On Saturday, August 14, 2021, family, friends and fraternity brothers gathered at Wisteria Hall inside the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle to share their grief over the unexpected loss of one of their favorite humans, Christopher Harsh. Over the course of three weeks of intense planning, I worked closely with Chris' mama, sister and auntie to create a meaningful opportunity for everyone who loves Chris to mourn their tragic loss and celebrate his beautiful life. It is customary for me to fall in love with Epic Memorials' honorees and I very much loved learning more each day about Chris' tender old soul, his great taste in music and enthusiasm for a great game of poker, the power of his wide smile, his love for creating laughter in others, and the influential role he played in the lives of those who love him dearly.
It is with profound sadness that I share with you that Chris took his own life one month ago today. This is a very tender topic in my heart as I lost my son Asher in the same manner in 2012- his memorial being the impetus for the work I do now. I knew eventually I would be faced with being asked to host the celebration of life for someone who had died by suicide and I admit, I wasn't sure how I would manage it when that happened. But when I was asked by Chris' aunt to take on the planning of Chris' celebration of life, no contemplation was necessary: it was my natural inclination to help this family because that is what bereaved parents do for each other. We help each other survive our life-altering losses, and if we have the skill set that I do, we work with them to plan an Epic Memorial.
I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to support Chris' family and friends in the early days of processing their grief over Chris' painful decision to end his life. I am much too familiar with the level of shock and the overwhelming pain that this type of loss brings to everyone who loves the person who died. Concentrating on anything for more than a few seconds is simply impossible when your mind no longer seems to be able to think about anything other than your new reality, and putting together an event to celebrate your loved one's life feels utterly inconceivable when you can barely begin to conceive that they are gone and not coming back. This is why I do the work I do.
Thankfully I have regained enough strength and concentration over the course of the past nine and a half years that I am able to step in and take on a leadership role for grieving families as they convene to honor their lost love, and while it does bring the pain of my own loss closer to the surface again, I recognize how much my skill set and personal experience are needed by those in deep mourning. I was able to offer Chris' family insight, advice and a listening ear that no other event planner or funeral home would have been able to provide in quite the same way, all while diving deeply into Chris' life experiences, personality and preferences in order to create a memorial that would best honor and celebrate the individual that he was in life. Together with his family, we created a beautiful opportunity for everyone who loves Chris to gather together and connect in their grief, share with each other what Chris meant to them, and lead by his talented cousin, join collectively in singing Let it Be by The Beatles, a song Chris specifically asked to be played at his memorial. Throughout the gathering, I was overwhelmed more than once by the feeling that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. In the early days after losing my beautiful boy, I recall having an odd moment of clarity in which I felt compelled to somehow in the future turn my tragedy into triumph, but of course had no idea of what that would eventually look like. Now I know...this is what it looks like.
Photos of Chris' Epic Memorial can be found on the portfolio page
If you attended and were moved by Chris' celebration of life, I would be so grateful if you could take a few minutes to leave leave a review for Epic Memorials on Google.