In November we visited our 18-year-old daughter who was spending her first semester of college in London. Being tea lovers, we one day went to High Tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace, home to Queen Anne, Queen Victoria and, more recently famous, Princess Diana. It is an exquisite building with beautiful orange trees. The tea was served with varied scrumptious sandwiches and treats for dessert as well as clotted cream on perfectly textures scones. While there, I read the brief history of the Orangery. It seems it was implemented by Queen Anne, sister of William III. I became curious about Queen Anne and looked her up.
As it turns out she was a true kindred spirit of mine, and maybe yours. Anne was very happily married to Prince George of Denmark for 17 years. According to various accounts, during their marriage which ended with his death in 1700, Anne was pregnant 17 times! Her first pregnancy ended in a stillbirth. She then gave birth over the next two years to two girls, Mary and Anne Sophia and then in 1687 both girls caught the chicken pox and died. As stated above George and Anne took these deaths and the deaths of all of their children very hard. In total, over the course of 17 years, Anne had 12 stillbirths or miscarriages, sources believe that there were 6 miscarriages and 6 stillbirths and five live births. Their only child to live past the age of two, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester died at the age of 11! Anne was so sad about his death that she ordered a day of mourning every year on the anniversary. Matters grew worse when six months later she lost her husband! Can you picture her grief? But two years later, Anne with many heavenly children but no live children became queen, a very popular one at that, and she reigned for 12 years until her death.
When I first lost Margaret to stillbirth, it gave me strength to hear about other mothers of loss who found strength to carry on. Anne is a pillar of strength and endurance to all of us mothers of loss for she carried on in light of all her losses and quite possibly because of them for her grieving energy was used, quite productively, to rule England from 1702-14.
As I say those final words about Queen Anne, I am reminded that my daughter, Margaret, never leaves me. I am her mother eternally. Knowing this is such a comfort to me but then I am reminded of the two moms whom I just found out about who gave birth to stillborn babies this past month. One woman lost her first child, another lost her third. Though I want them to know that they will forge on in life, right now they need to take it one moment, one hour at a time. They need lots of unconditional support from family and friends. This Mother’s Day month bless all moms who have lost babies and give them strength to march forward. Like Anne, go have a cup of tea and be kind to yourself and know that all of us other moms of loss carry your pain and understand your story without any words needing to be spoken.