GREENVILLE — According to Cami Snyder, the grief never stops.
“It’s just different on this side; it’s not better,” she said. “I read something once about grief being misplaced love, because you just want to love that person and you still have that love. But what do you do with that love when the person is gone?”
Cami is talking about her baby Lulu Grace, who lived 62 days, September 23 to November 24, 2010. She passed away from a condition called Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome. It is a condition which is caused by a error in cell division, known as meiotic disjunction. When this happens, instead of the normal pair, an extra chromosome 18 results (a triple) in the developing baby and disrupts the normal pattern of development in significant ways that can be life-threatening, even before birth. Cami said after LuLu’s death, there was always something stirring within her when she heard of other people grieving over losing someone.
“I have a passion to try to be there for others,” she said. “I can’t tell people how to grieve and the correct steps for them to take, but I know we can be here for you and you are not alone in your grief. There is a community that will surround you. That is what is great about this community. It is small, but there are people that definitely will want to be a part of your grief. We had people reach out to us and have had an amazing support system. As generous as that support was, grief is an extremely lonely place. You would think my husband (Jason) and I would grieve the same, because LuLu was our daughter. It was the most similar loss between anyone, and we didn’t and still don’t grieve the same. Every person’s grief is unique. I don’t know where that saying came from that time will heal – time has not done that for us.”
In an effort to help some of the grieving community, Jason and Cami are heading up a grief care home, “The House that LuLu Built” A 501(c)(3) organization in Greenville, with Cami as executive director. The three-bedroom N. Broadway house is being remodeled and Cami is still working out the details of what it will become. Some possible ideas are putting folks up who are visiting for funeral services, offering them meals and having grief-support classes.
“We are open to what our community needs,” she said. “We don’t know what grief is coming tomorrow.”
Another idea is placing a memory garden where the property’s barn was. A painted wall with a silhouette of a girl blowing bubbles, will stand as a reminder of LuLu.
“That was our thing with Lulu,” Cami said. “At her funeral, our pastor explained our lives as some being very small bubbles that pop soon, to very large ones that last a really long time.”
Cami and Jason’s four other children: Dylan, a junior, Owen, in eighth grade, Simon, in sixth grade and Annabelle “Boo” a fourth-grader have also shared ideas about “The House that LuLu Built.”
“I would have to say that my kids really taught me a healthy way to grieve,” she said. “They wanted to and still want to sit down and talk about her. They have moments when they cry and are missing her, but they are ready to get up and go play again. We have to feel it when it comes.
And that is what this is all about for Cami and Jason; allowing people to feel and embrace their grief. While Cami’s experience losing LuLu is sad, she is grateful.
“The bottom line for me is, as much as I feel was taken from us, I will always be LuLu’s momma,” she said. “Nobody else can ever take that away and that is forever. If we had to choose it again, I would want to know those 62 days with her, rather than not having her. And the fact that we were chosen to be her parents: how lucky are we? She could have been given to anybody, and we got her for 62 days.”
Cami will host “Grief and Gratitude through the Holidays” October 26. Local community members will speak about their personal journeys through grief. The hosts will provide practical tips and bereavement support in hopes of a healing holiday. “We grieve. We trust. We heal. Together.”
Tickets for the event are available through firstname.lastname@example.org or through a Facebook message at The House that Lulu Built.
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