Often Carol (Henderson) is asked to facilitate a writing event based on our book Farther Along and as many of our writing group who are able will accompany her. This was the case for an event sponsored by the Kindermourn group in Charlotte a couple of years ago (October 12, 2012). I was free that evening and agreed to go, although I had some misgivings about sharing my story with the particular group of people I expected to attend this meeting.
On their website, Kindermourn is described as an organization which “provides hope for bereaved parents, grieving children and teens by offering support and counseling programs, creating awareness of bereavement issues and empowering the community to effectively assist those who have suffered an unthinkable loss.”
As is her custom, one of the first writing prompts Carol gave was, “Write about what brings you here.” This is what I wrote: “Being a part of the writing group for ten years and writing our book has put me in this place at this time. I am feeling a little uncomfortable because I am thinking all the guests have lost young children or infants through illness or trauma. Just as with my own group’s first meeting, I am sensitive to the circumstances of Alex’s death at age 25 years – by suicide – versus those children who die in other ways. I have reached the point where I certainly don’t feel apologetic, or guilty, or out of place because I have worked through some hard truths and reached grace-fulness. But I am aware and sensitive to others.”
Carol then asked us to read what we had written as a way of introducing ourselves to each other. I was sitting to Carol’s right and the introductions began on her left. So I was one of the last to read. The woman who was two people over to my right, and who of course read her introduction before I did, shared the story of her teenage daughter’s very recent suicide. She expressed some of the same misgivings I had been thinking about. So of course I approached her at the end of the meeting and spent some time just talking and sharing feelings, concerns, and hope. I also met one of her close friends who had encouraged her to attend the meeting and had actually accompanied her there. I remember thinking what a precious, understanding, and strong friend that was for her.
That’s a nice story, right? But there is more.
Recently my sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Emily, called me to tell me of a “really cool thing that happened today.” She had been to an organizing meeting of YES (Youth Empowerment Summit) which is a group of teens in high schools in the Davidson area whose mission is to bring greater awareness of mental health issues and resources for help, particularly for the adolescent population. [The Davidson Lifeline is the sponsor of this inaugural group and their leader is Lynn Hennighausen.]
Emily has long been aware of her Uncle Alex’s suicide and is fortunate to be part of a family that discusses important issues openly and freely. That evening Emily was wearing a necklace that belonged to her mother (Alex’s sister, my daughter) that Alex had given to Karin the last Christmas he was alive. Emily was talking to Mrs. Hennighausen and sharing the significance of this special necklace. She went on to tell her about the book that her grandmother and other women had written sharing stories of their children’s deaths and their own journeys in Farther Along. The woman then said she believed she had met and talked with Emily’s grandmother. Lynn was the awesome person who had brought her friend to that Kindermourn meeting! (I was thankful to hear from Lynn through Emily that my conversation with her friend had provided great comfort at a critical time in her grieving).
Obviously, before now, I have never shared with Emily the many heartwarming stories from our writing group’s meetings with others. But I suppose I should do more of that, especially now that she is actively involved in a group that is trying to make a positive difference in the field of mental health.
And so, the beat goes on.
Here is a link to Remembering Jocelyn Albright Desmond remembering the teenage daughter whose mother attended the session with Dottye. It was published in DavidsonNews.net.
Another link, QPR training says we care about halting suicide from DavidsonNews.net
Continuing the conversation from DavidsonNews.net.
See more about Davidson Lifeline here.