Bridge The Gap
by Kara L.C. Jones & Laura Curtis

Editor's Introduction:
In this article, I'm sharing with all of you a letter that Laura Curtis wrote and sent to all her co-workers after the sudden death of her infant son Allen. Let me tell you that this letter has had amazing manifestations and connections since it was written and sent. And let me share it with you as the model for how to take the risk of sharing your grief in the hope of finding peace, or hope, or a bit of support.

Let me also say, that I do honestly realize that sharing your grief is a *risk* and that many of us have been burned by negative reactions from family members, friends, and co-workers. But often, I find that they burn us because they themselves are uncomfortable with the subject of death and don't know how to be there for us. They are afraid of death being something their children might "catch" or they just haven't dealt with their own mortality. Or they have never had anyone model for them how to support a bereaved person. Or they have never seen the full expression of grief before in their lives. So I know it is a risk to share your grief with those who may be unprepared to offer any support at all.

But, in the following letter, Laura took the risk. She shared her grief in detail*AND* was specific about how people could help her. She *ASKED* for support and told people how to do that (read the letter & read the website she created about Allen). Know what? Many people showed up for the job! They had some direction or an invitation or a model of what to do and how to help -- and they showed up to do it for and with Laura!!! That is an amazing manifestation of grace in the face of grief.

So, please, read Laura's letter. Feel the full expression of her grief and let it seep into your heart. Remember what she says here the next time you meet a bereaved person. If you are a bereaved person yourself and you seem to not be getting the support you want -- think of this letter as an example of what you might try in your life. Ask for what you need. If you don't get it from the first person, ask the next. It is worth the risk once you get to the one or two folks who respond. I swear.

Laura's Letter:
Dear friends-

It has been almost 7 months since Allen was born. It is just now that I feel strong enough to write this letter. I am writing to say thank you and also to offer an update. When I first returned to SWA many things were said and at the time I did not have the strength or the knowledge to explain. Even now things are said I and I can't explain to the depths of what I am thinking and feeling so I decided to put it in a letter. Hopefully this will bridge the gap on both sides. I just want to share what has gone on and I really couldn't figure out any other way to reach everyone.

On January 19th, Allen was born. He came home a bright eyed, beautiful and healthy little boy, he is my greatest accomplishment in this life. Allen stopped breathing on his 6th day of life for reasons still unknown, while resting next to me just after a feeding. We initiated CPR and he was taken to Hoag Hospital and resuscitated then put on a ventilator, but was in a coma. Allen did not wake up from the initial coma, and after 6 days of fighting for his life in the NICU, we were told he would never wake up. Allen died four days later in my arms. It was initially thought that Allen may have aspirated, the "wet burp" theory. A secondary review was done recently and shows no pathological aspiration or any other life-threatening symptoms. His death is considered SIDS, which is a diagnosis of exclusion when sudden death occurs in a healthy infant and no medical cause or reason can be found. We have no answers to why Allen died.

My son has taught me many things and has given me the greatest gift I have ever received, his life. It was short, way too short, but it will always outweigh the tragedy of his death. It is what keeps me moving forward. I am no longer afraid of dying, but I am no longer afraid of living either.

Please do not take your lives for granted! There is no guaranteed time line for any of us. Life is truly a gift and you don't know when you or your loved ones may be snatched away. Enjoy what gifts you have been given and make the most of your dreams. As Don Young often reminds us to take ownership in our work, I am hoping we can all apply that to our lives as well.

I know it must seem nice that I work part time and I have my own space. Well, it is what I can do right now. Even 7 months later I am still overwhelmed by what happened. We were stretched to both ends of our souls, the pure unbridled joy of Allen's life and the dark horrifying pain that came with his death. It is still a daily struggle to find balance. There is not a moment that goes by that I do not miss my son. I am constantly aware that he is gone. The staggered time allows me to rebuild emotionally. Thank you for understanding. It has been a rough journey so far and it seems like a long road ahead.

Thank you everyone for all of your support and patience. The cards that were sent when Allen died were so heartfelt and meant so much to us. Allen was a big part of the this work-family as he grew inside of me for 9 months. He spent quite a bit of his life in our office. I am sorry that he was not able to meet everyone outside of the womb.

If you would like to know more about Allen's life and beyond, I have been putting together a web page in his memory. Please visit him at



Kara lives on Vashon Island which is a much more awesome place than she ever imagined it would be. She is a poet, bookmaker, wife, teacher, bereaved mom, facilitator, receptionist, founder, struggling p.t.barnum, turtle faithful, editor, artist, and a million other things that will prevent you from putting her in any one particular label box! Kara teaches through local art centers, artists in the schools programs, KotaPress and independently. To find out more about her, see:

Take an online class with Kara:

Loss  | Vashon | Services | Art | Poetry | Store | Contact

© 1999 KotaPress All rights reserved.  ISSN 1534-1410
Please direct comments regarding this web site to