Joanie Madsen is the president of ForMomsOnly, Inc. Originally from New York, Joanie spent thirty-five years living in Utah before moving to the beautiful island of Maui, a dream come true. She finds healing living close to the ocean, being in nature, sharing her path with others. In times of silence and BE-ing, she has discovered she needs many tools that change and evolve as she does. Joanie found ForMomsOnly in 2009, about fourteen months into her grief journey after her son, Douglas, shed his earth suit in 2008.
I am a mother to two children, one who is earth side and one who is not. My son Douglas died from the tragic and insidious disease of addiction in July 2008, and my world as I had known it was shattered into unrecognizable razor-like shards that even I could not pick up. I had landed in a foreign land with no compass, no North Star; nothing was remotely familiar. My family and friends were waving to me from a shoreline as I floated aimlessly away from where they stood watching me fade into this land of nothingness for as long as I needed to BE there.
How could anyone “help” during such a helpless time when I did not even know what I needed? Those who gathered became a silent witness to hold the space with me as I wept, rambled, shared a memory of Douglas, and they became my tribe of healers. Words felt hollow, yet a human touch, a presence were the heart tethers I sorely needed to keep me anchored and grounded into the reality of learning how to live a life without my son in his physical body.
The year of “firsts” passed, and I felt as if there was an expectation that now I was “better” and moving along so I was viewed as “She’s okay.” I remember gazing out my living room window, and everyone looked as if they were engaging in life, and my representative was out there doing the same as I could tell her to suit up and show up, yet my inner and true self were still struggling as to “how” to live into my new reality.
I stumbled upon ForMomsOnly, an online support community in September 2009, after reading an article in AARP about our founder, Barbara Smith. She was searching for other mothers who could BE with her in only the way that another who walks this path possibly can. We are a nonprofit organization that supports each woman where she is, understanding that we are each unique, and there are no finish lines or timelines on this path back to ourselves. We host retreats around the country where we gather and nurture one another and ourselves while remembering our children. ForMomsOnly continues to be one of my most powerful healing tools.