Bearing Witness to Loss

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“I am walking for my mom who was my icon and for my girls who are my world,” writes my friend Lee Chipman who will be participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in Boston on May 19-20 in honor of her mother who died of breast cancer last October. Lee is pictured left with her mother Sandy, and her five daughters, Talbot, Ashtyn, McKinlay, Quincy and Emery.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Two reasons.

Because hearing the voices of women who are finding theirs, helps us find ours. And, because, psychologists who study trauma recovery have indicated that when we suffer a loss we must give testimony to someone as a way of working through the loss. In other words, we NEED to talk to one other, telling (and listening to) the stories that make meaning of our lives.

As Lee embarks on a 40-mile figurative hero's journey to eradicate breast cancer, she will be telling a story to herself, her daughters, to her friends. Importantly, Lee, and thousands of women like her, will not undertake this journey alone, for the stories we tell ourselves in isolation often lead to discouragement and failure. Lee's sister from Colorado, sister-in-law from Maryland and her sister, three of Lee's cousins from western Canada, and friends Christine Vick and Amy Moe will walk with her, supporting and encouraging her.

Because I won't be physically walking her, as many of you won't (though you still can), what can I — what can we — do?

We can walk with our hearts by making an outright donation (each participant must raise $1,800 which will fund breast cancer research). Or by attending Lee's dessert party in Shrewsbury, MA on March 23, 2007 (I will be going — the donation is $10, though I would pay $50 — her desserts are that good). Or by buying some of Lee's handcrafted goods or those which have been lovingly donated (go systergy!) about which you can contact her directly at

Most importantly, I can, we each can, “bear witness” to Lee's story, and to the story of each hero's journey. In the telling, the sHero makes meaning of her life. In the hearing, we make meaning of ours.

As you hear Lee's story, anything you'd like to share with her?

What hero's tale have you heard recently? Have you suggested that it be recorded?

Will you?

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