Today R2M brings you a compelling story from a family who took the loss of their son Eason and transformed it into good for others. I’m amazed at Debbie’s selflessness in helping donate CuddleCots to the N.C. Women’s Hospital so other mothers who experience a stillbirth can have more time with their baby. Thank you Debbie for sharing your story and your experience in Australia at the Return to Zero healing retreat. For all you North Carolina readers Return to Zero will be hosting a retreat in Asheville, NC this June. All the best to you and your beautiful family and for bringing hope to others with a similar story. -Traci
A message from Debbie:
“On February 16, 2013 our third child, our son Eason Randolph Clarke, was born still at almost 37 weeks gestation. His sudden death, in spite of a “normal” pregnancy, threw my husband and me, and our living children, our daughter and our son, into a spiral of pain and loss. Our lives unraveled on that day and since then we’ve been putting things back together and striving to honor his brief but important time on this earth.
The weeks and months immediately following Eason‘s death are a blur, all I remember is profound sadness and unbearable grief. Less than a year after our son died my father passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. Once again I was reeling with pain. The greatest gift I gave myself was time to grieve, on my own terms and on my own timeline. My friends and family showed great compassion by allowing me the space to do this. I circled the wagons, so to speak, and surrounded myself only with people who helped me heal. Slowly, I began to re-emerge, and gently, I began to re-enter my life.
It became apparent that nothing was the same and the word “normal” was meaningless. I had to recreate my way of thinking and feeling in order to carry this loss and go on living. A huge step in the process, for me, involved connecting with other grieving mothers. In March 2015 I attended a healing retreat in Australia, spending a long weekend with 30 other women who also have seen their babies die. Some of the moms experienced stillbirths, others lost their babies just a few weeks or months after birth. All of us were devastated and none of us wanted to belong to this awful club. All of us found strength and healing from one another.
I returned from the retreat with a profound sense of meaning and ability to honor our son by helping other families who share this unimaginable journey. I’ve started talking about our experience with the hope that other families won’t feel alone in their grief. My heart breaks for families who’ve had to say goodbye to their babies. It’s unfair and unnatural for any parent to bury their child. In some small way I hope to break the silence and continue to honor Eason‘s memory.
To read more about Eason‘s story, and to learn more about cuddle cots that encourage families to spend more time with their babies after loss, see UNC Healthcare’s website, as well as an interview I did with our local ABC affiliate.
To read more about Kiley Hanish’s healing retreats, including an upcoming retreat in Asheville, NC in June 2016, go to http://www.returntozerohealingcenter.com.“