Grief Journal: Unexpected Grace

I opened a letter from our local library today. They outlined all of the contributions that have been made in my son’s honor. It’s a pretty substantial—and humbling—list, one that covers books, games and even kid- and teen-oriented programming.

This would have made Charlie happy. He adored our library and was super excited about the fact that he was old enough last summer to walk or bike there himself. Our library is a small-town gem with big city amenities, and in our view, a real selling point for our town. It makes me happy that the library—a place my son loved so much and spent many happy hours in—is benefiting as people honor his memory.

I’ve mentioned before the outpouring of support for our family in the wake of my son’s death. I never, ever expected to be the recipient of a GoFundMe, but the generosity expressed there really helped us when we needed that support. It made a difficult time a lot easier and wiped out most of the worry that comes with that extra financial burden; not just funeral expenses but time off work and therapy and so much more that helped our family cope. And, we were able to pay it forward in ways meaningful to our son. 

I’ve also spoken about the outpouring of support we received and continue to receive, from our friends, neighbors and community. Food, flowers, visits, hugs and love. Someone lit a candle outside our house on Christmas Day. So many remembered his birthday. And our cherished neighbor-family commissioned this sculpture that makes me smile every time I see it in my house:


Beyond that, so many people have chosen to honor Charlie. We’ve gotten notices of donations made to plant trees (the kid loved trees), to sponsor Camp Invention scholarships for kids in our town (he loved that too), to support mental health groups focused on children, and so many more.

This outpouring of love and support is an unexpected source of grace; it helps make the unbearable something we can actually get through, day by day (or minute by minute). I don’t even know how to properly thank people, or let them know how much it means. I try really hard to send individual thank-you notes to everyone if I can, but I don’t always know names or addresses. 

Just know that we are truly and deeply humbled and grateful that our son touched your life, and that he inspired you to do something good in the world, in his honor. We don’t ask for it or expect it, but it is beyond lovely and so comforting. 

I like to think he would have made the world a much better place in some unique and totally Charlie way—he just never got the chance. But maybe he is still changing the world, one memorial at a time.

Thank you. Just…thank you. 

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