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Ottawa mom creates essential care boxes for grieving families

“I think that's something [as women], we're kind of cheated out of, because talking about miscarriage - it's uncomfortable, it's painful, people don’t really know how to respond,” says Alicia Nicholson, who is the creator of the initiative, Lily's Purpose.

It wasn’t until Alicia Nicholson started sharing her experience of loss on her blog and social media that she realized there was a community ready to accept her story. 

Prior to sharing her story online, she felt that she needed to do her own research about miscarriage statistics. She felt as though she wasn’t provided with enough resources that could have helped her have an open dialogue with something that is not often talked about. 

“I think that's something [as women], we're kind of cheated out of, because talking about miscarriage - it's uncomfortable, it's painful, people don’t really know how to respond,” says Nicholson. “I think that's why it's not talked about because it's something shameful. So, that's why I try to also provide resources on my blog for friends and family or people who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or child loss.”

In 2019, Nicholson and her husband Josh were expecting a daughter. Nicholson says, that being a mom was something that she had wanted for a long time.

On March 23, 2019, Nicholson went into labour 23 weeks early and despite the doctors' efforts, they weren't able to save her daughter. 

Nicholson, who now has a six-month-old girl, explains that although it was difficult to acknowledge the loss at first, she didn’t want to keep her miscarriage a secret either.

“I sat down with my husband and I just said, ‘I want to be able to say her name,’” says Nicholson. “I want to be able to talk about my pregnancy, my memories of her. I don't want this to be something that eats away at us, I don't want it to be a dark corner in our house.”

This was one of the reasons that inspired Nicholson to create the initiative Lily’s Purpose.

In honour of her late daughter Liliana Evangeline Grace Nicholson, she’s created hand-crafted support boxes containing resources for moms and dads experiencing grief and loss. A grief journal, self-care items as well as letters from another couple(s) who have experienced similar loss, are just a few of the items that can be found in her support boxes. She has also collaborated with local businesses in Ottawa for this initiative. 

She says that when she was in the hospital, most of the supplied resources were for her, but rarely for her husband. She hopes to bridge that gap with her initiative. 

“I really don't feel like fathers have that support and we've received, like a couple of support boxes from different organizations,” says Nicholson. “I think that there's a lot of work to be done there to support dads through these things as well as moms, that's why I started the boxes to be able to provide resources for both parents.”

She’s also created a blog TheResillientMommy, which features posts about her experience, advice on how to cope with grief as well as other useful resources. When she initially shared her story, she didn’t expect responses from families, who were willing to share their stories.

“The response that I got from women was just beyond what I had expected; that was a huge aid in me being able to work through everything that I was feeling,” says Nicholson. “It’s one thing to be able to share your story and get that off your chest, but to be able to connect with other women and to not feel alone [but] to feel seen and understood, is a big part in recovery.”

On March 23, in honour of her late daughter’s birthday, Nicholson aims to donate 10 boxes to Ottawa General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and 10 boxes to the Midwifery Collective of Ottawa.

Any additional boxes are available upon request on her website.

She hopes that with Lily’s Purpose along with her blog, conversations surrounding miscarriage can become more comfortable and transparent. 

"That's another big part of the conversation that I try to have, is not just with women who are going through or have been through these tragedies, but to help the people around them know what to do, so that they can feel comfortable having those conversations."
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