"People come to their passions in many ways. For me it has been a life path with family and friends, marriage, children and grandchildren, volunteering and working as a counselor. On March 19, 2001 that path took a tragic detour when our son Dan, then 16 years old, took his life in our home. His suicide sent me on the most painful journey of my life. As a counselor, I told myself that I had to trust the process, I knew I would need help to get through this trauma and I was open to reaching out. The grief from suicide is complicated, long term and exhausting. I spent the next two years on a surreal roller coaster ride of emotions and intense grief that many days left me barely able to breath. At about that two year point I decided that I would refocus my counseling career and work with those who have lost a loved one to suicide. I did not want Dan’s suicide to be in vain. What could I do to honor his life as well as my own?
I was looking for a way to give back to others in a meaningful way. At the time Charlotte had no formal support specifically for survivors of suicide loss. I sought out more education and training and additional resources in an effort to put forth healing and understanding when reaching out to others. Using my own experience as a mom and my passion as a counselor H.U.G.S. was born. In June of 2003 the H.U.G.S. group met for the first time. It has been my privilege, over the past 14 years, to share with and support many wonderful people who have been touched by suicide. For a period of time I walk next to them on their paths sharing an unasked for bond of loss and sorrow. Each, in their own time and space, come to a place of reconciliation with what has happened and they, one by one, recommit to moving forward, carrying their loved one in a gentle place within their hearts."
"As we walk our personal journeys, we are blessed with many different roads to travel, many companions to embrace; some for a short time and others for a lifetime. Many joys and many sorrows. Over the past 17 years it has been a heartfelt privilege to be able to share not only my grief journey, but to be trusted to walk for a while with others on the same path. Every person in this part of my journey so far has made a great impact on my heart and left an indelible mark on my soul. While I'm heartbroken for what has brought us to each other I am grateful for the bond created as our journeys continue." ~ Alice McGinley - Executive Director, H.U.G.S.
H.U.G.S. is a nonprofit community outreach program for those who have lost a family member or friend to suicide.