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Helping Mother's Hearts To Heal 2018

Posted 3/2/2018

Preparing for Mother's Day

The thing about Mother’s Day is it stirs up so many questions, triggers so much emotion and can leave us completely worn out by the time it comes around.

What I want you to know, with all my heart, is that you deserve to be honoured.

You have been through so much, you’re carrying your grief with such grace and dignity, even when it doesn’t feel like you are, You are!

You are a warrior Mother, your Mother's heart beats every single day even though it is broken. You deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.


Over the next few days I will be sharing ideas, thoughts, and things you might like to consider in the run up to March 11th, whether you are a bereaved Mother with aching arms, or one with a Mother’s heart but no child here on earth, or one who is waiting and striving for the child you long for, or one who has children here on earth but is still laying awake at night longing for your child who couldn’t stay.

We honour you and know the beautiful Mother love that lives on in your heart.

In our modern day society, Mothers who are grieving the death of their babies and children are often forgotten on traditional Mothers Day. 
Here in the UK the origins of Mothering Sunday grew out of the 16th century practice of annually visiting one's mother church, and being reunited with one's children on this day. However in 1907 in America, Anna Jarvis officially founded the traditional Mother's Day to honour her own Mother Ann who lost 7 of her babies! It was created in honour of a bereaved mother! Within just a few years, the deep emotions meant to be conveyed by Mother’s Day were submerged by superficial commercial interests that meant big profits for business, but ignored the feelings of grieving mothers.
Ann’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, began a lifelong fight against what she saw as a violation of her Mother’s intention for the Mother’s Day holiday. She recognized the deep irony. A day initially intended to recognize the pain of grieving Mothers had been hijacked to sell products. And now, it is precisely those bereaved Mothers, most deserving of a day of recognition, who are most likely to be cast aside by our superficial version of the holiday. 

It is time to get back to the original intent: a loving tribute to all mothers, but especially an opportunity to help those suffering a grievous loss of a precious loved one.
You deserve to be recoginsed and celebrated!
Stay with us beautiful Mother, over the following days my hope is that you will find ways to reclaim this Mother’s Day and find your place within it. 
Just because your baby died does not mean that you're not a Mother anymore. You are your baby’s Mother forever. We honour you, we celebrate you and we will hold your hand through this heart wrenching time, together we can navigate this!

You are not alone, you are loved, you love, and love never ever dies.

With grace and love, Val x x x


To friends and family – your loved one will be hurting this Mother’s Day, she may not show it, but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t . Please do something kind and thoughtful for her, acknowledge how hard this time is for her, show her you care. Whatever that looks like it will mean the world to her.

Dear Mother Heart, if I could be with you on Mother’s Day I would make you breakfast in bed, with a little jar of handpicked snowdrops on the tray. I would give you the biggest box of chocolates I could possibly find and the longest hug you could stand. I would write you a card and fill the envelope with little glittery stars and hearts. Because these are the things your child would do for you, and just because they aren’t here doesn’t mean you don’t deserve them. 
You deserve it all and so much more.
Not only for having empty arms on Mother’s Day, but for having to live with empty arms every day for the rest of your life. For watching your friends and family celebrate all their Mothers and motherhood, with a smile on your face. For getting up out of bed every morning, for showering and smiling and laughing and talking. For all of the times you want to rage at the world and disappear under the covers, but you don’t.
You deserve to be thanked for that. You deserve to be held up high and spoiled and cared for. Because you are Mother to a precious child and although they are not here in your arms this Mother’s Day, they are in your heart every day. Yours is a beautiful Mother’s heart even if you never got to have the child you longed for, or are still waiting, you deserve to be honoured.
I am eternally grateful that my husband makes me a card from Lily and gives me chocolates every Mother’s Day, he swears every year that they just appeared on our kitchen table and I love him for that. 
If your loss was very early, and maybe you’re the only one who knows about it, be your own best friend on Mother’s Day and buy yourself some beautiful flowers or chocolates, write yourself a heartfelt card telling yourself how brave and courageous you are, do one small thing to acknowledge the journey you’ve been on and how amazing you are. 
You are a superhero warrior Mother and I honour your journey and your amazingly beautiful Mother’s heart.
With grace and love, Val x x x




Depending on where you are with your grief & what’s happening in your life, you may be feeling like your days are just too much to cope with. You may still be struggling to understand what happened to your 'old' life, let alone how to get up & going in the morning. When grief is already intense & ever present, the feelings that come up around Mother's Day may not be very different from how you feel every moment of every day - you may or may not notice a change. If you have been grieving for some time, you might recognize that you are slipping back into feelings that remind you of grief's early days / months / years, & even if they are familiar their power can take you by surprise. Know that these feelings aren't permanent, but can be a sign to slow down & incorporate additional self care into your life wherever possible.
Think about what self care would look like for you… feel into it… let your quiet inner voice whisper what it needs.
A really good time to do this is in the morning just as you’re waking up, before you engage with the day, in that semi conscious state ask yourself “what would help me, what would serve me, what would help me to feel deeply loved & cared for this Mother’s Day?” Write down whatever comes to mind or heart, however big or small, then see if you can find a way to make it a reality for yourself. The most important thing to remember this Mother’s Day (& everyday) is to let yourself be whatever & however you need to be on the day. When trying to stay in the present moment can feel like an impossible task, just take it one hour, one minute, one breath at a time. Keep bringing yourself back to what would help me, what would serve me, & what would help me to feel loved and cared for.. in this moment what would that be? On Mother’s Day what would that be?
If there is something you would like to happen on Mother’s Day express it to those who need to know. They may be feeling as confused as you about whether to bring up the subject of Mother’s Day. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Give them permission to love you, see you, hear you, & to show up & be there for you, if that’s what you need.
But mostly show up for yourself, be there for yourself, acknowledge your Motherhood & your Mother heart, be kind to yourself, be gentle with yourself, show yourself compassion & be patient with yourself. It is just one day, one crazy, triggering, emotional, confusing day. 24 hours that can create so much turmoil in us, let us plan our safety net together one step at a time.
With grace & love, Val x x x



So today we will look at ways to befriend our grief and use what we find to help us acknowledge all the heroic aspects of ourselves that deserve honouring. 
It is in moving toward our grief that we can find healing and peace. Follow only what feels right for you, and please don't feel you have to do any of it, it may just be too much. This is simply me sharingwhat has helped me, take only what resonates with your own heart - if something doesn't feel right, notice that and sit with it until you are able to find something that does, even if that means getting up and doing something completely different - just simply and gently follow your heart.

The process can be as simple as taking a few moments to breathe deeply and slowly and acknowledge the depth of our grief. Allowing ourselves to fully feel our feelings, sometimes it helps to speak aloud our thoughts - no censoring, just give them flight into the universe. Go gently with this, let the tears flow, let what’s weighing heavily on your heart up, write it down, see what’s there. Lay out the fragments of your heart, every shattered part of your soul, every insensitive comment, every wish and longing, every sleepless night, every questioning ‘who am I now’, every breathless moment of immense pain, every moment of hope, every tender word of support, every precious memory, every shoulder to cry on, , every time we have realized we are not alone, and every time we have got up, again and again and kept going, every brave step, every courageous moment, each realization of the boundless love we hold in our hearts for our children.
Honour this truth, all of it, your broken heart, your courage, your beauty, your strength, your determination, your fragility, your openness, your wisdom, your grief, your journey, your dreams, and your immense love.
Now it’s time to write a compassionate letter to yourself, tell yourself all the things you are proud of, every courageous step, every brave release, every moment of strength, every honouring of your tears, every tiny fragment you have held together, all the love you feel, every decision you’ve made, every smile you’ve managed, every positive thought you’ve worked oh so hard to hold, every mountain you’ve climbed towards the light, every day you got up and washed and dressed and fed yourself, every phone call you answered, every door you opened, get every little thing you have done as a courageous Mother down on paper. 
I suggest you find a beautiful card and write yourself a tender message telling your self what an amazing mother you are, this you can then read on Mother’s Day, and you know it is what you most need to hear, written with love to yourself for Mother’s Day. Go gently, be patient, be compassionate towards yourself.
With love and compassion, Val x x x


We talk a lot in the baby loss community about strength, but today I want to talk about our resilience. 
Resilience - that ineffable quality that allows us to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting tragedy and trauma overcome us and drain our resolve, we find a way to rise from the ashes of our broken hearts and live a meaningful life without the child or children we are missing.
Resilience is something we bereaved parents practice every day, we practice acceptance of our reality, we practice unconditional acceptance of ourselves and others – yes with varying degrees of success, but practice we do!
We cultivate resilience by moving towards a goal, transcending pain and grief, and developing our own kind of mastery over our grief. Resilience isn’t about minimizing the depth of our pain and longing, but rather about emerging with our scars and wounds and moving forwards actively seeking creative ways to heal our broken hearts. We help each other to cultivate resilience, we lift each other up, we share our experiences, we care for each other, we celebrate each other’s heroic acts, we have hope, and faith, and perseverance.
Resilience involves maintaining flexibility and balance in our life as we navigate our grief. 
Letting ourselves experience strong emotions, and also realizing when we may need to avoid experiencing them at times in order to continue functioning.
Stepping forward and taking action to deal with our emotions and meet the demands of daily living, and also stepping back to rest and re-energize ourselves.
Spending time with loved ones to gain support and encouragement, and also nurturing ourselves.
Relying on others, and also relying on ourselves.
Yes we’ve all had our emotional resilience tested! Sometimes it feels like you just want to give up, I know, I’ve been there. 
Maybe the most beautiful way our resilience manifests itself is in our decision and mission to live a purposeful life in honour of our children, to live for them, to experience for them and to find meaning in our lives because of them. In early loss we learn to do one small thing each day that we can control. Later we learn how to move forwards in our new normal. When it felt like my whole future life and identity as Mummy to Lily was stripped from me I entered into a very long time of resilience, learning how to ‘do’ life without her, learning how to inhabit my ‘new normal’, learning new ways of seeing life, responding to life and embracing life.
You are an amazingly resilient and vibrant being, you deserve to be celebrated!
"What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"
“ what is one way you could honour yourself this Mother’s Day?”
With love and resilience, Val x x x

Especially if your loss was recent, or if this is your first Mother’s Day as a bereaved parent, you may think you can't get through this - but you can and you will. Or if like me you’re a few years out from your loss now but have no living children, the challenge for me is how to move through this time honouring myself as a Mother and the deep sorrow that’s reignited, the longing, the yearning, the ‘if only’, the anger, the fear. Call on the angel of courage, call on your child, ask for the courage to get through this or even embrace this!
Having courage enables us to look deeper into ourselves, to discover what will serve us best.
Spend some time thinking about what will help you to survive, don't limit yourself, give yourself permission to 100% take care of you! 

I have found that if I shine a light into the darkest places, do some self-enquiry about my worst fears, write down what I discover, and share this with a safe person, the power these thoughts and beliefs hold over me is reduced. The volume is turned down, they are still there, but they no longer threaten to overwhelm me, or negatively impact my choices. Simply speaking out loud how we feel about Mother’s Day is helpful, acknowledging our true feelings, sharing them, having them validated and witnessed by another is so healing. What we keep trapped inside will continue to fester and negatively impact us, so find a safe, compassionate, kind person and share how you’re really feeling. You can always private message me here if you want x

After my self-enquiry I make two lists – 1) my worst fears and 2) my wishes and needs.
Worst fears included things like – 
No one will acknowledge me as a Mother.
Do I actually deserve to be acknowledged?
Where do I fit as a bereaved Mother?
Will I be surrounded by people celebrating and hate every minute of it!
How do I do something meaningful to mark this day?

From this list I began to find my own answers and create a plan. Planning your day is really helpful, even if on the day itself you do something entirely different, just having a plan is a safety net. Think of something that you would like to do, what would help you? Where would you like to be? What honours you and uplifts you?
So my wishes and needs included –
To be acknowledged as a Mother.
To go somewhere beautiful.
To spend some time with my husband and Lily.
To do something lovely for my own Mum.
To feel connected to my Motherhood and deserving of a special day.

So then I could set about visioning what that might look like.
I decided to split the day into two halves, the morning for Patrick, Lily and I, and the afternoon for my own Mum.
So in the morning I wake up to flowers and a card from Lily (Patrick every year says “I don’t know where these came from, they just appeared!” 
Then I usually spend some time alone to have private space to acknowledge and embrace my fragile self and do what ever feels right in that moment. I dust and tidy Lily’s space, set some of the flowers in a lovely little vase next to Lily’s ashes, I write her a card telling her how much I love being her mummy, I play lovely music, I write a card for myself reminding myself to be gentle today and of all the blessings that have come from being Lily’s mummy.

Then in the afternoon we go out with my parents for a beautiful quiet afternoon in the lakes, we have lunch or stop off at a gorgeous tearoom for hot chocolate and cakes, we walk, we talk, we laugh, we cry, we share about Lily, we embrace one another, and before I know it we’ve survived Mother’s Day.

Some other ideas that might support you in feeling nurtured on Mother’s Day are:
Booking a massage or pamper treatment for yourself.
Having a scented warm bath, with a cup of fresh coffee and lovely music playing.
Getting together with someone close who you can really talk to.
Buying yourself a Mother’s Day gift.
Taking a walk in nature or visiting a special place.

You will have your own ideas, make a list, write down what would support and nurture you. What would honouring your self, your heart, your journey, and honouring your child, your baby, your dreams, your family, and the fact that you are still breathing look like? It is about honouring how you have come to be in this place in your life, with the most sacred respect for all you have been through and the fact that you are here, you have survived, you continue to survive. You have experienced extraordinary pain, your heart has been torn wide open, you are not only a Mother but a grieving Mother, you are an extraordinary being. 
When you have some ideas, then take steps to make them happen.
Maybe share them with someone who understands and supports you, with their love and support you will find a way through that feels right for you. 

My first Mother's Day I simply survived, the second I relunctantly embraced, the third and fourth I actually enjoyed a little, and the fifth I concentrated much more on my own Mother and the sixth…. well that story is yet to unfold.

Love and Blessings,
Val x x x


Each day, at the setting of the sun, we can give thanks for navigating another day of our journey and find one small thing to be grateful for.
It may sound impossible to find things to be grateful for if you’re early on in your grief, I understand, start small, I did. I started a gratitude list, when I got into bed at the end of another day I would write as many things down as I could think of that I was grateful for that day. I was grateful to have a warm home, grateful to have food in the fridge, grateful for the friends who were willing to stand beside me during my grieving, grateful for the beautiful sunset that reminded me that the world was still an amazing place, grateful for the brushed cotton sheets on my bed that made it feel so cozy and comforting and where I could stay wrapped in softness and think of my baby. I soon began to have a longer and longer list each night, and then on days when the last thing I could manage was to feel grateful I would take out my gratitude lists and read them to remind myself of everything it was possible to feel grateful for. I am most grateful to be Lily’s Mummy, even though she died and I was a shattered human being I was still grateful to have carried her for 32 weeks, grateful that she made me a Mother, grateful for every kick I felt and every experience of Motherhood that she bestowed upon me. For my first Mother’s Day, which was only 5 months after Lily died, I just wanted to escape and not face anything. By a fortuitous turn of events we ended up in Belgium for the weekend where unbeknown to me they weren’t celebrating Mother’s Day! I was so grateful for that! It is possible to feel despairing and angry, hopeless and broken, and to still find one small thing to be grateful for. By cultivating and tenderly encouraging small shoots of gratitude they, and we, begin to flourish. We can strengthen our fragile gratitude seedlings by creating gratitude lists or even starting a gratitude journal. Maybe this could be a gift to yourself this Mother’s Day? A beautiful journal to write in, a sacred place to pour your heart out, a place to express your feelings and explore them, a tool in your grief recovery toolkit.
Today I am grateful that the snow is melting and that my loved ones are safe. 
Today I am grateful for all the beauty you have revealed to me and in me, without you Lily I might not have been opened up to receiving such gifts.
What one small thing are you grateful for today?
With love and gratitude, Val x x x




October 15th International Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day + Global Wave of Light
We are very grateful to Scott and Claire for their generous hospitality in hosting us for our annual Remembrance Celebration. We invite you to join us for a very special evening remembering and celebrating all our babies and children gone to soon.
On this special date, we will light candles and be part of the global wave of light around the world. It will be an evening of remembering and honouring our babies, sharing and connecting with those who have travelled this path and those who help us to travel it. 
If you would like to come along, please join our event on Facebook - to help us prepare for accommodating you.

Doors open 6pm please come early to allow time for candle lighting and putting an angel on our remembrance tree in memory of your baby or child. 
There will be tea and coffee afterwards and time to talk and connect with each other.
We hope to see you there, message or email Val with any questions you may have, I will do my best to answer -

We understand that some of you may wish to join us for the Remembrance Celebration but be unable to attend - with this in mind we would like to offer you a way to include your precious babies too. If you send us their name in an email we will honour them by lighting a candle for them and speaking their name with all our babies during the ceremony.
United we honour our precious ones, together we help each other to heal.
Love and blessings, Val x x x