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Below are some of my personal writings.  You are welcome to share them with others freely, including in newsletters (please let us know where you have used them by sending us a copy).   We do ask that you always give proper credit and copyright date when reprinting or sharing. Thank you.

To learn more about who I am and why I am still involved in bereavement care after 3 decades, check out my Bio and History in About Us


A Birthday Tribute to Brennan

A year has gone by,
it has painfully passed.
My arms still so empty,
my heart it beats fast.

My darling, Brennan,
how I wish you were here.
I've missed you immensely
this long, lonely year.

I'll never forget you,
your precious, innocent face,
your cute, tiny fingers,
your dark hair all in place.

Life must go on, for your Dad and I.
It doesn't mean we don't miss you,
or that we don't cry.

A brother or sister,
we look forward to soon.
We'll tell them about you,
for in our hearts there is room.

For all of our children,
both future and past,
My darling, Brennan,
in my heart, your memory will last.

Love, Mom 

November 2, 1982


Sherokee Ilse ©1982


Four Years Later,
My Son Remembered

I have a son in heaven
He looks down from above,
I wonder if he senses
The dept of all my love.

I think of him and love him
With each passing day,
It sometimes deeply saddens me
That with his brothers he'll never play.

Some days just thinking of him
Brings much pleasure and such joy,
Our family does include him
He's our very special little boy.

We will meet again in time
Rejoined with God above,

Until that time together
My heart has room to love.

Dear Brennan, I hope you know

That we all do love you so.

Your mom and family


Sherokee Ilse ©1985



Forget Me Not

Our little ones whisper,
“Forget me not,”
As their specialness wraps
Around our aching hearts.

Their short little lives
Hold meaning and love.
Their spirits have touched us—
Each and everyone.

They have left their gifts
For us to uncover,
If we open our eyes,
Our hearts, and our minds.

The road to discovery
Is hilly, deep, and dark.
Will we long harbor only the pain
Or set our wings for the light?

Our lives have been changed,
Our paths filled with sorrow.
Yet, their memories embrace us,
And our love lasts forever.

If we open our hearts,
Their gifts shall unfold,
As we
Forget them not!

Sherokee Ilse


Beautiful Sunrise, Bittersweet Sunset

Beautiful sunrise

Bring hope for the day.

Wash away darkness

Pray, light our way.


Oh sunrise, oh sunrise

Earth’s promises unfold

Of hope, joy, and happiness

And treasures untold.


So quickly your light

Fades, turns orange, and then sets

Behind mountains of secrets

Unfulfilled dreams not yet met.


Sunset, oh sunset

Your gifts still unknown

Your dusk is foreboding

We feel so alone.


Bittersweet sunset

Bringing dark to our night

Cradle us gently

Beauty and sleep out of sight


Oh sunset, oh sunset

Tears of sorrow flow forth as we mourn

Things left unfinished,

Our children still born.


Beautiful sunrise,

Bring forth a new day

Bathe us in love and memories

Pray….light and strengthen our way.


Sherokee Ilse    © 1993/2013





Have Hope

Have hope.
In this painful time
Embrace the love in your life.
Cherish the memories.
Have hope.

Say goodbye.



Move ahead,
Yet, hold on.
Cherish the dreams.
Have hope.

Face the struggle.
Share your feelings.
Seek support.
Have hope.

Take control.
Be an advocate.
Let go of that which
You cannot control.
Speak up.
Take hope.

Look ahead.
Dream new dreams.
Make new plans.


As you go on.
Take hope.

Believe in yourself


Believe in your faith
Believe in new dreams.
Believe in hope.

Take hope.

Sherokee Ilse



A circle of unending love and compassion

Life is a circle
of giving love
and being loved,
of giving care
and receiving care,
a circle of unending compassion.

To give is to receive.
As you sow, so shall you reap.

In giving to others, you shall receive tenfold.
To give is to receive.

Life is a circle,
a circle of unending love.
Sherokee Ilse



Love's Lament, Psalms Comfort

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
And let my cry come unto thee.
Psalms 102:1

Dear God this just can’t be.
My loved one has died. Why me?
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

All strength is gone,
My soul transformed
How do I breathe and then go on?
He maketh me to lie down
In green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.

I believed in love, in hope,
In tomorrow. Often I wonder
Why such sorrow?
He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of
Righteousness for his name’s sake.

A death march. A premature end.
The darkness overwhelms me.
To the depths must I descend?
Yea, though I walk through
The valley of the shadow of death

With fear and anger I am overcome.
And eternal loneliness.
Where does comfort come from?
I will fear no evil;
For thou art with me;
They rod and thy staff they comfort me.

I seek solace, mercy,
Guidance, friendship and love.
On this journey—
When does peace come?
Surely goodness and mercy shall
Follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house
Of the Lord Forever. Psalms 23

Lament - Sherokee


Response - King James Bible



25 Year Thank You Announcement

We sent this email/note to many friends, family, and care providers on Brennan's 25th anniversary of his birth/death.

"Dear one and all,

Twenty five years ago today our son Brennan was born and had already died.

As you know already , life changed dramatically and has never been the same. While many, many days, weeks, months and even years were tough, there were also many gifts that have come our way. As David and I reflect on some memories, go off to visit the hospital where he was born and bear gifts, and go about our normal day, we are thinking of ALL the people  who have touched us deeply, honored Brennan's memories, helped us in our journey to support and teach others, and who have just been (or become) our family and friends.

We are thinking of each of you today and hold a special place for you in our hearts. Thank you for everything--for being there--and for now being more sensitive to others in similar situations.

Because of this, our mission, Brennan's short life, and YOU, the world is a bit of a better place.

Thank you for allowing us to say in our own small way, Brennan is forever loved and always remembered, as it should be.

Hugs, blessings, and love to you."

Sherokee and David Ilse ©2006


Love Brings Hope and Life

It begins with love
Wanting more, waiting for new life
Planning for a future forever changed with

Then lightening strikes
Followed by a deep, lonely

Who could be prepared
For this type of anguish?
So alone, yet trying to be

Love pulls us through
Each day as we struggle to

Head down, heart down,
Stress and confusion
Lead to arguments, silence, and

Glimpses of beauty
And love eventually bring

Life and time
March on, while memories remain.
We are one; we will remember
Love reminds us to

Sherokee Ilse ©2008


Father’s Day  

Dad, you support mom along the way
Waiting for the time and day
When you can hold your daughter or son
And you can finally be the one
To toss your babe above your head
And tuck him in his waiting bed
Make a toy or buy a drum
Your time was near, but did not come.  

Who knew you would be standing nigh
And have to prematurely say goodbye?  

This day is yours and yet it’s not
Others don’t see the many tears you fought
To hold within and look so strong
As you tried to say nothing wrong.  

On this your special Father’s Day
Remember your baby who would want to say,
“I love you Dad.  You are the one.
I’ll always be your daughter (or son.)
Feel my kiss upon your cheek
And know that someday I believe we’ll meet.
Until then, let your tears come, (or not)
And love my mommy lots and lots.”  

Sherokee Ilse ©2009



Mother’s Day

Mothers Remembered


As you recall,
Your womb cradled your baby gently,
Your arms embraced your baby lovingly,
And your own mom carried you excitedly.
Remember the beauty of this unending circle of love.
You are always a mom, loved by a mom.
Separation and death can’t break it.
This bond and love endures,
Forever and always.
Moms remember. 
Moms are to be remembered.

A most special way.
The only way. 
God’s way.

Remember, mom, remember.

Sherokee Ilse ©2009





Preparing for Mother’s Day

A miscarriage, a full-term son who was stillborn, my only two children.  Yet, one look at me and it appeared there were NO children.  Mother’s Day was a confusing and lonely time.  No acknowledge came, except from my husband.  However, the pain was there pulsing through my body and mind.  We had experienced the worst initiation into motherhood and fatherhood—the death of our children and we could never go back to NOT being their parents. 

The death of a child puts a burden on families, especially during family times like Mother and Father’s Day.  Whether or not you now have living children in your life, you may be hurting as you approach this special day.  You are the parents of children who are alive and who have died. Or maybe you have no living children, but are still a parent for sure.  You may be confused about how you will and should be treated, whether or not to focus on your ‘full’ parenthood which includes those who live in your heart but no on this earth.

Usually the weeks leading up to the day can be worse than the day itself, especially if you take some control and make some plans.  The mounting fears of what people will say or not say can lead to anxiety.  You may wish to avoid any family gatherings with a trip or just by staying at home.  You do get to decide, despite family desires or pressures, what you do on this day.  There may be ways to change it up, do things to honor your special little one(s), while still participating in family time.

Where possible take some control; be clear and direct with others.  What do you hope people will say or do for you?  What do you need and want to happen on that day?  You have every right to celebrate parenthood and to remember your child, even if you do or don’t have other living children.  Below are some suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Examine your thoughts and options carefully.  Weigh out the pros and cons.  What are you worried about?  What do you hope for?
  •  Put words to your anxieties and desires.  Speak up; acknowledge your feelings to someone.  Tell others so they can be supportive.  It may not be wise to wait for people to guess what you need.
  • Take care of your physical health; stress is known to contribute to illness.  Take your Vitamin C along with other immune boosters.  Exercise and drink lots of water.
  • Take care of your emotional and spiritual self also.  Meditate, pray, seek peace and calm, and express yourself through writing, music, physical outlets…
  • Seek support from outside your family, especially from others who know what you are going through because they have been there, too.
  •  Be realistic and plan ahead.  Don’t overdo.
  • Be open to change or maintain some meaningful traditions.
  • Bring a candle or a symbol that reminds you of your baby (teddy bear, angel, or other memento) to any gathering you attend.  Either tell people you are doing it so they understand and can hopefully support you.  Or keep it private and know in your heart you are honoring your baby in your own special way.
  • Think of ways to reach out to others in memory of your child.  Maybe you give gifts to homeless children or hospitals who serve children.
  • Look for moments of love and joy; spend time remembering the good and the love.
  • Plant flowers or give seeds to family members so when they come up it will be a connection to your baby.
  • Ask for a card with a personal message rather than a Mother’s Day card if that is your preference.
  • Write a few sentences for the church bulletin asking the pastor, priest, or rabbi to remember all mothers – those whose mothers have died and those mothers whose children have died, including in early pregnancy loss.  A special prayer could be requested.
  •   Invite special friends/family to a brunch or other gathering. Or ignore the day and hope that it will be better next year.
  •  Remember, people are wishing for clues.  They may feel more comfortable in supporting you if they know what you want or do not want.

Most of all, do what will be most meaningful for you and your family.  Don’t let pressure from others keep you from doing what you need and want to do. Give your family specific suggestions, if you wish.  If telling them is too hard or does not work in your family, maybe you can write a note or an email.  This could even work to put on Facebook or other social media if you craft it carefully so as not to put people on the defensive (only because that usually comes back to bite you if people are angry or misread it and then post back).  Or maybe due to family dynamics you realize it will be less stressful to say nothing at this time.

Remember, you are the parents of this child who has died.  You will always be his/her parents. No one can take that away from you. You deserve to celebrate them, their short but powerful lives, and your mother or fatherhood.  Be the loving parent you want to be.

A footnote: David and I went on to have two living children, Kellan and Trevor.  Sons who touch our hearts each day and who bring joy and life into our home.   The first Mother’s Day after Kellan was born, my mother sent a card.  It was sweet; she meant well.  But the card said, ‘Happy First Mother’s Day’.  I know why she sent it, but wouldn’t it have been nice if we had talked previously.  Maybe if I had been more clear early on that this was not the first, but rather the first with a living child… Well, I understand and give grace, especially now that some time has passed.

Sherokee Ilse  © copyright 1983, revised 2013




Another Baby?  Maybe… © 2010 Sherokee Ilse

“Dear Lord, please bless this pregnancy and baby.  Help us to do all that we can to keep him or her healthy.  Please, please, please, let this baby live!”

 Such a prayer was standard fare during the long months of my pregnancy following two losses, a miscarriage (I named her Marama) and a full term stillbirth (Brennan).  I knew that the future of this next baby was in God’s hands since I had done nearly everything right in the two previous pregnancies, what could I possibly do differently this time?  This pregnancy was the world’s longest, I am convinced and each day was a tremendous milestone when I woke up to find I was still pregnant.   Thankfully, our son Kellan David was born three weeks early (whew – spared three weeks of anxiety), and he was healthy.

 The anxiety and fear before, and during, a subsequent pregnancy after one or more losses is intense for most people I have met.  Once a bubble has been burst, we feel vulnerable to any of life’s disastrous possibilities.  The naïve, blissful days are long gone.  Life’s stark realities remind us that anything bad can happen to us at any time.   This is a frightening to say the least.

Before David and I learned we were pregnant with our third baby, and hopefully the first to actually live, we struggled with whether we had the strength to try again or not.  What if we had a third loss?  How would we cope?  How badly did we want children?  It was the deep desire we held in our hearts to include children in our family that pushed us to take the risk again.  We disagreed on the timing; we worried about our sanity; we wondered if we would tell anyone for fear they too would be hurt again.  Nonetheless, we finally did get pregnant and realized that the joy was also coupled with fear and worry.

While I can not recount many of the details of that pregnancy here, I can say that daily prayer, stabs at optimism and quite a bit of denial (of my fears, of my worries and even on some days that I was pregnant) helped us through.  I sang to the baby and tried to be positive – buying a toy or special item about once a month in an effort to be positive.  Telling my child how much I loved him or her and that no matter what happened they would always be in my heart became a matter of coping.  I remember advice from a mom who had five or six pregnancy losses.  Her manner of staying positive with each pregnancy was to love that baby to the fullest, bonding as deeply as she could with the hope that all would go well.  However, if that baby happened to die, at least she would have no regrets; she had been fully involved and her baby knew her intense love.  I really did try this as often as I could, which clearly was not every minute of every day by any means.

 When Kellan came early and took a breath, we joyfully thanked God.  Our miracle had arrived!  Would our grief be over we wondered?   Would we be able to go on and have a normal fairly blissful life?  Would our troubles be behind us?   It wasn’t long before we realized that as humans we are and always will be vulnerable to trials, tribulation and tragedy.  David said it best when he called me from work one day to ask if I’d found his poem – writing a poem is something I had never seen him do before.  His succinct poem put to words my feelings exactly.


My Two Sons

By David Ilse



My first son,


My agony and loss.

 A tidal wave.


Loving family and friends.


New Life! Anxious wait…


New heights every day

Yet tinged,

By smiles, laughs and coos

Never drawn.


The birth of a subsequent child cannot erase the years of infertility or the previous pregnancy losses.  Those babies who might have/could have been are forever a part of our make-up, our family.  We look at sunsets, priorities and other babies differently.   Yes, the next babies are an answer to our prayers and a joy for sure.  For a good long while, they can also be a reminder of their brothers and sisters who are missing on earth, only to be found in heaven and in our hearts.



Some of the things that have helped others who are contemplating or in a subsequent pregnancy are:


  • Find a way to vent feelings, such as keeping a journal.
  • Talk with others who have suffered a loss and then had a healthy baby.
  • Ask your medical team what precautions they will take and what extra tests are available.  Be careful of the roller coaster that some tests can get you on.  Don’t just agree or demand them for the sake of doing something.
  • Try to find a support group, internet buddy or a counselor, you will likely need help from others along the way.
  • If you have doubts or are worried during the pregnancy at any time, call your medical care provider. 
  • You may feel you need to do something different this time.  As irrational as this might be, feel free to make those changes if you feel more comfortable and if they are medically acceptable.
  • Work on having positive and hopeful feelings, at least occasionally, even if they may not be coming naturally.
  • Follow and trust your instincts.  Do what you need to do , so no matter what the outcome, you will have few or no regrets.
  • Remember that much is out of your control.  Take control of those things you can and let go (let God) what is out of your control.
  • Have hope and faith that this pregnancy will work out.  Use prayer as often as possible.


The above suggestions are from the booklet, Another Baby?  Maybe…Thirty Questions on Pregnancy After Loss, by Sherokee Ilse and Maribeth Wilder-Doerr.   This booklet and Sherokee’s most popular title, Empty Arms: Coping with Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Death are available in the Healing Hearts eShop.   Many of her books are also available from  Sherokee resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is an international author and speaker on pregnancy loss and bereavement, and has lived the mission of improving the lives of bereaved families since 1982.