Today is viewed by many as a day of renewed hope and belief in something bigger than ourselves. It seems fitting to give tribute to a project of hope that was started by a mother who tragically lost her young son, Ben, at age 2 on Good Friday, March 29, 2002. She began making small bells to hang as her own personal journey through healing. Since many people had been there to help her through the most difficult time in her life, she wanted to ‘pay it forward.’ She choose to help people heal their grief by giving them a visible reminder of hope and kindness. Ten years after her son’s death, this mother brought 1,000 bells to hang on trees, along walking and hiking trails and even in parking lots around the valley in Arizona. Twice a year they are also hung in the Tucson area with the accompanying note attached, instructing the person who finds them to take them home and simply spread kindness in the world. What started out as one mother’s emotional response to her loss has spread across Arizona and the world. Recently, a mother who had lost her daughter years and years ago and unable to move through the grief stage decided to take a walk and just happened to find one of Ben’s Bells with the note. She needed a sign, something, at that exact moment, that would help her begin the arduous process of moving on.
Those of us who have experienced loss – in any form – know that moving on takes a great deal of time. Sometimes, it feels like your heart will never heal or be the same as it was before your loss. I understand, I lost my son. When we are the recipient of a random act of kindness, such as the bells, it gives us an opportunity to realize that so many others have also suffered a loss in their life and have eventually found a way to move through it. It can give us the little needed push, at the precise moment, when we are most receptive, to help begin to heal our broken hearts. Ben’s Bells have given thousands of people added strength to face tomorrow through the sound and sight of a bell. They serve as a visible reminder to all of us to have hope and belief that our loved one’s life and death had a purpose. As my son has said, repeatedly throughout my book, “Mom, everything is as it should be.” Our loved ones did not disappear into the Cosmos. They are, in fact, around us and offer their unconditional love and even reconnection when we are ready. Something exists in our Universe that is all about love. Call it God/Universal Energy or whatever label you choose for the force greater than yourself, that it always with us, especially during our time of greatest need.