Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Still Born: Guest Post by Debut Author Wendy Paine Miller


I first met Wendy Paine Miller in printhonest, poignant, hilarious, heart-stirring words revealing a spiritual woman of depth and wisdom. Every week, I found myself returning to her moving thoughts, chewing on her blog posts throughout the day.

In 2010, I had the privilege of meeting Wendy at a writer's conference, and I found her just as authentic off the page. Today, I'm honored to host her in this space. Wendy is truly gifted at encouraging women and crafting words. Wendy's debut novella, The disappearing Key releases October, 2013.

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The seed of The Disappearing Key was planted over four years ago…

(originally posted February 28, 2009)

I just recently reconnected with a college friend who informed me within the past year she'd given birth to a stillborn little boy. When I read her news on FB I sat in front of my computer shaking and crying for over an hour. It's hard to describe the amount of sadness I had in my heart for her. Having given birth to three children and experienced my own struggles with having children I could empathize, but what I felt was beyond that. It made me sensitive to her that I could relate on some level, but what mattered more was my response.

I believe we all have a unique responsibility to comfort one another in meaningful ways. I also think it can be something of a learned behavior on how to do this tenderly and not annoyingly or harmfully. I'm still shocked by some of the things that were spoken to me during my trials of sadness. How quick we are to fill the room and space with words.

How quick we are to try to fix, heal or avoid the ache of the heart of the hurting. Let's face it, we are not born knowing how to come alongside someone. Yet, I do think we have an innate sense of how to be there but for some reason we are convinced it's not sophisticated enough, caring enough or it doesn't do enough to help. Sometimes I am most drawn to the Jewish way of helping others grieve. They sit shivah. Essentially, for seven days of mourning loved ones gather around the grieving, cooking for them, taking care of their needs and well, they sit.

If you've ever been hurting and had someone come sit down beside you when you're folded like crumpled paper on the floor you know there is something to it. Someone to wipe your tears, to rock you, to pull your hair away from your tears. There is such beauty in those initial acts of coming near to the grieving person. There is something to be said for just being there.

While my friend lives on the opposite coast and I couldn't sit shivah with her (completely willing to take on this beautiful Jewish act in my Christian faith) I wrote her about it. I let her know I wasn't going to throw verses at her or empty words. I made it clear I'd be there as someone who would hear her/read her words any time she wanted to write about her son. Because that is who he is and who he will always be.

On her Facebook page she has a cartoon picture of her, her husband, her dog and a little picture of her son with wings. I don't know how her son looks in heaven. I believe she'll know when she sees him. Just this past week I learned she's pregnant again. She's nervous and excited. I know the twins she'll be having won't take away from or replace the sweetness she had with her son for the brief moments she saw him here on earth. I know this because he was still born and held in the arms of his mother. 


Next time someone is grieving in front of you...think of how you can love them without feeling the frustration of finding words. Sometimes there are no words.

Loving all that's been given and taken away.

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*There is a movie that’s working up to securing a release date called Return to Zero that deals directly with the heartache surrounding this topic. I’ve visited the website where parents share about their loss. I highly recommend what is happening regarding this movie and people connecting with one another in this way.

They share this quote on their website: “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou

To visit the Return to Zero blog click here: http://returntozerothemovie.com/blog/

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Bio:  Wendy lives with her husband, their three girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels most alive when she’s laughing, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. She’s authored ten novels and is currently writing what she hopes will be your future book club pick.

Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature.

She’s represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.

Visit http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/  or connect with Wendy on Facebook or Twitter @wendypmiller

17 comments:

  1. Grateful to be here today, Melanie! Thanks for the opportunity & the kind words!

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    1. It's a joy to have you here today, Wendy! I'm so moved by this honest post. I long to learn how to sit shivah with others. To come alongside those who are grieving. I think this is something we struggle with in the West. Thanks for sharing this experience.

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    2. p.s. another thought...as a writer, I struggle with wanting to offer words to others walking through grief. But you are absolutely right that sometimes there are no words. Sometimes a hug or a helping hand speaks louder.

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    3. I'm big on hugs. I think they speak volumes.

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  2. Wow, Wendy, powerful words. I haven't heard of the Jewish term shivah, but as the recipient of it, I can speak to its impact. Like Melanie said, I think our Western culture often breeds the need to "fix". I pray I can learn to become a peace-giver, not a solution-giver.

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    1. Yesterday I went over to a friend's house, someone who recently lost her dog. I knew it was the right place to go and her actions confirmed that. She understood. She's been through it. Words can muddy things up sometimes. There are times when just being there is best.

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    2. Sarah, I like that prayer to become a peace-giver and not a solution-giver! What a beautiful prayer. Thanks for sharing here, dear one!

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  3. Once again, Wendy, you write a beautiful post that speaks to me. Some friends of ours delivered their sweet baby boy at almost 16 weeks gestation last week. They held their tiny, perfect son, and grieved over him. When I learned the news, my heart absolutely broke and I've cried many times. Like you, I've had my own struggles, delivered three healthy children, and have a sensitive heart for women/families who struggle with fertility & childbirth issues.

    This post was well timed. Thanks for reminding this wordsmith that sometimes words aren't what is needed at all.

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    1. I'm also hyper sensitive to losses such as these. Writers love words. But the longer I write, the more I'm beginning to see there is as much value to placement and timing with words as there is their meaning.

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    2. Jen, thanks so much for sharing here today! It wasn't until I walked through a miscarriage that I understood the grief involved in losing a child. Now my heart breaks for others who have the same experience. It's amazing how God can turn even our most painful experiences into something beautiful if we are willing. You are using your struggles to encourage other women. Simply beautiful.

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  4. Thank you for these honest words. Having lost two children, one to stillbirth and one to miscarriage, my heart breaks for others who share this but often I'm at a loss for words. I'm encouraged by what you write and looking forward to read your book in this topic. I'm currently being comforted and cared for as I have been put on bed rest with the pregnancy of our fourth - this comes at a perfect time. Thanks again and God bless you in your writing ministry Wendy. Thanks Melanie, dear friend for posting this!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Valerie. I believe in its potential to change others. I'm glad this post encouraged you. Investing in hope.

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    2. Valerie, I'm praying God keeps this little one safe. I'm so glad you were blessed by this post. Thanks for sharing your story. Love you!

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  5. Such a wonderfully, heart-touching interview -- but no surprise there. I've known Wendy for several years now and her words always are directed straight to the heart of the matter, whatever she is writing about.
    How beautiful to see grace woven through the word "still born," changing it to "still born."

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Beth! Yes, that is a clever play on words. Wendy is one amazing lady.

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    2. Thanks Beth! You'll never know how much your words have encouraged me when I've needed it most!

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  6. Beautiful, Wendy. I always believe a true, warm hug can speak your words for you.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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