Sometimes Gifts Come in Tears


The whole day was emotional.

I mentioned a few days ago we hit the 20 week mark with Baby Peach on the day of the release, and that morning I had a conversation with my mom I might and hope to never forget. Sometimes you just think people have moved on, but then you find out they still feel the pain. It’s not the pain that is the gift — it’s the love through the tears. I got a gift that morning that stirred my heart more than I can even begin to tell you.

And then of course, there was the forecast that had us on our toes all day long. But thank God the weatherman was wrong time, and time, and time again.

What started out with a little inspiration from the movie Tangled grew to a late night drive to the beach with some friends and lanterns a few months ago. Well that – was a disaster. I was too embarrassed to come here and admit it. It was fun, we made memories but we almost caught the beach on fire (if that’s even possible). One of the lanterns never quite took off, one actually made it into the air and the last one was a rolling fireball across the sand. It must have been a sight to see a couple of girls trucking it across the beach late at night chasing a wild fireball, passing a couple parked in a small SUV clearly not paying attention to their surroundings. ahem.

Even though our first experience with lanterns was an epic failure, it was still something all three of us wanted to do. I asked Amanda to see if she would want to come along. From there the word just spread like wild fire! Through facebook people all over the world were asking if they could include their child’s name in our release somehow. We ended up writing over 300 names.

People drove to be with us in person all the way from Oklahoma and Arkansas. It was incredible. In spite of the pending weather we had a large group of 100ish people.

I’m really not a cryer in public, but I was a bit of a mess watching Jenna’s lantern sail into the dark blue sky. It was more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen in real life to honor the life of a child gone too soon.

There were teens remembering their peer from high school, mothers honoring their children and babies, grandparents, siblings. The atmosphere was hard to describe but you could see it on just about everyone’s face. We shared a sorrow, yet none of us were ready to give up hope. We were there to celebrate the gift of the beautiful lives that changed us forever. It is definitely such a different experience being able to be surrounded in person by other loss parents. I cherish my online support, and honestly don’t know where I’d be today without it, but this experience has me wanting to be more involved in person as well.

Needless to say we hope to do it again. Same time, next year.

If you have never done a lantern release and you are able to do it in your area, it is something that really should be on your bucket list! The lanterns are about $3 each (sometimes less). You can grab just about any color on this site.

This event seriously could not have been possible without a few rockstars… one being Amanda. You might think I’m just being nice, and while I love that girl, this isn’t just a compliment. If you saw the list she was meticulously putting together over the past few weeks and answering messages on our event page wall, you’d agree. She works full time too, I don’t know how she did it!

Secondly there were a few beautiful mamas at the event that helped us write some last minute names, bring us water (THANK YOU!) and put up signs around the park. Your kindness in my forgetful stage will never be forgotten!

And lastly, we are SO thankful for the people. The families that trusted us with their childrens’ memory to come out and celebrate their lives together.

photography by 3 twenty 3 photography - more photos can be seen here.

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  1. 1
    Amy Young says:

    This leaves me in that beautiful (and painful) place where words aren’t necessary.
    Amy Young recently posted..In which I am reminded my hand needs {and can be} strengthenedMy Profile

  2. 2

    This was so beautiful. I’m so excited for our Lantern Release at the Grace for the Journey Conference on October 13th. I’m hoping people attend and are blessed by it. And…hoping we don’t catch any fields in Northern Michigan on fire!! Do you have any suggestions that might help it turn out well, instead of a disaster? :)
    Kelly @ Sufficient Grace recently posted..The Second Best Thing About HeavenMy Profile

    • 2.1
      Franchesca Franchesca says:

      I hope they attend too Kelly! They won’t be disappointed. Lanterns are so magical!

      The only thing is you need to make sure you demostrate one before doing the release. You can learn how to release on the homepage here:

      And also the wind! The wind was the biggest hindrance for us at the beach. If it’s not windy, and you’re patient while the lantern fills with hot air they will do beautifully:)

      I look forward to seeing pictures from your event!! I know it will be gorgeous and help so many hurting hearts.
      Franchesca recently posted..Sometimes Gifts Come in TearsMy Profile

  3. 3
    kessi says:

    the event was BEAUTIFUL. thank you again for working so hard to make it possible to remember our babies and for capturing it so eloquently in words, Fran.
    kessi recently posted..about our small MOHmentMy Profile

  4. 4
    Veronica says:

    Wow, this post had my crying. I’m so emotional these days….maybe I’m pregnant!?!
    My husband comes from a large Italian family…with 30 or so aunts and uncles near by, and probably twice as many cousins. Not much has been done to remember our son. Alexander was stillborn at 41 weeks on Feb 27, 2012…and we got few calls the first week out, but that’s it. I really don’t feel as if the majority of his family recognizes this as a “significant” loss. A lot might not think we lost an entire person in our lives, but are just ‘struggling’ to start a family.

    I want to do something like this. Get everyone involved, and everyone invited. To honor THEIR losses, too. Their parents, friends, co-workers, children, relatives….and have them invite their friends too to do the same thing. And the entire evening will be a tribute to our son. I really want his family to connect with our grief and our loss. AND, I want to do something like this anyway…soon.

    Thank you Fran, for blazing the path. You are truly an inspirational person.

    Sending my love, and remembering your sweet Jenna, gone too soon.
    Veronica recently posted..Looking for the path to the other sideMy Profile

    • 4.1
      Franchesca Franchesca says:

      Oh Veronica I hope you do. What a beautiful tribute that would be to your son!! I love your idea for including others’ losses as well, so powerful. I wish you all the best, and hope that everyone can get involved in your family. It will be a moment you’l treasure forever.

      big big hugs to you!!
      Franchesca recently posted..Sometimes Gifts Come in TearsMy Profile

  5. 5
    Stephanie D says:

    Stephanie D recently posted..My plate is too fullMy Profile

  6. 6
    meghan says:

    What beautiful photos, and a beautiful story.

  7. 7
    Beth says:

    Beautiful. Thank you so much for remembering Eve at this amazing event.
    Beth recently posted..Sex and BabylossMy Profile

  8. 8

    Lovely, I’ve wanted to do one since I saw the movie.
    Amanda Jillian recently posted..Updates from the CafeMy Profile

  9. 9
    Rachael Heilig says:

    I was very honored to have my girls names placed on a lantern at this event~meant the world to me. I miss Kenley & Paige every day of my life, with every breath I take, but knowing they are never forgotten warms my heart. Thank you for doing this, it is truly touching

  10. 10
    Lacy says:

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures and for including Naomi’s name on a lantern. Such a beautiful remembrance.
    Lacy recently posted..Steadfast LoveMy Profile

  11. 11
    Dana Mizgate says:

    <3 <3 <3 Thank you sooo much for including Miss Audrey in this! I seriously wish that I wasn't a gazzillion miles away and could have been there! I miss you all so much and this post made me cry! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having my daughters name be lived through this and brought to heaven. Thank you friend. xoxo

    • 11.1
      Franchesca Franchesca says:

      Oh my word! Me too girl. Wish so much we weren’t so far apart!!! It was an honor to include sweet Audrey in our release. Always remembering your precious girl.

      big love to you friend. xoxo

  12. 12
    Mary_M says:

    How absolutely beautiful!!! I will have to check to see if we are allowed to do lantern releases here…would love to do that in honor of my nephew. We have 3 roses bushes (1 for each year he should have been here) and we dry the petals & scatter them from a bridge at a local park on his angelversary. But these lanterns are enchanting!


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