Who Helped a Grieving Mom Shift Her Perspective

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mandy Allender has been writing about her son Rory for a while now, letting her Instagram followers in on her heart and her hurt. But today, she is doing something different. “Never before had I been willing to talk publicly about Rory’s death, and I think that kind of fed into our death phobia. And I don’t want to do that,” she says.

Rory drowned in Lake Norman in February 2017. He was 19 months old. He had wandered away, and into the water, in a matter of moments. Mandy found him. She says, “The water was like a mirror. I couldn’t see anything, all I could see was the sky. Except for one little break in the water. And I just thinking to myself, ‘let that be a stick, please let that be a stick.'” But, “It was Rory. He was floating.”

At the hospital, Rory was being kept alive by tubes and machines and monitors. Mandy says, “The doctor told me, he was just incredibly kind and really lovely. And what he said was, he’s going.”

She continues with tears streaming down her cheeks, “So they took out all of the tubes, and turn off all the machines, and they let me hold my baby. And then he died.”

Mandy says the time right after Rory’s death felt surreal. Grief engulfed her. She says it, “Felt like a life that should have continued, was robbed of continuing.”

And then.

Mandy had another life-changing experience. She heard a man named Stephen Jenkinson speak.

The teacher/author/storyteller speaks thought-provoking words like: “In a culture that does not believe in ending, how do they solve heart break? Answer is: less heart.”

Jenkinson is now touring across the country, talking about death. WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty caught up with him on the road. He said, in part, of how he helps people: “Finding a remarkable, unsuspected joy there in the middle of so many things that are so grievous.”

It is a fool’s errand to try to boil down Jenkinson’s life work into a pithy paragraph, but ultimately: he says death can instead be viewed as the proper conclusion to a life instead of an intrusion. He says, “Almost no one seems to live their life as if they were going to die. They live their life in spite of that information. So when the time appears, it’s like some enormous betrayal.”

Mandy championed bringing Jenkinson to Charlotte, and he will be here Friday night. She wants more people to hear from someone who she describes as being so much closer to the truth. She says, “I think people need to get curious about what makes them so uncomfortable about death.”

Jenkinson’s show is called “A Night of Grief and Mystery.” It’s this Friday at the McGlohon Theater in Uptown. You can buy tickets here for $36 or $50 at the door. For more information about Jenkinson’s work, visit https://orphanwisdom.com/.