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The Vivian Helene Foundation was founded by our family, The Maxwells (Beth, TJ, Evalyn, and Audrey) of Tewksbury, New Jersey in January of 2022. This foundation is in honor of the youngest Maxwell daughter, Vivian Helene, who passed away at the age of 14 years old by suicide on January 26, 2020. Anyone who knew us and especially Vivian, would have never considered this would have been a remote possibility. That’s the thing about suicide and tragic deaths, you never think it will happen to you. It does happen though, to many, and families are left shattered and do not know how they will go on with this gaping hole in their hearts and lives forever.
We were devastated and broken, and we didn’t know how to live this life without a piece of us missing. Somehow we knew we had to find a way to live again, to laugh again. Vivian’s energy and spirit was so present around us, there was no way she was going to allow us to wallow in fear and pain.
As the mom, I knew I had to keep going for everyone, so I went into seeking and digging mode. I read books, I went to mediums, I tried every modality from traditional therapy to reiki, to acupuncture, hypnosis, and on and on. It has been a journey, and I know the journey will evolve and will be a lifelong process. But, what I can share is I am healing, my family is healing, and we will continue to heal and move forward and find joy and light again.
There are many things that have contributed to our healing, but the most effective tool, hands down, is finding others who have walked in our shoes and sharing our joy, pain, hurt, love, guilt, and light with them.
Through divine timing and some grief groups that I found, I became instantly connected to a few mothers (and fathers and siblings) across the country. We decided to meet in person to just talk, connect, laugh, and cry. It was life changing. We initially met on Zoom calls virtually; we now physically meet every quarter somewhere in the US and take part in some healing services, along with some good quality bonding and fun.
I could not have survived without meeting these beautiful souls on this journey, they make me feel everything and they don’t judge me. We cry a lot, we all talk about our kids, we laugh incessantly, we talk about our guilt and pain, and mostly we uplift each other and hold space for each other. We are not alone and we are not victims – our children in spirit are constantly guiding us.
We started this foundation so that we can share the tools, the practices, and above all else the HOPE with other families who have experienced the tragic death of a child. Not just the tragic death, but also to those families whose loved one faced a stigmatized death such as suicide, drug overdose, alcohol abuse, etc. Any loss of a child is horrific, but the stigma that society associates with those types of death adds so many more layers of guilt and shame for the families to deal with. It takes tremendous work to break down all of that pain and try to rebuild. We want to help families do the work when they make the choice to heal.
We thank you for listening to our story. We want you to know that death does not separate us, love never ever dies, and our loved ones who have crossed over are still here and advocating for us to smile more and love more every day. We hope that you are inspired to donate what you can to help a mother, father, sister or brother find their path to healing and living a life of joy again.
Visit vivianhelene.org for more information