Jennifer Strickland, long time bluegrass singer and songwriter in Michigan, and her husband Tony Zapolnik, have suffered the worst loss any parent can imagine. Their infant son, James Zapolnik, died on July 30 only an hour and a half after his birth at Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Jennifer had most recently been playing bass with Missy Armstrong and Detour.
The couple were aware of this situation in advance, and went to every imaginable effort to make James’s short time on earth as loving as possible, with Jen singing to him sweetly in her arms as he passed.
In addition to unimaginable grief, the Zapolniks are facing bills for both hospital and funeral expenses, not to mention lost wages during this time with Jennifer having to be readmitted to the hospital with postpartum problems.
Friends have put together a GoFundMe campaign to assist them in this dark time, and have nearly raised the humble ask of $5,000. We feel certain that bluegrass fans worldwide will want to add their own tributes by making a donation of any size to this campaign.
She has posted this message of hope and thanks which is a true inspiration.
“The last several days have been a rollercoaster of emotions and challenges. I apologize that it has taken so long to post an update.
Tony and I picked up James’s ashes yesterday. Holding what was left was a combination of a strange comfort and an indescribable emptiness. Nonetheless, we are grateful to have him home and find some semblance of peace in knowing he is in his eternal home surrounded by love and goodness we can only imagine.
As far as our healing here: I was readmitted to Spectrum Hospital the day after my initial release due to severe postpartum preeclampsia and atrial fibrillation. I’m hopeful to be finally on the upswing and home for good. I’m still experiencing symptoms, but they appear to be improving somewhat. This means that Tony has taken a little extra time to be home with me and make sure that I am on my feet before he returns to work. He says he is grateful to be staying busy and keeping his mind occupied. I know he is grateful for your phone calls, texts, and messages.
I have decided to donate milk in James’s honor. I found out that the nearest breast milk bank is in Kalamazoo. I also discovered avenues to be a private donor. This has been really exciting to me. The opportunity to help someone else helps me to feel more connected to James – like he is somehow still here.
Tony and I are beyond grateful for all of the prayers and blessings you’ve shared with us. Feeling all of your love and prayers, hearing and reading your kind words has meant more to us than our words can say. We love you. We appreciate you. Thank you for everything you have done to help us navigate this season.”
Donations can be made securely online using either PayPal or a major credit card.
Your prayers are also most welcome.