How can we continue to support a family after their loved one has passed away? At Inheritance of Hope, our goal is to purposefully be with those left behind, to walk alongside those who grieve. We know we could never fill the emptiness that remains, but we also know this space still beautifully holds memories and much, much more. We acknowledge the loss just as we celebrate life and love.
Our son died many years ago, long before the isolation of the pandemic. My family and I were embraced with support in every way. Embraced with hugs, handshakes--the kind where they shake with their right hand and their left hand squeezes your arm, and all those face-to-face conversations over coffee or lingering lunches where friends shared their empathy with warmth and concern. They asked how we were doing and wanted to know.
By December 21, 2020, you would have to have been living under a rock to have not heard about “The Christmas Star.” Well, I sort of had. Been living under a rock, that is. The rock of living in ICU for a few days.
The convergence of Jupiter and Saturn was on my radar, so to speak, but by the time the day arrived, I had almost forgotten. Then, a friend asked if I was going to look for “The Christmas Star.” Yes, I thought. Yes. I will see it.
My teenagers were both home, a lucky by-product of a near-death experience and the pandemic. We could go see it as a family. We planned to leave the house around 6:45 p.m. and drive to my husband’s office parking deck--the office he had only visited maybe a dozen times since March, mostly to check his mail.
Living in Colorado this summer and fall was an experience unlike any I had ever had. In fact, it was a summer and fall unlike any that had happened in Colorado history. In five months, from June to October, Colorado experienced its three biggest forest fires in state history. The fires burned hundreds of thousands of acres. In Northern Colorado, the effects of the fire were suffocating (almost literally). Ash fell like snow, gathering as a thick coating of dust over all outside surfaces, the sky turned orange as smoke transitioned the sun's light into an eerie smog that made the Fort Collins landscape look more like a scene from The Martian. The fires were so big and so close that flames could be seen dancing on top of the foothills just outside of town.
Raising teenagers is difficult enough. Trying to do so alone is downright exhausting. Add in the complications that come along with a pandemic, and the fact that single parenting is a result of losing your spouse, and well, things could seem near impossible. Some of our IoH dads are here to tell us how they are coping after being widowed, all within the past 18 months. It’s not easy, but they are doing it, and doing it well, with hope.
Read more to hear single parenting perspectives from Bill Burch, William Nobles, and Julio Peralta.
Who has been to a family reunion with former NFL players, the author of a beloved young adult adventure series, award-winning musicians, and THE Soul Surfer? We have!
All that was missing from our Inheritance of Hope eReunion were those extra pieces of your great-aunt's famous pie and her overzealous cheek pinches. We even had a treasure hunt!
Breakout sessions ranged from yoga to financial planning and everything in between. Just as with our Legacy Retreats®, we had three goals: to help families make precious memories together, provide community, and give families facing the loss of a parent tools for what they face.
Missed a session because there were just too many you wanted to attend? We will be sharing select video recordings soon!
If home is where your family is, don’t forget your IoH family is always right there with you-- connect with us, and join the momentum. Make your #GivingTuesday page, share your IoH story, and don’t be a stranger--we want to see you all again before our next reunion!
|Soul Surfer Bethany Hamilton shared the five key principles she uses to ADAPT to any challenge|
Elliot Lannan entered a drastically different world than the one her big brother Noah, age 20, was born into. Arriving in June, smack in the middle of a pandemic, her early days have been shaped by the pace of quarantine. When Noah takes a study break, it’s Elliot he seeks out, and since her parents are working from home, they document (almost) every gummy smile and marvel at every baby belly laugh. In the evenings, she bops along to frequent dance parties, listens to the music of Jeffrey James, and, from the comfort of her bouncy seat, observes the occasional ultra-competitive Rummikub game. Like many families, the Lannans are embracing the extra time they have together. But, the contrast between her childhood and Noah’s doesn't stop there, because Elliot will never know a family not marred by cancer.
|Elliot Lannan, at five months old. Photo credit: Halli Lannan|
On October 11, 2020, Dana Gilmour ran the Chicago Marathon, by himself, near his home of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He was the only runner in this race, but he wasn’t alone. Friends, supporters, his children, and women affected in some way by breast cancer joined him for the last few miles, and all along the route he carried the legacy of his late wife Amy.
|Dana with his supporters, the proudest of whom are his children. Son Davin shared, “I thought he did a really good job because he completed his goals of raising money.”|
It is part of my job to send an email to all the families and team members who were part of a Legacy Retreat when someone from that retreat passes away. Sometimes I feel like I am sending out one of those death notification emails every day. It is overwhelming at times. There is so much loss. The loss of someone’s husband or wife. The loss of someone’s mom or dad. That person was someone’s daughter, sister/brother, friend co-worker. But, those of us who have served many IoH families have served some families that, even though they may be at the very end of their earthly life, they still have SO MUCH life.