Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope

               

When I posted last week about the feeling of isolation that comes with losing a baby, it prompted several e-mails from people who said they had my blog and found it helpful. Some people were on a timeline similar to my loss, some people have had more recent losses. 

I love hearing from people who are reading, but it never fails to surprise me that someone besides my mom and my three loyal commenters are actually out there reading. E-mails and comments from people I don't know I remember that the story I'm telling is, unfortunately, a story that lots of people can relate to. I remember how much I needed to read stories of baby loss written by people who had eventually found their way through the grief, back to some version of themselves that wasn't impossible to live with. 

This idea of desperately needing connection after an event that feels so isolating obviously resonates with people, and in a weird coincidence with timing (or maybe no coincidence at all, since feelings of isolation and connection have obviously been on my mind), I am really excited to announce that I just recently became involved with a project that is all about making connections.

The website Faces of Loss was created in 2010 by Kristin, after the loss of her daughter, Stevie Joy. She created a corner of the internet where women could tell their stories of pregnancy and baby loss and, most importantly, find each other. It's one of the ways that my little tribe came together.

If it sounds like a directory of grief, that's because it is.

But it was also incontrovertible proof that I was not alone in my grief. And that was life-changing.

In the past year or so, the site has not been active, although interest has continued. Submissions were being e-mailed quite regularly for a while, but they weren't getting posted online. When my friend Brandy wanted to recommend the site to someone she knew who had a recent loss, she discovered that the website wasn't being updated. Because it had been such a valuable resource for her after the loss of her son Andrew, she decided to investigate, and I told her that if she would get things going, I'd volunteer to help edit and post submissions.

It turns out that the original team simply didn't have the time or resources to devote to the website, and Kristin was relieved to have people offer to work on a project that she wanted to see continue. So Brandy got a small team together and we are picking up where things were left off in 2012. We have been working to post every single submission that was received between then and now.

We have just now gotten through a significant number of the submissions that were waiting in the queue, and we're now accepting new submissions. Bring 'em on. These are stories that need to be told.

I ordered this shirt (no longer available, though they have other great designs) from To Write Love on Her Arms and I love the reminder.)
I'm really honored to be part of this storytelling process. I have to admit, I wasn't sure what to expect when I started sending out e-mails, asking women who submitted their stories over a year ago if they'd still like to have them posted. I thought maybe they would be annoyed that the stories had been sitting in a queue for so long. I thought (though it seems kind of crazy) that maybe they would have "moved on" and no longer be interested in having the story of their loss put out there on the internet.

But, so far anyway, my e-mails have received positive responses. People are still eager to have their child's story told.

And this shouldn't surprise me. Of course we want our babies to make some mark on this world, the way they made their marks on our lives. Of course we want to put a voice to our suffering. Of course we want to tell our story. We need to hear someone else say, "Me too."

I'm not going to lie--it's not easy to read all these stories as I format the posts to go up. They are heart-wrenching. It's like sometimes I forget that I've lived through this too, because I read these stories of women having to say good-bye to the babies they would willingly have died to protect, and I think, "Oh my gosh, how did she survive?" (How does any of us?)

And I think that's another reason NOT to stay silent. Another reason to Speak Your Truth. Because someone else's life may look easy from the outside, but all those cute, smiling faces on the website are the faces of bereaved mothers. Planet My Baby Died is unfortunately rather well-populated.

Please feel free to spread the word of Faces of Loss as a resource for bereaved parents. If you're on Facebook (I'm still not!), you can "like" our Facebook page here. Many of the women who tell stories also share their e-mail addresses or blog addresses if you want to get in touch with someone whose story that really speaks to you; you can also share the love by leaving comments at the website saying "I'm sorry" or "Me too."

And thanks for reading here, and for (sometimes) letting me know you're out there. Your sympathy, your empathy, your share in our grief and joys, even if I don't know your name, as cheesy as it sounds, I swear that I can feel the love.

19 comments:

  1. When I originally discovered Faces of Loss, I was so bummed to see that it wasn't active any longer. So I was relieved to hear that you all have volunteered to take it over and it's being updated again. I wrote my first post on my blog (http://lovingandlosinglydie.blogspot.com/2014/11/our-story.html) the day after getting home from the hospital after delivering my perfect little stillborn baby. It was like I needed to get it all out, but now, 3 months later, I can't bear to read my own story. So I need to work on my submission to Faces of Loss but I need to get the guts to write it all down again. It can be so painful to relive those horrific moments. But thanks to all of you for getting it going again. Women who have been through this experience are my lifeline.

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  2. I was just over on Brandy and Caroline's blog reading about this. It's so great that it's back up. And everything you wrote is SO TRUE in how much we need to tell our stories - for ourselves and for each other.

    You know what? I still haven't submitted to FOL. I found it early on in my grief timeline in 2012... but I didn't have the courage to get my story out - other than "my baby died and I'm so sad" - at the time. I found you ladies, and read blogs to save my life and eventually commented on everything I read. That was my lifeline. I read so many stories on FOL that were so similar to my own. Full term. Over due. No warning signs. No heartbeat. I know it happened to me too... but each time I read, I was so floored by the truth of it all.

    It wasn't until after the year mark that I felt the nerve build in me to want to enter my story on FOL. But sadly, I noticed it went quiet. I'm so happy - in a very understandable unhappy way - that it's back and stories are able to be published. You ladies are such gems. This site is exactly that - a little corner of the internet for BLMS. And it's so needed. That quote from Iyanla Vanzant is so spot on.

    xox

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  3. This news is unbelievable. I was one of the last to post my story to Faces of Loss before the site became inactive. I shared it with my friends and family and it was so helpful for them to at least hear the entire story from start to finish. I also met quite a few women who had similar experiences as a result, and I cannot thank Kristin enough for that. I'm so happy to hear that someone stepped up to help out with the site. You are awesome to help out Brooke!

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  4. Brooke- your blog was THE resource I used after losing my daughter. I still quote your posts, to others or to myself, and I still comfort myself with the things I read: things you wrote, quoted, or linked to. Today, more than two years since my daughter's stillbirth, I found myself once again talking about the post you wrote about how Zuzu is here BECAUSE of Eliza, not instead of her. That struggle. The post you wrote is still what I tell myself, all the time, when I look at my (living) daughter and feel that guilt.

    I got an email from Faces of Loss asking if they could go ahead and post my submission, since it had never been put on the website. Maybe that was you! Thank you, again, for being the light that guided me through the darkest time of my life.

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  5. I hope I'm one of your three loyal commenters :)

    Like I told brandy, I'm so (un)lucky to know you. You are a fabulous human being. Thank you for sharing Eliza with us.

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  6. I was wondering why posts from Faces of Loss were suddenly popping up in my blog reader again!! I have to admit, there are so many stories (and I have read so many, there and in blogs and in forums and heard them in my real-life support group, over the past 16 years) I don't read them all anymore -- but I think it's so important that it's there and to remind newly heartbroken moms that they truly are not alone. Thank you for doing this, and for your wonderful blog too. :)

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  7. yay for FOL. <3

    I love Eliza. Always.

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  8. I am a loyal reader and an infrequent commenter. Lindsey and I often chat about posts and text each other "Did you see Brooke's post today?"...it is a shared interest for us. Thank you for your voice.

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  9. Thank you for working on this. Like Veronica, I still have not posted to Faces, but I wanted to for a long time. Just couldn't get the courage to fully write down Bear's story and edit it to make it as perfect as it needed to be. Again, I am so thankful for the tribe. And for Eliza. xoxo

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  10. This is excellent news, I'm glad you're a part of it. Your blog has helped me immensely the past year, so it's cool that you'll be helping revive Faces of Loss.

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  11. I am glad that you guys are getting the faces of loss, faces of hope page going again. And although u don't comment much any more, your blog has always been comforting since you always seem have to have right words.

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  12. Hello there beautiful- it's been awhile :)
    I am SO glad to see that you are working on this very important project! I was just thinking of FOL and Glow last night when I wrote...
    Sending love and light as always!

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  13. Xoxo so proud of you ladies for doing this!

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  14. I am so happy to read this! There are so many stories that need to be told. You guys rock! I had to kill my blog for legal reasons and I felt so lost after having built such a strong network. Fortunately, I found my local mama's combined with your blog have been such a healing factor for me. We need these connections. I am so grateful to you for sharing your journey. And grateful that you are opening that door for others! ~M

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  15. I'm so, so, so glad this is happening- when I lost my first pregnancy in 2012 the stories were still current but as the months followed the site aged date wise & at one point I even emailed Kristin to ask if I could help in any way. The Faces site was such a lifeline to me in my darkest of hours and it's such an amazing compilation of our stories of loss- I actually stumbled on the fact that there are recent submissions the other day & sorted by CA & there on the top are two friends of mine I've now known for two years... wow! Our community is close & outspoken & strong & reading their stories was amazing & also, knowing how far they've each come since their losses (one was a mc & the other neonatal loss)- my heart soared & I'm now going to go add mine to the submissions- thanks for volunteering your time in this way... -L P.S. I volunteer as GO on the BBC MSIL Board to help it remain a sacred place for grieving parents- it's good to be able to give back...

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  16. Hi Brooke! I'm one of those people who found you after my loss (my daughter, Alana, was stillborn at 39.5 weeks, unexplained but probable cord accident) and your blog has been a huge, huge support to me. I've read every word from Eliza's birth onward and continue to subscribe via RSS today since I love to hear about your beautiful family and see how you continue to honor Eliza as time goes on (and also the diy home decor projects - keep 'em coming!). I can't even begin to express how much less alone your writing has made me feel and I am so grateful that this blog existed to help me through those darkest months. I think it's wonderful that you're picking up maintenance on the Faces of Loss site. Thank you so much for that and for everything you do!

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