Many people can single out the turning points in their lives: Those moments when life, as you know it, forever changes. That is especially true for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
It’s a tough club to belong to, as Monica Pedersen knows only too well.
Pedersen, currently a judge on NBC’s “American Dream Builders,” will host and be honored at the 23rd annual Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Blossoms of Hope Brunch to support Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide program. The event takes place 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 27 at Drury Lane, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace.
The Highland Park resident is known for her many home designer turns on HGTV, including “Designed to Sell,” “Bang for Your Book,” “Showdown” and “HGTV Dream Home.” She authored “Make It Beautiful” and has her own furniture and drapery lines.
But for Pedersen, the death of her twin brother, Michael McGee, remains as clear a defining point in her life as any career accolade. And she is committed to helping others work through the process and give back to the organization that helped her.
Pedersen got involved with LOSS after her brother died in 1987. “Originally they didn’t have a siblings group, it was just for parents and I would go with my mom and dad and sit in the group,” she said. When they extended the program to siblings and adult children, Pedersen joined in and stepped up. She has facilitated siblings groups and the more in-depth, intense eight-week program.
“I think about people who have lost someone recently, and (that time) is so traumatic,” she said, pointing out that for suicide survivors, there’s not only sadness, but guilt and shame.
The annual Blossoms of Hope Brunch can be a balm for the more than 900 attendees.
“When I first went, I thought people would be depressed and sad,” Pedersen said. “Instead there’s a beautiful energy and lots of hope. We honor those we’ve lost, and it’s very positive and enlightening to be with people who have been through something so hard. You walk out really inspired.”
The afternoon will include brunch, a silent auction and raffles. Pedersen will receive the 2014 Charles T. Rubey LOSS Award for the awareness she has given this issue and her support and involvement with the program.
“The LOSS program has been a huge part of my recovery,” Pedersen said. “I still think about my brother every day. But I know he’s not suffering now, he’s at peace. And I want to use him as a source of strength, not an excuse.”