How moms cope with the loss of a child

April 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
How mothers are grieving the loss of a child through the power of giving. Carol Kearns, grief psychologist; Barbara Crandall, a mother who lost a child, and Catherine Stern, director of "Project Grace," share their stories.

About Project Grace
A service trip program dedicated to bringing community and relief to mothers & fathers who have lost a child.

"Project Grace was created with the purpose of providing a compassionate, non-judgmental environment in which participants, who have lost a child, can find strength and meaning through service to others." said Catherine Bowen Stern, who with Carole Mahoney founded the program. "Common ground is reached through sharing stories, offering support and providing real, tangible aid to a community-in-need while honoring a loved one."

In 2008, Project Grace organized two service trips to Bucerias, Mexico to work in an orphanage and help with other service organizations in the area. "I am so grateful for the opportunity created for us?it's not lessoned the pain, but it expanded my world around it," said Nancy Ross, a Project Grace participant.

Two Mill Valley mothers founded Project Grace in 2008. Inspired by a soon to be released documentary film, Motherland, Catherine Bowen Stern and Carole Mahoney, through the support of CorStone, created Project Grace with the purpose of providing a compassionate, non-judgmental environment in which participants can find strength and meaning through service to others.

For more information, visit www.corstone.org

About "Motherland"
Grieving Mothers Embark on Life Altering Journey; Find Relief in Giving to Communities in Need

Questions of how we grieve the loss of our loved ones and the healing power of service are the major themes that flow through Jennifer Steinman's debut documentary film, Motherland. Steinman felt compelled to examine the specific grief of mothers who have lost children after witnessing her close friend lose her son in an automobile accident. Driven by the theory that "giving is healing," she decided to organize a volunteer trip to Africa for a group of six grieving moms, hoping that the opportunity to travel abroad and work with children in need could help these mothers find some positive meaning in the wake of their tragedies.

"I was inspired by a passage in the book "Race against Time," by Stephen Lewis (UN Secretary General's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa), in which he references the death toll in certain impoverished regions of Africa and refers to the grieving continent as 'an entire nation of mourners,'" says Steinman. "I was so deeply moved by the notion of an entire continent in grief, and at the same time, I felt overwhelmingly inadequate about how to help my friend. I wondered, what did we as Americans have to learn from Africa, particularly around the complex, though intrinsically human, subjects of grief and healing?"

Steinman hopes that her film will touch and inspire people to reach out to those who are grieving and simply make a difference. She acknowledges that the subject of grief can make some uncomfortable; yet perhaps the ultimate message is that together as communities we can help see each other through the bad times, and the good.

For more information, visit www.motherland-thefilm.org

About Carol Kearns
Carol Kearns first received acclaim as a pioneering psychologist in the 1980s when she introduced a new concept called "grief therapy" to such national corporations as United Airlines, Nordstrom, PG&E, Chevron, Levi Strauss, Bank of America, Pacific Bell, First Nationwide Bank and America West Airlines.

Having assisted the legendary Swiss psychiatrist, Elisabeth-Kubler Ross at Elisabeth's center for grief and dying, Shanti Nilaya, Carol returned to college and earned her Ph.D. in psychology in 1988. Her qualitative dissertation, Work as a Refuge: The Sudden Death of a Child, Bereavement and the Organization, was published by the PSP and remains one of the seminal studies in this field.

Carol is the mother of Michel Kearns, M.D., a Naval flight surgeon who practices as an anesthesiologist. Her daughter Kristen was killed in 1976 at age 7 when she was swept out to sea by a rogue wave on the Oregon coast. She is writing a memoir, "Kristen's Legacy," which appears as a work-in-progress on her website.

For more information on Carol and to read her book, visit www.carolkearns.com


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