Eventually, Behrndt expanded her movement for bereaved parents into a program called “On Coming Alive“, sharing stories of “people rising from the ashes.” The movement was created for anyone who has suffered through a hardship — including abuse, illness, rape, suicide, death, and addiction.
The stories shared through “On Coming Alive” are all different, but they all have one thing in common: hope. And now, Behrndt wishes to spread that message even further through grief workshops around the country.
Although the online world is an important source of support for anyone who is suffering, Behrndt believes that gathering in person is a vital next step for anyone going through the grief process. “There’s something you miss when you purely connect over the Internet,” she explains. “And we want to bridge that gap, look them in the eyes, and let them know that they can make it through this — that they are not alone.”
Behrndt organized the “On Coming Alive” workshops with the help of her team: Kristen Hernandez, Jessi Snapp, and Amelia Kowalisyn — all of whom have endured miscarriages or child loss. In brainstorming the type of event that would bring bereaved parents together, the team realized that they didn’t want anything sugarcoated.
“People don’t want bells and whistles or fancy titles or anything big,” Behrndt says. “They just want real people with real lives and real stories of surviving heartache and tragedy.”
Keeping that in mind, she says that the peer-led workshops will stick to the simple themes of remembrance and hope. Participants will go through a special time of remembrance for those they have lost and absorb the main message of the day — which Behrndt explains, stems from two core beliefs: that no one is ever alone and there is always hope.
“We want them to walk away feeling that in their bones,” she says adamantly.
Having gone through a journey of loss herself and knowing what it is like to live every day with that grief, Behrndt believes that no matter how dark your situation feels, you are truly never alone.
“I think we walk around so often feeling like the ‘only one’ when we walk into a room,” she says. “We can be in deep grief or having a rough day with heartache revolving around our loss, but there are so few times we can go somewhere and look into the eyes of another and not have to act like it’s all okay and like we are ‘better’ and not grieving. What if we could actually come into a safe space and openly talk about our children who have passed, and openly talk about the pain and the sorrow and also about how to take the next steps forward. What if we could openly remember them and also look to hope with other people who understand? This is exactly what we are hoping to accomplish with these.”
The workshops, which cost $60 for participants and will be open to people of all faiths, are being held at three different locations in November:
11/18: Kalamazoo, Michigan, 6PM – 9PM
West Kalamazoo Christian Church
11/19: Valparaiso, IN, 6PM – 9PM
11/20: Naperville, Illinois, 1PM – 4PM
Naperville Yellowbox Community Church
In addition to the workshops, “On Coming Alive” recently launched a grief journal program. Overwhelmed by the positive response, Behrndt decided to offer a sponsorship program for her journals as well, so that individuals who could not afford a journal could receive a sponsored book through a donation. (To request a journal, go here. To sponsor a journal, go here.)
While Behrndt has been grateful to see her movement grow so much, she believes that it has nothing to do with her own personal story or even her own grief. “I don’t think it has anything to do with me, honestly,” she admits. “I think maybe it’s just that people were waiting for someone to stand up and go first and I’m the one who didn’t realize that and did it anyway.”
And Behrndt has another reason to be grateful these days. In addition to watching her movement grow, she is enjoying time with Charlie’s brother, Lincoln, and has recently started dating a filmmaker.
Since her son’s death, Behrndt has truly “come alive” and hopes that the work she is doing for other bereaved parents will help them come to find their own version of life after loss. “It’s so strange to go from years of heartache to actually having life be as close to perfect as it can get,” she says.
You can register for an On Coming Alive Bereaved Parents workshop here.