In Memorium: My Daughter, Grace

flickr, pink sherbet photographyEvery year, on this day, I write a tribute piece in memory of my daughter, Grace.  Grace, born a preemie, died a short time later on March 6, 1992.

Understandably, I was devastated.  In fact, I was pretty well crushed for a long, long time. And then, for years afterwards I was still vulnerable to a sudden rush of sadness that could be triggered in the most unusual ways.

This year, however, when I sat down to write this tribute piece to my daughter, I gotta confess —  I got nothing.

I sat there . . .

. . . and sat there

. . . and sat there.

And I got nothing.

It’s not that her absence on her birthday saddens me.

It’s that it doesn’t.

Grace’s death no longer stings. I can’t remember the last time I was overcome with a significant wave of grief. How can this be?

I’m not avoiding it. I don’t feel empty. I don’t feel numb. I don’t feel weepy, sad, or jealous of other mothers who got to have daughters (well, maybe I do still have a bit of that.)

What I feel is WIZENED.

When Grace died, I DETERMINED that her life would NOT be meaningless. I INSISTED on that. I just didn’t know what that meant or how that would happen.

I certainly didn’t imagine that I would someday launch a business and website called “Life After Tampons” that’s primary aim was to help other women live more fully and with greater joy.

These days, I am able to put the death of my child in perspective of my whole life. I think I am able to do this because I allowed her death to be not just a story of sorrow, but a story of triumph.

When tough times come, you either get bitter. Or, you get better. (click to tweet)

I resolved long ago, that my children would have a healthy, fully functioning mother. And, healthy, fully functioning mothers CHOOSE TO HEAL.

They choose to LAUGH.

They choose to SERVE.

They choose to SHOW UP.

They choose HOPE.

They CHOOSE TO TRIUMPH!

Because I made the decision to triumph, I knew that my bereavement process would have to end with strength.

So, I resolved to find gratitude alongside my sorrow.  Looking back, I see so many gifts of Grace. Here are some of the gifts that could only come to me because Grace lived – and died.

  • I found my roar.
  • Because I found my roar, I no longer allowed others to hurt me, use me, walk all over me.
  • I lost my fear of authority figures. Completely. I think if God him(her)self walked in this office right now, I’d just say hello and ask about his day.
  • Because I lost my fear of authority figures, I learned how to ask for help from people who previously intimidated me.
  • Because I learned how to ask for help from people who previously intimidated me, I’ve been able to grow in my craft.
  • And, because of this, I am able to show up for Beautiful You.

The list goes on and on.  There are gifts that came to my boys. For one thing, the eldest wouldn’t even be here if Grace had not been born too early to survive. I found true friends, I learned a ton about a ton, and then, ultimately, I began this work for you and us.

In fact, if you have been helped, even one little bit, by my work here at Life After Tampons, you have been helped because Grace Boykin Williamson lived for 32 minutes on March 6, 1992.

Truly, I could not have brought you any of this without the wisdom that came from that terrible tragedy in  my life.

That means that someone who lived for less time than your last lunch break was able to make a real and lasting difference for THOUSANDS of women all over the world.

Imagine that?

And then, think of Beautiful You.  Imagine what you could create if you learned how to transform your life adversities into wisdom, triumph, and hope so that you could leave a lasting impact on this world.

Okay, even as I’m writing this, I just got a crazy-ass idea.  Would you like me to show you exactly how I was able to move through this loss and find the wisdom underneath? Is that too cheesy? Anyway, the idea just came to me. I haven’t created such a program yet, but I certainly would if enough of you thought it would be helpful.

If that idea resonates with you, go here and leave your contact information. And let me know what you would most need.

(Well, that was awkward. I certainly didn’t mean to turn Grace’s tribute piece into a workshop idea. )

But, maybe my own fear is getting in the way here. Maybe the next right part of Grace’s legacy is to show up and serve in this way. Maybe a BUNCH of you are kinda limping along carrying your unhealed wounds into today, tomorrow, and the next.

Maybe I just need to get out of my head (where I’m worrying about what you think of Beautiful Me) and into my heart (where I KNOW who I am and what I’m made of).

Moving on.

For today, though, I suppose the main thing is that I’m a mother of a daughter who I only got to know for a very short time but who also changed my world in countless beautiful ways.

Today, I don’t feel mournful. I feel like celebrating.  Will you help?

 

How We’re Using Our Wisdom Circle Comments Today 

Way #1: If you’re game, I’d love it if you helped me celebrate. I’d love to hear your stories of adversity and triumph in the comments section.

Way #2: Also, if you would like me to create a special program for you around the idea of adversity and triumph, let me know in the comments below what you most need. And join the advance team here.

 

Finally, I leave you with these words: A very wise man shared this with me shortly after Grace’s death.   I was so upset that Grace’s life wouldn’t matter, that there was no one to even remember that she lived.

Anyway, when I told my friend Don about my worry, he said this to me:

Jennifer, don’t you understand?  Grace’s eternity is that YOU are changed forever.  And, from this moment forward, every thing you do and every life you touch will be DIFFERENT because your life was touched by Grace.

Grace lives on, Jennifer, through you.

And so it is.

Namaste, Jennifer

P.S. Here is the link to get advance notice about a possible program about loss, legacy, and triumph.

photo: flickr, pink sherbet photography

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26 Responses to In Memorium: My Daughter, Grace

  1. Dianne says:

    You are such a strong woman Jen
    Thank you for all your posts – they are so inspirational

  2. Ann Marie Pozzini says:

    Your honesty slays me Jennifer. Flat out knocks me over.

    I need help with authority figures. My wonderful women bosses did a mini- intervention on me this week because I don’t, can’t, am afraid to ask for help. I broke down and cried from a place totally inappropriate for work (gratefully they both confessed to doing the same thing at points in their careers). This authority figure thing impacts my entire life and I’m tired.

  3. Angel says:

    That was beautiful and your pain, and how you have walked through it can be applied to so many things … relationships ending, illness, etc. Bless you.

  4. Carol Hess says:

    This is the second message I’ve gotten this morning (and it’s only just past 8 am!) that it is time for me to choose to triumph over the adversity in my past and to heal so that I can do what I came here to do. Thank you, Jen (and Grace). (PS: I think a structure or program to do that could be very helpful.)

    But what really hit me over the head about this tribute to your daughter Grace is exactly what you emboldened — that she lived for such a very short time and has made (and continues to make) such a profound difference in so many lives. I think your daughter is very proud of you, Jen.

  5. Caron says:

    11 days ago on 2/23 it was 19 years since my daughter died. I marked it by writing “19 yrs ago” in my planner and mentioning it to my husband, but it doesn’t sting anymore. Like you, I needed to give her death purpose. If she didn’t die, I probably wouldn’t have my son, whom I’m getting the chance to raise in an active and conscious way. Loss can be such an integral part to growth in many many ways. ♥

  6. Alixandrea says:

    I’m right in the middle of adversity right now and could do with all the guidance I can get. I’ve had a cough and a flare-up of my asthma since Christmas which is seriously impacting my ability to sing. As a singer in a band who is about to quit her job to be a vocal coach, this is incredibly, gut-wrenchingly scary. Any advice anyone can give me to get through this would be more than gratefully received.

    Jen, you’re such an amazing and strong woman. Thank-you for deciding to make Grace’s life matter as much as it has to so many of us. Thank-you for finding your roar. x

  7. Here, here! I’d like to raise my coffee mug this morning and toast to your triumph, Jennifer! I love and respect you and your courageous roar. You taught me how to begin to heal from my past adversity. I am starting to love and accept myself for the first time in my life. And man, is it liberating! Thank you.

  8. Dear Jen –

    I lost a son at 21. I was lucky to have him. But a loss of a child at any age leaves a space in your heart that is never filled.

    I wrote an article on this. Perhaps you will find a tiny bit of comfort in it.

    http://www.personal-growth-with-corinne-edwards.com/you-will-never-get-over-it-loss-of-a-love/

  9. Barb says:

    This is a beautiful post. Straight from the heart. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Carol says:

    Your story touched me in a profound way and suggests that we may have an unexpected connection. My daughter Zoe was born on March 7, 1992 and turns 22 tomorrow. We had trouble conceiving her and she has been the joy of our life – and our only child. Your grief at losing Grace is unimaginable to me and I strongly agree with your friend’s Don’s perspective. Here is something that struck me – perhaps Grace’s spirit wasn’t ready for the world. Perhaps it needed a bit more time and came in some part into Zoe as she came into the world, for her name means life, which she embodies, but there is no question she has been touched by grace in every sense of the word. Zoe is strong, smart, beautiful, funny, kind, and yes graceful. She is my greatest blessing and the most important job I have ever had is being her mother. Had something happened to her I do not believe I would have had the joy of experiencing motherhood. Fortunately, you were able to have more children and have been a better mother to them becaue of Grace. I wish you peace and joy and will hug my Zoe a bit tighter today as she comes home from her senior year of college to spend a few days of her last spring break – and her 22nd birthday – with her family. I am positive that Grace’s spirit lives on, in Zoe and in every other child whose life is touched by that beautiful name.

  11. Jeri says:

    I believe that when a life touches us for such a short time that this was their purpose. Look how she was a tiny pebble who created such a big ripple! One day you’ll be with Grace again and it will be a beautiful reunion :-)

  12. Cecelia says:

    Gosh. Well, first…thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to Grace. I’m sitting here with tears welled up in my eyes and out of breath. So raw. So vulnerable. I empathize and identify with this story of loss – through a different lens. Mine is one of letting the parts and pieces of myself that no longer serve me or others, die. And, it’s a very strange and vulnerable place to be. I am in a current scenario that is requiring me to summon up my deepest self and face adversity related to my own personal power/value/worth. It feels like hell on earth. Cuts to the quick. Touches the depths of my soul and literally makes my physical body ache. Every day, I awake and realize that I have one more chance to push through it just as a butterfly painfully emerges from its chrysalis, and think of new and creative ways that I will preserver and triumph. I think the biggest thing we all could only be so fortunate to experience…is living a life touched by grace. Saved by grace. Such a humbling experience. But an ideal starting point of truth.

  13. paul johnson says:

    “WIZENED,” what a great word! When I think of that word, I picture a person who has been through a lot of painful moments, hours, days, weeks, months, and years and has still managed to endure. “Pain is the touchstone of all spiritual progress.” They use that phrase in a fellowship I belong to. When we get to the other side of the pain, we are still aware of everything the past, but in spite of it, or perhaps because of it, we are determined to make the absolute best use of the present. Not only for ourselves…but also for all the folks we touch and interact with as we go through our daily lives. Thanks for the sincere and meaningful words you write in your posts. God bless you Jen.

  14. Betty says:

    Jennifer, My thoughts are with you. My heart is embracing yours. It is my sincere prayer that you be comforted today and everyday.

  15. Betty says:

    May you find peace and be comforted by your love for baby Grace.
    Bonded through Loss
    Betty

  16. Rose says:

    Blessings, Jen.

  17. Marie says:

    Thank you for sharing your loss and courage.

  18. Mary Peters says:

    Jen- i love your sentiments, about your sweet baby Grace. I too, have suffered loss…our 21 yr old ,motivated to succeed, vibrant, funny,handsome, athletic, popular,peace-maker,self-proclaimed “golden child” took his own life…in the 6 years,since that dreadful day, i feel like we have journeyed down this uncertain road, filled with sudden roadblocks, off-roading at times, and even beautiful highways, filled with promise. But , the dark clouds roll in also, and the fog settles around, making the path scary and unknown…
    Scotty should have turned 27 last week and our concern should have been where we would meet to share a meal, but instead it was a weird day, that lasted forever, tears, laughter, memories shared (not unlike many of the other birthdays, and his ” heavenbound” dates) but weird, because somehow i crossed over some “lime in the sand” and felt differently.
    I dont exactly know if i can put it into words…
    But i do know that i felt compelled to write to you, after i read your tribute to Grace. I, too, love the word “wizened” … Altho, i am not as far along in my journey as you are, in time or emotion… I have hope one day i will be. Your comments made me feel like it could be closer than i ever thought. This journey of change, can sometimes veer off into a new direction, i have found.
    Thx for doing what you do.
    Mary… Mom of Scotty

  19. Christa says:

    Jennifer, here is my story. I know you know a lot of it. God has given me several mountains to climb as well. The first being the most wonderful Mother on earth…when she was sober. The second was Mount Cancer. While climbing Mount Cancer, I realized my husband didn’t want to join me on the climb. So I gathered my courage and ended my 22 year marriage and did it alone. I have learned a lot and gotten stronger, although I hope not bitter. When I read your posts, I often want to l link arms with you and go running through the waves singing I will Survive at the top of our lungs. I see the great strength in you that I hope I have too. Together we can conquer the world. Your Grace has changed all of our lives and made us all stronger. I love it when you post about her. Love, Christa

  20. Dana Kaye says:

    Dear Jennifer,
    I shared with you last year around this date that my daughter, Grace, also passed away. She was 14 and amazing. I too find it remarkable that the journey continues and my strength is herculean at times. Thank you Grace. I have tried for awhile to find my authentic self and greater compassion in my work. By the end of May I will be the proud owner of a yoga studio that provides yoga for cancer and chronic disease patients, veterans, and those in recovery. Yep – Grace Yoga! Her spirit continues to thrive and her mama does too.
    With love,
    Dana

  21. Laurie S says:

    Any trauma or significant loss (as defined by each of us individually rather than by anyone else) provides us with the opportunity to learn and grow, or not – the choice is ultimately ours. I can’t control circumstances or anyone else; I can only control my own responses to things that happen in my life. Lots of validation, compassion, and wisdom inserted at appropriate points along the way certainly help (from supportive others, as well as from us toward ourselves). This circular process meanders all over the place, and includes times of anger and self-pity and sadness, but usually yields general positive forward progress, if we step back far enough and look at a big enough picture (easier said and seen from many years after the fact, of course!). I would never intentionally choose the losses I’ve experienced, but neither would I change the hard-won lessons I have embraced because of them; these are woven into the very fabric of who I am today. I have learned to appreciate and respect myself, “warts and all”!

  22. Julia says:

    Sorry Jen, I knew what your post was about, but I couldn’t read it until today.
    Me too, still raw some days and it’s been 33 years for me. But the days are much much further apart now.
    Beautiful post.

  23. Julia says:

    By saying I couldn’t read it, I need to clarify, I don’t mean I couldn’t be bothered but that I hadn’t got the courage to read it.

  24. Karen says:

    Well, I wondered why I found myself telling you about my daughter, K. Grace, who died and came back seven years ago after being struck by a car. It was the power of two anniversaries. Thank you for writing so clearly from the heart and leaving crumbs all along the path to self-knowledge.

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