Home > Archive > Coping with Loss and Tragedy through Philanthropy

By Margaret Stewart

Chantal HagerMost prospective donors of the Community Foundation come to us expressing excitement, and eagerness to make an impact on the world. Their philanthropy will be a culmination of a successful career, and fulfillment of a long worked for goal. It can also be a way to make sense of an incomprehensible loss. At those times, we meet prospective donors with broken hearts and tears in their eyes. Their philanthropy will honor and celebrate a loved one’s life or protect other people’s children in their child’s name.

This week, I attended a UNR screening of the documentary Love, Chantal. The hour-long film portrayed the story of Chantal Hager’s struggle with an eating disorder that took her life.  After Chantal’s death at 19, her grief-stricken family began a fund at the Community Foundation to educate young people and their families about the dangers and warning signs of eating disorders.

The Community Foundation Stewardship staff researched educational ideas and options. We then hired a video production team, who created a film documenting Chantal’s struggle through her diary, featuring her father, her friends, and professionals in eating disorder treatment.

The video taught me that somebody dies from an eating disorder every 62 minutes—the time it takes to watch the film—and eating disorders kill more people than any other mental illness.

It also taught me about the four tasks of grief, the fourth being to find an enduring connection with your loved one while embarking on a new life.

One of the ways the Community Foundation staff serve is by helping people build this enduring connection through philanthropy. Chantal’s family shared the video shown Wednesday as part of UNR’s activities during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. We plan to help continue sharing its message with young people wherever appropriate.

Several Community Foundation fundholders have established scholarships rewarding students who excel in activities enjoyed by their children. Others have made grants to treatment centers and hospitals that served their loved one.

Loss can compel generosity and create constructive grants that help both the donor and the community. Philanthropy can express your caring, help you find enduring connection, and engage in a way that honors and heals.

If you are interested in viewing Love, Chantal, we have embedded the video on our website. Please share this link with anyone you think it might help.

Connecting people who care with causes that matter.

Please call 775-333-5499 and speak with Community Foundation staff if you would like to learn ways you can make philanthropy part of your life.

 

 

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