As my latest writing project starts circulating in the coming weeks, I know that some people might wonder who on earth is this Heidi Indahl person anyway? What qualifies her to talk about the rosary or pregnancy and infant loss?
On first glance, coming to this blog or following me on social media just might leave a person even more confused!
Here are five(ish) answers that question.
Life & Loss
This is probably the most obvious. If racking up hours on something makes you an expert, I guess I'm getting pretty close to expert status when it comes to this loss business. I know many other women who have had multiple losses, and some with many more than I have, but few who have had the unique combination or triple play of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death that I have. While all three are equally traumatic and difficult, there are unique aspects of each. I tried to give a fair balance to that in writing this book. No one wants to be an expert on this topic, but I also think the real experts (those who are living it) have to make sure we stand up as a voice for each other.
The first Holy Week after Kenna died, several years before becoming Catholic, I noticed Mary for the first time. I mean she had always been there for the annual Christmas play, but for the first time I noticed her at the foot of the cross. I understood the whole passion differently that year because I saw it through the eyes of Mary. From there, I developed a bit of a secret (at first) obsession with the Blessed Mother and the rosary. I even wrote a post about it when we became Catholic.
After that post, a friend sent me a bag of rosaries which were the first that our whole family prayed with. It was her son who introduced me to Jesus on a string- that boy still has a special place in my heart, they moved away and I miss him...and his mom too...ironically or not, he is only a couple months older than Kenna would be. When we later interred Kenna's remains, we buried several of those rosaries (and a few others which had all been well loved past repair at that point) at the same time.
I've always believed that Kenna prayed us into the Church from Heaven, and looking back I see a lot of ways Mary was a part of that! She pursued me relentlessly even after we came into the Church, particularly as I journeyed through my grief following Siena's death, and the rosary was undoubtedly a tool she used to strengthen and rebuild my faith in her precious Son.
The 2015 MN Catholic Home Educators Conference
Crazy this made the list, right? Three things/meetings happened at that first conference after Siena died that seriously set the course for this book to happen. I was in a place of slowly emerging from a cocoon of hiding and feeling strongly that something big was coming but I didn't know what it was going to be. Even then, I knew the conference was important that year. The first thing that happened is that I connected with Jerry from Peanut Butter & Grace and started blogging semi-regularly in that space. I signed a book contract shortly after for another book on family service projects (hopefully out later this year). When the Holy Spirit got on me about writing the rosary book, I already had this contact with a publisher to say, so I was thinking of writing a book about infant loss .... Despite a full editorial calendar, he said yes and less than two years from our first meeting, when it was not a thought in either of our minds, the manuscript has come through to completion.
You can go ahead and believe in coincidences, but I don't.
The second and third reasons are both women that I met that weekend. It was a powerful weekend and I somehow knew that the tide was changing in my life. Again, I blogged a little about it at the time but I want to share a little more detail now. One of these women (who I won't name, but knows who she is) shared a story with me about a big loss that she had never told anyone about before. She and I have kept in touch sporadically over the past two years and she ended up doing a test read for me and providing one of the parent reflection quotes that made the final draft of the text. Her story was powerful for me and such an example of the concrete need for some sort of tool to help women on their grief journey.
The other woman wrote a book called To Know the Savior. It is a fantastic book/journal about prayer practices. The book grew into this beautiful ministry of prayer and community. That year the author, Michelle, was talking about how God called her to write this book and it was like she was speaking to me. She talked about not really knowing what she was doing and just trying to follow the Holy Spirit. I don't remember exactly what she said but it had a huge impact. Not so much because she wrote a book, but because that was the kind of abandon I wanted when it came to my prayer and spiritual life. Siena's short life had changed something deep inside of me and I knew that I didn't want to be held back by fear any longer. If I could survive that I knew that I could literally do anything that God asked of me, if only I could listen closely enough to know what that was. I guess I'm basically telling you this part of the story because you should never, ever, ever be afraid to share your struggles alongside your successes...the Holy Spirit may just use those two things together to inspire someone else on their journey. Michelle didn't tell me to write a book or what to write a book about, I doubt after that day she even knew my name. She was a vessel, an arrow even, and a very important one.
I already mentioned the need for parents to speak up about these precious little lives. It is more complicated than most people realize, however. A few years back there was some pending legislation in New York regarding providing legal status/recognition to babies who are stillborn. We were discussing it in a private loss group and a woman who lived in New York told us that she didn't believe that it would pass because "legislators would be worried how it might affect abortion legislation in the future."
Seriously? We can't acknowledge stillborn babies are actually babies because it might make someone who wants to have an abortion uncomfortable? Maybe it's time for the truth to make people a little bit uncomfortable. For every week earlier that a loss happens, it becomes less socially acceptable to fully grieve that loss, even among the most pro-life communities, and this is just frankly not ok. It shouldn't have anything to do with abortion, I totally agree...but it does. Pregnancy and infant loss challenges our preconceived notions of what it means to be human. Some might say that I shouldn't dishonor my daughters' memory by politicizing it, but I would argue I'm not. I'm humanizing them.
My Most Frequently Asked Question
Despite being primarily a homeschooling blog, one of the top reasons I am contacted privately starts like this, "My (cousin, sister, best friend, etc) just had a loss. I want to send her something, what should I send?" This book is my answer to that question.
I want you to send your loved one some hope and encouragement that she is not alone. She's not thinking about the big picture stuff I mentioned above. She is lonely and she is hurting in ways she never knew were possible. Other women have felt her pain and kept moving for one more day, one more breath. They have fallen to pieces and their faith has helped put them back together again.
You or your loved one are part of a sisterhood now. A sisterhood of other women who didn't want to do this either. I didn't want to do it. I didn't even really want to give a voice to these reflections, I certainly shudder to think that I might qualify as an expert. Yet, God asked me to. The same way he asked me to give my babies back to him before I was ready. I don't understand that. I may never understand that. The difference was that this time God gave me a choice. He asked me to write and then put the right people and circumstances on my path to encourage me.
I can only humbly pray that His use of me may now encourage you.
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