create. heal. inspire. jenn stocks.

Today you get to meet Jenn and her incredible work. She is the artist behind My Tangible Peace and she creates amazing lifelike sculptures in honor of angel babies. I think the most fascinating thing behind her work is the detail. She pays such close attention to the details of our little ones and it shows in her craftsmanship. Her post is her heartfelt of the inspiration her daughter left her to create and she is giving away one of her pieces here today too. ~Beryl

When it comes to grieving there are no rules, guidelines or handbook that will fully prepare you for the complete emotional devastation that rips through your soul after you are informed that you most precious and priceless asset, your child, has just died. My daughter was 16 months old when she was discovered “blue” and “not breathing” during her afternoon nap.

The weeks following her death are still very much a blur to me. We had the fortune, if you can call it that considering the circumstances, to be able to have her wake and funeral services at our family home. The funeral director that we used encouraged us to take her home. I remember him looking me directly in the eye and saying, “You can do this. It wasn’t very long ago that we used to take care of our own. You brought her into the world, now you need to see her out.” At that moment my maternal mama bear found the strength to follow his advice and we left, together. As I look back on that moment today, 11 years later, I whole heartedly believe that I did the right thing. Instead of leaving her in the care of strangers, and to only be allowed to see her body at specific calling hours, I took her home to where our memories of her radiated off of the walls. I brought her home to a warm and loving shelter that smelled of her and felt safe. I took the time to be alone with her and inspect every inch of her perfect little body. I traced my fingers over the sewn up violations from the medical examiner. I took in this unbelievable reality that was dream-like and quite surreal. We laid her out in the Moses basket that she slept in as an infant and placed her surrounded by daisies on our family table. The very same table that we, to this day, share holiday and birthday meals on. We kept her body with us for two days. Over that time I talked to her, I cried over her, and I stroked her hair. I kept her body in my room during the nighttime hours part for comfort because I wasn’t ready to let her go, and just in the slight chance that this whole thing was a just a horrific nightmare and once I woke up I would find her giggling and chatting and the experiences from the previous two days would melt away with the sunrise. It was on the morning of the second day that I knew that this wasn’t a dream and that it was time to let her go. I could see the changes that death had brought to her body. It wasn’t scary or gross, but it was time. We made that breathless call to the funeral home informing them that it was time and they gave us the okay to bring her to the crematorium. I really don’t remember much of the car ride, I just remember her face. Handing her over to the caring hands of the funeral director left me dizzy and gasping. This was real. My daughter was dead. And this was the end. No more pictures. No more holidays. No more books, or dolls, or shoes (she loved shoes). My world as I knew it just slammed on it’s breaks and didn’t care that I wasn’t buckled in.

In Memory of Madison my family and friends raised money to build a playground in the same college housing that we used to live in, and we also started a scholarship for single parents. For the first three years, although I missed her greatly, I felt satisfied that we did all that we could do to Honor her Memory. It wasn’t until her 5th birthday that I started struggling with my grief again. Once again the tidal waves of loss came crashing down on my soul and I was instantly time-warped back to the day that she died. I was wrecked with emotions and once again raw with her loss. Then her 6th birthday came, and I felt as if I needed to do more, but what? Then the 5th aniversary of her death came and went and my heart ached for something that brough a piece of her back to me. I started reading books and doing some research on parental berievement, but that only soothed my ache for a short time.

As silly as this may sound I found my inspiration in an email forward. Some of you may be familiar with it, and for those of you who are not may I suggest looking it up, Camille Allen’s ‘Marzipan Babies”. The email stated that these tiny, palm sized, sculptures of these sweet little babies were sculpture out of a pastry dough called marzipan. In truth they were actually sculpted out of a polymer clay but regardless something about them spoke to my heart and I remember saying to myself, “I can do that”. You see I’ve been playing around with sculpey, which is a polymer clay that you can find in any craft/hobby store, for years. I loved the stuff. Now, up until that point I had only ever made more cartoony funny characters never something as realistic as these tiny baby sculptures, but I had to try. Within a day I had sculpted my first baby. It was rough, but there was something energizing, powerful and yet very peaceful about forming this newborn form out of a blob of clay, and I was hooked. In the summer of 2006 I was asked to create my first Memorial sculpture in Honor of a beautiful little girl who was born an angel, and from that moment on my work has found a second purpose.

My heart and soul belong to my Memorial pieces. I have mastered the art of ‘likeness’ and have used that mastery to create portrait pieces for families who have lost children in pregnancy, birth, to SIDS, or other illness. In all actuality 85% of my work falls into this realm because this is where my passion lies, my motivation behind my creations. It fills me with so much joy to know that I can share this, fairly new discovered talent with those who are still trying to find their tangible peace. Even if what I have created only fills the void for a brief moment, I’m forever glad that I was able to help with that solace for the road of grief is not mapped out very well.

And Instead of keeping these naked babies in a box in my attic for my grandchildren to discover after my death — I instead offer my services to other families who might want them. I don’t push, I don’t promote— I just let things happen on their own. Think of it like this: They have a path….sculpting lets me loose myself in my work for awhile. I’m able to think about Maddie and really focus my energy on her…and then I’m done. A stopping point. BUT instead of packing it away it moves on….to another family who needs it. Someone who needs to have something else that represents their passed baby — a knick-knack of sorts. Small enough to be tucked away in a drawer and kept private until an emotional collapse….My work is just as selfish as it is giving.

It’s not Art for Art’s sake — it’s art for the heart.

Giveaway

Jenn is generously offering one of her 12 week old (gestation) sculpture pieces to one of our readers.

To enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post: What would having one of Jenn’s sculptures mean to you?
  • You can gain additional entries by following My Tangible Peace on facebookbe sure to leave a separate comment telling us you’re a fan.

 Entries will be accepted until Sunday January 29th and a winner will be announced on the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope Facebook Page on Monday January 30th.

 

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Comments

  1. Dlisa Morris says:

    We found out that our baby may have stopped growing at my first doctor’s appointment, when I was 8 weeks along. We went through two hellish weeks of “well maybe the baby is still alive but developing a little small.” It was false hope & we did lose our baby on November 7, 2011. This would have been our third child & I’m pretty sure the little girl we’ve always wanted. I’ve tried everything to memorialize our sweet baby with crosses, a rose bush, & I’m even contemplating a tattoo. I just feel like I need something to touch to feel connected to my baby. That may sound a little silly but if you’ve lost a baby you know.

    • Julie Jones says:

      Dlisa, my experience was so similar, I just had to comment. In Oct. of 2011, when I was 8 weeks along, I began bleeding and went to the ER. They, too, said that the baby was only measuring at 5 weeks, but I was only diagnosed with a “threatened miscarriage,” and they sent us home with hope. That didn’t last long, as I miscarried 3 days later. Looking back now, I believe the baby had stopped growing and was already gone at 5 weeks. This was also our third child, and we were hoping for a little girl after having 2 boys. It’s been over a year now, but I still stop and just break down at times, out of the blue, it seems. I haven’t really done anything to memorialize this baby, and we’ve just “moved on” with our lives. We never even heard a heartbeat (hadn’t been to our first doctor’s appt. yet), so it seemed that it would be easier to move on. But I think it’s almost harder, because I didn’t, and don’t, have any tangible evidence that this baby ever existed, except for the physical actions of miscarriage. I’m now pregnant again, 4 months along now, and everything seems to be going great. I just don’t want that baby to be forgotten or seem like he/she never existed. I’m still struggling with how to stay connected, as you said.

  2. Sarah Pooley says:

    Having one of these would mean the world to my husband and I . We have lost 3 babies thoe we only talk about our twin sons we lost at 18 week . I still think about that tiny baby we lost at 11weeks . Nobody knows about our wee jellybean angel as we were waiting to be 13 weeks before we made it public . Unfortunly we never made it that far . For now and always I love you my beautiful angels <3 Mummy xox

  3. Barbie Grunkemeyer says:

    I was contemplating whether or not I was emotionally ready to leave this comment, and I feel like it may actually be a good thing to speak of my Angel baby. Looking at your amazing little babies gave me goosebumps and made me immediately well up with tears. On October 29th of 2011, my husband and I learned that the baby we had been trying to conceive for a year, had suddenly “had no heartbeat”. I was only 11 weeks pregnant, but I felt like my world had completely stopped. As heartbroken as I was, I believe my 3 little boys were more crushed and confused than I. They didn’t understand what happened or why the baby had to go to Heaven. I bought them special books about miscarriage and tried my best to grieve with them and help them be honest about their feelings. On the one year anniversary of losing our Angel baby, I found out that I was pregnant. I spent that day confused, sad, heartbroken, anxious, and a little excited. I am now 12 weeks along, and while I’m excited about bringing a baby home in August, I know too well, how easily things can go wrong in pregnancy and often with no explanation. I spend a few minutes every day talking to my Angel baby, and praying for her and for this to be a healthy pregnancy so we can bring home a baby, instead of a lot of tears and books to help my little guys understand heartbreak at such a young age.
    Having one of Jenn’s amazing sculptures would mean a lot to me and my family. While my young boys are now excited about having a “rainbow baby”, they still pray every night for our Angel Baby and they talk to her often. I am still wearing the necklace that my Mother bought me after losing the baby, and we still read those books together. I think that having a “baby” in our home, that resembles the age that our Angel baby was when we lost her, would help the boys when they pray or talk to her. I know that it would mean so much to my husband and I as well, but I have a feeling it would mean even more to these little guys. (They are 9, 5, and 3.)
    I really appreciate you taking the time to read my heartfelt message and I apologize for it’s length, but I have a hard time writing from my heart and “keeping it short.” I also wanted to thank you for this amazing opportunity and I will be hoping and praying that my family will be able to bring such a wonderful reminder of our Angel baby home. Thank you again,

    Barbara Grunkemeyer

  4. veronica says:

    Well It would mean that instead of looking at Keith’s urn, my living children could look at a baby. They didn’t get a chance to see him in the hospital and I think its hard for them to understand that there baby brother is sitting in a tiny urn the shape of a heart.

  5. Jessica says:

    I miscarried at 10 weeks. The pregnancy itself was a complete surprise. I found out at 9 weeks and scheduled a doctors appt to see how far along. It was a terrible time for it to happen but with the problems my mother had ttc, I knew that every baby is a miracle. I was so happy and nervous and anxious on my way to the doctors appointment. I had only know for a few days and when I got in they started an internal ultrasound. I saw the baby and my heart started pounding. This was real! Then the doctor stopped and said, “I’m sorry but there’s no heartbeat.” I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. “What do you mean? I see the baby, am I moving too much? I’m sorry I’m just nervous.” Her eyes were glued to the floor when she said, “I’m sorry, it means the baby has passed away. Gestation appears to have stopped around 9 weeks.” I didn’t know what to say, what to do. I never told anyone, and I often think of my little angel and wonder what my life would be like with that baby in my life. A sculpture from Jen would give me that chance to have something to remember this baby by. To say a few words, to have that chance to hold the baby I never got to meet, to hold to touch, to kiss.
    I now have an 18 month old daughter but not a day goes by that I don’t think about that baby.

  6. Francine says:

    We lost our first baby at 13 weeks gestation. I was 16 weeks with no signs of impending miscarriage and was urged to submit to a D&C. I was young and had no idea I even had the option to be induced and deliver my tiny baby girl. The first D&C was incomplete and I needed a second about a month after the first. I’ll always regret not having the chance to hold my first baby.

  7. Beth says:

    What an incredible story, and an incredible gift that you give. Thank you for sharing yourself, and Madison’s life. Love to you.

  8. Liana Seda says:

    it would remind me of my beautiful little girl everyday.

  9. Liana Seda says:

    i’m a fan :)

  10. Renee Backstrom says:

    We lost a baby at 12 weeks and I’ve been having a really hard time lately. I’m hoping this piece could help me in my grief.

  11. Pam says:

    First I want to say that your work is AMAZING!! And I would be HONORED to win one of your sculptures. I find it very coincidential that the one you’re giving away is a 12 wk gestational baby as that’s the age of my most prominent miscarriage. I’ve had a total of 3 early miscarriages and “Precious Peanut” was the worst. I carried Peanut the longest of the 3 and saw it on sonogram & heard it’s heartbeat. I’ll never know if Peanut was a boy or girl unfortunately, I never had testing performed after my miscarriage. The nightmare I lived through almost literally killed me from all of the blood loss. I ended up needing a blood transfusion. It’s been just over 3 years since I lost Peanut, but not a day goes by that I don’t think about, miss & love my little one. God Bless you for what you’re doing!!! :)

  12. I am a mommy of 4 angels, I lost my 1st angel at 10wk4d, my 2nd at 4wk, my 3rd at 6wk and my 4th at 18wk My Son My Baby Boy Jesus Angel Salinas born sleeping on 04/17/09. I have recently bought sculptures of My angels from Jenn, but I would love to win this 12wk sculpture for my best friend. She lost her baby at 12wks (but she didn’t find out until she went in to find out the sex at 16wk.)

  13. Crystal says:

    I never knew the “story” behind the pieces than Jenn makes. Wow, what a beautiful story of love. Jenn, I’m so sorry that your precious Madison couldn’t stay with you.

    I lost my son Nathan at 16 weeks, 5 days gestation. He was born on July 21, 2011 at 2:32am. After many years of infertility and secondary infertility, due to my endometriosis, we were shocked and thrilled to learn that we were expecting on Easter Sunday 2011. We went to our 4 month appointment, eager to schedule our gender/anatomy scan for the following week. Sadly, we found out that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. I was induced and went through 12 hours of labor to deliver my son, who was already gone. I was released from the hospital on the same day he was born. I was wheeled off the maternity floor with empty arms and a broken heart. I left with nothing to acknowledge that he ever existed. I have nothing that was his, nothing he touched, no picture or piece of paper to say he was real. The only keepsake I have from my labor, delivery and pain is a hospital bill for a “vaginal delivery”. It would be nice to have something, as a reminder of him… something real, something that can be touched.

  14. Crystal says:

    I’m a fan of My Tangible Peace! :-)

  15. My first loss was at 13w2d, but Rowan was only the size of a 12wk old baby. He silently slipped out of my body and into my hands on August 17, 2009. Having this sculpture would be like having him to look at and cherish all over again.

  16. I am a fan of my tangible peace on FB

  17. Peggi says:

    Jenn: Even tho it’s been 24 years, near the anniversary date, (May 12th) I lost it. I’m still on medication, and seeing a counselor and shrink. Besides losing my daughter, I’ve lost two grand children, and baby girl (Shayna) stillborn at almost term, and a 14 month baby boy (Shayne) who drowned in their pool.. Amazing how after all those years, I still grieve. Thanks Jenn, for all you do…Peg

  18. Holly says:

    I’m a fan on FB!

  19. Holly says:

    I’ve always loved Jenn’s pieces. I’ve wanted to get a 12w sculpture for my 1st baby, lost around that gestation.

  20. Stephanie says:

    I follow now on FB!

  21. Stephanie says:

    Oh Jen, I am so thrilled to see you here and read your story. Believe it or not, we too had a home funeral for Amelia and it was the most beautiful and right things to do for our family. I know most people are not at all familiar with this choice and many would not make the same, but the days we spent at home with her were by far more healing and empowering than any that have passed since. Thank you so much for sharing your work, your daughter, you choices and your story. I would be thrilled to win one of your beautiful pieces!

  22. Martha Dixon says:

    I would love to purchase some of your babies as gifts to my patients.I amd a labor delivery nurse at a small local hospital.I do all the counseling for anyone (no matter the gestation) involved in a loss at our hospital .I feel it is my ministry to be of any kind of support during this awful time… Martha

  23. Kelly says:

    I find tears running down my face as I read each story, each so heartbreaking and as a Mom it is so easy to feel for another Mom. I work fundraising for a Hospice and as a part of that hear all the stories from families of impending losses and what a beautiful way to memorialize any life through these beautiful angel babies. I am truly a fan! Kelly

  24. Carina says:

    It would mean the world and life as we all know it… As a mother of one beautiful girl(8) and one handsome boy(6) i had a miscarrege of 11wks…just like some cases i didn’t know i was pregnant…i thought that since i was breast feeding my boy (which was 10months at the time) it was just my hormones going wild…but to my surprise it wasn’t my hormones going crazy… I found out the hard and painful way….as i did my regular routine of various work outs i started to get cramps.. to my surprice I thought i had gotten my period…..my cramps started to get stronger as the day past…early next morning i woke up to a painfull pain on my obdomen that just felt like if i was going into labor…no idea what was going on…i got up of my bed and power walked to the restrooms to see what was going on.. But befor i got to the restroom i felt like something had came out onto my underpanties…..and as soon as i sat down….out came a little transparent sack full of blood and i couls see little veins right thru it……i called my mother over and she arrived in less than 5 min…she could make anything out of it…she took me into the hospital right away (i graved the embryo and put it inside a jar and to take it with me to the hospital)..the doctor told me that i was in between 11 weeks to 12 weeks into my pregnacy……and that what had came out me was my BABY… i had no idea i was pregnant otherwise i woul of taken precausion on everything i did….the doc told me that it wasn’t my fault…that when something is wrong with an embryo your body reacts to it in alot of diffrent ways…but for me…my body had the reaction to miscarrage…I felt so bad….and even do i hadn’t planned on having another baby i felt into a stage of depression….my body gave up on me…i just could do anything for me,my hudband or for my kids…my mother came over one day and started to talk to me about what had happend…that things had happend for a reason…that things never happend for no reason…that maybe it wasn’t time for that angel to walk our earth…that god had bigger plans for it…that i will see my little angel in its giving time… She gave me the best cmfurting speach i needed to hear.. i cant help myself into thinking and wonder if it was a he or she, who (he) or (she) would look like..what kind of child (he) or (she) be…I found peace with what had happend. my kids helped me thru all this….every morning i would wake up and just stare at them for a couple of minuts befor they woke up…and every day that i would stare at them i just thanked god for letting me have them two beautiful kids……But this will also mean alot to me and my cousin…she just had her baby on 1/25/2012 at 32 weeks..they didnt inform her in none of her 2 ultrasounds that thre was something wrong with her baby..not until 4 weeks ago they told her that her baby had no eyes and no nose…that at her 32 weeks into pregnacy it was a risk for a pregnacy termination..she was against it..and disided to continue with her pregnacy knowing the risk she was willing to take the risk of loosing the baby at birth or for a mmiracle to happen for her…. jsut yesturday she gave birth to baby Darlenne…she was rushed into a resperator to keep her alive… the priest came to baptice her..she has a gourges son his (1)yr old…she was expecting a girl…but god had stepped in and took baby darlenne into his white veal…and took her to a beutiful and better place…I know that having one of Jenn’s sculpture would mean the alot to her…she would always have a peace of Darlenne to remember..
    Carina…………

  25. Diane Lang says:

    Jen, I always knew you had lost your little girl Maddie, never to have heard the story. Truely broke my heart and I cried reading your it. You are so strong and brave, a true mother celebrating your daughters life to the end finally letting her go. I admire you, and Thank You for sharing your story, your wisdom, and your heart. I’m proud of you for the healing you inspire with your special gifts and talent. .. Much Love, Di and Zander

  26. Laurance Dyson says:

    I accidently ran into Jenn on ETSY when and where I started my Shop..Her work here has impressed Me so much that I am buying several of her Babies to help support this wonderful way to recover from this devastating event in a life-family. Ty Jenn for stepping out in your Art work and for this wonderful dedication here..your friend In Texas..Laury

  27. Jenn,
    I am a funeral director and I am also a mother. I work with families who have lost their children, and I have miscarried three of my own. I always consider the ones I lost to be my “children” and whenever possible I try and give families the opportunity to be with their child, regardless of gestational age. We even crochet teeny bonnets in embroidery floss so parents don’t have to leave without a keepsake of their baby. I am so touched you found a funeral home who understood that this was your child and gave you the option of bringing Madison back home. So many parents do not even know this is an option, and unfortunately it is a practice that many funeral homes actively “discourage” to “spare the feelings of the family” Being with a child after they have died, especially when there is often no reason why, is very , very difficult, but not having that precious time can lead to endless remorse and regret. Mother’s who have lost babies still mourn terribly, even after a lifetime. Suppressing grief and pretending the baby never existed takes it’s toll. I would be honoured to be able to offer families the comfort of your art. Please keep doing what you are doing.
    Sandy Poelvoorde

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