Losing Delilah: Rebuilding a Life for Siblings after the Loss of a Child

Today I was a guest blogger for North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

I got to share our experience in our other childrens reactions to the loss of their sibling. A difficult recount to write, but still honored to share with others in case it helps them.

Here’s the article:



I was watching the season finale of The Middle the other day. In the show, one of the characters is upset because she is graduating from high school and through a variety of incidents, she’s feeling like she has no legacy.  It’s got a happy ending where she recovers her lost yearbook in which all the pages are filled with messages from her classmates about how they noticed her and how she had impacted their lives. That got me thinking…..

We all have big dreams. I didn’t start on this journey with the intent to start a non-profit, and I definitely am not trying to become some grandiose organization that is known world-wide and has trillions of $ to spend – in fact, that terrifies me because when one gets too big, they lose sight of the reasons they started. When it becomes more about the business of things than the serving those very people you set out to help, things have gone totally wrong. I don’t know where that balance is, and we’re not near the point where I have to worry about it just yet, but it’s there looming in the back of my mind.

Then I start to think about the legacy of Tangerine Owl Project. What is it that I am going to leave behind with this organization? Sometimes its hard to seem like the “downer” because I make it a point to discuss things that aren’t bright and cheery. I am an advocate for lots of things associated with pregnancy that bring up how things can and do go terribly wrong.  I wonder if people look at me and all they think is oh, there’s the woman who lost her baby.  People have told me I’m inspiring and it’s really hard to take that compliment, not because its wrong, but because sharing my story is sharing Delilah’s story, and people should know how inspiring to ME she is. BUT she is not more deserving of recognition than that any other life lost too soon, any other parents fighting their way through life without their children. So many of us share in sadness, and many are creating their own legacy in their own way. So what is it I want from the Tangerine Owl Project?

I want to show my children that being there for people in times of uncertainty, despair, and all hell breaking loose is just as important as being there for their brighter counterparts.

I want to break barriers to discussion of “taboo” topics on a larger scale. I want people OUTSIDE of those experiencing it to allow those subjects in, even though it may be uncomfortable.

I want women who are watching their lives fall apart around them to feel empowered and ABLE enough to get the help they need, not stifle their rawness and their reality because of idiotic words from people who simply aim to dismiss them.  I want these women and the ones who love them to understand they’re not “being emotional” or “just depressed” with the situations at hand, like its something they can just snap out of.

I want honest compassion to be the norm instead of the exception when dealing with NICU or bereaved parents, across the board, from every care provider out there.

I want to provide a moment of true peace within chaos for these families, and I want them to feel supported instead of isolated.

I want a lot of things.

Most importantly I want to build a community of others who will promote and encourage all the above, because you’ve got to start somewhere if you’re going to make your mark on the world.

Just one reason…

Friends we are so excited to share another milestone!

Last week, we received our first referral from a local hospital. The crisis counselor had been working with a family who was transported there during a medical emergency and had delivered the baby at 29 weeks gestation. Sadly, the baby did not survive, and the family had indicated that they wished they could do a private burial for their daughter.  This family did not have the financial means to do this, so she reached out to us to see if this is something that is within the scope of the Tangerine Owl Project.

We were so grateful for the referral, and after looking into the specifics more, we were honored to be able to fund the entire burial for this family.  Our hearts ache for this family, and all others who have had to endure such trauma and such heartbreaking loss. This may sound morbid, or trite, but let us share why this is such a thing for us to be proud of….As a parent, you want to make sure your child is taken care of and watched over, protected like any parent would do, even in death. Other families have had to endure this same thing and because they could not afford burial costs, their child was left to the county to dispose of. While many hospitals do as much as possible to respect and honor these families, it remains that their wishes for their child’s burial can not always be provided, and some don’t even know where their child has ended up.

So the reason we are so honored to have had the opportunity to do this, even when “it’s only money”, is that it’s not only money. It goes FAR beyond that. It is just a very tiny step that will help in the grief. Instead of wondering about her daughter’s whereabouts, this mother and her family can now go visit her in the angel garden, in their hometown, whenever they would like to. It’s one small move towards restoring balance to the new world order for them. Her mother can finally feel the slightest bit of comfort (however fleeting in grief) knowing that her daughter is at rest in the way they’d wished for. THIS, is one of the reasons that the Tangerine Owl Project was created – to help families find their way towards restoring their own balance.


I’m pleased to share that we have been recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization.  This is a huge milestone and provides what we need to continue moving forward in working with our supporters to help these families who can now write off their tax-exempt donations while helping the Tangerine Owl Project. Its opening doors for us, and we cannot be more thrilled.  To celebrate, we’ve now put our “donate now” button up on the website (www.tangerineowl.org).🙂 One more goal checked off our list!  WOOHOO!

We are looking forward to many new and exciting things happening so we will be posting more soon!  So exciting and thank you to all our readers who have offered input and feedback and support so far.  You are the best!

You know you’re gold when….

You know you’re gold when the people you have had the pleasure of meeting in all pathways of life come together to support you.  This week, I had a minimal ask, but one that’s super important to me, and one that has the potential to have a great deal of impact.  This week, I’ve reached out to people in my home state to help request an official proclamation of a preeclampsia awareness day to be passed in the cities they live & work in.

I have received an enormous amount of willingness to help thus far, and it has motivated me more than ever before knowing that this means something to future women, babies and families, having to deal with this condition. All it took was me asking. That means (in today’s terms): #winning.

THANK YOU to everyone I’ve annoyed already this week. I love you all.I am thankful and cannot do it without you.

Remember that time?

Do you remember the time that you were at your worst? When you thought there was no more reason to attempt anything resembling a “normal” life?  Do you remember feeling like you would never be able to crawl back out of the darkness and you didn’t even really want to try?  How the pain and loss you felt overwhelmed you (and THAT is an understatement), and you couldn’t figure out how to get out of bed in the morning.  It hurt to breathe, it hurt to cry, it hurt everywhere. Perhaps flashbacks were going through your head, perhaps you were feeling guilt in addition to the anger and sadness and desperately trying to find a way to turn back time so that something, anything would be different.

Hearing that “it gets better” doesn’t help when you can’t find your way through the next 10 minutes, so what about the right now, for those in this moment of blackness? Being able to let yourself process is the only way to muddle through these extraordinarily complicated feelings.   What helped you process all your emotions?

Group Share

Seeing as how I am facilitating a support group for bereaved parents now, I decided to go check out an established group to help gain some insight to them and what they may look like in practice. You see, after the loss of Delilah, I didn’t see myself as a group share kind of person.  Its not something I believed would make me feel better, I thought it would only serve as reminder that life was cruel to many parents, which is more depressing when you’re still trying to process everything you’ve just gone through. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I attended.

In sitting in and sharing with this group, the support that was provided to these women was palpable. Its hard to describe, but it was there. I wasn’t afraid to share now that I’m a few years out from my loss; I’m still not one who would find solace in group support in this type of atmosphere, because I prefer individual interactions, but I didn’t find it depressing at all either.  What I found was a group of women who laughed, ranted, and cried, sometimes together, sometimes individually but all in a place they felt safe. Through all of this I was reminded why I volunteered to be a group facilitator, and the proof that this is what some grieving parents need to make it through their dark times and better days.  Unlike the people who will come to my group, I will not be sharing a whole lot in this role, because this time it’s not about me. Instead, I’ll be making sure the group takes the shape of whatever these women need at that point in time.