On August 2nd I will hit the half century mark. And while birthdays have never been a big deal for me, they were for my sister Karyn. She died last year of an eating disorder. Help me support the National Eating Disorders Association. Here is the link. And please read my sister's story below and why it is important to support NEDA. Thanks!
My younger sister Karyn was a vivacious and funny child. She had spunk and she made us laugh. She was a smart and beautiful teen-ager. But in the early 70’s we did not understand that she was a ticking time bomb. At the midpoint of her second decade of life she began to fight what would become the defining battle of her life. Miraculously and painfully for the next 30 years my sister was in and out of hospitals and treatment centers. She underwent increasingly devastating surgeries and her already debilitated body began to fail her. Looking back, there were bright spots –periods when she engaged in meaningful work, made deep connections to others, enjoyed living. And yet, by the end of her life, she was in too much pain to continue.
Karyn lived with and died from an eating disorder. It ruled and ruined her life. Over the years it was hard to know what was more infuriating, our sense of despair at the lack of answers and solutions to help her win this battle or irrational exasperation with Karyn’s own incapacity to help herself. In the last few years of her life, Karyn held on to a dream that she might be able to educate young women about her situation and help them avoid her fate. She wanted her struggle to count. After her death, her wishes led us to NEDA.
In two immediate and concrete ways, NEDA was a source of comfort to us. First, we learned how rare it was for Karyn to live as long as she did. 46 is far too short a life, and yet it is a miracle for someone with an eating disorder so aggressive. Even as my parents were racked with guilt for what they could not seem to do, they helped sustain my sister with love and support too abundant to recount. Second, months after Karyn’s passing, NEDA held its annual conference in NY which enabled me to attend. And for the first time, NEDA held a roundtable on grief and loss. Sitting in a room with 9 other family members whose daughters succumbed to an eating disorder offered solace beyond words. Each story was as unique as the special souls’ that were lost. And yet, and yet… we recognized each other. We lived through the same range of emotions, we shared frustrations and doubts and even occasionally righteous indignation.
NEDA staff at the conference could not be more helpful and compassionate. The offerings were extensive and substantive and so useful. As a professional who has worked with non-profits for almost 3 decades I could not help but be impressed with the smoothness of a complex operation. And so it is with great sadness and great hope, that our family endows the Karyn Tendler NEDA Conference Fund to enable families like ours to make the most of the extensive resources on offer at the annual NEDA conference. Through all her struggles Karyn always lived with an open heart and an open hand. In this way, her memory will be preserved.
Please give what you can. Here is the link again!