Written by Mandy Montgomery, donor family advocate
How do you tell a child that someone they loved passed away? How do you answer all of their questions? How do you make light of tragedy to a child? Those are just a few of the things our family had to think about and explain to Chris’s niece, 4 nephews, his son, and his step-daughter.
When our family found out that Chris was able to become an organ donor, we jumped in feet first. We saw this as the perfect opportunity to focus on Chris being a hero just like they all saw him to be. But this time…he was a real-life superhero.
The Indiana Donor Network began to invite our family to events. Any opportunity we got to bring our kids along and introduce them to other kids going through what they were going through, we took it. If we were asked to visit a location to tell Chris’s story, we invited them. Our family thought it was important for our kids to be a part of the healing process right along with us. By telling Chris’s story and educating others on the importance of organ and tissue donation, they have had the opportunity to be a part of something bigger. Our kids have had the opportunity to attend Handmade Hope events, the Indianapolis 5K, Remembrance Wall events, Gift of Life Celebrations, dying of the canal, parade walks, finding Uncle Chris at the Indiana State Fair and so much more.
We created Chris’s Crew and have made our kids official members. They love telling their friends (and anyone else that will listen) about how cool it is to be an organ and tissue donor and about all of the opportunities they have been given. They have been really excited as their first official Chris’s Crew project has been to collect bottle caps, which will soon be made into a bench in Uncle Chris’s honor! They are almost there and hope to have this project completed this Spring.
Recently, Chris’s oldest nephew got his driver’s license. He couldn’t wait to say yes to the BMV when they asked.
Including our kids in this entire process has been one of the greatest things we have ever done. They have gotten to understand exactly what becoming an organ and tissue donor means and the impact that Uncle Chris made even after he was gone.
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