What Does Community Mean to You: Youssef

(Originally posted on our Facebook page)

Content warning: child loss, stillbirth. Please proceed with caution if you’re sensitive to these topics.

Six years ago, we decided to move out of the city and found ourselves on a homestead just outside of Lanark Village. We were excited for our family to grow in our new community, but also terrified of being outsiders (outsiders to Lanark and Canada – yes, we are…ahem…Americans). Soon after our daughter turned 2, we learned that we were expecting another child. So much excitement and anxiety all rolled in to one.

Eight months later, our baby, Harvest, was born dead. It is impossible to explain what it feels like to lose a child. There we were, with a small group of friends and acquaintances, our parents and siblings thousands of miles away. We had no idea what to expect, and frankly, we were in shock – just trying to keep things together for our (almost) three year old daughter at the time.

When we learned that we would need to spend the night in a hospital in Ottawa, I started making calls. Immediately, one after another, without hesitation, people who we “barely” knew didn’t hesitate to check on our dog, chickens and house. I barely had to say a word – and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to say much at that point. No one waited for me to explain exactly what I need. They just acted.

When we got home, the following months taught me so much about myself and my community. People who we had only met once were dropping off baked goods, sending beautiful letters, and opening up to us about their own experiences with child loss. These were dark days on one hand, but also some of the most beautiful, as I learned that being a part of a community is about being there and listening even when there are no words.