Remembering the Spark of Life: Today is Worldwide Candle Lighting

Remembering the Spark of Life: Today is Worldwide Candle Lighting

Please join me today in Worldwide Candle Lighting at 7pm. Whether a child dies in an early miscarriage or as an adult, their life was and continues to be tremendously precious. Light your candle for one hour and celebrate the life of your son or daughter, brother or sister, or grandchild. There are too few opportunities where we may slow down in our busy lives. This is one of those rare times and I encourage you to be mindful of your thoughts, feelings and body as you take an hour to reflect. Take a deep breath and cry if you need to or share stories and laugh. One of the most important aspects to grief and healing is that the process is as unique as every individual. Celebrate in the way that you feel comfortable.   Here are some quotes to guide you as you...

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Save the Date: Worldwide Candle Lighting on December 14

Save the Date: Worldwide Candle Lighting on December 14

In less than a week, The Compassionate Friends host Worldwide Candling Lighting. The heart of the event: “Light a candle for all children who have died… that their light may always shine.” The Worldwide Candle Lighting will take place Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 7pm creating a wave of light around the globe. The Compassionate Friends is an organization that supports families after the death of a child at any age. I attended their National Conference this past summer and it proved to be a very kind and thoughtful community. The organization encourages bereaved families to light a candle for one hour to “honor the memories of the sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who left too soon.” To learn more about Worldwide Candling Lighting, please click...

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Bereavement Documentaries

Bereavement Documentaries

The Resource section of Wanted Chosen Planned is now updated with a section called Documentaries. There is tremendously important studies and research being done on stillbirth, SIDS, early infant loss, the effect of a sibling death and many other topics. I discovered this great site with documentaries based on this research and I hope you find it useful. Click here to visit the Wanted Chosen Planned Resources.   Happy Friday everyone! Hugs & love   ...

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When a Child Dies Please Remember: Siblings Grieve Too

When a Child Dies Please Remember: Siblings Grieve Too

I recently viewed a documentary out of Toronto presented by researcher Christine Jonas-Simpson called, “Always with Me: Understanding Bereaved Children Whose Baby Sibling Died.” This video, and the presentation given by Simpson, blew me away. I began to think about my children’s response to Zachary’s death in a new way. It may sound silly, but I never really imagined my young kids, five and two-years-old, to have their own grief. I always thought that they were sad because I was sad, or that they talked about Zachary because I did. What I realized while watching the research-based documentary: Kids have their own grief that is separate and unique from their parents. Different children will respond in different ways to the loss. It is good and healthy to talk to...

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Grief Triggers (Warning: Sensitive Images for Bereaved Parents)

Grief Triggers (Warning: Sensitive Images for Bereaved Parents)

Triggers can be anything that make you think about your loss, struggle and grief. I have had all kinds of triggers since Zachary died and I can guess that many others have experienced these as well: The expiration date on food. The sound of your baby’s name. The hospital. The route to the hospital. Anniversaries. Babies in general. While triggers can cause our emotions to flare, I try to think about my child in those moments. In that way, triggers can be a lovely opportunity for remembrance. The challenge is when these triggers startle us so badly that we cannot cope in the moment. In those cases, the best plan is to remove ourselves from those situations and find a safe place to sit and take a few long, calming breaths. I had an over-the-top trigger experience...

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Finding Inspiration in Baby Loss Nurses and Community

Finding Inspiration in Baby Loss Nurses and Community

Early this November, nurses, chaplains, support workers, bereaved parents and many others gathered to participate in The 19 Biennial International Perinatal Bereavement Conference in San Antonio Texas. It was my first time attending the conference and I was immediately blown away by the compassion AND passion of those that support parents and families before and after their baby dies. I got to know many nurses local to my area that work at the Grey Nuns, Misericordia Hospital, Sturgeon Hospital and The Royal Alex. It was also lovely connecting with nurses and support workers from all over the world; from New York, Seattle, California and as far as New Zealand. I presented Healing through the Written Word and was honoured that additional chairs were needed at the...

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Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day, Remembering my Baby Zachary

Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day, Remembering my Baby Zachary

Today, October 15, is Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day. It is a time to share stories and find support. An even greater level of awareness is needed I believe around miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, early infant loss and all other types of losses. Why? Because these deaths are shockingly common, yet are not discussed openly to the same proportion. I still remember when Zachary died; I thought, “What has happened to me? I am all alone in this; flawed and outcast from motherhood.” I do not wish anyone else to feel that way – it was devastating and raw, as if my insides had been grated and my soul drowned in blackness. I attended a conference in September, a congress on baby loss and bereavement, and there met a host of doctors from around the world that are...

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Baby Steps Memorial Walk 2014 – Photos and Speech

Baby Steps Memorial Walk 2014 – Photos and Speech

This past weekend was a special time for many families as they gathered to celebrate the little babies they miss and love so much. The event was the 2014 Baby Steps Baby Loss Memorial Walk. I was honoured to be a part of it. Here are some of the highlights of the Walk in photographs – and also a video of my speech. There were lots of little kids present so the video is quite noisy, but I’m glad all those little munchkins were there! Just a little reminder, coming up next week is the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day celebrated on October 15 every year. I have been partnering with Canadian magazine Today’s Parent to discuss loss and on the 15th we will be opening up this discussion. Today’s Parent will be launching some interesting articles and features....

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Losing Control, Finding Control

Losing Control, Finding Control

Today I am speaking at the second annual Baby Steps Memorial Walk. It is very special to gather together within a supportive community to celebrate our dearly loved children.   My speech is about the idea of control – losing it and finding it. Here are some thoughts I will be sharing: “After my son Zachary died four years ago this month, the loss of control I experienced was all encompassing and one of the most debilitating aspects of my grief that held me in a state of sadness for so long. Have you experienced this as well?”   “The loss of control can be scary; it puts us in a position of surrender and vulnerability. Giving up control forces us to accept the mysterious parts of life that will alter our course – without our...

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Why I am Passionate about Breaking the Taboo around Loss

Why I am Passionate about Breaking the Taboo around Loss

Right now I am in Amsterdam presenting at The 2014 International Conference on Stillbirth, SIDS and Baby Survival. My topic: Healing through the Creative Arts. I feel wildly shy presenting to international medical professionals, but I hope my workshop will be a spark of insight for the professional practice of these individuals that interact with heart wrenching loss of young lives on a daily basis. I will be discussing ways that both visual and literary arts can help a bereaved person heal after tragedy. I was asked the other day if it is challenging to speak at conferences and constantly retell Zachary’s story. Yes and no. Yes, it is wearying some days to always put myself back in a vulnerable place of pain. At the same time, I love talking about my baby that...

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Talking to Kids about Death

Talking to Kids about Death

When Zachary died, Hannah was eleven months old. She came to the hospital after her younger brother died in my arms. She was very curious and touched Zachary’s head. She was all smiles despite the sniffles and tears in the room. She didn’t understand what had happened then, but she does now – I think. I have had many discussions with Hannah about where her first little brother went. She calls him Zachy. While I sometimes stretch the truth with Hannah, telling her things like she will go to kid jail if she is mean, I somehow felt compelled to tell her the truth about Zachary. I told her that Zachary died. I told her that Mommy and Daddy were very sad – although she must have sensed this. I tried very hard to be happy for her, but she would rest her hand on my...

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Autumn Baby Loss Memorial Events

Autumn Baby Loss Memorial Events

Why attend a memorial event? You can remember and celebrate your child. You can be vulnerable and open with your emotions in a non-judgemental environment. You can find community in the presence of others who have also lost a child. You can create mementos and keepsakes. You can find support and resources to help you along the journey of grief.   For a list of baby walks and events, please visit the Resources page.     Here are a few updates of memorial events for my home city of Edmonton:   Walk to Remember, Edmonton This event is not happening in 2014. It is unclear from the website if this is a one-year hiatus or if the event has concluded permanently.   Baby Steps Memorial Walk Also, find Baby Steps on Facebook. Date: Saturday,...

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A Miscarriage and Baby Loss Campaign by Today’s Parent Magazine

A Miscarriage and Baby Loss Campaign by Today’s Parent Magazine

I was in Toronto this week to be interviewed by the lovely ladies at Today’s Parent Magazine. They are releasing a hugely important campaign to support those who have experienced the death of a child. I commend Today’s Parent for tackling this challenging and taboo subject – and also for giving me the opportunity to share Zachary’s story. I am passionate about dispelling the silence and loneliness around this type of loss with the goal of connecting people, both men and women, in a caring and compassionate community. As I often do when I retell my family’s story, I cried and smeared my make-up during the interview. I still get choked up every now and then, even after almost four years, but I’m okay with my emotions these days. I accept them as a beautiful part of...

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Healing Through Visual Art at The Compassionate Friends Conference

Healing Through Visual Art at The Compassionate Friends Conference

I am passionate about art and I am passionate about my family. It was an honour to bring those two loves together when I presented Healing through Visual Art a month ago at The Compassionate Friends of America National Conference in Chicago, Illinois. I started my workshop by sharing about Zachary’s life, his death, and how I discovered creativity as a way to pull myself out of the pit of grief. The conference saw thousands of bereaved parents, and some siblings too, gather together to remember, learn and share. Standing in front of nearly forty attendees of my workshop, I was honoured to open up about my experience and show my artwork made in the darkest periods of my mourning. I presented many techniques and examples of how to use art for self-expression and...

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Loving Deeply means Grieving Deeply

Loving Deeply means Grieving Deeply

I was at The Compassionate Friends of America National Conference to be a speaker. I was not there for myself, or at least that’s what I thought. My husband Aaron and I arrived the day before the conference officially began and registered with a friendly lady who gave us the program and lanyards. All of a sudden I couldn’t see. The woman was blurry in front of me. I blinked long and hard. Aaron looked at me, “Are you alright?” “Fine, I’m fine,” I said but my voice caught in my throat… The opening ceremony was the next morning. “What’s wrong with me?” I asked Aaron. All of a sudden my eyes started leaking again. This time my chest heaved as I tried to muffle my weeping. “This is so embarrassing,” I said, but as I looked around I saw that no one cared and actually...

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Grieving Children of All Ages: Reflections on the Walk to Remember, Chicago

Grieving Children of All Ages: Reflections on the Walk to Remember, Chicago

My husband Aaron and I recently attended a Walk to Remember in Chicago as a part of The Compassionate Friends of America National Conference. (I will write more about the conference and the workshop I presented, Healing through Visual Art, in upcoming blog posts.) Something different about The Compassionate Friends, their conference and Walk from what I have previously experienced is their focus on the loss of children – and siblings – of all ages. Sometimes I get very stuck in my own experience of losing a baby that I don’t always reflect on the parents who lose an older or even adult child. I do frequently think about my living children and fear for their safety, but to be honest up until this conference I had not contemplated at length all the grieving...

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Healing Workshops, Update

Healing Workshops, Update

I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting “Healing through the Written Word” and “Healing through Visual Art” at The 2014 International Conference on Stillbirth, SIDS and Baby Survival. Here is the conference information: Date: September 18 – 21, 2014 Location: Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) Amsterdam, The Netherlands To register, click here.   To see other conferences where I will be speaking, please visit Public Speaking & Teaching on Wanted Chosen Planned. If you or your organization would like to arrange a workshop or presentation, please email info@alexismariechute.com or phone 780-499-4311. Media bookings can also be made with Gal Friday Publicity at rachel@gal-fridaypublicity.com or by calling 604-366-7846.  ...

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Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts

I received a lovely email the other day from my mother-in-law. This is what she said: Hi Alexis Marie,   I was out in my garden today, and the tulip I planted in Zachary’s honor after ‘Walk To Remember’ a couple years ago is in full bloom. But this year it is coming up with a shrub I had planted last year and it is in bloom at the same time. The name of the shrub – Bleeding Heart. Very special to me, and I know it would be to you as well.   Love, Mom The bleeding heart. What a perfect picture of the grieving parent. For a long time I felt the jagged edges of what I could only describe as a broken heart but recently I was reading a book that used other symbolism to represent parental bereavement. Such symbols included a tea pot and a cracked nut, both able to...

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Living with an Open Hand

Living with an Open Hand

This is the speech I gave last weekend at the May Memorial, Remembering Our Losses. I hope it will be an encouragement.   OPEN HAND   Of all the many lessons I’ve learned in my life, there is one in particular that stands out.   The lesson: live with an open hand.   Living with an open hand is like holding a butterfly. It means not squeezing too tightly to what we want, to what we love; otherwise it may be crushed between our fingers. Instead, we can open our hands and let that which we desire stay however long it wishes. If it goes, it may return if we remain open, but there is also the chance it will not come back. Living openly like this means being grateful for what we have for however long we have it.   In happy times, this lesson...

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Remembering our Losses, May Memorial in Edmonton

Remembering our Losses, May Memorial in Edmonton

If you are looking for a place to celebrate your child in the presence of others who share your experience, there is a lovely Edmonton event called, “Remembering Our Losses.” I will be speaking at this event and reflecting on living with an “Open hand.”  Put on by Alberta Health Services & Covenant Health Pregnancy & Infant Loss Program, this event takes place on Sunday, May 25 at 1:00 pm at Connelly-McKinley Funeral Homes. There will be a graveside ceremony following the memorial. Click the image above to see a larger version. If you attend this event, please find me and say hello. I’d like to meet you. I believe we are stronger together.  If you have a baby loss event that you would like me to share, please...

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