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Strengthening Connections & Support for Loss Survivors
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Strengthening Connections & Support for Loss Survivors

The Alliance of Hope (AOH) is continuing to engage in activities that make a difference in the lives of suicide loss survivors.

In April, 1,200 earth angels convened in Portland, Oregon, to Make An Impact at the 56th Annual American Association of Suicidology (AAS) Conference. Hundreds of new connections were forged between people dedicated to creating innovative resources, and bringing suicide prevention and postvention education, hope, and healing to our world.

For four days, AOH founder and executive director Ronnie Walker, and Heather Shadur, our director of communications and development, met with crisis workers, mental health counselors, and suicide prevention advocates. At the AOH informational booth, visitors shared stories, and took a virtual tour of our website, to discover our blog, 24/7 community forum, new series of healing emails for mothers, and other helpful resources. 

Conference attendees from 18 states requested thousands of our “Hope after Suicide” brochures to distribute to families, school districts, funeral homes and first responders, who will share them with people in the immediacy of the death of a loved one by suicide.

After the conference concluded, one of our wonderful volunteers opened her home for a Sunday afternoon gathering of 17 Alliance of Hope Forum Members from the Portland area. The Meetup was a dedicated time to break bread together, learn about resources, share experiences, and gain insight from Ronnie and other survivors. 

Ronnie reflected on how moving the gathering was: “People drove from 3-4 hours away, just to be with others who understand what it is like to lose a loved one to suicide. Afterwards, we received a lovely thank you note from a woman who summarized so beautifully what a number of attendees expressed. She said: ‘To be able to share openly and safely with other survivors, was healing. I was so glad to hear how others are doing and be given time and not feel rushed. I learned so many valuable truths. I am more aware and prepared to face the expected and unexpected that comes in this tragic and complicated package … Thank you, my heart is grateful & soothed, ~Becky Jo’”

Our in-person outreach and connections continued in April with AOH Board Member Denise Meine-Graham participating in the 44th Annual Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) Conference, in Columbus, Ohio. Denise and her husband Robbie are survivors of their son Drey’s suicide and avid postvention advocates. At an AOH exhibit, they shared our resources with hundreds of clinicians, funeral homes, grief support agencies and other loss survivors. Denise also led a presentation at the conference on “The Value of Peer Support for Suicide Loss Survivors.”

In May, AOH Board Member Steve Shannon, who lost his son Patrick to suicide, and leads some of our support groups for grieving dads, will be at the Michigan Funeral Directors Association Annual Conference to make connections, and share AOH resources.