I held the delicate, silver necklace up against the light and watched the baby birds sway on a branch; my heart burst with thankfulness for this unexpected reminder of my two boys. I hadn’t seen this pendant in over a year and yet, in that time, it had grown to mean all the more to me.

It had been an incredibly thoughtful gesture. A friend had pressed the necklace into my hand shortly after my son’s funeral: a visual reminder of a heart that would always carry two boys. But in the chaos of the following months, the necklace was somehow designated to a drawer full of tangled earrings and old bobby pins. As I stumbled once again across this gift, I questioned the strong, blinding grief that had caused me to gloss over such a beautiful gesture. Quietly, I began to wonder about all the other acts of love that had gone unacknowledged over the course of this past year.

That’s why this post is dedicated to you. The brave ones. The ones who loved us, each in their own way and their own time.

In an inadequate attempt to display the depth of my gratitude, this entry is for all those who have walked alongside us with patience, comforting arms, giving hearts, and listening ears. 

Because I need to say thanks.

Not everyone is brave enough to intentionally wade into a world grief. And yet, fourteen months ago, we found ourselves surrounded by a network of friends, family members, acquaintances, and strangers who went out of their way to give, love, and encourage us in a time of fragility.

You know who you are. 

You are the few courageous souls who chose to walk this dusty road with your arms around our shoulders, braving the storm, your tears mingling with ours.

And while the sound of my “thank you” may have been drowned out by the deluge of tears, know that your actions were never unappreciated.

Thank you for being brave enough to act, to speak, and to comfort.

Thank you for not worrying about getting tangled in the awkwardness of grief but for choosing to love despite mess.

You were the ones who refused to shy away from pain but instead surrounded us with fresh tissues and a listening ear; the ones who found the fine balance between giving us space and wrapping us tightly in your arms. Your visits brought laughter and yet, you were brave enough to stick around for the tears.

You created a safe place for a brittle heart to open up and share its deepest pain. You reminded us that we were not alone, that you’d been here too, and that grief would not always be this heavy.

You were the ones brave enough to say our baby’s name, to let us know that he is missed. You showed your love by decorating our home with picture frames, wooden ornaments, necklaces, artwork, and personalized Christmas stockings. You never avoided discussing, but instead acknowledged and cherished his existence.

You took the time and energy to mail us care packages, books on grief, and support filled letters. You baked us meals, made stunning flower arrangements and helped organize a beautiful funeral. I am astounded by your generosity.

We felt your prayers and your tears from across the city and around the globe; we awoke in the night knowing that you were still praying. Distance was no barrier to your support.

There are no words to express our gratitude for each and every one of you. All we can say is “thank you.” From the depths of our hearts, thank you.

I understand that this role you’ve played has at times been uncomfortable but I want you to know that it’s been a vital part of our journey. When our legs buckled under the weight of grief, you were part of the community that helped us find our feet.

We all know that it “takes a village to raise a child.” But the opposite is true too. It takes a village to mourn a child. And you chose to be a part of our village: to mourn and to love.

You didn’t have to do what you’ve done. You didn’t have to step up. But you did.

And for that, we are ever so grateful.

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