The gifts that I have received from my Mom following her death have been of immeasurable value, but no more so than the ones I received from her while she was alive. The true value of her gifts have come from the knowledge that she was considering me and my future years before I was. The intentionality that she displayed as a mother is something I intend to replicate, whether or not I am diagnosed with a terminal cancer.
“This is important--you should do it even if you don’t want to.” --Rebecca Milligan
Rebecca Milligan has invaluable advice for terminally ill parents. Still in elementary school when her mother, Kristen, died, Rebecca is now seventeen, and can honestly say that her mother’s presence has not only stayed with her, but continues to be a strong factor in decisions she makes today. You may wonder, “how?”
IoH Co-Founder, Kristen, with her daughter Rebecca
October 26th marks the seventh anniversary of when Inheritance of Hope Co-Founder Kristen Milligan passed away. In those seven years, her children have reached milestone birthdays, high school rites of passage, started driving, and two have gone off to college. Through changes and achievements, growing pains and successes, they have never felt far from their mother’s love, all because of the notes, gifts, videos and more that Kristen prepared while living with a terminal illness.
There’s something irreplaceable about intentionality, no matter how small the gesture. I, for one, would prefer a thoughtful, handwritten note over a lavish gift of my own choosing. However, it can be very difficult to find the time and energy to go out of your way emotionally. But, because I believe in the value of intentionality, I’ve found a few fun things to do that make it feel like less of an endeavor and more of a creative activity. The list is quite standard, but I have added a personal twist to make it a little more fun. As a huge bonus, the recipient of your gift will recognize the extra effort put into their gift, and feel all the more loved as a result!
Inheritance of Hope was founded in 2007 by Kristen and Deric Milligan, and although Kristen passed away in 2012, her legacy is timeless.
I am a woman fighting a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 liver cancer. But this does not define me. I am also a wife and a mother of three young children. My greatest struggle is not the cancer, but my efforts to balance my fight of the cancer with raising my family. My greatest concern is not the illness, but my children and how this illness affects them. I have watched my gentle, sweet son yell angrily at me because he does not know how to express his anger at the cancer. I have watched my older daughter insist that her siblings not talk about the fact that I am sick. And I have watched my baby girl ask other mothers what kind of cancer they have, assuming all mothers are like me. How do I help them navigate the scariness of my illness? You see, it was not only I who was diagnosed with this illness, it was my entire family.
My husband, Deric, and I founded Inheritance of Hope to serve the entire family of young parents like ourselves diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Through our Legacy Retreats, we offer a community where parents can encourage, support, and advise one another, and children can meet other children who understand their fears and struggles. We offer memories that families will cherish for a lifetime, regardless of whether their parent lives a month or 60 years. We offer resources to help navigate raising their family in the midst of crisis. And we introduce or remind each of these families of the faith that has not only brought our own family through this time, but has also greatly blessed us in the eye of our storm.
Read more about Kristen's legacy.6.2.6
First posted on January 22, 2019 in advance of the Kendra Scott-sponsored Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ. We celebrate these amazing women and their commitment to give back!
When asked why she gives her time to Inheritance of Hope, Dionna Koval quickly and confidently replied, “Because you gave my son the hope I wanted him to have.” Now, she has committed to share that same gift by volunteering for IoH. Living with metastatic breast cancer, Dionna is in good company. Tracy Higley, Melinda Hodge, and Tarah Harvey share the same diagnosis and dare it to determine their outlook. Along with Kendra Scott and IoH, they work to inspire hope in others affected by the disease.
All four of these women could choose to give their time to several organizations, but after attending Legacy RetreatsⓇ with their families, these women chose IoH. Each was eager to serve as they had been served. Tarah helped out at her local Kendra Scott store this past October on Holley Day, a special in-store event when a portion of all sales were donated to IoH. She and Dionna have also filled out applications to volunteer on a future retreat, and Dionna will be contributing from home in February.
Originally posted on October 4, 2018, we honor Joni and the legacy she left for her family. Joni passed away in July 2019, but used her time to live purposefully and give back to others facing what she faced.
Joni Morris is one of the faces of Kendra Scott’s Holley Day. She also has metastatic breast cancer. Along with her teenage daughters Kendra and Rylee, Joni is raising awareness for Inheritance of Hope in order to give other families the gift that they themselves received. The Morrises attended an all-expenses-paid Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando in March, where they met other families in which a parent has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, received tools for navigating the difficulties they face, and perhaps, most importantly, made lifelong memories together.
Erica Chase-Salerno was a gifted writer who graciously shared her thoughts and words with the larger Inheritance of Hope family. Erica attended the January 2018 IoH retreat, and wrote this for us the following October, in celebration of Holley Day. Erica passed away in February 2019, and we are honored to continue sharing her legacy.
Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.
And go on an IoH retreat. Or help another family go.
Because this is an organization that walks the talk, excels at creating legacy experiences, and “gets it” about cancer challenges for families.
|Welcome to the IoH Family!|
Recently, my family and I went on a trip up to our favorite place, Hume Lake. It’s a beautiful lake, in Sequoia National Park, and it’s where Brian and I met as campers one summer, so it holds a special place in our hearts. My middlest -- as she likes to call herself -- Charlotte, really wanted a milkshake. Not just a portion, an entire milkshake to herself. Now, these are HUGE milkshakes. And, we don’t really give our kids sugar, so this was a giant ask. So, like any kind parent would do, I gave her a giant goal, thinking that, surely, she wouldn’t actually complete it.
The giant goal: run the lake without stopping. A few things to keep in mind: we are at 5,500 feet elevation, running the lake is a 5k, and she’s 7. “No problem, Mom. I got it.” That is what she tells me.
As a young widow raising five children, Andrea Albanese wants her late husband Jim to be remembered and acknowledged. “Culturally, we are afraid of grief and afraid to say the name of the person who passed away,” she laments. “People might drop off a casserole and run. But, I would say to please talk about my husband with my kids. They want to hear about their father. He is still part of our lives.”
And that is exactly why a special gift created just for Andrea made such an impression on her last October.
|Andrea and Jim shortly before he passed away|