Originally posted yesterday in Still Standing magazine. Post written by Stephanie Paige ColeCole
My firstborn child died just before birth, nearly eight years ago. At first, the beauty of her life, those 41 weeks of playful love and joyful anticipation, felt erased by her death. And my body, the place where she lived while we were together, felt like a failure and a traitor.
I believe it is important to sit with your grief and to fully feel it all, and so I gave those feelings their space. I painted them, wrote them, allowed them their time. And then I discarded them. Because, you see, they are not my truth. My truth is that my body held my daughter for every second of her life. It is the only world she ever knew. It is where we were happy together. And so, I will not blame my body for its perceived betrayal. I will not look down with disdain at my belly, which still shows the marks of my motherhood. Instead, I will honor my body for what it truly is- the holy ground where my only daughter once lived.
I wrote a poem, which was published in a book of poetry entitled to linger on hot coals in January 2014, that speaks to this new perspective that I embraced for myself.
your life began and
ended within my womb I
am a sacred space
because of youyou
Shortly after the collection was released, my good friend Pia Dorer, a fellow bereaved mother and filmmaker, approached me with an idea she had for a short film inspired by my poem. The concept grew, evolved, bloomed into something more beautiful than we could have ever dreamed (and oh, did we dream!). It flowed around the world, collecting 497 mothers from 17 countries along the way, as it became a heartfelt piece of art and awareness and remembrance and beauty and love.
It became the Sacred Project.
The Sacred Project’s short film is a global artistic collaboration that contains stunning visuals from our 497 contributors, sound clips in 18 languages, video in multiple languages, original music from musician/song-engineer Ian Aeillo, a beautiful instrumental number from The Envy Corps, motion design from Ulrike Kerber of Viva Design, animation by Aaron Shiel and original art from myself and the talented Carly Marie Dudley of Project Heal, all strung together by the ever amazing Pia Dorer.
And it will be released globally TODAY.
Though the words in my poem spoke to my own experience, Pia and I were careful to expand that concept to include mothers and babies who had different stories. 727 babies are honored in the Sacred Project film. Some died early in pregnancy, some right before they were born. Others lived moments, days, weeks, or months after birth. But our bodies are where each of those precious babies first began to be.
The Sacred Project film aims to raise awareness. To unite bereaved mothers from all across the globe. To offer this gentle perspective to the bereaved mother who has not yet made peace with her body, because we have all been where she is now. And it aims to illustrate and honor, in ways both delicate and bold, the love between mother and baby. A love that did not stop when their hearts did. A love that transformed me, and you, into a sacred space. Because of them.