Today we grieve the death of Kristen Milligan, co-founder of Inheritance of Hope. Kristen died on Friday, October 26, 2012. Hers was a life well-lived.
After retiring from her first career of training guide dogs for the visually impaired and deaf-blind to become a full-time mom, Kristen was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer in stage 4 on March 18, 2003 -- her 30th birthday. For the next 10 years, Kristen was dedicated to helping families navigate life-threatening illnesses, beginning with her own children. She wrote A Train's Rust, A Toy Maker's Love to communicate about illness and death with her then four-year-old daughter Ashlea, two-year-old son Luke, and seven-month-old daughter Rebecca. She wrote another book for children and one for adults about her experiences. Kristen also was a poised speaker who shared her story with audiences around the United States and internationally.
In May 2007, Kristen and her husband, Deric, launched Inheritance of Hope with the vision that "Every Family Deserves a Legacy."Ā® They desired to share their experiences, insights, and resources with many other families dealing with life-threatening illness. So far, Legacy RetreatsĀ® have impacted ill parents, devoted caregivers, and the children in well over a hundred families.
In her writing, speaking, and co-founding of Inheritance of Hope, Kristen's message was consistently joyful. Throughout her journey with illness -- which included six surgeries, twenty-two months of chemotherapy, and two rounds of radiation -- she wanted people to know that she found more joy than harm. Such joy came from a deepening relationship with God and increasing awareness of God's work in her and around her. Kristen claimed James 1:2 as a favorite verse -- "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds."
Kristen's dying days were marked by a profound peacefulness. She was an inspiration to all who knew her, and she is deeply missed. Her legacy continues, though, in all the lives she has touched and in the work of Inheritance of Hope.
Inheritance of Hope seeks to spread Kristen's influence to an increasing number of families in the years to come. Your gift in memory of Kristen will further her legacy.
There will be three memorial services celebrating Kristen's life. You can also click here to read Kristen's "A Letter to be Read at my Memorial Service."
Saturday, November 3rd, 10:00am
First United Methodist
325 North Broad Street
Brevard, NC 28712
Sunday, November 11th, 5:00pm
Fishkill Baptist Church
107 New York 82
Fishkill, NY 12524
Sunday, December 23rd, Time TBD
First Presbyterian Church
175 Lake Hollingsworth Drive
Lakeland, FL 33801
Kristen's obituary can be viewed here.
If you would like to read samples from Kristen's Bible study for small groups or read other devotionals written by Kristen, please feel free to visit the Devotional Blog.