Finding Sunshine Through the Darkness


Contribution by: Katie Lemal

The last 5 years of my life have brought an abundance of experiences. Some of my greatest achievements took place during this time and left me with a feeling of invincibility. The clarity I had for where my life had been and where I wanted it to go was at an all-time high.

Then, life woke me up in a way I had never expected. At 7 months pregnant with my first child, a ruptured placenta and pre-term labor was soon followed by infant loss.

The feelings that followed, I imagine are something similar to being hit by a train. Though my life was spared, I can’t help but believe a part of me died with my baby that day. I can’t say this is the worst thing I will experience in my life (hopefully not, but I plan to be around a while yet), but the scar, pain and longing will be with me always.

If you’ve experienced any kind of human loss, especially a child – you can probably relate to the inevitable depression that follows. Your mind analyzes every possible situation of what you could’ve done differently. As a parent, you feel not just that you failed your child, but that you’ll be a failure for the rest of your life because of this. How could you not? It was the one job you had?

These are the debilitating thoughts that dig that hole of depression, deeper and deeper until you are just frozen. Almost catatonic.

As a child, I (like many) dealt with the divorce of my parents, rebellion in school, self-esteem issues, etc. Knowing she couldn’t do everything herself (work, take care of the home, be the enforcer, etc.), my mother wisely enlisted school and family counselors who gave us coping tools I’ve remembered and used to this day.

I was lucky to have these mechanisms. I saw a therapist for a while, which was extremely beneficial for getting me out of my ‘frozen’ state, but eventually it was my turn to take action in moving my life forward from this tumultuous event.

Confidence hitting an all-time low and motivation wavering, I took the advice of my childhood counselors and of the great Martin Luther King Jr..

To get out of my cycle of over-analyzing, self-seclusion, and self-destruction – I started searching for local volunteer opportunities. As a notorious over-thinker, the one thing I know for sure is that doing something for someone else is the quickest way to MAKE IT STOP!

Somehow, the stars aligned and brought me exactly what I needed. SUNSHINE. Not just The Spread Sunshine Gang, but a community of people committed to spreading love, joy, and kindness.

Has the pain of my loss disappeared? Absolutely not. It never will. But it has gotten easier. Life is moving forward and every day I think less of my failures and more of the future good that I can do to make these experiences [hopefully] less heavy for others.

Through this, I am finding peace.

If you are struggling with depression, overthinking, or similar – go do something for someone else. I PROMISE you that you will forget about those things weighing you down. Probably not permanently, but long enough to find clarity on what steps you need to take to move forward. Whatever you do, just keep moving forward. As long as you’re doing that, you are winning.


Resources for outreach and volunteer opportunities

Volunteer with The Spread Sunshine Gang:

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Check out the Remembering Bodhi Léon Facebook group to learn more about Katie’s story!

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