Dear newly bereaved mother,
Welcome to the sisterhood of the wailing tent. With profound condolences, I know this greeting will soon be forgotten, for your heart and soul have sustained a terrible blow. The shock known as The Fog will accompany you for some time, greatly impacting your memory. So I offer you this written welcome to refer to when your recollection falters.
The wailing tent is an honored place where only mothers with a broken spirit can enter. Admittance is gained not with an ID card bearing your name, but with the profound sorrow freshly etched on your heart. Membership is free, for you have already paid the unfathomable price. The directions to the wailing tent are secret, available only to mothers who speak our loss language of everlasting grief. No rules are posted, no hours are noted. There is no hierarchy, no governing body. Your membership has no expiration date—it is lifelong. The refuge offered within its walls does not judge members based on age, religious belief, or social status. You can hang your camouflage and mask outside, and if you can’t make it past the door we will surround you with love right where you lay.
The wailing tent is a shelter where mothers shed anguished tears among her newfound sisters, a haven where all forms of wailing are honored, understood, and accepted. In the beginning, you will be very afraid and will hate the wailing tent and everything it stands for. You will flail, thrash about, and spew vile words in protest. You will fight to be free of the walls, wishing desperately to offer a plea bargain for a different tent, learn a different language. Those emotions will last for some time.
Your family and friends cannot accompany you here. The needs of the wailing tent are invisible to them and though they will try, they simply cannot comprehend the language nor fathom the disembodied, guttural howls heard within.
In the beginning, your stays here will seem endless. Over time, the need for your visits will change and eventually you will observe some mothers talking, even smiling, rather than wailing. Those are the mothers who have learned to balance profound anguish with moments of peace, though they still need to seek refuge among us from time to time. Do not judge those mothers as callused or strong, for they have endured profound heartache to attain the peace they have found. Their visits here are greatly valued, for their hard earned wisdom offers hope that we, too, will learn to balance the sadness in our hearts.
Lastly, you need not flash your ID card or introduce yourself each time you visit, for we know who you are. You are one of us, an honorary lifelong sister of the wailing tent. Welcome, my wailing sister.
Written by Lynda Cheldelin Fell 01/26/14
The other day I was asked why I advocate for the bereaved to give to others as a way to heal. In the midst of autopilot, brain fog, and feeling utterly depleted before even getting out of bed, most have nothing left to give.
So here’s my explanation on why giving is good for the giver.
When one suffers a broken leg, it takes time for the body to heal. The fracture will always be there because once done, it can’t be undone, but strengthening the muscles and tissue around the break will help protect from further damage and promote healing.
Just like physical therapy is to broken bones, giving while grieving is therapy for the broken heart. It releases powerful dopamine and endorphins—a natural high, which are like little happy pills for brain pain. It’s also good for our body by reducing common grief banes—stress, anxiety and insomnia.
Does giving cure grief? No. Losing someone we love causes grief that cannot be undone. It is something we learn to live with moving forward. But we can soothe the rawness and strengthen the areas around the wound—our broken heart—through activities and actions such as giving.
What can you give when you feel empty inside? Give blood. Give a smile. Give a genuine compliment. Give blessing bags to the homeless. Give a car room to merge during rush hour. Give time at a homeless shelter, which serves as a powerful reminder that we’re not alone on the struggle bus. Give a hug.
Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” In other words, helping others helps our own heart to heal. It truly does.
-Lynda Cheldelin Fell XOXO
Today is the last of the 12 Nights of Kindness when we reveal our identity to the Naidu family. It wasn’t that long ago when we faced our first Christmas without our daughter Aly, and nothing soothed the rawness except acts of kindness from others. Fast forward 9 years later and I’ve learned that kindness remains a powerful balm—for my own heart.
Thank you for joining us each evening and watching our elves learn the joys of giving. I hope our 12 Nights inspired you to give kindness to someone because no matter how large or small, all it takes it one small act to make a big difference.
A discussion about losing a child to a neurodegenerative disorder and the 5 stages of grief with Dianne Gray from the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation.
Tonight we’re joined by a seasoned elf, our youngest son Shaun, who just arrived home from college for the holidays. We started this tradition when he was 9. He’s now 23 and all grown up but young Elf Aubrey is doing a great job giving kindness to a family mourning the fresh loss of their loved one.
Night #2. Elf Aubrey is learning the joys of giving by giving joy to a family in mourning through the 12 Nights of Kindness. We went out a little early tonight due to a windstorm, but Aubrey is so brave and doing a wonderful job!
To start your own tradition of giving kindness, full instructions and free printables are available at www.LyndaFell.com.
#kindness #12Nights #hope #joy #holidays
Night #1 of the 12 Nights of Kindness, our tradition of teaching kids the joys of giving by giving joy to a neighbor who is missing someone they love.
This year we picked a family who lost a loved one just two months ago. Neighbor Bob died right in his driveway. I know our nightly gifts won’t cure the family’s sadness, but giving is good for both giver and receiver in that it lifts our own hearts to spread a little holiday cheer to someone in need. Learn how to start your own tradition including free instructions and printables at www.LyndaFell.com.