Updated: Jun 23, 2022
Finding Joy From the Other side- Four uplifting stories and One valuable resource
I didn't intend to write this and send this around Father's Day. It just happened that way. I started writing this several months ago and it all finally fell into place. I trust this is part of the divine orchestration as a time we celebrate parents we cannot help but remember those children no longer with us. This article contains stories from parents- these are not mine, I am just sharing. I can tell you story after story from the countless readings I have done that demonstrate life after life; however, it is much more powerful to hear from parents. These parents, who have gone through this tragic experience, have been able to find joy in living after losing. We all know someone who has lost someone; and, despite these being stories of children, and one husband, we can all benefit from knowing that living with joy is possible to have again.
The resource I include near the end of the article is invaluable and I encourage anyone reading this to share with anyone you know still suffering from loss. I am so impressed with this organization.
She was born on 01/11/2005
She became an Angel on 04/08/2008 She had just turned three years old. Pay attention to these dates, the numbers. The cause of death was noted as a complication of FSGS - Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. FSGS is a rare disease that attacks the kidney’s filtering units (glomeruli) and causes serious scarring, leading to permanent kidney damage and even kidney failure. FSGS is one of the causes of a serious condition known as Nephrotic Syndrome. In the U.S., approximately 40,000 patients are living with FSGS, and more than 60% of patients do not have a durable response to current FSGS treatments. Because of this, 50% of patients with FSGS will progress to kidney failure. There are approximately 20,000 FSGS patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), but only around 1,000 receive kidney transplants every year. Unfortunately, FSGS comes back to attack the new kidney 30-50% of the time. Mackenzie suffered a pulmonary embolism, which is a complication of FSGS. This disease thickens the blood. Those with this diagnosis can have no more than 15 ounces of liquid per day, a very limited fluid intake, and therefore it causes clots. This is how MacKenzie developed a pulmonary embolism and left her sweet, little body so early into her life here.
Losing a child is one of the most tragic and hardest experiences that anyone will ever go through. It is not something anyone ever gets over, more just learns to live with. Imagine if you were told you would never have children and then several years later- Surprise! You astound yourself, your partner, the doctors- everyone. And then, with this miracle of life that should never have been, it is quickly taken away in a matter of minutes.
Shannon and Sean are dear friends of mine that I have known for nearly 30 years now. When Shannon was young, before they were married, she had a cyst on her ovary that grew to the size of a football. She had surgery to remove it and for many months afterwards she endured pains in that area, which her Dr. assured her was just scar tissue. Unfortunately that was not true. The Dr. didn't get all of the cyst out and it grew back. This time she had surgery and radiation. She was told that she would never have children as this was her only option. Shannon and Sean accepted their fate knowing that having each other was more important than thinking about kids or no kids at this stage in their lives. Years went by, they got married and began building a beautiful life together. More years go by and, as with all miracles, they were astounded, grateful and feeling touched by the divine to one day discover that Shannon was pregnant. Knowing that this was impossible, despite their faith and belief in miracles, they had little hope that the pregnancy would last. It did. As you read above, Mackenzie was born on 01/11/2005.
Mackenzie would be 17 years old today. She would be in high school doing all of the things teenage girls do. Instead, her sweet spirit has been arrested at 3 years old. As harsh at that sounds, it is also somewhat magical. Her childlike wonder and innocence will always be what is felt and known. Her beautiful, sweet spirit is now like a fairy around Shannon and Sean- always playing, always laughing. You might wonder how anyone could get here from there, to look at it as magical. It has been nearly 15 years and with lots of work, their faith and belief in miracles has truly paid off. I am sharing this story because as tragic and heart-breaking as it is, as stunning and shocking as it is, they have continued to have a relationship with Mackenize that is unlike what they ever expected or knew could even happen.
Earlier this year, shortly after what would have been Mackenzie's 17th birthday in January, Sean and Shannon were both out of the house working and running errands while their housekeeper, Missy, was there. When Shannon got home Missy had left a yellow crayon on the counter for her that she had found while cleaning. Here is their exchange via text later that morning:
S: Good morning Missy! I am so curious to find out where you found that yellow crayon. I can't remember the last time we had crayons out and I love thinking of things like this as signs that Mackenzie has been here playing! M: I'm telling you, I got tears in my eyes when I saw that. I thought the same exact thing. Why is this yellow crayon here? It was against the wall in the short hall in front of the table where her pictures are. I couldn't throw it away. So I put it there for you to see. S: Wow! It was her!!!! Thank you so much for saving it. M: You' re welcome Sean told me not to do the guest bedroom. I hadn't turned that way, I was in the bath. When I picked up the kitchen mats (I put them there while the floor was wet) and was going to vacuum that area I saw it immediately. It wasn't hiding. Just there.
A couple of weeks later, February now, Shannon was talking with her mom and told her about the yellow crayon. She was surprised and delighted to hear from her mom that she threw out a bunch of crayons a few weeks ago (about the same time one was found in Shannon's hallway). She knew immediately that Mack was playing with them at her mom's house and came to her's to play too and left one for them to find. I would like to note that Shannon and Sean moved into their house in 2011, three years after Mackenzie made her transition. She has never been in this house physically which makes the yellow crayon appearing even more fantastic.
From Shannon's mom: Those crayons have been boxed up for at least a year and I just pulled them out and said I need to throw these away because nobody's using them. That is really awesome
Now it is March and I get this text from Shannon:
I have to share with you that Mack has been showing up like crazy! The other night I woke up in the middle of the night like I typically do to pee. Ugh. I couldn't get back to sleep and decided to watch Snapped. There were no new ones on so I decided to watch Dateline: Secrets Uncovered. OMG.
The title of the episode was "11 Minutes". It happened on 9/11.
There were two sons in the story- the oldest was Sean and he was 11 years old. The youngest was 8 and guess what his name was?
Girl! I smiled and giggled. Isn't that incredible? It was like she was saying hello and I love you over and over again.
(Remember, Mackenzie was born on the 11th, died on the 8th and her parents are Sean and Shannon)
Mackenzie is on fire this year. It keeps getting better!
In May, for Mother's day, Shannon ordered a gift for her mom. When it arrived there were two of them in the package. She double checked everything and only ordered one and yet here were two. A few days later, as she was wrapping up her mom's, it dawned on her that Mackenzie did this. Mackenzie was gifting her for mother's day too. It is perfect and to boot, the heart is one of Shannon's symbols for Mackenzie.
Naturally, any day of the week, any moment in an hour and a second, they would absolutely prefer that Mackenzie was with them in the physical. Their hearts still ache and hurt and sometimes the pain is crippling; however, they have been able to find joy in the journey. They find joy because she is still on this journey with them and she is making it so obvious that it just cannot be ignored or dismissed as coincidence. In a way, they have been blessed with her innocence and wonder and playfulness. It is the truth of her that is always there. It is the spirit of her in her highest, most divine form. It has been preserved in time for them to be inspired by, touched by and loved by. It is impossible to not feel uplifted when a yellow crayon appears out of nowhere and is laying in a hallway one rarely walks in. Shannon's stories of Mackenzie showing up and being around her are endless. There is no way I could put them all in here. She was excited for me to share this much if it could help one grieving parent begin to believe, begin to allow themselves to see. Those we love will ALWAYS be with us.
I have another friend who lost her daughter in an accident. One day, during one of my group calls on Zoom, my friend was attending as were others from various cities and states. A few knew one another but most did not. At the end of the call, one of the participants asked if she could ask a question. She directed the question to my friend and wanted to know what that teal/blue light was that kept darting around her and across her screen! Everyone saw it so everyone gasped and exclaimed, "Yes! We want to know too! What is that light?!" It is not a coincidence that her daughter's favorite color is teal/blue, so I introduced her daughter to the group. It was SO CLEAR that her daughter was totally joining in on the call and wanted us all to know it. She had been with us the whole time. That light started when the call started and someone was able to even get a photo of it. Her daughter has such incredible, infectious and dynamic energy - she was a natural entertainer here in the physical and clearly is still entertaining in spirit. What an inspiration for us all. Below is a screenshot of our Zoom call- I cropped it to hide the faces of everyone else on the call for privacy.
Her daughter, like Mackenzie, is in the habit of leaving things too! She was born on May 11 and made her transition on December 11. Needless to say 11 is a huge number, a significant sign for her. One morning my friend was outside of her house, in the yard, letting nature do what it could do to soothe and comfort her. She walked around the house
and stood by the door that led into her daughter's room. To her shock and amazement, there were 11 white stones evenly placed at the threshold of the door. In her heart and mind she knew, she knew her sweet, sweet, most-talented, brilliant and beautiful daughter left them for her.
My friend Terri lost her son 23 years ago. When she and I met, Brian had been gone for quite some time. His death, at age 23, was in the news as another senseless crime. He was good kid who liked the wrong girl with a jealous ex. There is still not a day that goes by that Terri doesn't either think about, cry or talk to him. With the years there are less and less people that she can talk to and laugh with about his antics because the people around her either don't remember him or didn't know him. To this day she wrestles with memories, good and bad, that she wishes she could have a do-over.
Brian was her only son and he and I shared the same birthday in April. This created a wonderful bond for me and Terri and we started getting together every year in April to celebrate. This year, being that I am now in Atlanta, I called Terri to catch up and talk about Brian, life, etc. It was a week or two after my birthday when I called and she was walking her dog. She was over-joyed at remembering our birthdays and said she hadn't gotten a penny from him in a good long while and she had been thinking about that recently. When Brian first passed Terri was finding pennies everywhere! She called them her "pennies from heaven", a phrase many of us are familiar with. She got so many that she began filling jar after jar. Pennies have become her little "wave hello" from him ever since. We were on the phone for about 45 minutes when she exclaimed there was a penny. She laughed and laughed and in the next 15 minutes she found another one. He was making up for lost time no doubt. I love to share this because no matter how long someone has been departed/gone from our lives in the physical, they will ALWAYS stick around. They love us so so so so so much that they never ever ever ever leave.
Any time we lose someone we are consumed with grief. It is a natural part of the process for those of us still here and there is no way around it. How that loss occurs certainly affects the nature of our grief. When someone is older and aged and their body is in incredible decline, perhaps they have been sick for a very long time, despite our sadness at losing them, we welcome death as a relief, an end to any suffering. When someone dies from a tragic event - like a murder, an accident, suicide, a rare untreatable disease - we are left feeling empty, raw, angry, questioning. It seems, and is, much harder to recover from when it is totally unexpected. In all cases, no matter how a person made their transition, their spirit becomes light and free and magnificent. No matter how sad, depressed, scared they were when they departed, ALL of that is gone. They are returned to their pure and natural state of joy and love and playfulness. And on top of that, they are trying to reach you, through your grief, to let you know that they are still there.
One last sweet story- another example of love still going strong.
In addition to losing her son many years ago, Diane lost the love of her life four years ago at the end of May. They were together since their late teens and lived life together for 43 years. When he passed the loss was tremendous. After every thing they have been through together, everything they created, loved, endured and celebrated, he was gone. She was alone in a house that held their entire life together. When May 23rd rolls around each year, the memories flood in and she is reminded of the reality of her life without him, her love, next to her, in the physical at least. This May was no different, yet, shortly after that day passed, she decided to repot some indoor plants. This required her to take them outdoors to her working plant table where she would repot each one and take them back inside.
After several were repotted she went inside to get another one. When she came back out she found a crushed cigarette butt laying exactly where she was working! Now, she doesn't smoke, nor has anyone been around her house working that does. Her husband, however, he did and he only smoked outside. This butt was not old as it wouldn't have withstood the weather from the last 4 years, which included a hurricane. This butt was literally just left there for her, like Shannon's yellow crayon, my friend's 11 white stones, Brian's pennies....
All four of these women have endured more than most people and yet they all have found a way to grab the joy out of a moment or memory. They are all living their lives and moving forward, finding the gifts in the connection with those in spirit and letting themselves be uplifted in this remarkable union.
We may think it is impossible to communicate and have a relationship with those that have departed all too soon; however, I am hoping that these stories inspire you to begin to think otherwise. I am hoping these stories bring you peace, comfort, faith, belief, even hope yourself, whatever it is that you may need. Despite it all, there really is Joy in the Journey. And as Shannon says, "We just have to look."
Helping Parents Heal ~
Helping Parents Heal is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting bereaved parents. Through support and resources offered, we aspire to help individuals become “Shining Light Parents”—meaning a shift from a state of emotional heaviness to one of hopefulness and greater peace of mind. HPH goes a step beyond other groups by allowing the open discussion of spiritual experiences and afterlife evidence—in a non-dogmatic way. HPH affiliate groups welcome everyone regardless of religious or non-religious background and encourage open dialog.
Helping Parents Heal has numerous groups not only in different cities where you can meet in person, they are set up on Instagram, Facebook and their You Tube channel has endless videos of stories.
They have a conference coming up in Phoenix from August 18 - 21 but it is almost completely full. They will have 900 parents and siblings and over 40 presenters.
They have a website that is full of uplifting YouTube videos from our Zoom meetings that have been held throughout the pandemic, with experts from the Afterlife and Grief communities, as well as Shining Light Parents. They currently have 385 videos that are available. Check out their You Tube here
They have 33 Caring Listeners who are available to speak, free of charge. They are simply volunteer parents who have had a child pass and who have gone down the healing path a bit further. They reach a hand back to help others forward.
They have a documentary by Craig McMahon that has almost 300,000 views on YouTube; 'Life to Afterlife, Mom, Can You Hear Me?' and a book that is based on the documentary: 'Life to Afterlife, Helping Parents Heal - The Book' that is available on Amazon.
And lastly, If you didn't see my last article on Soul Contracts, I encourage you to take a minute to read "Relationships: Soul Groups and Soul Contracts." It may help when trying to understand tragedy and loss from a slightly higher perspective.
Thank you Diane for sharing the following quote.
I think it is fitting to sign off with ~
Much Peace, Joy and Happiness to you~
(thank you for reading)