Lindsay shares with us on this advice episode what NOT to say to a parent who has experienced a loss, doing the little things like including her daughter Sadie means the world to her, and how you can become bitter or you can can become better after such tragedy.
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This is Still A Part of Us, a podcast where moms and dads share the story of their child who was stillborn or who died in infancy. I’m Winter Redd and in this episode of Advice and Encouragement from a Loss Mom, I’m chatting with Lindsay, whose daughter Sadie was stillborn at 32 weeks due to a cord accident.
By the way you can hear Sadie’s birth story from Lindsay’s point of view on episode 12. And later in the month, we’re going to have Matt’s, her husband’s interviews on episodes 14 and 15. Today, we discussed with Lindsay how doing the little thing means the world to her as a loss parent, and what not to say to a parent who has experienced a loss, and “you can become bitter or you can become better”.
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. Hope this helps someone out there.
1,734 days ago we learned that she was gone.
And what has the grieving process been like for you since then?
A lot of people describe it as like waves coming with different frequency. And I, I’d say that’s pretty accurate. Sometimes it just like comes over you like, like you didn’t expect it. It just comes. I actually haven’t couple of experiences with actual waves, where I wasn’t expecting to be pounded.
Yeah. Why time was actually the sea, I think it was April, after Sadie had been born, we went to the Holy Land. And we were swimming in the Dead Sea in a very windy part, or a windy day. And I got pounded by a wave. And the Dead Sea, you know is super salty. So I was burning everywhere. Like my ears, eyes, nose, throat–itwas horrible. So yeah, that’s kind of grief is like floating along and then all of a sudden, you get pounded and then it just hurts. And it feels like there weren’t 1,734 days since then it was yesterday. I could just feel like it’s right now.
It’s really, still very fresh, sounds like?
It can be and I think going through and remembering and reading through journal entries and going through all of that, again, helps it feel more fresh. And actually, that’s not a bad thing. It feels good because it feels like I’m closer to the time when she was with us. But at the same time. I was talking to Matt the other day about this how, I feel like the more time goes on, the further I get from her. But it’s not true. Because the more time goes on the closer I get to seeing her again.
So it’s just a little bit–
just a perspective thing.
Just as switching, reframing reframing that. I like that a lot. What do you–so you read, it sounds like you read a lot of your any journal entries any things that will help you remember her. What what other things do you do to kind of celebrate her or think about her?
So whenever we take family pictures, we always bring her Bunny, which isn’t the bunny that was made for her, but it’s a replica of that bunny buried with her. So that Bunny is really special–it’s under a glass case to keep it safe. So we take our little Sadie bunny with us when we take family pictures, and her grave has her handprints in it. So whenever we go there, it’s fun to compare our kids handprints that are growing–
Oh, that’s so cool. So I do want to say something about this. When we were deciding on our, the headstone for Brannan our son, I remember you said something about that and that– We were really having a hard time figuring out what we were going to do. And then I, we sent in the things that were like, Okay, we’re going to do this to the stone guys, right. And I went to sleep, took a nap. And then all of a sudden I was like I woke straight up. I was like, No, this is not it. I have to put handprints on because I remembered what you guys had told me. And that is something–not handprints. We ended up to feet prints, his little feet prints on there, because that is, I don’t know, that’s super special to us. That was–so thank you for sharing that when we had our, when we had our last last year, so…
We actually had to edit our original submission to the company as well, because a friend of mine shared with me that she had done that for her little girl Roan. And so I was like, I love that idea. And then I emailed them, I was like can we fit her handprint on and I actually had to go and like scan it and like put a ruler next to it, because I wanted it to be the exact same size.
You want to be scale. So that’s great. Well, thank you to your other friend. Yeah. Thanks to your other friend then that gave you that little bit of inspiration. Is there anything that you have done specifically to try and heal or to process this?
Yeah, we had a counselor meet with us regularly. And that was over Skype. Would have been awesome to meet her in person and do the sessions in person. We did get to meet her finally. Oh, great. And after, it was after Ruby was born. So we were in the same stake in our church. She lived in another country. And she happened to be at Stake Conference. Oh, and I saw her and we sat by her and she was like, Just you know, my husband doesn’t know anything about you or who you are, so I’m just gonna say these are my friends. It was great. We got to spend some time with her. Afterward, we went to someone’s house and had, we ate with her. And she got to like be with Ruby. And she had counseled us through that pregnancy after losing Sadie. And she was like, It’s just amazing to be with you and to meet Ruby, and feels like kind of a happy ending, even though it’s not. You never ever, ever forget your child who’s gone. But we are happy.
Yeah. Good. I want to just reiterate how I’m, I’m so behind counseling that is so, so, so helpful. And if you haven’t listened to Lindsay’s story, her birth story, just as a point of reference that she–they were not living in the United States, they were actually living in the UAE. And so they basically what she’s saying is that they weren’t able to, you had a counselor, but it wasn’t anybody that was in the country. So that’s why I had to do it by Skype, which is great. Thank goodness for technology at this time in our lives. So were you able to talk to…did you have any close friends or anything that you talked to, any grief support groups also? Or was it just mainly counseling that really kind of helped you through some things?
Well, actually, a couple of months later, I finally was able to reach out. I didn’t, I didn’t really want to be connected to anyone else who had lost a child, because I felt like no one else knew what I was going through, no matter what they like, how similar the experience. We all have our own experience. And I felt like the only one who can know what I feel is, is the Savior. But I did, I don’t remember how I found someone’s blog, and her daughter had passed away six days or about a week…she was born was like the same time frame. So we were at the same time since our loss. And I was reading, I read her blog and got to know her. And I commented on her posts, and we became friends. And she and I, I really was benefited by reading what she wrote. She was raw. She was really like, true. Like she talked about things that people did and said, she called people out. And it was just like, it was real. And at some point, I felt like I needed my own process, because we did have different like experiences and different beliefs. And I felt like in a way, I needed to like have my own experience too. So I kind of went a little bit back and forth on whether I wanted to be in a support group or not. I still love her and all the experiences that we’ve been able to share with each other.
And I’ve been a part of some, of some Facebook groups that helped a lot through my pregnancy with Ruby. And then I met someone else who had just lost her son. And I was on one of those groups. And I started like talking to her. And then she started a separate group. We were both pregnant. With her, it was her first rainbow baby and my second. We were pregnant with him at the same time. She found no way earlier than me. But we were due the same day. Yeah. So and he was born, I think a week or two before James. And so I went through that pregnancy with her support and other people in that group. And that was a really, that was a really positive group. Everyone was just really, really encouraging. And when I was in labor, I like let them know. And they were like, sending gifs, like, so excited. Everybody, like so many people were just like, Yay, we’re so excited. Give us updates. And it was it was a really positive experience to have that community.
I didn’t have the same community experience when I was pregnant with Ruby. It was a bigger group. It was the PALS, the pregnancy after loss supportand it was a little less personal, because it was such a huge group. This other one had more like 100 people and maybe 20 that were super active. And we’re all do at the same time. And we’re all really like help support each other. And I’m not so active in there as I was. Sometimes I find like, it’s, it’s a little bit hard for me to do that. Because I don’t know, I have so many friends. And now I’m like, I want to remember everyone’s special days and I just can’t anymore. I’ll be like, Oh, August is a terrible month. Who is that for? September’s the worst month for someone. And October sucks. And November sucks. And then it’s like every month sucks.
Every month sucks. Yeah, cuz there’s, there’s so much loss, we just don’t know.
So it kind of, it becomes a little bit overwhelming. And I think I can barely handle my own, let alone 50 or 100 or 200 people. So I kind of just have to be okay with not always remembering someone’s birthday, or someone’s… And I feel really bad about that. But I also, in other parts of my life, I have a couple of friends that I’m really close with, and I told them I was like, I think I can really only be friends with like one or two people and be a really good friend. I want to I want to know, your birthday and your anniversary, and I want to remember it. I want to remember your kids’ birthdays. I don’t want a Facebook reminder. I said you guys are the friends I chose to be like the ones I remember anniversaries and birthdays without help. And they’re the ones that I talk to you about everything. And so I’ve kind of stepped back from like Facebook and social media, cuz I want a quality relationship. I have, I don’t even know how many Facebook friends, it was over 1500 at a point, that I was just like, wishing everyone happy birthday every year. And that was the only time I ever talk to them.
Yeah, I mean, I love everyone. And I want everyone to have like, a happy birthday or whatever, you know. Like, I just, I just can’t be the one to do that for everybody. And I am okay with that.
Yeah, I like that you are aware that you don’t have to be that for everyone. That’s some good realization. You don’t have to say yes to all the things, all the people,
Right. And I really, I was thinking about that with Ruby, cuz she is so good at making friends. And then I was just kind of thinking, we don’t need to be friends with like 50 people. We can have a couple of really good friends that we really have quality relationship with. And so that’s kind of what we’re doing is focusing on a few people. And it’s not because we don’t love the people that we’re not spending a lot of time with. We do. It’s just, if we tried to spend time with everyone, everyone would feel kind of neglected by us.
Yeah, you can just basically do the surface level, hey!
Yeah. And I don’t want that. I want to have good, good friendship.
I like that you’re cultivating that with Ruby. And that’s pretty great. I don’t necessarily want you to call anybody out by name, but I’m actually wondering if–was there something that you would recommend that somebody shouldn’t say to someone that has experienced a loss like you have?
“I’ll see you again at the hospital in 9 months.”
If you don’t know that story, go to her Lindsay’s account of the birth story. That was, yeah…that was not great.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because I had a friend asked me what she should or shouldn’t say to a friend who had passed away or her husband had passed away. She wasn’t sure what to say. And for me, I really feel like the stuff that we can say to ourselves, to make ourselves feel better. Like I say a lot of things to myself, that makes me feel better that I would never say to anyone else. Because it has to come from me. It cannot come from anyone else. And it’s more, it’s more along the lines of belief in things.
So I find a lot of comfort, knowing that Sadie is happy, that she can be with us anytime she wants, that we will see her again, I will get to raise her and see her grow up, just like I am with our other kids. I know that it was Heavenly Father’s will, and that he has a perfect plan for us and that he loves us more than we can even imagine. And that in the grand scheme of things this, this is small. And we’re going to get through this and we’re going to look back on it and see how much we grew from it. But I would never say any of those things to anyone else because it always feel so cliche. “Just have faith.” “Everything’s going to work out.” “They’re in a better place.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “It was God’s will.” “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh.” It’s all stuff that I heard, that didn’t help me because it came from someone else. Like it’s like, they’re just trying to force you to be okay. They’re trying to make it better.
And I think when someone’s going through a loss, anyone trying to make it better, is an insult. Because nobody can make it better. Jesus can make it better. God can make it better. But someone trying to remind you of that. It’s like, Okay, well, if I believe that great, but if I don’t, why are you trying to like, push that on me? And I do believe it, but I’m not going to– I will vary testimony. I will say what I believe but I won’t tell someone like you, Winter, you know it’s okay, because Brannan’s with Heavenly Father and Jesus. And it just doesn’t feel right to me to say that even though I know it’s true. But I’m not going to tell you that, because–I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe hearing that testimony is helpful to some people. It might be. Some people might need to hear that. They might need to have their testimony strengthened.
But for me hearing it from my doctor in the UAE, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh.” Like she was telling me, Get over it. Move on. And she told me I had a miscarriage. And I was like, Oh, I’m sorry that you had a miscarriage. I’m sure there’s really bad things about miscarriage. I’ve never had one. So this isn’t a miscarriage. So when people Yeah, when people say, Oh, man, I know what you went through. I had a miscarriage. I wanted to just be like, I didn’t have a miscarriage. I don’t know what you went through. And I won’t pretend to know. I’m sure there are things about a miscarriage that suck, because you like you don’t ever get to know the gender. You never got to hold your baby. You didn’t get any sort of idea what the baby was like. You didn’t get any time with the baby. For me, like, I don’t think a stillbirth is harder or less hard than losing a baby or losing an adult child or losing a pregnancy at five weeks. It’s not a comparison. But you can’t try to compare it and say I know what you went through. I had a miscarriage or five miscarriages. I don’t–I’m really sorry, that must suck–but I don’t know. I’m not gonna pretend to know what it’s like.
Other things that people would say maybe like, I’m so excited–when you’re pregnant again–I’m so excited. It’s gonna be so awesome. I can’t wait to meet this baby. And so don’t get excited. Don’t say congratulations, you’re going to have a baby. You can say congradulations, you got pregnant, and I’ll hope for the best.
So you have had two babies after Sadie. And I, this is the thing, the theme that I’ve seen with a couple of folks that we’ve talked to when it comes to pregnancy after a loss is, that it is fraught with fear and fraught with worry and fraught with so many things that sometimes you don’t think about unless you’ve had a loss. And so I, from what I’m gathering is, that just be very sensitive in those cases–
–with your excitement. Yeah, I know that sounds silly, because you want to be excited for them, right? I mean..
So yeah, I think it’s pretty basic. The principle is, don’t try to fix it. And just show love. Just show love. Don’t leave them, because you’re afraid of hurting them. Don’t unfriend them on Facebook, because you had a baby that lived and they didn’t. If they don’t want to see it, they can unfollow you, but don’t unfriend them. Because you’re afraid that seeing your baby might hurt them. And also, just like everybody goes through the process differently and some people, I don’t know, just let people do it the way they need to.
Yeah. Now on kind of the other hand, was there anything that you would recommend somebody saying in a loss, or anything that anybody said or anything that helped you?
It helps when people remember Sadie, when they remember her birthday, when they count her as one of my children. When my, when my mom counter is one of her grandchildren. When my great grandma has her picture of her feet, and her birthday and her name up with all of her great-grandchildren and grand children. Just mentioning, mentioning her name, remembering her. It’s amazing. I have one friend. She’s one of the friends that I’m trying to, like focus on a friendship and really build that relationship with, she’s so incredible. Her daughter is one day older than Ruby. And she is a miracle too. It’s a miracle that her daughter’s here. She went through a lot to get her. And so she’ll never say she understands what I went through. But we both went through really, really hard stuff to get our girls and they are just so sweet together.
We were waiting–or they were waiting for us. We were meeting to go up to the lake. And I said, Let’s just meet at the cemetery by Sadie’s grave, so that we can, I can park there. And it’s easy to like wait there rather than on the road. So she sent me a picture of her little girl laying on Sadie’s grave, just like loving on her. And they brought her a little Winnie the Pooh toy a couple months ago. So they visit. They visit Sadie’s grave, and they brought her a little toy. So when I got to the cemetery, I went over. She’s like, I want to show you something, I want to show you something. She showed me the bear. And I’m like, Yeah, I love it. And then she’s like putting her ear on there. And she’s like, I can’t hear her. I was like, Nope, can’t hear but she’s there, right? Well, her body is there. What’s she doing? Nothing right now. It was just cute. And they’re just, they just care. Like they just are thoughtful. Another family, when we had a tree for Christmas, I let people know if they wanted to visit, they could take a candy cane and leave an ornament if they want. And so a family we know, verybody and their family made ornaments and took them. They have, I think–let me count–five kids.
Oh, my goodness. That’s awesome.
Yeah. So they all took ornaments and decorated her little tree.
I’m just trying to think of other things that were helpful. I mean, for us, when we came back, when we got back to the country, our fridge was full of food. It was amazing. Yeah, just little things.
It’s not a lot for a lot of people but it means a world to someone that’s gone through this. So I’m curious, and I know that Lee is going to be talking with your husband, Matt, about this, but how has Matt handled the situation? How has he processed and have you guys processed this together as a couple?
One of the grief reasons sources we had suggested for manual labor to be a healthy outlet for that grief. And since we were home, we were able to have some opportunities that he wouldn’t have had back in the UAE to like shovel snow. And he like was able to get some physical labor. And he said that was so good for him. He felt so good to be able to work. And, you know, maybe it would have been a good thing for us to move home and like, really be able to process. He could have worked, would have been close to family. But it was also probably good for us to get back to life there and get back to what we had established as kind of our normal routine. But yeah.
Routine is very well, that’s super important we found. Any aha moments?
Yeah. So I realized that in trials, some people become bitter. And I didn’t want to become bitter. We can become bitter or we can become better. And it’s one letter. It’s a simple change.
I love that so much like, Oh, I got to think about that now.
So in anything we face. We knew a man who was living in the UAE and his wife passed away unexpectedly, left him. It’s like it’s just, that’s just not cool. But he was not bitter. Yeah, I think that’s the test in a trial is do you become better and turn towards God? Or do you become bitter and turn away from God?
Yeah. I love that. Thank you for sharing that.
I’ve also learned a lot about the spirit world. And I’ve studied it as much as I possibly can. So I don’t know if I have anything necessarily to share about it. But I know that it’s real. I’ve never seen anyone who’s passed away. I’ve wanted to for my whole life. I’ve wanted to, but I’ve never been able to see anyone. But I’ve had experiences where I knew that the person was there, like in a specific spot. I didn’t see them, but I knew they were there. When my brother passed away in an accident, my mom called and she said, They’re still doing CPR and trying to revive him. And I just was like, He’s right here. He’s okay. And he’s telling me, I’m okay. Everything’s okay. I’m okay. I was like, No, he’s not going to be…they’re not going to revive him. He’s, he’s gone. But he’s, he’s here. Like he’s here in Abu Dhabi with me right now. He always wanted to come visit us. Yeah, I can’t really think of anything else as far as aha moments.
Well do you have a last piece of advice that has helped you that might be able to help somebody else. Or anything you want to say about Sadie?
It’s okay to not be okay. And it’s also okay to be okay. It’s okay to be happy. But it’s okay to be sad and happy at the same time. I think “Inside Out” came out after she had died. And I was like, This is the best movie ever, because this is how I feel. I’m happy and sad. And that’s okay. You’re never going to be the same again. You can never go back. And that’s okay too.
Lindsay, thank you so much.
Thank you Winter.
This was delightful. And I’ve learned a lot, so thank you so, so much.
Many thanks to Lindsay for shedding some light on how grieving and mourning for her daughter has looked in the last few years since Sadie has passed away. This really was eye opening for me, because Lindsay was honest and raw and just very tender about her sweet Sadie. And I’m so grateful for the support that she’s been to me personally. So thank you, Lindsay, and thanks for coming on today.
Head over to our website StillAPartofUs.com where you can find the show notes including a full transcript of this interview and any resources that were mentioned, where you can sign up for our short and helpful email newsletter, where you can learn how you can become a patron and support the work it takes to produce a show for just a few dollars a month. And lastly, where you can find out how to get in touch with us if you want 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 JoshuaWoodward.com. Lastly, subscribe to this podcast and share it with a friend that might need it and tell them to subscribe. Why? Because people need to know that even though our babies are no longer with us, they’re still a part of this.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter. And those who matter don’t mind. Bernard Baruch