The Last Lost Days of August

Suicide prevention and awareness

September 2nd is approaching; the anniversary of my father’s suicide.

It’s been nineteen years—yes, nineteen— and I still never know how that day will arrive. Some years the sorrow of loss starts gathering early. It might appear days, even weeks, beforehand, and is persistent like the dense fog that clings to these late August mornings—heavy and opaque.

Other years the date, though permanently circled on the calendar in invisible red ink, passes undetected by my emotional radar and I awake on September 3rd surprised by a guilt-tinged realization that I didn’t think of September 2nd at all. But those years are rare.

But today, August 21st,  marks a different anniversary from that same year that I rarely talk about. It’s the anniversary of the day my father wrote his suicide notes.

Continue reading “The Last Lost Days of August”

The Many Journeys on the Motherhood Path

When mothers day brings sorrowIn a couple of weeks we’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day, which may be the biggest breakfast-in-bed holiday of all time. No one deserves the recognition more than moms and we’re not only thankful, but in total freakin’ awe of every mum, mommy, mama, and mother out there! We applaud every marvelous women fortunate enough to spend the day “any way she wants,” encircled by her loving children—or at the very least surrounded by sweet bouquets and cards they sent.

But our larger mission is in supporting the woman who, for a host of reasons, won’t have giggling children fluffing her pillow and presenting her with a flower-adorned tray of fruit and pancakes. We want those women to remember, you’re not alone. You’ll be among countless women cradling more leaden emotions that are equally sacred.

We’re with you too. We understand. Your journey to motherhood might be winding and complicated. XIZOZU exist to hold space for you, wherever you are on your personal path. And to provide a peaceful point of strength during your fragile times.

These XIZOZU were created to embrace all the shapes of motherhood:

I Chose to Not Have ChildrenI Foster Parent
I Struggle with InfertilityI Raised My Siblings
I Lost a Child by MiscarriageI'm Raising My Grandchildren
I’m a Mother of A StillbornI Lost my Child
I’m a Single MotherI Lost my Daughter
I’m an Adoptive Parent I Lost my Son
I’m a Biological MotherI’m a Surrogate Mother

When One Person Is Five People

Losing a loved one impacts so many relationships.

Bereavement and greif, how to honor the life of a loved one who has passed. Just before Christmas I received an order for five XIZOZU: Loss of Wife, Loss of Sister, Loss of Daughter, Loss of Mother, Caregiver.

I got teary. Instantly.

It was impossible to miss the far-reaching impact that the passing of this one woman had in her world.

I was glad to create medals that would be reminders of each of those sacred connections and also containers for the love that could no longer be physically expressed. I poured all my comforting energy into each of those medals.

It’s easy to forget how deeply each of us touches so many others on a given day, in a given lifetime. As I packaged the order up for delivery I whispered a promise to myself to be better about valuing each of spaces I occupy in other people’s lives. 

Have you thought about how many roles you fill in your everyday life? The list grows quickly once you start making it. Believe me.

Thanks for reading,
Christine

View Current Medals

A Tale of Two Parties

Every woman is unique, her path is her own

Without making me sound like more of a party animal than I actually am, a couple of weekends ago I wound up at two local parties on the same day. Both were casual outdoor gatherings commemorating summer’s passing. Someone was wearing a XIZOZU™ medals pendant at each of them.

Confession: I still (and will probably always) get a little thrill when I unexpectedly spot someone sporting XIZOZU™ pendants out in the wild.

At the first party the woman wore three classic bronze with black pendants close to her heart dangling from a leather cord. At the second the woman wore three similar medals but closer to her neck on a black wire choker.

Those two women were as uniquely opposite, at least on the surface, as two females can be, as were the medals the wore.

Yet they were both quite similar too. Both were equally and rightfully proud of what they had accomplished.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

The first woman’s set honored overcoming challenges, the second woman’s  set celebrated meeting them. Similar results, but with a small but significant difference.

Sometimes we choose our challenges, like deciding to run a marathon or buy a home. Here we need to focus our energy and summon our discipline to achieve these things.

Other times challenges appear in our paths uninvited, and we have no choice but to find a way through, or around them. Those hardships and traumatic episodes require us to fight for our selves, in the truest, deepest meaning possible, physically or mentally.

In each case, the work is hard. In both cases they deserve medals.

So do you.

Get Yours >>

A Childless Woman on The Loss of A Child

Dealing with the loss of child

In designing XIZOZU Medals of Honor I have to explore some of life’s most gut-wrenching events, and present them in a meaningful design, intended for people who would rather not have earned them.

And while I am reasonably comfortable with death as a broad concept—you know, when it’s quietly slipped into like a favorite robe after a long and fulfilling life. There are all those other instances of death that are impossible to grasp and that make us different people. The loss of a child, of any age, tops the list.

Living with Grief after losing a childHaving no children of my own I can’t come close to comprehending the depth of such a loss.  How does one take that unimaginable the first step on the path of recovery after losing a child? There is no road map for this kind of loss. Everyone must wander through their own dense fog of despair in whatever way their heart urges until it finally begins to lift. The inner strength required to simply lift one’s head and look at the world after such devastation is incalculable to me. But somehow remarkably, people—parents—do it.

During design research for my Loss of a Child XIZOZU medal, I came across thousands of pages and posts about working through the grief of this tragedy. (I link to many of them here.) I had to sit in a lot of  my own discomfort while reading the poignant personal stories of parents emerging after deeply traumatic loss. Admittedly, my unease didn’t even register on the human heartache scale compared with those I was reading about.

By reading this post: What I Wish More People Understood About Losing A Child, I gained a clearer understanding of the role of those supporting a grieving parent. The author, Paula Stevens, who has experienced this agony herself, offers suggestions for ways to support bereaving parents. Her brief straightforward list is rich in first-hand advice on ways we can best comfort those struggling with this grief, including the importance of understanding that it’s not something that ever fully heals.

I learned how how important it is that their children not be forgotten. That they are kept alive through memories; that they are talked about. After several weeks of producing designs that only came close or outright failed, I finally created one that honors the parent, the child, and the sacred connection they’ll eternally share. It was among the most challenging things I will ever attempt.

As it should be.

Keep Digging

Finding the courage when life gets challengin

Everyday someone is struggling to face the challenges in their past or their path. If you keep digging you’re going to unearth your strength.

It’s there. Keep digging.