Trying to turn a negative into something positive has been a challenge. Finding the right activity, it was almost two years to the day before it jumped into my lap and screamed “This is what you should do!” Someone had once tried to get me to work with small children, tutoring them in reading, but it hurt too much. It wasn’t the right thing for me. But now I have been able to dig into something that meets my requirements and also allows for a lasting tribute to many people.
The gift this group gave me was the foundation for learning to walk again. To be able to get out of bed without immediately wishing I had just pulled the covers back over myself. Running on what can generously be called a shoe-string budget, they make things work for far too many people who have sought them out.
Groups for helping people deal with the loss of children don’t advertise on television or a magazine. It’s word of mouth delivered by some therapist or nurse who has seen that look before. A parent who overhears about a loss and offers to listen, telling them about these others who have wandered in the darkness.
So I have been writing grant proposals for them. A couple of thousand dollars would keep them going for years. It’s that much of a self-help approach, helping themselves by talking to others. Possibly picking up the registration fees for some conference held where people who have experienced the same gather to offer a light to follow.
The worst part has been getting people to write about the impact this group has had on their lives. It means sitting down and exposing a very raw nerve. Giving details that might not have been exposed in quite some time. Having to relive a small portion of that pain in a narrative that others are going to judge. In some ways it feels cruel, in others cathartic.
I keep being reminded of something from the Disney Channel, about how people change people. This is supposed to be a good thing. Their message is that helping others makes us better in small ways. It’s also the voice that keeps me trying to build some lasting memorial to my daughter that will benefit the most people. And since I do have all this training in economics, plowing through flowcharts and budget projections gives me a chance to do something towards my goal.
I’ve planted trees, paid for trees in other locations, sent up Japanese lanterns because we were celebrating a birthday. All those cute things, but none will have the outreach that this potentially could. If even one other person gains some help from this, all the time will be worth it.
It doesn’t even matter if anyone knows that I had anything to do with it. Having written the grant and also an impact statement seems odd. The first company that contacted me had lots of questions and it was good to talk about my daughter in a positive light. It’s not easy allowing yourself to use the memory of someone to raise funds for others, but it also helps the people you are asking understand. It’s not some faceless person who is taking a cut, rather you get someone like me who gets emotional and doesn’t try to hide it.
Locking away my daughter would deprive the world of what she could accomplish. Her life changed me and maybe she will be able to help change someone else’s world so that they can do the same for another. One person, making tiny steps, helping another. It’s the best I can offer.