Sunday 26th June 2022

Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

Trigger Warning: Suicide, Grief, Family.



Women of Courage Series. #7. Dorothy. 74/2019.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid May 2019: Wednesdays: each week.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda

Welcome to Dorothy’s story.  She is 67. In 2016 I was ‘introduced’ on-line by a fellow art lover to Dorothy who has a Mandalas For A Season Group on Facebook and in that time, we have followed each other’s stories as women of a ‘certain age and stage’ and similar careers. Dorothy’s image is her mandala for Jarrod.


This is the icon mandala for Jarrod I created in the week before he suicided.

Dorothy shares her story here:

I am into my 5th year of creating mandalas (from October 2014).

In my retirement from being a Primary School Principal, I began with Kathryn Costa’s 100Mandala Challenge, having dabbled in Zentangle previously. I found as I immersed myself in creating mandalas, the greatest inner peace I have ever known.

Little was I to know that I would be launched into a devastating grief experience in January 2016 when my 36 year old son suicided after 18.5 years of battling multiple complex mental health issues.

My mandalas provided me with solace and comfort and continue to do so.

In the first month I created a mandala for every year of his life, and then on the 20th of each month in the year after he died I created a mandala to honour his life.

I was moved to create a mandala community on Facebook after Kathryn Costa took her 100Mandala Sharing Circle off Facebook.

Because of the value I have found at various seasons of my life, I called the community Mandalas for a Season.

Apart from engaging fully in the mandala journey, the nurturing of this community for each member has deepened and grown, and I have developed wonderful friendships through this community.

I am not a professional mandala artist – for me it’s deeply personal, and an amazing healing and encouraging experience.


I have learned that the grief journey is messy, non-linear, and has no end.

It’s not a matter of getting through it. It’s a matter of continuing to breathe.

I never knew that in grief love grows.

I never knew that I would miss my son more as the days pass.

I thought that in the immediate aftermath, life would go on and the pain would dull.

I am a member of several support groups for the “bereaved from suicide”. I gain perspective from other people’s sharing and it’s been reassuring that my aches and pains, days of lethargy, a feeling of the cloud hanging low, are not unusual.

I have learned that each member of the immediate family experiences the grief differently. For one stoicism is the pattern; for another distancing oneself is needed at times, for another detaching is the way.

I have learnt not to expect that anyone else can meet my needs – that the courage to go on comes from within me, and through my mandalas.


Dorothy, I am honoured that you have chosen to share your story about your son and the journey with mandalas.

Thank you for your heart-felt words and telling us how it is and has been.

I am including Lifeline’s 13 11 14 here.



Follow Dorothy on Social Media:

Instagram: dorothy_heartfulmandalas


Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends and on Fridays, it’s Open Slather here with Alicia.

Copyright © 2019 – All rights reserved.




  1. Sucha heartfelt and courageous story to tell. Thank you, Dorothy and Denyse. #MLSTL

  2. So very sorry for your loss Dorothy. I was nearly at that awful place but luckily my son stopped. I am so happy that your mandalas bring you peace and also that you and the amazing Denyse have connected.
    Sending love.

  3. This was very touching read and so brave of Dorothy to share what helps her through these times. I like the line: I learned that each member of the immediate family experiences the grief differently, and can relate to this. Thanks Denyse and Dorothy for sharing your thoughts and story. #mlstl

  4. Dorothy, what an interesting story and I love that Mandalas have helped you to navigate your way through the deeply sad journey of Jarrod’s passing. We have a son named Jared who’s 33 and I can’t even begin to imagine the heartache that would occur if we lost him. So I’m sending you a hug and thank you for sharing such a meaningful part of your life.
    Denyse, thanks for linking this up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

  5. Dorothy, thank you for your courage in sharing your story. I am so happy that you have found ways to help you heal and navigate the journey of your life since Jarrod’s death.

    Much love

    SSG xxx

  6. Thank you for another inspirational story in your Women of Courage series, Denyse and Dorothy I can’t imagine the heartache you have suffered. It is wonderful to share your story at #MLSTL to bring hope to others and remind us that we can overcome tragedy in our lives.

    • Thank you Sue. It was Dorothy’s decision to share that was exceedingly generous and helps more of us understand the grief and impact of loss of a child -even as an adult of course, makes no difference.

      Denyse x

    • Dorothy Allison says:

      Life throws all of us curve balls at times, in the middle of it we have to take one step at a time, and trust that the sun will rise the next day.

  7. I’m sorry for your terrible terrible loss, Dorothy but pleased you have found something that helps you navigate through such a difficult journey, one that just keeps continuing. Thank you for sharing.

    • Dorothy’s story shared helps us connect more even though we are on-line. Each of us can feel the love and get greater understanding of the impact of loss of her son thanks to her courage in sharing.

      Thank you.

      Denyse x

    • Dorothy Allison says:

      Thank you- the understanding of others is a great comfort.

  8. “It’s not a matter of getting through it. It’s a matter of continuing to breathe.”

    “I never knew that in grief love grows.”

    So touched by your words Dorothy. So touched. Xx

  9. I am so sorry for the loss and I am glad you have found a way to manage the grief. I’m really at a loss for words. x

  10. Oh my gosh, my heart goes out to you Dorothy. My son has mental issues and this is my greatest fear. You are truly courageous and I wish you all the best in your healing x #openslather

  11. So grateful that you have found this beautiful, creative way to honor your son, and to keep his memory near. I would love to know more about creating mandalas. Will look up the program you mentioned, Dorothy.

    My now 92 year-old mom has attempted suicide twice in the past 8 years and made suicide outcries several more times. She has been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder and OCD. She has been on meds for about 10 years but we walk a tightrope with her, as even medicated, mom can experience suicidal ideations.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your mandalas with us.

    • Oh my goodness that is such a challenge for you (and your mother of course)….I hope you can find some peace in the mindfulness that is within making mandalas as Dorothy has. I do too.

      Denyse x