The stats around the loss of a child make me shudder—especially since I'm counted among them. One in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage. One in 160 ends in stillbirth. Thousands of children die in their first year of life because of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). When the unimaginable happens, what do we do? How do we respond? They journey of life after loss is not as clear-cut as our society would have us believe.
It was my second pregnancy and I was blissfully naïve—and confident; I had already given birth to one healthy child. Around the 25-week mark, an ultrasound discovered something that should not have been there. A large tumor encircled my baby's heart like a string. It was tied so tightly that my unborn child's heart was failing and there was nothing the doctors could do. My son, whom we named Zachary, was born at 30 weeks' gestation, and died in my arms, skin to skin, heart to heart, just moments later.
I felt like my body had failed my baby in the one thing it should innately know how to do. When I left the hospital with empty arms, the sharp edge of isolation became my companion. I felt that no one could possibly understand how my heart was being torn in two. I was alone in my grief—until I chose to tell my story.
When I began talking with others about what I'd been through—what I was still going through despite societal expectations of the grief timeline—I began to realize that so many women carry this sorrow inside themselves. Sharing stories between friends, and even strangers, helped me find support. As an artist and writer, I began to express my own personal journey through creative storytelling. I learned that the arts are an incredible tool that can help set us free when we feel hopelessly tangled in grief.
Here are five creative ways to help heal the mother's heart through art: