In October 2012, Marina Krim came home to every parent's worst nightmare: Her two young children had been murdered, allegedly stabbed to death by their nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, in their New York City apartment.
Years later, Ortega is still awaiting trial, and Marina is opening up about her grief in the "surreal" weeks following the tragedy of losing her 6-year-old daughter, Lulu, and 20-month-old son, Leo.
"There were terrifying flashbacks, police inquiries, and psychiatrist appointments. There was media attention, an apartment we could never return to, and a memorial service. All of this coupled with the overwhelming grief that always ended in the questions 'How did this happen? Why did this happen?'" Marina wrote in a new emotional essay on Option B, a website founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that aims to help people build resilience after experiencing loss or adversity.
But then, something special started to happen. Marina writes that she began experiencing little moments in her day that would immediately make her think of Leo or Lulu and feel connected to her children in a new way. "I noticed a piece of street art on a construction site-a stencil of a young boy holding a sign filled with colorful hearts," she wrote. "I instantly connected him to Leo."
Other times, she'd overhear a song that Lulu and Leo had loved, or receive a kind compliment from a stranger that felt as though it could be a message from the children.
"I felt that maybe the universe was trying to tell me something, that it was helping me to realize that there was a beautiful "new" relationship waiting to be developed with Lulu and Leo," Marina wrote. "They showed me that there was still a way to connect with them. It was an approach inspired by who they were and what they loved. It required creativity, always an important influence in my life."
This creative approach is what got her through her first Mother's Day after her children's deaths, when she took sand dollars that she and Lulu had collected on their last vacation together and hung them up for display on an empty wall in her apartment. "It was a simple way to express myself, feel present, and connect with Lulu and Leo on a really tough day," she wrote.
Her husband, Kevin, also penned an essay for Option B, detailing how he worked through his grief by giving himself a "forward motion and focus," doing research, and embracing productivity rather than letting the "destructive effects of violence" take over. "It's an act of positive defiance," he wrote.
Marina and Kevin have since had two more children along with their surviving daughter, Nessie, and have founded a nonprofit organization called the Lulu & Leo Fund that raises money for children's enrichment programs. Their philosophy is that creativity is a healing force and an important outlet for children and communities facing adversity, says Marina.
"These principles are the foundation of how we were inspired to cope with their loss and how we've begun to thrive again."
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