The Journey: Ten Years Later – Thank You to the Alliance of Hope

It started like this: I found the Alliance of Hope Forum a few weeks after my son Ian died. I posted my story and right away received kind and gentle words. This was my first experience with an online group. I didn’t know what to expect and was grateful to find people who understood my experience and didn’t ask questions. They offered what worked for them and allowed me to share what was bothering me – those feelings in my heart that I didn’t dare share with other people. 

There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone; that there are others with similar experiences. Having an anonymous sounding board gave me the freedom to share thoughts and feelings that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with others in my life. Usually, after sorting it out on the forum, I was able to talk with my husband, other family members, or friends.   

Grief shared in community distributes the burden over many shoulders. Collectively we can help one another. This reaching out to others becomes a blessing to each person – we release our own grief and then can help shoulder someone else’s burden. The Alliance of Hope forum provides a framework for doing this in a safe environment that is monitored and supported by clinicians and moderators. 

Susan Andersen

There is no timeline or straight path for grief.  Each person’s journey is unique, and we all feel stuck at some point in the path. Those around us who mean well and don’t want to see us suffer try to get us to move forward. But what they don’t understand is that we can only move forward by dealing with each emotional obstacle that arises. There are many tools that can help – individual counseling, group therapy, yoga, meditation, writing, art, and the safety of the Alliance of Hope forum. 

I remember the first time I laughed after my son died. I was having lunch with close friends, and we were talking about funny things our kids did when they were little. For that moment, laughing, I felt like my “before” self.  In a short span of time, my emotions looped, and I was feeling guilty and sad. When I relayed this in the Forum, I was assured that “hey it’s okay to feel good and laugh while you are grieving.” It felt so good to share my experience and get reassurance from folks who were further down the grief journey.

Ten years later and of course I still miss my son. I talk to Ian every day. I’ve worked through so many emotions and made meaning from my grief.  Working with people who’ve experienced loss and are grieving through yoga and movement has become my mission.  Thank you, Alliance of Hope, and all the good people on the Forum who have been there for me. You were a lifeline when I needed it most. 

In Honor of Wes and 20,000 Survivors of Suicide Loss

Dear fellow survivors,

On July 5th, it will be three years since my beloved cousin Wes took his own life.

As I work on my grief journey and grow stronger, I reflect on how others in our suicide loss survivor community uplifted me, offered encouragement, and helped me make it through the day, one heartbeat at a time. The biggest gift that I was given was hope. 

Today, in honor of Wes, and the nearly 20,000 members of the Alliance of Hope forum, I want to pass that hope forward. I invite you to join me. Between today and June 20th, I will match all donations to the Alliance of Hope, dollar-for-dollar — up to $20,000.

My grief has softened with time, but it is still with me. I have learned I will carry it with me always, along with my love for Wes. 

Wes was 42 years old, a father of six. Handsome and talented, he would do anything for you. He was a bright and beautiful spirit. We all miss him terribly. As the oldest of 13 first cousins, I have great memories of us growing up together, having our own kids, and watching them grow up together as well.

In the first few days after he died, I didn’t know where to turn. I was in a fog. I tried to find resources for my aunt and other family members. I found a local agency that had support group meetings (Friends for Survival), but their next meeting was several days away. Their executive director, Marilyn Koenig, suggested I visit the Alliance of Hope. That was the lifeline I needed.  

Now, three years later, it’s time for me to continue my journey of healing and help others.

I am honored to volunteer my skills working with Alliance of Hope as their operations manager. And because I have seen firsthand how important their work is I am investing in the future of survivor services with a $20,000 Match Gift Challenge in honor of my cousin, Wesley Dalton Lincoln.

I know it would make Wes happy to know that I am giving back to others in his memory.

Please join me today in supporting the Alliance of Hope – a caring and compassionate organization that has helped me, and countless others, cope with and heal from traumatic and life-altering loss. Together we can move forward with hope, and help new survivors know they are not alone. Thank you for your support.