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Why Am I Still Smiling? Because Even Amid Tragedy, I Have Reason for Joy

posted in: Storytellers, The Intentional Family | 0 |
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Even amid the sadness after the loss of our daughters, there were moments of joy. (This is withour daughter Kenna, who was stillborn.)


The nurses must have thought we were crazy for laughing after my daughter was taken away to the funeral home. We weren’t crazy…just making room for joy in our sadness.


by Heidi Indahl


I have shared bits and pieces of our family’s story here on Peanut Butter and Grace over the last few months, but have stayed away from anything too detailed.  No real reason, other than I have a personal blog where I talk about myself all the time and I guess I figured no reason to do that in this space as well.

Intentional-FamilyThis past January, our daughter Siena died after a long high-risk pregnancy following a poor prenatal diagnosis.  I won’t rehash the entire story here, but video from a public filming event for the Don’t Talk About the Baby documentary was recently released.  We had 15 minutes to share our story with producers for consideration in inclusion in the final project.  It is available to view online on their Facebook page, or was shared on the Peanut Butter and Grace Facebook page as well.  Watching it, I was struck by just how happy I seemed even though we were talking about this awful topic.

I have been asked many times by friends and family how I can still be smiling after some of the hardships that our family has faced, particularly recently.  Watching the video was the first time I was able to look from the outside and understand a little bit more what they might be talking about.

I remember after Siena had left with the funeral home, but before I was discharged, I was talking with my friend Leigh and having technical difficulties with my undergarments.  My milk was coming in and they kept popping open.  (OK, too much information I know, but this is real-deal motherhood right?)  Seriously, every time I moved.


We kept laughing and at one point a nurse came in and they must have thought we were totally crazy.  I mean, I just sent my daughter to a funeral home: What on earth could I have to laugh about?

The thing is though, I can’t not laugh or smile or at least make an effort to do so.  Maybe this is a particular grace I was given or maybe just a skill that I have honed but I don’t know how not to look for the hope.  And where there is hope there is a reason to keep smiling.  There is always a reason to continue being joyful.

Yes, two of our daughters have died.  When I think of them, I absolutely think of this fact of them before any other and I am sad.  To be sure I have many hard days and know that I will continue to have hard days for the rest of my life as I continue to struggle to integrate this life experience into my daily existence.  Many tears have been shed.  Yet in Kenna and Siena’s lives were joyful moments as well.  Moments that we can laugh and smile about, regardless of the final outcome.

In many ways, the final outcome is exactly why I continue to smile.  In their short lives, they have achieved what I can only continue to hope, pray, and strive towards for myself and my living children.

In hope there is always a reason to smile.


Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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