MADD honors vic­tims at cer­e­mony

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mar­ian Den­nis mden­nis@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Mar­i­anDen­nis1 on Twit­ter

Lisa Varelli de­scribed the grief of los­ing her child at the hands of a drunk driver dur­ing a cer­e­mony Thurs­day.

CONSHOHOCKEN >> “Even on days when I am able to smile, my chest feels the sink­ing weight of my child’s ab­sence. And some­times I feel like I will ex­plode from the grief.”

Lisa Varelli de­scribed the grief of los­ing her child at the hands of a drunk driver dur­ing a cer­e­mony Thurs­day hon­or­ing vic­tims and their fam­i­lies.

The cer­e­mony, held by Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing, of­fered fam­i­lies a chance to grieve, re­mem­ber and share sto­ries of their chil­dren or fam­ily mem­bers who were lost at the hands of driv­ers who were un­der the in­flu­ence.

The evening, held at Spring Mill Fire Com­pany, be­gan with a short wel­come and an ad­dress by Claire Drexler from the Cen­ter for Loss and Be­reave­ment.

Drexler took her time at the mi­cro­phone to dis­cuss grief and how the process is unique to each per­son. In her ad­dress, Drexler en­cour­aged fam­i­lies deal­ing with loss to help oth­ers learn about their spe­cific needs while griev­ing.

“Un­for­tu­nately we live in a world that is some­what death-deny­ing. Be­cause peo­ple don’t want to think about death very of­ten, it some­how be­comes the job of the peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced the loss to teach the helpers how to help. I call this the bur­den of the be­reaved,” said

Drexler. “It’s an in­ter­est­ing po­si­tion to be in but I en­cour­age all of you to take on this task; to tell peo­ple what you need, what helps you … You know that grief never ends, that it’s al­ways with you but oth­ers do not, and not sur­pris­ingly, they will look to you to tell them what is help­ful and what is not.”

Fol­low­ing Drexler’s ad­dress, Lisa Varelli and Linda Sposato ad­dressed the room with read­ings. Read­ings fo­cused on the loss of loved ones and put a fine point on what it means for fam­i­lies deal­ing with tremen­dous loss.

“What I know to be true or right or fair about the world has been chal­lenged so I’m find­ing a way, my way, mo­ment to mo­ment in this new place,” read Varelli. “There are so many things about the world which I now strug­gle to un­der­stand. Why do chil­dren die? There are so many ques­tions, I’ve learned, that are sim­ply unan­swer­able.”

The West Ch­ester Univer­sity a cap­pella group, Un­der A Rest per­formed “Hear You Me” fol­low­ing read­ings.

Fam­i­lies then had the op­por­tu­nity to place a can­dle on the ta­ble set at the front of the room and say a few words about the per­son they were there to re­mem­ber. While many chose to share happy sto­ries about their loved ones, oth­ers chose to place a can­dle and sim­ply tell the room who they were there to honor.

The Mis­sion of Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing, which be­gan in 1980, is to end drunk driv­ing, help fight drugged driv­ing, sup­port vic­tims of such crimes and pre­vent un­der­age drink­ing, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site.

To learn more about Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing visit www.madd. org.

MAR­IAN DEN­NIS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lisa Varelli and Linda Sposato em­brace after shar­ing read­ings at a cer­e­mony hon­or­ing the vic­tims of drunk driv­ing. Both women shared their ex­pe­ri­ences with grief after los­ing a child at the hands of a drunk driver.

MAR­IAN DEN­NIS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Linda Sposato reads a poem to the room dur­ing a cer­e­mony held by Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing. Sposato later shared a happy story about her daugh­ter, Ber­nadette, who she lost 18 years ago.

MAR­IAN DEN­NIS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Guests lis­ten to the West Ch­ester Univer­sity a capella group Un­der A Rest per­form dur­ing Thurs­day’s cer­e­mony. The cer­e­mony, hosted by Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing hon­ored vic­tims who died at the hands of drunk driv­ers.

MAR­IAN DEN­NIS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

The West Ch­ester Univer­sity A Capella group Un­der A Rest sang “Hear You Me” at a cer­e­mony Thurs­day hon­or­ing the vic­tims of drunk driv­ing crashes.

MAR­IAN DEN­NIS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lisa Varelli places a can­dle on the ta­ble set up in Spring Mill Fire House Thurs­day dur­ing a cer­e­mony hon­or­ing the vic­tims of drunk driv­ing. The cer­e­mony was held by Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ing.

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