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  • Inviting Your Stories of Loss & Hope

    This Saturday in Littleton, Colorado

    I'll be hosting a Healing and Remembrance Through Art booth again this year, on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, in the Resource Pavillion at the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep annual Remembrance Walk in Littleton, Colorado.

    I'll be there to hear and record the stories of people who have been affected by the loss of a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, neonatal or any type of pregnancy or infant loss as an extension of my recent work and my 100 Days of Healing and Remembrance project. The project incorporates 100 stories of those who've experienced these types of losses. With the stories shared, I'm creating one large abstract painting by adding to a canvas every day. At the end of the project, I’ll be cutting that canvas into smaller pieces. These tiny abstract paintings will be sent to those who contributed or could use some encouragement, or both. You can read more about that project and participate here.

    I set up a booth in the same Resource Pavillion last year and, as someone who has personally been affected by these experiences was grateful to also have the opportunity to participate in the walk last year. It was an incredible event. I met a lot of amazing people, people from all over Colorado, individuals and families (including kids), some of whom had experienced a loss recently while others had lost a baby many years ago. It was emotional and difficult but also incredibly healing and powerful to see so many people come together. There were close to 1,000 people at the Walk, just in Colorado. The large numbers of balloons released in honor of babies, and the families and friends standing and walking together were all a bittersweet, beautiful representation of the fact that you're never alone through this process of grief, love, and hope.

    NILMDTS's co-founder, Cheryl Haggard, spoke at the beginning of the ceremony about what the event and organization mean to her. One thing she said particularly struck me:

    The best advice I can give a bereaved parent is: embrace your grief, make friends with your grief. Know that your love and your grief will walk hand in hand with you throughout the rest of your life."

    (you can listen to her whole talk and see video from last year's walk in Littleton here).

    Cheryl’s words resonated with me because I think we often tell ourselves and sometimes hear from others, that “it’s time to move on” or that “you should be over this by now.” The irony is that, the harder we try to forget or bury these emotions, the more they can negatively affect us. These experiences are part of us now and can be a beautiful path to our purpose, and part of the light we hold for others going through the same.

    If you're not already familiar with them, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) was founded in Colorado and is now an international non-profit. They provide remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture. They believe these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring the child’s legacy. I've seen how helpful these photos can be for families in their grieving and healing processes.

    The Remembrance Walk itself is an annual event that takes place on different weekends in Minnesota, Georgia, and Colorado. They also have a virtual walk that takes place online and is coming up on October 21st, 2017. Each walk is for parents, family members, and friends to come together to remember a baby who has died due to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, neonatal or any type of pregnancy or infant loss.

    If you have a chance to attend the walk, or you know someone who might like to go, there's still time to sign up for the Littleton, Georgia and virtual walks (U.S. and International). If you're attending the Walk in Littleton this weekend, please stop by the booth to say hello.

    If you can’t attend the walk this weekend but would like to be a part of the 100 Days of Healing and Remembrance Project, you can read more about it and participate at angelacravenart.com/100-day-project