Being a Lighthouse for Loved One’s in Recovery is not for sissies. This is the work of people who can do the emotional equivalent of an ironman marathon every day.

Anna Westin died as a result of her eating disorder before I got to meet her. It was through her mom, Kitty Westin that I learned about her life and got to write Anna and Kitty’s story about their journey with ed.  

Frebella Fest held their annual “Picking at the Pavilion” event  in Victoria, MN yesterday honoring both Anna (Bella) Westin and Jeffrey (Fre) Peterson. Anna and Jeff’s friends created Frebella as a festival that brings people together to remind us of the importance of friendship, family and community. And to let those facing mental health issues and eating disorders know that they’re not alone. 

Spending a sunny Saturday afternoon talking with Anna’s devoted friends from high school who cared about her so much was such a gift. What I learned was that Anna was such a trendsetter, everyone wanted to be around her and enjoy her energy. She was always creating creative things that were new and different. 

Hearing about Anna’s creative spirit gave me a much bigger picture of Anna beyond the eating disorder that consumed her and took her life. 

Becky Henry at Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior

Often I share with parents of those with eating disorders that it’s important to be a lighthouse shining the light on recovery for their child. Often this can include reminding their child of the parts of them that make them who they are. Aside from ed. 

Together we’ve seen big shifts when parents remind their kids:

  • Who they are
  • What they enjoy
  • How much they care about a thing that matters to them
  • To talk about things they used to enjoy
  • That they will enjoy those things again
  • Their life matters

These are tools all parents can be taught. It’s hard in the midst of anxiety filled moments and endless days of depression that leave a loved one on the couch in despair. There are appointments to attend, food to buy, prepare and cajole a child into eating. There are mountainous challenges. 

And…in the midst of all of these major challenges it is possible to gently and ever so sensitively sprinkle in these tidbits to remind them that someone who cares about them believes in them and sees who they really are.