Grieving Together: Review and Giveaway

Grieving Together: Catholic miscarriage book for couples

Ten years ago, I lost our sixth and last baby in an early miscarriage, a baby who was planned, wanted, loved.  I’ve never written about it here.  In a very dark period of my life during which I lost first the baby, then my dream home, and finally almost every possession to fire, it was and remains by far the most painful of the losses I suffered.  I don’t like to talk about it and I’ve never wanted to write about it.

But I decided to share just a little today in the hopes of helping ease the burden of others who have lost babies.  There are so many of us, which is something I hadn’t realized until I miscarried and women started whispering words of commiseration: “It happened to me too.  It is hard but it will get better.”

Grieving Together: Catholic miscarriage book for couples

When I was deep in grief–a longer period of time than I would have expected–when all I could do was lie in bed and sob while clutching a board book, the only thing I had bought for the baby, I felt very alone.  I looked online for resources, as one does these days, and found very little.  Eventually my husband and I conducted our own private little ceremony of praying together and naming the baby.  This did bring closure and healing to him, but my grieving process was very different.

Grieving Together: Catholic miscarriage book for couples

I wish that I’d had a copy of Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage.  This is the book you never want to need, but are so glad exists if you do.

Reading it even now, I felt affirmed, comforted, accompanied.

Laura and Franco Fanucci have authored a much-needed treasure, a companion and guide to grieving together as a couple.  Having experienced infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss in their own marriage, they know intimately the grief of their readers.  That experience informs the book and their empathy is tangible.  Reading a book from people who have been in your situation is uniquely comforting.

I was impressed by the book’s breadth–it starts with the more practical aspects of miscarriage: what it is, what the experience might be like, considerations of medical treatment and funeral arrangements.  But this section is anything but clinical–it is still animated by Laura and Franco’s love and concern for their readers.  The next section covers grief, including the ways the grieving process may be different for each partner. This is followed by a section of practical suggestions of support from friends, family, the community, and the Church, making this a book that’s valuable to more than those who have suffered loss themselves.  Finally, the last section discusses life after miscarriage, whether your path includes adoption, another pregnancy, or no more babies.

Grieving Together: Catholic miscarriage book for couples

This is a Catholic book, published by Our Sunday Visitor, with Catholic prayers and rites, concrete ways parishes can help, saints to pray to for comfort and guidance, and more.  Other than our pastor’s sincere sympathy, my parish offered no support to us when we lost our baby, and I suspect that is pretty standard.  So this book would make a great gift for your pastor, along with a suggestion for a ministry to serve couples who have suffered miscarriage.  The Catholic Church is well known for concern over unborn babies threatened by abortion, and sponsors ministries for post-abortive women; her concern for babies lost involuntarily and their parents should be a natural outgrowth of these pro-life convictions.

Grieving Together: Catholic miscarriage book for couples

Grieving Together is available now on Amazon. (If you purchase it through links on the blog I will receive a small commission.)  I received the book free in exchange for my honest review.

Or you could enter the giveaway below and win a copy for yourself, a friend, or your parish.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I Don't Want Your Freedom

Read the title.  Can you hear George Michael (RIP) singing?  Is the song stuck in your head now?  Because it’s been stuck in mine for the past couple of days as I contemplated this month’s theme!
I’m not sure what George Michael intended to convey in the song, but it got me thinking.  When my husband and I were married, someone thought it was hilarious to bring a ball and chain to the reception and attach it to his ankle.  I was not amused.  Which, however, leads me to another song, this one by Paul Overstreet and aptly entitled Ball and Chain.  The relevant lyrics are: Love don’t feel like a ball and chain to me; when I’m close to you my heart feels wild and free.
Read the rest at Everyday Ediths!

When God’s Generosity Meets the Demands of Conscience and Science

I’m a cradle Catholic, born in 1967. And I recall hearing a lot about the birth control pill growing up. I doubt I had any idea how it worked, but I had the general impression from the books I read, the media I consumed, and the people I knew that taking it was just what people did.
I knew that Catholics weren’t supposed to use contraception, and I personally knew many families who appeared to take that teaching to heart. In my Catholic school at that time there were still many big Catholic families with seven kids or more. However, in twelve years of Catholic education I don’t recall EVER hearing this teaching explained. The Church, as I experienced it, taught it was wrong but not WHY. I definitely had the impression that this was some old-fashioned idea that was safe to ignore.
Read the rest at A Drop in the Ocean, where I am guest posting today.

Drained

It’ no news to me that my stats for this thing are way, way down.  And it’s no wonder, given the irregularity and infrequency of posts here lately.
Now I knew I wouldn’t be able to post much during the craziness that was most of April and all of May.   But I kind of expected that once summer got here I would settle into a once daily schedule again.  What a wealth of things I would have to tell y’all about!
I got off to a nice start when John and I went to his Reunion, but then we came home.  I started a post to wind up the story and have yet to finish it!
So what’s my problem?  It just came to me.
I’m an introvert, and I am still exhausted from all that socializing.  I want and need to crawl into a hole and be alone for a few weeks.  But I still have six other people living in this house. (Will any of them ever leave?)  It is summer–Lorelei and William are home ALL DAY.  The big kids are in and out.  Day in and day out they want and need things from me, and one of those things that some of them require more than others is emotional energy.  Energy that I can never get enough alone time to fully replenish.
And to complicate matters, I am an introvert married to an extrovert.  An extreme extrovert who wants to be AROUND PEOPLE ALL THE TIME.  When I could just SCREAM AT THE THOUGHT OF HAVING TO TALK TO ONE MORE PERSON.
To John, April and May were heaven on earth.  All the commotion!  All the parties!  All the people! (I am getting tireder just thinking about it.)  Now that it’s all over, he’s depressed. (Guess who supplies the emotional energy to help him recover from depression?  Hello!)
And today I realized that although I am alone (I hope) when I write my blog, it’s still a social activity of sorts.  I have an audience whom I hope to engage with my writing.  So it does require some of the same kind of energy that I use for socializing, the kind of energy that I don’t have nearly enough of. (And if you will recall, I also work at home.  So there’s that.)
And now I am off to finish getting ready for the Father’s Day cookout.  It’s a small affair–only 14 of us.

Lifelong Marriage: Not for the Faint of Heart

LOVE
The other day I was talking to my Aunt Joan and she mentioned that she and Uncle Jack will be married 60 years in December.  “I think we’re going to last,” she said.  She was only 16 when they married and conventional wisdom wouldn’t have given them much of a chance.  Her Aunt Bert gave her sheets for a wedding gift, saying, “If you don’t last I want these back!”  But they did last, with two happily married sons and five grandkids, a family business (Aunt Joan still answers the phone), and a “family compound” on their land “out in the country” as we used to refer to their property in Strawberry Plains.  And anyone who observes the two of them together can see how much they love each other.

We’ve been married only a third as long, but I don’t doubt we’ll make it to our 60th anniversary, if we’re both still around then.  That doesn’t mean we are perfect and it doesn’t mean staying married is easy.  Both of us frequently tell our kids that “marriage is hard work.”  That’s not romantic, but it’s true.
I’m not here to pass judgment on anyone else’s marriage, and I’m not an expert, but I will share with you some of the principles and practices that I believe have kept us married (in no particular order).

  • We didn’t have any formal marriage preparation (just a 45 minute talk with the priest who married us) but we took to heart something he said it the homily at our wedding:  “Never ask whether [you should stay married]; only ask how.”  Both of us have chanted that like a mantra at various times.

 

  • We were married in church.  One of the songs we chose was “The Wedding Song,” which is a little cheesy, but which I love for the line: ‘The marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain, for whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name, there is love.'”  In a sacramental marriage, two are gathered in Christ’s name, and so He is there in the midst of the marriage.  I know people do it, but I cannot imagine how we would have gotten through some of the trials we have faced if God were not present in our marriage.

 

  • Along the same lines, we attend church together, and pray together.  John was not Catholic when we married; he was vehemently Protestant, in fact, and we had a lot to work out before we agreed to marry.  One thing we always agreed on was that attending church together was important, and he graciously agreed that the church could be mine.  When he, of his own accord, came into the Church the Easter after our third child was born, it was the happiest day of my life.

 

  • We spoke our wedding vows to one another.  I mean we memorized them, and spoke them directly to one another without the participation of the celebrant.  This was actually Father Spitzer’s suggestion.  It meant we had to practice the vows before we said them, and reflect upon what we were promising.  We chose to use the traditional vows, which really cover all the bases, if you ask me.  We know exactly what we promised, and I reflect on the vows from time to time to judge whether I am keeping my promises.

 

  • We were and are absolutely committed to staying married.  I sometimes joke with a friend of mine, who is equally determined to stay married, “Murder, maybe; divorce, never.”  And we are only half joking.  Divorce is not an option for us.  We are not going to be able to get out of this, so we have to figure out what to do to make it work.

 

  • We know that marriage is hard work, and we are committed to doing the work.  Just like “Faith without works is dead,” commitment without hard work is hollow.  I guess you might be able to stay married without doing any work, but you couldn’t possibly have a GOOD marriage.  So we have spent years in marriage counseling–not because we were ever in danger of divorce, but because we wanted to communicate better, to prevent problems, to “tune up” our relationship.  We talk about our problems.  We make sure to spend time together.  When we had three little kids, we found a regular babysitter.  We have always gone out for “date nights” frequently.  I am absolutely amazed how few of my married friends make any effort to do this.

 

  • We value traditions and memories.  The honeymoon doesn’t last forever.  But memories do.  We keep the “spark” alive by remembering frequently what brought us together and talking about the “good old days.”  You need those warm and fuzzy feelings to get you through the dark and dreary days that come.

Because they do come.   We have been through some very, very dark times.  the storms of life have buffetted us just as they have everyone else.  We are fortunate that usually we find shelter in each other.   But love isn’t a feeling: it’s a decision.  There are days when I loathe my husband.  I am completely sure there are days when he loathes me.  There are days when I don’t want to get his medicine ready or pour him a bowl of cereal, but I do it anyway.

If you have kids, you know that you love them unconditionally, that you would die for them.  Most of us had parents who loved us like that too.  But that’s biology.  When we keep loving our spouses when they are not being lovable, it’s not about biology; it’s a conscious decision.

I haven’t been very lovable this week.  Just about everything John has done has irritated me, and I haven’t tried to be charitable; I’ve been in a bad humor.   I haven’t felt loving toward him, nor has he toward me.  Just as God keeps us in existence each second by the strength of His will, we choose each day to keep our marriage in existence.  We lie down together each night, even after a bad day.  We each know that the person next to us in the bed has chosen to mirror God’s love for us by offering us unconditional love.  What could be more amazing?

wedding couple 8
john and leslie