A Lifetime of Holy Saturdays

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In the moment of a child’s death, we enter into our own living of the Easter triduum.  We have our hearts pierced, like Mary’s, when our lifeless child is placed into our arms and everything we knew about this world is shattered into a million pieces.  We weep and wail from the depths of our souls. In the one final gesture that we have to offer them, we painfully and lovingly lay them into their tombs.  Then what?

That is where we enter into our lifetime of Holy Saturdays.  Every day of our lives from there on out, echoes that Holy Saturday. It is a time of immense pain when we try to make sense of what has happened.  It is a time where we are brokenhearted, dismayed, our worlds are spinning, and the faith that we thought we had figured out becomes uncertain.  We are still traumatized by the events of yesterday, we grieve deeply for the absence of the one we love, not knowing what will be next.  Yet, there is this glimmer of hope and anticipation.  He told us that death was not the end of the story.  And so, with no real understanding of exactly what that means, we hope for that promise to be fulfilled while we wait in the aftermath of death.  Lingering, grieving, hoping. 

When that long, lonely, painful Holy Saturday comes to its end, the ones who loved Him run to Him, and find that their hope was not lost.  Death was not the end.  There, springing forth after the time of waiting, came life--glorified, rich, and deep, with every moment saturated with meaning and purpose, and a whole new world opened before our eyes.  There is joy. Relief. Gratitude. Adoration. 

Rest in the quiet of your Holy Saturday.  Honoring the grief and the pain, yet holding the hope of His promise. When this day comes to a close, we’ll find that Hope has come to life.

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Safe Sleep. Real Life.

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It’s easy to teach and preach the ideals of safe sleep.  “Back to Sleep” every time, pacifier, no loose bedding, or stuffed animals… never in a car seat, a swing, a bouncer, in an adult bed, and never ever on the couch.  But then you have a baby.  A human baby with their own preferences and needs, being taken care of by parents who happen to be human too.  Humans who need to sleep or sometimes just get a few things done, like prepare a meal, wash the puke and poop-stained load of laundry, or take a shower...  That ideal of safe sleep can sometimes seem like an unreachable pedestal.  And when that’s the case, we either feel guilty for not “doing it right” or we justify to ourselves why it is unnecessary to try to follow those guidelines… “What are the chances, really?  …My baby can’t sleep that way and never will.  …He only likes to sleep this way.  …She spits up too much to sleep on her back. …He’s getting a flat head and they sleep better on their tummy anyway…”  The list goes on.

Safe sleep is important to me.  After my little man died of SIDS, I know too well the depths of despair that come with such a loss.  I can’t bear the thought of ever having to bury another one of my children.  That means I want to reduce their risk of death in EVERY possible scenario, but a safely sleeping baby is definitely a very high priority to me.

As much as I want to perfectly follow every safe sleep recommendation every time, with a new baby at home, I’m reminded that it is an ideal to work toward, a practice, and not an unbending checklist to complete.  In those first weeks, there were many nights that I’d be up for hours during the night with a teeny-tiny newborn that just couldn’t seem to relax and sleep outside of Mama’s arms.  I tried and tried, picking her up and laying her back down in the bassinet beside me repeatedly, and when my exhaustion had had enough, I caved.  I snuggled her next to me in my bed and we both finally found the sleep that we so desperately needed.  But the thing to remember, is that when we have to cave and compromise, we don’t have to throw all caution to the wind.  When she ended up in my bed, I moved all the pillows well away from her and I only pulled my blankets up over my legs so they wouldn’t accidentally get moved too close to her face.  I caved where I needed to in the moment and I mitigated the risk where I could… and I thought to myself, the bassinet isn’t working tonight, but we’ll keep practicing.  Little by little she got more comfortable in her safest sleep environment, and here we are just a month later and she’s sleeping six hours at a time, on her back, and in the bassinet, and she even seems to sleep best there.  It’s wasn’t without effort, practice, and a few failures on both of our parts, but it feels good to know that now she is able to sleep well in the place that is best for her.

Occasions for compromised sleep environments are everywhere.  Know what they are and what makes them dangerous.  Know which things are the riskiest, find ways to improve the environment even when it’s not perfect.

Don’t let the inability to follow safe sleep recommendations perfectly be the excuse to give them no heed.  Be gentle with yourself when it doesn’t work and keep trying to make them the best that you possibly can.

Opening to the Pain of Loss

When, in a single moment, we were thrown into the depths of grief with a pain as big as the loss of a child, it is only natural to protest this new and horrific experience with every bit of our being.  A loss this big infiltrates every single moment of our lives, with tentacles reaching into every thought, every breath, awake or asleep, into every mundane task and every meaningful moment.  It is all consuming.  It is dirty and messy.  It is excruciatingly painful.  This grief is an unwelcome invasion, and by all outward appearances, seems to be an enemy, the thief that came in the night and stole our joy and our purpose.

We naturally fight this enemy of pain, flee from it, or lay limp in defeat.  We hurt like we’ve never hurt before, so we clench our fists and our jaws, scrapping for the upper hand that we can never seem to find.  “It shouldn’t be this way,”  “It’s not fair,” “I can’t,” or “I won’t, live like this.”  When we’re too exhausted to fight, then we turn and flee. We will just do whatever it takes to avoid uncomfortable moments, to dodge painful feelings and memories, and when running from those feelings doesn’t work, maybe we will give up hope on a meaningful life and ever finding joy again, surrendering to the thought that I am forever broken and ruined.  These are natural responses.  Our bodies and our brains are designed to react in “fight or flight” to threatening situations to help us avoid physical harm.  But this threat is of a different nature and it doesn’t have to be this way…at least not forever.

What if…just what if…we dared to look at that pain through a different lens and view it as a teacher, rather than an enemy?  The constant ache of missing a child is so much to bear on its own.  Are we really helping anything by fighting the invisible enemy of pain, or are we just adding a tremendous struggle to our already heavy burden?  What if we unclenched our fists and laid the boxing gloves aside? What if we softened our eyes and our hearts and saw this pain as a teacher bringing growth to our lives.  Some of the greatest teachers are the ones that demand the most of us.  They present challenges that seem impossible and push us way outside our comfort zones. The lessons are painful, yes, but if we give them space to take root, something beautiful just might grow.  

This teacher of pain has too many deep lessons to think we can tackle them all at once.  This is a subject will take a lifetime to learn.  If there’s a task that’s too big in the moment, that’s ok, maybe it’s a lesson to be tabled for now and approached again at another time. But bit by bit, we can learn from our pain and let our grief be our ally to growing in love and wisdom.

When I stop to consider this pain of loss as my teacher, rather than an enemy to evade at all costs, everything inside of me softens a bit.  I am reminded of the experience of labor.  It is an all-encompassing physical pain.  I can fight that, tightening every muscle of my body, dreading with anxiety every contraction that’s coming, and in doing so, add exhaustion, tension, and emotional distress to my pain…or, I can know that while this is a painful experience, it is a natural one.  I can know that I have a good support team, that I will be ok, and that something beautiful and life-changing will come from this experience.  In being open to the pain rather than fighting it, I change the experience entirely.  It is much the same in the pain of loss.  When I stop fighting the experience, the sadness remains, but so much tension, bitterness, and anger fades away.  And with that, my eyes are opened to the opportunities for growth, and I can see the beauty that has emerged from the dirty, the messy, and the ugly.

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Ask yourself; what are the lessons, both good and bad, that have come from my grief and the pain of my loss?  How have I changed for the better because of this?  How do I want to change because of this? What are the beautiful things that have grown from these ashes?  What am I still learning?  What are the beautiful things I would like to see emerge in my life from this experience?

Go ahead.  Let something beautiful grow.

Prescription for Sorrow

Saint Thomas Aquinas is known as the Angelic Doctor. He was a philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church.  While he lived in the 1200’s, the clarity and truth that he taught has continued to hold value even to the present day.  He had a deep understanding of the human person, an uncanny ability to see subtleties clearly, and to articulate his thoughts.  He is well known for combining both profound faith and solid reason to make arguments that are hard to deny.

So what does that have to do with my grief?

I was listening to the “Pints with Aquinas” podcast one day, and the topic happened to be “Aquinas’ 5 Remedies for Sorrow” (episode 39, for those who might care to check it out).   As I listened, I was struck by how much it resonated with the sources of comfort that I had stumbled into on my own quest to remedy my sorrow.  When your child dies, you find that you plummet into what is argued to be the deepest sorrow known to man.  I felt like I was groping around aimlessly in the dark, hoping to grab ahold of something that would ease my achy heart.  If only I’d landed on this treasure from Aquinas sooner, it may have been a flashlight in the dark…a tool to shed light on what could be sources of meaningful comfort.

Joy and sorrow all mingled into one picture as one my sons studies the headstone of another.

Joy and sorrow all mingled into one picture as one my sons studies the headstone of another.

Much of what Aquinas outlines is intuitive…they are things that as human beings, we can discover on our own.  The problem most of us have, is that the true wisdom that leads us to peace and healing gets all jumbled up with things like cultural attitudes, the expectations from the people around us, and our own insecurities, fears, and doubts.  It gets hard to figure out what to keep and what to set aside.  It’s easy to reach for the things that numb us, and the pain seems better momentarily, but after the passing of time…hours, months, or years…we find that those things have really not helped us heal and the work of grief is still sitting in a disheveled pile, waiting for us to tend to it.

I can’t help but wonder, if I had found this list earlier, would it have helped me be more intentional about how I grieved?  Maybe I could have let my tears flow more freely, knowing (from the wisdom of the wisest) that these tears weren’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of healing.  Here’s the prescription from the doctor.  May you find confirmation of your deepest needs, security, and comfort for your sorrow!

The Angelic Doctor’s Prescription to Remedy Sorrow:
Paraphrased for easy reading

1. Weeping:
Thomas Aquinas outlines two main reasons that tears and groans bring comfort to our sorrow.  The first reason is that when we are hurting emotionally and we try to keep it all shut up inside of us, our souls become even more intent on the sorrow.  However, if we allow the pain a path of escape, rather than turning in on ourselves, we can turn our attention outward and the inward sorrow is lessened.  The second reason is that there is some level of comfort that comes from the honesty of showing on the outside what we are feeling on the inside.  When our actions match our internal disposition, there is a level of pleasure that accompanies that congruency. 

How many times did I feel like bursting into tears, and tried to keep them all trapped inside because it wasn’t a good time or place to cry, or simply because I was afraid to break the flood gate?   I thought my tears had no “purpose” so I’d wrestle with them to keep them in.  It is exhausting to try to hold that in.  Eventually, I gave up trying.  When I was in the store and something triggered my grief, I just let the tears do their thing.  A little bashful about it, yes, but it brought so much more relief than trying to hold them in ever did!  It turns out those tears do have purpose…their purpose is to bring healing to my soul.

2.   Pleasure:
The doctor explains that pleasure is a kind of relaxation or peacefulness in our souls that occurs when what’s happening in the moment matches well with our wishes, hopes, and desires; while sorrow, on the other hand, is what we feel when there is a chasm between we want and what actually is.  He gives us the analogy that pleasure is to sorrow, what, in bodies, rest is to weariness.  Sorrow is a sort of weariness that comes from the gap that we feel, and pleasure is a rest in something that feels good or right or beautiful.  Just as rest brings relief of weariness-- no matter what the cause of the weariness, pleasure brings some relief to sorrow--no matter the source of the sorrow.

The sorrow that comes with a grief as big as the loss of a child can be all consuming.  We are not capable of grieving and mourning 100% of the time…we need those little breaks that come from doing things that we enjoy, being with people who make us smile, in moments of lightness and laughter.  It’s too easy to feel that doing something we enjoy, or daring to laugh or smile, is somehow a betrayal to our loved one and our grief.  Aquinas shows us that finding times of enjoyment is not a betrayal, but an honoring of our grief.  We know how deep our sorrow is and we can also know how essential moments of pleasure will be to bringing long-term healing and comfort.

3.   Sharing Sorrow with Friends:
While it is natural to find that having the sympathy and understanding of friends and family is a meaningful source of comfort, Aquinas sees there are two reasons for the comfort.  The first, he says, is because since sorrow has a depressing effect, it is like a weight that we strive to unburden ourselves of.  When we see that others are saddened by our sorrow, it seems as though others are sharing in the burden of the weight and the load of sorrow becomes somewhat lighter.  The second, and better reason, he states, is that because when friends sit with us in our sorrow, we see that we are loved by them…and feeling loved is the ultimate pleasure, and every pleasure eases sorrow, it follows that sorrow is lessened by a sympathizing friend.

How true this is!  There were two main groups of people that were my sources of comfort.  One, was other bereaved parents.  They knew the burden, the ache, and the loss in a way that no one else can.  They shared my sorrows, relieved my anxieties, offered me hope of healing, and lightened that heavy load.  I was surprised at how connected I could feel with complete strangers or with people I barely knew because of this shared experience of loss of a child.  The people who entered into my life because they had walked a similar road were an unexpected gift and a Godsend to me.  It is largely what motivates my work of helping other bereaved families find those connections.

The second group of people were the people who loved me before my son died, and continued to reach into my life afterwards.  The ones who shared my sorrow, not because they knew what it was like, but because they loved me.  I concur with the Doctor. The second reason is the better reason.  While I have made many dear friends from connecting with bereaved friends, there is something deeper, more soothing, and more comforting that comes from a sorrow that is shared out of love.

4.   Contemplating the truth:
Aquinas asserts that the greatest of all pleasures consists in the contemplation of truth.  Since we know from what was discussed already, that all pleasure softens our pain, then contemplation of truth is a valuable remedy to our sorrow.  He also explains that the more comfort that you find from this remedy, the more perfectly you can be considered a lover of wisdom. He says, “And therefore in the midst of tribulations men rejoice in the contemplation of Divine things and of future happiness...”

Contemplating truth was a huge piece of my grief-work.  The death of a child had no place in my world view, nor in my picture of an all-loving God.  Yet, the hope that comes from the possibility of being reunited in heaven, made it impossible for me to walk away from the God that promised that.  I needed to understand how suffering and a loving God can co-exist.  I needed to know everything that is available about heaven and what it’s like…there were so many questions to be answered! What is it like there? Who is looking out for him and taking care of him? What might his experience be like? Does he feel the pain of our separation?

These things are hard.  I had feelings of anger and betrayal toward God that I needed to work through.  It didn’t happen all at once, but in tiny fragments.  The work is not done.  I’m still growing, still find new perspectives and understanding that is helpful.  But this is the ultimate source of long-term healing and peace. A healing and comfort that is deep rooted and I think is one that will withstand in the storms that are undoubtedly yet to come.

5.  Warm Baths & Naps:
Lastly, Thomas Aquinas prescribes bodily comforts, such as baths and naps.  He says, sorrow, by its nature is offensive to the physical body; and consequently, whatever restores the body to its due state of wellness, is opposed to sorrow and lessens it.  Moreover such remedies from the very fact that they bring nature back to its normal state, are causes of pleasure…and we know well by now, that pleasure assuages sorrow.

Contemplating truth and warm baths & naps.  The juxtaposition is almost funny.  Yet, I found those bodily comforts also had a valuable place in my acute grief.  I was amazed at how much my body hurt, how physical grief could be.  Every muscle was tense, my empty arms ached, I could feel the sharp edges of my broken heart, headaches and nausea became frequent companions.  I needed to relieve the pain of my body.  I found myself soaking in a hot bath regularly.  I found reprieve in a good nap.  I found that frilly coffees were a delightful comfort food.  A good run, breaking a sweat, and moving my tight muscles, and the endorphin rush that comes with it found a regular place in my search for comfort. 

Being medically minded, the analogy that comes to mind is this: Like many things in medicine, when a patient presents in severe pain, we dull the pain with a pain medication which is valuable to the comfort of the patient, but then we have to work to heal the body on a deeper level.  Pain medicine is not enough for the long haul, but they sure do help get through the most excruciating pain.  Baths and naps are the pain medicine, the immediate comfort; contemplating truth is the deeper healing plan.

Take these remedies and hold them near, explore them, and see if this wise old Doctor really knows his stuff.  I think you’ll find that he does!

Approaching Christmas Without You

For the Children's Memorial Garden being built in Rapid City, I was asked to write briefly about Lachlan in a "feature the children" series.  (To see more on that Memorial Garden click here)   Here's what I wrote: 

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“As Advent is here and Christmas approaches, the ever-present sting of your absence sharpens. My heart aches at missing the opportunity to see your eyes dance as you run to the arms of Santa to tell him your wish of presents. I feel the emptiness of what should be your space in our home. Yet, even in the sorrow and the sting, there is a bigger joy and hope. My soul dances at the thought of you running eagerly to the arms of Jesus…not for presents, but for His presence. Perfect Christmas joy, peace, laughter, and celebration in the place we will ultimately call home together. As we prepare to celebrate Christmas here scurrying to buy all the perfect presents, I am reminded that our bigger preparation is for the perfect and eternal gift of our ever-present Christ and the joy, hope, peace and love that is perfect in Him.

Christmas without him wasn't always a place of hope, peace and joy.  

Reading through what I had to say this year, highlights for me how much my grief has transformed with time. Hope, peace, and joy have re-emerged slowly over the years, so gradually that it almost goes unnoticed. Like the sun that slowly rises and the light that gradually returns.  The change is imperceptible moment to moment, but then all at once, you realize the day has come. Now, nearly 10 years later, my grief is softer than it once was.  The joy that I feel now wasn't always there, and the hope I describe used to feel light years away.  While I still miss Lachlan every day, and especially at Christmas, it's not like it was that first Christmas...or the several after that.  In that first Christmas without him the joy was nowhere to be found.  I felt some obligation to paint a happy face, to somehow try to find a way to have some Christmas cheer, to let my toddler have a "normal" Christmas even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.  I couldn't do it and I felt torn.  I hadn't yet learned to be happy and sad.  I didn't know those opposites could co-exist.  I had to take that heap of emotions and learn to let it be.  Learn to be ok with a different kind of Christmas, to do what I could, and not beat myself up over the things that I couldn't.  When we fight our painful experiences, we make it harder on ourselves! Like in labor, in those moments of excruciating pain, you can fight it with your whole body and mind; or you can let it be, breathe through it, hang on for the ride, and know that it won't always be like this. 

If this is your first Christmas without your child...let it be.  Let it be whatever it is.  Maybe some shared happiness, maybe mostly sad, maybe too hard to acknowledge, maybe it's going through the motions of a "normal" Christmas, maybe it's not doing any of it.  Maybe it's starting a new Christmas tradition and finding a way to acknowledge the empty space.  Maybe it's not planning anything and just getting through the day as it comes.  However it is this Christmas, it's ok to let it be. It won't always be like this.  It will soften and one day you'll look back and find the grief and the joy of the season have woven themselves together to create something new and beautiful. 

Why I talk about my dead child on Facebook

I know, it makes many of you squirm a little…or maybe even a lot.  It’s uncomfortable.  Our society doesn’t do death, or pain, or life-changing grief, so we follow the crowd and look away.  Pain that can’t be cured is like leprosy…it must be pushed aside, driven to the outskirts and left to fend for itself.  Society teaches us that it’s acceptable to rally around the child fighting cancer. We all get warm-fuzzies in supporting that family and that child in their fight.  It feels good to support a cause like that, but when death wins that battle we quickly drift away.  What society does not teach us is how to be present to a pain that can’t be cured.  It’s too hard.  It’s awkward.  We don’t know what to say. The reality of a dead child is too much to bear, and our culture encourages us to bring a casserole and then carry on with our lives, not daring to take the time to truly peer into that grief.   

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So, when I talk about my grief and the child that is no longer in my arms, it’s often easier to pass by the post without acknowledging.  We’d much rather protect ourselves from the reality of unjust tragedy, however, that tragedy is now my world. I can no longer look away.  When I share my world, it’s easier for others to wonder if I’m stuck in my grief, if I’m seeking pity or attention, or if I’m broken forever, than it is to imagine a pain that deep.  Society implies that if we openly express our grief, we are immature, needy, or we simply can’t cope with our grief...so it’s easy to assume that I must be doing something wrong. 

The truth is, expression of my grief is the work of mourning.  There are so many thoughts and emotions bottled up inside of me that I have to get them out!  That is exactly what mourning is; it is the outward expression of my grief.  This mourning, this outward expression, is not just a small part of the grieving process, it is ESSENTIAL to it.  I’m not making my thoughts about my broken heart and my dead child public because I’m stuck; I do it because I’m healing.   Alan Wolfelt, a leading grief teacher and expert points out, “ Mourners who continue to express grief outwardly are often viewed as ‘weak,’ ‘crazy,’ or ‘self-pitying.’ The subtle message is ‘Shape up and get on with your life.’ The reality is disturbing: Far too many people view grief as something to be overcome rather than experienced.

When I talk about my child, I am doing my grief-work.  My world has been torn apart.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  My feelings, and emotions, and the chaos in my head are overwhelming to me, too.  But the thing is, that chaos is normal for someone who is grieving.  While anyone who has grieved intensely will tell you how normal that “crazy” feeling is; yet it feels anything but normal to me.  I need to be affirmed in my feelings and to be reminded that I’m not as crazy as I feel. 

I tell you about my dead child because telling my story helps close the gap between my head and my heart.  My head knows that my child is no longer here.  That he is dead.  My heart can’t possibly bear that.  My heart has dug in its heels and refuses to come along on this ride.  I must coax it gently into this new world that my child is not a part of.  

I know, my mourning makes you feel helpless and no one likes to feel that way.  In order to heal from my hurt, first I have to explore the depths of it.  As Alan Wolfelt puts it, “To honor your grief is not self-destructive or harmful, it is self-sustaining and life-giving!”  I need to know that there is good reason for the depth of my pain and I need to be affirmed that the loss of a child arguably the most painful loss that can be endured.  I need to know that every sting, ache, stab, crippling pain, and unexpected flood of tears is acceptable and normal.  Please don’t tell me not to grieve, or not to cry.  Don’t encourage me to “be strong”, or to pick myself up and carry on.  The most helpful thing you can do for me is something our culture teaches us to run from. If you want to help me heal, then sit with me for a moment in my sorrow.  Be brave enough to feel my pain for just a moment.  I need to know that while the depth of my pain is as it should be, and then you may gently remind me that I won’t always hurt so fiercely.  Remind me of the hope for meaningful life to re-emerge and that joy won’t always be lost in the shadows. But as you give me that reminder, I ask you to remember to hold space for my sorrow.  I will heal, but I will never be the same.  I will experience joy and laughter, but it will always be tangled with the strings of sorrow.

The grief work after the death of a child is a lifelong job.  Yes, it will be most intense in those first years, but it will need to be re-visited regularly for the remainder of my existence. 

Please be patient with me while I mourn. Share my pain with me for just a moment, in those times that I reach for comfort.  Every time you see a post that makes you want to look away, don’t see me as weak and needy.  Instead, dare to see my courage.  Know that in my weakness I am being strong and courageous.  It takes tremendous energy and courage to stare into the depths of my pain.  Some of the world most beautiful people and missions are a result of intense sorrow.  So remember that by giving my attention to those ashes, I am cultivating ground that can allow something profoundly beautiful to grow.

The new logo...explained!

I love symbols.  Signs and symbols are plain, ordinary things that point to something bigger than themselves.  They are at times subtle,--easily missed if we don’t take the time to truly ponder what we see.  Symbols remind us that we are surrounded by more than what meets the eye!  As Lach’s Legacy is beginning to embark on the next 10 years, with a new 501(c)3 nonprofit designation of our own, it was the perfect time to re-create the branding to more deeply express what it is we hope to do!

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This new logo shows the heart of what Lach’s Legacy strives to be.  A source of hope and an anchor in the stormy seas of grief.  Let me tell you more...


The dragonfly has been our symbol of hope from the day Lach died.  It has also been used as a meaningful part of the Lach’s Legacy logo from the beginning.  It was inspired for us by a little story book given to us in the hospital on that dreadful day he was torn from our lives.  The story was of the water bugs at the bottom of a pond.  Every now and then, one of the bugs would climb up the stalk of a lily pad and mysteriously never return.  The water bugs held a meeting to get to the bottom of this.  They made a promise to each other that the next one to climb the stalk would return to tell the others where he had gone.  Very soon after, the same water bug who called the meeting found himself climbing the stalk.  He reached the surface and found an expansive new world above the pond.  He found he had a new set of beautiful wings that allowed him to be freer than he had ever been.  As he was zipping around joyfully in this new form and in the new place, he remembered the promise he’d made before his journey.  He tried his best to keep his promise, but found that in his new form, he could not get below the surface and also understood that even if he could, his friends would not recognize him in his new form.  The others would have to wait until they’ve made the journey themselves to be able to know the glorious new form and place that was waiting for them! 

This symbol and the story speak to the heaven that I love to imagine our children are enjoying, and one that will be our ultimate destination as well.  It also alludes to how painful and hard to understand this separation is for those of us left behind.  While those of us below suffer from the separation, it is nothing but a joyful experience for those above the surface.  This change that happens as we die to one form and take on another is mysterious to those of us below, and completely natural to those who are making the transition.  The story leads us to hope that our ultimate fulfillment is brought about by our transition to other side. Our loved ones are there.  Alive, present, and joyful in a glorious new form. They remain very near to us…just above the surface.

As we begin this new chapter of Lach’s Legacy, we want to hold onto what's important in the old and bring fulfillment and clarity in the new.  The old of dragonfly mixed with the new of the anchor.  An anchor is a heavy weight that holds a ship in place, remaining firm and steadfast amid the uncertainty of storms and the elements.  An anchor symbolizes the concepts of firmness, tranquility, and hope. 

Some of the best comfort I found in my early grief came from exchanging experiences with others who had walked a similar path.  Those people who dared to share that vulnerability with me became anchors for me as I grieved.  By seeing them and hearing their stories, I knew there was hope of living wholly, fully, and joyfully again, though it was hard to imagine at the time.  Lach’s Legacy wants to be that anchor for other grieving parents.  A shared vulnerability, a connection to others who share a similar story, something solid to cling to when we are feeling as though we will drown in this ruthless storm of grief. Lach’s Legacy wants to offer a source of steadiness, tranquility, and hope that can bring some sanctuary in the depths of grief.

There's more. The symbolism of the anchor is two-fold.  When Lach’s Legacy was conceived, the idea was to be a secular organization offering comfort without ties to faith and religion.  However, I have learned through my own experience and in sharing the experiences of others that life in the wake of losing a child is inevitably a defining moment in our spirituality.  We are challenged to explore our beliefs on what is beyond this earthly life.  I cannot be true to my experience of grief and to share fully my sources of healing and comfort, without also acknowledging the one who is The Healer and The Comforter.

There is some great Christian history in the symbol of the anchor.  It comes from Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  In a spiritual context, the anchor symbolizes the stable part of our being, the quality which enables us to keep a clear mind amid the confusion of sensation and emotion. It is hope in Christ amid a turbulent world and hope of heaven in the face of death.

The colors of the logo, too, symbolize more than what you see.  Green.  The color of spring, new life, and hope. It is the color of growth and transformation.  Grass green is a restful color. It points to the life force and the Healer.  Green is the great balancer of the heart and emotions, creating equilibrium between the head and the heart. It inspires our ability to love and nurture ourselves and others.  And blue. Blue is the color of the infinite.  It is the color of the infinite ocean and infinite sky and it inspires us to look beyond. It represents heaven. It is the color of the Virgin Mary, a mother who also held the body of her deceased child in her arms. It is the color of peace and tranquility.

I hope peering into the symbols of the logo has helped clarify what Lach's Legacy is about!  I am looking forward to the new and improved direction of Lach's Legacy.  I hope you are inspired to follow along and share with those who may find needed comfort and healing between the anchor and the wings!

 

 

To Be Like Sadness

You know Sadness, from the movie Inside Out? She knows something profound.

Sadness.JPG

This morning, I read:
If someone asked you if you were compassionate, you might readily say yes. Or at least, "I believe so." But pause to examine the word compassion...For the word comes from the roots that mean literally to "suffer with"; to show compassion means sharing in the suffering "passion" of another. Compassion understood in this way asks more from us than a mere stirring of pity or sympathetic word. 
To live with compassion means to enter others' dark moments. It is to walk into places of pain, not to flinch or look away when another agonizes. It means to stay where people suffer. Compassion holds us back from quick eager explanations when tragedy meets someone we know or love. 
In some ways you might think such opening ourselves to other' pain would only intensify our own. How many people run to where others are suffering? Who easily hears someone weep or cry out or reveal a quiet sadness? Confronted with poverty or hardship or mourning, we say to ourselves, "Let's go where things feel a little more comfortable." Such is our natural logic.
In so many encounters we try to look away from the pain. We try to help our friends quickly process grief. We hastily look for ways to bring cheer to a child or ailing aunt. All the while, however, we act less our of genuine "suffering with" and more out of our need to stand back from the discomfort we fear we might feel. We secretly restlessly want to move from the place where it hurts. Our evasions do not help others, of course, but rather cause them to put up defenses and drive away those who need someone to care. 
One reason we react to others this way grows out of our skirting of our own pain. We resist getting near the suffering of another partly out of our unwillingness to suffer ourselves. For another's hardship suggests to us what can also hurt us. Such reminders unsettle. But our hesitation to look squarely at another's suffering, to sit or stand with someone in pain, weighs on conversations an obligation for the other to "act happy." Even worse, our persisting in denying our losses leads to mounting desire to control other people's lives. In his penetrating study, The Betrayal of the Self, the psychoanalyst Arno Gruen shows convincingly how "the actual source of our cruelty and callousness lies in the rejection of our suffering." 
For we may fall into the illusion that we own people, that we can use them, that we have a right to manage their feelings. By offering premature advice on how to cope, by rushing to reassure, by prodding with advice, we say much about or own needs for easy closure. When we barge in with such consolation, we make hurting souls into objects or projects. 
For all the ways this approach seems to insulate us from the hurts and needs of others, it ends up not helping us at all...We find relationships bending or even breaking under the weight of expectations we place on them in our discomfort with another's suffering. We end up even more alone and walled within our disappointments or sadnesses." 

-Henri Nouwen, Turn My Mourning into Dancing

By being brave enough to look deeply into our own suffering, we become able to sit with others in their suffering. By learning to show genuine compassion, to truly "suffer with" another, we will build gentleness, gratitude and even joy in our own hearts as well as meaningful relationships with others. Our hearts will be bigger and our world will be better if we can be brave enough to look into and understand the depths of our own suffering.

In the Wave of Light We Grieve Together

It's October 15...the night for the Pregnancy and Infant Loss wave of light! Lachlan, and all the other babies who have touched my life, have been in my thoughts and close to my heart in the last few weeks.

Wave of light nouwen.jpg

I just picked up this new book, "Turn My Mourning into Dancing" by Henri Nouwen. He says this about the dance of finding joy in our sorrow, "And as we dance, we realize that we don't have to stay on the little spot of our grief, but can step beyond it. We stop centering our lives on ourselves. We pull others along with us and invite them into the larger dance. We learn to make room for others--and the Gracious Other in our midst. And when we become present to God and God's people, we find our lives richer. We come to know that all the world is our dance floor. Our step grows lighter because God has called out others to dance as well."

This October, rather than the Capture Your Grief project, my dance has been to accompany a couple of other families as they have stepped into their new worlds of grief and mourning. Truly, in the gift they give by allowing me to be present in their sorrow, my life has become richer.

Nouwen says, "I realized that healing begins with our taking our pain out of its diabolic isolation and seeing that whatever we suffer, we suffer it in communion with all of humanity, and yes, all of creation. In so doing, we become participants in the great battle against the powers of darkness. Our little lives participate in something larger."

Tonight, as we all light our candles in remembrance of our infants and share that light with the world, we take our pain out of its isolation and we participate in something bigger than ourselves. By joining together in a wave of light, we battle the power of the darkness and as we suffer in the communion of humanity we also let our healing begin.

When a life changing grief becomes insignificant

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After Lach died I read a book called Hello, from Heaven. It was a lovely little compilation of stories that people told of their "visits" from their loved ones. There must have been a chapter in there of people who had their visits in the form very vivid and vibrant dreams. I wanted to have that experience so terribly. I did have one dream about toward the end of that first year. However, it was not the peaceful hope-filled dream that I was yearning for. Instead, this one left me feeling the wound torn open and the ache of living without him feeling very fresh again. I definitely didn't want to have that experience again. 
I had a different kind of dream about a month ago and I'm finally deciding to share it. Sometimes things are too big for words and it feels like you are taking something away from a powerful experience by trying to make it conform to our language. However, in the case that it might bring a ray of hope to someone else, here goes: 
It began as I was parking my van in a grassy area of a park that was somehow connected to Nehemiah, a local high school boy that was killed in a car accident 2 years ago. This is a kid that I had some secondary connections to, but had never met myself. As I was backing into the spot, suddenly I could see Nehemiah through my rear view mirror and he helped me get parked. Then he playfully came around the car and greeted me with a warm hug as I got out. As I started to look around, I saw groups of people around the park. Some of the people had colors that were brighter and more saturated than everything else around them. I came to understand that those who were brighter were of heaven and everything that was more dull was of earth. I stood there in awe, slowly taking it in, and Nehemiah communicated to me without words that he'd see if Lach could come. I turned toward my left shoulder, slowing taking in the view in amazement, and as I got about 2/3 the way around, there was a grand piano sitting just off in the distance. Lach was sitting on the bench reaching toward the keys of the piano. He was still 10 months old, wearing the green and orange striped shirt that he wore both in the picture we used for his obituary and on the day he died. Everything is about him was bright and radiant. When I spotted him, he made eye contact with me and gave me a sweet and knowing little pursed-lip grin. I ran toward him and scooped him up, hugging him and kissing him. 
There was SO MUCH love and peace and joy. SO MUCH! As I held him, I came to understand our grief response as a teeny tiny completely natural response to being separated from something we are enjoying. In comparison to the joy of the moment, that all-consuming grief of losing a child dwarfed into an insignificant and temporary loss. It became more like the feeling that we have when something ordinary that we are enjoying comes to its natural end... The amazing movie that is now over, the fall of the leaves in autumn, the roller coaster ride that comes to an end...the faint "that-was-great, too-bad-it's-over" response.
At the same time as I was holding Lach and coming to understand the loss in a new perspective, I was also waking up. I knew that I would be waking up to continue living in my separation from him. I was SO ok with this! It was no big deal! It is so small and temporary and insignificant in comparison to the overwhelming love and joy that is to come. I woke up with tears in my eyes...Joyful tears that came from a delight at the glimpse of the what that reunion might be like, and the the peek at a joy, a peace, and a love that are so abundant they dwarf even a life-changing grief into something that is barely perceptible.

I don't dream often, and when I do, there is usually not much to make of it. This dream was something else. It was so clear and so vivid. It gave me new perspective to hold onto as well as hope and courage for the journey. It's a perspective could be applied not just to the loss of Lachlan, but to the rest of life's struggles too.

Hold onto hope all you grievers...as much as your hearts hurt now, they will rejoice a million times over!

Find him in the Joy

As bereaved parents we often cling to the pain of losing a child because it is the last thing we have of them. We feel like by even thinking of letting go of the pain, we are somehow also letting go of THEM. Yet at the same time it is such a burden to carry that weight and it can rob us of our joy if we let it. In meditating on how to live well in the wake of such a difficult loss, this was the guidance that came. It brought me some comfort and hope, I hope it does the same for you:

Find him in the joy.jpg

Lachlan is not found in the weight of the loss. He is not in the hurt or the pain. By laying those things at the feet of Christ and giving away the pain, you are not losing Lachlan.
Rather, find Lachlan in the life, the joy, and the love. He is in the gift of motherhood. He is in the laughter and happy memories. He is in your smile. By taking the heavy weight from your shoulders you are not losing him, but finding him by allowing more of the beauty and light from his life to shine.
Take courage and trust. Don't look for him in the ache, though you'll find shadows of him there too. Look for his fullness, instead, in the                                                                                                            things that bring love, joy, and                                                                                                            laughter to your days.

For His Soul was Pleasing to the Lord

The one who pleased God was loved, living among sinners, was transported--snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind or deceit beguile his soul; For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right and the whirl of the desire transforms the innocent mind. Having become perfect in a short while, he reached the fullness of a long career; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand, nor did they take that consideration into account. Grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect.
-Wisdom 4:10-15

To be loved so deeply, to be spared the suffering and struggle of humanity, to be created perfectly in God's image and to remain always in that perfection. That is a blessing that has been given to our children who died so young.  It is a gift that is so easy to overlook in the midst of our grief, but if we dare to recognize it, it is a small source of comfort in the sea of heartache!

Finding the courage to reach out to "Other People"

I am reading "I Thought it was Just Me (But it Isn't)" by Brene Brown. I loved what she had to say about reaching out.  She talks about how we naturally want to protect ourselves from uncomfortable feelings and so when terrible things happen to people, our instinct is often to separate ourselves, to cushion ourselves from their heartache.  We find ways to convince ourselves that their tragedy is something that happens to "other" people.  We create ways to make "them" different from "us." As bereaved parents, we often feel that separation from the people around us. The moment our child took their last breath, we became "different" from everyone else. To be thrust from the false safety of "us" (whose children are living), to "them" (who have children who have died) all at once is hard.  It's hard to make sense of why the people that we believed would care aren't reaching out to us. It's hard to grasp why people in our lives are unwilling to hear or try to understand the amount of pain that comes with the death of a child. Brene Brown brings that natural response of wanting to insulate ourselves into the light and hopefully will offer something worth pondering for both those of us who are grieving and those of us who are struggling to find the courage to reach out. Here's what she has to say:


From pages 149-151

From pages 149-151

Once we've convinced ourselves that "things like this don't happen to people like me," then when it does happen it means we've done something terribly wrong. We've been kicked out of the group that kept us safe--that mythical group that always escapes tragedy. That's why people who survive cancer, women who survive sexual assault, adults who were once homeless, parents who have lost children and families who have been affected by acts of violence, often tell me two things: "Before it happened I never believed it could happen to me--it only happened to other people" and "You never know--it can happen to anyone. I just want to be there for others who are going through the same thing.
It's hard. We don't want to connect with people who are in pain, especially if we believe they deserve their pain or if their pain is too scary for us. We don't want to reach out. It feels risky. Just by associating with them, we could either end up in the same "other" pile or be forced to acknowledge that bad things happen to people like us. I hear the same thing again and again from women who are willing to connect: It's not easy. The women who take the casseroles when people are gossiping and judging or the women who walk through their own fear to comfort someone else aren't superheroes. They are ordinary women who sometimes have to force themselves to do it. It doesn't always come naturally, but they all say it gets easier with practice.
My mom is one of those women... She still tells me the same thing every time, "you just go to the funeral. You just take the casserole when the neighbors are gossiping and peeking out of their blinds. Put yourself in a trance if you need to, but get in the car and drive over there. Write down exactly what you want to say, but pick up the phone and make the call. 
I think the most important thing she has told me about reaching out to others in crisis is this: "You do it because that's the person you want to be. You do it because that could have been me and one day it could just as easily be you."


Sunset Reflection

As this project comes to a close, I want thank those of you who followed along. Your little encouragements with personal messages or post likes, comments, and shares are meaningful to me. Even though I don’t respond to most of them they are appreciated.

This is not an easy project to do…it takes time, it takes thought, it takes re-living some of those toughest moments of my life. However, by actually taking the time and making the effort to put my thoughts into words, somehow I seem to get new insights into some of my own thoughts and feelings, I come up with new ways to describe the experience, and I solidify some things that I’ve felt all along. I think journaling is an incredibly healing experience and these prompts are done very well. They encourage reflection in a way that brings hope and healing. I’d certainly encourage others to give it a try, whether it’s openly for the world to read or in your own private journal at home.

One of the helpful things in my early grief, was to read others experiences and to know I was not alone. To know that others could feel what I was feeling and still go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life brought hope. They could offer new perspectives that seemed to help calm the sea. By sharing this project shared on social media, outside the “safety” of support groups or closed circles of bereaved parents, I hope that others can get a glimpse into the mind of someone wrestling with the aftermath of losing a child. I hope that by “normalizing” grief to some extent that it won’t seem so foreign and scary when it happens to someone we love. I hope it will make it a little easier for us all reach out with gentle compassion and some sort of understanding when people we love are grieving.

I know I am not the only one to suffer. Everyone has their own personal experiences of struggle, loss, and grief. Not everyone’s struggles can be shared out loud. I hope that by telling my story and my path to healing that I am not the only one who gets something out of it. I hope that in some way sharing my experience, because I can, will touch someone else and help in their road to healing, too.

You know that feeling that you get when you actually stop what you are doing to watch and appreciate a sunset…there’s something like that in this project. To stop what I’m doing and give my attention to the journey of grief does something of the same. Grief, like joy and a beautiful sunset, are holy. Grief is love’s souvenir. It is our proof that we once loved—and that that love continues beyond death. When we watch a sunset, or look at a heart after loss, for that moment, we are stopping to notice that heaven has reached down to touch the earth. 

Day 31 Sunset.jpg

My Promise to You

Lachlan,
My promise to you is simple. I will not let your life go unnoticed. I promise to do everything in my power to make sure I am not the only one who remembers you. You were too important for that. You left your legacy on my heart and I will allow your legacy to touch the lives of others.
With love, always and forever,
Mama

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Give Away Your Love

I figured out pretty early on that there was something beneficial for me in reaching out to other people. It didn’t matter too much what it was, it was simply the effort to make the day better for someone else that brought just a glimmer of light into my dark world. In fact, I had little “Random Act of Kindness in memory of Lachlan” cards made up. I didn’t end up using very many of those. I guess I found that the outward acknowledgement of why I was doing it was not necessary. It just felt good to bring a little ray of sunshine into someone else’s day.

Sometimes it was in purely random acts…dropping off a bouquet of flowers for a stranger, buying a coffee for the person in line behind me, or handing a $10 Target gift card to someone just walking in the doors of the store… Those things were good, but I found that they seemed a little bit awkward and forced. What brings more hope and joy and healing for me, is seeing a need and going out of the way to fill it. It is in doing more than what is expected. When I started building Lach’s Legacy, it was to reach out to other people, to support people in their grief, help them find some resources that may be helpful…however, in reaching out, I found excitement, joy and hope. By doing that, I was helping myself as much, or more, than I was helping anyone else. When I get to talk to a newly bereaved parent, I know it comforts them to share their story and to connect with someone who understands, but it also helps me. It gives me new perspective and fresh ideas and it helps me to remember how far I’ve come from the agony of new grief. I’m pretty sure I can feel my heart growing in those experiences.

I find joy…not necessarily a happy, giddy, smiling, laughing sort of joy, but a deep and peaceful joy, when we are able to offer a special kindness to a terminally ill child and their family, when I am able to help a new student feel a little more comfortable in their environment, and when I am able to connect with someone who is working through one of life’s struggles. I get more from those experiences than I give. St. Francis of Assisi figured that out before I did. He said, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” He was right.

Day 29 Give your love away.jpg

Self Compassion

Day 28 Self Compassion.jpg

Compassion for myself was something that I had to learn in a new way after Lach died. It goes very much hand-in-hand with the “letting go” post earlier this month. At first, I had to learn compassion in regard to the emotion that I was experiencing. I didn’t have much tolerance for the difficulty I had in holding myself together, especially trying to do routine things out in public. Shopping for clothes was one of those things that, for whatever reason, stands out to me. It was unbearable to look for the 3T size without needing one in the 12 month size. I fought back tears… no one needs to see this wreck of a woman standing in the children’s clothing department. Hold yourself together! Go do something else! I always seemed to lose that battle and the tears won anyway.

Eventually, I think I just got tired of fighting myself. I decided to let go of the fight and allow myself to feel whatever it was I was feeling. I allowed the tears to flow whenever they came. I had to acknowledge that I was going through every mother’s hell and I had to meet myself with the same compassion and understanding that I would give to others on this path. I had to somehow trust that it wouldn’t always be like this, and I needed to give myself permission to work through those things rather try to stuff them away. Not everyone will understand. I might get a few extra looks, but that’s ok. If they knew my story, they would say that’s ok too. Shopping and church were going to bring tears and I learned to let it be… and brought along the tissues I was probably going to need.

Developing enough compassion for myself to allow the craziness in my thoughts while I was working on picking up the pieces was the other part of that. At Compassionate Friends meetings, a group for bereaved parents, many people talked about how crazy you feel after the death of a child. I was glad to know that I wasn’t alone in that, and that just because I felt crazy, didn’t mean I was sure to jump off the deep end.

Even now, I have thoughts that I have to treat with compassion and just let them be, without giving myself a hard time about them. When I get a phone call at work, especially when I’m scrubbed in and can’t answer it, my first thought is “I hope nobody died.” If my phone rings again, I find myself running through the scenario in my head. I know, it’s irrational to jump straight to that, but it’s happened to me before.

I’m a little weird about pictures, too. Talia just had some professional photos taken. I’m excited to capture that cuteness that makes all the 3-year-old tantrums worthwhile, but I also get some sort of satisfaction in knowing that I’ll have those recent and beautiful images if she dies. It’s not in the budget to purchase all of the images, so I wonder how long the photographer keeps the files and I wonder if she would give them to me if Talia died …I know, morbid, right?! Things like that are regular occurrences in my head. They are not the average thought processes, but I suppose burying a child is not an average life event. I don’t bother other people with that mess in my head, I just try to meet myself with compassion, and acknowledge and allow the thought and then let it go. It’s not socially acceptable to think that way, so it’s not something that gets discussed much, but I don’t think it’s necessarily unhealthy to have those thoughts either. To be honest, I think we’d all do well if we spent a little more time considering death. Recognizing the finality of my own life and the life of those I love helps me to live a little more fully and to appreciate the people in my life a little more deeply—my life and theirs is a gift that won’t last forever.

I once heard this quote that I really loved: “Emotions are like small children—you can’t let them drive the car, but you can’t stuff them in the trunk either.” In sudden grief, it’s like unleashing a mindful of unruly and unreasonable toddlers. They are bouncing around EVERYWHERE. Ignoring the situation won't help. Sometimes you have to stop what you are doing, acknowledge the chaos, and grapple with them one by one to put them back in their proper place. Compassion goes a long way in calming the disarray of thought and emotion. It gives you the time, the space, and the understanding necessary to allow the healing process to unfold.

Family is Forever

One of the pieces for me to figure out after Lach died is how to acknowledge his place in our family without him here. I didn’t know other people who had pictures of their dead children on the wall. Is that poor taste? Is that clinging to something that I need to move on from? Should I hold on to him and his place in our family, or is that morbid? Am I honoring him by making a point to keep him as part of who we are, or am I a crazy lady who can’t let go? How do you integrate a deceased child into the life of your family in a way that is healthy?

Different people have different needs and will come to different conclusions on those things. The way I see it, even death does not change the makeup of a family. It may change the way a family looks and it may change the way the family functions, but it does not change who belongs. I wouldn’t think twice about a picture of deceased grandparents on the wall. It is an acknowledgement of people who were loved and a recognition of where we’ve come from. A picture of a deceased child is really no different. We keep Lachlan as a part of who we are by keeping his pictures up along with the rest of them, by openly talking about him in our day to day conversation, and by keeping him in our prayers at night. I hope that by doing so, it sends the message to my other children that they, too, are so important to me that not even death can take away their belonging here.

I do my best to honor Lach’s place without letting him run the show…just like I do with each of my other children. We have days and times that more attention is devoted to him, and other times when he falls to the backdrop. Sometimes there is more discussion of Lach, we stop to note his birthday and his angelversary, and he is included in our Christmas celebrations and twice a year we take a time-out in the other things we’re doing to put on what is often referred to at our house as “Lach’s run,” aka Run for Their Lives!.

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. I hold on to Lach’s picture, but let go of the fact that he won’t grow with the other kids. I hold onto including him in our Christmas celebrations, but let go of not getting to see his eager smile as he opens his gifts. I hold on to the legacy that he left here, but let go of the fact he didn’t get to create that legacy himself. I hold on to knowing that he is part of our family forever, but let go of having his physical presence in our midst.

Day 27 Family is Forever.jpg

What Heals You?

Carly Marie, the woman who organizes this project, says “Turning the WHY into What Heals You? has been one of my greatest healers. Whenever I found myself asking “why did this have to happen. Why me? Why him?” etc etc I started asking myself what heals me?” She became aware that it was in intentionally turning to what was healing that allowed that process to unfold.

Day 26 What Heals You.jpg

I’ve asked myself that similar question regularly, and I often ask it of newly bereaved parents too. What brings comfort? What helps? There is no ONE thing that is the mainstay of healing after the death of a child. It comes in tiny bits from many different places. The things that are the main pillars of my healing will not necessarily be what the next person needs. If you are close to a griever, you don’t have to just wonder what might help. If you ask them what you can do for them, or what they need, they’ll most likely come up blank. However, if you ask them what helps and what brings comfort, there’s a good chance you’ll get some ideas you can work with.

For me, the list of things that brought comfort and healing is something like this: talking with bereaved mothers, reading and journaling, building a legacy for Lachlan, planting a garden for him, talking with friends who weren’t afraid to hear, offering random acts of kindness to others. Being able to talk to the people at his daycare who answered questions about his last day. The steady presence of family. The people who reached out to us to offer their support whether by card, attending his services, donating vacation hours or cash to his memorial fund, or helping with household jobs was all very humbling and comforting. Finding ways to let my loss bring comfort to others who are on the same path. Knowing that Lachlan and his story has somehow made a difference in someone else’s life. Prayer and an intentional effort to grow my faith and deepen my relationship with God. My rainbow babies, who have brought more purpose, love and joy into my days. Being able to talk about it with my husband, the only other person on the planet that loved him and misses him like I do.

I’m not sure that true healing after the death of a child can happen without some sort of intentional movement toward that. Healing work is sometimes uncomfortable and difficult. I work in surgery, so I am reminded of the surgical wound that just won’t heal. Sometimes you have to intentionally work at getting a wound to heal and it doesn’t just happen automatically with the passage of time. It is uncomfortable, difficult, and time consuming, but you can’t ignore it. If you do, the skin might seal shut, but it leaves the perfect place for an abscess to form. The problem will not be laid to rest until it is dealt with. In order to get those tough wounds to heal properly, you have to pack it, debride it, and let it heal from the inside out. The loss of a child is like that. It is a wound that has to be healed from the inside out in order for wellness to be restored. Sometimes things like talking about the loss in a real way, or working through this project are emotionally draining, uncomfortable and take work, however, when you look back at it, you find that there is healing that happens on a deeper level and a lasting peace that comes from it.