Lori Prashker-Thomas, the author of From Mistakes to Miracles, shares her story of redemption, hope, and healing. Her story is deeply personal and explores her experiences as a pregnant and alone woman who considered abortion but ultimately chose a different path as a Jewish birth mother. Lori’s journey, as outlined in the memoir, showcases her inner struggles and the difficult decisions she faced during that challenging period. While contemplating abortion, she found the strength to make a different choice, which set the stage for her transformative journey. Lori’s story likewise emphasizes her resilience, courage, and personal growth as she works to rebuild her life and heal from her past mistakes. It also sheds light on the support and resources she discovered within her Jewish faith community, which played a crucial role in her journey of redemption, hope, and healing. Tune in to this inspiring episode and find your path to redemption, hope, and healing.
Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach. I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others. Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country.
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From Mistakes To Miracles: A Transformative Journey Of A Jewish Birth Mother With Lori Prashker-Thomas
Our conversations have different twists and turns. Our conversation is with Lori, someone I met when I was going through breast cancer. She is not a widow or a widower, but she has experienced grief and you will find some of the things that Lori shares very helpful. Let’s get into the conversation.
My guest for this episode is Lori. We have known each other for a long time. I’m not glad that she’s here for the grief part, but I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak with Lori. I’ll let her say hello and introduce herself.
My name is Lori Prashker-Thomas. As Tina said, we have known each other for a long time. I’m not quite sure how long. Am I allowed to say how we met?
It can’t be called real talk if you don’t talk.
I met Tina doing a Picture Hope photoshoot. I don’t even remember what year, honestly.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015-ish. It is somewhere between 2011 and 2015. That is the window. I was on the outside of treatment when we met.
I feel like 2014 or 2015 because I’ve been doing I Picture Hope now since 2011 and 2012, somewhere in there.
What gives you hope these days, Lori?
One of the things that gives me hope is my grandbaby.
Tell us about the baby.
Seeing her, watching life through her eyes, the innocence, and going into things with innocence do give me hope for the future. That’s one of the big things that gives me hope in this time that we’re living in.
When you’re not doing the I Hope photography, what keeps you busy?
I am a paralegal by trade. I am also the owner of the photography studio, ShadowCatcher Photography. I’m a wedding officiate, lead officiant, and Owner of Ceremonies by Lori. I am also a brand new author. I’m also a speaker and advocate on many different levels.
Any of these ventures do they include everything that is Lori? What is it?
Yes, it does involve who is Lori. When it comes to photography, I went to FIT. I got my degree in Fashion.
What is FIT?
Fashion Institute of Technology.
Where is that?
In New York City. I used my artistic abilities. I went to FIT originally for fashion buying and merchandising and hated it but didn’t want to leave. I loved the fact that I could dress a window but didn’t like the business aspect of it, which come to now, it’s all business for me, which is funny. Everything that I do does encompass a bit of me or a lot of me. I became a wedding officiant because friends couldn’t find a rabbi to marry them because they are a same-sex couple. I am a firm believer in love is love. I became originally ordained online and married them. This was before same-sex marriage was legal in all states.
When I came back to Pennsylvania, it had just become legal and I’m one of the first wedding officiants to marry a same-sex couple in Pennsylvania. I am a romantic at heart. It does not matter to me what that looks like. I am just a sucker for love. That is a big part of it. I also did it because when my husband and I got married, I did not like our ceremony. We were married to a magistrate who was a friend of our families. We wanted to include my daughter, and he wouldn’t do it. He was not moving from that script. Whatever the script was, he used that as how he was doing it. I was never very happy with that ceremony.
I married my husband, my best friend, and that’s all great, but in the back of my head, first of all, it wasn’t done by a rabbi. That was something that was always in the back of my mind, too, but he wouldn’t change. I kept saying to my husband for years, “There has to be something better.” I could never find anything better, so I made something better.
I like that. I want to go back to a couple of things. If I heard you correctly, you went to college with this idea of what you wanted to major in. As you were there, you realized that was not what you wanted but you persevered and stayed. If someone was in college now and realized, “I don’t like this major,” what advice would you give to them?
Change it, honestly, if at all possible. There are times when you’re so far along that you need 3, 8, or 6 credits, whatever one semester would be in your particular college. Stick with it at that point just so you have a degree. It doesn’t matter what that degree is in. You don’t have to use that degree. In a lot of companies that I have spoken with over the many years, as long as you have had a degree, it didn’t matter what your degree was in, which has always blown my mind a little bit but persevere. If you don’t like what you are studying, see if you can change it. Find something that brings you joy. It’s going to be work no matter what. Your job at that point is to be a college student and study. It should bring you a little bit of joy, even stress within it.Find something that brings you joy. It will work no matter what that is. Click To Tweet
It took everything that I had to stay, but I was able to change from fashion buying and merchandising to adding fashion design. Fashion Institute at the time was only a two-year school. I persevered so that I could get it done, but I was able to add in other things. I have a major and a minor, even though it’s an associate. Honestly keep plugging forward but try to find things. Even take a course that you’ll get credit for but something that will bring you joy.
I can relate to that. When I was in school, I started off with a particular major. I like how you said adding a minor. I started with business administration something generic until I found my niche, what I felt like I was interested in, and what I could see myself doing. It started out as a Finance major but then I took an accounting class and realized I liked that even more, so I flipped it to a minor. That is something I did do quite a bit of. That is some solid advice. Thank you. Also, you mentioned about being that people are looking for a Jewish rabbi to marry them. Are you considered a Jewish rabbi, or how does that correlate to your ordination?
My ordination, because I had to pick a title and that was the one that resonated most with me, is Rabbi. I do only use that title when I’m signing a marriage license. I don’t feel that I have gone through enough training. I’ve gone through training. I didn’t just do the online thing, but I don’t consider myself a rabbi or technically rabbison. I use it because when I’m signing the licenses, I have to have a title.
That’s fair. Do you recall your first marriage and what that was like and the couple? You don’t have to use their name, but if you’re willing to share, that would be interesting to hear about.
I became ordained because two of my friends couldn’t find a rabbi. I remembered I became ordained online. It was legal within Salt Lake or Utah at the time of Universal Life Church. I became ordained. Writing my first ceremony was a bit daunting. I didn’t want to do the typical marriage ceremony. It wasn’t what they wanted.
They wanted specific things within the Jewish wedding ceremony like the seven blessings, the stomping of the glass, and what’s called the circling of the groom or the brides, whichever the case may be. That wasn’t so hard for me, but telling their love story is what’s always been important, which is what I do in every ceremony that I do. I always include the love story. Writing it was a bit difficult. Performing wasn’t a big deal to me. I’ve been a theater kid since I was three, so the aspect of doing the ceremony didn’t bother me in the least.
Public speaking is not a problem.
It’s not been a problem for most of my life. As I said, I’ve been a theater kid and a dance kid since I was 3 years old or 4 years old. I’m very grateful to my mom. My mom was an artist. She grew up in a very Jewish Orthodox home, so being artistic is not typically what is done. Her parents may not have been happy about it, but she did what she wanted to do. The arts have always been a part of me.
When you said about doing what you wanted to do, I feel like you have a good part of that in you that you’ve leveraged from your mom. I get the sense that you are the I-do-what-I-want-to-do person.
For the most part, I don’t care what anybody else thinks about me or about what I’m doing. I’m not hurting anyone and I am there to help everyone. I very much am a go-ahead-and-do-it person, as long as it’s legal to do. I try to live my life that way. It doesn’t always work that way, but for the most part, I do try to do what brings me joy, whether it be performance or otherwise. I am a firm believer in helping others to do the same or at least to try and get them to that point.
Thank you. You mentioned writing, so I want to use that as an opportunity to leverage it into your book. What is the title of your book and what is it about?
It’s called From Mistakes to Miracles: A Jewish Birthmother’s Story of Redemption, Hope, and Healing. It started off as my story of being specifically a Jewish birth mother. It morphed into something much bigger than just that. It also morphed into me discussing being a suicide survivor, trauma survivor, and being bullied most of my life and things like that. It comes full circle. The book is my life and my story.
You used the term Jewish birth mother. What does that mean? Where did that term come from?
As far as I know, I coined the term. I didn’t but I did. I specifically discuss adoption but specifically being a birth parent in the Jewish community. That is not discussed ever. I don’t exist or certain members of a community do not necessarily like to discuss that I exist. I do discuss being a Jewish birth mother specifically because I left here because I was pregnant and did not want to bring shame to my family.
Basically, I left because I didn’t want to bring shame to my family, which is very big in the Jewish community among other religions and races as well. Not just that, but one of the conversations that I’ve been having here of late is I am all about the babies. When I see a baby, I am all about the baby. I have gone up to this family. I don’t know them. I know them to say hello to. I don’t know them well. I didn’t know that they had a baby and I’m like, “The baby is adorable. Look at those cheeks,” all of these things.
They somehow got onto the topic that they had adopted her. I said, “That’s wonderful. Congratulations.” I have my issues with adoption but great. I specifically went and asked them, I said, “Do you keep in contact with the birth mother?” Their words to me were and are, “We wish that she didn’t exist.” I said, “Why is that?”
They couldn’t give me an answer that they were willing to go into a conversation with me. They don’t know me. They don’t know my story. I walked away at that point. Since I released the book, I’ve heard it probably 3 or 4 more times after that from different families. Not just there but just Jewish in general. I do discuss being a Jewish birth mother specifically from my point of view because I grew up in an Orthodox household. I grew up in a somewhat religious household.
My mother grew up orthodox. My father grew up reformed. They met in the middle when they were trying to find a temple. We belonged to a conservative movement but I went to an Orthodox Jewish elementary school. I did grow up knowing all the laws, spirituality, and religious aspect of it. I also was the kid that questioned everything. It boiled down to, for me, when I was not making the best decisions in my life, getting pregnant and leaving because it boiled down to I didn’t want to bring shame to my family.
Thank you for explaining because when you say Jewish birth mom, I didn’t know if that was an intentional birth. Based on you explaining it, that was a birth at a young age.
Not young. I wasn’t young.
I was 25 or 23 or 24 years old. I was young, but it wasn’t a teenage pregnancy.
Thank you for clarifying that.
I was not making good decisions. I had gotten out of a very long four-year relationship and came back home because I didn’t have anywhere else to go and did not make good decisions. I was drinking and doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing but was.
Who has not? We all have a list. We don’t appreciate life now. It was for the things that we were doing. I’m glad they didn’t have cell phones back in the day when we were doing that. That’s all I’m saying. Somebody wrote a letter, but there is not a video or a camera. That’s what I’m grateful for.
You are 100% right on that.
Life is living. Those choices we’ve made, how do you know the good choices are good unless we’re able to compare them to younger me? Older me make some choices like, “That’s what you did?” I don’t even know if that was good, but we’re going to move along because I’m-going-to-ask-forgiveness person. I’m not an ask-for-permission. Sometimes, you’re 50% correct and you go from there. To 26-year-old Lori, how did you go from, “I’m going to leave home,” to, “I’m going to let this baby go?”
That’s a process. It took me quite a few months to even grapple with the idea that I was pregnant. I was in denial for quite a while. When when I finally realized that I can’t be in denial any longer, I wanted to go and have an abortion. I went to the clinic. I had a friend of mine who took me, did not agree with abortion, but was there to support me, which I’m very grateful for that.
I ended up at the abortion clinic. I was filling out the paperwork, and it wasn’t sitting right with me. I am a firm believer in women have the right to choose. That is something that I always say when I’m telling this story. It wasn’t right for me. That is not to say that it wouldn’t be right for me in another situation or if I was in the same situation ten years later, we don’t know. None of us know what we could have done.
We can only know where we were at that moment in time. That same decision made play out differently, but that’s where you were.
That’s where I was. I literally handed back all of the paperwork to the nurse and said, “Not for me. Thank you. I’m out.” At the same time I did that, I became lost. I didn’t know what to do because shame played a huge part in this aspect of this time of my life. I packed up my things and moved to Florida so that my parents didn’t know.
Did you live in New York at that time?
I went from New York back to Pennsylvania. I had a job. My boss in New York had moved to Florida and had asked me to come within six months earlier. I said, “No, I like New York. I’m going to be here. This is where I want to be.” Everything blew up in my face, moved home, then moved from Pennsylvania to Florida.
I specifically chose Florida because I was under the assumption that it was an open-adoption state and, at the time, it was not. The attorney didn’t tell me this, which is a whole other aspect of things. I have many issues with adoption. I have many issues with private adoption because it’s a business. I have many issues and I do talk about that, but I ended up moving to Florida. Not even a week after I moved there, I literally opened the yellow pages because there was no Google at the time.
Once again, there was no phone. We don’t have proof. I’m fine with that. We deliver.
There was no Google at the time. I opened the yellow pages and I found the biggest ad. I went with her. Had I done my actual due diligence, it would’ve been a whole other story but I had made that decision at that point. On my way down to Florida, I had made peace with the decision that I was going to place for adoption because I could take care of myself financially, but I knew at that time I was not able to take care of myself emotionally. There was no way. I was not making good decisions and I didn’t want to put another life in danger, honestly.
That’s fair. I don’t want to give away your book. That is enough to have a concept as far as the journey. You talked about some other things that, as you were writing a book, started percolating within yourself that needed to deal with. What were those items? How has Lori grown from that experience of being come to terms with those?
I delve into me being bullied and my suicide attempt in elementary school. Eighth grade was my first attempt. I talk about being bullied and not knowing why I was bullied. I was different. Again, I was a theater kid. I was not the typical Jewish kid. Whatever that looked like at the time, that was not me. I delve into that. I delve into my suicide attempt in high school. Also, it wasn’t so much I was being bullied, but I was being bullied. I also was told in my 7th and 8th-grade years that I was stupid. I wasn’t diagnosed with a learning disability until my freshman year of college.
The school had always been difficult for me. Reading for me was always very difficult. Comprehension was ridiculously hard for me. Numbers were not. Numbers have always been fairly easy for me but reading, reading comprehension, and doing any of that was so difficult and it still is. I’ve learned some ways around it now that I know what to do and have been taught.
I delve into that a lot in the book. I also talk about my mother’s passing, my father’s passing, being caregivers, and moving back from Florida to Pennsylvania specifically so that I could be with my parents. I’m so grateful that I moved back because I was here when my mom and dad passed. That, to me, meant the world to be able to be here for them.
You said a lot right there. A couple of different things is the idea of feeling so hopeless that you wanted to take your own life. Looking back at it now, what would you have told young Lori to hold out for it that life has to wait for her?
The one thing that I would say mostly is it doesn’t go away but it does get better. I wouldn’t say easier. It becomes different. I hope that she would be able to learn some of the lessons that I learned later in life or earlier in life to be able to deal with the bullies and realize that their opinions don’t matter.Life does get better. Challenges don't go away, but life gets better. Click To Tweet
That is fair. Young Lori and Lori now, those are not singular events. Those are things that you probably utilize in a work meeting. It’s something you utilize in so many different aspects. It’s not just young Lori in high school dealing with the bullies then, but those people appear to intimidate in different forms.
That is a great point. That is so well stated that yes and I do use it. Even when doing local speaking engagements at my book, the one thing that I was concerned about was that some of these bullies were going to show up and how was I going to deal with that. Now they haven’t. I’ve gotten an apology from one person from that time, which is fine and I accepted. I told them I forgave them a long time ago. I just don’t always forget. That is a huge point of intimidation. Ninety percent of it, I don’t let intimidation even come into my brain.
That’s good because those things that happen to us when we are young, we carry some portion of that as we grow older. If there are no things that we don’t identify and call out, they can have a root within us and alter who we become versus who we could have been. It’s good that we live in a time we’re trying to see and hear people’s voices and to be seen.
If someone’s being bullied, reach out and let someone know you’re being bullied. If you’re feeling rejected or things are going on, find someone to talk to. Call a suicide prevention hotline. Reach out to a school counselor or someone that will help you to be able to deal with that because the sooner you’re able to deal with that internally and get that out, it’s a better chance of you having things that you can deal with and the tools to be able to manage that and help you.
When this starts happening, whether it’s on social media, delete them. They don’t have to be your friend. They don’t have to have access to your social media. I’m finding what people will say across social media is not what they will say right in your face. If someone says something, you can walk away. That fear factor, you can’t believe it’s happening. You’re standing there and we’re taking that.
Once you remove that negativity, you’ll find that there are people there that are positive alike that can experience with you. You talked about being there with your parents and the idea of being there when they passed. That was a wonderful thing. Most people think of someone passing and that’s not the case. Why were you able to see it that way?Once you remove negativity, you'll find positive people who like to have an experience with you. Click To Tweet
My mom passed away in 2009. My mom wasn’t in pain. She was ill. She had a very bad RA, Rheumatoid Arthritis. There were other issues as well, but she had been in pain most of my life, honestly. She was 41 or 42 when she had me. At that time, that was considered old. I truly was the happy ups, but I was the ups. My mom was in pain for most of my life. For her not to be in pain anymore brought me the solace that I knew that she was no longer in me.
Do I miss her? Terribly. My mother passed away rather quickly, which for her was a good thing. Within two weeks time, she went from being okay to passing away. In that respect, it was good for her because she always said that she always wanted to go before my father. She didn’t want to live without my father. They were married for three weeks shy of their 55th wedding anniversary when she passed away and they met on a blind date. I love that story.
We want that tea right there. What do you know about that?
It is the story that I have been told by many different people, so I know there has to be something right going on in there. My father had gotten out of the Army. He was in World War II, the Korean conflict. He had gotten out and he was going to a party that night. My aunt, his sister, set up my father and my mother. They met.
From what I understand, they hit it off very quickly. My father 2 or 3 weeks later, maybe a month later or 6 weeks later, was going on a cross-country trip with his buddies. They were together and he went away. He went on this trip, but along the way also, my mother wrote letters. They knew where they were going to stop so that you could, at that time, send letters to the post office.
She met this young man a month and now she’s writing him as he journey across the world.
My father is not a writer, but he was writing back. There’s a little controversy coming. My father asked my mother to marry him through a letter. We said he did that because if she said no, he at least didn’t have to see her.
I was like, “This is the original dating app is what I hear.” It’s like before a text. Your dad was doing that. He’s the original inventor.
My dad was way beyond his years. He was a 70 or 80-year-old man who would sit at a computer. He was a programmer. He made press puzzles on the computer for different organizations. He was way ahead of his time. My mother said yes. He came back to the East Coast. I don’t know how long it was from when he came back to when they get married. It wasn’t long. It might have been six months and they were married. They were married just shy of 55 years.
Six months, and most of that time, he’s away.
From the time he came back from his trip, maybe six months was when they got married.
How long did you and your husband date before you got married?
A long time.
Could you imagine six months? I think a rash would come upon me.
My first husband, I did not know him any amount of time.
Was that arranged marriage when you said that?
No, that was not long after I moved to Florida, and I realize now that I didn’t want to be by myself. I got married very quickly to somebody I didn’t know and should not have married.
I’ve heard so many people young, either they’re leaving their parents’ house, thinking it’s going to be better being married, then you realize marriages work. This is not this Disney princess thing going on. How did you grow from that? How are you better from that experience?
I always say the best thing that came out of my marriage was my second daughter, so I’m very grateful for her. My ex-husband and I should not have been together. We shouldn’t have married. What did I learn from that? Listen to your gut. There were red flags from date number one, but I was so adamant about not being alone that I didn’t care at that time.
I was not making the best decisions in my life, but when I divorced him and moved back to PA with my daughter, about a year or a year and a half later is when I met my now husband. It took us a long time before we got married. My first marriage was also quite abusive, so I was not getting married again. I was very happy living together. We all knew that we were going to be together, but I didn’t want to get married. We were together for eight years before we got married.
What changed from that being okay to wanting that?
The story goes that my husband and I had shot a wedding this particular weekend. My husband worked at the Red Cross at the time and I also. I would meet him and pour coffee in his office at 6:00 in the morning most days because there was nobody there. He had been there. He did what his morning stuff that he needed to do. I looked at him and said, “That couple has something that I will never have.”
He looks at me and goes, “What? A diamond ring?” I said, “No, that’s my birthstone. I’ve had diamonds all my life,” making a joke out of that aspect of it. He’s like, “What are you talking about?” I said, “A marriage license.” He looks at me and goes, “Let’s get married.” I said, “Okay.” Literally, two days later we went and got our marriage license, and, a week later, we got married. You can’t plan a wedding in a week.
I want to ask you. Is there any thought for renewing your vowels and having this wedding? You did do it?
We did it.
What did that look like? Please share.
In our eighteenth year together, eighteen is a very prominent number within the Jewish aspect of things. It means life. It’s two Hebrew letters. It’s Hai, and Hai means life, the number eighteen. On our 18th anniversary together and our 10th wedding anniversary, we did renew our vows with our rabbi. Now my parents weren’t there. They had already passed, but I know they were there. We had a party. It was still small because I don’t need a lot of people but it is the core group of people. We had maybe 12 or 14 people, but it was perfect for me.
You now have the wedding you were happy with, but if the wedding wasn’t bad before, you would’ve never done the photography or ordination in doing those things. It was a catalyst for that.
Yes. That was how my husband and I got married. He had been with his daughter’s mother for eighteen years. I never thought that he would get married. I had always said I would never get married again, but never say never.
That is true. The trauma of the abusive relationship and the different things that you’ve learned, how does that help you show up to other people?
Going back to that, I always say that when I divorced my ex-husband, I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know in my soulmate, for lack of a better word, what I wanted, but I knew what I didn’t want, which my mom always used to say to me, “That’s half the battle.” She was 100% right.
There’s a lot of truth in that because when you’re young, you don’t know what you want. You’re still trying to figure you out. It is to figure out how to select a life partner. One of the things that you said was critical was time, taking time to get to know this person, taking time to see them with other people that are in their sphere, seeing them with their family, and taking the time to do that. Has Lori learned how to be by herself now?When you're young, you don't know what you want. You're still trying to figure yourself out. Click To Tweet
Yes, Lori enjoys her time by herself. My husband is not here. When you and I are finished, I can do what Lori needs to do or wants to do. I do enjoy time. I love my husband. I always say there’s a difference between loving someone and being in love with somebody. I am in love with my husband. My heart races when he walks in the room and when he kisses me and all of that. I am a romantic at heart. That’s the way I am, the way my brain is wired. I can be alone. I enjoy my time alone. I enjoy being by myself, which is something that COVID taught me how to do.
That is something else that I do talk about that I glanced over a little. Back in 2020, I was very ill and was intubated. I did not have COVID. It was something completely different. I lost 30 days of my life. Apparently, there were a few nights that I should not have made it through but I am here. I have learned to like a lot more things than what I normally probably would not have but now enjoy.
I know that, in this show, there’s a lot of grief, but this conversation allows us to look at grief from the perspective of losing your parents and life in general.
Also a child. Is she happy, healthy, and got married last weekend? Absolutely.
When you say child, the child that’s with you?
My daughter whom I placed for adoption.
Do you still have contact?
I do now. I did not for years. Through the advent of Facebook, she Facebook stalked me. As I said at the beginning of our conversation, this was supposed to be an open adoption. It ended up not being an open adoption for many different reasons.
Can you explain the difference between open and closed adoption to clarify for everyone?
A closed adoption means that once the adoption is completed, your records are sealed. Technically, you cannot get any other information from the government side of things. Now, with the advent of DNA, 23andMe, and all of these other things, that does not apply anymore. Open adoption is that it is open. The adoptive parents will keep the birth parents maybe not involved but updated. At least that is what you hoped for. That’s all I wanted. I wanted to know that my baby girl was safe and healthy. I did not have that because, through all of this, the lawyer lied to both of us. There was an unethical attorney issue there that we have since dealt with.
I can see.
That’s the big difference between open and closed.
Was the book written before you reconnected with your daughter or written afterward?
It started to be written about a few years ago, and it was supposed to be released when COVID happened. That pushed things off. I don’t think that was the right time because it has morphed into something completely different than the original book.
This goes back to the love story. There’s a love story in that for her to reach out and that you welcome her. Do you see each other on a regular or reconnect?
We don’t see each other very often, but we do text every day, even if it’s a good morning and have a good day. She does include me in a lot of her big moments now. I couldn’t be there to watch her be married, but I was able to watch her on Zoom to be married. I am in contact with her adoptive parents. There are issues there as well. She reached out to me when she turned eighteen and we had been in contact ever since.
That’s nice. I cannot imagine what that looked like for her to be able to have a positive response from you and answer a lot of questions that she has.
There were answers that I couldn’t necessarily give her. The one question that she had, she wanted to know who her biological father was. Honestly, I didn’t know who it was. Again, it is not the best decision in my life.
We all have a list of those.
I don’t remember if it’s Ancestry or 23andMe. We found out who her biological father is. She has that answer, at least. I had made peace with my decisions a long time ago, but I wanted the answers for her because they were important to her. She deserved to know that.
What are the things you want to do just this 2023?
What do I want to do this 2023? I want to tell my story. Honestly, that is a huge part of what my vision board is. I want to be able to go not only within the Jewish community but within communities itself and tell my story and let other women know that they don’t have to go through this alone. That’s a huge part of the business side of things. That’s something that I do look forward to. On a personal level, I want to spend more time with my family, honestly. We’re not all in the same place, so I want to travel to see my family. That is what I want to do.
That is fair. As we grow older, the preciousness of our family and the value of that and what is important tends to shift. I am fortunate to have one of my sisters and my mom lives next door. My siblings know that if I had my wish, I would have everybody on the same block. If there was some way that I could do that, I would. I know we’ve been talking for a bit and are almost about to wrap up, but I want to ask a few more questions. When you hear the word grief, what does that mean for you?
The word grief to me brings sadness because grief typically means that you’ve lost someone or something. Typically, that is hard. That is always hard to deal with. For me, grief and losing people in my life, whether it be because of physicality or other reasons, is hard. As I said to you before, losing my parents was extremely difficult for me, but it is being able to be here with them. My husband and I took care of my dad until two weeks before he passed away. He lived in this house.
We moved in to take care of him, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When we couldn’t take care of him and we moved him into hospice, that was grief for me. That was very hard for me to deal with because I knew ultimately what was going to happen, but I was already losing him. For as grateful as I was and am that I was here with him most of that time, and my mom as well, grief for me is that loss. I don’t like loss.
I don’t know anybody that does, but I’ve learned over the years how to deal with it a little bit better than I may have 10, 15, or 20 years ago, whatever. Everybody deals with grief differently. I always tell people that you may see a smile on someone’s face. You think everything is fine, but it may not be. They are dealing with grief and the loss of someone or something.
You talked about you deal with grief. We use the word deal, but are there some methods, tools, or how you dealt with it if you could share 1 or 2 items?
One of the things that I do is keep a good memory, always in my mind and my heart when I’m meditating because I have anxiety. For me, my anxiety became huge when my dad passed away, and even more so than it was before that because he was my go-to person. If I had a problem, my dad is who I would go to. Dealing with certain things, I try to keep a positive memory of that person or someone who was associated with me, and who brings me joy. It would be the same thing with my grandmother as well. That’s one of the ways that I deal with it. One of the other things for me, and this may sound ridiculous to some, is I dance.
There’s a lot of release in that energy and the music.
If I’m working like if I’m editing photos, I will put something on that is reminiscent of my parents. I listen to everything from the 1920s up to now. My music choices are vast. I will put on a Harry Belafonte station and listen, sing along, dance, and remember those stories of my mom because that was one of my mother’s favorite artists. There’s that. If I’m starting to feel very sad and put upon I am grieving at that moment, I will put on music and I will dance. I will dance around this house like nobody’s watching and don’t care.
That’s beautiful because what do we mostly have all the time? We have a phone. We can make a playlist. We can make those songs that allow us to embrace our loved ones and help us to be in that moment because as you said, put upon. As that grief starts being heavier, then sometimes it’s not needing a way to manage that. Dance and releasing the stress off your body and being into the music, that’s a beautiful ways to be able to deal with grief, manage that, and embrace it. In life, we lose people along the way and to have cared for your parents, that loss, and see them in the house and everything. It wouldn’t take back a moment because it was an opportunity to serve them, but we do have to manage our grief in their absence.Deal with the grief, manage that, and embrace it. Because in life, we lose people along the way. Click To Tweet
Especially for me, certain times of the year are very hard for me. My family seems for as much as they hated the winter, they all seem to have passed away between January and March. For us, in the Jewish religion, not only do I have secular anniversaries, but I have Hebrew anniversaries as well. Between January and March was very hard for me and certain holidays. Starting from Hanukah and Christmas, I get that heavy feeling. I may not be dancing, but I will have music going most of the day, even at work. I will have something playing in the background to keep myself centered and grounded.
That’s beautiful that you’ve keyed into yourself. You have the timeline. You can start getting busy then you realize, “Why do I feel like that?” You start putting the dots together and you look at the calendar. It’s like, “I see what’s going on. Let me circle back to do those things to help me manage the grief.”
That is important because if not, you can find yourself someplace mentally. You start doing a checklist and circle back and see what you need to do for that self-care to be able to deal with that. That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. Any closing comments? I know we’ve talked about a lot. Is there anything you want to talk about that we didn’t speak about?
No, I’m grateful that you and I reconnected because it’s been a while. I’m very grateful for that.
It had been. Thank you. I will ask you this, and I asked this in a form. In all you’ve experienced, where, if someone is hopeless, do you think they can reach within themselves or find or how to get hope?
That’s hard. There are times when you have to dig deep. Sometimes deep means all the way down to your toes because you can’t find that hope. One of the things that people need to do mostly is find a positive memory. Find a happy memory. It could be something from your childhood or something from before, a funny story. It is if you can find one little piece of happiness somewhere that tends to change your mindset. People need to, including myself, dig deep to find a positive memory somewhere or something. As hard as our lives may be, and others are much harder than mine and some are not and yours as well, I would hope that they could find one second of happiness somewhere and build upon that.Dig deep to find a positive memory somewhere. Click To Tweet
That is some good advice because sometimes if we can find that one piece and one piece on top of another piece, then we keep looking, and it shows that there is something worth living for, there is something there for me and to be able to see, that is excellent advice. Lori, thank you for sharing this hour with us and for those golden nuggets that you were able to share from your life experience.
Thank you for having me, Tina. This was great. I look forward to hearing more from the show and from you and hearing your story because I read it all the time.
We all learn and we all take little bits from somewhere. Know that you are making a difference.
Thank you. How would one obtain a purchase of the book? Where is it sold at?
It’s on Amazon, but the easiest way to do it is to go to LoriPrashkerThomas.com.
If someone wanted to connect with you as far as being ordained, is that the same?
If you can get me from there, it’s also CeremoniesByLori.com, and if anybody wants photos, it’s ShadowCatcherPhotography.com. Any of those will get to me. Anyway, even if you need to google me, you can google me and reach out anywhere on social media. It’s me that you’re going to get or even has a discussion. If they know someone who has gone through something and they don’t know within the adoption area as well, by all means, reach out. I’m here to help. That is one of the reasons why this book has finally come out. It is for me to be able to tell my story and to help others deal with theirs as well.
That is fair. That also is part of your public speaking, being able to share that story and to be able to do that. Thank you for being here. Thank you for this conversation, Lori.
Thank you, Tina. Again, I’m so honored.
We just wrapped up our conversation with Lori. I am so grateful for her willingness to be able to share the book that she’s written about, being a Jewish birth mother, her trials and tribulations, and the marriage being young and in Florida. There are so many different things that she has grieved in her life, even the loss of her parents and her coping skills, being able to share the music dancing, and the ability to take time. I hope that as we had this different conversation about grief that you were able to find something that is inspiring. You’re able to take a nugget away that will help you in your journey. I am sorry for the person that you have lost that’s brought you to this conversation, but thank you for being part of the Widowhood in this discussion. Talk to you soon.
- ShadowCatcher Photography
- Ceremonies by Lori
- From Mistakes to Miracles: A Jewish Birthmother’s Story of Redemption, Hope, and Healing