Last June, my boys and I were on a plane from North Carolina to California when the flight attendant got on the loud speaker and announced that a fallen Marine was being escorted back to his home state of Texas where he would be laid to rest. I immediately got a lump in my throat. As the wife of a Marine for almost ten years now, the reality of war hits close to home. These heroes are not strangers to me, but real and integral parts of a special community I am honored to be a part of.
I could feel the tone of the waiting area shift instantly. We all stood quietly to our feet as law enforcement and military personnel, dressed in uniform, transferred the fallen hero from one aircraft to another. My boys and I stood against the glass watching as they ceremoniously moved the casket. I quietly explained to my young sons what was going on and held them close to my legs. I held back tears knowing that inside that casket was someone’s precious son, a man who was once a little boy who probably held his own mother’s leg. When the fallen Marine’s brother met the casket en route and laid his chest on it and sobbed, I couldn’t hold my tears back another second. As tears rolled down my face my heart broke and my mind was flooded with just one thought-his grieving mother.
As a mother who has buried children myself, I have a special place in my heart for those who have experienced the death of a child. My twin daughters were not killed in combat-they died as infants when they were a few weeks old-but I imagine that losing a child, regardless of how, has similarities that only a mother living without her child can understand. Since my daughters’ deaths I’ve dedicated my life to helping others heal from grief, especially the grief of losing a child.
In 2010, I started a company with my sister called Teamotions which specializes in emotional healing and well-being. We created a line of teas blended with adaptogens-herbs that restore balance, help the body respond to and overcome stress, boost immunity, and support physical and emotional recovery. Our teas are not only award-winningly delicious, but a valuable tool for emotional care and wellness used nation-wide.
Educating others about the benefits of tea and herbs to enhance emotional well-being has opened the door to numerous speaking opportunities, educational workshops, and even an appearance on national television. It has been my passion and privilege to share my story, my healing journey, the unique challenges of being a military spouse, and my message of hope and healing from coast to coast.
In 2012, after being approached by the Wounded Warrior Semper Fi Fund on Camp Pendleton in CA, I created a tea specifically for our wounded service members to help support them emotionally, physically, and mentally as they face the rigors of rehab and effects of PTSD. The tea is appropriately named Courage as each injured service member has more courage than I’ve ever had risking life and limb for this great nation. Teamotions’ support of our service members and their families through tea has led to more teaching and workshops at Camp Pendelton and Camp Lejeune. It has even led to an educational tour on Capitol Hill about the unique emotional challenges military families face and how we can better help them through awareness, support, and alternative health.
Yet somehow all this wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get that grieving mother and all the grieving mothers who have had to find a way to live on after their children gave the ultimate sacrifice in service of this country out of my mind. Who takes care of them? Who helps them find healing for their hearts?
Grief is such a misunderstood part of society in general, but military families have an extra burden I believe. With constantly shifting community ties, a society that seems to forget we are at war, and the time spent separated from our active duty spouse, family, and friends, it is easy for grieving military families to get lost in the shuffle. The loss of a child, spouse, sibling, or friend can feel like an experience to be carried alone as it is just too painful to re-share at every new duty station with every new friend. Healing can get pushed off and exchanged for coping. Military life has a way of pushing us to the next thing whether we are ready or not.
I know healing is always possible, even for the military community. I speak from experience as a once very broken-hearted mother myself navigating healing as a Marine spouse. I have learned that healing requires support, education, and understanding and that is what I’m working hard to provide to military families. I want to do more. I want to be part of the solution. I want to be a resource for healing and a voice of hope.
That is why I decided to create a retreat specifically for women who have experienced the loss of a child, and I am reaching out to my military community in specific support of mothers who have lost a child in combat.
Heal by Choice Retreat is an intimate healing retreat where women can come to foster hope, support, and friendship after the death of a child and learn how to cultivate real heart healing for a lifetime. This all-inclusive, four-day, three-night retreat will take place on November 6-9 in Solvang, CA. You will learn real skills that will help you resolve your grief, connect with other women who understand your pain, and cultivate lasting healing. If you have suffered the loss of your child in service to this country or have endured the death of a child as a military spouse, this retreat is for you. For more information visit www.healbychoiceretreat.com or contact me directly at [email protected]. For more information about Teamotions line of emotional well-being tea visit www.teamotionstea.com.