It is with much sadness that I share the news with you that Pat Hunt, one of the fiercest family advocates I have had the pleasure ever to know, lost her oldest son, Sean, who died suddenly over the Christmas holidays.
When I heard the news, my heart broke of course. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child. I can only hold out my heart to Pat and let her know that my thoughts and prayers are with her. I am hopeful that for those of you who know Pat, will do the same.
But the other thought that washed over me was about the nature of an advocate such as Pat, and the instinctual tendency to give, to be available, to be present for the pain and struggle of others. For the close to 20 years I have known her she has always presented herself as a rock, with a steady shoulder that anyone and everyone could lean on.
In addition to her direct advocacy with families, Pat, through her groundbreaking role as a family advocate for Magellan Health Services, quietly ensured that organizations such as the Federation of Families benefited through contracts and sponsorships of their annual conference and yearly children's Mental Health Awareness Week events year after year. This is who Pat is. She recognizes the importance of being there for families, for encouraging (sometimes forcefully) corporate responsibility to support the family movement, and for gently pressing people like me to keep family voice front and center in program and policy discussions.
And so, here we are, on January 15th, 18 days after her beautiful son left this earth so suddenly. Pat, being Pat, continues to advocate, continues to be a positive force for families. But maybe, just maybe, the rest of us advocates should take a moment to reach out and return some of the giving and unconditional love that Pat gives every day.
My colleague, Jane Walker, sent a note on behalf of FREDLA, sending "warm hugs" Pat's way. I echo the sentiment, and encourage Network faithful who know Pat to return to Pat just a smidge of the generous loving spirit that has brought warmth to our hearts in often the most challenging times. You can do this through a letter, an email or a contribution to either your favorite charity or the celebration of her son's life, which will be taking place in June.
Pat - Our Network family is with you in spirit. Let our love wash over you and nourish you in this time of great sadness.
- Enjoy the beautiful tribute to Sean Hunt here.
- Thoughts, prayers, and contributions can be sent to:
P.O. Box 395
Turner, ME. 04282
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President & CEO
Children's Mental Health Network