Yes, Crystal Webster likes to give herself a lot of titles - she doesn't fit into a box, why should her designations? She's an entrepreneur, speaker, grief sherpa, author, (co)founder, friend, wife, daughter, auntie…but above everything the designation she holds highest is mama to Madelyn Elizabeth Webster.
The only acronyms behind her name are ‘DIY’ and ‘WTH’ yet she’s spent the last decade (and then some) learning about grief, death, loss, resilience, and general mental wellness – because she has had to. Her highest privilege is to hear someone’s name or story be spoken – because sometimes that is the first time it’s been articulated in decades – and hopes that her ability to bring truth and irreverence to such a taboo subject will allow others to join in on the conversation too.
Who are you often remembering, and why?
When my Madelyn died in my arms just hours after she was born, I thought I was going to die too. It took me years to learn to live again - It was only once I realized my Maddie didn't want me to spend the rest of my life waiting to die did the mission of Sharing Solace come to me and I found my reason to live a life worth living.
Madelyn is my only child – and I still mother her. I work every day to make sure she stays proud of who I’m becoming. And, I speak with Maddie often (she is the (co)founder of Sharing Solace), I just happen to look up to the sky when talking to her than into the eyes of a teen.
What inspires you to do your work?
As a loss mama of an infant (and subsequent infertility warrior), I’ve heard some of the ‘worst’ platitudes there are. Disenfranchised grief is real grief and deserves to be honored.
One quote that really resonates with my heart is “I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave and the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name.” I find this to be especially prevalent with loss parents – because we have so little control over our children’s ‘first death’ and we have complete control over the second.
I’m inspired by all those out there that experience such a debilitating loss (no matter what that loss is – I don’t judge or compare!) and still make the choice to get up every day and put one foot in front of the other.
And when you’re not working?
Ha! You ask silly questions! I’m never NOT working…my brain is always churning on ways to make Sharing Solace the best it can be and touch as many grievers as possible…but…when my husband does pull me away, I love traveling. Road trips are actually one of my favorites – I get to visit locations and meet people that I never would have been able to if I had to fly. Plus, random roadside attractions are the best! I enjoy pop-culture trivia and watching others play team sports (that’s another story for another day). I’ve also recently gotten BACK into Pickleball (random note: my husband and I actually met playing pickleball in the 90’s) Mostly, it’s about having experiences and making sure the people in my life know they are important to me.
What famous dead person would you most like to have lunch with and why?
Grandpa Carl Gunnar Mattson is not famous to anyone but me, and also, I would love to sit down with him now. As an immigrant to America as a child, losing (at least) one child himself, and suffering hardship after hardship in his 93 years of life I’d like to know his philosophy on life and what kept him going.
We’d sit down to breakfast (not lunch) with a pocket knife, a summer sausage, and a chuck of cheddar cheese. I’d ask him to tell me about my Uncle Robby and what his life was like after he was killed. I’d want to know more about my grandmother and their decades long marriage. I’d ask about the family’s move from Nebraska to California and back again. I’d ask him to sing the ‘sow song.' But, mostly, I’d tell me how much his presence in my young life still resonated with me today and thank him for the sacrifices he made for his family and my mother. I’d tell him ‘I Love You Best’ just one more time.
How do you want to be remembered?
Honestly, I don’t care if I’m remembered at all. But I do want my Madelyn to be remembered – hopefully through ‘her’ work with Sharing Solace. I want her to be remembered for the lives she touched and the tough (yet honest and human) conversations she instigated. Death and Loss will always be unexpected – if her legacy eases the shock of the grief and loneliness of mourning then I think she’s done her job…