In 2012 my husband Nathan and I were faced with life’s harshest blow when we lost our baby son Ethan. Our immediate emotions were shock, denial and disbelief. In the days following the loss of Ethan, I was paralysed by grief and experienced a sense of numbness. Soon this transformed into overwhelming feelings of anger, loneliness, despair and sadness.
My world came crashing to a halt. I felt that life had no meaning and often wished to end my life and join Ethan at the cemetery where he is resting in peace. While looking for answers, my religious beliefs were challenged and many of them shattered. I felt resentment towards God and towards other parents celebrating the lives of their beautiful, healthy children. I am one of those people who can’t express her feelings easily and openly but rather keeps them locked inside. I had no family or close friends around who could understand the pain associated with the loss of a child.
Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Even after well over 2 years had passed there was never a moment I spent without thinking about Ethan. Events like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Ethan’s birthday and Christmas took me right back to the beginning. Every day I found myself thinking how old Ethan would be or what he would look like or be doing if he was still alive. I often wondered if our life will ever be good again, if we would ever find joy again.
Eventually the sharp pain I was experiencing started to slowly soften. Losing Ethan compelled Nathan and I to rethink our priorities and re-examine the meaning of life. We will never be the same people and will never see life the same way again. I made many attempts to move forward and each time felt extremely guilty & disloyal to Ethan for trying to get over his loss. I started to understand that I will never be able to get over his loss. Instead, I had to try to learn to live with the loss—making it a part of who I am. I realised that Nathan and I are survivors and we had to gain the strength to endure the unendurable. Ethan is now not only part of our life’s story; he is a part of our very being.
As time progressed I gained the wisdom to realise an important fact: It is not the length of time Ethan lived on this Earth that determines the size of his legacy. I decided to shift my focus away from Ethan’s death and move it towards celebrating his life. I was going to build his legacy by helping others in the world in his name.
I started this new path to building Ethan’s legacy by volunteering at various organisations that support bereaved mothers. I also tried to start a memorial scholarship fund in Ethan’s name and explored other various alternatives. Ultimately I decided to establish The Ethan Reynolds Foundation with the aim of helping poor mothers/women and children in Bangladesh. I was born in Bangladesh and Nathan lived there for almost 5 years doing development work. We both saw how people in Bangladesh live in distressed conditions and know how to help.
We are sincerely grateful to all the founding members of TERF and to the volunteers who have embarked on the journey of fulfilling the foundation’s objectives and helping improve the lives of women and children in Bangladesh.
The founding members of the Ethan Reynolds Foundation include:
Through this charity Nathan & I have pledged to improve the lives of as many women and children in Bangladesh as possible. Lastly, I would also like to take this opportunity to dedicate my work to all bereaved mothers who have lost their children and suffered intense, isolated grief.
Julia & Nathan Reynolds