On April 28, 2017, I tragically lost my 11-year-old son Carson to suicide. I was completely blindsided and with no warning signs, I had no idea why this was happening to my family or what I was supposed to do next. At the hospital, after a nurse asked me to sign a form to release Carson to the Medical Examiner, I asked for a brochure or something that would tell me what to do next. The nurse said that I should call a funeral home and they would tell me what to do. I walked out of the hospital that night without any real direction and no one I knew who could help me navigate the difficult and expensive decisions coming my way.
A few weeks later, I began thinking about how lost I felt in those moments immediately after Carson’s passing. I didn’t know how to plan a funeral, where to get a burial plot, how to write an obituary or how expensive death can be. I was very fortunate that I had a “village” of friends and family that took care of us during that very difficult week, getting us through the funeral and the challenging decisions we were constantly asked to make. But I realized that not everyone has a village of support. Where did they go when they needed help?
After googling and researching, I realized there was no organization in the United States whose mission was to compassionately support all aspects of what a family needs after the loss of a loved one with a live Advocate. In fact, what I later came to realize, was that bereavement services in the United States are sorely under-developed. A topic no one wants to talk about, bereavement support is lacking, awkward, often inadequate and driven by the funeral home industry. This was a gap in services that I knew I could fill.
Today, I am the proud founder of Carson’s Village, a nonprofit organization designed to help families navigate the journey to healthy grieving after the loss of a loved one. Carson’s Village provides a live Advocate to support a family through the funeral or cremation and then stays with the family for up to a year as they find their path to healthy grieving. The “village” is the foundation of our grief support process, providing both peer-to-peer and group support to those who need it immediately after the death of a loved one. We have even begun offering our services in the workplace setting, to help people return to productivity and to teach employers how to support their employees during this difficult time.
My family is still recovering and always will be. We smile at memories of Carson, play Legos in his memory, and cherish pictures and videos that remind us of the fun kid who left us too soon. I am honored to do this work in Carson’s memory.
Grief is intense, inconsistent, heart-breaking, surprising, and hard – and I expect it will never go away for me. When you lose someone you love, grief is a life-long journey. My goal is that Carson’s Village can help families start their grief journey in the healthiest way so that long-term, they can learn to survive and thrive, with their loved one in their memories and their hearts.
Today, I am grateful for my village, many of whom have poured their hearts into Carson’s Village so that we can support others when they need it the most.
Beneath the sky, a village twinkled,
warm with cozy light, surrounding those within its care
when daytime turned to night.
The tender souls and helping hands
that lived inside this place
were there for one another
when this life got hard to face.
They wanted peace for those in need,
they hoped for comfort, too,
and all the goodness in the world
to guide and pull them through.
But most of all, they wished for just this one truth be known….
that every hurting heart they loved would never be alone.