts will live on through the lives of others touched by the mission of Mikayla’s Grace and our acts of kindness for many years to come.

Thank you so much for your continued love and support,

Melissa, Mike, and Jonathan

And our two little angels watching over us in Heaven, Mikayla & Chase

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“No act of kindness, 

no matter how small, 

is ever wasted.”

 Aesop

There are a couple of other good resources for how to survive the holidays after losing a baby.  These blog posts may be helpful for family and friends of bereaved parents to read as well.  We wish all of our supporters of Mikayla’s Grace a peaceful holiday season.

http://facesofloss.com/real-advice/surviving-the-holidays

http://www.roseandherlily.com/2012/11/remembering-your-baby-at-christmas.html

If you are a bereaved parent and have other ideas how you honor the memory of your baby(ies) please share them in a comment to this post.

 

Neonatal Intensive Care Awareness Month: Guest Post, Rory’s Mom Amy Jesse

 

What I’ve Learned During the Journey to Become Rory’s Mom

Growing up I knew one thing for sure – I wanted to be a mom. Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be, mom was at the top of my list. I spent a lot of time imagining myself as a wife and mother, but it turns out my journey to motherhood would not be an easy one.

Rory at 2 weeks – 1st Kangaroo Care (Christmas Day 2012)

Rory at 2 weeks – 1st Kangaroo Care (Christmas Day 2012)

My challenges started with a few years of infertility. When I finally got pregnant, I was plagued by a very small blood clot that formed in the placenta that would periodically produce large amounts of bleeding. Each time I bled I was convinced I was pregnant no more. I was crippled by anxiety. I tried to convince myself that this baby was the one we were meant to have, that he was already a miracle because he came to us after we’d given up hope. After my first trimester, the bleeding stopped and I started to feel pregnant. At 16 weeks I was lucky enough to start feeling movement. Our baby was really there! We were so excited for our 20-week ultrasound. Our excitement was quickly replaced by fear. The technician and Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor spent a lot of time pouring over the image on the screen. Pointing, discussing, wondering…was my cervix starting to open? They determined it was closed and I was put on progesterone to keep it that way. Hopefully. During my 22nd week I saw both my OB and the MFM doctor. Both determined that things were still fine, but because I was measuring very short, I’d be looking at bedrest if things changed. On the day my pregnancy calendar changed to 23 weeks, my life changed forever.

I was starting to dilate. Even as I type those words now, I can’t believe them. At 23 weeks, my baby was coming. 17 weeks early. We had decided not to take extraordinary measures during delivery. If he survived the birth and showed signs of life, then we wanted them to save him. Thankfully we were at a hospital that would do so. I am frequently heartbroken by stories from those who delivered at hospitals that would not take a chance on a 23-weeker.

Rory on Day 133 – day before discharge!

Rory on Day 133 – day before discharge!

At 23w2d my son was born. That was the day I became Rory’s mom. He had a prolapsed cord, but he made it through. My little miracle. What a fighter he is. He fought for breath. He fought through NEC (potentially fatal intestinal disease) and two surgeries. He fought through a PDA (a hole in the heart that is typically closed by the time a full-term baby is born). He fought through ROP (exposure to oxygen causes the blood vessels in the eyes to grow rapidly). He learned how to suck, swallow and breathe. He learned how to be okay with stimulation. He rarely cried. He charmed the NICU staff. He fought hard for 134 days to come home with us. What an amazing day that was. Now he’s 21 months. I still can’t believe he’s a toddler.

 

Now it’s my turn to fight. After our lives have settled down and we learn to cope with a toddler, my troubles have taken over. In recent weeks I’ve found myself plagued with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I try to focus on my son and how fortunate we are. I tell myself this every day. But guess what? It doesn’t erase it. It doesn’t erase the trauma we went through before and after he was born. It doesn’t erase those guilty feelings. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where you wonder if you could have done more. The ones where you mourn your pregnancy and you feel angst or jealousy related to your pregnant friends. The ones where you feel like your body completely failed your baby. It doesn’t erase the constant worry. No matter how thankful I am. No matter how much I want to be in the moment with my son, no matter how many times I kiss him and hug him and tell him I love him. No matter how proud of him I am…it’s there. Those fears, that anxiety, that lingering sadness, those flashbacks. Oh, those flashbacks. I’m getting help to deal with the challenges I’m facing because I want to be the best mom I can be to the son who fought so hard to survive.

Rory's 1st family vacation – August 2014

Rory’s 1st family vacation – August 2014

NICU Parents need to know that the trauma they experienced is real. They need to know that everything they feel is okay. They need to be given resources to help deal with what they have been through. They need to know that just because they are lucky enough to walk out of the hospital with their baby, their worries aren’t over. If they want it, they need to be able to be part of a network of families who can relate to their NICU journey. Because as much as family and friends love you, they don’t understand lockdown, obsessive hand washing and sanitizer use, and your reluctance to have them come to visit. A fellow micro preemie mom and I have started a NICU parent support group in our area for exactly these reasons. We are committed to providing a community where NICU parents fit in, where they can get the support they need, no matter where they are in their journey. Our hope is that families everywhere have access to similar support. NICU families don’t just need support from other parents. They need it from everyone around them.

If you are not a NICU parent, but want to know how you can help, here are a few ways.

  1. Set up a meal drop off schedule. Reach out to anyone and everyone you can think of and then pick people who might not help and contact them too. We received donations from people I wouldn’t have expected. People left food on our porch, in our garage fridge, and even in our mailbox. After spending all day at the hospital it was so nice to come home and be able to eat.
  2. Offer to help with child or pet care. Our neighbors would let our dog out so we wouldn’t have to rush home. Family would come take our dog for a week at a time which was especially helpful around surgeries, bad weather, etc.
  3. If you ask to visit the NICU, be prepared to be told no. There were some days we didn’t know hour to hour how our son was going to do and visitors were an additional stressor. If you are approved to visit, bring food! Our cafeteria food was tolerable at best.
  4. Don’t question a NICU parent’s request for you to wash and sanitize your hands, change your shirt, not smoke, etc. We are not simply being overprotective. We are following doctor’s orders, hospital procedure, and are just trying to keep our baby healthy. A common cold for you and I can be life threatening for a NICU baby.
  5. If you ask for an update or send well wishes and don’t hear back, don’t take offense or assume the worst. There are days when 15 people might be doing the same thing and there’s just not time or energy to respond.
  6. Just listen. This is a terrifying time for many NICU parents. Please avoid comments such as, “Everything happens for a reason” or “Everything is fine now that you’re home, right? At least you don’t have to worry anymore” or “At least you didn’t have to get big and fat.” These are just a few examples. If you aren’t sure what to say, please just listen.

We are often asked how to give back to the NICU that provided such amazing care.

  1.  Ask your NICU if they have a wish list. Consider asking for NICU donations in lieu of birthday gifts.
  2. Send cards to the NICU with photos of your little one(s).
  3. Write a heartfelt thank you note to the staff to let them know how much you appreciate them. It takes a village to raise a child and they will always be part of yours.
  4. We hear this most often from hospital staff…VISIT! It can be tough to go back, but it’s incredibly rewarding for the staff to see how well your little one is doing thanks to the care they received from all those wonderful doctors and nurses. We all know that what they do is incredibly worthwhile, but they need to be reminded. They have really hard jobs!

No matter how much research is done with the intention of preventing NICU stays, there will always be babies who arrive early or have challenges at birth. Often there is no reason. There will always be NICU families and NICU staff that need us, all of us.

 

Amy Jesse (NICU Co-coordinator for Mikayla’s Grace and Co-founder of Wisconsin NICU Parents)

 

Donation of CuddleCot System for Infant Loss Families at Meriter Hospital

Cuddle_Cot_BannerMikayla’s Grace has partnered with Babies Gone Too Soon to provide a donation of a CuddleCot System for Meriter Hospital.  This unit will be one of the only ones used currently in the United States, although they are used extensively in other countries.  We are excited to be able to bring something to our local hospitals that will improve patient experience and give them more time with their babies when they experience an infant loss.

The cost of providing this unit to one hospital is $3000.  If you would like to donate to help provide this unit and ones to future hospitals, please donate through this button below and put CuddleCot in the donation comments.  We know with your support we can continue finding ways to comfort bereaved parents!




This info from Flexmort’s Website on the CuddleCot:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dealing with the death of a baby is clearly an incredibly difficult event for parents and bereaved parents should be given the option of spending Time with their baby. Providing families Time is internationally encouraged by midwives, bereavement practitioners, still birth/neonatal charities, academics and is also recognised in International Position statements/guidance. Time allows the family to form an important bond with their baby; whether changing a nappy, dressing the baby or simply just to stay close this can help families in dealing with their loss. The problem is that in a warm room the baby’s condition can deteriorate quickly which parents often find distressing. Therefore cooling the baby is absolutely essential, however parents do not want the trauma of being separated from their baby whilst they are placed into a mortuary refrigerator to cool.

How does the CuddleCot™ help?


The CuddleCot™ system cools the baby in situ allowing the baby to remain with the family thereby providing the family time they want. The CuddleCot™ cooling pad is placed in any moses basket, crib, pram or bed; it is connected by a specially insulated hose and is quietly cooled using the CuddleCot™ cooling unit. The CuddleCot™ system comes in its own carry case and Flexmort’s moses baskets are also available as an option.

The benefits of using the Flexmort CuddleCot™ system in helping a family deal with bereavement are widely accepted across the globe and the system is in worldwide use across maternity departments and children’s hospices e.g United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the US. Please see testimonials at the bottom of this page. The CuddleCot™ meets the rigorous hospital equipment applicable standards for use within hospital environments across the world and our UK premises are inspected regularly by the relevant organisations who issue certification/approvals.

Here is one mom’s testimonial of using the CuddleCot:

“We HAD to spend as much time with him as we possibly could because once we let him go we would never see him again.  I came to find out weeks later that this chilled Moses Basket was one of two Cuddle Cots in the U.S. and we had the great fortune to have access to one. It was discreet and quiet and the Moses basket beautifully masked the chilling pad.

The Cuddle Cot gave us the irreplaceable gift of time. We all have limited time on earth with our loved ones but when decades are condensed into hours every extra minute is precious and necessary. We were granted time in a quiet and private place (after all of the drama of delivery) to say goodbye to our child (and all of the dreams we had for him). We were granted time to just look at him and memorize as best as we could his beautiful form. We were granted time to call our families so they could come and visit us and spend the time they needed to both meet him and say goodbye to him. Humans aren’t hardwired to accept birth and death in one day. It’s not natural. It’s unfair. It’s so many indescribable things. Families that have to suffer this agonizing experience should be treated with as much compassion and time as possible.

Most parents are blessed to have many memories and experiences with their children to reminisce over on nights when they’re missing them. The only experience I will ever have with my son is the time I spent with him in the hospital after delivery. Having access to a Cuddle Cot gave me the opportunity to spend several uninterrupted hours with him so that I might carry that ONE and ONLY memory of him with me for the rest of the days of my life.”

Here are some videos showing more:

 

The one who started it all…

One year ago, Mikayla Grace Terrill, was born into this world.  She is the one who inspires us every day to carry out the mission of Mikayla’s Grace.

I knew when we conceived Mikayla that she would change our lives…I just had no idea the impact she would truly have on us and so many others.  We are so thankful for all of the supporters of Mikayla’s Grace who help us in keeping her memory alive and by doing so, ensure that other parents in the same situation we were in one year ago today have special memories with their child(ren).

“A butterfly lights beside us, and for a brief moment it’s glory and beauty belong to our world.  But then it flies on again, and although we wish it could have stayed, we are so thankful to have seen it at all.”

Of course we wish she would have stayed.  But, nonetheless, we are glad to have seen it all.

Happy Birthday Mikayla Grace!
We love and miss you so much, more than words could possibly ever explain. We do believe that the place you are celebrating is far more great than we can even imagine and we know that someday we will be together again.  Thank you for all the gifts you’ve given Daddy and I this last year.  As long as we live, you will live.  As long as we live, you will be remembered.  As long as we live, you will be remembered.  You will live forever in our hearts and will always be our little girl.
Love, Mommy and Daddy

Thank you to those of you who have done acts of kindness in Mikayla’s name.  It truly does make a difficult month so much easier for us to know that others may smile because of the impact of our little girl.  We will still have a few things planned for our Random Acts of Kindness and at the end of the month I will share them all with you.

Today I would like to share a video that Kristie at Anchored by Hope made for Mikayla.

Do Not Be Afraid Of Our Tears

I was reminded today of a post that I’d written as a guest blogger last year for Half-Pint Resale as a way to reach out to those who may not have experienced pregnancy or infant loss to help them understand what to do in those situations and I wanted to include it on this website as well.

I wrote this about 9 months after our daughter Mikayla died, and just a month before we found out that our third child, Chase, had joined his sister in Heaven after just 10 weeks of carrying him.   We had just barely begun planning for our first donation with Mikayla’s Grace.  One our our goals with Mikayla’s Grace has always been to serve not only the families who have a baby in the NICU or are going through the loss of a child, but also those family and friends that support those parents.  You can see the most recently updated list of resources on ourResource Page.

Melissa Terrill is our guest blogger, taking on a topic that often fills so many of us with anxiety.  Melissa and her husband  lost their daughter nearly 9 months ago after she was born at the tender age of 24 weeks.  Melissa is a dear friend of ours and of Half-Pint Resale, and offered to write this post to give us all the tools – the words – the permission some of us may feel we need – to be there for our friends and family who are going through such a tragedy.  She speaks with compassionate but straightforward truth, and we encourage you all to read and to share this important information, so that we can be community and family for one another.

Melissa and Mike and their son Jonathan have also begun a truly wonderful non-profit in honor of their daughter, called Mikayla’s Grace, which seeks to support families with a baby in the NICU and those who experience the death of an infant at Madison area hospitals.  The non-profit provides provides  NICU care packages and angel memory boxes, offering both practical and emotional support for the parents.  There are many ways you can get involved – read on.

-EC and LS

According to 2004 statistics issued by the CDC 15.6% of pregnancies in the United States ended in either a miscarriage or stillbirth.  Which means that most of us have either been directly affected or  know someone who has been affected by the loss of an infant.

My family has experienced this heartache first hand, when our second child Mikayla Grace was born prematurely for unknown reasons at only 24 weeks and 5 days last June.  In one day, our dreams as we knew them came crashing down, when we learned that our daughter would not survive after being alive for only 36 hours.  You can read more of our story here. The world suddenly became a very lonely place, one in which our “new normal” was so unexpected that even those closest to us were at a loss of what to do.

I have learned a great deal through this experience, and I hope that I can share a few things that might help you if someone in your life experiences the death of their child.  It is hard to know what to say to a grieving parent, and I’m almost certain that before Mikayla died I wouldn’t have had a clue either. Our own fear of loss can render us immobile.  One of the most difficult things that a bereaved parent deals with is when people say nothing about the the child that is on their minds every moment of the day.  I remember thinking that it seemed like others had returned to their lives so quickly, leaving us to deal with our grief on our own in many ways.

It was as if people felt like they had to think of the “perfect” thing to say, and if they couldn’t, they just said nothing. There is no “perfect” thing to say. There is nothing you can say to heal the grief of losing a child. But acknowledging and supporting grief is a way to help healing. Please know that the effort of talking about the baby, the loss, and the sadness will be appreciated, even if it’s not “perfect.”  I love this quote by Elizabeth Edwards, whose firstborn child died at age 16,

If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who’s important to them, and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn’t forget they died. You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that’s a great, great gift.

Bereaved parents need your loving support more than ever. Please do not stay away or ignore the loss.  Not speaking about it does not lessen its reality. Bring up the subject, and be prepared for tears. Nothing you say will ever make the bereaved parent sadder than the reality of losing a child. Simply allowing a safe space for them to grieve without denying that grief is all that’s required of you. Remember, it is usually the simple things you say or do that mean so much.

There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love. ~ Washington Irving

It is important to remember, as a friend or family of bereaved parents, that the parents only grieve because they loved so deeply.  Their tears speak this unspeakable love, do not be afraid of their tears.  Do not be afraid to speak the name of the baby that they still love even though the baby is no longer with us.

In discussing this topic with a friend of mine who has not experienced the death of her child, she said ”the two things I would have LOVED to have known immediately are:

  1. The most important thing to ANY bereaved mom is to know that you remember and care about her baby.2.  The right thing to do or say is SOMETHING.  The only real mistake you can make is saying or doing NOTHING.”

Contrary to the widespread notion that “getting over” loss depends on “letting go” of the person who died, many people find that successfully going on with their lives includes finding a new way to feel connected to the person who died.  When I found this on the Sweet Dreams Our Angels website I really connected with it.  I knew that I wanted Mikayla and Chase to have a legacy that would carry on to help other families that have also experienced the loss of a child, and that is why I started our non-profit, Mikayla’s Grace.  To find out how you can help, go here.

Resources for Bereaved Parents and those who want to support them:
 
Thankfully there are many resources available for bereaved parents and their family members today, and we are fortunate to have a lot of local support groups in Madison and even a doula service especially for families who experience a loss in Madison:
Keep in mind that although most parents will grieve differently, most bereaved parents would appreciate you doing something.  The only wrong thing to do is nothing.  I hope that by sharing my story it will help others that are going through this journey as well.

Special Ways to Remember Babies at the Holidays

There are some really great things going on to support bereaved parents during what can be a difficult time at the Holidays.  If you are a bereaved parent yourself I encourage you do to something in memory of your baby during this time, and Fran’s 12 days of Christmas (posts from Christmas 2012) has some amazing ideas!

If you are not a bereaved parent yourself but have someone in your life who has experienced the loss of a child this is an important time to let them know that you remember their child.  Most parents are still grieving the loss of their children who are no longer here at the holidays, even if it has been several years since they’ve been gone.  Here is an article on What to Say to a Grieving Family at Christmas.  The Lost For Words Card Line is a simple way to send a message to a grieving family, and the 12 days of Christmas ideas can easily be incorporated as gifts as well.  Carly Marie’s Christmas Beach Wonderland has personalized images you can purchase.  The smallest gesture can make the biggest difference, and acknowledgement that you remember is often enough to help that bereaved parent.

Mikayla and Chase’s Stocking

We are coming up on the fourth Christmas since we lost our daughter Mikayla and the third since we lost our son Chase.  Bereaved parentsI have expressed how difficult the holidays can be for bereaved parents. I remember that first Christmas all to well, it was so difficult to find joy amongst the grief.

I did find something that gave me hope though, something that gave me purpose…we called it Mikayla’s Stocking.  The last two years, of course, it was Mikayla and Chase’s Stockings, and we hope to do it again this year as well.  This idea helped us  immensely during the holidays and I am sharing it now in hopes that if you are a bereaved parent yourself, it might spark some ideas of how you could do something in memory of your baby.  If you aren’t a bereaved parent, but know someone who is, I hope this will encourage you to reach out to that family during this holiday season.  See the bottom of this post for other resources that may help.

The thought of not having a stocking for Mikayla to hang with the rest of our family stockings was heartbreaking. We could not stand the thought of that stocking hanging there empty on Christmas day…so we decided to fill it with good deeds and acts of kindness in Mikayla’s name that we spent time doing during the holiday season. The idea was inspired by a fellow baby loss blogger, Mattie.

It started by a letter that was sent out to our family and friends inviting them to join us in filling Mikayla’s Stocking with stories of good deeds and random acts of kindness they were inspired to do in her memory.  We then picked out a matching stocking with her name embroidered on it, and each day afterwards we thought of small things we could do to spread joy amongst our community and to help others days be a bit brighter.

Sure, there were lots of tears that first year…and sometimes there still is when I think about how very different our lives could be if Mikayla hadn’t died that year.  But keeping focused on doing things that would make her proud to call me mommy helped me survive those first holidays without her.

This was part of a blog post I wrote about her stocking that first year,

 “Instead of hanging our four stockings on the mantle, with excitement for what little treasures might fill them on Christmas day,  I hang them with tears in my eyes.  Mikayla has a stocking, I cannot imagine it any other way.  I love seeing her stocking hung up with the rest of ours, our little family of four.  Instead of a doll dressed in pink, Mikayla’s stocking is adorned with an angel.  Instead of filling it with toys, I am filling it with letters from our friends and family that we will read on Christmas day to try to bring a little joy to that stocking that would otherwise be empty.”

We asked people to send us notes about what they did in these acts of kindness so that we could put them in the stocking.  We didn’t open them as we received them, we just tucked them inside her stocking.  On Christmas Day morning, we opened up all of the letters.  And that stocking was not empty on Christmas morning….it was overflowing with LOVE.

This project brought a lot of joy to our family during one of the saddest Christmas holidays we have ever celebrated.   We were absolutely awed at the letters and notes that were sent to us to fill her stocking.   I remember going to the mail box and each new envelope labeled with “Mikayla’s Stocking” filled me with such joy….someone remembered, someone cared.  For me, that’s all I really wanted for Christmas that year.  And if by trying to keep the spirit of my daughter alive, it helped brighten the spirit of even one person, I knew it was worth it.  I guess it’s how I grieve.  It helps me to know her short life had a purpose and that it continues to impact others.

It’s now been over two years and I’ll admit I feel a lot less sad about the approaching holidays this year.  We have been so blessed this year, but I do still find myself wondering what it would be like with four little kids running around our house.  I don’t let my mind linger there for long though.  Instead I find myself planning how we are going to honor Mikayla and Chase this holiday season.

Below are examples of our Letter from the first Christmas and also the one we sent the second year.  Please feel free to use these to draft your own letter if you’d like to invite your family and friends to fill your child’s stocking this Christmas.  If you do your own Angel Stockings, we’d love to hear your stories!

{YEAR ONE LETTER}

Dear Family & Friends,

First, let me thank you all for your love, support and prayers over the six months. Thank you for sharing in the excitement of our second pregnancy and in the sorrow of our loss. Today is Nov 14. Tomorrow will be 5 months since we said good-bye to Mikayla. We know each one of you felt our pain during the loss of Mikayla. We celebrate her life and, like a stone tossed into a pond, hope to see some of the far reaching ripples of the good things her life can bring.

As the holidays are approaching, we are excited to spend time with family and friends and watching the excitement in Jonathan’s eyes just overwhelms our hearts sometimes. But, we still feel the need to remember our daughter, Mikayla, this Christmas. Christmas is our favorite time of year and we have been searching for a way to keep it that way, even in the midst of our pain. I found this wonderful idea from another mom whose little girl is in Heaven and was really inspired to do the same thing she did the first Christmas without her baby.

We have a stocking monogrammed with Mikayla’s name that matches the rest of our family stockings, but really don’t want to see it hang empty, so we have decided to enlist all of you to help us. All that we ask is that sometime between now and Christmas, do something nice for someone, no matter how small or large. It doesn’t have to involve money–just commit a random act of kindness. When you do it, think of Mikayla and dedicate that act her. You can even leave a note saying, “This random act of kindness was done in memory of Mikayla Grace”, but you don’t have to.

Please write down your act of kindness and send it to us and put “Mikayla’s Stocking” in the subject line or slip a note into your Christmas cards to us. I won’t read it. I will print it out the emails and put it in her stocking. Then, on Christmas morning, we will open up all the notes and read them.

Feel free to share this request with your other friends and family. Even if only a few of you do this, we will have a really beautiful thing to share on Christmas in our sweet baby’s memory and someone else (the recipient of your kindness) will benefit by a true example of the spirit of Christmas. I will pray that all of us will be struck by inspiration, that something will come to each of us, some kindness that we can share of ourselves, in Mikayla’s name and in her memory, to benefit someone else. For idea’s and inspiration for random acts of kindness, visit http://www.missfoundation.org/kindness/ideas.html

Thank you so much for your participation and your continued love and support,
Melissa, Mike, and Jonathan

{YEAR TWO LETTER}

Dear Family & Friends,

We are so, so thankful for our family and friends who have supported us over this last year and wanted to invite you all to do some random acts of kindness this Holiday season! Last Christmas we invited many of our family and friends to participate with us in filling Mikayla’s Stocking with Random Acts of Kindness done in her memory, and we have decided to do something similar this year as well. It was such a wonderful experience for us and those that participated, helping us focus on the blessings we do have and the kindness of others.

As most of you know, 2011 started out as the year of {HOPE} as we discovered we were expecting our third child. Unfortunately at a routine ultrasound on April 22, 2011 we were told that our baby had no heartbeat. While we were only 10 weeks along in this third pregnancy, we had already fallen in love with this child and our hearts were broken to know that he had already joined his sister Mikayla in Heaven. We felt our lives open to a whole different kind of loss, because while we felt this life was already our child, there simply wasn’t enough time to convince others how special this baby was or to share our hopes and dreams of this child with them. A few weeks after we lost him, we got the genetic results back that our baby was a little boy who died from Trisomy 22. We have named him Chase Gabriel, and while we never got to hold him in our arms he still remains within our hearts forever.

Last year if you’d told us that we’d be hanging up yet another stocking in memory of one of our children we wouldn’t have believed it. We know this too will be a difficult holiday without our two children, and we are searching for ways to bring joy to our lives and the lives of others again this year. We celebrate the life of both Mikayla and Chase, and hope we are able to continue to find ways in which the lives of others can be touched because of their brief lives touching ours.

This year, we will be filling stockings again and if you’d like to participate, we ask that the acts of kindness are done with both Mikayla and Chase in mind. Sometime between now and Christmas, do something nice for someone, no matter how small or large. It doesn’t have to involve money–just commit a random act of kindness. When you do it, think of our children and dedicate that act to them. You can even leave a note saying, “This random act of kindness was done in memory of Mikayla Grace and Chase Gabriel”, but you don’t have to.

Here are some ideas:

  • Take your neighbor, friend, coworker some cookies
  • Make someone a meal
  • Compliment someone
  • Shovel someone’s driveway or sidewalk
  • Let someone cut in front of you in line at the store
  • Buy someone a cup of coffee
  • Donate money to any charity
  • Donate toys to the Salvation Army
  • Adopt a family with a one year old or a baby (Mikayla would have been 1 1/2 this year and Chase was due to arrive in November)
  • Buy someone who is hungry lunch
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter serving dinner
  • Volunteer anywhere

There are so many ways to spread kindness and cheer this holiday season check out this website for more ideas: http://www.missfoundation.org/kindness/ideas.html

Please write down your act of kindness and send it to us by mail (email me at mikaylasgrace@gmail.com if you need my address) or email and put “Mikayla and Chase’s Stockings” in the subject line or slip a note into your Christmas cards to us. We won’t read it. We will print out the emails and put them in the stockings. Then, on Christmas morning, we will open up all the notes and read them.

There is another way that you can help us spread love in memory of Mikayla and Chase through our Blankets and Babies Book Drive. Many of you have been following our journey with the non-profit we founded in February, Mikayla’s Grace. This organization has grown beyond our dreams and by the end of next year we will have supplied all of St. Mary’s bereavement needs for memory boxes and will have expanded to provide services at the second hospital in Madison. We plan to donate another 60 memory boxes and 50 NICU care packages to St. Mary’s and Meriter in the Spring of 2012 but are in need of many items for this donation. This donation drive is a way you can give back to the families that we serve through Mikayla’s Grace this holiday season.

Feel free to share this request with your other friends and family. Even if only a few of you do this, we will have a really beautiful thing to share on Christmas in memory of Mikayla and Chase and someone else (the recipient of your kindness) will benefit by a true example of the spirit of Christmas. I will pray that all of us will be struck by inspiration, that something will come to each of us, some kindness that we can share of ourselves, in Mikayla and Chase’s names, to benefit someone else.

Mikayla and Chase are on our minds daily and now to see them, instead of opening our eyes, we must open our hearts. We do believe that they both came into our lives to bring us the gifts we needed to continue touching lives through sharing our experience with others. They have taught us about love and about giving. They taught us all of that, and then they left. Through us, and through you, their gifts will live on through the lives of others touched by the mission of Mikayla’s Grace and our acts of kindness for many years to come.

Thank you so much for your continued love and support,
Melissa, Mike, and Jonathan

And our two little angels watching over us in Heaven, Mikayla & Chase

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
–Aesop

There are a couple of other good resources for how to survive the holidays after losing a baby.  These blog posts may be helpful for family and friends of bereaved parents to read as well.  We wish all of our supporters of Mikayla’s Grace a peaceful holiday season.

http://facesofloss.com/real-advice/surviving-the-holidays

http://www.roseandherlily.com/2012/11/remembering-your-baby-at-christmas.htmlIf you are a bereaved parent and have other ideas how you honor the memory of your baby(ies) please share them in a comment to this post.

Mother’s Day: Advice for Bereaved Parents and Those That Love Them

Everyone knows that Mother’s Day is in May, but did you know that Sunday May 6th 2012 is International Bereaved Mother’s Day?

This special day was created by Carly Marie to honor and celebrate mothers who carry some, if not all, of their children in their hearts rather than their arms.  In our modern day society, mothers who are grieving the death of their babies and children are usually forgotten. The traditional Mother’s Day has proven to be an emotionally difficult day for so many mothers around the world.  Mother’s Day is usually a day of celebration, but for many parents who have lost a child it is a day of heartache, pain, and tears thinking about our sweet angels.

To help raise awareness for this beautiful day take some flowers from the flower gallery on Carly Marie’s page.  Post them as your profile image on your favorite social network.  Post them on your friends’ walls on Facebook and let them know they are beautiful mothers.  You can also visit thisfacebook page to join the community honoring this day.

Anticipating and facing Mother’s Day after the loss of your baby can be challenging.  A time when you should be celebrating, becomes a time of remembering and thinking about all the “what ifs” and “should have beens” instead.  Not only is your precious baby not here with you, but witnessing the celebration and joy in other families can make it even more heartbreaking.

Many parents have found that the lead up to certain special dates is worse than on the actual day.  We almost fear that day, not knowing how we will cope; not wanting to feel more pain than we already are.  Through planning the day though, Mother’s Day can also be a beautiful one. Planning ways to get through these special dates may provide comfort and healing to your hurting soul, by giving you some tangible purpose in your day.  Whether you are on your own, or are surrounded by family & friends, this is a time for you and your baby.  Here are some ideas taken from the Bears of Hope Newsletter that  you might like to think about to help you get through Mother’s Day.

  • Release a balloon – perhaps inscribe a message on it before doing so
  • Light a candle throughout the day
  • Write a poem or a letter to your baby
  • Visit the cemetery – place fresh flowers
  • Have a special place to go to for breakfast, lunch or dinner each year
  • Go for a walk – drawing on the beauty of nature to soothe your soul
  • Plant a special flower or plant
  • Buy or create a special piece of jewelry to wear
  • Create a scrapbook page
  • Listen to some music that will offer comfort and hope

If you have not experienced the loss of a baby yourself, but know someone close who has, you may be wondering how you can acknowledge that woman on Mother’s Day.  Here are some ideas:

  • Recognize that they are a mother:  Offer a hug and a “Happy Mother’s Day”.
  • Acknowledge that even if the mother has other living children, she may still be missing the one who’s not with her to celebrate Mother’s Day.
  • Send a card to let them know you remember they are a mother even though their child is not with them physically.
  • Acknowledge they have had a loss by saying, “I know this might be a difficult day for you. I want you to know that I am thinking about you.”
  • Use their child’s name in conversation.
  • Plant a living memorial, like a tree or flower in memory of their baby.
  • Light a candle and let the mother know you will light a candle in memory of their child on Mother’s Day.
  • Share a memory or pictures of the child.
  • Send a gift of remembrance:  Suggestions include an angel statue, jewelry, a picture frame, a library book or toy donation in the child’s name or anything personalized.
  • Don’t try to minimize the loss: Avoid using any clichés that attempt to explain the death of a child. (“God needed another angel.”) Secondly, don’t try to find anything positive about the loss (“You still have two healthy children”).
  • Encourage self-care by encouraging the mother to take care of herself. Give her a gift certificate to a day spa or any place where she can be pampered.

You Knit Me Together in My Mother’s Womb ~ Psalm 139:13

By Dawn Siegrist Waltman. taken from her book, A Rose in Heaven

Mother’s Day.  A day of so many mixed emotions.  A day that takes so much effort to hang onto the hope of heaven, lest I become swallowed in the emptiness of the present.  The emptiness of the day is so consuming I can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere!  Women with newborns in their arms on TV, pictured in store flyers, strolling into church-everywhere!  And whose arms are aching and empty?  Mine.  I should have been one of those women, with an infant in my arms today.  Somehow though, I feel as if the reality of having a baby slipped right through my arms, almost like a vapor.  One day she was a part of me, the next day she was gone.  I want to cuddle that little life, but there is nothing, absolutely nothing to cuddle.  There is a feeling of desperateness in my heart, but it is at this point that I realize I must focus on what I do have.  And I do have something! I may not be strolling into church or appearing in a family picture with a newborn in my arms, but, nevertheless, I do have a child.  I am a mother. The moment conception took place, I was blessed with the gift of a child and the title, “Mommy.”  As Psalm 139 clearly states: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  I am a mother of a “little rose in heaven”, and nothing-absolutely nothing will change that. And although I don’t have “my little rose” in my arms today, I do have the comfort of knowing that a glorious day is coming when I will meet her and together as a family, we will spend eternity with Jesus.”

Dear Friend, This is one of the hardest days to face with empty arms and an aching heart. It is normal to feel overwhelming grief and sorrow on Mother’s Day. My prayer, though, is that you will not become swallowed in emptiness to the extent that you miss the hope of spending eternity with your child and the honor of being a Mother today

March Work Day

Saturday we had over 30 people come to our house to help assemble the donations for this month. We were so touched at all of the family, friends, and Mikayla’s Grace supporters who came to help assemble these donations. So many of the individuals who came to help out are fellow bereaved parents who are happy to help and do something in memory of their babies as well. We feel so fortunate to have met so many amazing people that are honored to help us carry out our mission to help these other families in our community. The mission of Mikayla’s Grace, and all that we have accomplished this year, would simply not be possible without the help of all these people. Here is a video from WKOW from that day.

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

We put together 75 angel memory boxes and 60 NICU care packages which is our biggest donation yet. There were also around 70 gowns with matching hats and booties and 65 baby blankets donated as well.

Something new we are doing this year is donating sibling teddy bears to St. Mary’s that will be given to siblings of the NICU babies. Often these children cannot visit the NICU so this gives them something to cuddle and play with while they wait for their baby sister or brother to come home, which for many of these babies can be several months. We also donated books especially for the NICU siblings as well.

We were also fortunate to have some money left over from the Pepsi Refresh Project grant money to purchase several sets of The Zaky, a positioner specifically designed for NICU babies to help the baby feel like they are being held in their isolette and to help with their healing process.

One addition to the Angel Memory boxes for this donation includes a brochure created by the Mother’s Milk Alliance.  This organization is run locally in Madison and supports women who want to donate breast milk and those who need this precious breastmilk for their babies.  The pamphlet is geared specifically towards bereaved mothers who may wish to donate their breastmilk, and I think it’s such an important resource for families to have if they desire to do this.  It was put together by a fellow babyloss momma, Traci, who donated her breast milk after the death of her daughter Leticia several years ago.

We also added these tins for the lock of hair keepsakes for each memory box.  We’ve always included keepsake cards with a small ziploc type envelope for the lock of hair but this allows parents to open the  tin easier than the bags do.  We still include both, so that parents can choose which they’d prefer or  use both if baby has lots of hair.

There were several local babyloss families that donated special items in memory of their angels. Dannah Kilborn donated 30 of these “Always remembered, always in our hearts” ornaments in memory of her daughter Emily. Jesse and Stefanie Spohn made these healing bracelets especially for other bereaved parents in memory of their son Jameson.

We will be making the donation to St. Mary’s Hospital this Friday. It is our third donation to this hospital and over the course of the last 9 months we have managed to supply a year’s supply of these donations needed for the number of babies that need these services for memory boxes or NICU care packages to babies <30 weeks.

We will be making our first donation to Meriter Hospital next Friday. They will receive 50 angel memory bags, which is almost a year supply for the number of infant losses seen at this hospital. Meriter already has very nice boxes, so we donate items that they do not include in their current memory boxes. These additional items include our pamphlets “What we wish someone would have told us before leaving the hospital: Advice from bereaved parents for spending last moments with your baby” and “Advice on making Burial or Cremation arrangements”, Strong and Tender Father’s grief booklet, Journal, Little Footprints Memory book, 3 D Casting kit for baby’s feet and hands, Baby Record keepsake, and our Resource envelope. Meriter will also be receiving 30 NICU care packages.

October Update

On October 7th we donated 20 NICU care packages, 20 angel memory boxes, 26 baby blankets, 19 burial gowns, 24 preemie clothes, and a book for the NICU library to St. Mary’s Hospital.  This was our second donation to the hospital, and makes our total donations to St. Mary’s 32 angel memory boxes, 40 NICU care packages, 67 books, 50 baby blankets, 24 preemie clothes and 47 gowns with matching booties and hats!  When we started Mikayla’s Grace we never imagined the impact we’d be able to have on this community of parents.

Sept_work_day_and_Oct_7_donation

October 15th marked the first event, The Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day, in the Madison area to honorthe official day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance.  Mikayla’s Grace was honored to be part of this event to support all families who have experienced the loss of their child(ren) through pregnancy, stillbirth, or in early infancy along with families and friends of those parents. There were over 150 people at the event and another 15 famiies that chose to “Walk in Spirit.”  The Forever in Our Hearts Remembrance Day was the inspiration of Alissa Paulson-Cedars in memory of her daughter Kennedy Kate that who died in October 2009.  You can read more about how Alissa and I met and started working on this event here.  It was a chilly, and very windy, fall day but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day to honor the brief lives of our children.  Please see below for all of the names read at the event that day.  It is always heartbreaking to know that so many families have been touched by the loss of a child, but we are so thankful that no one has to feel alone in this type of loss.  The event kicked off with an inspirational speaker, Linda Colletti who is a fellow babyloss mom, beautiful music by Terry and Jessica Helgestad, followed by reading of the babies names, a memorial walk around the park, and a dove release and bubbles to heaven.  You can see more pictures here and here on our Facebook page.   We raised close to $1500 the day of the event from the silent auction that will go to help more families in local hospitals and towards next year’s event.  We have already set a tenative date for Saturday, October 13th, 2012.  We will be looking for help in planning the event next year and if you are interested please email mikaylasgrace@gmail.com.

On October 21st, we got the official word that Mikayla’s Grace is the recipient of a  $5000 Pepsi Refresh Grant.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who helped vote for us, without the votes of our supporters we wouldn’t have had this opportunity.  The last week of voting we received hundreds of power votes from a Girl Scout troop in New York who found Pepsi power vote caps while collecting recycling at their local ball parks.  They went to the website and chose a project to give all the votes to.  With the help of these girls and all of our supporters we finished #6 in our category.  We should receive the first disbursement of the grant money in November and will be using this to provide another 60 angel memory boxes and 40-60 NICU care packages.  Our first goal is to expand our donations to Meriter Hospital and we have a meeting set up with them in November to determne their needs.   We are hoping to take a few months off for the holidays and host a HUGE work day in the spring and then make the donations to both St. Mary’s and Meriter Hospital by May.    The grant money has be be completely used by July of 2012, so we  are going to be looking for some volunteers to help us complete this project.  If you are able to help us plan the spring work day and organize the donations we would GREATLY appreciate your help.  If you are interested, email me at mikaylasgrace@gmail.com and we can discuss details.

FIOH5

If you are still looking for something fun to do with your kids to celebrate Halloween this weekend, this Spooktacular Harvest Party is a free event hosted by Danielle Bradley of First Moments Photography.  Danielle was Mikayla’s photographer for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and does so much to help bereaved parents in our community by being one of the NILMDTS area coordinators.  The event sounds like a TON of fun and for a donation to Mikayla’s Grace you’ll get a digital image of your child(ren) all dressed up in their costumes!

There is a way that everyone can support bereaved parents by signing this petition to support the Parental Bereavement Act of 2011 (S 1358). This amendment to the FMLA will expand coverage and existing benefits to employees that have experienced the death of a child.  Currently parents are not covered for FMLA leave for the death of a child, which is one of the worst experiences that anyone can endure. I find it unacceptable that the death of a child is not included as a protected reason to qualify for the benefits that are set forth in the Family Medical Leave Act and I hope that you will take a moment to sign this petition to make the necessary modifications to FMLA benefits.