When the piercing heartache takes hold, Kelly Owen takes comfort in picturing her daughter Abi – smiling, happy and waiting for her, in a very beautiful place.
The vivid pictures in her mind’s eye have given her hope and comfort and hold her precious memories close.
“When your child dies suddenly, every moment becomes so important, along with the fear that you will forget them,” says Kelly, who has written a book for families to read together, to help them cope when someone they love very much dies.
Based on a fable that helped Kelly through her darkest days of sadness after Abi died aged just 12, the Cheltenham mum and blogger’s re-telling is helping other families to talk about what happens when a loved one isn’t there anymore.
Kelly has taken comfort in her Christian faith that promises eternal life in a wonderful new Earth. Just like a dragonfly, which begins life as nymph underwater – and emerges with beautiful wings only after it has left its old life behind.
As the story that inspired her own book, The Dragonfly Story explained, says Kelly; “We can never see what waits for us outside this world until we get there, but it is more beautiful than we can ever imagine. We are content, perfect and free.”
Abigail was Kelly’s first baby and they formed a close and special bond from the moment she was born in November 2000.
She grew from a contented smiley baby into a radiant, caring and amazing girl, full of ideas, interests and fun. They’d been so proud, when she achieved her black belt in karate and on the brink of her teens, she was a kind and doting big sister to siblings Jenny and Joe.
Passionate about her friends, martial arts, dancing and swimming, Abi would always say: “When I grow up, I want to travel the world and marry a wonderful man to share my adventures with.”
“Abi taught us so much about life,” smiles Kelly.
“She was such easy company, so happy in herself.”
Kelly was reeling from the loss of pregnancy of a baby girl just two weeks earlier, when Abi became ill. Her beautiful girl suddenly seemed so unlike her usual self, when in February 2013, looking pale, she had told her mum she didn’t feel very well.
Abi had suffered a catastrophic brain haemorrhage and fell into a coma that she did not wake up from.
Despite the indescribable pain of losing her daughter, Kelly drew hope from how peaceful Abi had looked after she died.
I was certain that she had reached Heaven
“She looked so serene, and was smiling like she’d just discovered the best place imaginable. I was certain that she had reached Heaven.”
Abi’s death gave the legacy of life to four people who never met her, through organ donation.
“We know she would think this was very 'cool',” says Kelly.
When she came across the dragonfly fable, it seemed such a beautiful way to consider things that we may sense, but cannot see.
“From then onwards, dragonflies became a theme for us,” says Kelly, who had a dragonfly tattoo inked as a symbol of her eternal love for Abi and began a blog, Chasing Dragonflies.
“I was churned up inside with so many emotions, thoughts and feelings. It’s true that no pill can be prescribed for grief, so the doctor simply said: ‘write about it’, and that’s what I began to do.”
Chasing Dragonflies charts her own continuing journey through grief, surviving and remembering, inspiring thousands of followers who are navigating their own path after the loss of a child.
Kelly began to realise her writing was helping other people to make sense of their sadness.
“It made me realise that I wanted to create something to guide children in understanding grief, too — something bright and hopeful,” she says.
“I wanted to show them that yes, death is incredibly sad but it is also an aspect of life that can have a hopeful perspective.”
Kelly describes the * Dragonfly Story* as bright and colourful.
“It’s just like Abi was,” she says.
“I feel as though her character has been woven into the story. She was such a positive child, always caring for others.
“This book is a way of honouring that.”
Kelly has also created a gently illustrated journal aimed at the bereaved to help them during their difficult days. The Life, Without You journal offers space to records some of the thoughts and feelings associated with loss.
“Not everyone wants to write or share their feelings in the way that I have, but as the doctor advised when I first lost Abi, you have to find a way to help yourself,” says Kelly.
“My grief journal is one way to support someone going through loss and I hope helps carry them through to a point of brighter days.”
- The Life, Without You journal will be available on Amazon from August 20 2018. Find more details about it and discover more about The Dragonfly Story on Kelly’s Amazon page.