Our daughter Lorelle Faith was a beautiful gift we were blessed to unwrap for 6 and a half years.  She was a gentle soul who fought to live with a grace that could only be bestowed by God.  From conception, we learned she was afflicted with Trisomy 13.  She was given less than a 1% chance of survival at birth, and a month to live, but she beat the odds.

Lorelle’s diagnoses seemed to never end, but neither did her joy!  She was full of smiles as she lived with Trisomy 13, including related conditions including microcephaly, blindness, epilepsy, and many more.  No matter what her plight, she taught us to never stop smiling.  She became our living testimony of God’s ability to heal what seems to be impossible.

To describe Lorelle is to try to articulate my faith.  There are not enough words to accurately share the journey of birthing, caring, and loving a child who was impaired in every area but love. Simply, she was the epitome of life imperfectly perfect in my eyes.  Lorelle was born with what seemed to be a broken body but an undeniably strong spirit.  Even though we had quite a journey during her life, I was not prepared for her sudden death.

When Lorelle died, I went through a plethora of emotions, anger, sadness, despair, numbness, depression, guilt, and failure as her mom.  I could not understand why God would not heal her and let her live a long healthy life.  I do not have all the answers, but God’s grace has been sufficient for me, even in grief.  What I have learned to do is not focus on the fact that she died but to celebrate that she lived.  Her dying could never overshadow the life she lived.  Lorelle Faith taught me how to live, and that was to cherish every moment as a gift and not a guarantee.

My family and I were blessed to find Cornerstone of Hope.  When I read the story of Mark and Christi and why Cornerstone was founded, I knew it was the place for us to get counseling.  When I saw “Creating a World Where no Grieving Person Journeys Alone” on the website, I knew I wanted to be part of that world.

My experience in individual counseling was life changing.  I found that I had been grieving multiple areas of my life with Lorelle.  I had never grieved that she never said “I love you”, called me mom, had disabilities that mommy and medicine could not fix, and that when she died, so did my plans with her.  As my daughter, I grieved having a life she never was granted.  I was feeling sorrow in ways I avoided during her life.

Having the expert counseling helped me to reveal the areas I needed to heal.  I learned to grieve out loud and not suffer in silence.  I was free to follow the steps of grief that people would try to make me follow.  I learned grief is natural and healthy.  My grief is an extension of my love for my child who has gone before me. I will miss her my entire life and found comfort in grieving with grace.  At Cornerstone, I found a safe place to be unapologetically selfish in my own despair.

As for my children, they found comfort in the grief camps and learned they were not alone. They were free to grieve in their own way.  Creatively, they learned ways to celebrate their sister and soothe their heartache.  Cornerstone was a place they were free to be children with grief and not the grieving children.  Sorrow turned to joy at camp.  “Inside Out” was the theme that year, and we witnessed our children learn to express their grief from the inside out!

Grief does not follow a beautiful perfect plan, it can come like a storm and reside like a squatter.  When I choose to live my best life in honor of my daughter, just existing was no longer an option.  Grief hurts and everyone may not understand your pain, but God does. Grieving is normal and you do not have to experience it alone.  You do not have to grieve alone!