My story tells of surviving grief by way friendship. Lines unintentionally written, a plot that unfolded in circumstance without planning. Friends carried my weight when I could carry nothing. Friends were God’s hands and feet in the valley.
A reflection of the help from my friends:
A friend called me the morning after, the morning I woke up in hysteria, living up to every cliche, “I thought that was just a nightmare???” and helped me consider what it would look like to help plan a memorial for a child.
A friend texted me that he and his wife wept as they read my early morning text message sharing the tragedy with them.
A friend went shopping for my sister-in-law for something to wear to her daughter’s memorial. She got a babysitter for her two young kids and went out to local shops with a picture of Alana in a bright orange color that was almost impossible match.
A friend called me and asked me about all the details. The details that bystanders shy away from because they think it will re-open a wound. But in truth speaking the details was healing salve to my broken heart.
My husband and I’s best friends arranged dinner reservations after 8 hours at the hospital because they knew we would need a minute to decompress. Our best friends, who 7 years before said goodbye to their own daughter, sat across the table with Josh and I as we spoke freely of our shock.
After I drove around the metro area to flower wholesalers who had stock of specific flowers, a friend met me at a local lavender farm to take the flowers to her home to spend the evening designing floral arrangements for the memorial.
Three friends stayed up late with me to pack hundreds of small bags with green & blue glitter, stamping the letter A on each bag, and listening to me process a week of sleep deprived grief.
A friend, out of town at the time, told me her garage code and where to find frames in her storage room. Frames that held her own daughter’s memorial photos. I placed Alana Ann’s sweet face, over Mighty Molly’s Mutz’ and realized that God had been weaving healing together for quite some time.
A friend, exhausted with new pregnancy, took my children at a moments notice, multiple days in a row, so that we could spend time with our family without the distraction of Jude, who I felt painfully aware was mere months older than Alana.
A new friend, who I barely knew myself and who did not know any of my family, showed up the day after to the house where all the family had gathered. She brought a case of bottled water, kleenex, and snack food and started to ask questions like, “how are you taking care of YOU?” I would get Facebook messages with simple questions like if I was staying hydrated.
A friend, who God gave me as my mom, watched my kids day and night with no notice, drove here and there, ran errands for me, cooked meals, and more. She literally held the pieces together, while life spun in circles.
A friend continually Facebook messaged me words of condolence and sympathy from Europe.
A friend delivered groceries, jumping through all the hoops of our weird food allergies, and topped it all off with a bottle of organic margarita mix.
A friend reminded me, over and over again, that my children would not be scared from my “poor parenting”, they would not notice a season with packaged food and too much screen time.
A friend listened to me sob, inconsolable, incoherent cries on the curb outside the house where everyone gathered the day after. Gasping for breath as I questioned why God had left me with 3 healthy kids. Feeling horrified at the thought flooding my mind- “Why not one of mine. Please JUST ONE OF MINE!”
Multiple friends, who call me friend thanks to MOPS, delivered meals to my house. Meals that I didn’t understand how to accept since it wasn’t my child who had died. But meals none the less, for a season when I could not function even enough to serve my family food.
A friend brought me a meal with her 2-year old daughter in tow and let me cry at the sight of a precious girl, so close in spirit, age, and features to sweet Alana.
A friend watched my young boys during Alana’s memorial, and then encouraged me to write a memorial tribute that she could post to her company’s Instagram feed.
A friend, who I am lucky enough to call Aunt, left me a voicemail when there were no words to speak, but she spoke them anyway.
A friend, who is also my brother, who left me a voicemail just to let me know he was there if I needed him.
Friends, Josh’s friends, who stood as ushers at Alana’s memorial. 15 strong men, who didn’t know Alana, Chad, or Shannon- who stood for them anyway.
A friend wrote me an email of encouragement when I was feeling exceptionally weary of my capability to play the role God had given me, reminding me of Exodus 23:20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.”
A friend, a sister-in-law, who offered the service of her mom, a grief/trauma counselor.
A friend sent me notes from her vacation, speaking the truth of God, into a dark valley.
A friend led the memorial service, finding out only while planning it that her own son who had gone to heaven many years ago, shares Alana’s birthday, March 24th.
Friends who came and picked Jaylen up for bowling or to tag along on errands so he could process himself what he was experiencing outside of the weight of family members deep in grief.
A friend who went and searched the park where I left behind Beaudin’s bike after packing up the car- forgetfulness in grief is real, and palpable.
A friend and her husband texted me from a half a world away to ensure we knew they were thinking of us from 8,000 miles away in Australia.
How do you survive this kind of heartbreak? With the help of Johanna, Jacob & Rebecca, Ashley, Savannah, Hannah, Mimi, Tiffany, Jenn, Roger, Marissa, Nan, Jenny, Suzanne, Kendall, Carol, Karen, Diana, Alice, Becca & Johnny, Kristine & Chris, Stephanie, Colleen, Justin & Stefany, AJ, Sarah, all the ladies at First Pres MOPs, the men of Booshway.
The complexity grief is best computed inside of God’s math. Because a sorrow shared, is a sorrow halved.