This Sunday, May 6th, is International Bereaved Mothers Day.  My first.  It’s not a happy day of bright yellow flowers and birthstone necklaces; it’s a day of loss.  One that I am actually thankful for.

The day was created by Project Heal, which is managed by a woman named Carly Marie.  She experienced the loss of her son, Christian, by stillbirth and has taken her grief and made something beautiful with it.  She also runs Christian’s Beach, where she takes requests from parents to have their child’s name – whether lost by miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal loss, or child death – written in the sand on a beautiful beach in Australia.  Then she takes a picture of it at sunset and posts it on the blog…free of charge.  (You can request high-res or hard copy photos for a donation.)  The story behind the names in the sand is very touching and sweet.  Benjamin’s name has been written (below).

Carly is a bereaved mother who has carried on her son’s memory by finding ways to bring comfort and peace to other bereaved mothers.  I’ve said before that this is something like a club to which no one wants to apply but all are welcomed.  I owe a lot of my strength to the bereaved mothers I know personally – probably more than they realize.  One lost her son to CDH – at CHOP, even.  Another to a heart defect.  Another to illness.  Another to SIDS.  And another because he was born too soon.  These women are still standing, still walking, still living.  All by itself, it’s an inspiration.

Those typically simple actions seem impossible sometimes, and yet they keep going.  And not just barely, either – though I know some days that’s all that we can expect of ourselves.  More often than not, we support each other without question, we honor the lives that we gave, we respect the lives that we have, and our actions are infused with the love we experienced for our children.  If given the option, of course I would never choose to belong to this group or to personally observe this day for bereaved mothers…but I’m honored to be among some of the strongest women I’ve ever known.

Benjamin’s name in the sand:

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