Wednesday, July 08, 2015

25 years my sweet baby girl ... Loving, Grieving & Remembering

Happy Birthday to my baby daughter in Heaven

It's hard to believe 25 years has passed. As my hope of becoming a Heartfelt photographer inches closer and I read and respond to stories of parents whose hearts have been newly broken, I remember that all-encompassing pain and how it changes through the years. When Taleah died 19 hours after she was born nobody we knew had lost a baby or child. I know how much I craved the personal stories from others who had gone through something similar. 

Heartfelt is a volunteer organisation in Australia and NZ where professional photographers give the precious gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirth, neonatal death, premature births, or have children with serious or terminal illnesses, free of charge. 

This little excerpt comes from the book Life After Loss: Conquering Grief and Finding Hope 

"Grief comes in one size, Extra Large. If we tuck it away in the bottom drawer where it never sees the light of day, it remains exactly the same. On the other hand, if we wear it, feel it, talk about it, and share it with others, it is likely that it will become faded, shrunk and worn, or will simply no longer fit. When grief has served its purpose, we are able to recognize the many gifts we have gained." 

So this is me sharing again ... 

It's hard to believe when the worst happens that you will come out the other side. Colour disappears from your world and the pain is unimaginable. 

In the early days grief sits on your shoulder and tears at your heart and body, it's intensely lonely because it's yours and yours alone. 

Sometimes grief washes over you with the force of a tidal wave, bubbles inside you like a volcano, sometimes it gnaws or crushes and at other times it is a slow persistent whisper. One way or another grief will be heard and it lasts for as long as it lasts! 

You can't just tell your psyche that you aren't going to 'do grief', it doesn't work like that and you really wouldn't want it to. Grief is both a necessity and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love. Living without a piece of your heart is beyond words but the blessings and joys are there, you just need time to see them.

the best advice I was given 25 years ago ... 

'cry when you want to, laugh when you can'

Grief makes people uncomfortable, some aren't sure what to say, they don't want to say something that causes pain, people want to believe you're ok months and years down the track. And sometimes you are and sometimes you're not. 

The more we talk about death and dying, grief and loss the more normal it will become. Talking and sharing our experiences fosters change and healing. I have always been very open about death, the boys have known since they were little that they had a big sister in heaven. They thought it was kind of cool having their own personal angel, although Anthony with all his accidents mentioned years ago he didn't think Taleah did a very good job on the guardian angel side of things lol ... I beg to differ. He's here lol. 

The boys started a tradition when they were little ... why couldn't Taleah have a birthday cake? ... hmm no reason (any excuse for cake) so we would take her a piece of chocolate cake (because of course that would be her favourite) and sing her happy birthday. I'm sure the ants and birds enjoy the cake each year. It's a tradition that has continued and brought many laughs over the years.

A while ago someone made a comment on a blog post I'd written about Taleah's anniversary ...  "wow you still 'remember' after all this time" and I wanted to yell don't you? ... or is that only for living children? It wasn't said to be hurtful but it hurt nonetheless. There's no time limit on grief or remembering ... there isn't a line that says when a child has been gone so long you should cease to mention her. 

The bond between a mother/father and child is the strongest, death doesn't take that away. Taleah is my daughter and I will always be her mummy.

Losing Taleah so many years ago, there were very few precious things to keep, a few photos, a tiny name band. Things have changed, in part due to many people like myself who wrote letters for Childbirth Education groups, participated in neonatal death follow ups and grief groups, talked to doctors and midwives and funeral directors about things that could be done better. 

When you don't take your baby home, when your arms are empty and your heart is full, when there are so few physical things to treasure, memories are all you have, so the ones we create after a baby dies are all we have to share. So I make memories and celebrate and remember Taleah and all she gave in her short time in my arms. 

This Dutch proverb is true of all sorts of goodbyes

Every goodbye is the birth of a memory

Jessica from 4 Plus an Angel wrote this beautiful post ... The Stone. It reminded me of the heart I carry for Taleah. It's another tangible reminder I find comforting. I like this post too about What to Give someone who is grieving. 

If you have a family member or friend who has lost a baby, give of yourself. If you don't know what to say, say ... I'm so sorry, I don't know what to say. Give them a hug, hold their hand, listen, sit in silence. The best gift you can give someone who has lost a baby is to acknowledge their baby, say their baby's name.

I often wonder ... what Taleah would look like now? what career would she have chosen? would she be married with children like her brother? would we be best friends like my mum and I were? 

Taleah isn't physically here, she's in my heart and in the small wonders, the whisper of a butterfly's wings, the chirp of a tiny bird, a raindrop on my cheek, the appearance of a rainbow when I need it most and one last rose blooming in winter just in time for her anniversary. 

Mother's Love

You don't 'get over' the death of a child and I've never particularly liked the phrase move on. You carry it with you, your grief and loss simply become part of who you are until you finally say ... this is me, forever changed.

The tears shed, letters written, memories created and shared, birthday cakes made, the quiet moments of reflection, the scrapbook layouts, the music, the celebrations and laughs, her rose garden and Christmas decorations, the journey I've taken with my photography, each time I reach out a hand to a grieving family and every time someone reaches out to me, the special moments, the love that lasts a lifetime ... this for me is being the mother of an angel.

Taleah ~ "Dew from Heaven"

I whisper your name.... to myself.
I whisper....Happy birthday, and I love you.
I whisper....I still think of you.
I whisper....Goodnight and till we meet again.
I whisper....Take care and hope your angel ears can hear my whispers here on earth.
I whisper....because I am afraid that if I speak too loud, my heart will hear and break again....
So I just whisper........

(I'm so sorry I don't know the source or author of this beautiful poem or I would absolutely credit it, a friend gave it to me scribbled on a serviette many years ago, it brings tears to my eyes. Does anyone know?) 

I miss you baby girl. Love you forever and a day  

Wish you were here to share this wonderful life xx


  1. What a beautiful blog post thoughts are with you on this special day, your daughter Taleah's 25th birthday.

    When I was heavily pregnant with my last child, a dear friend of mine Emma, gave birth to a stillborn son Julian. I remember exactly what I was doing when my husband phoned me to tell me the news. I was devastated for her. I went to the funeral to be there for my friend and I recall someone commenting that it was a bit rude that I did that, because as if my friend would want to see someone who was pregnant.

    I tried to support her as much as I could, and I do believe I was there for her at times she needed a friend. I looked at the photos of her beautiful boy with her, because like any new mother, she wanted to show him off.

    In talking about how to difficult it was for some people to know how to deal with a friend going through such a terrible grief, something she said to me that I will always remember was that she would prefer 'that friends said the wrong thing rather than to say nothing to her at all'.

    Seeing her strength through such difficulties times is one of the reasons we named our daughter Emma.

    Sending special hugs to you today dear friend. xx

    1. Oh Karen I'm sure your love and support meant a lot to your friend Emma. I think it's beautiful you went to the funeral, it acknowledged your friend's son and their loss and pain.

      I think there's a difference between saying nothing and ignoring. You can hold someone's hand and sit in silence and that simple contact is supportive. I'd prefer silence than hearing well meaning but hurtful platitudes (of which I heard many) like "you can always have more children" "it was for the best" but I'm sure we have all at some point said the 'wrong' thing that has inadvertently caused further pain.

      I had friends who couldn't cope and completely avoided me but I had a dear friend who like yourself looked at my photos, listened to me and let me hold her daughter, born a few weeks before Taleah.

  2. Oh just beautiful Teddyree. I love the advice you were given about crying when you want to and laughing when you can.

    I expect it's as relevant now as it was 25 years ago.

    1. You are absolutely right Deb, sometimes even this far down the track it seems like yesterday and it hurts and I remember that little pearl of wisdom. Even though missing Taleah will always be an ache most days she's a warm fuzzy xx

  3. Sheree I can't imagine experiencing something like this. To lose Taleah after 19 hours such heartbreak. I love how you have included her in your lives with the birthday remembrances each year and in other little ways. Your deep compassion shines through often, and its an honour to be gifted with the sharing of this terrible loss. I am sure she hears those whispers of love.

  4. Thank you for sharing your beautiful aching soul, your lyrical prose and your secret whispers. You are one brave and resilient lady. Long may you be blessed. Hugs and more.

  5. So very touching. We're honored that you shared it with us. Our loved ones who have 'gone on' before us are always with us. At least that's what I believe. They watch over us. Hugs.

  6. Beautiful post for your beautiful daughter ... hugs and love on this most precious day!!

  7. Sheree, this is so touching and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us. I am moved beyond words by your strength. Lots of hugs and love to you today.

  8. One always remembers. BF's mum remembers the girls she lost and visits the grave

  9. What an incredibly wonderful and heart wrenching post. I have never lost a child so I can't fully imagine the grief but how wonderful that you've really talked to your boys about her and made her real for them. My grandfather had a sister who died before he was born and he doesn't even know her name which has always made him very sad and like there's a shadow there.

  10. What a beautiful post honouring your daughter Sheree, and I admire your strength in choosing to help others who are faced with the unimaginable. I had 3 miscarriage's and though I never held any of those in my arms I still think of them

  11. This is a very touching post Teddyree. Happy Birthday to your angel in heaven, Taleah.

  12. I don't know the loss of a child, and even though I know grief, I can't comprehend the pain you've felt and still feel. Thank you for sharing.

  13. She is beautiful! As a mom who also has a baby in heaven, I agree with everything you've said. Corey would have been 29 13 days ago. Every year my rose bush blooms on his day, except for this year. We moved the bushes last summer and they got off to a slow start. But what is miraculous is that it was okay on the day, but a few days later I was having a bad day physically which brought those emotions to the surface and when I looked outside there was a rose!

  14. Thank you for sharing about Taleah, Sheree. A beautiful post.

  15. Thank you for sharing your story Sheree. It is a beautiful story and sad but a lovely tribute to Taleah. Big hugs. Happy Birthday to your angel in heaven.

    I recently learned of a lovely organisation called Bears of Hope when a close friend told me about it (her twin sister had lost her baby). I wish I had known about them when I had my miscarriages.

  16. What a beautiful tribute to your precious girl. *HUGS* Sending loving thoughts your way.

  17. Such a beautiful post, thank you for sharing Taleah's story with us it was both beautiful and heartbreaking..

  18. I'm so sorry. This is a beautiful post in your angel's memory. Thank you for sharing it.

  19. Sheree, I sit here crying for your beautiful Taleah, my heart full of sadness for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing, your strength is inspiring. Recently, the woman who owns where Gage gets OT and speech lost a baby one month before she got to meet her. I was heartbroken and didn't know what to say so when I saw her a month later I said nothing (I was in a room full of people and that can be my only defense). Thank you for giving me confidence in reaching out next time. You are a warrior mama and your two sons were raised loving and celebrating Taleah. Hugs from Ohio!

  20. I somehow missed this post when first published but I hope my comment will still get through.

    My brother and sister in law lost a baby who came, not living, at six months along. They were able to take photographs holding him in their arms. Their grief was so tangible to everyone, but I remember my SIL saying I was the only person who sent a large bouquet of sympathy flowers. Others didn't want to talk about it and just wanted to move on. They went to a grief group for losing stillborn children for quite awhile, and made everlasting good friends with one couple from it. My brother and SIL went on to have another child; their friends were not able to and remain childless.

    There is a Christmas ornament hung on their tree every year for this son, along with ones for their two living children. I believe people can never forget a child they had, no matter how long ago they lost them and how short a time they were with them.

    Sorry for your loss and your grief, Sheree. Good luck with your project to be a grief photographer, what a wonderful way to give back...


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