Losing a child can be difficult for many family members, especially the parent. Though there are different grieving stages, many argue that it is a void that is never filled. According to the New York Times, “A Child’s Death Brings Trauma That Doesn’t Go Away.”
For one San Francisco-based mother her approach to losing a child wasn’t on making the pain go away but rather transforming her loss into something positive. Margarett Miller, 39, is a successful entrepreneur and paralegal. After losing her daughter to an unexpected tragedy in 2014, she is now finding her purpose through grief.
Miller opened a salon in 2018 named after her daughter that was only 5 years old when she passed away from a disease known as streptococcal. The salon Leanna’s Beauty has accomplished many great things including surviving the pandemic.
As she prepares to launch her nonprofit “Finding Purpose Through Grief,” we caught up with her to discuss how she found her purpose, parenting while grieving, and misconceptions about grief.
SHEEN: Finding Purpose Through Grief sounds like an amazing nonprofit and one that many will find a sense of comfort in. How would you say that you’ve found your purpose through grief?
Miller: I found my purpose through grief by realizing that my life doesn’t have to end or stop because of the grief. I began to soul-search within myself and figure out ways to make sure my daughter’s life would never be forgotten. It took a while for me to get to the point of acceptance of her death, and once I was able to accept it, I began to figure out my purpose. My healing comes from being a help to others, I chose the beauty industry because of the instant gratification I receive when I can make someone feel beautiful, and at the same time pour into them while I am styling their hair. You have to figure out what it is that you love, and what brings you happiness, once you figure that out everything else will follow.
SHEEN: It’s amazing that both of your parents were entrepreneurs and now you are in many different fields. What do you want to teach your son when it comes to business?
Miller: I teach my children that running and owning your own business is not a walk in the park. Some days you have to be the janitor, the spokesperson, the admin, and more. I let them know having a business doesn’t you are constantly on the clock, you have to put in your all in order for it to be successful. Sometimes my daughters get confused about what truly makes you a Boss, and I have to remind them in real life, you are going to have challenging days where you are ready to throw it all away. You have to learn to pivot and always have multiple streams of income within your business. I showed them this by having my salon, where I also sell hair extensions, sell hair products, and host events, I am not limiting myself to only just getting money by doing hair.
SHEEN: If you don’t mind speaking about it, how did your daughter pass away?
Miller: In November 2014, I was getting my daughters ready to take them to the Pier in San Francisco for the start of the Christmas/Winter event. My baby girl Leanna was taking a bath, and her older sister was fussing with her to get out. I then heard a scream from my oldest daughter that I instantly knew something wasn’t right. I ran to see my daughter unconscious. I grabbed her and immediately performed CPR on her, I knew she was gone because it was just foam coming out of her mouth. I don’t remember calling 911 or anything, but they came, and she was pronounced deceased at the hospital. Her cause of death was later determined to be a form of streptococcal. A disease that did not present any symptoms, it was something that caught my entire family off guard.
SHEEN: What is the most difficult part about parenting while grieving?
Miller: The most difficult part about parenting while grieving is putting on a face for your other kids that you are okay, but deep down inside you are struggling each minute. You feel guilty, you feel a constant sense of failure, and you feel like giving up, but then you realize that your other children still deserve the best of you too, and you have to make sure you are nurturing and loving them into their purpose as well. It has been challenging for my daughters since they were there and they experienced that traumatizing event with me. I constantly seek God for answers on how to continue to support them. As for my sons who were born after, it’s hard because they constantly ask where is she, and why did she live in heaven and not with them. I love how they ask about her, but sometimes it’s hard and emotional trying to explain it to them.
SHEEN: What would you say is the biggest misconception about grief?
Miller: That over time it gets better. It only gets manageable if you start to put your time and energy into the positive aspects of it. If you are not doing that, you will be forever in a dark place. Even now, it still gets hard for me, especially around birthdays, holidays, or even watching my nephew, who was really close to her have to grow up without her.