A Letter to Everyone


Dear Business owner, stay-at-home mommy, husband, pastor, police officer, everyone –

This isn’t the story I wanted as mine–that of a grieving mom, and of a wife whose husband left her weeks after their daughter’s death–but this is it. It’s a story I don’t know the ending to but am still writing it, daily.

Three years ago, my sweet little angel, Finley Elizabeth, entered this world in a catastrophic way. During Finley’s birth, a medical misstep ultimately resulted in her death. At 23 days old, my husband and I had to make a parent’s worst decision, to remove our beautiful, 8-lb, 21-inch daughter from life support.

My world stopped as the tube was pulled from her mouth. As she took her last breath, her eyes opened, and it was the first time I’d ever seen them. They were mine–same shiny blue–a blue I never wanted to look away from but had to.

She stopped breathing, and so did I. I rushed out of the hospital, gasping for air. My mind screamed, Who can do this for me? I couldn’t do it. I needed life breathed into me, because the most important life I knew was gone.

Taken. I’ve used that word often. My dreams, my hopes, my everything: TAKEN. When my husband left me: another dream TAKEN. When my dad died three months before Finley: TAKEN. I used to point my finger and rage against the Lord; You TOOK her…you TOOK him. Like the beeping of the hospital monitors, my faith was going…going…gone.

I wanted to die, and I decided how I would–in the pool, quietly. I know now that those were lies from the enemy. That’s what the enemy wanted–for me to go quietly. To steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).

After months of this, I made a choice. It was either time to accept that Jesus was truly for me and the enemy was the one against me, or denounce my faith.

Eventually I reckoned that if I hoped to see my daughter again, I had to believe in Jesus Christ and ALL He stood for–His Word, His truths, His sovereignty. Although I didn’t understand fully, I chose faith.

Even if it wasn’t the most theologically sound motivation, God moved. Somehow, the Lord poured strength into my hurting heart. I started using my time to look for the help that I desperately needed.

I attended a local church’s GriefShare group (find one here). I also began looking for grief counselors that could help me. During this process, a question kept coming to my mind: Who is helping other hurting mommies?

I realized we had a problem in my community and–I later learned–across the nation. Women were dying as a result of losing their precious children and help was hard to find.

Out of this immense need, I founded a 7-Part Holistic Program called The Finley Project to rescue mothers after infant loss. I knew a long journey was ahead, and establishing a nonprofit was an incredibly difficult task, but I quickly learned I had stepped onto sacred ground–a place where heaven meets earth and I had a front row seat!

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about myself and running a ministry. It’s been an incredible journey and we’ve rescued a lot of hurting women. But recently, I realized that I had become an expert in grief in order to put off dealing with the overwhelming pain of losing Finley. In some ways, it was my way of coping–the busyness, the goal-setting, the education.

So I’ve taken steps back to explore who I was made to be. I wanted to remember who I was before my dad died, before marriage, and before infant loss. Who did Jesus design me to be? What makes me tick? What do I cry over?

What makes me laugh? What do I love? Who brings me joy? The process of rediscovering my true self is hard and real and raw, but I’m starting to recognize her.

Now, I’m not doing things that don’t add true value to my life or the lives of others. I’m also aiming to do fewer of the best things instead of so many good things–the best use of my time, energy, and passion.

I have learned to say NO to a lot and YES to things that excite my heart. In doing so, I’m again leading The Finley Project with passion, mindful of the original intent of why I started it.

Are you grieving a person or a dream? Are you on the verge of burnout or ready to give up? I encourage you to step back and away. If Jesus needed to get away sometimes, you need to also! Turn the computer off.

Leave your phone. Go back to a place where life was simpler; return to a time when you weren’t too afraid or too tired to hold huge hopes and daring dreams. Seek out a space and circumstance that lifts your spirit and lightens your load.

DO it now before you get too far down the road. Ask God to gently help you rediscover that beautiful woman He crafted you uniquely to be.

You are special. You have purpose. You are called. Don’t give up. Keep living. I am still living and you can, too. Abundantly. Purposefully. Beautifully.


Shannon CalderonComment