A tribe is defined as “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect.” Everyone has their own version of a tribe or the group where they feel like they belong. It’s an everyday occurrence to see various hashtags on social media from people saluting their tribes (#mytribe #tribelove #tribevibe).
This spring, I had the opportunity to meet a large group of my tribe at a meeting in New York. My tribe is scattered all over the world, so this gathering was a momentous and incredibly emotional occasion for many of us. I am no different than the masses: I love my tribe very much, and I have wanted to shout it from the rooftops for some time. Writing has always come very easy to me, but when it comes to describing the small percentage of the world that “get me,” no words seem to do them justice. Sentences, phrases, ideas have been circling my brain like a hamster on a wheel for 4 months, and none have seemed exactly right. This post is my best shot, written with a heart full of love and unwavering respect.
My tribe is as diverse as the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World. We come from all backgrounds. We come in all shapes and sizes. There are people with ridiculously southern accents (me being exhibit A), people speaking multiple foreign languages and every other variation of dialect you can imagine. Yet when we are together we all speak the same language, the language of a loss beyond comprehension.
Connected by Tragedy
We are the families who have lost children to SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood). Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood is the sudden and unexpected death of a child 12 months and older which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation is conducted. Our worlds were shattered in an instant by the inexplicable loss of our healthy and beautiful children when one day they simply did not wake up.
My tribe is comprised of families who never thought they would become one of the terrifying stories of child loss that used to seem like urban legends … until our lives became that story. We know what it is like to feel even on the happiest of days that something is missing, because our entire family is not there. Seemingly mundane questions like “How many children do you have” can send you into a tailspin. We know how well-meaning people can drive the deepest daggers into your heart by telling you only you could handle this type of loss, that’s why you were chosen to shoulder this burden.
We Want to Remember
We share a hunger for answers, for belonging, for people to help us remember our children. We post about our children, because they will always be our babies, even when we cannot hold them. Child loss can leave you isolated when you are at your most vulnerable. Our tribe wants to help open up dialogue about grief, with the hope people who previously avoided a bereaved friend will simply reach out and say, “I see you; I am praying for you;I am here.” Many of us will tell you that we did not know how to handle grief either, until it slapped us in the face.
Our tribe advocates, fundraises, and does amazing things like bike across the US because that is what we can now do for our children. No one would choose this path, but we will forever work to honor the children we held for such a short time. So together we shine their little lights on the world making a big impact. In the US in 2015 SIDS impacted 1560 children in and SUDC impacted 400 children. Over time, SIDS research has been granted almost 500 million for research, while SUDC has received ZERO. Yet our community has been the catalyst enabling the SUDC Foundation to do such incredible things. Parents all across the world have banded together and made a tremendous difference providing SUDC with the majority of their funding each year. A landmark study is now under way at NYU, and the SUDC families made this happen.
The most important thing we have all done is survived and demonstrated the love of our children can make the impossible, possible. Our hearts were broken and will never be the same; but somehow the once scattered pieces have been stitched back together by determination, hope and pride of our children and the lessons they have taught so many. I often feel like our community is much like the speck in Dr. Suess’s “Horton Hears a Who!” We are such a small group, but we are making so much noise the world is starting to listen. No one in our tribe could do this on our own, but together we can do anything. We have survived the unimaginable and in the process decided to make the world a better place for future generations.
To my tribe, I want you all to know: I see you, I am praying for you and I am here. You were the emotional life raft when I thought grief would drown me. You have made me feel like part of a community when I felt completely alone. I am so heartbroken to know you this way, but I am thankful for you every day. Our children gone too soon matter, and thanks to us they will impact more people than most do in a lifetime.
About Georgia Boswell
Georgia Boswell hails from Minden, Louisiana, but she has been proud to call New Orleans home for 11 years. Georgia received an undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech and acquired a Masters in Hospitality and Tourism Management from UNO. She enjoys reading, traveling and sampling the many treasures New Orleans has to offer. She met Devron during Mardi Gras 2007 and they officially became Team Boswell on May 23, 2009. They were blessed to welcome Drew Joseph Boswell into the world on November 27, 2012. Tragically Drew died in his sleep on March 12, 2014. His death was attributable to SUDC (Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood). Georgia and Devron, with the tireless support of many friends, started Drew’s Tunes for the two-fold purpose of providing musical instruments to young children and also to support research on the cause and possible prevention of SUDC. Since its inception, Drew’s Tunes has donated over $160,000 in support of its mission. These donations include over 1800 instruments to over thousands of local children and $45,000 towards SUDC research. As of April 28, 2015, Emmaline Elizabeth Boswell became the newest member of Team Boswell. Devron and Georgia look forward to telling Emmaline all about her big brother and making the world more beautiful together in his name.