Grief and Gratitude
It seems fitting to be launching the Chase Bjork Foundation website now, during the holiday season. The holidays are a time when we remember those in our lives who are important to us, and the “season of giving” surrounds us with the kindness and generosity of friends, family, neighbors and even strangers.
Almost a year has passed since we lost Chase. For our family, it has been a year filled with unimaginable grief. Queen Elizabeth is often credited with saying “Grief is the price you pay for love,” although it was actually an English psychiatrist named Colin Murray Parkes, a renowned expert on grief and specifically tragic loss who originally came up with the phrase. We, and so many others who have suffered losses, can attest that the depth of love we had and continue to have for Chase is equaled by the deep sadness we feel, missing him every day.
In the wake of Chase’s suicide, we have felt the support of a community that has seemed boundless in its compassion and love for our family. We appreciate the support and kindnesses we have received so much more than anyone will ever know. But to remain stuck in a place of sadness would not honor Chase’s life and spirit. As the months have passed, we’ve realized we have so much to be thankful for, and we are working to turn our family tragedy into a positive legacy – in the hope that it will help other teens and spare other families our experience.
Over the course of 2020, we conducted a tremendous amount of research, interviewed clinicians and subject matter experts, and spoke with other families affected by adolescent mental illness. The data and stories we uncovered were staggering, and pointed to a theme of “too little, too late” in terms of the therapeutic help that teens receive when they are struggling with mental health issues. Based on national and local data and our own experience, we identified a way that the Chase Bjork Foundation can have a real impact: to make a positive pre-crisis difference in the mental health of adolescents by educating them and their families about the symptoms and effects of mental illness. Wrapping this mission with initiatives that will empower communities to openly discuss adolescent mental illness, identify it, and know what to do about it is another important and necessary step in achieving our vision of “a world in which adolescent mental health is demystified and destigmatized.”
It is with great gratitude that we begin this journey. Knowing we are not alone helps immensely.
"They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind."
The Native American Tuscarora Tribe, Sixth Nation of the Iroquois