29 Aug Grief Awareness Day – “What is grief, if not love persevering?”
Jordan, Kristin and Baby CeCe at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.
Story by Katie Kelly, communications coordinator
A year and half ago, Kristin and Jordan lost their seven-month-old daughter, Cecilia Elizabeth, who is known affectionately at RMHC Bay Area as “Baby CeCe.” As part of her grief journey, Kristin began writing “Dear Cecilia,” virtual love letters to her daughter, building a community for families grieving a child.
“It is important to remember that whether or not your child is living or not... you are still and always will be a mother.”
— Kristin, CeCe's Mom
“It is important to remember that whether or not your child is living or not… you are still and always will be a mother,” said Kristin, who traveled with Jordan in 2020, across an entire ocean from their home in Hawaii, just after the pandemic hit, so CeCe could receive the best possible medical care for her rare congenital heart defect. CeCe was just three days old when she had her first open heart surgery.
As a first-time mother and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurse, Kristin is using her experience and voice to provide a supportive environment for bereaved parents to heal together.
“I find grief education so important now that CeCe is gone.” — Kristin, CeCe's Mom
“I find grief education so important now that CeCe is gone, and I like destigmatizing death,” Kristin said. “It is important to know that not everyone gets their happy ending. For every child that gets their heart transplant there is another family like ours saying goodbye to their child because a heart never came.”
For five months, Jordan and Kristin stayed at Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, just steps away from CeCe in the NICU, accessing meals, family centered services, and a community of families and staff they could lean on. While caring for their sick baby girl 2,400 miles from home during the chaos of COVID-19, Jordan said, “The stories and the situations at Ronald McDonald House are sad. But this doesn’t feel like a sad place. It feels like a place of healing.”
“Ronald McDonald House is a sanctuary,” said Jordan, who proposed to Kristin in Room 302
On the one-year anniversary of CeCe’s passing, Jordan and Kristin said I do in a breathtaking beach ceremony along the pristine Oahu Mountain range in Hawaii. From Kristin’s bouquet wrapped in her bows to the invitations welcoming guest to the ceremony of “Cecilia’s Mom and Dad,” CeCe’s presence was everywhere representing the love and strength CeCe brings into the lives of everyone she touches.
“What Ronald McDonald House does for every family is truly amazing, helping all families through the happy endings and the new beginnings, even if it’s a new beginning without their loved one,” Kristin said. “It makes my momma heart so happy to know people [at RMHC] still think of CeCe.”
In one of her letters, CeCe’s Mom reminds her, “I am only strong because you taught me how.”
Jordan and Kristin have taken their loss, unimaginable for many parents, and channeled CeCe’s beautiful life into helping others inspiring all of us to support families experiencing childhood illness and loss.
“A friend of mine, Ayako, runs a page called ‘Mamas Matter Here,”’ shared Kristin, who says, if it were not for the support from other moms experiencing child loss, she would not have made it. “It is full of incredible grief support for moms of angels, as well as stillbirth education and pregnancy after loss.”
If you are a parent who has lost a child, you are not alone in your grief journey. This National Grief Awareness Day, we are dedicated to raising awareness for families coping with grief and loss.
Grief and Loss Resources
- For Ronald McDonald House Families: Family Support Services (FSS) is available to you during and after your stay, providing free individual, family, and group support. You can contact FSS for support at email@example.com or by calling 650.470.6021.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- Option B provides support to help you take care of yourself and support your loved ones through life’s most challenging moments. Learn more at optionb.org
- Mamas Matter Here is a blog dedicated to parents navigating parenting after loss, mental health and grief. Read more here: instagram.com/mamasmatterhere
- Kara: kara-grief.org
- Dougy Center: dougy.org
- George Mark Children’s House: georgemark.org
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