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And Then There Was One

Mother and Son Share About Finding Purpose in Grief

November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month

The loss of a baby during pregnancy remains a sad reality for many families. It is an unexpected, traumatic, and life-changing event that 1 in 4 women have experienced. I am 1 in 4. About eight years ago, I had two losses in nine months. It was a tumultuous time for my family and me, including my son, then 5. We wanted another child. Unfortunately, life doesn't stop when you're dealing with one thing; it keeps going, sometimes layering challenges one after another, and it can be overwhelming. We had two close losses in the family—my husband's grandmother, who raised him, and my cousin, more like a sister, were tragically killed in a car accident. We needed some joy, and new life was our prayer. We learned two things: life doesn't happen in your time, and children's grief is a serious matter.

Our son, CJ, was struggling. We would find him crying in dark places and Googling death on his iPad. He didn't know how to express what he felt and was trying to figure it out independently. A memory engrained in my mind forever was when I couldn't find him, but then I heard a loud shrieking cry in the yard. I will never forget the day I found my baby crying out to God, wondering why all of this was happening. At that moment, I knew that we had to do something to help CJ cope with such complex feelings.

Before moving away from Los Angeles in 2004 and starting my family, I was heavily involved in activism, so the first thing that came to mind was how helping others always made me feel. I asked CJ, "If there was one thing you could do to prevent other kids from having these feelings, what would you do?” My goal was to pull out of him an idea of something he could give them. He told me, “blankets,” and that’s how our charity, Blankies 4 My Buddies, was born. This winter will be the ninth year CJ has collected and donated blankets to kids experiencing challenging situations, providing an extra dose of comfort to children who need it. 

Healing Story

This year, we decided to release a book, initially a journal, for our healing. Pregnancy loss is palpable for so many families, and we believe our story can help others find their way to move beyond the pain and find a testimony amidst the tragedy too many of us have endured.

And Then There Was One (Parker & Co. Press), co-written with CJ Matthews, who is now 14 years old, is being released on November 10 to recognize Children's Grief Awareness Month. It tells the story of one little boy's determination to help others and keep his little sister's spirit alive while coping with his grief. In the end, the main character finds purpose and discovers his strengths and greatness through small acts of generosity.   

We pray our story empowers families wherever they are in their journeys, offering insight, healing, and hope, because our story ends with a rainbow, a rainbow baby, that is. Our son Kollin was born in 2016.

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