A Letter to Henry

[ 9 ] February 3, AD 2012 |

*I want to note that the other Featured Blogger today, Bonnie Engstrom, and I did not know what topic the other was writing about.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit must just decide a certain topic needs more attention than others. Her “Another Life to Remember” post gives great insight into the very same topic of losing a child, albeit at a different stage. I would like to add that a beautiful group called Elizabeth Ministry offers support for women both in the process of losing a child and with dealing with grief after the loss.

 

I’ve been wanting to write something about this for a few months  now, but have not known how to begin, or end, or even what to really say in the body of a post on this topic. The subject is so private and precious that I have honestly been afraid to write about it as I feared dishonoring the intense pain and grief of a dear friend and kindred mother. You see, I have wanted to share with you the story of a stunning baby boy named Henry who never took a breath on this planet and the intense love his mother and family have displayed for him.  I have wanted to tell you how touched I’ve been by this family’s honesty and openness with the grieving process, but have not been sure how to balance sharing that with giving them the privacy and space they need to grieve their son. I have not known how I could possibly ever convey to you the beauty of this story with my own words.

Well, it seems I am going to be able to share part of Henry’s story with you after all, and with the only words that could ever help you really understand the reality of this experience. Henry’s mother has given me permission to share a letter she wrote to her precious baby boy just days after he unexpectedly died in her womb and was delivered full-term into her loving arms, surrounded by family. Henry was held and kissed and loved from the moment of birth; even though his little body remained lifeless. No amount of wishing or pleading could change that fact. He was bathed and dressed and tenderly prepared for burial by his family and honored as an esteemed member, as worthy of memorial as any other family member would be.

 It doesn’t matter so much how Henry died and what the possible causes might have been. What matters in this letter is the love of a mother for her child. The kind of love that aches for a child, lost too soon. The kind of unconditional love only a parent can really understand. This letter was written shortly after Henry was laid to rest and this mother was forced to say goodbye at a time she was anticipating beginning a new life with her first son.

 As I share this letter with you, I ask for your sensitivity and prayers for this family that still continues to deeply grieve the loss of this child; this son, this brother, this grandchild, this nephew, this cousin. Henry was so deeply loved by so many people before he ever was born. Let us pray that all children would be greeted and celebrated with a love as deep and unconditional as this, and let us also remember that this love of a mother for her child is the same love of our Father for each of us.

 

Dear Henry,

 

   I feel as if I can’t begin…our beginning was stolen and I can only sit and long for the birth of our life together.  I ache for the beauty of your spirit, the gentle soul I had already fallen so deeply in love with.  Wherever that spirit is, I go to you, in my mind and my heart, and with my soul.

   My sweet sweet boy how I wanted you from the moment I learned of your being, and how I want you now.  I sit in an ocean of love and grief for you.

   My body weeps for you now.  When my tears are emptied, I bleed for you.  When there is no blood, my breasts send their tears of milk.  It is the salt in the wound, a reminder of our stolen moments.

   I have already thought a thousand times how I should be feeling an overwhelming sense of joy and contentment, sitting with you in my arms, rocking you at the breast, smelling your sweet head, touching your soft skin, kissing your pink lips.  I want you to know that I now send you love with every loving touch I give your big sister, with every loving thought I have to give to those around me.  I love you through those I meet, as I give to others, I give to you.

   I cannot say goodbye to you Henry.  We are a part of each other, a piece of my heart always with you.  I will cling to the memories of our time together.  What an honor and privilege it was to carry you and feel you.  With such intention you were created and prepared for.

   I will treasure the day of your birth as a holy day, with such reverence and dignity as your body calmly and quietly entered this world.

   I will honor your precious life by living mine with the courage and strength you have shown me.  With your short life you have forever changed mine, teaching me there is no greater force than the bond of love for a child.  You are my child forever, worth every moment.

 

 From all that I am or could ever be…I love you Henry.

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Category: Columnists, Family, Life

About the Author ()

Leah Jacobson, foundress of The Guiding Star Project, is dedicated to creating a Culture of Life through the implementation of Guiding Star Centers nationwide. These centers will promote New Feminism and Natural Law and are the next stage for the pro-women and pro-life movements to collaborate in a holistic, comprehensive approach.
  • Marie

    You are so right, there are no words that can suffice or express the feelings aroused by witnessing this kind of love. Just reading about it and seeing but a glimpse of it… The only thing I can say, is please send my love out to this family, and let them know I am praying for them and for Henry.

  • http://themanwhowouldbeknight.com Ryan Kraeger

    God Be With You.

  • Eric

    Thank you for sharing. Love knows no bounds of time and you live that Gospel message perfectly. Your words and your love reach a beauty that truly is divine. Blessed are you.

  • anna lisa

    Tears and prayers for the loss of Henry, and to his beautiful parents and family. *Blessed are those who weep, for they shall be consoled*. Your tears, united to the cross, bring light and grace for others, and you will meet the recipients of this grace some day… What a gift little Henry is, now and forever. What joy there will be at your reunion in heaven!

  • Paul Giroux

    I will offer prayers for you in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
    My wife and I lost 3 before Maria Theresa was carried to term.
    As a husband, I was unable to grieve along with my wife.
    Years later, I had a profound dream of the 3 little girls in a cave. I was trying to protect them from a danger unknown to them and I lost
    my life doing so. Then, and only then, was I able to love them as a
    Daddy does. I ‘feel’ them around me at night…so beautiful!

  • Roderick Alvernaz

    I am an older male, single, and celibate. Probably about as far as one can get from where Henry’s mother is …but I can still be, and was indeed, touched by her letter.
    I serve as a board member on my local Birthright because there are women in abusive marriages/relationships, and girls who are frighten and scared, all being told to end their pregnancies. They come to us for help because they know what Henry’s mother knows; what an incredibly precious gift they carry.
    I just want to thank the blogger for posting this story, and Henry’s mother for sharing her letter to Henry. May God bless the both of you, and your every good endeavor.
    Eternal rest grant unto Henry, oh Lord. And let perpetual Light shine upon him. May he rest in Peace. Amen.

    -RoderickA

  • http://www.theguidinstarproject.com Leah

    Thanks for all the supportive comments and prayers for this family. The loss of Henry has challenged them, and all of us who love them, to accept that this is God’s will when it seems so senseless. But if sharing the pain of Henry’s loss helps other mothers to hold their own children a little closer each day and reminds all of us the great value of all human life, than his short life will certainly have had great purpose. Thank you for your prayers. We appreciate them.

  • Perinatal Loss Nurse

    I posted more about my work with families on the other thread. I work with moms like Henry’s mom …the 1% of moms who will lost thier babies late in pregnancy or very early in life. 1% doesnt sound like much until you consider what 1% of various populations are..if we deliver 3000 babies a year, 30 deaths is a LOT. I love how the article didnt dwell on why Henry died, we grasp at straws of knowlede and control to try to prevent death yet some are unpredictable and unchangeable, so dwelling on the why is pointless.

    Even though it is me who serves them and I help them bathe, dress & hold thier babies, I humble admit that it is they that teach me. With that wisdom, I will encourage these ideas when someone in your life suffers this type of loss.

    – Again, DONT dwell on the why. Don’t automatically blame the MD or hospital (it is VERY VERY rare for MD error to be a causitive factor). Similarly, I often hear “couldnt they tell something in untrasound?” often the answer is “no” if it were yes, they would have recieved treatment.

    – If your friend is obsessing over the why…do your best to be patient and listen…this may last for a while. When possible, remind them that they were excellent parents and the baby did not die because they missed something

    – Visit them in the hospital if they are accepting visitors, hold the baby and tell them their baby is beautiful.

    – ask the mom her birth story (women love to tell their birth stories, but if a death happens, no one EVER asks her about her birth)

    – tell the mom when you think of her child and use the baby’s name

    – if the baby died early, do something nice for the mom on her die date (write in on your calendar now so you wont forget

    – if the baby dies late in pregnancy, send a card and call on the baby’s birthday – you will likely be the only person who does and she will REALLY appreciate it.

    – do the very scariest thing on earth and accept that you and everyone else are as vulnurable to this a she. Most people try to create some conconcted wall in thier mind why she is different than me or you. Some of peoples very best friends unintentionally say the cruelest things while trying to find a safety zone away from grieving parents.

    – our society says that this never happens and its unsurvivable, both things are wrong its gut wrenching and horribly difficult but survivable….It happens over 50,000 times a year in the US. Treat them like you are confident in their capacity to heal …dont treat them like a fragile chinadoll who will break if you say the baby’s name.

    – having another baby doesnt wipe out the grief from this loss…this baby will always be important.

  • Perinatal Loss Nurse

    oops…quite a slip for a loss nurse…that should read “Due date” above.