Thank you to everyone who attended SOSL Day on April 9, 2016! We want to extend a warm thank you to our event sponsors, donors, and all of our dedicated volunteers who made this event possible!
Mike Kurtz, longstanding SOSL volunteer, former Executive Director and Board Member, served as emcee and panel moderator for the event. Throughout the day, he shared valuable tips and ideas of how he has navigated the difficult journey of healing after losing his son to suicide.
The candle lighting ceremony marked the beginning of a meaningful day and was led by SOSL Board Member, Linda Hunt. After the reading of the poem “Light a Candle”, each person lit a candle while sharing the name of their loved one lost to suicide along with the day they passed away. Rascal Flatts’ song “Why” played softly in the background.
Joyce Bruggeman, our Executive Director shared briefly of her loss and some guiding principles for her own healing. The highlight of the morning was the Panel which consisted of: Julie Myers, Diane Louise, Cassandra Rodrigue, and Kathy Shott. Each panelist shared their personal story of loss in a heartfelt and genuine manner. Their honesty about their struggles and practical ideas of what worked for them resonated with the audience and sparked thought-provoking questions and conversations.
All attendees were invited to post a butterfly on our “Message of Hope” wall. We provided large, colorful, paper butterflies to write and post a message in remembrance of a loved one. We also offered a resource table on SOSL programs and materials, and our book Beyond Surviving: A Compilation of Stories from Survivors of Suicide Loss . Information on Sharp Hospice Care Memory Bears, was also available.
After enjoying catered lunch from O’s American Kitchen, we met in smaller intimate support groups led by our own SOSL facilitators. These groups were comprised of people all sharing a similar loss; child, spouse/partner, sibling, other family member, or friend. The opportunity to share with people who have experienced a similar loss offers an unparalleled level of camaraderie and support. The group discussion is always one of the most powerful portions of the SOSL Day program.
After the support groups, we reconvened briefly to draw door prizes and come together for a Closing Ceremony. At the end of the day, everyone was given a clothes pin with the words “You are Important to Me”. Attendees were instructed to give the clothes pin to someone in their life who needed encouragement; a visual tangible reminder that they are important to someone.
Special thanks to Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital for being our presenting sponsor, and to Union Bank, for helping us make SOSL Day possible. Thanks also to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Claremont Mesa) for donating coffee and to Infrastructure Engineering Corporation for printing our program in beautiful color.