top of page


2 minute read
Excerpted from: "Holding Avery" by Heidi Chandler


I often found simple everyday tasks like going to the dentist or the grocery store tricky. No one expected simple small talk to result in a miserable story about the death of a baby girl, but that's what people got with me. The truth took people by surprise and the conversation would screech to a painful halt, but I couldn't blame them. It was a horrible story--a story I had lived–and it should make people sad. But I always ended up feeling at fault for the awkward situation, like by not sugarcoating the truth I had done something wrong. I always apologized and desperately tried to save the conversation. “I’m okay with it, though, really," I would lie. "Everything happens for a reason."

I felt awful around pregnant friends and coworkers and did my best to avoid them; in my mind, I was a walking bad omen, a constant reminder that something could go wrong with their baby. I shouldn't be the one feeling bad, I told myself. I was the one with the dead baby. Theirs was probably going to live a long, happy life. Yet I couldn't get past the feeling that I was the grim reaper for the unborn.

Despite all of the awkward moments, in between the guilt, the head chatter, and the tricky conversations, I was no longer ruled by grief and crippled by desperation. It happened over a matter of months, so gradually that it came as a surprise. I started laughing more, smiling more, living more. Anger faded; hope grew.

I could go to the store without being paralyzed by the sight of babies. I could actually look at babies and not cry. I rarely had the urge to scream "My daughter's dead" in crowded places. I found myself thinking of a future rather than dwelling on a past I could not change. My heart, which had walked out of that hospital room with my dead daughter, began to grow again, making room for more love in my life.

Time didn't make the pain go away, but it made remembering a little easier. The pain remained, but it became different. The grief didn't stop, but it changed. I missed my daughter and thought about her hourly, but I was learning that I could love her, miss her, and still experience happiness. Moving on didn't mean I was forgetting Avery. Avery was always there; she always will be. But I couldn't let her death be the death of my soul.

She wouldn't want that.

pp. 175-176. Excerpted from: "Holding Avery: A Memoir" by Heidi Chandler. Posted by permission from the author. Published by MP Publishing, copyright 2014.

bottom of page