A few years ago I spoke at a fundraising dinner for the Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation, the creation of Susan and Wendell Whitmore, a couple who transformed their personal mountain of sorrow into a living monument to their daughter Erika who died in the prime of her life.
The Whitmores created a website, www.griefHaven.org, to help parents and others maimed by the death of a child escape the black swamp of despair and find a road to a brighter future.
About half the people at the dinner had lost a child and therefore were serving a common sentence – to live the rest of their lives with a hole in their hearts.
No one could blame them if they retreated to a dark dungeon of despondency, but the remarkable people in that room refused to surrender. They made a painful peace with their reality so they could move on, so they could laugh, so they could enjoy the company of others and savor good memories without being consumed by regret.
Their strategy is not to bury their pain so deep that they forget their loss. They want to remember, to celebrate, and to honor their children – not by weeping but by improving the world in their child’s name.
I thought the evening would be depressing and there were indeed solemn moments, but in the end, the event was uplifting. These folks prove the resiliency of the human spirit and an inner strength we all have if we choose to draw on it.
Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” That’s what these folks did, proving that even the darkest days ultimately yield to the warmth and light of sunshine.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
You may also want to read http://whatwillmatter.com/2012/02/commentary-760-4-surviving-grief-and-tragedy-the-spark-within/