"You know our life--the outside of it--as the others do and the inside of it--which they do not. You have seen our whole voyage."
--Mark Twain, bereaved parent of both Susy, 24-years old, and Jean, 29-years old.
We know what it is like to answer the question: how many children do you have? We have experienced marital woes, financial hardships, health setbacks, and we each are working to make sense of a horrific tragedy that touches the lives of too many. Even though we are unable to be your therapist or support group, we are here to let you know that you are not alone and many have suffered a similar experience.
NORTH STAR facilitates one-to-one connections among parents who have lost a child. Sometimes knowing that someone has walked a similar journey helps parents to feel less alone. You may find solidarity just reading the short descriptions that our parents have written, you may want to have a short dialogue with a parent, or you may cultivate a lifelong friendship like no other.
After reviewing our parent profiles, you may decide to contact a particular parent. After filling out a few questions, we will review your information and begin to facilitate a connection. EVERMORE keeps a record of your information, but does not share your story with any external medium (unless permission is specifically sought and granted). We do not micromanage relationships. We expect that relationships are respectful and supportive.
There is no cost to participate.
Kirsten had just turned 26, had graduated magna cum laude from Northwestern University, received an award of distinction for her thesis, and lived and worked in downtown Chicago. What could be wrong? Kirsten died because of bipolar disorder and mania that turned into deep depression, which ultimately led to suicide. She is missed every day.
Angelyn and her husband lost their son, a twin, during pregnancy. She remains both haunted and encouraged by his continuous presence in her daily life. Angelyn and her husband are committed to ensuring others who have experienced this phantom loss know they are not alone.
Burnett lost three sons within six months - their lives taken tragically in unrelated incidents. "As each year goes by, it becomes harder to visit their graves," she says, remembering the distinct personality of each of the lives she lost: Randolph the artist, Linton the lawyer, and Reginald the comedian. Upon learning they had each separately volunteered to be organ donors, Burnett became a volunteer for Donate Life Maryland, a nonprofit that encourages individuals to sign up to do the same. "I know they will live on by giving others a chance at life," says Burnett.
Christina found herself blessed with a miracle pregnancy despite a long battle with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Sadly, that baby was not born - nor were the next four lives she carried. Christina channeled her energy following the losses of Kinsey, Alba, Sloane, Ray, and Frankie into Soul Cyster Creations, which creates handcrafted memorial keepsakes and infertility encouragement pieces for families. Christina strives to honor the memory of the children she lost by helping others realize they are not alone and is committed to helping end the stigma surrounding miscarriage.
Deana lost her two children, Amanda and Logan, in a car accident that changed the trajectory of her life. Following her loss, Deana made it her life's mission to help other bereaved parents through the pain she, herself, endured. A Certified Grief Recovery specialist, Deana helped launch Cry For Me, No More, a nonprofit organization that aims to help families cope with loss after the death of a child. "I have learned that my heart will never be whole again," says Deana, "but I will thrive in life once more by knowing I will share their legacy with others to help them heal their wounds."
Gale is the mother of Angel Stacey Lynne Seaton, who will always be 18 days away from her 18th birthday. Stacey was murdered in Bowie, MD, in a case of mistaken identity. Since the death of her daughter, Gale has advocated for the rights of victims through the legislative process, educated criminal justice classes on the importance of conducting professional investigations, assisted survivors of homicide victims with emotional support and court accompaniment, and worked to improve processes for survivors. Stacey's legacy lives on through these efforts and the memories of all whose life she touched.
Jackie has faced the devastation of losing a child three times: twice as a mother and more recently as a grandmother. While nothing can diminish the pain of losing two children - one late in pregnancy and one at five months of age - Jackie draws comfort from a strong faith in God and is grateful she has been able to use her experience to counsel her bereaved daughter and provide hope to others who continue to struggle.
Jennie is the mother of Alexandra who bravely fought brain cancer for 13 months, before dying on April 6, 2012, just 7 weeks before her 5th birthday. Alexandra was survived by her loving older brother, Samuel. Along with a commitment to her faith, Jennie finds great comfort in volunteering at the hospital where Alexandra received her treatments, and advocating on the Hill for an increased investment in pediatric cancer research. She also continues to work professionally as a cancer researcher.
Kelly made a promise to his children Katie and Noah that once he was strong enough he would reach out to other bereaved fathers and help them find their way back from the brink. He has done this, and more, through his book, Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back, a collection of candid stories from fathers who have survived the tragic loss of a child. "I know Katie and Noah would want me to make a positive impact on others’ lives," says Kelly. "The idea of helping others helps me."
Brynn Elizabeth left behind her parents and twin sister at just 22 weeks of age. Laurie had just begun to feel the flutter of life when Brynn's heart stopped beating. Laurie and her husband have been forever changed as parents - and people. "No child is too small or too young to have an impact on their family," says Laurie, who encourages bereaved parents not to rush the grieving process but instead take each day as it comes.
The senseless killing of Marion's 19 year old son Gary by a police officer led her to become an activist in the movement for justice, police accountability and transparency. Marion, who was instrumental in organizing the Million Moms March, has taken her advocacy to the highest levels of government, meeting with White House and Department of Justice officials to discuss the need for reforms. She has turned her pain into passion and power, becoming a catalyst for change as the president and co-founder of Coalition of Concerned Mothers, which aims to stop police brutality, senseless community violence and mass incarceration while identifying and supporting policy and legislative change.
Maryam was in prison when her son, Augustine, was killed two weeks before his 30th birthday. During her incarceration, Maryam experienced discrimination for her Muslim faith and watched fellow inmates, whom she refers to as SisterHearts, struggle to rebuild their lives inside prison. Following her release, Maryam's life mission has become assisting ex-offenders transition back into society with dignity. She is the owner of SisterHearts Thrift Store, which aim is focused on emotional rehabilitation, economic development amongst their peers to promote social wellbeing in a nurturing environment designed for, with and by ex-offenders.
After losing his nine-year old son to a two-year battle with a recurring malignant brain tumor, Mitch turned to the written word, composing letters and poems to his son to help him cope with his grief. Mitch subsequently published the writings in a book, Letters to My Son, which led him begin lecturing on the grief process and leading workshops on surviving the loss of a loved one. As a trained hospice volunteer, Mitch has helped many bereaved families through the dying process. He has dedicated his life to helping those who are trying to navigate the uncharged territory of death, dying and the bereavement process.
Sharon lost her son Malek when he was shot in an attempted robbery after exiting a Metro bus less than one week before his 16th birthday. Sharon said her son - a sophomore at Ballou - enjoyed science and math and dreamed of becoming a physician or social worker. "He wanted to help kids who were going through rough times," she said. After Malek's death, Sharon emerged as a public voice against gun violence, attending vigils and rallies and befriending others whose children were lost to gun violence and is now building a foundation in his memory.
Tonya Logan's heartbreak began when she learned her five-month-old daughter, Kayla, had suffered an injury at daycare. Two days later, she made the most difficult decision of her life: to remove Kayla from life support. In the years since her loss, Tonya has embraced the opportunity to parent again, one through adoption and one through birth. She continues to honor Kayla's memory through an organization she birthed nearly ten years ago called Kayla's Village, which provides seminars and support to parents and social service professionals. Tonya has also documented her journey through her book, Mommie’s Bright Sunshine.
Becoming a North Star Parent
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