The Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation
Presents
The 2005 Peace of Heart Award
To Steven Turnbull and Credence Sol
Attorneys from the Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif Law Firm

Susan Whitmore presenting the  2005 Peace of Heart Award to Steven Turnbull
Susan Whitmore presenting the
2005 Peace of Heart Award to Steven Turnbull

On July 23, 2005, The Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation and griefHaven presented its 2005 Peace of Heart award to Steven Wade Turnbull and Credence Sol for their unwavering support in assisting the foundation in a lawsuit caused by a volunteer who had refused to return the Portrait of Grief; Badges of Courage tapes to the foundation until certain demands were met.

After almost a year in court, the footage was returned to the plaintiffs, who held a celebration July 9 to thank the devoted lawyers of Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif for handling the case pro bono. Susan presented attorneys Steven Turnbull and Credence Sol with the 2005 Peace of Heart Award for their "generosity of spirit and unwavering support, giving hope to parents throughout the world."
  The 2005 Peace of Heart Award
In an emotional speech, Turnbull told the parents, doctors and grief counselors (many of whom he'd never met), "I feel like I know a lot of you because I know something about your personal histories . . .. You're the real heroes." He added that "as lawyers, we so seldom get to do something that's so meaningful."
Susan Whitmore, with Steven Turnbull, Stephen Moore, and Wendell Whitmore

Susan Whitmore, president of The Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation, with (left to right) attorney Steven Turnbull, Turnbull's domestic partner, Stephen Moore, and Wendell Whitmore, vice president of the foundation and Susan's husband
 
The 2005 Peace of Heart Award Designed by the foundation, the ball represents the grief parents experience when their child dies. The two bodies represent parents pushing the grief up a steep incline, which is what the grief is truly like.
Turnbull told the Palisadian-Post Newspaper that "it was the kind of case I would go to sleep thinking about and wake up thinking about."

Many of the parents present at the "thank you" dinner expressed gratitude for the lawyers' work and relief that the tapes had been returned.

"I was nervous that I was going to see myself on national television," said Jennifer Woolf, whose son, Zack, died of a rare liver and kidney disease at age 11 months. "I don't want to make a Hollywood creation out of my grief."

Woolf and her husband, Graham, said that being interviewed for the video was hard for them because it was so personal and close to the heart. "I never knew that it was going to set me back to square one," Jennifer said about the experience. "It had been three years [since Zack died] and it still felt like it was yesterday."
Jennifer and Graham Woolf, Chaplain James and Lynn Putney, Anne Roberts, Wayne Neiman, and Alyson Sena Judy Li Dafter & Dr. Roger Dafter, Dr. Judith Ford, Shelly Goodman (board member), Penny Fellows (board Member), Corinne Gustafson, and Ben Maftoul (editor) Wendell and Susan Whitmore, Steven Turnbull, Stephen Moore, Didi Reuben, Rabbi Steven Reuben, Credence Sol, and Xavier Sol.
From left around the table, Jennifer and Graham Woolf, Chaplain James and Lynn Putney, Anne Roberts, Wayne Neiman, and Alyson Sena From left around the table: Judy Li Dafter & Dr. Roger Dafter, Dr. Judith Ford, Shelly Goodman (board member), Penny Fellows (board Member), Corinne Gustafson, and Ben Maftoul (editor) Left around back: Wendell and Susan Whitmore, Steven Turnbull, Stephen Moore, Didi Reuben, Rabbi Steven Reuben, Credence Sol, and Xavier Sol.
They are confident that the video, "Portraits of Grief; Badges of Courage," will help people who don't have access to or won't go to a support group. This was Susan's original intention, that "in the comfort, safety and privacy of their own homes, parents could watch this timeless piece of hope."

"Susan is so compassionate about her vision, that's going to help a lot of people," said Dr. Roger Dafter, a psychologist who specializes in grief therapy. He explained that when people who have lost a child talk about it with other parents who have experienced the same loss, it resonates with those parents.

Susan knows this from her own experience. She said when Erika died of a rare sinus cancer in May 2002, the pain made it almost unbearable to live. "It was all I could do to just breathe. I was long for someone I could just talk to, someone who had gone down the path of grief ahead of me."

Less than two weeks later, she was sitting in the Michel International beauty salon on Swarthmore when Anne Roberts walked by, saw the look on Susan's face and went in to introduce herself. "I knew the look of grief," Roberts explained. "It's like a club we belong to that no parent ever wanted to join."

Susan was disappointed in the lack of comprehensive, easy-to-access resources available to grieving parents and, in an effort to turn her own grief into healing, started The Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation and its compassionate web site, griefHaven, in the fall of 2002. The site provides a place where parents can honor their children and access links to support groups and organizations, books, music and poetry.

"You want your child to be kept alive in memory," said Roberts, whose son's picture is on the web site. "When I help other people, it's a legacy to my son."

Dr. Judith Ford, who was Erika's palliative care doctor at UCLA, said she often guides grieving families to the web site because she knows that Susan is a huge resource. "I'm just so truly proud of what she's doing."

Rev. James Putney, an oncology chaplain at UCLA who also worked intimately with the Whitmores, said that in spite of the emotional setback with the video footage, he believes it will be an even stronger, more challenging project now.
Susan and Wendell Whitmore (standing), Dr. Judith Ford and Chaplain James Putney
Alyson Sena interviewing Anne Roberts
Susan and Wendell Whitmore (standing),
Dr. Judith Ford and Chaplain James Putney
Alyson Sena interviewing Anne Roberts

Susan agrees. During a follow-up interview in her home, she said, "As I've grown in my grief process in the last two years, the vision is still there but it has taken on a different bent for me because I'm at a point where I'm actually having fun sometimes-I can see a glimmer of light." The people who talked about their own experiences losing a child and those experts who appear in the video gave her hope.

She sees the goal of the video as threefold: (1) to give parents who have lost a child the knowledge that they're not alone, that their feelings and thoughts have been felt by others, and it will get better with time; (2) to educate the public at large on what parents who lose a child go through and what they can do to help these parents survive loss; and (3) to be used as an educational tool for medical staff in hospitals.

"What goes with the loss of a child is your meaning and purpose in life," Susan said. "It's really about hope. When your child dies, you're hopeless. You never get over it, but you will go on."

"Portraits of Grief; Badges of Courage" is currently being edited.
Xavier Sol and Credence Sol, attornies from the Liner law firm
Didi Reuben (board member), Graham &  Jennifer Woolf
Xavier Sol and Credence Sol, attornies from the
Liner law firm
Didi Reuben (board member), Graham &
Jennifer Woolf
To help with donations for this project, please contact Susan Whitmore at 310-459-1789 or swhitmore@griefHaven.org.

 

The Psychiatric Diagnostic Statistical Manual states that losing a child is a catastrophic stressor unlike any other
All of the recommendations contained in this website are from other parents who have lost a child
The Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and operates on a volunteer basis.
2003-2017 The Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation


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