In the summer of 2012 “Making Meaning” became deeply personal. My church—where I worked and the center of my spiritual and social life—went through a spiritual and relational 8.0 earthquake. As I went to work each day, I encountered the emotional, spiritual, and relational debris of broken relationships, betrayal, heartache, and anger. I not only wanted to find some good, some purpose in the loss of my closest friends and the flaying of my church, I NEEDED to find good and purpose. I needed a reason to go on.
I wanted to be a part of the solution, part of healing the damage done. I wanted to do what I could to prevent it from ever happening again. My life changed that summer in a way that it will never change back and I wanted and needed that change to be good, to have purpose, to help someone else, at least in the end.
Below are some stories of others who have chosen to make helping others a part of finding a path through their grief.
Brian Sager lost his teen daughter as the result of her deep depression. He has helped others by sharing the lessons he learned in a blog post. To read Brian’s story, click here.
Thomas Gray lived only six days. His parents made the courageous decision to donate his body for transplants and research. Click here to read the story of the difference Thomas made in the lives of others.
The Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is a family centered hospital for children in Westchester, NY. To read about Maria and her family’s legacy, click here.
Rachel Joy Scott was a victim of the Columbine shootings in 1999. Her father speaks in schools and to youth challenging them to “start a chain reaction”—Rachel’s mission. To hear about it, click here.
Inheritance of Hope was founded by a young family whose mother received a terminal diagnosis. The foundation was set up to help other young families facing the loss of a parent. To hear their story, click here.
The Compassionate Friends provides support to families who have lost a child. Families can get involved to receive support or to help provide support to others. To read more about this organization, click here.
Helping others manifests itself in many ways. Here are just a few more ideas to help make meaning and purpose from the loss of a loved one by helping others:
- Establishing a scholarship to help a student headed into a similar field in which a loved one participated.
- Establishing or donating to a fund to help end a disease the loved one suffered with.
- MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving)
- SADD (Student’s Against Drunk Driving)
- Donating a loved one’s body for research or organ transplants.
- Donating to a cause that was important to the loved one.
- Become involved in helping others who’ve suffered a similar loss.
- Participate in one of the many fundraising and awareness raising walks – cancer, MS, autism.
- Write a book, article, or blog post about your journey and the lessons learned.
- One woman created a workbook and workshop to teach people how to write letters of affirmation to their loved ones before it was too late.
What did I do to help others because of the summer of 2012?
I stayed when I wanted to leave. I stayed to help my church in its healing process. I took classes to become a coach, particularly a grief coach. I hope soon to begin a masters degree in counseling because I want to be both available and skilled in helping people walk through their grief and pain to find hope, healing, and well-being.
What suggestions would you offer?
How can people make meaning out of profound loss?