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Team Charlie – A Mom Congress Delegate Shares Her Story of Grief and Healing

Kathryn Thompson

Many of us met Elise Normile at the Mom Congress conference in April.  The 2011 delegate from Virginia is easy to like.  She is genuine, kind and full of energy and passion for education.  She is a teacher and a mother of five.  In May, a little over a month after we met her, she lost her 2 ½-year-old twin boy Charlie in a tragic drowning accident.

Just typing those words makes me tear up and that’s nothing when compared with actually reading about her experiences in her own words and the words of her husband and children.  To preserve Charlie’s memory, the family has started a blog and Facebook page for Team Charlie, a group promoting organ donation and other children’s causes.

Charlie’s donated organs saved the lives of four other toddlers in the week following his death.  His family is working to enrich the lives of many more people by journaling their grief and healing and making their experiences publicly available.  Not only are the journals breathtakingly raw and pain-filled, they are beautifully written and provide a window into the experience of losing a child that I’ve never before been privy to.  They are a treasure and more so because of how difficult they must be to share.

On Sunday, their local paper The Virginian-Pilot ran a large feature story with segments of their journal and a photo essay on the family.  Please read the story and “like” Team Charlie on Facebook today.  Elise’s 16-year-old daughter Gaela runs the Facebook page and the kids love seeing all the people who care about their brother.  You may also consider donating on their website.  The money will be used by the family to support charities that are dear to them.

Elise, we all love you and wish your family the best.  Thank you for reaching out to help others in what we can only hope is the most difficult time of your life.  You are an amazingly strong woman.

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.