‘Community of Support and Compassion’ Provides Anchor
Author: Marilyn Mosley Gordanier
When I received the call that my beloved son Michael had died by suicide, I thought that life was over. I have two other amazing children, incredible grandchildren, a loving partner and a rich life. But deeply buried inside me was such sadness about my son, my boy, my baby.
One day I received a call from Terri Jones at TAPS who supports military suicide survivors grieving from the loss of their loved ones. At first I wanted to hang up—what would I say? I was holding my world together and it appeared to be working, but Terri was so loving and understood more about me than seemed possible. I soon realized that I liked having people at TAPS checking on me. All of sudden I was a ship anchored to the mooring. I wasn’t alone in the world. Here was someone who knew I lost a child, who was calling, sending notes and remembering Michael. There were other people like me.
Terri warmly encouraged me to attend the National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar in Phoenix. I was scared to attend. Would I cry? How could I even think about this tragic event? But as soon as I arrived I was greeted with hugs, understanding and compassion. The 1,000 attendees were like me! Everyone had lost beloved family member. For the first time in two years I felt normal. I was with mothers, father, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, young children and teenagers who had lost a family member to suicide. I was with experts who understood suicide, and peer mentors who hugged us and encouraged us with their love. I was surrounded by children and teenagers who had lost a parent and were participating in the Good Grief Camp. Each child had a military mentor/buddy who was with them at all times.
Marilyn Mosley Gordanier and David Moody attended the National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar in Phoenix in October. Photos courtesy of Marilyn Mosely Gordanier
I found my heart in a new way, met brave people in various stages of healing and learned that trauma and grief are different and post-trauma growth is possible.
After three days, I found I was dealing and not just coping. I am on a healing journey and TAPS has created the most astonishing community of support and compassion. I never imagined being here, I never imagined losing a child to suicide, but I feel so grateful to have found a community of people who are dedicated to creating a path for healing and transformation for me and my children and my family.
Thank you to the amazing women who, after losing a family member, had the foresight to create this loving, caring community focused on remembering the beauty and joy that are our loved ones.
Marilyn Mosely Gordanier is the surviving mother of Air Force Major Michael Mosley.