When I was a kid, I wanted to be a brain surgeon. But life has a way of throwing us curve balls that force us down a different path. Sometimes those paths are most welcome, like mothering four wonderful children. My least favorite path? Losing a child. That path is a long and torturous one, and took me straight through the belly of hell.
My story began one night in 2007 when I had a vivid dream. My daughter Aly and I were passengers in a car that missed a curve in the road and sailed into a lake. The driver and I escaped the sinking car, but Aly did not. My beloved daughter was gone. The only evidence left behind was a book floating in the water where she disappeared.
Two years later, on August 5, 2009, that horrible nightmare became my reality when Aly died in a car accident. Returning home from a swim meet, the car carrying Aly was T-boned by a father coming home from work. My beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter took the brunt of the impact and died instantly. She was the only fatality.
Life couldn’t get any worse, right? Wrong. Hell wasn’t done with me yet. My dear sweet hubby buried his grief in the sand. He escaped into 80-hour work weeks, more wine, more food, and less talking. His blood pressure shot up, his cholesterol went off the chart, and the perfect storm arrived on June 4, 2012. My husband suddenly began drooling and couldn’t speak. At age 46, my soulmate was having a major stroke.
My hubby lived but couldn’t speak, read, or write, and his right side was paralyzed. He needed assistance just to sit up in bed. He needed full-time care. Still reeling from the loss of our daughter, I found myself again thrust into a fog of grief so thick, I couldn’t see through the storm. Adrenaline and autopilot resumed their familiar place at the helm.
But I needed reassurance that the sun was on the other side of hell. As I fought my way through the storm, I discovered that helping others was a powerful way to heal my own heart. I began reaching out to individuals who were adrift and in need of a life raft. And a warm hug.
In 2013, I formed AlyBlue Media to house my mission. Comforting people who spoke my language and listening to their stories, my mission took on a life of its own and came in many forms: a radio show, film, webinars, and writing. I also hosted a national convention to bring the brokenhearted together. I had many wonderful speakers but the one who excited me most was a woman who had faced seven losses in a few short years: Martin Luther King’s youngest daughter. I didn’t bring Dr. Bernice King to the convention to tell us about her famous father—we already knew that story. I wanted to know how she survived.
Over the course of that weekend, I was deeply moved by complete strangers swapping stories about hardship. Touched to the core, I set out to capture them into a book series aptly named Grief Diaries. Over a hundred people in six countries shared stories in the first 8 titles published in December 2015. Now home to more than 600 writers spanning the globe, Grief Diaries has 25 titles in print with more on the way.
Where am I today? Once a bereaved mother, always a bereaved mother. My heart is a bit like a broken teacup that has been glued back together. All the pieces are there, but they might not fit as seamlessly as they once did. Some days the glue is strong and unyielding. Other days that glue is wet, and threatens to spring a leak. Nonetheless, that teacup still holds water. Well, mostly coffee. Strong coffee.
Life can throw a really mean curveball that blindsides even the strongest. It’s important to hold out hope that the sun can be found at the end of the path. But until you find it, it’s comforting to know you aren’t alone. And that is what my mission all about.
For the record, I have found the sun. Some days I marvel at its beauty. Other days it hides behind clouds. But I now know those days don’t last forever. And my umbrella is much stronger than it used to be.
Helen Keller once said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” If you too are looking for the sun, visit our village for a hug and stay for the friendship. That’s why we're here—to offer you a seat in our life raft until the storm passes, and the sun begins to shine once again. I'll even let you borrow my umbrella.
ABOUT LYNDA CHELDELIN FELL:
Lynda Cheldelin Fell is an international bestselling author and creator of the award-winning Grief Diaries book series. Considered a pioneer in the field of inspirational hope in the aftermath of loss, Lynda has a passion for producing trailblazing projects that create a legacy of help, healing, and hope.
Born and raised in the pacific northwest, in 2007, Lynda had a vivid dream of her daughter drowning in a car accident, leaving behind a book floating on the water where she disappeared. Two years later, Lynda’s nightmare became reality when her 15-year-old daughter Aly died in a car accident while coming home from a swim meet. Less than three years later, Lynda’s 46-year-old husband suffered a terrible stroke, leaving him permanently disabled.
Lynda’s hardships transformed her entire perspective on life, and she found that helping others was a powerful way to heal her own heart. She founded AlyBlue Media in 2013 to house her growing endeavors spanning radio, film, inspirational events, and writing. Lynda has authored over 25 titles, and been published in HuffPost, New York Daily News, Womens Health magazine, Los Angeles Daily News, LifeZette, New Living magazine and more. She has interviewed Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton; sisters of the late Nicole Brown Simpson; Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter, Dr. Bernice King, and other societal newsmakers on finding healing, hope and purpose through the journey of grief and loss.
ABOUT THE SERIES:
Grief Diaries is a groundbreaking series of anthology books featuring the poignant journeys of men and women around the world. The collection of true stories explores intimate aspects of different life experiences, and offers comfort and hope to those who share the same path.
The series began with eight books exploring losses shared by people around the world. Over a hundred people in six countries registered, and the books were launched in December 2015. Now home to more than 600 writers spanning the globe, Grief Diaries has 25 titles in print and spawned a sister series called Real Life Diaries (www.RealLifeDiaries.com).
“CRITICALLY IMPORTANT... I want to say to Lynda that what you are doing is so critically important.” –DR. BERNICE A. KING, Daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King
“INSPIRATIONAL... Grief Diaries is the result of heartfelt testimonials from a dedicated and loving group of people. By sharing their stories, the reader will find inspiration and a renewed sense of comfort as they move through their own journey.” -CANDACE LIGHTNER, Founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving
“DEEPLY INTIMATE... I so appreciate the vulnerability and truth embedded in these stories.”
-DR. ERICA GOLDBLATT HYATT, Chair of Psychology, Bryn Athyn College
“BRAVE... The brave individuals who share their truth in this book do it for the benefit of all.”
-CAROLYN COSTIN - Founder, Monte Nido Treatment Centers
“VITAL... Grief Diaries gives voice to the thousands who face this painful journey every day. Often alone in their time of need, these stories will play a vital role in surrounding each reader with warmth and comfort as they seek healing in the aftermath of their own loss.” -JENNIFER CLARKE, obstetrical R.N., Perinatal Bereavement Committee at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center
“HOPE . . . These stories reflect the authentic voices of individuals at the unexpected moment their lives were shattered and altered forever. Moments of strength in the midst of indescribable pain, resilience in the midst of rage; hope while mired in despair.” —SHERIFF SADIE DARNELL, Alachua County, Florida; Chair, Florida Cold Case Advisory Commission
“ACCURATE . . . These accounts portray an accurate picture of just what full-force repercussions follow the taking of a life.” JAY HOWELL, U.S. Senate Investigator, Former Florida State Prosecutor, Co-founder - National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
“WONDERFUL . . .Grief Diaries is a wonderful computation of stories written by the best of experts, the bereaved themselves. Thank you for building awareness about a topic so near and dear to my heart.” -DR. HEIDI HORSLEY, Adjunct Professor, School of Social Work, Columbia University, Author, Co-Founder of Open to Hope Organization
LINKS & SOCIAL MEDIA
New York Daily News: www.nydailynews.com/authors?author=Lynda-Cheldelin-Fell