In Fort Wayne, Indiana on January 5, 1989, Erin Farragh - not yet six years old - died suddenly of unknown causes. Her death left a deep void in the lives of her family and friends. Erin’s parents were able to find grief support groups for themselves, but were unable to obtain adequate support for her younger siblings. The Junior League of Fort Wayne - led by Farragh family friend, Tracie Martin - founded Erin’s House for Grieving Children — the first of its kind in Indiana and the 32nd grieving center for children in the United States.
In memory and honor of Erin Farragh, the doors of Erin’s House for Grieving Children opened at the Fort Wayne Community Center on October 21, 1993 with four families participating in the very first program night.
Since 1993, Erin’s House for Grieving Children has provided a safe, nurturing, and comfortable environment for children to process their grief. They learn how to express their emotions, share their feelings, and reinvest back into their lives. They do this by spending time with other children who understand their grief. Our program reduces the negative consequences of unresolved grief. Time and time again, we have seen these children grow into compassionate, respectful, and productive young adults.
Just recently, we uncovered this treasure from Erin’s dad as he talks about his own growth. We wanted to share this beautiful gift with you:
“It has been years now since my daughter, Erin, suddenly without warning or explanation, died just two months before her sixth birthday. I have learned now that I will be able to move on. I did not have the choice whether Erin lived or died, but I do have the choice to carry on today, for if I don’t, that part of me that died when Erin did will never have new life.
It is okay for me to accept Erin’s death today. I do not have to like it, and it is okay to cry from time to time, but Erin’s life was a gift to me and her death has made me whole. I now appreciate life, and death, with a whole new understanding. And the part of me that died when Erin died has begun to grow.
As Erin’s House grows and helps to heal the grieving children and the people who live in their worlds, I will be able to let Erin go, and remember the joy she brought to all through the smiles that begin to grow on the faces of all the people of Erin’s House.
Many times I have feared the tears, feared the grief, not wanting to go through it because I thought it would be part of losing Erin, forgetting her, letting her go. But now, I know that living the tears and the grief only helps me let her go and it fills that broken heart I once had with new life and hope to be whole.
I pray that others will be given new hope and new life through Erin’s House and other means. For now I cry for joy in what I have as I know my love for Erin can never die.”
— Erin’s dad