The Tommy Quilt Project consists of 20 lap quilts. They are memory quilts, each made from Tommy’s clothes for a friend or family member who provided enduring love and support in the aftermath of Tommy’s death.
The question is really how does someone put one’s life back together after losing a 17-year-old son to suicide?
As unimaginable as it may seem, it has been almost 10 years since Tommy took his own life. It seemed logical to recognize this milestone in a way that would mourn Tommy’s death but celebrate his life. Thus, the self-imposed deadline to complete a project six years in the making.
The Grieving Process
I have learned that everyone grieves differently. The experts say there are generally accepted stages of grief – shock or disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance/hope. Despite having worked through the process (with a lot of help from a lot of people) I still experience thoughts of guilt, anger and much sadness. To keep my sanity I have looked for ways to channel my energy in a positive way and keep busy.
Tommy’s tragic death has shaped who I am today and given me the strength and courage to be an advocate for change – change in the way we understand and treat mental illness, how we must break down the stigmas attached to mental illness and suicide, and most importantly how we can work to prevent suicide.
I was moving forward, but I needed something more. Something tangible, meaningful, creative, something new. Something I could throw myself into. Something I could control. At first learning to quilt complemented the hours of time with family, friends and personal therapy following Tommy’s death. At some point the Tommy Quilt Project became my therapy, my focus, my distraction, and an acceptable way of “letting go” of Tommy’s worldly possessions.
The Symbolism – Many hands/many hearts lighten the burden.
Completing the Tommy Quilts for the October 29 private viewing would not have been possible without the extra sets of hands to help assemble and complete the quilts. For this RoseMary is grateful to her ‘quilting divas’—as she fondly calls them.
The Lesson Learned – The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Cutting up Tommy’s clothes allowed me to create something new and meaningful to be shared with family and close friends. Each quilt tells a personal story, but it is our collective story that holds the power to raise awareness and advocate for change.
RoseMary will be forever grateful for the unconditional love and support of family and friends over the past ten years. She wants to thank everyone for sharing in this difficult but important journey.
Click images for larger view. Quilt photography (outdoors) by James M. Collins Photography.
For More, go to The Tommy Quilt Project page
We are Tommy’s family and friends – many of us were blessed with 17 years of his love and friendship, others have come to know Tommy through his legacy of friendship and our recognition of the urgency and importance of taking mental illness seriously. We are working together
- To raise awareness
- To remove the stigmas
- To further the understanding of these diseases
- To prevent the tragic loss of lives cut short by suicide
We work together – with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues and others in our community to encourage individuals to seek help for themselves or those they love and to keep our young people safe.
Check out our News page here! On this page we’ll be posting links to articles and information that will help our visitors gain a fuller perspective on the issues most important to us.
Finding Purpose in the Overnight Walk
This year the Tommy Fuss Team celebrates a decade of walking, fundraising and outreach. RoseMary Fuss has written a beautiful piece for the AFSP site that we want to share with everyone who visits here. “Finding Purpose in the Overnight Walk.”
For a mobile-friendly version of this site, please go to www.tommyfuss.org