But­ter­fly Box sparks chat about preg­nancy loss

Ini­tia­tive run by three women changes how we dis­cuss loss

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page - Kieran De­la­m­ont

Here’s a piece of free ad­vice from Lisa Dea­con: the plat­i­tudes you reach for when some­one close to you ex­pe­ri­ences a preg­nancy loss — lines like, “there’s a rea­son for it,” or “God works in mys­te­ri­ous ways” — are “the worst thing to hear, ever.”

It un­der­scores the point that when it comes to preg­nancy loss, very few peo­ple have any clue what to say, how to sup­port their loved ones or how to process their own loss.

That’s where But­ter­fly Boxes come in.

Dea­con, along with her busi­ness part­ners El­iz­a­beth Cle­land and Aviva Gluss, who started a post-par­tum com­pany called Mom Friends in April of this year, launched a pro­gram in Oc­to­ber that gives out boxes filled with items to help fam­i­lies who have mis­car­ried, ex­pe­ri­enced a still­birth, or lost an in­fant child.

“It’s about start­ing a con­ver­sa­tion around in­fant loss,” said Dea­con. “It’s about giv­ing peo­ple the tools.”

“A lot of peo­ple have a hard time know­ing the right words to say,” said Cle­land, “or if they should say any­thing at all.”

The pro­gram al­lows some­one close to a per­son who ex­pe­ri­enced a preg­nancy loss to re­quest one of the 50 boxes that Dea­con, Cle­land and Gluss made as part of their first run, and give them as a form of sup­port.

The boxes are free, but any­one re­quest­ing one is asked to con­sult with the re­cip­i­ent first, since “every­one does grief dif­fer­ently,” said Dea­con.

A But­ter­fly Box, Dea­con and Cle­land tell me, is roughly di­vided into three parts. The first are prac­ti­cal self-care items — tis­sue, a jour­nal, laven­der can­dles — that can help some­one through grief.

The sec­ond is re­sources, which Cle­land calls “al­most the most valu­able piece in the kit.” There are sug­ges­tions for read­ing, con­tact in­for­ma­tion for lo­cal part­ners and pro­grams that can help with the griev­ing process.

The third part is the post­card. Each box con­tains a post­card with a mes­sage of con­do­lence writ­ten by a mem­ber of the com­mu­nity. On the flip side, there is room for those who have ex­pe­ri­enced a preg­nancy loss to share their ex­pe­ri­ence of grief.

Their first run of 50 boxes have all been dis­trib­uted to var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions who are re­spon­si­ble for giv­ing them to those who need it. Mov­ing for­ward, Dea­con and Cle­land said that they are “con­stantly think­ing big,” and that they hope to take the pro­gram na­tional.

a lot of peo­ple have a hard time know­ing the right words to say, or if they should say any­thing at all.

el­iz­a­beth Cle­land

De­spite the heavy sub­ject mat­ter, the pair re­main up­beat. The sto­ries that they hear — sto­ries of grief, heal­ing, and strength — help with that.

“The net­work that’s built around [the pro­gram] is just awe­some,” said Cle­land. “The fact that [peo­ple are] shar­ing things with com­plete strangers is great.”

Justin tang/for Metro

El­iz­a­beth Cle­land and Lisa Dea­con, who are lead­ing the But­ter­fly Box project, in their of­fice in down­town Ot­tawa.

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