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Supporting Grieving Communities

Supporting Grieving Communities

Entering the month of June, I found, coincidently, that two of the themes are Children’s Awareness Month and Student Safety Month. These themes are pausing me to think about the tragedy in Uvalde, TX, where this week 21 families are having funerals for their children and the two teachers who died.

This tragedy has touched all our hearts both inside and outside of our profession. How could it not? 21 innocent children and adults died senselessly, and we are trying to accept the unacceptable in our country. I consider myself very blessed to be in the profession that we are in when these tragedies such as this occur. It is a most difficult job to care for those killed and support their families and the community who is mourning. It takes a large village in funeral service to come together and support each other. I observed this supportive leadership in the funeral service community last week that came together in so many ways to help families and the funeral service professionals serving them.

The Funeral Service Foundation published a new resource called When a Child Dies: Planning Acts of Love & Legacy that was due to be released this week. The staff at the Foundation quickly gathered this guide along with other grief resources and sent them to Texas, to the area funeral homes and responders to help everyone cope with this horrific loss. Then, in less than 2 days, the Foundation Board of Trustees with the support of NFDA approved crisis funding totaling $50,000 for our profession and the grieving community in Uvalde, TX.   I am so proud of the work that the Foundation does, and I hope, as you learn more about the many resources they have, you will consider supporting these efforts to help lift up grieving communities and support funeral service professionals during times of crisis. If you can find it in your hearts to give back soon, the Foundation needs our support to continue its mission.

On the same day of the shootings on Tuesday, May 24th, I was with my professional colleagues from the Funeral Service Foundation Board of Trustees, Allan Cole, Board Chair, Lee Wiensch, Executive Director, and Christine Pepper, CEO of NFDA.

We had just completed a two-day board training and were headed to tour Roberta’s House, a family grief support center, which serves the Baltimore, MD community. Was this coincidence or divine intervention? We may never know, but our tour that day, along with the news from Uvalde, TX made our visit very significant in our understanding of what a community and a resource like Roberta’s House does to support those who mourn.

Why did we happen to go for a visit to Roberta’s house that day? At the beginning of May, many of us were attending the NFDA’s Annual Professional Women’s Conference (PWC) in Miami, FL. We had wonderful presenters during the two-day meeting.  One of our speakers had a compelling and touching story about a family grief house she co-founded in her hometown of Baltimore MD. Annette March-Grier, RN told the story of her organization, its mission, and how it is a special place for families, especially for children to go and receive grief support. It is named after her mother, Julia Roberta March who gave of her heart and soul to support their community during a time of loss.  The history of this wonderful center and the work that it does especially for grieving children is nothing short of amazing. I wanted to share with you dear readers, some photos from our tour of this center that helps children and families of all ages and backgrounds find the help they need when they are mourning.

Three days after the shootings, CNN interviewed Annette who talked about how to support children after a tragedy such as Uvalde. If you find it in your heart to support Roberta’s house, I encourage you to do so, as the need is great, just as it has been these last two weeks in Uvalde, TX.

You may listen here to Annette’s caring advice on helping children that took place 3 days after the shootings.

I want to believe that the program at PWC in Miami about Roberta’s House given by Annette and then 3 weeks later touring the wonderful grief center on the very day of the Uvalde shootings, was related in a powerful way. It certainly has my attention and is telling that everything we do to support those who mourn is of utmost importance and part of the core purpose of why our work as funeral service professionals has meaning.

To conclude this week’s blog, I want to thank all of you that support grieving communities. We are strongly connected in our profession, and I am grateful and humbled to see and hear of your continued enormous generosity of giving from your hearts each day.

May God bless you, those we serve, and the families in Uvalde, TX.