When you lose a child, the grief that surrounds you is often all consuming and could easily become isolating. We aren't alone though and can't let ourselves retreat into our grief.
We have a daughter. A bright and beautiful, four and a half year old who spent much of the past six months anticipating a baby in the house. A baby brother to love and be a little mama to. We'd shopped for him and folded little clothes together. Chosen blankets to wrap him in:only ones that had been rubbed on his sister's sweet cheek and deemed soft enough for her baby brother. We made up pretend silly names for him and talked about all the things she could teach him about being a kid.
And so what do we tell her? How can we explain what happened to her brother "“ and why "“ when it doesn't even make sense to us? She asked where her brother was and so we took a deep breath and started:
"Sweety, when you were born your heart was big and strong. You were so surprised to leave Mommy's warm tummy and come out into the world that you yelled and yelled and yelled. When your brother Leo was born, his heart wasn't as big and strong as yours and it wasn't able to keep his body working properly. The doctor tried to help him stay with us, but his little body just couldn't and so we gave him a lot of cuddles and kisses and we talked to him about you. When Leo couldn't stay with us any longer he went to heaven to be an angel and look over us."
She asked if that meant Leo had died? We said yes, that was what it means. And then she threw herself into her Daddy's arms and sobbed and I wondered if she would ever be able to stop. My mommy autopilot kicked in and I went to the nursery and picked up a soft toy we had bought for Leo.
"Sadie, do you remember the bear that you chose for Leo? Well before he went to Heaven, he filled that bear up with love and bunches of hugs for you. Any time you feel sad or if you're missing Leo, you can give the bear a hug and it will be a special hug from him. The bear will never run out."
She reached out and pulled the bear close and her tears started to dry up. Later that day we found the bear beside her pillow on her bed. At naptime it was in her arms. For several days it was generally within arms reach. These days Leo's Bear (as she calls him) sits at the head of her bed. She associates the bear with comfort and on Christmas Eve she brought him to me for a hug when she saw me crying. We know when we see her with Leo's Bear it's a signal that she needs something "“ perhaps something she doesn't have the words to express to us. It's a cue for a hug or a gentle conversation and we are grateful for his help
The reason for this Go Fund Me page is to raise money for other bears. Every sister or brother who loses a sibling should have their own "Leo's Bear" to give them some comfort when they are feeling lost and when their Mommy and Daddy feel a little distant and lost in their own sadness. We will use your donation to purchase new teddies and pack them with a card that has a story about what their bear can help them with. The bears will be sent to hospitals to be given to the kids who need them.
Ultimately we would dearly love to register a charity and continue raising funds to get "Leo's Bear" to as many children as we can. To offer help to the parents of all those little people that will get them through the hardest time of their lives. For now though, our first goal is to get 100 bears out in the world and we thank you "“ from the bottom of our hearts "“ for considering making a contribution.
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- Suzanne Mintz
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