by Barbara L. Sherf
Mother’s Day is so often thought of as a day of breakfast in bed, homemade cards, fresh flowers and a celebration of life, but for mothers who have had an infant die, the day can be filled with sorrow, pain and guilt for not being able to mother and hold onto their deceased children.
Flourtown resident and Springside graduate Robin Lentz Worgan, 43, and her husband, Glenn, should know. While the couple has four children, 16-year old Elizabeth, a Springside student; 15-year old Martin, who attends an out-of-state boarding school; Winnie, 10, and Lila, 8, who attend Springfield schools, they also “have a daughter, Margaret, in heaven.” Margaret was fully formed, and Robin was in her ninth month of pregnancy when she delivered the stillborn on August 13, 1997.
Worgan, who has a Bachelor’s degree in English from Ursinus College and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from The University of Pennsylvania, began her writing career by contributing an essay about the miscarriage of her first pregnancy to an anthology titled “Our Stories of Miscarriage.” The painful experience led her to journal extensively and eventually write a book, “Journaling Away Mommy’s Grief: A Book And A Journal For Mothers after Stillbirth or Infant Loss,” that debuted in January. On Sunday, May 1, Worgan, will speak, read from her book and offer tips to grieving mothers at The Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane in Mt. Airy at 3 p.m.
After the stillbirth of Margaret, the author found that daily reflection and writing in her journal became powerful tools for healing. The couple was able to spend time with Margaret before she was taken away, which Robin believes helped in the grieving process. “Glenn and I looked at each other and both said, ‘Her name is Margaret Minehart Worgan.’ Then we held her for three hours and cried. They dressed her, wrapped her in a pink blanket and gave her a small gold ring and tiny teddy bear and took lots of photos.”
In each chapter in the 121-page book, published by Grief Illustrated Press, the author uses her original journal entries to describe her experience of coping with loss. In her book, Worgan offers many ideas on how to support a family that has had a baby pass away, including these three:
•Be a good listener. Unless you had a child die also, you do not know what I am going through, so just be there to listen and support me.
•Use my child’s name so that you honor her presence. Since she never lived outside my womb, your using her name actually keeps her spirit alive for me.
•Please don’t tell me how lucky I am that I have other children or can have more children in the future. I know that, and I say it to myself all of the time, but I can never get my lost child back. She will always be missing.
In the months after the death, Worgan talks about hallucinating and seeing Margaret. This excerpt is from April 3, 1998: “I sat looking at the ocean, and I had this vision of you playing on the beach. It was so real that I felt like I was really watching you. You look like your Aunt Katie did as a baby … Elizabeth is in front of you, and she is building a castle for you; then she buries your toes and plays peek-a-boo. You are laughing at everything she does. Later, I nurse you to sleep. You are not an easy nurser, but then again…you are not here.”
Curled up in a leather chair sipping tea, Worgan talked about that episode. “For those of us with a creative mind, it can be a gift to see that child. I can’t see her anymore because I don’t know what she would look like at 13. I can’t picture that.”
The paperback book has a colorful front cover that was inspired by Winnie. “I wanted to do something for my sister, Margaret, in heaven,” said Winnie. Daughter Elizabeth, who enjoys music, sang the Sara McLaughlin song, “Angels Among Us,” at the book debut event in January.
Worgan talked about how grief changes over time. “Her birthday had always been such a sad, painful day, and now it has become more of a celebration of her ever-constant place in our lives.”
“Journaling Away Mommy’s Grief” is available at $14.95 for purchase at the author’s website, www.robinlentzworgan.com; from Centering Corporation, a non-profit grieving organization at www.centering.org, or from Amazon.com.
Individuals unable to attend Sunday’s event may sign up for future Grief Journaling Workshops to be held at The Big Blue Marble Bookstore by e-mailing email@example.com.