we make rainbows
We are on a mission to create moments of joy for children who have suffered the death of a parent to ensure they feel loved, seen, and are forever seeking the rainbow after the storm.
Creating these qualities of joy is important, especially when you think about the long-term impacts the death of a parent is for children. Studies from various countries on childhood bereavement following parental death report that children in this situation do experience a wide range of emotional and behavioral symptoms.... The child often experiences an increase in anxiety with a focus on concerns about further loss, the safety of other family members, and fears around separation. (Dowdney, 2000; Haine et al., 2008)
The death of a parent often leads to other losses, too, such as having to move, switch schools, or live with a different parent. Because the family’s financial situation may change if the deceased parent worked, teens may have to get a job to help support the family or watch younger siblings. If the parents were together at the time of death or maintained a strong bond after ending their relationship, the surviving parent may also be grieving deeply, which can impact their ability to support their children.
At the Joy Mission we cannot completely solve these, but we can help fund counseling services and find opportunities to create JOY for these kids. In doing both of these we believe we will help these children to manifest a more positive outlook even on the darkest days and create an awareness of uncovering joy each and every day.
How The Joy Mission began and why we exist today.
My, little sister, Meredith Lawler, was less than 3 minutes from her house when she was struck head on by a drunk driver on the night of November 11, 2016. She suffered massive brain injuries and 6 days later, surrounded by friends and family, beeping machines and that sterile smell of the hospital my dear sister took her last breath on this Earth.
Our world, as we knew it was over.
Mia, then was 2 months shy of two years old. She was Meredith’s “life changer.” She was Meredith’s whole world. In the short 22 months they had together Mia brought so much joy and meaning to my sisters’ life. In their last few days together they spent them making chocolate chip cookies, going on walks with their matching moccasins, and hanging out on the front porch in the unusually warm sunshine of November. Meredith had big plans for her and her daughter -- they would travel the world and do life together. They had just barely gotten started.
Mia is 7 now. She lives with her grandmother (lala) and there is so much “Meredith” in that fiery, imaginative little seven year old. Over the past five years, my family has experienced an outpouring of love and support from our village. We have people that have been so focused on creating love and joy and normalcy for Mia through their time, experiences, prayers, and giving. So much so, I have been inspired to make it my mission to do the same for children like Mia.
No matter how young or old a child -- no matter how expected or unexpected the death of a parent was -- the grief and the heartbreak a child experiences through the loss of a parent should not only be acknowledged, but given opportunities to find and experience joy. Joy can linger and start to change our outlook, it can always exist, it can inspire creativity, it's often unreasonable, untroubled, and… quite frankly… it is enough.
At the Joy Mission, we want to create these moments and opportunities for children who have lost their parents. We can’t take their grief away, we can’t replace what is missing, but we can build a mission so big that one day we are able to reach all these kids and pour joy and love into them no matter what season they are in.