Sharing Kindness, seeded from the shared devastation of suicide and grief, tends a thriving community through empathy, education and courageous conversation.
WHAT WE DO
Both our community and the world as a whole are still learning how to support grievers and those who have been affected by suicide. Our goal as a nonprofit is to inspire courageous conversation – dialogue addressing these often taboo subjects – by providing education and programs for grievers and their support networks. Many who are affected by grief and suicide also struggle with mental health; we want to eliminate the stigma around getting help, so that those who need it can reach out more confidently.
The following are just a handful of the ways we have worked to spread our message and provide education and programming throughout the Cape & Islands:
- Partnering with schools and community programs, in addition to collaborating with other nonprofits, to educate, advocate and prevent suicide, including school suicide prevention policies.
- Educating community members on how to reach in, if they suspect that someone may be suicidal.
- Reviewing and distributing best practice policies for print and spoken media around news coverage of suicide.
- Offering grief programming throughout the Cape and Islands, with curriculum developed and overseen by our licensed mental health clinician.
Our Dream: The Cape & Islands’ First Grief and Healing Center
Our goal at Sharing Kindness is to open a grief and healing center to serve the Cape and Islands, based on the Dougy Center model. Until we have that physical space, we will continue to develop and offer programming not only for those grieving the death of a loved one, but also programming to educate community members, so they can learn how best to help those who are suffering.
WHO WE ARE
The Sharing Kindness team is a diverse group of committed and passionate individuals, sharing the ability to connect with others and demonstrate empathy. Together, they represent the community at greater risk.
Learn more about the people behind our nonprofit >>
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
It was a typical Tuesday morning.
My husband and I got ready for work. Our older three, ages 20-26, were in their respective places (Italy, North Carolina, and Massachusetts) getting ready to be a college student abroad, a college academic advisor and a high school ELA teacher. And our youngest, a high school junior, got himself breakfast (pizza, but hey, he made it himself) and caught a planned ride to high school from his grandmother.
Before that Tuesday was over, our 16-year-old son, Jeremy, was lying in the intensive care unit, 100 miles from home, on life support. And life would never be typical again. It would be two days before he was declared dead, and another day on life support as we followed his wishes (on the learners permit he had recently obtained) to donate his organs. If this is difficult to read, believe me, it was much harder to live through.
And that is how my family, Jeremy’s friends and I became suicide loss survivors.
Jeremy was beautiful and musical. He was brilliant and witty. He loved the woods; his German Shepherd, Mike; ASL; and his family and friends. He was very loved. And very loving. Nearly every hello and see you later from Jeremy included a really big hug and an “I love you.” His smile was ear-to-ear.
Jeremy and his beloved four-legged friend, Mike
When Sharing Kindness began, a small group of family and friends were grieving the death of our beloved 16-year-old. Our intention was to help each other grasp the truth in the present moment: Jeremy had died from suicide.
We learned so much, so quickly.
We learned that suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people, ages 15-24.
We learned that Jeremy’s friends were at increased risk of dying by suicide, as were we, his family.
We learned that the stigma surrounding suicide made it difficult for some people who wanted to support us or Jeremy’s friends, it was difficult for them to acknowledge our loss and pain.
Jeremy’s friends at Nauset High School needed support, and we quickly ascertained that Cape Cod had few resources to offer young people. In 2017, the first Cape and Islands Suicide Awareness Walk – organized with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), prior to our establishment as a nonprofit – was an act of solidarity in grief and tangible support for these high school students. We continue to host the walk today, now in partnership with the Cape & Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition, NAMI of Cape Cod & the Islands and The Samaritans on Cape Cod & the Islands. The next event is set for May 21, 2022 at Hyannis’s Veterans Park Beach.
In spite of the ending, and I would rewrite it if I could, I am grateful. I am grateful that Jeremy was born. I am grateful that he lived. I am grateful that he is my son. I am grateful that I am his mom. And I am grateful for 16 years. (Thanks to Tom Zuba for this from his book, Permission to Mourn).
Jeremy loved the wilderness. I am grateful to him, and for him, every time I climb up to his tree house or walk in the woods. I feel the sun and breeze on my face, I hear the birds, and I feel closer to my youngest son. Another gift from Jeremy: before his death I didn’t take the time to do this regularly, but he always did.
Jeremy left us a note in which he said, “I wish I had more time to tell people I love them. I wish I had more time to make the world a better place.” Jeremy planted the seed for Sharing Kindness. Our wonderful nonprofit family is tending that seed, and we are growing a thriving, healthier, kinder community. Please consider joining us.
Kim Mead-Walters, MD
Co-founder and Executive Director, Sharing Kindness, Inc.