When a loved one passes away, there is no prescriptive way to honor their life, legacy, or what may have been. There is no “right” way to heal, channel energy, or keep their memory alive. In this space, we aim to highlight some of the creative approaches that Brighton Jones families have found in hopes that others might be inspired during a trying time.
If you are looking for a way to honor the life of a friend or family member and would like to discuss ideas and options, our philanthropy team is available to help. Please reach out to us through your advisory team or directly at email@example.com.
Durable Family Tribute in a Special Place
The Crisman Family
We sat down with the Crisman Family to hear about how they came together to find the perfect way to honor the life and legacy of Sue Crisman. Sue passed away from Leukemia in 2019.
Tell us about Sue.
Sue Crisman was an amazing woman. In her home state of Indiana, everyone knew Sue because she was always finding ways to impact other peoples’ lives. Professionally, she worked as an advocate for people living with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Sue was also a proud member of the philanthropic sorority Kappa Kappa Kappa, through which she was able to advance charitable efforts for over 56 years. She was also a leader within the Women’s Association of Northwest Indiana Symphony Society, where she could fundraise for the symphony and foster appreciation for music.
Sue was so dedicated to helping others that the Sue Crisman Kindness Fund was established during her lifetime to amplify her acts of kindness. She used the fund to provide timely grants for medical emergencies.
Where did you start the conversation?
We met with Molly Norton, Brighton Jones’ director of philanthropy, soon after Sue had passed. We talked about Sue’s passions and interests throughout her life and brainstormed where we might direct funds. A lot of great ideas came from this, including a scholarship fund for adults who want to pursue a college degree later in life as Sue did. We are continuing to explore this as a future goal.
What did you decide on?
While the two grantmaking initiatives are important ways that our family will continue the tradition of Sue’s work, we wanted something physical and long-lasting to remember her by. We decided to have a park bench installed at our family’s favorite lake, where we made many memories and was an incredibly special place to Sue. We worked with the small town’s park and recreation department. Teresa Ternan from Brighton Jones stepped in to help manage the process, which was a huge help.
How do you feel about the result?
It ended up working out perfectly because we found an old bench at the lake that needed replacing. Sue always said, “The most beautiful sunsets are in Indiana,” and today, the bench is in the perfect location to take those in while reflecting on Sue’s life and how much she meant to us.
Launching a Public Awareness and Prevention Non-Profit
The Ternan Family
The Ternans never imagined that they would lose Charlie. We spoke with them to learn how they are finding strength in their pain and working together to shed light on critical information that could save countless lives.
Charlie Ternan was the youngest of three children. He was social, a good friend who brought people together, and he had an infectiously loud laugh. He was a college student living on campus, trying the figure out who he was and what he wanted out of life.
After taking a single pill for his back pain, Charlie’s life ended suddenly and unexpectedly. Charlie had purchased the pill on Snapchat believing it was Percocet, but it was actually made of fentanyl. His passing sent a ripple of grief through our family, and soon we began to learn how tragically common these accidents are. We learned that fentanyl is an inexpensive, highly addictive synthetic opioid, one that is sold in pill or powder form online—especially through social media—often to school-aged children. We were alarmed that we were learning about all of this too late: reports on counterfeit pills are not reaching the children and young adults who needed to be informed. Our family became committed to filling that information gap.
How are you honoring Charlie’s life?
We decided to start a public 501(c)(3) charity called Song for Charlie. Through this organization, Charlie’s friends and family work to help other families avoid losing a loved one to counterfeit pill poisoning. We do this by creating informational media content that speaks to young people and placing it where they are most likely to see it. We want to make it socially unacceptable to hand out and accept unidentified pills. Song for Charlie also provides alternative coping skills to reduce stress and anxiety—common reasons students choose to self-medicate. Through our collective work and shared mission, we have established a deeply meaningful and impactful way to honor and remember Charlie.
How is the initiative going?
One year in, we are incredibly proud of our progress. We have formed an active board from different professional fields and walks of life. We make frequent appearances on news outlets, such as our appearances on “The Today Show” to discuss the dangers of buying pills online and our partnership with social media platform Snapchat to circumvent illegal sales. We’re speaking out through podcasts like Charity Matters and Line of Sight. We’ve also just released Songs for Charlie – Volume 1, a compilation of Charlie’s favorite songs performed by amazing artists.
Child Bereavement Support Program
The Rogers Family
We talked with the Rogers about their life experience and their sustaining partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Journey Program in preparation for the Brighton Jones Giving Game last year. Here is their inspiring story.
The Need for Support
In 1989, the Rogers experienced a loss that most parents only have nightmares about: the sudden loss of their son, Jimmy, at just four years old. Faced with overwhelming grief and heartache, the couple realized they needed to find professional help to move forward. Through the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Rogers discovered the Journey Program. The Journey Program provides services specifically designed for families who have lost a child, and it helped the Rogers tools to cope with their loss while supporting their other children.
Paying It Forward
The Rogers don’t know how they would have made it through this phase of life without the Journey Program, which they continued to turn to for years. They realized that they were at a crossroads and made the conscious decision to help others rather than drown in bitterness. They knew that by backing the Journey Program they could help families just like theirs. Ultimately, they established an endowment for the program. This endowment is their way of ensuring the hospital continues to have the resources it needs to help grieving parents reconnect to life.
Legacy of Compassion
Today, the Journey Program is the only program in the Northwest for families who have experienced the loss of a child. Thanks to endowments from the Rogers and others, families are able to receive support services at no cost. Services include staff-facilitated peer support groups, individual and family counseling, outreach and educational materials, and sibling grief support workshops. The program is truly family-centered and family-driven care: families are able to receive support as long as they need it. In fiscal year 2019-2020, the Journey Program conducted phone outreach support to nearly 500 families after a child’s death, provided direct counseling support to 438 families, and served 1,317 individuals through community support and consultation.
The Rogers Family continues to raise awareness and support for the Journey Program, which in turn, keeps the memory of Jimmy alive. Through this work, they’ve found purpose and become committed advocates for the support that was once a lifeline for them and now helps hundreds of families each year.