The services offered through The Grief Club of Minnesota have had a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of my children.
Good evening, my name is Annie Sperling, and not only am I the luckiest mom to my two beautiful children, Sam and Evie, but I am also a wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, friend and widow. It is both an honor and a privilege to join together in support of The Grief Club of Minnesota and the incredible mission they have set out to achieve.
I think most would agree that this club is not a club one would ever choose to be a part if given the option, but as many of us sitting in this room well know, life does not always go according to plan…
I met my husband, Adam, in February of 2007. We were both living in NYC at the time. He was handsome, smart, funny and kind, and in just a few years’ time, I would learn what an incredibly loving and devoted friend, husband and father he would become. We lived our lives as any young family would, working, playing, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and shuffling the kids between their weekly activities and sports. Although busy, and even a little stressful at times, we were proud of the life we had built together and always looked forward to what our future had in store.
Our first experience with death occurred rather unexpectedly. We were pregnant with twins—our sons Sam and Wesley. Amidst a rather complicated pregnancy, our beautiful Wesley did not survive the developmental challenges that had ensued for 30+ weeks. It would be a loss unlike any other, and we struggled to understand how joy and sadness could possibly coexist in the same breath. Though we had an extraordinary network of support, we never sought the therapy and counseling we needed at the time. This was only the start of our grief journey, and we knew that nothing could ever cure or heal us of our pain. It’s true that our grief was our love.
Just a few short years later, we were confronted with yet another tragedy; the death of our daughter, Eleanor at 25 weeks gestation. It was an anomaly of the brain that ended this pregnancy, with no forewarning, no early signs, no time to prepare. We were beyond devastated and having never received the appropriate counsel to try and cope with our son’s loss, our grief had quickly compounded and we were, once again, torn over knowing how to handle the juxtaposition of life and death.
We now fast forward to April of 2018, when we were devastated to learn of my husband Adam’s diagnosis with grade 4 Glioblastoma. I knew the odds were stacked against us, yet we faced each new day with grace, tenacity, hope and an astounding amount of courage. I was truly in awe of him. Through all the pain and the many surgeries and treatments, he never let his diagnosis get the better of him, and for 20 months he fought like a true warrior. His determination was exceptional and his ability to live his life without any fear of it ending is what likely contributed to the few extra months we got to spend together as a family.
For as paralyzing and as heartbreaking as our journey has been, we are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we have received over these past few years. We are grateful to our family and friends and to Sarah and Cara, for not only having the foresight to create a program that caters to the families who have loved and lost, but for opening up their hearts and extending their hands in an effort to guide us through our grief—all the ebbs and flows—and for gifting us the time and space to share our story, to cry, laugh and connect with other grieving families.
The services offered through The Grief Club of Minnesota have had a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of my children. We also know firsthand, just how invaluable and essential the program is in supporting the ongoing healing of those who have experienced the death of a loved one. In addition, these services are being provided at no cost to the family, which, in turn, eliminates any potential financial burden that might otherwise result from these types of services and support.
And so, we thank you. We thank you for allowing us to stand up here tonight to help represent the “why” behind your mission. The work The Grief Club of Minnesota is doing is truly remarkable and we are beyond grateful to be a part of your journey.