Amy Wright Glenn



10 year anniversary of her daughter’s death

Oklahoma-based mother and fellow Unitarian Universalist Anitra Lavanhar generously shared the following letter with me.
She wrote this letter on the 10 year anniversary of her young daughter’s death.
Her words are so moving and true.
Please take the time to read them.
Please take the time to “love deeply,  live fully, and grieve whenever [your] heart feels the need.”


IMG_8594Dear Sweet Sienna,

Today you would be 13 years old, if you were still alive.

Instead you live on as a perpetual 3-year-old just having celebrated your 3rd birthday. It is, in some ways, still a shock to my system that you are gone. Of course I’ve adjusted to the reality of your death but it still sometime feels wrong, confusing, and impossible that you died so young for a reason no one completely understands. Of course people die all the time for reasons unknown, but your death rocked my world, rocked our family’s world, our friend’s worlds, our church community and beyond. There were times that I didn’t think I could live in a world without you. Times the pain was so intense I thought I would crush under the weight of it. Still, even now, 10 years later, tears can come and depression can slide into my days making me feel drowsy and sluggish like I’m trying to  swim through a molasses ocean.

I miss you with every fiber of my being, but like waves receding further out into the ocean, I don’t think of you all the time anymore. I don’t have a image of who you could be now. I see you through your friends you once had, try to imagine what you would be like as a young teen. What kind of music would you like? Would you still love dance and gymnastics, strawberries and shrimp? Would you hang out with Sophie, Caroline and Ella? What would your passions be? One of your friends is into theater and film, another a singer, a karate kid, and a swimmer.

Sometimes when I walk in the mountains or travel to beautiful places I mourn that you didn’t get to experience so many of life’s joys.

I know I will continue to mourn you deeply during these times and during life’s passages: Elias’ Coming of Age, your class’ Coming of Age, your friend’s graduations, weddings, etc… that is, if I live long enough to witness them. One thing I have learned for sure is to never take anything for granted. I am here now, but there’s no insurance on tomorrow.

So, today I love deeply,  live fully, and grieve whenever my heart feels the need. I am your legacy now, even though the natural order should be the other way around. There are some things we do not have choice about no matter how much people would like to think they do.

There are some answers we will never know, and it turns out my heart is wide enough to hold the questions.

With love,

Your mother


IMG_8596Anitra Lavanhar lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband Marlin, who is a Unitarian Minister, her son Elias, (15) and daughter Lyla, (7). After the death of her daughter Sienna, Anitra got involved with a group of mothers who helped to start the Tulsa Children’s Museum. She went from being a founding board member of the museum to being on staff as an educator, program developer, and is now a part- time Evaluator of Educational Impact. Anitra has maintained a part-time massage therapy practice for the past 24 years. She also enjoys photography and many different forms of movement.
  • May 20, 2016
  • By Amy Wright Glenn