Memorial v. Remembrance

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The vast expanse of sacrifice that soldiers make deserve a level of honor and respect separate than any other.

But Memorial day, in its message to dwell upon such sacrifice in appreciation, humility and even a somber joy parallels to me our own day, the day we as a community validate our experiences in Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day, October 15.

As the awareness day is for us as mothers, sisters, and loved ones to hold out our truth of the life, and death, of our babies, in sacred appreciation, in sadness, in courage, I can see the powerful war we are faced with in bereavement.  The attacks against ourselves.  Against our marriages.  Against our faith.  Against our hope.

And I am brought to mind, love warriors.  Individuals, who rose.  Stood to bear the thrashings.  Just to hold umbrellas as we find ourselves huddling toward them, beacons, offering glimmers of light in an otherwise engulfing darkness.

Fighting a global war born on the day their littlest one died.

Sherokee Ilse has been a lone beacon for decades, writing books and advocating for the rights of the bereaved.  We today do have reason to cry out at the many injustices to our hearts even after enduring loss, but any little comfort we do have, any sense of community created in any place, owes in some part the depths of their roots to Sherokee.

Franchesca Cox, who has drawn from her beautifully creative heart to bring vibrant colors into the blackness.  From her beginning web design to the founding of Still Standing online magazine to her artwork, cards and prints to her newest blog on all things fun and funky, Fran has revealed a path that can lead to impossible laughter and great delight even in the midst of carrying the heaviest of broken hearts.

And in order to fully grasp the magnitude of attack against the broken hearted, we would be remiss not to recognize that there is substantial attack against new families who do not experience loss.  Cesarean versus homebirth, formula versus breastfeeding, to stay at home or to work outside of the home, these are not merely lofty questions a pregnant mother happily banters in her mind, but these are the defining points to determine which army she will march with, and if she will have her baby on her hip or in daycare while doing so.

January is the name of a darling, daring woman, who has stood steadfast through the bullets and blaming and shouts and shaming, for years, and she has weathered the storm and her platform, Birth Without Fear, shines with a brilliance of love that she and her team can provide an exceptional place for all mothers of all experiences to weather our own storms, together.

These mothers, and others, have endured not only the silent war that we all face in our own, darkest moments as women, mothers and people, but, in daring to see a need, in daring to serve that need, have placed themselves in great, great adversity.  It is not at all easy to build a lighthouse in the dark, and in the middle of a war.  But it is what these heroes have done.

Their courage a lifeblood derived from the very moment their own war started – courage to reflect the truth that those not alive, matter very greatly.

People steal, make false claims, become territorial, defensive, deceptive.  Amongst each other, within the bereavement community.  It takes a substantial amount of endurance to muster the strength to continue to support under such spiritually, emotionally and physically exhausting conditions.  And it takes even more courage to confess to such challenges, as if somehow it could lose credibility of the worthiness, strength or relevance of love, that is given so freely, yet costs more than we could ever know, when we do not give more than an uncomfortable glance at it.

I do not at all wish to weaken the value of our military soldiers by drawing this parallel, but simply to apply the importance of honoring those who are not alive and yet whose life and death reminds us to love.  And the importance of honoring those who lead in combat so that we may have our freedom to best journey our own challenging, beautiful, mysterious paths, to those in the bereavement community who also, lead so that we may have our freedom to best journey our own challenging, beautiful, mysterious paths.

Building, bridging and bringing a contribution into the bereavement community is an extraordinary responsibility that requires absolute sacrifice.  The simple desire to give hope is ambushed by every attack possible against it.  The more you want to give it, the more it will be tested.

And yet, those who stand in the bereavement community, holding out arms of love, who carry the heartbreak of such death – Kelly Gerken of Sufficient Grace Ministries, Elizabeth Petrucelli of All That is Seen and Unseen, CarlyMarie, Return to Zero, Miscarriage Blankets, Midnight Orange, and so many more – represent a realization so profound it seemingly contradicts itself.  And that truth is this: light can indeed be found in the dark.  Life is, indeed, stronger than death.  And so it is light, and life, that we find, that is offered to the broken hearted, even in the most impossible of chasms of bereavement.

If you have been held on a platform created by anyone in the bereavement community, if you have been touched by their support, if you have been led to and warmed by their light, please, tell them, that you remember how they have impacted you, tell them that you are thankful, and tell them that you will never forget.

In this way, you continue to carry on the legacy, of hope, for others.

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