Love, loss, and moving on

Father-daughter duo to offer support in resilience at Fall Outreach Event

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Jason and Paris Rosenthal and Amy Krouse Rosenthal in happier times.

Millions of readers wept at Amy Krouse Rosenthal's column, "You May Want To Marry My Husband," which was published in the New York Times' Modern Love section in 2017, ten days before she died of ovarian cancer. In the column, she gave her husband, Jason, permission to move on. But how would that work?

Jason Rosenthal and his daughter Paris will explain the grieving process, writing the next chapter of their lives, and being resilient after a devastating loss at the Women's Philanthropy Fall Outreach Event this month.

At the event, Jason plans to discuss his 26 years of marriage with Amy, raising their three children -- Justin, Miles, and Paris -- and creating beautiful family traditions. Some of these beloved family rituals were Jewish. Rosenthal and all three of his children attended Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, where they learned to nurture Jewish traditions. The Rosenthals loved hosting weekly Shabbat dinners where family and friends were invited to "pause, reflect, and be together," he said.

Next, he plans to discuss the experience of being with a loved one at the end of their life, and the logistics and emotions not usually discussed about end-of-life care. Finally, he will address the resilience that has enabled him to carry on, and how others can draw inspiration from his methods. "Regardless of what the loss is, it's possible to be resilient in the face of that kind of loss," he said.

One way the Rosenthals moved forward was when the publisher of Dear Girl, a New York Times bestselling children's book by Amy and Paris, reached out to Paris to ask if she would collaborate with her father on a version for boys. The resulting book, Dear Boy, reached the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller list and encourages boys while continuing Amy's legacy of over 30 widely read children's books.

Another was to offer advice to people working through grief, beginning with a Modern Love column in response to Amy's column one year later, followed by a TED Talk which "set me on a trajectory" of sharing his story that led to a memoir, My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me .

Rosenthal has found sharing his story "really rewarding," he said. "It allowed me to motivate people to understand that a big part of the story isn't just the tragedy, but resilience -- and how it can display itself in a tough situation."

Rosenthal has pivoted in his personal life to be able to help others address tragedy and move on. After Amy's death, he wrapped up his law practice and started earning a Master's in Social Work. "It's something I wanted to do to continue my role of reaching people with these themes of loss, grief, and resilience, but do it with credentials," he said.

He also founded and serves as the board chair of the Amy Krouse Rosenthal Foundation, which supports education for children and early detection of ovarian cancer. A large glass representation of the organization's logo, a yellow umbrella, now sits in Grandmother's Garden in Lincoln Park. "It's a beautiful place for us to go reflect and sit, smile or cry. It's a great addition to the park and a real honor for Amy," he said.

One of Rosenthal's biggest lessons to share is that "you can find resilience in unexpected ways in the face of a tragic event." By sharing his story with Women's Philanthropy, he hopes to help others move forward in the way he has. "I could have found myself doing the opposite," he said, "but I knew that Amy's message was there for me and she wanted me to carry on."

The Women's Philanthropy Fall Outreach Event will take place on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and virtual. To register, visit juf.org/WPOutreach .


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