I Love Life: A Mother Reaches Out to Grieving Families
Author Jan Goldstein writes in her book, “Sacred Wounds: Succeeding Because of Life’s Pain - “Life is never as neat or considerate as we’d like. I came to see the pain, while never desirable, is capable of producing an unexpected power and inspiring in all of us the potential to grow well behind where we were before the wounding experience.”
Leslie Bailey of Sioux City, Iowa realized the power after her 13 year old Robert was killed by a drunk driver. Five years ago, Leslie started calling strangers who have lost children to accidental deaths.
Claiming no professional counseling expertise, Leslie waits several days after a tragedy and then contacts bereaved family members. She learns about a youngster’s accidental death from newspaper accounts.
At first, Leslie thought she might be interfering with a family’s personal grief. But, that hasn’t been the case.
“Every mother and father I talk with is open to me. When I share my story, they realize I know what it’s like to lose a loved one all of a sudden and without warning of any kind.”
Leslie has opened her heart and her home to the parents she calls.
“There are support groups for parents of children with cancer, but (at least in my community) there are none for coping with accidental deaths. That’s why I do what I do. You’ve got to talk and cry. That’s what people do when I make contact with them. Believe me, if you shut down and don’t talk, it will eat you alive.”
Leslie has even formed an emotional bond with the man whose truck killed her son.
“Yes, forgiveness is a big factor - forgiving the man who hit him and accepting the fact that he didn’t mean to do it. It was an accident. I’m not by any means a religious fanatic, but I do l live a faith based life. I sincerely believe our tears are the needle and thread that God gives us to do the mending in our lives.”
Helen Steiner Rice, who has authored beautiful and touching poetry, wrote a poem that really connects with Leslie Bailey’s willingness to reach out to others in need. Here’s part of it.
“The more you give, the more you get,
the more you do unselfishly,
the more you live abundantly.
the more you share,
the more of everything you always have to spare.
The more you love,
the more you will find that life is good
and friends are kind.
For only what we give away enriches us from day to day.”