From early in Betty and Kyle’s relationship, they had a basic plan for their life together. For years, that plan worked without a hitch. They got married, finished their education, and then started their wonderful little family.
When their first child, baby Ella, was born, life continued to feel perfect. They documented every little milestone, watching her grow, begin to walk and even say a few words. Then right around her first birthday, Ella began to show symptoms that looked like a little cold. Even when they learned that it was not just a cold, but was heart failure, doctors still thought that given time, her heart would recover, and life would continue on much as it had before.
A couple of weeks later, on Kyle’s birthday, however, Betty got a call from daycare that Ella’s lips were turning blue. Despite being quickly transported to the hospital, Ella died shortly after arrival.
Shock, disbelief, devastation – these are just a few of emotions that flooded through Kyle and Betty, but along with that was a promise the two of them made to each other. The death of Ella would not tear them apart; it would bring them closer together. This experience would strengthen their marriage. Betty and Kyle became very intentional about communication with each other. They got a journal and planned times to write in it together – the good, the bad, the ugly. They wrote whatever they were feeling at the moment, often over a glass of wine.
Over the past few years, others began to think of Betty and Kyle as grief ‘experts.’ They were called on to sit with other grieving families in those first weeks and months. They would go with their little journal in hand, using it to help others on the journey. After having many people ask for copies of specific pages, they realized that publishing the journal as a book might be a way to help even more people than those in their little circle.
Last month, “Unraveled: When Loss Changes Everything” was published (available for purchase on Amazon). Here is a little taste of what Betty and Kyle write: ‘Who would choose for bad things to happen? Nobody wants a silver lining – we all just want the sun. Trying to avoid pain is natural, but darkness creates contrast so we can better appreciate the light. Think about it – all light and no dark is just a whiteout. Contrast is what exposes beauty.’
When we experience a great loss such as the death of a child, our worlds are unraveled. With time, however, life can be re-woven back together. It will not look the same as the original, and it is certainly not as beautiful and perfect as it once was, but in some ways, it may be fuller, richer and more meaningful.