After my daughter passed away, I eventually grew tired of the hopelessness. My Christian faith allows me to believe that the Lord will bring good from every situation. I needed to find hope; reason to believe that good could come from our tragedy.
As I began my desperate search for goodness, I looked around and realized we had many things that we no longer needed. You see, my daughter was a twin; we practically had two of everything, including stuffed animals. Our surviving twin daughter was hospitalized in neonatal intensive care for 89 days. I thought of all the children still in the hospital across our city…and all of our stuffed animals.
Eight months after my daughter passed away, I founded a local chapter of the national organization of Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (S.A.F.E., visit www.stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org for more information) and began collecting and distributing new and gently loved stuffed animals to children in our city. I organized a collection drive at a local elementary school, and once word spread to family and friends that I was collecting stuffed animals, it seemed I was never without something to give. Donating stuffed animals to children in need allowed me to share the love I had for my daughter who had passed. In two years, I distributed over 2,000 stuffed animals to local children’s shelters and hospitals.
Giving through my grief allowed me to find hope renewed. I found strength in sharing our story with others as I delivered the stuffed darlings. I could not expect others to understand or to welcome me with pomp and circumstance just because I was doing something in memory of my daughter, and I certainly didn’t like our circumstances any more than before. But in following my heart, I discovered that God was using me—and my daughter’s death—to make a difference in the lives of other children. My daughter’s life, though very short, was the catalyst for something great.
I no longer distribute stuffed animals as God has since brought many more opportunities for me to give through writing and public speaking. But it all started through my faith, which allows me to believe that good can come from evil. It all started with a simple gift.Tags: grief, hope