Mom’s loss of baby leads to book and support group

Linda Schafran still copes with the tragic loss of her daughter more than 20 years ago.

Linda Schafran has written a book about the loss of her daughter

Linda Schafran has written a book about the loss of her daughter

Linda Schafran still copes with the tragic loss of her daughter more than 20 years ago.

She remembers the deafening silence that filled the hospital delivery room on March 10, 1986. At nine pounds seven ounces, Stephanie Anne lay motionless. Time passed slowly as the doctor explained her full-term baby was dead as a result of brain shrinkage caused by a narrow umbilical cord.

For Schafran, there was no crying, squirming baby for her to hold.

“Initially, I felt anger,” she recalled, sitting at the kitchen table in her Abbotsford home. “There’s that denial part of grief, not accepting it initially. I felt out of control.”

The following days were filled with an array of emotions and questions. Schafran says one of the hardest moments was returning home to a nursery with empty arms. She ended up leaving Stephanie’s baby clothes and furniture in place for months, some of which are still packed away in storage.

Schafran blamed herself in many ways for Stephanie’s death. She felt guilty for not informing her doctor of several falls throughout the pregnancy, including one where she landed flat on her belly. However, she came to realize the loss was out of her control.

“You can’t blame yourself. It’s something that does happen and when it does, it’s about how you’re going to deal with it,” said Schafran, who teaches kindergarten at Dasmesh Punjabi School in Abbotsford. “Are we going to be devastated by it, are we going to let it defeat us, or are we going to see this as an opportunity to grow?”

Schafran now believes she had some emotional preparation for Stephanie’s death. Six months earlier, she learned first-hand about the stages of grief when her brother committed suicide. First there was shock and denial, followed by anger, sadness and depression, and finally acceptance. Schafran credits her faith with getting her through those dark times.

“You can’t really be prepared for a baby dying,” she said. “But I felt like I was stronger because my hope was in God, not in me pulling myself out of this. It was totally throwing myself spiritually into His arms.”

The mother of three details her emotional journey in her new book To Have But Not To Hold. The story includes vignettes of other women who experienced similar loss, a selection of poems and biblical passages.

Schafran thought she was over her grief, but found the writing process caused the painful memories to flood back.

“You never forget the loss. It’s a memory that will always be with you,” she said, noting that the family still acknowledges Stephanie’s birthday every year. “She was my daughter and I missed her, I loved her and I still do. We’re going to see our baby again someday in heaven.”

The experience has led Schafran to launch a support group at Northview Community Church to help others dealing with the same heartache. She hopes to provide encouragement for women by sharing strategies she used to gain comfort through difficult times.

“Grief is a timeless anguish that we face,” she said. “It’s not something to back away from, to be afraid of or to be shy about sharing with others. The more you’re open about it and talk about it, the less it becomes inward and almost stifling and hard for you to grow from it.”

Anyone interested in participating in the support group can contact Bev Peters at 604-853-2931.

Just Posted

AHL president and CEO Scott Howson believes the new Abbotsford franchise is off to a strong early start. (AHL photo)
AHL president: ‘Tremendous success’ selling season ticket deposits for Abbotsford franchise

President and CEO Scott Howson optimistic about new Vancouver Canucks affiliate in Abbotsford

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

The committee to name the new Eagle Mountain elementary school will now not reveal the top three school names until September. (File photo)
Committee to name new Abbotsford elementary school needs more time

Top three Eagle Mountain elementary school names will now be narrowed down by September

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court. Labbee was convicted April 12 for the fatal hit-and-run of 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Sentencing hearing scheduled for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Crown will seek jail time for Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby attend opening of the first government-run B.C. Cannabis Store, Kamloops, Oct. 19, 2018. (B.C. government)
B.C. government to allow home cannabis delivery starting July 15

Added convenience expected to persuade buyers to ‘go legal’

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Homicide investigators say the disappearance of a 33-year-old Burnaby man is linked to ongoing gang warfare in the Lower Mainland. (IHIT)
Disappearance of Burnaby man no accident, foul play suspected: IHIT

Parminder Paul Rai, 33, is known to police for his connection to drug and gang activity, says Sgt. Frank Jang

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August 2019 about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
Elections BC approves petition application for referendum on Surrey policing transition

Application was filed under Recall and Initiative Act by the widow of a Surrey murder victim

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fiery crash on the Okanagan Connector between two semis. (Facebook)
One dead after fiery Okanagan Connector crash between two semis

DriveBC estimates road won’t be open until 5 p.m.

Most Read