From the depths of sorrow, to finding peace and hope, our members have so much they want to share about this unexpected journey we are on...
If you build it
After losing my twin sons, Tyler & Ethan, in April 2011, I felt incredibly alone. I still remember the day we left the hospital. The gray, bitter afternoon. Getting into our empty minivan. My nurse, Sara, wheeling me out the doors. I remember the final advice she gave me before we left. She told me that people will say stupid things and that I should forgive them. She reminded my husband and I that we will grieve differently but we need to keep communicating. And she also mentioned that if I was feeling up to it, in a few weeks there was a local March of Dimes walk that I may find some comfort in. I thanked her, hugged her, and drove away just hoping to forget everything that had happened. The last thing I wanted to do was to attend a community event.
But Sara’s words stuck with me. In the days that followed, I read about the March of Dimes and their mission to help end prematurity, the very thing that had taken our boys from us. I was inspired to do something. A little spark had started to form in my broken soul. Two weeks before the walk, I decided we were going. I told some friends and family, and surprisingly they wanted to walk with us. We had shirts made. We did a balloon release and watched two of the balloons separate from the rest and float playfully away. We smiled. We hugged. I didn’t feel alone in my grief. This little team coming together to honor our boys was incredibly healing. We decided this was going to be a tradition.
The following year, as we approached Tyler & Ethan’s first birthday, a good friend who owned a bar and grill offered to help us put on a fundraiser for our March of Dimes team. It had felt so good to get people together the prior year for the walk that I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate the boys’ birthday. My little spark turned into a flame, and “Walkin’ for the Walker Boys" Family Fun Night began!
That first year, we had a modest but awesome turnout for our pizza dinner and auction. Every year since then, it's grown. We have moved to a larger venue, added kids' activities and a DJ, and members of the Badger Band even make an appearance sometimes! This year we will host our 9th annual fundraiser. To date, we have raised over $25,000 for the March of Dimes in Tyler & Ethan's memory. It is so rewarding to do something positive while we keep their memory alive.
Perhaps the most healing part is the comfort I've found in the community that we've built. Our friends and family volunteer their time to set up, work in the kitchen and donate food. We have local businesses who donate to our silent auction and know us and our boys by name now. We have people show up at the event that we've never met before, but who leave as our friends. I get the honor every year to stand up and thank these people for coming, to share Tyler & Ethan's story and to know that I'm bringing people together to do something good.
Thinking back over the last 9 years, it's been a long journey of healing; one that will never be entirely complete. I'm forever grateful to Sara for helping ignite the spark that built this little community. The community that has carried me, given me an outlet for my grief and helped me find my hope again. I encourage all of you to find your community too... and I hope I've inspired some of you to go out and build one.
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We are taking submissions for articles to share in our monthly e-newsletter. We believe it is healing for parents to share their experiences and valuable for the both community to relate and professionals to gather a better understanding.
Each of these stories was featured in an e-newsletter and distributed to parents and professionals in our community. We hope that parents reading these stories will feel less alone and that the caregivers and professionals that we trust can learn from our experiences.
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Bereaved Parents of Madison, Inc
PO BOX 46511
Madison, WI 53744
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Bereaved Parents of Madison Inc is a 501(c)(3)