Why this restorative justice practioner crafts and cooks.

I just responded to an email, fighting back tears.  I sent out love and support to someone I haven’t met yet.  Haven’t met physically.  I’ve already met her on her life  journey, she and I connected over the dynamic of a parent who lost a child.  She is meeting her child’s friends and scattering her child’s ashes.  I began to choke up, composing a message back.  It is not just this loss that takes me to a place of pain, it is knowing so many stories.

I know a number of parents who have lost a child.  I talk with them in-depth about their stories, their pain, their experience.  I am speechless at the depth of grief.  I cannot hold back tears if I consider myself, for a moment, in their shoes.  I sit with each one and try to provide the best restorative justice I can.  I listen, I care, I try to help and be supportive, I try to understand, I hold them in my heart.  I think about that, I think about how much love they must need, just to keep breathing.  I give presence and witness and really all that I can give.

Volunteers that storytell about the loss of a child are miraculous.  They give the wisdom of their lived experience and they live something no parent should ever have to.  I love these people and yet I wish for each and every one that I didn’t know them (because that would mean their child was alive).   I know I need to stay strong for them, I run the program that is trying to help with healing.

I was listening to a Mom tell her story, and she was not one of the SCVRJP speakers.  Her son was killed in a traffic crash.  She spoke and I recognized some of the experiences, her pain was familiar to me, it was the “child-loss grief”.  I vicariously know “child-loss grief” and it is deep.  I began to cry for her pain, and I was overwhelmed with emotions during her presentation.  I couldn’t wipe away my stream of tears fast enough, I had to get up, get my purse and a tissue.  I think I got overwhelmed,  since the person sharing was not part of the SCVRJP Circle of parents, I was not in my service mode, and it was just time for me to do so grieving for them.

So I process grief by cooking and crafting.  After a series of Restorative Response Circles (talking about suicide) I made quiche, cheesecake and something else with cheese, I’m lactose intolerant, so that cost me a sick day at the end!  I have to keep my hands busy and my head slightly distracted.  Busy, busy, busy . . . find meaning, find meaning, find meaning.

Finding meaning is part of the journey to finding healing.  To “make” something of the loss by sharing the story is what some parents do.  I find them and they find me.  I find them Circles to tell the stories.  I bring back to them the stories of how their story impacted others.  But some days, when my tears are near the surface I know it is my turn to grieve.  It is time for me to cook or craft.