Sharing hope & Sophie

Thank you to those of you who were praying, thinking positive thoughts and have contacted me to ask how the women’s conference went last weekend.

The answer: It went well. Completely beyond many of my expectations.

Phew.

I had to follow Heather, and let me tell you she set the bar high. She shared from her heart about prayer and talking to a God who loves us, cares about us…but also challenged us on the importance of interceding for and forgiving others.

Then it was my turn.

For some weird reason I started by sharing about my name. I really believe names matter. I hadn’t planned to do that, but for whatever bizarre reason it was where I began. I shared about David and his response to losing his son and how it tells of a hope of returning to the ones that died before us and seeing them again. I shared quotes from 2 ladies that have inspired me greatly – Angie Smith & Sarah Williams – their thoughts and struggle with grief after losing their children. And of the hope of the new heaven and earth (at this point I remember getting a little overexcited about what that might be like and how with all the freaky living creatures from Revelation 4 & 5 it was going to be ‘mental’). And I shared about my fears that I couldn’t be a Christian because of having had an abortion, and about how I had named my unborn child Sophie. And how I sometimes wonder if I was wrong about her being a girl and that when I meet her in heaven she might be like ‘Mum? Seriously? SOPHIE?! Why did you call me Sophie?!!

Afterwards there was much hugging. I was asked if I would stay to anoint people with oil and pray with them.

I did that for almost 2 hours.

And as I did, some women shared their stories with me. They too had lost children and grandchildren through miscarriage and termination.

The moment that will remain with me was a woman who told me about her own abortion and  whispering to me as I anointed her hands with oil, that after hearing about Sophie, she felt she could now name her own unborn child and do something to remember and honour him/her.

I almost started bawling.

Mostly because I was so thankful that sharing about Sophie had made a difference by giving women permission to grieve.

Thank you to all the ladies at Liberton Northfield Church for making me feel so welcome and giving me the opportunity to speak. :)

Answering a reader’s question

I got asked a question by a blog reader, and thought it would be better answered in a post. I’m willing to bet that Lesley is not the only person that has read my blog who has wondered this…

“I was wondering if you ever experience hostility or other negativity from people who have had a natural loss of pregnancy ie miscarriage or still-birth if they know that you made the choice to terminate your own pregnancy? How do/would you deal with those kinds of encounters?”

- Lesley

The answer to the first question is a definite No.

I have spoken in the past about how one of my friends thought that I wasn’t affected by my abortion until I started going to church, because the people there had told me what I had chosen was wrong. Actually, I had kept the whole thing a secret from my friends there – I was struggling long before meeting my Jesus following friends, and a fear was that I wouldn’t be accepted by them if they knew. When it came tumbling out, my friend was shocked I thought that and showed me bible verses confirming that my beliefs that you couldn’t be a Christian if you’d had an abortion were a complete load of crap.

I have several friends who have experienced miscarriage. Some of them have experienced multiple miscarriages. They have never once expressed negativity or hostility towards me. I think perhaps because I openly acknowledge that I lost my first child in June 2001, and therefore can empathise with the depth of their grief that others very easily dismiss or diminish.

Several of these friends (and others like me who have medical conditions that are likely to affect their ability to conceive & give birth to a child) have expressed anger and frustration directed in general of women & men who have had terminations – particularly when they hear of people making that choice to end multiple pregnancies. I can totally understand that. How frustrating it must be to see people being blessed in the way you so desire who don’t want it.

How do I deal with those encounters? I listen. I let them express all that anger, upset and frustration because quite frankly I think it’s better out than in, and empathise with it.

A number of friends have talked to me about the work I do, their thoughts about it. Some of the women who work in centres have experienced miscarriage and stillbirth. Because of their experience, they can understand not only the clients who they support through grief after miscarriage, but also the clients struggling after having an abortion.

How would I deal with an encounter if it was aimed at me? Well, I could never say for sure until I’ve been in that circumstance. I always say to the people I’m training in pregnancy crisis counselling: “It’s very easy to say what you think you would do but it can be a whole other story when you’re actually in that situation”. But I think I’d let them have it out. Let them shout and express all they are thinking and feeling. If they got it all out and had calmed down, I hope I’d be able to gently explain why I made the decision I did 10 years ago, how it affected me, and why I understand why they’d be angry at the choice I made and express my sorrow at their loss and the injustice of it all.

I feel at this point I should refer back to the poem I posted earlier this year. Gentleness is key when people are grieving, and when it comes to losing a child – no matter whether they were a 5 week ‘embryo’ or 5 years old – there is a grief that continues as you experience the loss of what they might have been. If you go on living life after loss, you’ll get triggers that cause you pangs of refreshed pain. Seeing the birth date on the calendar, watching kids go off to their first day at school, walking past the hospital where it all happened…be aware of that. Be gentle as those times come.

I hope that answers your question Lesley.

Thank you for having the courage to ask it.

:)

Worthy Cause Cupcakes

So… there have been a few complaints about my latest fundraising intiative to incorporate a new found love (making cupcakes) with a love that was already there (supporting local pregnancy crisis centres).

The main nagging is that people who don’t live in Edinburgh can’t experience the cupcake action…

Well, I decided for any non-Edinburgh residents…I am willing to give you a copy of the three recipes (you can decide whether you can/want to give a donation to a local edinburgh pcc  or not!)

So leave a comment, and I will e-mail a copy of the recipes to you!

Grief & Loss

Over the last wee while I’ve been looking into resources to compliment the existing training and reading materials we have to help prepare ourselves to support people coming into our centre dealing with pregnancy crisis and pregnancy loss.

Unfortunately for my bank account, and fortunately for Rob Bell and others the stall I was working on at the Momentum Conference was directly opposite the ‘bookshop’.

More precisely a stand full of NOOMA DVDs that were £1 off…I decided I would get one that folks in our smallgroup didn’t already have, but also wanted to see if I could get one that might be helpful in the work I do too.

And I spotted ‘Matthew‘…which I glazed over at first because I thought it would be something to do with something else. It turned out it was about dealing with grief and loss.

I bought it hopeful, and wasn’t disappointed. In 10 minutes Rob mentions several topics that are touched on in our pregnancy loss support programmes – grief, loss, pain, anger, bitterness, blaming yourself…

A few of us in the centre have watched now, and think it’s good – though we decided on Friday that we prefer the booklet to the actual video bit.

During our training we have to challenge our thinking and bring out experiences we’ve had to help us empathise and better understand the emotions our clients may be going through.

So thank you Nooma.

Matthew has been added to our shelf of resources.