A parent learns how to live after loss

Link

neal-and-kids-runningA parent learns how to live after loss
 November 16 at 6:00 AM

On Feb. 24, 2014, 39-year-old mom of three Jennifer Bush-Lawson was hit by a truck that was passing too close to her parked minivan; at the time, she was buckling her toddler into her car seat outside her oldest child’s elementary school in Arlington, Va.This horrific event caused an entire community to catch its collective breath and catalyzed a network of friends, neighbors, family and co-workers who had all been touched by Bush-Lawson’s gentle and generous spirit. But it was her husband, Neal Lawson, suddenly a widower with three young children at the age of 41, who had to shoulder the burden of every family’s nightmare.

jen&kidsFor the past 2½ years, Lawson has been managing his own loss and grief while balancing the emotional needs and daily schedules of his growing children. When I ask Lawson how he’s been able to get through the unthinkable while still being present as a dad without just throwing his hands up and saying I quit, he laughs at my perception. “Sometimes you do just throw your hands up — but not for long.”

From a position of experience and wisdom he’d never hoped to have, Lawson shares his thoughts and advice on dealing with profound loss — whether managing your own grief or helping a friend through a particularly tough time.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help. “It sounds like common sense, but it’s harder to do than you realize,” admits Lawson. In striving to keep a sense of normalcy in his children’s lives, Lawson says he leans heavily on friends and family for everything from sports and birthday party car pools to last-minute child-care favors. And shortly after the accident, Lawson’s parents moved in with him and his children for nearly a year; his in-laws are frequent visitors.

“I can’t do everything,” says the full-time tech entrepreneur and single dad. “Even when there were two of us, we couldn’t do everything.” He prioritizes his kids’ busy schedules by continually asking himself: When do I have to be there? When would it be good to be there? And when is it okay to let someone else help me with that? “You’re actually doing better for the kids by shoring up your support system with friends, family and child care so that they can continue to live as normal a life as possible without a mom. They still need to play sports, have play dates, be reprimanded and be enriched.”

Be practical. In the wake of tragedy, everyone wants to drop off food, but there are many ways to help take daily stresses off a grieving family’s plate. “One family gave us paper goods,” remembers Lawson. “It seemed odd at the time, but we used every bit of it and were thankful when we didn’t have to worry about doing the dishes.”

Sites such as SignUpGenius or SignUp.com (formerly VolunteerSpot) help organize the supporting community and allow people to sign up for things that are most needed: play dates for kids, rides to doctor’s appointments, grocery store runs. A close friend or family member can set up and monitor the activity so that it doesn’t need to be managed by the grieving party. And when friends do drop off meals, consider requesting that they be delivered to a neighbor’s house to avoid awkward invasions of privacy or bad timing.

It’s okay to say no. Not every offer of help is actually helpful. “Everyone wants to help, but people can’t always appreciate other factors that may make their timing less than ideal,” Lawson says, graciously. “Don’t be afraid to turn down an offer if it’s not helpful at that time.” But, he adds, let that person know that you appreciate their offers of help, even if their timing isn’t spot-on.

You can also say “no, thank you” to an offer to help but suggest another way or time in which you might need assistance. For example, maybe you don’t need dinner delivered because your freezer is overflowing with lasagna, but it might really help you to have someone walk your dog while you’re at your kids’ soccer tournament.

Create something good. As a way to honor Jenn’s life and work through his own grieving process, Lawson and his family members founded the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation, which helps economically vulnerable mothers and infants get access to lifesaving pre- and postnatal care.

JB-LFbaby1“This is a matter that was near and dear to Jenn’s heart,” her husband explains. All three of Bush-Lawson’s pregnancies were complicated, and all three of their children were born prematurely. “We had given to organizations that supported those needs in the past, but establishing this foundation in her name was a way to formalize the legacy of her generous spirit.”

This Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, the foundation will host its second annual 5K and family fun day. “This is also a way for the kids to get involved with carrying on their mom’s memory. In the weeks before, we hand out fliers to neighbors on the race route, we put out yard signs, the kids ask to ‘train for Mommy’s race’ with me. It gives them opportunities to ask questions and talk about Mommy, and it’s a positive way to keep her memory alive.”

For the full story, go to the Washington Post at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/11/16/a-parent-learns-how-to-live-after-loss/

 

JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION HOSTS 7 ON YOUR SIDE PHONE BANK “HELP FOR NEW AND EXPECTANT MOMS”

Image

JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION HOSTS 7 ON YOUR SIDE PHONE BANK “HELP FOR NEW AND EXPECTANT MOMS”
Arlington – November 3, 2016

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (“JB-LF”) was proud to host a phone bank hotline dedicated to helping new and expectant moms on ABC 7 WJLA.  The phone bank was staffed by an expert panel from area hospitals, non-profit organizations, and medical practices.  For two hours, calls were fielded from around the DC metro area.  While phone conversations were confidential, Facebook Live footage from ABC 7 WJLA can be viewed here.

“The JB-LF envisions a community where every new mother and newborn receives the support they need to thrive,” said Neal Lawson, Founder and CEO.  “This phone bank allowed the JB-LF to offer confidential support in our current focus locale of Arlington County and to the broader DC Metro area.  We are grateful to ABC 7 WJLA and host Kimberly Suiters for giving us a platform to help on a large scale.”14980603_1795783473996940_1351982510178740362_n

With years of combined experience and service, JB-LF partners addressed a breadth of concerns from callers regarding post-partum depression, nutrition, breastfeeding, finding insurance, accessing social services, development milestones and more.

“We are humbled by the amazing team of professionals that volunteered their time to answer questions with grace and compassion.  The panel helped make important referrals to concerned mothers and their family members.” said JB-LF Executive Director, Ashley Leonard. “This was a great service to the community.”  The team of professionals included:

Adrienne Griffen
Founder and Executive Director, Postpartum Support Virginia

Andrew Markowski, MD
Emergency Medicine, Suburban Hospital

Bonnie Williams, MSN, RN
Senior Director for Women and Infants, Virginia Hospital Center

Dena Carey, RN
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Virginia Hospital Center

Jyl Elizabeth Pomeroy, RN
Facilitator, New Parents Support & PostPartum Support Groups, Virginia Hospital Center
Manager, Mental Health, Arlington Free Clinic

Karen King, Certified Nurse Midwife
Arlington Women’s Center

Lillian Del Priore, RN
Labor & Delivery, Sibley Memorial Hospital
Instructor, STORK LLC, Provider of Child Birth and Care Classes in the DC Area

Nidhi Rustgi Reva MPH, PA-C
Physician Assistant, Drs. Reiter, Hill, Johnson & Nevin
Founder/Owner, STORK LLC, Provider of Child Birth and Care Classes in the DC Area

Terry Rollo, RN, MSN, PNP
Nurse supervisor, Northern Virginia Pediatrics

About the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation:
Established in December 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Founded in the belief that every mother and every child deserve important healthcare services for a healthy start in life, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation provides access to medical services, counseling and support for economically vulnerable mothers-to-be, newborn babies and postpartum mothers who don’t have the means or resources to start their journey on solid footing. Jennifer Bush-Lawson dedicated her life to her children and to being the best mother possible. She believed that every mother – regardless of race, color, creed, or economic status – should have an opportunity to do the same.

Virginia Hospital Center Announces $100,000 in Proceeds from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5K

Image

Virginia Hospital Center Announces $100,000 in Proceeds from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Memorial 5K

Proceeds Will Support Newborn Care at Arlington Pediatric Center

For Immediate Release

Maryanne Boster
Director of Corporate Communications
Virginia Hospital Center
tel: 703.558.6595

Arlington, VA (February 24, 2016) – Virginia Hospital Center is pleased to announce that Arlington Pediatric Center (APC) will be the beneficiary of a $100,000 contribution from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF). On the first anniversary of the formation of the foundation, the JB-LF dedicated $100,000 in proceeds from the JB-LF Memorial 5K & Family Fun Day to support primary care for newborns at APC. APC was established by the Hospital in 2001 to provide medical care to underserved Arlington children.

“Jennifer devoted her life to being an exceptional mother to her children, and as part of her legacy, we are funding an entire year of newborn well-child medical care for 240 newborns in our community who otherwise would have no access to basic healthcare,” said Neal Lawson, Founder & CEO of the JB-LF. “Arlington Pediatric Center and Virginia Hospital Center are our partners in carrying out Jenn’s vision to provide the best possible start in life for every child.”

Arlington Pediatric Center annually provides primary and acute medical care to more than 3,400 uninsured children and children of low-income families each year. “We are truly honored to partner with the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation,” said Arlington Pediatric Center Medical Director Dr. Tatiana Zenzano. “In just one year, JB-LF has become the single largest donor in supporting newborn care at APC. Primary care for newborns is central to our mission to ensure that every child in Arlington has access to care, regardless of their family’s financial circumstances.”

The Jennifer Bush Lawson Memorial 5K & Family Fun Day took place on November 21, 2015, and featured a 5K, Kids Fun Run, and outdoor festival. More than 1,500 people attended the event held at the Knights of Columbus in Arlington, Virginia, including more than 1,000 adult and children runners. “Beyond their exceptional financial contribution, the JB-LF has raised significant awareness of the medical needs of vulnerable pregnant women and infants living in our community,” said Jeffrey DiLisi, MD, Virginia Hospital Center Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. “Serving their complex healthcare needs requires many resources and in the JB-LF, Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington Pediatric Center have found an essential partner in providing high-quality medical care to low-income and uninsured women and children.”


 

About Virginia Hospital Center

Virginia Hospital Center has provided exceptional medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for over 70 years and was named a 2015 Top Hospital by The Leapfrog Group and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals® and 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals® by Truven Health Analytics. The hospital is a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network – a national network of independent healthcare organizations. Virginia Hospital Center is a 350-bed not-for-profit, teaching facility, and it is designated as a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. For more information on Virginia Hospital Center Health System, please visit www.virginiahospitalcenter.com.

About Virginia Hospital Center Foundation

Established in 2007, Virginia Hospital Center Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization dedicated to raising funds to advance healthcare excellence at Virginia Hospital Center.

 

Arlington family fulfills mothers dream after her death

Image

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.14.45 PM

Arlington family fulfills mothers dream after her death

ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA9) — Every mother has likely been there. You’re leaning into the car, trying to quickly buckle up the kids as traffic drives by. That everyday routine cost one Arlington mother her life when a dump truck struck and killed 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson in February 2014.

Now, Neal Lawson and the family are fulfilling her dream.

Each school day starts like your average busy household with young children. Dad criss-crosses the house gathering up 7-year old Cooper, 6-yearold Booker, and 4-year-old Sadie, who was just two-and-a-half when mommy was killed buckling her in to the car seat.

“Last thing she does before bed every night is she has two little pictures above her dresser and she kisses and hugs both and says goodnight to mommy before we put her down,” said Lawson.

It’s been a tough journey filled with counseling, tears, anger and lots of love and support. Neal’s parents stayed for year and now a nanny helps with the morning routine.

“Every morning when they climb into my bed nice and early there’s that moment when I wish I was still asleep, but it’s a blessing to have those three beautiful children as a reflection of her for me to hold and touch today while we remember the amazing person she was,” he said.

Jennifer Bush-Lawson was an artist, an athlete, a mother and a giver; just beginning to donate to new mothers in need of medical care. It’s a vision she started years ago, a dream her family is now fulfilling in the first annual 5k and family fun day in her memory. Neal won’t take credit for doing it all, but Jennifer would be proud.

The race steps off at 8 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus on Little Falls Road in Arlington Saturday, Nov. 21st. The family fun day features moon bounces, face painting, obstacle courses and a beer garden. All proceeds benefit the Jennifer Bush Lawson Memorial Foundation and provides pre-natal and post-natal services to mothers in need through the Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington Pediatric Center. To register or learn more click here: http://jenniferbushlawsonfoundation.org.


Read the the full story and see the interview here: http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/2015/11/18/arlington-family-lawson-death-dump-truck/75987886/

Husband honors late wife with amazing foundation: The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation

Image

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 1.42.02 PM

Husband honors late wife with amazing foundation: The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation

Neal and Jennifer Lawson used to talk about how blessed they were.

After 13 years of marriage, they had a happy home in Arlington, with three thriving children: Cooper, Booker, and Sadie.

“She was an incredible mother, ” said Neal of Jenn. “The best I’d ever seen. She poured her heart and soul into it.”

Life as they loved it changed for the Lawsons on February 24, 2014, when a passing dump truck caught the door of Jenn’s minivan as she strapped in Sadie, who was just two years old. The impact knocked Jenn to the ground and ultimately took her life.

Police investigated the accident and looked for every possible distraction. Was the driver texting? No. Was he impaired? No. In the end, his rig was too wide for the narrow lane in front of Nottingham Elementary school, and he was charged with failure to pay full attention. He expressed remorse before a judge and spent 6 days in jail.

Even though every day Neal has to drive his children by a small angel statue that marks the place where the tragic accident happened, he does not dwell on the sudden and brutally unfair end to her life. Instead, he is focused on bringing fairness to families at the beginning of theirs.


Read the the full story and see the interview here: http://wjla.com/news/local/husband-honors-late-wife-with-an-amazing-foundation-the-jennifer-bush-lawson-foundation

Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Announces Appointment of First Executive Director

JENNIFER BUSH-LAWSON FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF FIRST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

ARLINGTON | October 5, 2015 – The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (“JB-LF”), a non-profit organization aimed at creating access to quality prenatal and postnatal care for economically vulnerable mothers and babies in Arlington, VA, has announced the appointment of Ashley Donnelly Leonard as its first executive director.  Ashley will be integral in leading the organization’s first major fundraising effort – the inaugural Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation Memorial 5K and Family Fun Day on Saturday, November 21. http://jenniferbushlawsonfoundation.org/programs/5k-memorial

“We are very pleased to welcome Ashley to the JB-LF,” reported Neal Lawson, Founder and Board Chair.  “Ashley will bring leadership, organization and creativity to our fundraising efforts and a deep sense of commitment to our mission.  The addition of professional management to the JB-LF gives us the opportunity to pursue growth and maximize the impact to our mission.”

Ashley has spent the last seven years as a pro bono consultant to Washington area non-profit organizations, providing strategic planning, marketing, board development, and financial advice.  She currently sits on the board of Girls on the Run-DC and has served as their Treasurer.  In addition, her diverse experience includes investment banking, program and general management, new ventures development, event planning, and human capital training, management and acquisition.  Ashley holds a BS in Commerce from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Darden School of Business.

“I am honored and excited to serve in this new role,” remarks Ashley.  “As a mother of three, I understand and deeply appreciate the necessity of regular, quality prenatal and postnatal care to get families off to the best possible start. The JB-LF’s unique partnership with the Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington Pediatric Center puts the organization in an excellent position to make a significant impact in the early health of Arlington’s economically vulnerable children.”

Established in December 2014, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Founded in the belief that every mother and every child deserve important healthcare services for a healthy start in life, the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation provides access to medical services, counseling and support for economically vulnerable mothers-to-be, newborn babies and postpartum mothers who don’t have the means or resources to start their journey on solid footing. Jennifer Bush-Lawson dedicated her life to her children and to being the best mother possible. She believed that every mother – regardless of race, color, creed, or economic status – should have an opportunity to do the same.

Website:
http://jenniferbushlawsonfoundation.org

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/JenniferBushLawsonFoundation

Contacts:
Neal Lawson
Founder and Chair, Board of Directors
Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
[email protected]

Ashley Donnelly Leonard
Executive Director
Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation
[email protected]

 

 

‘Mommy was in an accident’: A family tries to heal after a fatal tragedy

Image

Washington Post Article by Matt Zapotosky, March 1, 2015
‘Mommy was in an accident’: A family tries to heal after a fatal tragedy

When Sadie Lawson spots her dad on his computer or phone, the 3-year-old will sometimes hop onto his lap with a simple request: “I want to see Mommy.” Together, she and Neal Lawson scroll through the pictures — Mom at the beach, Mom in her wedding dress, Mom helping her children carve pumpkins — their moods instantly uplifted by the memories.

About a year ago, Jennifer Lawson had just loaded Sadie into her minivan outside of Arlington’s Nottingham Elementary School when a passing dump truck hit her — a grisly crash that left three children without their supermom. Neal Lawson, 42, said he told his kids that night what had happened: “Mommy was in an accident and was killed, and the doctors did everything they could but she didn’t make it.”


Read the the full story here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/her-love-lives-on-family-friends-recall-va-woman-killed-outside-school/2015/03/01/00cc5f66-bc48-11e4-8668-4e7ba8439ca6_story.html

Foundation Created in Memory of Va. Mother Killed in Tragic Accident

CBS Local Article by Chuck Carroll, February 25, 2015
Foundation Created in Memory of Va. Mother Killed in Tragic Accident

ARLINGTON, Va. (WNEW) — It’s been more than a year since an Arlington woman was struck and killed by a dump truck as she was putting her child into the car.

Now, her grieving husband is honoring her legacy by helping the most precious lives.

It was a dream that began before Jennifer Bush-Lawson’s life suddenly ended in front of an elementary school in February of last year. Her husband Neil Lawson says she felt a calling to help.


Read the the full story here: http://washington.cbslocal.com/2015/02/25/foundation-created-in-memory-of-va-mother-killed-in-tragic-accident/

Foundation Started in Memory of Nottingham Crash Victim

Arlington Now Article by Ethan Rothstein, February 25, 2015
Foundation Started in Memory of Nottingham Crash Victim

On the one-year anniversary of his wife’s death in a car accident in front of Nottingham Elementary School, Neal Lawson launched a foundation in her honor.

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation formally launched yesterday with a mission, according to a press release, of providing funding for “access to medical services, counseling and support for economically vulnerable mothers-to-be, newborn babies and postpartum mothers who don’t have the means or resources to start their journey on solid footing.”


Read the the full story here: http://www.arlnow.com/2015/02/25/foundation-started-in-memory-of-nottingham-es-crash-victim/

Foundation Launched in Memory of Arlington Mother Killed in Tragic Vehicle Accident

FOUNDATION LAUNCHED IN MEMORY OF ARLINGTON MOTHER KILLED IN TRAGIC VEHICLE ACCIDENT
Foundation to Help Mothers in Need of Prenatal and Postnatal Care 

ARLINGTON | February 24, 2015 – The Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JB-LF) today announced its formal launch on the one year anniversary of her passing at a memorial service in her honor.   Jennifer Lawson passed away on February 24, 2014 in a tragic accident when she was struck by a passing dump truck while loading her youngest child into her car seat in front of her son’s school.  Neal Lawson, husband and father of their three children has founded the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (www.jb-lf.org) to honor the incredible mother and person Jennifer was and her passion for ensuring access quality prenatal and postnatal care for mothers and infants.

The JB-LF is built on the belief that every mother and every child deserves equal access to prenatal and postnatal healthcare services in order to ensure a healthy start in life.  Despite being an accomplished athlete living a healthy lifestyle, Lawson struggled with difficult pregnancies and premature births, but was fortunate to have excellent healthcare that resulted in the healthy recoveries for all three of her children.

The JB-LF provides funding for access to medical services, counseling and support for economically vulnerable mothers-to-be, newborn babies and postpartum mothers who don’t have the means or resources to start their journey on solid footing.  Lawson dedicated her life to her children and to being the best mother possible. She believed that every mother – regardless of race, color, creed, or economic status – should have an opportunity to do the same.

“Jennifer was an amazing wife, mother and woman. There is no better way to honor her memory than providing mothers-to-be the opportunity to be the best mother possible and providing newborn babies a healthy start at life,” said JB-LF Founder Neal Lawson.

Virginia Hospital Center Foundation and Arlington Pediatric Center are key strategic partners in carrying out the vision of the JB-LF.  With generous support from community members, JB-LF has already supported families in the Arlington community by funding prenatal care for expectant mothers as well as well-child exams and specialty care for the newborn infants of economically vulnerable mothers.