I haven't had a lot of experience with funerals. Of course, just three months ago, I had to host my own little funeral. As soon as I understood Carpenter had died, I had to start planning. I made every arrangement, made prayer cards, called family and got the urn engraved. (Though with Murphy's Law, my niece's 11-week-early arrival that day put all my plans aside...) But I hosted a funeral for my little Carpenter. That day, I knew that no one understood. No one could possibly grasp the pain my husband felt digging that tiny hole. No one felt the agony I went through putting his ashes into the earth. It was painfully obvious that some people didn't even know what to say. And I knew that this was the loneliest I would ever feel. And nothing could ever comfort me.
But then I heard about Debby Pucci, and her work at "For Your Tears." What she does is so simple but so generous and thoughtful that it took my breath away. Debby stitches handkerchiefs, embroidering them with the phrase, "For Your Tears" and sends them to bereaved families who have lost their children. Just three little words make this gesture one of the most thoughtful I've ever imagined. Debby really gets to the deepest level with this wording. "For your tears."
Last night, everyone at group therapy was discussing how many people expect us to "move on" and "get over it." Instead, with this delicate gesture, Debby is telling us all that it's okay to cry, and she's there for us. This gift supports the grieving process instead of denying or rushing it, an idea that is so uncommon in this society. I asked Debby to tell me a bit more about her story and why she started this charity work.What inspired you to start "For Your Tears?"
"In 2000 our best friends in Chicago lost their 12 year old son to suicide. I flew home and stayed at her side. It was a tragic loss and so very sad. They were one of those popular families in sports with all three of their sons. He was their youngest. The funeral home had to stay open late as the lines to visit with them were outside and around the building. When I came home I wanted to do something special for them. I actually made a donation for trees to be planted in his honor because they love the outdoors so much. Actually I can see his name on the memorial wall when I am in Mammoth Lakes each summer. I mailed them sheets of stamps because I knew it would be a burden for them to buy them. Like most of us they were living on a budget and paying for a funeral service is costly. I also went out and bought her a music box which played "The Wind Beneath my Wings" which was the song she chose to be sung at his service. I had seen a beautiful box of handkerchiefs at a store and thought I would send her one to catch her tears. I put a note inside the music box with the handkerchief and told her "This is for your tears." After that time when I would attend a funeral I would bring some handkerchiefs with me to give out. I would always dream about giving them out to grieving parents but could never come up with a plan.
"In April 2009 I decided to start a blog. I had seen a show on Oprah and thought I would give it a try. My blog is called Just Breathe. My friend at bowling had already had a blog. One day when I came into bowling, shortly after I started my blog, she asked me if I read about Maddie passing away. No I didn't, I didn't know who she was. Well Maddie was a little girl with the biggest smile ever. Her mother's blog, "The Sphors are Multiplying," was a very popular blog. So I stopped over to visit with them and give them my sympathy. I started to feel something stirring inside of me. This is something that only God can give to you. I started going over to the blogs of women who left comments and suddenly I was overwhelmed. I had no idea the amount of women who lose babies. If you haven't had it happen around you or to the people you know, you can be so far out of the loop. To be honest with you when this all started coming about I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I thought to myself why isn't this on the news. To think that 28,000 babies die each year in the US and I didn't know about it made me sick. I was ashamed of myself.
"I had my lightbulb moment! This is a way for me to reach women, to do something that mattered. Within about 2 months I had my blog "For Your Tears" up and running. I had ordered handkerchiefs, business cards, mailing envelopes, tissue and had the handkerchiefs embroidered. I also paid someone to make me a button for my blog. So I started contacting these women and asked them if I could mail them a handkerchief. I think they were so kind in allowing me to send them one, trusting me with their addresses. Little by little the word got around. People would put my button on their blogs and I started to get some requests."I used to dream of becoming some big non-profit organization but in reality that was not what God had in mind for me. I came to realize that being small, being connected one on one with the woman I mail handkerchiefs to is more rewarding than becoming big. Sure, I would love to have my handkerchiefs in every hospital around the world so they could be given out to a mother when she loses her child but that wasn't going to happen. I have at times donated handkerchiefs for projects that baby lost mothers have done which was another way for me to reach out to those in need. I know it is just a handkerchief and I know it can't take away the intense pain you are feeling but I also know that if I can touch your heart for one moment, let you know that I care, then I have done what God has asked of me.
"In the last three years I have mailed out 362 handkerchiefs and donated over 200. But more importantly I have made some very good friends and have watched my baby lost mothers move forward while supporting them along the way. Yes it is not possible to read each person's posts since the numbers are so high but I do continue to check in on everyone to see how they are doing. I may not comment but I never forget about you. You are all in my thoughts and prayers daily."
What has been your favorite project so far?
"Last September a young boy passed away. He was swept away in a raging stream from a freak storm. He was 12 years old. Again my friend from bowling told me about him. His mothers name is Anna at An Inch of Gray. I mailed out a handkerchief and started following her blog. Her blog is amazing and her words are inspiring. The town they live in surrounded them with love. Everywhere they went there were royal blue ribbons on trees in memory of Jack. Well at Christmas last year I did our small Norfolk Pine tree with ribbons for Jack. It touched her heart." (photo below)
What advice do you have for angel-mommies?
"I love the heart God has given to me for you. Share your story, get support through blogging or going to classes. I know that the road you are walking on is full of heartache and intense pain but I have seen the strength that can come with time. There is no time frame for grieving and don't let anyone tell you anything different. You never stop grieving but your heart will heal with the strength you will be given from God."
"For Your Tears." With three words, Debby is taking a stand to support parents in mourning and remind the world that there is nothing weak or wrong about our tears. It is beautiful and so right that we should openly mourn because truly a life has been lost. And she is there for us. Thank you, Debby.
To help Debby further support families in their journey through grief, please donate here.
|Jack's memorial tree.|