Friday, October 24, 2008

The Story of the Bereavement Boxes:

As you might imagine, the day I left the hospital and I went one way and DeLanee went another was undescribably hard. Every mom plans on leaving the hospital with their baby. My arms were empty - except for a box. A box that contained all of the contents of my baby's belongings. I had DeLanee in January, so the nurses found a leftover Christmas box and put DeLanee's stuff in it. I clung to that box as they wheeled me out of the hospital and for the next several weeks that box remained near to me where I would open it and go through the reminders and memories of what I had left of my little girl.

It was that Christmas box that was so special to me, which gave me the idea of the "Bereavement Boxes". The following year on DeLanee's birthday I wanted to do something to honor and remember her so I attempted my first try at the boxes. I wanted to donate them back to the hospital where I had DeLanee - Banner Desert Medical Center. It was definitely a labor of love as I was preparing them. I remembered how I hung on and embraced the box that had been given to me and worked in hope that the boxes that I was preparing would help to give another mom something to hold on to as they too left the hospital without their precious baby. I also wanted them to be well-designed, tasteful and special enough that each mom would feel like it would be something they cherished for many years to come.

They looked very different that first year than what they do now, but over the past five years they have developed into a service that has helped me see that good things can come from less than perfect circumstances. The project has developed into something bigger than what I imagined and I still have dreams of it becoming even bigger! As I receive letters or phone calls from women who have received a box, I have been humbled by them and their strength in enduring their trials and feel so blessed to have met so many wonderful women. Although the circumstances that have brought us together has not been one I would wish on anybody, I feel blessed to be amongst them.

Suzanne Helzer is the Bereavement Director at Banner Desert Hospital and does such a wonderful job. All hospitals should be so blessed to have someone like Suzanne to work with grieving mothers at the time of their loss and then for quite some time afterward. It really does make a difference. Ocassionally I'll receive a call from her telling me about how she witnessed a mom arranging her baby's items in the box and then taking them out and arranging them again, or, she'll tell me how the CD has effected the women as they deal with their grief and reconfirms to me that I need to continue with the project. There are so many times that I tell myself that the only person this is helping is me until I receive a note or card from a mom or one of Suzanne's calls.

I used to only donate once a year on DeLanee's birthday but Suzanne and the Bereavement department now calls me when they run out of boxes and requests more. I am embarrassed to admit this, but the run we just did came from a request that Suzanne made to me last June! With my pregnancy and other things I have had going on I just couldn't seem to get them done. I've felt terrible as I've thought of all the women that did not get to receive one of DeLanee's boxes.

We had such a wonderful time doing this batch of boxes. We ate, laughed and assembled the boxes and it was such a wonderful experience. I feel so blessed to have wonderful family and friends that support me and help me with the boxes. Thank you so much to everyone that donate time, money, love and support as we do this! Pictured below are some of my nearest and dearest friends from high school. This was the first time I had the opportunity to do this project with them. It was so special to me to be surrounded by those friends I have known forever and feel so blessed to remain close to the girls I grew up with! I love you guys so much!

Finished girl and boy box:
Contents of inside of box includes: CD, disposable camera, journal, photo brag book, necklace, journal, pen, candy and kleenex.

A special thank you to Erika and Heather for donating all of the cameras and brag books and additional items for our next run!

Thank you Mom Sherwood, Kathryn Hallsted for helping with the items below: Journals, pens, candy, kleenex and cds:

A really big thank you to Heritage House'76 located in Snowflake, Arizona for donating our necklaces that is included in each and every run we've done. We appreciate it!

Ready for delivery: