04: Jeff’s advice to choose to cry for Jeff Jr.

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Lee 0:10
This is Still A Part of Us, a podcast where moms and dads share the story of their children who are stillborn or who have died in infancy. I’m Lee Redd. In this episode of Advice and Encouragement from a Loss Dad, I chat with Jeff whose son was diagnosed with bilateral renal agenesis and passed away shortly after birth. By the way, you can hear both Jeff’s and his wife, Bre’s episode about the birth of their child on episode 1.1 and 1.3.

Today, we discuss with Jeff how planting a tree has really helped him. And also to say something if you are friends or family of a parent who has lost a child.

As a word of caution to our listeners, this discussion contains emotional triggers of stillbirth and infant loss. Please keep yourself emotionally and mentally healthy and seek help if needed. We hope this helps someone out there.

Winter 1:13
Hey guys, we felt like this podcast has been something we’ve needed to do since our son Brannan passed away. It takes time and money to produce the show. And we hope we can do it long term because we know it will help others.

Lee 1:23
If you feel the show has been beneficial to you or somebody you love. Please consider becoming a patron of the show for a few dollars a month. You do get the warm fuzzies of helping us and supporting the show. And there are some other pretty cool bonuses including our daughter telling stories. Go to our website, stillapartofus.com to get more details. Thanks.

Winter 1:44
This last year has been taxing on each of us and on our relationship as a couple. And we realized a few months after our son passed away that if we didn’t tend to it, we would get carried away in our grief and drift apart. So we actually made a commitment to each other that we wouldn’t neglect our relationship and we attended a Utah Date Night and had a night out, where we laughed. We had some entertainment. But we also learned from the best relationship experts out there.

Lee 2:06
And we’re excited that the Gottmans, Dr. John and Julie Gottman, the love experts, are speaking of the upcoming Utah Date Night.

Winter 2:12
It’s so exciting!

Lee 2:14
Join us, because we’re going to be there–

Winter 2:16
Yeah, we are!

Lee 2:17
Wednesday, September 18, in the evening from 6:30 to 9:30 at Cottonwood High School in Utah. It’s a special night and you’re going to be hearing from a couple people. First, I think from Dr. Laura Heck, who’s a certified Gottman therapist.

Winter 2:31
I really like her. I listened to a podcast that she does, so I’m excited for her too.

Lee 2:36
And also Dr. and Dr. Gottman. Dr. and Dr. Gottman–

Winter 2:40
The Gottmans will be there!

Lee 2:42
If you’re dating, if you’re engaged, if you’re newlywed, or if you’ve been married for a long time like Winter and I you can learn something from the Gottmans. They make relationships better and stronger, especially if you’re experiencing major loss like many of our listeners have.

Winter 2:57
So go to stillapartofus.com/utahdatenight for the link to sign up. If you use our link, this helps support the podcast and all we’re trying to do to help others. Tickets are $75 a couple, or $44 for a single ticket. And as a bonus from the Gottmans, they’re actually giving each couple a copy of their newest book “Eight Dates”. Once again, go to stillapartofus.com/Utahdatenight. And we hope to see you there.

Lee 3:20
See you there!

Jeff 3:21
My name is Jeff and I’m talking about my son, the loss of my son, little Jeff. And we had, you know, six hours with him before he passed.

And before he was born, and while he was alive, and then after he passed, we had planned certain things to do that we would be able to keep for us to, you know, have tokens to remember and, you know, special objects few of which are, you know, the feet, the feet prints. We bought a baby lotion to put on him that, you know, that would give a smell that we could, you know, have, and as weird as that sounds, it’s something you can, you know, a different sense to remember.

We wrote letters that we buried with him, but photocopied so that we can go back and read what we sent with him. And also add to in the future for our own personal records. And after, this isn’t necessarily a special object, but we planted a tree for little Jeff in our, in our front yard to watch, watch grow. And to you know, it’s a, it’s a maple tree, so it will probably get about 35, 40 feet high and 20 to 25 feet wide. And we’ll be able to, you know, hang out in the shade of little Jeff’s tree. It’s an Autumn Blaze maple tree, and it’s one of the names on it, and underneath Autumn Blaze is “Jeffers Red” and saw that in the, in the nursery, when we were picking out a tree to do this. And, and it was, you know, one of those things where it’s like, well, it’s the first tree you look at, and it said “Jeffers Red” and it wasn’t something I was about turned down. It was how was that was that was it. We went and grabbed it and got in line. That was, that was little Jeff’s tree. And it’s been cool to watch that grow over the past two months that we planted it.

Now he’s, he passed away about five months ago, maybe six, almost six. And just to have these little things to, you know, continue having him as a part of our daily routine or daily life has been very helpful for us. And in our grieving process and aftermath of everything, we don’t feel like we’re ever going to be completely, you know, whole from, from this, you know, from this experience, but we know that like, it gets–it doesn’t get easier, but it gets a little less hard, if that makes sense. Especially when you, you know, continue to make him a part of your daily life. And, you know, sometimes for me, I like to keep my mind busy. And you know, whether that’s, you know, yard work or doing some sort of project or I’d mentioned eBay, you know, listing something on eBay or something like that just, you know, keep, kind of get that, kind of give your mind a little bit of a break on to something else has been something that’s helped me. Obviously not, not forget, but to give your, give your mind a rest and to do something else, especially when–I don’t know. When I have downtime. It’s a lot. It’s it’s very easy for me to instantly go to, you know, you know, a sad, sad place of thought of being like, you know, I miss my son and life. Life is hard. And so, and I think that’s good. I think it’s, it’s, it’s good to do that. But for me, sometimes I need, I need to know that I can go there. And then, you know, I can choose to go there and not. Does that make sense?

So if I choose, you know, if I choose to cry, and I choose to go sit by his spot in the shade or, you know, at his grave, then I go and I cry. And I spend that time because we need that, we need that release. But there’s times where I can, you know, I can kind of flex a little bit and do something else, you know, keep my mind moving. And not let like that be a ruling factor on like, my mood or my day.

It actually is very helpful to talk about little Jeff. That’s for me, it’s very therapeutic. And it’s helpful when people ask questions. When they,you know, at first it was hard to, you know, someone asked you like, How many kids do you have? And I mean, of course they there are that they typically don’t know that you’ve gone through what you’ve gone through. But it is hard to see the look on their face when you say I have two kids–one’s two and a half and one just passed away in January. And they, you know, jaws hit the floor. And they immediately backpedal and say, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to– You just tell them like, I’m proud that, you know, little Jeff’s my son. So I mean, like, you asked and I answered your question truthfully. I’m not going to say I just have one kid because I have two. Just because one’s not with me doesn’t mean, doesn’t mean that I can’t count him as my child. So I think there’s, I mean, that’s something I feel like is one thing, maybe not to do is, in those scenarios for individuals that, you know, the ask how many kids do you have? And then are told, you know, one’s x, and then when passed away, and don’t backpedal and try to like, take away the question. Because for that person like me, it might be therapeutic to talk about him. I don’t want to, I don’t want to erase the conversation or where it could go, because it could be helpful to me. So that’s, that’s something not to do.

And something to do is to, as awkward as it is, I mean, I feel like, especially if you’re like really, really good friends or your family with the individual, even if it’s awkward, just say some, just say ANYTHING! It’s almost just it’s better to fight through an awkward moment than to not ever have any sort of moment. So if you know somebody’s going through it, you know, at least say something. There’s plenty of questions that you shouldn’t ask or shouldn’t like, pry into, into details, but just show effort into, you know, into showing, you know, showing that you care, you care for that individual and, and what what they’re going through. I think space, I think giving space sometimes hurts more than it, then it helps, especially from individuals that you know, are your really good friends or your, you know, close closer family.

Lee 11:31
I’d personally like to thank Jeff for coming on the podcast and discussing what grief and mourning has looked like for him. This has helped me personally talking about our children. And I know it will help other loss parents out there, and also help those who are supporting those parents.

Head over to the website, stillapartofus.com. And there you can find the show notes including a full transcript of this interview, and any resources that were mentioned. There you will also be able to sign up for our short and helpful email newsletter, and you could learn how you can become a patron and support the work that it takes to produce this show. And lastly, there you can find out how to get in touch with us if you would like to share your child’s story on the show.

The show was produced and edited by Winter and Lee Redd. Thanks to Josh Woodward for letting us use his song “Vanishing Note”. You can find him at JoshWoodward.com.

Subscribe to the podcast and share it with a friend that might need it and tell them to subscribe. Why would you do this? Because people need to know that even though our babies are no longer with us. They are still a part of us.

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