Tag Archive: losing a baby


I’d like to brag a little about someone special named Claire. I have known her well for about a year now, since we started studying together, and she really is one in a million. At any point during the last year I’ve known that I could go to her for anything and she would always have time for me, even though she was busy being a wife and mom as well as a full-time student.

Claire’s beautiful little daughter Sofia just turned two years old on the 12th of December But just more than a week after that everything went wrong and the world was turned upside-down when Sofia passed away by drowning while on holiday. It was the 20th of December 2014, exactly seven weeks ago as I write this and just five days before Christmas. Sofia was an only child and her passing left her mom completely devastated.

But Claire, being the Claire we know and love, refuses to let her grief have the better of her. She has done an incredible thing and founded a non-profit organisation called Starfish for Sofia. This organisation aims to raise funds so that children aged 0-3 can attend survival swimming classes, where they learn what to do should they fall into a body of water – to turn on their backs and stretch their limbs out (like a starfish) until they are able to be rescued. Claire says that if she can save just one life and prevent one parent the heartbreak that she is going through, she will have done Sofia’s memory justice.​

In the five weeks since she has started the organisation, she has been working non-stop and the support and response has  been overwhelming. From ordinary people to mothers and fathers who have lost their children to drowning, to celebrities and swimming schools, to businesses and other organisations. There were an alarming number of drowning incidents this past festive season and we can all help to prevent any more from happening.

I think that what Claire has done is absolutely amazing, and I couldn’t be prouder or more blessed to be her friend.

Michelle van der Berg


[To find out more about Starfish for Sofia and how you can perhaps get involved in supporting it, click here]

[For another post on someone giving hope to many young children in South Africa, click here]

Also who is someone that YOU think is doing something positive in South Africa that gives you hope. Drop me a line at brettfish@hotmail.com and let’s talk about how you can get their story up here…


I thank God for the example I received from my parents about what being a godly, loving parent and spouse looks like. By God’s grace whether we have had a shocking or terrific upbringing we still have the responsibility to choose how we parent. However, it is easier to aim at what we want to emulate, than to just know what you don’t want to replicate.

I thank God for the naivety and bliss with which my wife, Lydia, fell pregnant with Danielle, our first born, with the pregnancy itself, with the birth and raising her (she is now almost 2 years old). Because little did we know that our worlds would get rocked upside down in a matter of days after Dani’s first birthday…. Similar to Lydia’s pregnancy with Dani falling pregnant with Impi (just our in utro name), our second child, went according to plan, but suddenly at Dani’s first birthday party Lyd started having severe back pain. We went for a scan and all looked great (what a relief), but then a few days later Lydia miscarried at home (when Impi was 14 weeks). Simultaneously we found out that our daughter was being mistreated by her carer.

So has parenting been easy? No! I can honestly say life was easier without thinking of children, we were carefree, our schedule’s were our own. Would I change it? Not at all! I love watching a little life bloom. Being a teacher and wanting only the best for other people’s kids, it is a privilege to have our own children. Would I have stopped at one child, now knowing we were to lose our second child? Not a chance! Sure it was painful, there were tears, unanswered questions but we were brought into a deeper reality of God’s love, a closer connection with friends and family and in faith were, and still are, able to encourage other’s out there going through tough times. We have walked our journey open-heartedly and have been amazed how literally every 3rd couple has a story of losing a child, which has fuelled us even more to share our story. Praise God as I write my wife is 30 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child. God gives and takes away, but He is big and we can trust Him.

So what’s it like to be a dad? It is a great responsibility to lead your family, but at the same time there is so much fun to be had. Those who know me know that there is a boyishness in me that will be ever present until I am 105. I love how kids bring that out of you even more. If you put your being schedule aside kids help slow you down and live in the PRESENT like nothing else on earth. I know kids spell love T.I.M.E and that is what I aspire to provide my kids with.  But foremost I want them to see a dad that loves their mom to bits and lives out his faith blatantly before them, taking risks and owning up to my mistakes. BEING A DAD ROCKS!!!

[To read another ‘To Be A Dad’ story, this time by John ‘Zippy’ Benn, click here]

[For other encouraging stories from Parents who have Lost a Baby, click here]

i thought i was finished with this series on people who have lost a child and then i received this email from a friend of mine who lost a baby. i knew this was one more to be shared and i imagine it will impact a lot of people deeply. i want to encourage those of you who read it to refrain from doing what we often do when hearing someone’s story – justifying, rationalising, critiquing, judging, preparing our response and more – just try and read the story and really hear the voice of a parent who has lost a child and is still in that place of it not being okay. just hear what is being courageously shared. [my friend asked to remain anonymous to protect the people in their life that this speaks to/about]:

Don’t tell me how many times it’s happened to you, I don’t want to know the possibilities of this ever happening again. I can’t see my way through now, how can I comprehend ever going through this again?

Don’t expect me to be better after the time you’ve set out as being reasonable, It may take 5 years, it may never be over. Look out for me, make sure I’m not stuck in a season, but don’t expect me to be fine by now

Don’t treat me like I’m over it, When you see one day that I’m the person I used to be before all this happened, then you can treat me like I’m over it.

I will never be the person I used to be before all this happened

Don’t tell me 4 weeks after my baby has died that you’re pregnant and expect me to be happy for you. I hate you, I hate the God who has allowed you to be happy and not me, I hate the people congratulating you. I am working through asking God for forgiveness for hating. How do you ask a God you don’t trust anymore for forgiveness? I am working through feeling guilty for no longer trusting a God I have always known. How does a God you’ve always known to be one thing suddenly change? I’m working through not seeing God as I’ve always known Him to be. Do you see what your “announcement” has set off in me?

Don’t judge me when you don’t see me singing in Church, I’m reading every song in a different light and with a different perspective, I’m evaluating whether or not I can honestly sing any of those words and mean them even a tiny bit anymore. I’m feeling judged for sitting in church week after week without praising, I don’t want to be here, I want to be in bed feeling sorry for myself, but I’m not…I’m here, I’m with you, it’s a massive step…recognize that

Don’t tell me it’s all going to be ok, you don’t know that. You told me it was all going to be ok when I went for my scan, we know what happened after that…Tell me you love me and you’re there for me, tell me you’ll walk this road with me no matter how long it is, tell me you won’t judge me, tell me you’ll try

Don’t tell me you understand. Really? Your puppies got run over, you understand “exactly what I’m going through”? You will never understand. Maybe one day (hopefully never though) you’ll have some kind of idea, but you’ll never understand. I don’t pretend to understand what someone else in my same situation is going through. That’s because they are unique, their situation will be perceived from the point where their personalities and outside influences affect them. I’ll never 100% understand what they are going through. You do not have the capability of understanding so telling me “you understand” only minimizes my experience of this to the size of your ability to comprehend it. I don’t blame you for not understanding though, I envy you.

Don’t tell me you’re sorry for my “unfortunate situation”. My baby died and was torn from inside me, you term that “unfortunate”?

Don’t offer empty words of consolation, hug me, I’ll know exactly what you’re saying.

Don’t make every “coffee date” a time for you to find out how I’m doing, I want to be able to go for coffee with you without the anxiety of what questions you’re going to ask me, and how those questions will affect me on this specific day. Let the conversations happen naturally, but listen…because somewhere in that conversation I will tell you how I’m doing…

Don’t pretend awkwardly that you haven’t heard me mention something about my baby or how I’m feeling today. Follow up, listen and talk with me, I’m feeling strong enough to open up and talk, don’t ignore me, that’ll only make me feel as if you think I shouldn’t be talking about it.

Don’t let me eat alone in the days right after everything. I feel guilty for even feeling the need to eat at a time like this. Bring food, it’ll make me realize that you think I should be eating even at a time like this and then I can feel just a little less guilty. Don’t ask me what I eat or don’t eat, I feel guilty for being hungry remember? It’d probably make me feel a little less guilty by eating food I completely dislike so I really don’t mind

Don’t make every meeting a somber event, make space for me to have normal times, you know, like when we lived life innocently and we’d go to each other’s houses and play games or watch a comedy together, or we’d go have breakfast in the park. I want ‘normal’, I crave ‘normal’, I can’t get ‘normal’ on my own, I need you to make it for me

Don’t look at my tummy in the months after, to see if I might be pregnant. I’m aware of not being pregnant every day, so keep your eyes off my tummy. Believe me, you’ll know when I’m pregnant again, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. So please, don’t make me insecure wondering when someone’s going to ask me about my tummy just because it’s a bit bigger…maybe from being pregnant before, maybe from a bit of extra weight that sadness has added on

Don’t tell me it was probably for the better. Would you ever go to the mother of a disabled child and tell her it would’ve been for the better if her child had not lived? That’s what you’re saying when you tell me that. I would’ve loved a disabled child, or a sick child, etc inspite of all that. That was my baby, I don’t care what was wrong with him/her

Don’t forget the important dates, I’m remembering them, I’ll never forget. The date we found out we were pregnant, the date we heard our baby’s heart beat, the date the doctor told us our baby was dead, our baby’s due date, what would’ve been our baby’s 1st birthday, it goes on, it forever will. When I’m still raw, remember the dates

Don’t tell me I have a choice as to how I’m going to let things affect me. Do you think I would ever choose to have things affect me like they do sometimes? I don’t have a choice in how things are going to affect me, from one day to the next I have no clue how even a simple question will affect me. You asked me yesterday How I am, I said fine, You asked me today…I burst out crying. You asked me this morning how my day has been, I said great, you asked me this evening…I got angry at you. You asked me at 13:00 what I’m up to later, I said I was going out, you asked me at 15:00…I was curled up comatose on my bed. You asked me at 20:00 how I was, I said good, you asked me at 20:05…I was cursing God. I don’t know from one minute to the next how things are going to go, my life is in turmoil.

Don’t expect me to be your support. I don’t want to know whether or not you’re coping, I don’t have the emotional capability to handle your feelings. You have your own support system, go to it so you can be mine.

Don’t get upset if I react negatively to something you say to me. I’m sorry for hurting you, but right now you’re the stronger one, can you carry that for me? Please?

Don’t tell me (as you roll your eyes at something your child is doing) “one day you’ll understand”. I understand now. I am a mother. I became a mother and my husband became a father on the day our baby was conceived. I may not have a living baby to prove it to you, but he/she will forever be alive in our hearts. We are parents, we just ‘understand’ a different area of parenting than what you do.

Don’t think that when I’m laughing I am not grieving anymore. I feel guilty, I feel as if I am betraying my baby’s memory.

Don’t forget that I’m still grieving. I know it’s hard for you to be aware of things you say to me, but please, is it such a burden to carry in light of everything? Will you carry that for me?

Don’t think my pain is healed. A part of me will forever be broken, but I will learn to live with that…in time

Don’t get annoyed or hurt when I don’t rejoice with you when you tell me you’re pregnant, I haven’t slammed the door in your face. I want to, but I haven’t because I care for you and want to protect you from me so that you can have the space to rejoice for you. I can’t right now, because I’m using all my energy to fight against hating and envying you, but I’m quiet, and that is my way of saying I care enough to be silent.

Don’t get upset when I don’t talk or open up to you. My words are coming from a place of pain, anguish and turmoil. I love you, that is why I’m silent. My words will only hurt you, so I keep them inside.

I used the analogy once when someone asked me how I was, I said it was like that earthquake that hit Japan last year. One week Japan was thriving, nothing on the horizon that was going to turn their world upside down. The next week everything had changed, all there was for as far as you could see was rubble. Lives that had crumbled into little bits that were no longer recognizable, nothing visible that was still intact. Nothing remotely resembling the life they had, the dreams they held for their futures.

Hopelessness, deep, deep sorrow, utter disbelief. The week before they couldn’t imagine anything like this, they didn’t have the ability to even comprehend the devastation lying ahead for them. In the first few days, no one knew where to even start. Where do you start to begin putting your life together again? How do you begin to fix years and years of life that has been broken down to nothing in just a matter of minutes?

Slowly you pick up a brick and move it out of the way. After a while the bricks become too heavy because your arms are tired, so you start moving pieces of broken brick instead. You rest a while. You’re tired, but your life is in limbo at the moment because you have no security, you have no confidence, you have no dreams for the future, you have no hope. You keep your head down because to look at the ruins of your home, your life, your dreams, as a whole picture is too painful, you can’t bear it. So you keep plodding on with your head down. Eventually you reach the base of where your house once stood. There’s a lot more rubble here because of the size of what once stood there, but you’ve made progress. What lies ahead is a much bigger task than what you’ve gone through already but you have nothing else to do, no other reason to do anything. So you keep going. You think of giving up sometimes because of the strain of it all, but you don’t. You don’t know what drives you, you don’t know what pushes you to keep going but you do. Maybe it’s the fleeting thought that one day you will have a house again, if you just clear this mess, you can build a life, build hopes and dreams and a future. The size of the task is daunting, but you keep going.

After days or weeks, or months, you lift another brick, but this time you see something underneath it. It’s dusty and dirty, and you can’t see it clearly, but you know it’s something you recognize and so you reach for it. It’s a vase, a simple thing that used to hold such beauty. It’s not damaged. Maybe a little dusty, but it’s still intact. You can’t believe it. How did anything survive? You cling to it as if it is the most precious thing in the world. You carry on clearing up. More things slowly start to appear while you’re clearing away the rubble. They begin to form a pile and the pile grows and slowly… keeps growing. Every now and then you go and sit next your pile, and admire the things that are still intact, the good memories start to fill you and give you strength. You get enough strength to go back and clear a bigger section. The times between clearing and resting grow bigger. What once used to fill your days is still there, and always will be, but you have hope now, it may be only a little, but you see how far you’ve come, you could never have imagined getting to this point but somehow you have, you’re a survivor, you ARE strong enough. The road ahead is long. Your house will never look the way it did before, but you start to recognize it as home, you start to see the possibilities in your future. But you never forget, to forget would mean to nullify everything you’ve been through and besides, how could you forget something that impacted your life so much, no, you never forget, but you begin to learn how to live with the memories…

when i started writing this blog series on people who have had miscarriages/lost babies, i was overwhelmed with the response i got, because in my life experience i had never come across many stories of this happening but i had heard that it happens a lot more than we think. And so i really am truly grateful for everyone who shared personally and for those who linked me to friends of theirs. With people being so brave i didn’t want to leave anyone out and so i have compiled a few more links to stories and websites that other people shared with me. Every story is different and unique and it has been a huge encouragement [and a very painful one, especially for those people i know personally] that you all have invited me [and so many other people] to share in your stories of loss and hope, love and devastation and healing. i KNOW it has made a difference for some people who had previously been suffering quietly by themselves and feeling alone in this.

i want to end off with links to five more stories, most of who are good friends of mine and thank each of you for the sharing of your story and in some cases the resources you have set up to help other people with theirs. may each of us continue to experience the God who is able to work good out of the most tragic circumstances and give us hope and a future.

[David and Sarah Seabrook] 53 hours: The story of Daniel Kiran Seabrook

[Lindsay Bresler] Cathy was at school with me (a year or 2 younger) – basically had kidney problems when pregnant and they lost the baby AND will never be able to fall pregnant again due to health risks… she has written a lot of stuff relating to it and you can see some of it on this link…

[Margaret Ann and Adam Schaaf] My husband and I have been through the loss of our child(ren) more than once. It is something that I have written about in my journals. You can read my poem, “The Day Grace Died” at http://mypoetry.scriptmania.com/custom.html as it was written in response to losing our child.

[Rory and Debbi Windell] Hi Brett, not sure if you know but Debbi and I lost our son, Nathan Ross Windell due to a ruptured uterus and have now created a Foundation in his name called the Live in Hope Foundation and you can see our story and get some help and assistance for parents who have lost a loved one especially a child! go to www.liveinhope.co.za as well as our Facebook page: Live in Hope Foundation

[Adrian and Benita Wright] Hey Brett: Here is a note I posted on our story a while back: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150540969965001

Itʼs July, Mauri phones to tell me the news, weʼre pregnant again. Whoohoo! We had been trying and Mauri had had a dream in which a date for a birth of a baby was given. So the news was, well, wow perhaps God had spoken to us about the actual birthday! We did a calculation and due date was in the ʻdate proximityʼ. Sure it was very early days, but God had spoken hadnʼt he, and so we started dreaming: is it a boy or a girl? What will they look like, be like? And how will they play with Kristen?

A couple of weeks later Mauri comes into the lounge with an anxious, slightly panicked look on her face, she is spotting and the bleeding was getting heavier. The next day we are in our doctorʼs surgery and he confirms our fears. A miscarriage.

Itʼs only a miscarriage, just a miscarriage, we carry on with life, right? Hey in the old days no one would have even known, and the bleed put down as a late period. Thatʼs what some have said. I begin thinking along those lines too: itʼs not like weʼve lost a baby. Or have we? Almost as if right there and then i have the wrestle of our time: when does life begin? Iʼm struggling to know what i should be feeling in the midst of Mauriʼs emotions, strengthened by hormonal changes in her body. I write to a mentor of mine and his wisdom to us is that we need to name the baby and say goodbye. That shouldnʼt be too difficult? Mauriʼs instinct was that it was a girl. We had a name we were going to use if we had another girl, and so we named her Bethany, had to name her Bethany because to choose any other name would be to discount the life that had been there. It was at that point that Mauri and I wept together. I was so surprised by how pained i felt, how disappointed I was.
It was so much harder to say goodbye that i had imagined.

Itʼs so easy for me to delegitimize my feelings because otherʼs have had it much harder. Which is true. But thatʼs not right either. When life is formed it is only right for us to expect that, that ultimately life will be birthed. When it doesnʼt there is the sense of something stolen, of an incompletion. I sometimes still cry when i have to think about or share that experience (like now) and know the deeper pain of many others who have lost their babies.

Mauri fell pregnant, quite unexpectedly, not long after that and our little boy, Jesse is about to turn 2. I canʼt imagine life without him but sometimes wonder how Bethany would have fitted into our family.

a little while ago [well, a month it seems] i started a series called Taboo Topics where i wanted to look at some serious issues in life that deeply affect people but that rarely get spoken about. The first one, losing a baby, was something that had been on my heart for a long, long time because of knowing some friends who had been through it and having a glimpse of how devastating it must be, especially if you are carrying it along and feeling like you are the only one… an old friend of mine, Graeme, boldly stepped forward and shared their story from his perspective and a lot of people read it and were encouraged and it is now my privilege to share the same story, but from his wife Nicole’s perspective. Thank you, Nicole, for the strength you show in sharing this with us:

As you can see, it’s taken me a whole month to work up the courage to read this blog…. When Graeme told me that Brett had asked if he could post our story, I was not in a good head space, so told Graeme to go ahead, but that I couldn’t do it. Now, with Zoe’s 5th anniversary behind me, I feel I’m in a better space now, so I thought I’d head on over here and read all the stories he’s posted so far. Each of them broke my heart…. I know the pain hidden under the words each of them uses.

As with all couples, even having experienced the same event, my journey has been different to Graeme’s. As a mother, you connect with your child physically and emotionally long before it’s born. When I heard the news initially, that the doc couldn’t find a heartbeat, I was so sure it was just faulty equipment. I went into denial immediately. But after half an hour, the reality finally hit me. I was so devastated, and crying so hard, I nearly vomited on the floor. When the doc told me that it would be better for me physically, as well as emotionally, to go through natural labour (Zoe was 37 weeks), I wanted to hit her. I thought for sure she was joking. Yet, in retrospect, she was absolutely right.

We were given a private labour ward, with a dedicated mid-wife (so no extraneous staff wandering in and out, or noise from other labour wards to bother us), and at the end, our minister and his wife were allowed to join us, so we could wash Zoe, dress her, and hold a short ceremony for her immediately. I still remember the sound her body made as it slipped from me…. a dull thud followed by silence….

We didn’t find out until later that the name Zoe means life.

Something that gave me (and continues to give me) tremendous comfort was a vision that one of my friends had in which she saw Jesus take Zoe into heaven cuddled in his arms. To know that she’s loved, and cared for, and is in the best possible place…that is a great source of comfort to me.

I don’t believe that God made this happen. I don’t believe that God even allowed this to happen. Something as evil as killing an innocent, unborn child on the cusp of life could only come from the pit of hell itself. For the longest time though, I blamed God for failing to take action, for failing to save Zoe’s life.

Now though, I have Nathan (his name means ‘Gift of God’). There’s no way he will ever replace Zoe – not in a million years. But I know that if she had not died, he would not have been born. Right from the get-go, when we dedicated him, we asked that God would use him to heal and bless, and to bring joy into the lives of those he touches. God has honoured our prayer, and Nathan has already brought such healing and joy into ours.

I still don’t know ‘why’ Zoe died. I don’t know why we were targeted in this way. I don’t for one minute believe that Zoe’s death was part of God’s plan. Yet, I know that God has redeemed what Satan intended for evil. For both Graeme and I, our faith has been tested in the fire. The dross has been (and is being) burned away. Although we’ve still got a-ways to walk, I know that now our faith is real in a way that it never was before. We’ve also been able to comfort others with the comfort we have received – through Born Sleeping (our support group). Plus there is the blessing of the child who would not have been – Nathan – if not for his sister’s death.

As Graeme said, the grief is never far from the surface, but that doesn’t mean our lives are joyless. We have simply learnt how to tolerate indescribable pain, to allow it to wash over and through us, until we can breathe again. We have learnt how to live and love and laugh despite our pain. Having said that, please don’t think I’ve got grief taped, or that I have all the answers. If I were to go through this again, as Sandi & Mike, and Debbie & Bruce, have had to do I think I’d probably fall apart just as much, just as quickly, and take just as long to be put back together.

Losing a child…. it really is one of the hardest things any parent can go through, and unless you’ve been through it yourself, with the greatest respect, I don’t think you have a clue what it’s like…. which is probably why so many people don’t like to talk about it: everyone else says such banal things, insensitive things, the platitudes that are like a dagger in your heart and a slap through the face. Which is why Brett’s blog is so important. We need spaces to talk openly about our pain, and about how the pain makes us re-evaluate our lives, our values, our beliefs, our faith, our hopes, our dreams, our plans. And others need to hear it, to learn how to deal with us, and to help us grapple with issues of faith.

So thanks, Brett, for having the courage to open the lid on on this can. I just hope the worms turn into butterflies sooner rather than later.

Nicole [Nicole Masureik and Graeme Broster]

Born Sleeping Website – http://bornsleeping.wordpress.com/
Born Sleeping Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Born-Sleeping/150344014978601

if you would like to read the other stories that were shared, click here.

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