West Island family turns child's death into campaign of positivity

One West Island family has turned the painful experience of losing a child into an opportunity to inspire others to spread positivity.

Lauren Loughheed would have turned 5 on Jan. 8

Amanda Zarifah says the most fitting way to honour her daughter is by spreading positivity in the world. (CBC)

One West Island family has turned the painful experience of losing a child into an opportunity to inspire others to spread positivity.

Amanda Zarifah's daughter, Lauren Loughheed, would have turned 5 on Friday.

Lauren died last April from a nervous system disorder called Krabbe disease.  It's an an inherited, often fatal disorder affecting the central nervous system. It's rare, affecting an estimated one in 100,000 people worldwide.
The disease affects muscle tone and movement, as well as vision and hearing loss.

Lauren Loughheed lived to be four, which was two years longer than doctors predicted. (Amanda Zarifah)
"The news we received about our daughter dying, I can't describe it....how shocking and horrible and alone you feel," Zarifah said.

To help with the grief, the family launched a special campaign just in time for Lauren's birthday. They're calling on people to perform random acts of kindness in Lauren's name throughout the month of January.

"When Lauren was sick, it was a very difficult time for our family and we were shown so much kindness from others — from friends, from strangers who had just heard our story and were inspired to help us. It was so touching and moving that we wanted to start this campaign," Zarifah said.

Her friend and neighbour, Melanie Wand, was one of the first to step up.

She baked muffins for the teachers at her child's elementary school, and bought a stranger coffee.

"Lauren was such a kind and gentle soul, and Amanda's entire family is so kind...All the kindness and love inside just keeps them going. It keeps the story of Lauren alive and a little bit of Lauren is with us every day," Wand said.

Others have been inspired to take part with other kind gestures, including shovelling a neighbour's driveway and thanking a cleaning worker at the mall.

Zarifah and her husband, who have a six-month old daughter, are calling on people to talk about their random acts of kindness on social media, using the hashtag:  lifewithlolRAK (Life with Lauren Olivia Loughheed Random Act of Kindness)

They hope the kindness continues to spread.

"It's after the holidays, but keep that good cheer going. Help spread happiness in a cold month."


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