“No one could have prepared me for the incredible journey that I was destined to move through when I lost my first-born child. My story is a story of the miracle of love and loss and the incredible capacity of the human heart to heal and transform, ultimately giving birth to my true work in the world.
My son Noah passed away when he was nine months old. He was a tiny, light-filled baby who was funny, kind, gentle, and deeply connected to people. We will never know the true cause of his death, but his short time on this earth was so precious that it changed my understanding of life and my ability to give and receive love.
When Noah died, my heart was shattered. I did not believe that I would ever be happy again. Though we were surrounded by family and close friends, my husband, Brian, and I were alone in our grief. I felt as if he was the only person in the world who could understand what I was going through and yet he was hurting so badly too. We held onto each other to keep from going under — hardly able to lift each other up or to support one another. Feeling adrift, we left the country to travel Indonesia and southeast Asia in search of a culture that might teach us how to deal with our loss.
While traveling in Bali, we conceived our daughter, Hannah. That blessed event saved my life and gave us hope and a reason to get out of bed in the morning. However, when we returned home, we still found it very difficult to fit into the life that we had left behind, one without Noah. The world for us was forever changed and we felt completely isolated — unskilled in knowing how to navigate this new territory and move forward.
Through my experience of loss and self-exploration, I have learned the power and potential that comes from being broken. Out of my suffering has come a new and authentic understanding of myself and my purpose in this life. Noah is my greatest teacher. He taught me to love while he was here and taught me the great power of the human heart to heal, transform and grow in his passing.
My desire to keep Noah’s memory alive led to a vision for the Grief Support Network — “of wrapping our arms around people who are grieving and taking their hands to walk them through the grief process”. As a collective, we help empower people to decide what they need and show them where to find it. We invite them into a loving community that holds the important values that Noah teaches us. We support them to heal and uncover opportunities to grow and transform. We are dedicated to breaking the stigma around grief in our culture.
Since GSN’s inception, I have come to understand that my professional background in yoga and body-centered therapy is an essential and often missing piece of grief work. We can’t work out grief in our minds alone because grief lives in our bodies. We have to go inside and feel our emotions in order to heal our broken hearts. I did not know five years ago that my work, my life, my community would ultimately inform the direction of GSN. I know now that I have the strength to support people to physically open and create more space in their bodies for emotions, memories, old traumas, wounds and stories to come out and be recognized in a safe and loving environment. And most importantly, I can inspire people to look deep within themselves for the wisdom they seek. Helping others in this way has given me the opportunity to practice gratitude for Noah’s bright and lasting presence in our lives. I would like to invite you to join us, whether you are on your own journey through grief or want to be part of our community as a support and witness for those in need.”
In heartfelt love,
Wendy Black Stern