Today is the fourth birthday of Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar. It’s also a week after Jer and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. We decided a cruise to Alaska was in order for the 15th, and figured it might be nice to get away after the boys’ birthday.

It’s always a bit of emotional whiplash to go through the birthday and the grief that comes with that and then go back to work the next day as if nothing has happened. Or more likely, you go back to work and of course everyone knows what just happened because you insist on living your life in such an open, LOOK AT MY GRIEF! way, and the truly wonderful and kind people you work with want to say something, or try to, but they feel nervous and don’t know what to say, and you don’t have the emotional availability to make it okay, so you just smile awkwardly at each other, and know that there is love between you, which is really all that matters anyway. If you’re exhausted just after reading that never ending sentence, welcome to a day in the life of navigating grief.

But this year we’re all spared the day after dance, and Jer and I get to see some beautiful, soul-restoring nature and have some much needed time alone together before facing the usual day to day. It’s especially needed this year because unfortunately, just because you’ve been dealt what feels like an enormous life hit, it doesn’t spare you from other hits, like infertility and miscarriage.  A lot more grief comes with that, and then that grief triggers the volcano of grief from the loss of your sons, and pretty soon you’re screaming “OH MY GOD!!!” at the top of your lungs because a candle falls on the ground. It’s a scene, people. We need Alaska like yesterday.

I thought to mix it up, I’d quickly highlight four ways you can contribute to good in the world, in honor of the boys’ fourth birthday. These ideas are brought to you by their fabulous aunties (by blood and bond), who always find a way to remember them through donations to various causes that they feel the boys would be proud to represent. How amazing is that? Truly, our friends and family who have remembered and loved and grieved our boys with us have brought more healing to our lives than anything else. A heartfelt Thank You to all of you.

First up, we have an organization called Trades of Hope. This group helps woman artisans out of difficult circumstances by manufacturing and distributing their goods. It’s fun too, because you get to shop, not just donate!

Next, consider Lucky Iron Fish. This is a group that is challenging iron deficiency in developing countries, most specifically in Cambodia. Fish shaped iron pieces are distributed to families, that need only to add it to their cooking pots to get 75% of their daily iron needs for up to five years. Check out the video below. It’s an amazing start up that can use support!

Every Mother Counts is another wonderful organization to support. One woman dies every two minutes from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. 98% of these deaths are preventable and Every Mother Counts is dedicated to doing just that.

Finally, a group near and dear to my heart, Farm Sanctuary, specifically the California shelter. The New York shelter is where I became a vegan, but the California shelter is where I went when I was pregnant with the boys. I just love it there.

It wouldn’t be a birthday wind up, if I didn’t end it with a song. This one’s as much for me and Jer as it is for the boys. Where will we be tomorrow? What will we see? Well, hopefully, this time tomorrow we’ll be on a ship sailing across an empty sea, with the boys tucked deep in our hearts, as always. We’re outta here, folks. Wish us luck.