Tag Archives: finding purpose in grief

MISS was there

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In the days following the Jan. 8 shooting  in Tucson, the MISS Foundation mobilized a team of volunteers to provide support for the local community.

The Phoenix-based organization, created by Joanne Cacciatore, Ph.D., was the subject of our January article by Mary Ann Bashaw and the first in a series of stories we have committed to publish this year on “Finding Purpose in Grief.” The foundation’s mission is to provide immediate and ongoing support to grieving families. And on the day that Tucson memorialized young Christina Taylor Green, the whole community felt like her family.

Kathy Sandler, the organization’s executive director, sent me some of the photos taken that day and a copy of the email she sent around to volunteers and members. In her words:

The Tucson/Phoenix Outreach team met at a local coffee shop prior to boarding the shuttle bus to the drop off point. We had a natural chemistry. In our 90 minutes together, we discussed the possible crisis intervention or emotional first aid that we would be providing to a community in shock, disbelief and sadness. We were busy assembling Kindness Cards in Christina’s honor and attaching them to the In Mourning Bands…. We were eager to chaperone the bereaved, to be present. I don’t think the day turned out how we anticipated, though, as we didn’t minister to but a few. However…

WE were there…
On the road that would carry Christina-Taylor Green’s hearse
WE were there…
To see the wall of human angels adorned in white sheets
Protecting the sacred path to the mourning place
WE were there…
Reporters, note pads, cameras, media trucks, satellite dishes
WE were there….
“Stop the Hate” the graffiti begged
WE were there…
9/11 Memorial Flag strewn high above
WE were there…
Watched the solemn procession
Strangers, neighbors, friends and family
WE were there….
The walk of a mother with a broken heart
WE were there…
The strong arms of a father, embracing his shattered family
WE were there…
To witness a brother, a pallbearer
WE were there…
To be reminded of the familiar pain as if it were yesterday
WE were there…
The day you said goodbye to your child
WE were there…
And then we went 10 days later to A Day of Healing for Tucson’s Children
WE were there
The littles were sad, scared and yet filled with hope
WE were there
Moms desperate to help their kids cope
WE were there
THE SAFEWAY
WE were there
University Medical Center and the sea of love
WE were there
Please know that ALL of YOUR children were with US when
WE were there

Kathy Sandler, on behalf of the MISS Outreach Team

Tucson Chapter Outreach Team members: Audra White, Bunnie Firestone, Tracy McAdams, and Mary Avenetti.

Phoenix Chapter Outreach Team members: Michele Newton, Robin Kennedy, Judy Haines, Melissa Flint, Kathy McNichol, Lauren Wyatt, Bianca Mera, Kristen Fournier, Emily Sandler and Kathy Sandler.

A community immersed in grief

I spent my lunch hour yesterday corresponding with parents who have lost children.

A mother whose infant daughter was stillborn. A father who lost his son shortly following an emergency (and premature) Cesearean delivery that became necessary when his wife was involved in a horrible car accident. A mother whose 11-year-old son died of an “intercerebral hemorrhage” of unknown cause. And a mother who lost her 18-year-old son during a robbery, when he was shot and killed. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was senselessly murdered, just like bright, brown-eyed Christina Green of Tucson.

A lot of bereaved parents wrote to us after they saw Mary Ann Bashaw’s January article, “Finding Purpose in Grief:  The MISS Foundation Offers a Light at the End of Life’s Darkest Tunnel.” Many of their letters will be published in our February issue. I can’t think of a better tribute to the victims of Saturday’s tragedy in Tucson, when 20 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, were shot and six were killed, including 9-year-old Christina, who was there with a family friend who knew the young student council member would be inspired by the presence of a role model.

The parents who wrote thanked us for “breaking the silence” on what one parent termed “a tender subject.” For some of these families, their terrible losses occurred years ago. And yet their grief is always there, always part of them. So they know all too well what will soon befall the loved ones grieving small Christina.

For now, the community has rallied; the media is attentive. The family’s shock and the outpouring of support blunts the real blow that will occur in the years that loom ahead, when each day requires them to wake up and miss their daughter all over again.

Christina’s memorial service will be held at noon Thursday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson. Many, many people will be there, most of them dressed in white to show their support.

I hope that many of them will still be there in the weeks and months to come, providing support, talking about Christina, sharing their love and comforting this family for as long as it takes. Which really means forever.

Resources for grieving parents

MISS Foundation
A Phoenix-based organization that provides crisis support and long-term aid to families after the death of a child at any age, from any cause. Also active in legislative and advocacy issues, community engagement, volunteerism and education.

Parents Of Murdered Children Valley of the Sun Chapter
Offers support for persons who survive the violent death of someone close as they seek to recover.