November 21, 2017
Written by: Katie Shatusky, Founder
Introducing Boomer, the Emotional Support Dog!
When you lose a loved one to suicide, there are so many emotions that lie within. Feelings of shock, denial, overwhelming grief, sadness, guilt, numbness, feelings of being dazed or detached, anger, the list goes on.
No two people experience loss in the same way. Some may experience physical symptoms such as headaches or changes in appetite and/or sleeping patterns.
The ultimate goal of healing is to accept the tragic event as something that could not have been prevented and cannot be changed. Acceptance is not the same as forgetting. Instead, acceptance is learning to live again and to be able to reopen your heart, while still remembering the person who has passed away.
With that said, one of our missions at Thumbs Up High 5K is to support our friends who have lost a loved one to suicide. One of the things we recently started doing is giving bereavement jars which contain small notes with positive quotes and thoughts of healing. You pull an envelope once a day from a glass jar and read the quote. We have found the littlest things can help heal a broken heart. We know you will never forget your loved one and we want you to know that we understand and we won’t either.
Most recently, we learned of a local family who lost their Dad to suicide. (March 2017) He left behind his two children – a son who is 13 and a daughter who is 10. When we heard their story, we were heartbroken and feeling compelled to do more. We learned that through his death, the children lost not only their father, but the home that they grew up in and also their family pet. Their Dad surrendered their dog just a few days before his passing and they were unable to get him back. Tonya, their Mom, began praying about a new dog for their family.
Her daughter, Samantha, even wrote a letter to another non-profit organization about getting a dog for their family. Her letter was heart wrenching and after reading through it, we knew this child and this family needed to have a dog of their very own.
And that’s just what we did, we bought them a puppy. They named him Boomer. He is so lovable and we are so incredibly thrilled that we were able to do this for them! We know that he will help heal their hearts and bring them together in a way only a dog can do.
Tonya, Adam & Samantha – we hope you love your new furry friend and we pray everyday that he will slurp your face with puppy kisses and remind you just how much you are ALL loved. Your Dad must be so happy looking down and watching your smiling faces light up around your new dog, Boomer. We know this is a hard time, but we hope Boomer makes things just a little bit easier for you all.
Here’s a letter that we received from Tonya about the gift of their dog, Boomer:
Good morning everyone at Thumbs Up!
I want to let you all know how full of GRATITUDE Adam, Samantha, and I are for your gift of Boomer!
Please know, the kids have been talking more and more about their Dad since Boomer, mostly stories about the dog they had with him.
Since I had never had a dog before, I couldn’t relate to their loving and losing a dog. Now I can and do. My heart is able to break with theirs.
Boomer has brought a tremendous about of smiles to our faces.
We are learning that God’s gifts don’t only come through Him carrying us through trauma and heartache… but through the unconditional love of a puppy!
It is refreshing for the three of us to be bound together by the energy of a puppy, instead of complicated grief and loss.
In many ways your gifting us Boomer has shown the kids that their Dad’s life mattered, that losing their Dad is such a big deal that a bunch of “strangers” cared enough to give us a puppy, and that they are not alone in surviving the pain of suicide.
We are definitely still in the overwhelming puppy stage (and our busiest time of year since both the kids are in competitive skiing) and at times I think “really God were you sure about the timing of Boomer?” Then I think about all the benefits I mentioned above… pray… and try to find a renewed strength.
When others meet Boomer, I always tell them he was a gift from Thumbs Up!!
May God continue to bless the work you all do! Tonya and kids
In the coming months, Thumbs Up High 5K will be opening up a program of gifting therapy dogs to those suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome). We will have an application process and are hoping to donate one dog per calendar year to a deserving family or individual who needs a little extra support. Please help us spread awareness by sharing and tagging a friend about Thumbs Up High 5K. We are hear to support our community through mental health awareness, and suicide prevention resources.
From all of us at Thumbs Up High 5K ~ Keep Moving Forward
Katie Shatusky & Jessica Hackenmueller
Founder & Co-Founder of TUH5K