Losing a child is one of the most painful experiences any parent will ever endure. When Bri and David Edwards received a telephone call from son Lachlan’s daycare provider in 2008 informing them that their 10-month-old hadn’t awakened from his morning nap, their lives were shattered.
Immediately plunging into despair, the couple searched for resources to help comfort them in their time of grief, but had difficulty finding the few resources that were available in South Dakota. Not wanting other families experiencing the sudden and unexpected death of a baby to struggle as they had, they established Lach’s Legacy as a way to honor their son and create a centralized place for bereaved parents to connect with each other, to find comfort in the resources that are available, and to give them something to do in memory of their kids while navigating through their grief. Bri and David found there was a vital and unique comfort that could be offered by other bereaved parents and wanted to be able to share that comfort with others.
“Those fellow parents who have walked a similar road were instrumental for me in my processing afterwards,” Bri recalls. “I found right away that other bereaved parents had a different way of being able to communicate. They weren’t afraid of my loss or my pain, and they could have more open discussions than what seemed comfortable for most other people.”
Lach’s Legacy was a work in progress right from its inception. Originally operating as a program for the C J Foundation for SIDS, a national non-profit organization dedicated to promoting public awareness of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), they desired more control over what they had to offer and where their money was spent and became their own 501(c)(3) organization in 2017.
Today, the South Dakota nonprofit—David and Bri live in Summerset with their children Westin, Emmett, Leo, Talia, and Emberly—is focused on supporting families experiencing an unexpected infant death, be it from SIDS, undiagnosed cardiac issues, sudden illnesses, positional asphyxia, or other causes. Their primary work involves creating care packages for grieving families. Each box contains items that were meaningful and helpful to Bri and David early on, including a book called SIDS & Infant Death Survival Guide; a children’s book called Water Bugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Children; pamphlets with tips on navigating through marriage following the loss of a child; a teddy bear; bath salts; SIDS ribbon magnets; and a list of resources that includes books, online information, and support groups. To date, Lach’s Legacy has sent care packages to approximately 100 families. They also use funds to promote SIDS and safe sleep awareness and help fund SIDS-related research.
“It’s a place to start,” Bri says. “Knowing how big that journey of loss is, it feels like a tiny drop in the bucket…but it’s something.”
Grief Will Wait for You
As the primary fundraisers for the organization, Lach’s Legacy sponsors two “Run for Their Lives!” walk/run events each year—one on Mother’s Day in Spearfish, the second in June near Sioux Falls. These events attract 250-350 people on average and provide an opportunity for families to do something positive in memory of their child and connect with one another for support.
In her efforts to bring comfort and support to bereaved parents, Bri is taking a stab at something new and working on writing a book aimed at parents who are dealing with the loss of a child. Her biggest piece of advice for those experiencing this type of tragedy? “Learn to be open to experiencing the negative emotions,” she says. “Trying to avoid it doesn’t work. Grief will wait for you no matter how long you avoid it. Whether it’s 17 years or 50 before you come back to it, it will be there waiting for you to process it.”
A Gift of Remembrance
Those interested in helping Lach’s Legacy are encouraged to make donations in support of some of the projects they are committed to, including infant mortality work such as the Safe Passage study from Avera Health in Sioux Falls or the SIDS research being undertaken by Boston Children’s Hospital. All are welcome to participate in the “Run for Their Lives!” events. They would also appreciate it if people referred families that are dealing with grief over the loss of a child to them
“Awareness that we even exist is huge,” Bri says. “We’re hoping to build connections through word-of-mouth.”
Finally, to support their efforts, you can ask bereaved friends about their child. Say their name, remember their birthday and the anniversary of their death. The gift of remembrance is one of the most precious things you can give a bereaved parent.