The Art for Charlie Foundation Helping Grieving Familes Find Hope

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The Art for Charlie Foundation may have been born out of one family’s tragedy, but it now lives on to provide hope, support and education for families who’ve experienced the loss of a child. John and Abigail Waller are finding renewed hope after their son, Charlie, died last year due to a terminal illness. “Charlie’s story isn’t over by his death. Our family now spends a lot of time and energy doing the (work of the) Foundation, as we take a day at a time, trying to figure out how to live our lives now that our family’s broken and different,” said Abigail Waller, founder of The Art for Charlie Foundation. “I feel a desire to educate people on bereavement and this type of loss.” Established in 2012, the Foundation’s mission is two-fold; to promote the availability of pediatric hospice care across the state of Michigan and to support all families suffering bereavement from the loss of a child. “When a child is diagnosed with a terminal illness, a snowball of problems follow. They take time off of work, they lose their job, they experience mental health problems or divorce happens. My drive now is to try to figure out how to stop that snowball of problems from happening due to a death of a child,” said Abigail. The Foundation understands the importance of education and advocacy that’s why they offer monthly seminars on topics relating to loss, grief or bereavement. New this year, the Foundation has partnered with the MSU College of Human Medicine and the Hospice of Michigan for the Michigan Conference on Pediatric Hospice and Parental Bereavement held Nov. 1. The first of its kind, this conference brings together hospice workers and caregivers from around the state to help define and remedy gaps in services statewide. The Foundation raises money through art events as a way to focus on joy and beauty rather than sadness, while at the same time bringing art to the community. The annual Art Show and Auction is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 13 at the East Lansing Marriott. For the first time, the Foundation will hold a Children’s Art Show featuring collaborative art from area schools. The Children’s Art Show opens at the Eli & Edythe Broad Museum in East Lansing before moving to the Marriott lobby the following week. When asked what advice she can give to grieving families, Abigail shares, “Nothing can prepare you for this kind of loss. Know (that) it’s ok to ask for help. Grief is the worst of all losses. We continue to reach out and get support from friends and other professionals. Parents should also connect with other parents who’ve experienced loss.” For more information about the Art for Charlie Foundation or to find out how to get involved in one of the upcoming art shows, visit www.artforcharlie.com. The Foundation welcomes contributions for their art shows from both amateur and professional artists.
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