We all have some experience(s) in our lives that profoundly changes us in some way. As we go through these experiences, we reach a place of sufficient acceptance, if not understanding. We look around and see other people struggling through similar circumstances and wonder, What can we do to help them?
You could counsel them, one-on-one or in small groups. You could speak to audiences who care about your topic. You could write checks to organizations that offer support to people suffering through your particular challenge experience.
Or, you could write a book and reach hundreds – perhaps thousands – with your message of hope and understanding, through time and space, when they are ready to hear you.
That’s what my young cousin, Alexa Bigwarfe did after she lost one of her twin daughters two days after birth.
In the days after little Kathryn died, Alexa found it hard “to communicate my emotions with family and friends. I was so angry that their lives seemed untouched by this event that stopped me in my tracks.” Gradually, as she met and talked with other women who had lost a child, she realized that many had never fully grieved for their loss, or had never shared their story with anyone before. Many felt pressure to leave their mother’s grief behind despite their child’s ever-living presence in their lives.
Alexa and her numerous contributors wrote a book to help each other and anyone who has ever lost a child. In Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother, they share deeply personal stories, survival tips and other gifts to aid grieving mothers.
I bought a copy of Sunshine After the Storm to support my cousin in her self-publishing venture. Then, one night several months later when I couldn’t sleep, I read it.
Halfway through the book, as I read about what finally allowed Kathy Radigan to feel “more entitled” to her grief about her miscarriage, tears started to flow. I’d already read about Suzanne, Katie, and Kelly and their challenges of allowing themselves to grieve their miscarriages. I felt wrapped in a mother’s circle of shared love and grief and support. I felt I was being given permission to fully feel both my grief and whatever lingering spiritual connection there might be to the being I carried for just a few weeks so many years ago.
And so my own grief, barely acknowledged 24 years ago, rose up through my heart. I sat in the low light of the room, letting the tears come, remembering odd details of that miscarriage. I remembered that two hours after I flushed the fetal tissue down the toilet, my 4-year old son woke and told his father that he’d had a dream that we had built a house and then the new people didn’t come. I recalled my ‘let’s just get back to life’ attitude that had me at my desk at the bank by 9:00 that morning. And I remembered the yoga class some weeks later when, during sivasana (final relaxation), I had a vision of a little angel face coming to me to say, “I love you, Mommy.” She said very clearly, “I’m sorry I couldn’t stay, but it’s better this way. I love you.” I cried, of course, and was gently comforted by my yoga teacher, Holly Hungett. And that was that.
Until I read Sunshine After the Storm.
That night, I allowed myself to feel all the grief and sadness and joy and wonder that bubbled up as I contemplated that little angel. Somewhere in the book I found the idea that naming my child who was not born would bring her more deeply into my life. So on that night, I named her. She is Olivia and she is a beautiful 24-year old spirit who is watching over her three brothers even now. They may not know it, and if you don’t know me, you may scoff and think me a complete weirdo, and that’s okay.
My reality is that, thanks to Sunshine After the Storm and Alexa and her co-authors, I have Olivia in my life today. Her presence as a wise and loving angel makes my life ever more special.
Sunshine After the Storm and Alexa changed my life.
Write your book, and change someone’s life.
You can buy Sunshine After the Storm on Amazon here.
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