As I look to those who I know, or know of, who have lost children, I see a wide spectrum regarding what they have done publically to remember their child. Some have started foundations, either to bring awareness to the cause of their child’s death, or to carry on a dream their child had, but never got to fulfill. A family from our former church lost a six month old son to the flu, just days before Christmas. They started Ian’s Rainbow Flu Foundation in his memory. Every year they hold a walk to raise money to fight the flu and bring awareness to others about the flu. We participated one year. A family at our current church lost their daughter due to a stray bullet on the 4th of July last year. Someone thought it would be a good idea to shoot their gun in the air to celebrate. What they didn’t think about was where that bullet would land. Blair’s Foster Socks was started in memory of Blair and in honor of her dream to provide foster children with socks. Others that I know have adopted a highway in memory of their child and take the time to keep our roads free of trash. Some participate in walks for organizations, such as the March of Dimes.
Then there are those that do not do anything publically. They haven’t started a foundation or put their child’s name on a plaque. They haven’t raised money or shared their story through a blog. They haven’t added their story of loss to baby loss websites or those sites dedicated to bereaved parents. They continue to remember their child privately within their immediate circle of family and friends.
No matter where those who have lost a child fall on the spectrum, neither is right or wrong. Each family, each person, has done what is best for themselves. What I am trying to figure out is, “Where do I belong on the spectrum?” I have been struggling with this lately, as I have idea after idea of what we can do to honor Kyleigh, to remember her.
I met with a friend a few weeks ago and was talking with her about this exact thing. I told her I feel like I’m at this in between point where the intense sadness and grief has diminished, but I don’t know what to expect next. I have the desire to do something about all of this, but not the energy. When I look at others who have lost someone close, whether it’s a child, parent or sibling, there is usually a clear action to be taken. Those who lose someone to cancer can donate money to the American Cancer Society or run in a Race for the Cure. There are organizations that educate expectant parents about SIDS. There are walks/runs for almost anything you can think of: ovarian cancer, fighting the flu, premature babies, AIDS. And I think this is where I find my struggle. There is nothing established for babies who die during childbirth for no known reason.
As I talked with my friend about this struggle to figure out what to do and where we fit into all of this, she asked me what my goal was. What did I want to come out of any action that I might take? My answer is clear and simple and hasn’t changed from the start … I want people to remember Kyleigh. I don’t want them to forget. She set a clear boundary for my thoughts, and that is, that my job is to make sure my boys do not forget their sister. Rodger and I have a responsibility to keep Kyleigh a part of our immediate family through our words and actions. She told me to start small with them and see where that takes us. I don’t have to put on a big show or raise thousands of dollars. I need to focus on what is right for our family and once we set our routines and traditions to keep Kyleigh’s memory alive within us, the rest will fall into place. She also reminded me that I cannot control what others do and I cannot make other people remember Kyleigh. What I can do is talk about her, give gentle reminders around anniversaries and holidays. Some will respond with kind words of remembrance and some will not.
Since then, we have started doing a few personal things at home to include Kyleigh in our daily lives. The boys know that it’s okay to talk about her and ask questions. We encourage them to do so. I have also taken the time to reflect upon the things that I know others are doing on a regular basis to remember Kyleigh:
-Two friends are making a monthly donation in her name to K-LOVE, a Christian radio station.
-A friend keeps our family picture, as well as Kyleigh’s picture, in her bedroom and prays for us each morning.
-A girl with the birthdate of April 5, is being sponsored by a friend through World Vision.
-Talking about Kyleigh and praying for our family every night from a friend with three young children.
These are just a few of the things that people are doing for us and for Kyleigh. I know there are more out there, some that we know about and some that we do not.
I still have ideas for what I would like to do long term. We have a memorial set up through the Liberty Hospital Foundation in Kyleigh’s name, called Kyleigh’s Gift. At some point, we will get to meet with the head of the LHF and help decide where that money goes. We would love for it to be an ongoing memorial, as we plan to donate money every year in her memory. I hope to share with you soon about what we plan to do through Kyleigh’s Gift, along with other ideas that we have to keep her memory alive.
Kyleigh’s story is just that, Kyleigh’s story, nobody else’s. I’m not going to find somebody with the same story. All I can do is figure out where I fall on the spectrum and do what I need to do for myself and my family to keep Kyleigh alive in our hearts. I hope you join me in this journey to find a way to keep Kyleigh alive in your heart.
*My disclaimer: The links provided in this post are just that, links. Click them if you want more information. Leave them alone if you do not want more information. Some are clearly used for examples only, while others are very close to my heart.
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