The answer to that question has been on my heart a lot lately. And it's also one that I get asked a lot when I'm telling people about Giving Grace.
People know what it means to be graceful, or to have grace under fire, but they don't know what it means to give grace to someone. So I want to explain what Giving Grace means to me.
Throughout my mom's cancer diagnosis, treatment, and death, my family was lucky and humbled to be showered with grace from many people. We received flowers, cards, and gifts from family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers.
After her diagnosis, dozens of nurses and other employees at the hospital my mom worked at for almost 20 years donated their PTO to her so that she wouldn't lose her health insurance. That donated PTO kept her "employed" by the hospital, and a full employee, for months after she was no longer able to work because of the cancer treatments.
When she had her seizures in April 2016, and we learned that she only had about 6 months to live, our family wanted to get out of town to process and plan for our remaining time. We decided to go to our happy place, Sea Ranch in Gualala, California. We rented a beach house, and when the owners of that house learned our story, they gave us an extra night in the house FREE, so that we could have more time with her.
That June, my dad's real estate colleagues paid for him and my mom to ride in a hot air balloon, a bucket list item they had wanted to do for years.
In September, the bridal shop, from which I ordered my wedding gown and my mom ordered hers, let us borrow the dress off the rack so that we could do a mock wedding photoshoot with her and I in our dresses.
Seeing this, it would be easy to assume that giving grace means giving things. That it requires money, or knowing the right people. But it doesn't.
After Mom died, I also received grace from one of my students who emailed me to tell me that he was sorry for my loss, that he also watched his mom die, and that even though it hurt, he knew I was strong enough to get through it. He told me to take my time, but that he and his classmates were looking forward to my return to the classroom.
I printed that email out. I still have it, and I read it whenever I feel the need.
Giving Grace is telling someone in tiny, immeasurable ways, "I see you. I see your pain. You are not alone..."
We all go through things that make us feel lost and vulnerable. We lose jobs, we lose loved ones, we lose ourselves. Grief and loss is how it feels to be in a huge room so dark you can't see your own hand and so quiet you can hear your own heartbeat. It's easy to be scared and disoriented in that room. There are no windows. You can't find the door. There is no one to help you.
Grace is shining a small light into that room. Giving Grace is telling someone in tiny, immeasurable ways, "I see you. I see your pain. You are not alone. Let me help you find the door."
I don't think it's coincidence that our largest fundraiser of the year is selling candles. A candle in a window is how you find your way home. A candle in a lighthouse is how ships avoid rocky shores. And a candle in a dark room is how you know you're not alone.
If you want to help us Give Grace to others in dark rooms, please consider donating. If you want to order a candle, and help support our most meaningful fundraiser, click here to order. If you don't have the funds to donate right now, please contact us to find out how you can help.