by Jan McDaniel
Several years ago, I felt the call to do something different for survivors of traumatic loss. All loss is traumatic, but I already had been writing for the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors for years, volunteering as a content provider, blog columnist, and a forum moderator as well as being a regular member and receiving support myself. I had already attended support groups at The Link Counseling and National Resource Center in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and trained to be a Survivor of Suicide Loss (SOS) co-facilitator, which I did for several years. These were gifts I received after my husband died. They helped me on my grief journey and allowed me to heal while I helped other survivors.
But I kept thinking there was more I was supposed to do. I was a writer, so I thought it might be writing books about surviving loss to suicide and returning to a life in which it was possible to thrive. I continued studying and learning from many sources. And I did write some short books on these topics. I taught college classes for six years. I started this website, which languished as I worked on it now and then, still unsure of a direction. And I have two related book-length manuscripts I'm working to finish. Still, something was not quite right.
I believe I know what it was now. God had prompted me to begin this work, in which I could expand my messages of hope to those who were grieving other types of deaths and more readily share about my faith. On my long grief journey, I thought God had forgotten me, but I came to see he was carrying me in his arms the whole time. But it wasn't time yet for his plan for Way for Hope to be fulfilled. That was okay with me because, from the beginning, I knew this website belonged to God. It would go where it needed to go, even if it needed to go to only one person.
Last summer, things started to happen and continue to happen. I love it when God shows what He has been doing behind the scenes. Others helped me make some of the free materials on this site available in their current formats. Survivors I had known for years contributed encouragement and guest blog posts. I even received the blessing of co-facilitating two new loss support groups: SOS and GriefShare.
Then the new Coronavirus struck, and I began to see how detailed God's plans for my life had been. Way for Hope is God's project,, so I shouldn't be surprised at how He is using it now to continue support online for the two new groups and the Alliance as well as to connect with wonderful people around the world who are doing their own "hope thing." But this kind of process has happened a lot in my life, and I'm always surprised and awed.
Just to be sure I didn't miss the message (God knows me well.), I had an earlier, unusual experience I want to share with you that illustrates what I mean here. Last Fall, I became obsessed with finding resources and gathering items for projects my two young grandsons could work on with me when they stayed at my house, but both boys actually turned away when I offered to share a few times. This went on for a few months. The feeling ended, and I put these items away.
I had gotten the message but missed the purpose. When schools were closed recently because of the new virus, my daughter hauled the materials and folders of projects to her house. "This is my curriculum," she said. She will be working from home and "homeschooling" her little ones.
I laughed. Yes, it had taken quite a while to research, print out, purchase, and prepare that curriculum. I loved every minute. And I was thrilled that she could have what she needed at a moment's notice though I was sure she would have done just fine on her own from her professional Montessori and parenting experience. But as I watched her drive away, I was grateful for what God had me prepare: "100 Things For Little Children to Do" cards; stickers on camping, sports, jungle, woodland, ocean, pirates, birds and flowers, and outer space; tangoes animal puzzles; a large “Jacks” game; a large die with dry erase sides; 2 rubber snakes; thin beginning reader books; a butterfly unit; two new games (Mighty Pups and Shark Baby); a pouch with make-up-a-story-tokens; two fire truck photo props; and detailed activities in folders that covered astronaut masks; science journal pages; a template for making a map of the world and labels; balloon sequencing cards; farm matching cards; random printed activities; color matching games; a board game for taking turns and cooperation; bird and three little pigs sequencing cards; bingo mats; pictures of paintings by famous artists; police officer card-stock badges; a farm animal actions card game; origami paper; ocean sensory bin recipe (I love sensory bins): a farm pond activity and cards; and beach activities.
That's how I feel about Way for Hope. That's why I'm awed. Think about this. God knows what two little boys, age three and five, and their mom need long before they need it. And he knows what we all need, too.
Way for Hope
Losing someone you love is difficult, but it can mean a lot to hear from others traveling similar paths.
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Links of Value:
Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Word of God
"My Story" Big Daddy Weave
"Hope in Front of Me"
The Joy FM
Traumatic loss or preexisting conditions can worsen mental health. Use this info graphic to find help.
"Take Charge of Your Mental Health" - a free download from www.nami.org: