What we've been grateful for

1/18/2011

I've received many e-mails telling me about other families who have recently lost a child. Many of the e-mails come from family members or close friends of the family. I've been asked many times what we found most helpful returning home from the hospital and planning a funeral. I'm sure every family feels differently, but this is what Patrick and I were grateful for.

We walked in to a clean house. The refrigerator and freezer were stocked with food, which enabled us to stay home instead of heading to the grocery store. The fridge was filled with fruit. When you struggle finding an appetite, healthy food seems to be what you want to eat.

A complete stranger at the time, now a friend, made a slide show of Preslee's life. She left it on the doorstep ready for the viewing. She made enough copies for our family members to have a copy.

Family took care of what we wore for the funeral, and even Preslee's burial dress. There's no way I could have went shopping to find a nice black dress, and Pat was in desperate need of a suit. Preslee's dress was the biggest blessing though, that was something I couldn't have done. My sis-in-law found a beautiful dress, I couldn't imagine shopping for a burial dress when we had never bought her a baptism, prom, or wedding dress. But be open, it's a personal thing for the family, if they have something different in mind, don't pressure them into anything :)

I was given matching white bracelets, one for Preslee with a key on it, and one for me with a lock on it.

I received necklaces with Preslee's name or picture on it. It's amazing how much the necklaces have meant to me, it's a small way to keep her with me. Don't forget the dad though, someone gave Pat a key chain that said "Forever Daddy's little girl, Preslee Jo." He was very appreciative to be thought of.

My mom and friend offered to help clean Preslee's room. I couldn't have done it without them. I knew if I didn't do it quickly I would avoid it all together.

Friends brought freezer meals. Not just the first week, but months later. I don't know why I struggled cooking, but I avoided it at all costs while going to school. I still remember a neighbor dropping off a Papa Murphey's pizza and I couldn't stop crying because I was so grateful. :)

And most of all, just be there to listen months later. I've appreciated the people who listen and don't tell me how to act or what to feel, even if what I'm saying sounds crazy. Other parents get to talk about their kids without others feeling awkward around them. There's plenty I still want to share. For me, talking is how I get the big load off my shoulders.

Like I said above, I'm sure every family is different. But one thing I've learned is don't ask, just do it. There's no way I would have asked for one of those things listed above.Even a simple text, e-mail, or letter stating you're thinking of them will be more than enough.

36 comments:

  1. I have wondered about all those little details and how you managed it all. It is good to hear that you were so well taken care of I will remember all of these things.


    How is your pregnancy coming along? You should give us all a baby bump update!

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  2. We had a lot of those same things when our son died. I never wore jewelery before and now I constantly have necklaces on that people gave me.

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  3. Thank you for this post, My cousin just recently lost their little baby boy, not even a day old, and it hit us pretty hard cause they named their little boy the same name as my little boy and for some reason this just made my heart ache every time I looked, thought about, or held my little boy. I wanted so bad to do something to show my love. The only thing I could think of was just take lots and lots and lots of pictures of the day of the fundraiser and funeral for them to have, since I figured that was the last thing on their mind was to lug a camera around all day. Thank you for your strength, my lesson on Sunday is "overcoming opposition" I hope you don't mind if I use your story for my young women to hear. You strengthen testimonies. Thank you.

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  4. I too have wondered how you have made it throug all those trying moments. Thank heavens for families, eternal families, and for your testimony.

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  5. Ashley,
    Thanks for sharing.. I really have the same feelings on almost all of those points. I did do all the clothing shopping for my famiily. David and Isaac both wore matching blue ties and my mom helped me find dresses for my girls. David and I picked out Gabriel's Suit. David loves to dress up for sunday and he was very specific in what he wanted his baby boy buried in. The shop here called Keepsake Cuties is where we got it and they gave it to us for free. I was very surprised when then said they do not charge for children's burial clothing. I also picked out Gabriel's Funeral flowers. I really handled most of it with my mom and my sister in laws help. It was good for me to get out of the house and keep busy. Besides I don't think I could've trusted anyone to do what I thought was best for my baby. I wasn't given and any jewelry but would've loved it had someone thought of that. I've often thought that I'd love to have something with Gabriel's name on it to wear. I'm planning on getting a mothers ring this year since we're done having babies and It will also have "All Is Well" Engraved on it. Anyway I hope this comment is helpful to anyone reading it for a very small difference in perspective.
    Love ya Ashley

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  6. This is so helpful, there are so many thoughtful people out there, and it's nice to have ideas for how to help others.

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  7. Just want you to know that I think about you and Amy and Kendra (and all the other moms out there), every day. My heart aches for each of you and I pray for Heavenly Father's loving arms to surround, especially in your darkest hours.

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  8. I am so glad that there are angels among us. I know that many of us hear about them, but you have seen them, and felt their love. They are good people on the earth. Heavenly Father's way to let you feel His love. I hope you both always feel that.

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  9. It defianetly helps to have so much help while going through such a tragedy! We to lost a child a son when he was 5 months old and we wouldnt have been able to do it without them! So much love!

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  10. ashley- i've thought of you so much the past few months. i've thought of you as i'm doing things with madilyn or putting her to bed or just at so many random times and have started multiple emails and cards to send to you but just have never been able to fill or finish them. you have been such a wonderful example of faith and courage and hope. i can't even begin to imagine how hard its been to go through what you've been through and you just amaze me at your strength. you are a wonderful person and an amazing mother and i'm so excited for you to be expecting again. i hope all is well and please know that you are still always in my thoughts and my prayers and that i have learned alot from your example and you have made me want to be a better person. thank you ashley!

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  11. Thank you, Ashley. I don't even know what else to say.

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  12. You don't know me, but I am a good friend of the Aubrey Anderson (now Richardson). When she told me of the accident I was glued to your blog, and praying daily for your family. I want to thank you for your strength and honesty. I cannot even imagine what you have gone through. Your experience and example have taught me more than you will ever know. I am a different person, and a better mom because of your blog entries. Continue to be strong. My prayers are with you.

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  13. I have followed your blog through the blog of a friend of a friend. How sorry I am for your loss, but how impressed I am with the dignity and grace you show in each post. It occured to me that I have something in my life that will be similar to what your future children will experience. My parents lost their first daughter at the age of 13 months. She was gone before the rest of us were ever born, so we have been raised with the knowledge of having an older sister, but have never known her other than through pictures. It's an interesting feeling, knowing that someday I will meet her and be her sister in more than name only. I look forward to it, although not TOO soon. I just wanted you to know that Preslee will be with her brothers and sisters when they need her most. I know that. My sister, Kristie, isn't ALWAYS with me (I'm sure she has more important things to do), but at the times in my life when I most wanted and needed my sister, she was there. It's been a blessing in more ways that I can say. I am now 49 years old. Kristie would now be 57. That's a long time to not know my sister, but I can't help but believe that will make our eventual reunion even sweeter. And it WILL be a reunion, because even though we never had the pleasure of meeting on earth, we have always been sisters. And we always will be.

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  14. You don't know me, but I have been following your blog and my family and I participated in the bags for the hospital. I am so glad you posted what you did. A lady in our ward who was 8 1/2 months pregnant lost her baby a few weeks ago. I don't know her real well, but wanted to do something. They went out of town for the burial. Another lady who was taking care of her cats, and I went into their house and cleaned it, put flowers on the table, filled the fridge with food, and made freezer meals. We did this early in the day before they returned. I was a little worried that maybe we did too much and they may not of wanted the food, but after your post I realize that what we did was probably exactly what they needed. Thanks.

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  15. Ashley...Thank you so much. There are so many times where I never know what to do or say, and I don't want to be intrusive, but I want others to know that I want to be there for them. I appreicate all of your blogging, but I REALLY appreciated this one!!!!

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  16. Ashley,
    I just wanted you to know, that even though it is months later I still think of you and your family daily. Your family has honestly made such an impact on my life. Thank you for your wonderful testimony and for sharing.

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  17. As always, you give even when in pain. Thanks for the great ideas, and hang in there. Thanks again for letting us be a part of Preslee's present.

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  18. Its amazing what you have done for me I read your blog often and still marvel at how much each and ever post strengths me as we lost a grandbaby almost 3 years ago and knowing that others go thru things like this everyday and oh we are so greatful for the gospel and what it means to all of us in our lives I am so excited to see what this next little miracle is like that will soon come into your life!! and someday I will be a Grandma again Patience is a virtue that everyone has to learn I guess Good Luck with every moment in yours and Pats lives!!!

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  19. What wonderful advice! I never would have thought of those things! I love the part where you say, Don't ask, just do it! What a great idea!

    Thank you so much for your continued strength and example!

    Love you tons!

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  20. Jamie and I still wish we could do more. We love you guys so much and hate to see the pain you go through. We will always be here for you. We sure enjoyed hanging out with you both at Dorsie's on Sunday just talking and laughing. Even though times are hard and continue to be hard it was good to see you guys smile and laugh while we were talking about Preslee and also the new addition soon to come.
    Love you guys! Take care of that little "bump" of yours :)

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  21. Ashley,

    This was a great post. You are so good at being precise and detailed and saying a lot in a few words. I have tried to share similar details/tips/ideas about Lucy's funeral, but it came out so jumbled and unorganized and in so many different posts.

    When your Uncle Mark emailed me and told me about Preslee, he asked for ideas on what to do to help with everything. I told him about the funeral clothes, and food, (can't remember what else). I have no idea if any of those things happened because of my conversation with him, but in a way I hope they did because I so desperately wanted to help.

    I also really loved the post before this. I remember those early days so well. I literally thought the skin on my cheeks were going to burn off from the acid in my tears. We cried so much. More than I knew was possible.

    Baby #2 will help so much. It seems all of us "angel moms" were blessed to get pregnant right away after our children passed away. It is truly a miracle.

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  22. Thanks for sharing this. It is very helpful, because I've had friends suffer a loss of a child, and it is so hard knowing what to say or do.

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  23. I am grateful for this post, you truly amaze me everyday. I can't wait to find out what the new addition is.. it's getting really close!!

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  24. Ashley,

    Thank you for writing this. I just had a miscarriage on Christmas night and I know it isn't the same, but we needed time for a few weeks where we didn't talk to anyone, except our parents. It killed us. And I remember, even though we needed the space, a few sweet neighbors who had somehow found out, brought us dinner and I started crying every time. It made the world of difference. To actually be able to eat something nutritious, instead of take out. Helped us feel physically stronger. It seems as though it was always healthy, and I too, needed HEALTHY food. It was so hard to say I needed something, and that is why I was beyond grateful for people just bringing it. I have learned now, how I can help out when someone else is going through these tough times. My mom came over and visited and just did the laundry and that too, just brightened things a bit. My house still seemed like a disaster, but I didn't have piles of Laundry. Now that it has almost been a month, I blogged about it to save myself from having to repeat the story over and over and over and I just thanked everyone for the well wishes and calls, messages, dinners, etc. and afterwards I was like I sound silly. It is just a miscarriage. It is sooo common, yet new to us and just awfully painful. So for the people to have listened now and let me talk it out and for encouraging, yet understanding thoughts make me beyond grateful. I have been reading your blog since about when everything happened, and everytime I would, I would bawl and go cuddle my little boy, while praying I never lost a child. I don't think this even comes close to the pain, but I still feel like I can relate a little. I am so sorry for your loss. You are soo strong and constantly a light. I love your testimony and I LOVE your honesty of how hard it still is. You sound like such an amazing mother and I pray your new sweet little baby is here soon--ish and healthy as can be! Thank you for being honest and optimistic. If you are ever down here at Primary Children's again soon, hopefully not, but I live right around the corner! Wishing you well!
    xoxo

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  25. I have been following your blog after I came across it on a friends. I want to say how sorry I am for your loss and I may not know exactly how you feel, but in a way I do a little. My husband died 3 1/2 years ago while I was pregnant with our son. It was devastating. I thought I would die along with him. I wanted to handle everything myself. Funeral, clothes, ect. He was a dental student at OSU and we had moved there from Indiana. Not only did I lose my husband but the father of our only child. My family and friends were my life savers. They helped me pack, move, and reset my life. I moved back to Indiana with my family and it is still hard, but it gets easier. The sadness comes and goes and even though I am with a wonderful man now I miss him everyday. You will always miss Preslee, but the pain will ease and those memories will become ever more precious.

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  26. I don't even know you but your family is in my thoughts often. I pray that your hearts will be full once again.

    I cried reading this. Imagining what it would have been like picking out a funeral dress and cleaning Preslee's room. No mother or father should ever have to do that.

    You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. May God be with you. (((hugs)))

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  27. You are blessed to have so much support - most people do not have anything close to it. It doesn't bring your baby back, but it shows you that you are loved. Hang in there.

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  28. Ashley~
    You don't know me, though I have posted before. I just want you to know that I still think of your family everyday...no joke. I have shared your story with so many people from the Midwest,mostly Wisconsin & Minnesota, because I am originally from Wisconsin. Just tonight when I talked to my Mom on the phone she asked about you guys! I so wish this whole thing did not happen to you, and your sweet, little girl. Just by reading your words, I feel I am growing as a person & a Mother. I am not sure how I would handle such a situation, but I would like to think I would handle it with even half the dignity & grace as you have. Without meeting you, I can see the genuine, lovely person you are. Oh...and on a side note, my daughter attends Harwood Elementary where you student teach. She is in the 4th grade, however. I hope you are enjoying it there. There is no doubt in my mind that those students love you & are learning great things from you :)

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  29. You don't know me but I have followed your blog for awhile. I want you to know that I still think of your family and I always pray for you both. I'm so sorry that you've had to go through this and I wish that you would've never had to experience this. You are a very strong person. I think you're a wonderful mother and I pray that you both are comforted and strengthened through this vey tough time.
    Love, Jenni-Ohio

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  30. I love that you share you thoughts. I have learned so much from you. Thank you for helping me feel like I can do hard things.
    Lacey

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  31. Ash, I always love reading your testimony! It's amazing just how many good people there are out there. People who genuinely WANT to help. As awful as this has been, you and Patrick have handled things beautifully. Preslee is proud of you. I sure hope my little Jack gets to meet her. Actually, I'm sure he knows just who she is! I like to think that little taken home are in their own little club up there. You are such an inspiration and one day...I hope to meet you! :) Lots of loves and hugs! Love, Tiff (Jack's mommy) PS...how are you feeling?

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  32. I meant to email you later but life got away from me!!! I wanted to show my ids pictures of all the baskets they donated and you ended up putting it on your blog so I was able to show them those pics and they thought that was so cool!!! Love ya Ash and I had a great thought for this family that lost their little boy and it has brought them so much comfort!!!! Remember to just Breathe, you are doing a great job!!!!!

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  33. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. My mom and I were just talking about how to help a family friend who recently lost a loved one. I'll pass this on to her.

    I think of you constantly and couldn't admire you more.

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  34. Just a thought I wanted to leave with you . . . my neighbor lost her infant son many years ago. One day as we were talking, she shared something so sacred and special with me and I wanted to pass it on to you. She told me that there have been times in her life when her family was struggling with one trial or another. As they would hold Family Councils, her son would be present with them. She said, "As a sealed member of this family, he has every right to be present and to help us in our dark times, from the other side of the veil." I found this comforting and enlightening. Hope you do, too. Blessings -

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  35. Ashley, I wanted to thank you for your wonderful words of honesty, strength, truth, and comfort. It is amazing that you, having been through such an amazingly hard trial, are able to comfort and help so many others. We recently had a tragedy strike the family of my sister in law. As she was preparing to return to Utah to be with her family to bury her 2 year old niece, I was able to share with her what helped you and Pat. She in turn was able to support her brother, his wife, and their kids using ideas you had posted here. You have been in my thoughts and prayers a lot (I feel such a connection to you, maybe because I'm from Rexburg too). I pray that you may be able to continue to feel the healing comfort of our Savior.

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