My name is Jennifer. My mother, Sue Morgan, was a long-time member of this congregation. My own introduction to the congregation was last July after my mother died by suicide at the train tracks in Wauwatosa.
Reverend Denise reached out and offered her support to me, which I gratefully accepted. She composed a service in my mother’s memory that my mother’s life justice and helped us all say goodbye when there hadn’t been any other opportunity to do so. It helped pull out the weeds of self-doubt and anger that so frequently follow the suicide of a loved one. I am grateful that these weeds did not get a chance to take hold. They are useless to me and I have needed all my resources to grow beyond my mother’s death.
How did Rev. Denise do this? She took the initiative to reach out to me and offer her assistance. She led me through planned-out, thoughtful questions about my mother’s life which gave me a chance to reflect on the whole of her life. She was a supportive witness and coach to the challenges I experienced as I interacted by conference call with my estranged sister through the process. She helped us sort out our stories when our memories of events didn’t match.
As a result of Rev. Denise’s kindness, experience, and skill I have been able to focus on compassion for human suffering rather than getting stuck in grief and despair. My mother’s suicide was a time of growth in the midst of destruction and confusion.
I could not have done this myself. I could not have been creative or decisive in the midst of my shock, fear, and anger in the days and weeks following my mother’s suicide. Without the kindness, support, and experience that only comes from people coming together in a community, those days may have been just a blur of bureaucratic police and coroner’s reports, account numbers, and relentless, endless decisions.
I am giving to the church today because growth in such times only comes from the persistent cultivation of relationships in a community where knowledge, experience, and creativity come together to make new meaning and awareness happen…..a community like this congregation. When the wind is at one’s back, one tends to mistakenly believe there isn’t any wind. This congregation was the wind at my back when my mom killed herself. My gift may change the trajectory for others whose hearts are receptive and in need.