July 17, 2012 at 9:25 AM
Someone recently gave me a book entitled: Beach Wisdom; life lessons from the Ocean. In the introduction of the book, the author states “the beach gives us a chance to hear the truths our own hearts whisper and to slow our careening inner pace to something that more closely matches the ancient rhythms of the tides. When that happens, the answers we are looking for begin to float up to the surface. Grace begins to seep in, like the high tide slowly moving up the shore.”
Most of us connect with the ocean. We can relate to the peaceful, calming feeling that comes over you when you walk a long beach and watch the waves move back and forth. There is something healing about the ocean, something profound about its strength and beauty. I am fortunate to be able to take advantage of many mornings walking the beach with my family, throwing rocks in the ocean with my 3 year old and allowing myself to sit and watch the sunrise reflect off the water. So, it was only fitting that my friends would organize a morning on the beach to help me remember and reflect on the life of my very young son who was born too soon.
The beach will always be a source of renewal for me. The morning of our prayer service was the only overcast day of the week; not ideal by any means. Yet, it was only fitting that thirteen women stood in a circle as the rain fell on us, cleansing and healing our spirit. The ocean was calm and peaceful that morning as the tide slowly made its way in, quite unusual when we have a rain storm, yet all the more symbolic of the renewal that was taking place. I stood, barefoot, under an umbrella in this circle of comfort and prayer and never felt so at peace. God’s grace began to seep in as we remembered and offered prayers for my son, for my family. The peace I felt, the words of reflection from the heart, the vulnerability of each woman sharing in a circle of hope, was a powerful experience. This is what the beauty and the power of the beach offer each of us.
Hopeful Connections began as a way to help people find healthy ways to remember their children. For me, this has been doing this work, creating this site, organizing the support services. This passion I have for working with women around loss has been healing and helpful for me. However, in June, the original due date of my son, I knew I needed something to help me bring peace to this much anticipated time. I knew I needed the beach, with women, with friends who would help me remember and reflect on a life that has profoundly changed me and remarkably touched them as well.
I believe it is so important to do what you need to do to remember and memorialize your child. I needed to spend a morning on the beach to really feel comfortable with how I celebrated the life of my child. I encourage anyone, at anytime, to do what you feel you need to do. Someone said to me recently that they wished they had done something to remember their child. It was as if she felt that because a certain amount of time had passed that it wasn’t appropriate to do something. I reminded her that she still could, to follow what her heart wanted to do. There is no timeline on what you can do with the memories of your child or the sharing of their life. What I found that morning was these women who organized this event, who came out regardless of the rain, were so grateful for the opportunity to celebrate this life, to offer comfort to me and to be allowed to remember Jude as well. Maybe if we begin to share our comfort of speaking about our children, about our need to have a celebration to remember the gifts they brought and the love we have for them, people in our lives will feel comfortable as well and appreciate the opportunity to celebrate this love with us. In doing something for yourself, you may actually be healing others.
So, go to the beach. Sit in the sand. Watch the ocean sway back and forth. Marvel at the wonder of the glistening sun reflecting on the water. Collect seashells. Laugh with a friend in the waves. Build a sand castle. Do all the things the beach offers us. Listen to the truths in your own heart and you, too, will be filled with Beach Wisdom.