October 5 is Kohen’s 2nd birthday. For the second time in my life, I’ve anticipated October 5 with grief and confusion and a desire to come up with some way to honour my nephew. Its still new to me, this grieving process. Theres this feeling that I don’t want to just be sad – I want to DO something with the time and energy that should have been his on this day.

So, this year, I’m trying something a bit scary – I’ve always loved creating artwork for my nieces and nephews, and I just can’t seem to get away from doing what I do when it comes to Kohen. I’ve illustrated a wild + precious monster for him, and put it on some t-shirts, which I am now selling in order to raise money and awareness for two great causes! I’d love for you to consider purchasing one, but only if one of these three reasons strikes your heart:

  1. You think the design is legitimately cute. Thats a great reason.
  2. You can get behind Pregnancy and Infant loss awareness month/day, and would value having a wearable reminder to honour and remember a loved one who has been lost, has experienced this loss, or an opportunity to spread awareness about pregnancy and infant loss
  3. You are into the first two points, but also like the idea that my entire profits ($7-9 per shirt) will be donated to Hope for Korah, an organization that (among many other things!) provides a nourishing daily breakfast to over 200 kids suffering from malnourishment in Korah, Ethiopia. While remembering the ones we’ve lost, we can help these beautiful, precious kids flourish (hopeforkorah.org)

The Shirts come in toddler, youth and adult sizes, in three variations. They’re printed on demand onto Bella + Canvas soft cotton tees, by my friends at Printful. I’ve priced them so that $7-9 profit of each shirt can help feed kids in Ethiopia.

Life is indeed, Wild and Precious. I chose this phrase because it celebrates the vibrancy of life, while recognizing what a precious gift it really is. I watch my almost two-year-old throwing cars and think, “that boy is wild!” Then he throws himself into my arms and I think “this boy is precious.” I think back on the traumatic day that Kohen was born, and with grief in my heart must acknowledge that this life is, terrifyingly, wild. I stare at his footprints and reflect on how much he’s changed us, and that, wrapped up in grief and sadness, is precious. My hope is that with this little wild monster you’ll remember the gifts your kids / grandkids / YOU are – and remember to be a bit sensitive. That it will remind you to honour and remember the ones lost, the ones who’ve lost, and even the ones who never got to be. If you’re the one all TOO aware of this day, feeling the weight of your own grief, I hope this design will honour your grief, and your hope. Even if you haven’t found it yet. I can’t begin to know if it will, but I hope my efforts at least will be honouring to you.

This awareness movement is not just to remind us that some people are grieving. It’s to help us learn how to be better as a community and a society when it comes to supporting those who have lost an infant. As a bereaved auntie, I’ve learned a few things about being in the support system (namely: how hard it is! And how clueless I was before).

Here are my practical tips:

  • Be gentle with pregnancy and the related discussions. It can be traumatic and painful, often not the excitement-filled experience that you might expect.
  • Be cautious when you talk about family planning with new friends.
  • If someone’s loss makes you uncomfortable, own that, and try to find a way to sit in it. Don’t change the subject. Honesty and compassion are enough to compensate for your awkwardness.
  • Be intentional about remembering the children that you didn’t get to meet, and recognize the way they changed your world just by being.
  • More than anything, don’t get hung up on the “do’s and don’ts” and leave a grieving friend all alone. They need you.

Kohen was born 10 days before my birthday. He was a big boy, perfect in every way. I would have met him at 2 days old, right before thanksgiving, and snuggled him to my own 7 month pregnant stomach and said, “you guys are going to be best cousin friends!” He has a little sister now, and when we’re all together he’s still missing. When we’re not together he’s still missing. He’s taught us to love better, to grieve better, to communicate better – he’s taught us so much, but he’s still missing. And yet – “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.” – Martin Luther