Books & Articles
Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith
(The book's web site includes a section entitled, "Grieving with Hope." Even if you never do read the book, this article is definitely worth reading.)
Confessions of a Grieving Christian by Zig Ziglar
(The author recommends waiting to read this until at least 6-8 weeks after the death of a loved one.)
Safe in the Arms of God: Truth from Heaven About the Death of a Child by John MacArthur
(Though I never questioned where Kristen went after she left us, this book does a wonderful job of scripturally answering some haunting questions.)
The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie
Written to be a "daily dose of truth and comfort," this book includes devotions that accompany 52 themes (one for each week of the coming year) that deal with the questions grief raises.
Through a Season of Grief: Devotions for Your Journey from Mourning to Joy is a book of devotions from a wide variety of Christian leaders. The same devotions are also available as daily e-mails ("A Season of Grief" Daily Emails) through GriefShare. If you don't find a group near you, consider getting the CD set or downloadable MP3 files that contains the audio tracks from their video series.
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry Sittser
(This book is as much for comforters as it is for the bereaved. It's a necessary addition to your own personal library.)
How to Help a Grieving Friend by Rebecca Mutz
Rebecca is the daughter of Dennis and Barbara Rainey, founders of FamilyLife. With her mom, Rebecca wrote A Symphony in the Dark about her daughter, Molly, and how Molly’s seven days of life impacted her own. I've not read the book (though I do intend to one day), but Rebecca's article has some insightful tips on what to do (and what not to do) to help someone who is grieving. If you are the one who is grieving, and you identify with the points Rebecca makes, consider sharing her article with those around you.
To Speak Their Name by Kara Larshus
I "met" Kara through Anchored by Hope's online Bible study for those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Kara's daughter, Karinne, was diagnosed with Acrania at 13 weeks gestation. Sweet Karinne lived on earth just 10 minutes, then "danced to the heavens & left footprints on our hearts." I love Kara's words. This particular blog post, "To Speak Their Name," gets to the heart of what I think every parent who's ever had to bury a child fears...that their child will be forgotten. Kara's advice to those don't know what to do for a grieving parent is spot on.
"A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss" - FamilyLife Today (aired July 7-9, 2009)
The three radio programs (Descending in the Valley, Walking by Faith Through Irreversible Loss, and Forgiveness) are available to listen to online, or you can purchase them on CD from FamilyLife Today.
"Why Me?" - FamilyLife Today (aired December 23, 2009)
Message from Kristen's service by Dr. Kevin R. Baxter
(August 24, 2009)
Message at Foundry Methodist Church
"Did God Let Us Down?" by Dr. Kevin R. Baxter
(August 23, 2009)
Todd & Angie Smith did this interview after the birth and death of their daughter, Audrey Caroline. Their circumstances were not exactly the same as ours, but the emotions are strikingly similar. As I watched the video, I found myself agreeing involuntarily with both tears and the nodding of my head. Nothing I have seen, read or heard since Kristen died matches my own thoughts so closely.
Smith Family Story from Cross Point Church on Vimeo.
David and Nancy Guthrie host Respite Retreats near Nashville, TN for couples who have faced the death of a child. This couple experienced the death of two of their own three children and continue to minister to others in a very genuine way. We attended their fifth retreat in February 2011. It truly was a respite for us.
GriefShare is a network of grief recovery support groups across the country. Video seminars are combined with group discussion and workbook-based personal study and reflection. In addition to a group finder, their site has some wonderful resources.
To Write Their Names in the Sand began as a dream. After losing their own son, Christian, Carly and Sam Dudley created a children's memorial web site where people from all over the world could request their child's name to be lovingly written in the sand of Mullaloo Point (south coast of western Australia) at sunset, photographed and made into an online memorial. So beautiful.
Plant a tree. Through a gift from some dear friends, we visited our local nursery and picked out a Shumard oak tree. The nursery delivered and planted it for us...which means we have to live here forever. :) With her own money, Emily purchased a stainless steel tree marker. The tree is a beautiful, growing reminder of our baby girl. We've gathered tiny acorns, saved colorful fall leaves, and watched as robins have perched in its branches.
Find a memory box. Both Emily and Grace received one from the hospital. They were unfinished wooden boxes that they could paint or decorate however they chose, then fill with mementos of their baby sister. I had my own memory items, but no place to keep them, so I asked my dad if he would make a box for me. He made the most beautiful oak box, then sent it off to a company in Connecticut to have Kristen's picture laser engraved on the lid. I knew about the box, but the picture was such a lovely surprise! I was blessed with a wonderful gift, but honestly, the box doesn't matter...it's what's inside that counts.
Build a Bear (or whatever). A couple of days after Kristen's funeral, the four of us took a trip to Wichita to just spend some time together. The support we received in the days following Kristen's death was wonderful...and overwhelming. We thought getting away - just the four of us - would be good for everyone. It was not an easy trip, but it was an important one. On that trip, we visited Build-A-Bear Workshop. Each one of us built a bear (well, Grace built an owl!), but we each got what we wanted. Will had Emily and Grace record "We love you, Daddy" into a sound chip activated by pressing his football bear's paw. Emily got a sweet bear, dressed her in blue (no pink for her!), and added a sound recording of Kristen hiccuping (from her Nintendo DSI). Grace got a snow owl because she liked the fact that the owl's head would spin all the way around. I got a bear that I named "Little Stuff," my nickname for Kristen. I added a heart that beats a few times when you squeeze the bear just right. I did change my bear's outfit a few weeks after we got home. She now wears one of Kristen's outfits and holds Kristen's Pooh buddy.
Get a Memory Book. Kelly Gerken's Dreams of You Memory Book is written specifically for bereaved parents. I was blessed to enjoy three months of memories with Kristen, but not every mother gets to bring her baby home. Even in my situation, a regular baby book just doesn't fit. This book is beautiful and a true outpouring of Kelly's sweet spirit. The Christian organization, Sufficient Grace Ministries, that she founded after losing twin daughters, then later a son, is truly, truly amazing. And the bereavement support outreach of Kelly's ministry, Walking With You, has been such a blessing to me, personally. Thank you, Kelly!
Sponsor a child. With some organizations (such as World Vision or Compassion International), you can search for a child to sponsor by birth date. We chose a little girl who lives in Zimbabwe who shares Kristen's birthday. It's a way to remember Kristen and, at the same time, help someone else.