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December 29th, 2022

Throwing Buoys

Headshot: JoAnn Bacon
JoAnn Bacon

After Charlotte died, Joel and I were underwater with grief. We would fight to the surface and gulp air, only to be dragged under again.  It was a cycle that would repeat over and over. There were times we were not sure how long it could continue. Would we make it? Well, the grief continues, but we are not underwater or washed ashore; instead, we support others who find themselves in murky water.

When we rebranded the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation in 2017, we were committed to providing support to grieving parents. This new initiative re-invigorated Joel, me, and the CHB organization. Grief and bereavement support are undervalued and often overlooked for feel-good causes. We get it, grief is painful to watch, and it would be easy to look away.  We thank you for not looking away.

We have supported bereaved parents in several ways through our own initiatives and partnerships with other grief support organizations. This support includes:

  • Financial assistance for grief counseling to parents of children who died by homicide.
  • Underwriting the cost of a grief summer camp for children.
  • Funding grief research to educate and advance best practices for a mass violence response.
  • Facilitating grief retreats for bereaved parents.

Many of you have been with us for ten years without looking away. You saw our tears, anger, loss of hope, and when we began to laugh again and reclaim our purpose. You stuck by us during transitions, evolutions, and when we needed time to reassess. We are tremendously grateful for your support and confidence. But you may not know the support you provided Joel and me personally.

The heart of this foundation has always been Charlotte. Our family faced the unfathomable violence against Charlotte by sharing her love and our love for her. Sharing this love helped us to tread water instead of sinking into the depths. Now ten years on, this foundation and with our community of supporters, we are equipped to throw buoys to others. We bow to all of you for thinking kindly and acting boldly. May these Acts of Love and Charlotte’s stardust continue to impact your lives and those who the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation supports.

– JoAnn Bacon

“Our personalities, experiences and relationships with the dead guide how we grieve, but the most fundamental need is the same. To hear the name of our beloved on the lips of others. Remembrance allows those left behind to keep their loved ones in the present rather than relegate them to the past.
-From JoAnn’s speech at the memorial dedication.

This article is the sixth – and last – in a series of “look backs,” originally published on Thursday, December 29, 2022.

To Support the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation, please visit our website:

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Headshot: JoAnn Bacon

JoAnn Bacon

JoAnn, along with husband Joel, co-founded the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation to honor the way their little girl lived so boldly. She and Joel also published the children’s books Good Dogs, Great Listeners and The Dogs of Newtown, written by their son and Charlotte’s older brother. JoAnn is committed to de-stigmatizing grief and bereavement, particularly child loss. Her writing has been featured in many national publications including TIME, Modern Loss, and The Mighty.

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