R.I.P. MentorCONNECT. To me, you will always be a gleam in your founder’s eye.

This week, something big happened.

Something I created, built, lavished with love and care (not to mention most of my time and cash) and then parted ways with – the better to give it the freedom to grow on its own – grew in a way I wasn’t expecting.

Specifically, back in 2009, I founded a nonprofit organization called MentorCONNECT. We had 8 wonderful years and then the organization ran out of funding.

We shut our doors this past Wednesday, April 5th.

I know this happens every day, probably more than once per day, all across the United States.

According to GrantSpace, there are approximately 1.5 million registered nonprofit orgs in America.

Now there are 1,499,999. Snif.

But just as I was preparing to get really upset about all this, it occurred to me….if living life is all about having experiences, learning, growing, finding out what we are made of and what we have to offer, mastering the art of detachment so what we bring into this world is then free to have its own independent life free from our influence, then isn’t this just the logical next step? 

In other words, how could I really learn this lesson and have this experience fully without an invitation to participate in the entire cycle of my nonprofit’s life – including, of course, its demise?

For obvious reasons, I’m not too keen on the word “death.”

I prefer “evolution,” or “transition,” or “dissolution,” or really anything else.

But given my long-standing efforts to find out in advance what happens after we pass, I have to admit that the word “death” is probably appropriate. I must also concede that, in this particular case, apparently my request has been granted.

Because to me, MentorCONNECT was always a living, breathing organism….or it always felt like one, anyway.

It was just made up of many people, rather than just one person.

Sure, there were forms (oh so many forms) stating that it was legal, legitimate, in existence, authorized to collect tax-free donations – I guess those were kind of like a birth certificate for a nonprofit, rather than for a person.

And now that we have, er, passed, there are more forms and still more forms….a death certificate paper trail of sorts.

And I am also going through the grief process, whether I want to or not (not, in case you were wondering). I am feeling the denial, anger, grief, bargaining and – eventually, I hope – acceptance that something that quite literally came out of me into the world has departed before I did.

That is never an easy experience to participate in.

From this, I am also learning there are all kinds of life here on this planet. There are so many different kinds of “birth” and “death.” Some hurt more in some ways and others hurt more in other ways.

Sometimes the death hurts just a few people, and sometimes it hurts many people.

And sometimes – occasionally, in rare but wonderful cases – the death helps even more people than it hurts.

I am hoping that will be the case with MentorCONNECT.

Because the truth is, while we were arguably the first to really take up the banner of peer mentoring for eating disorders recovery and study it and research it and gather data about it and work out so many kinks on how to facilitate it and offer it en masse in a reasonably efficient, effective way to the many people (in 43 countries) who were keen to participate, we will definitely NOT be the last.

Already there are other organizations taking up the mantle, taking the work further, putting new spins on what is now a familiar and welcome theme, discovering new avenues to make those essential mentee-mentor connections, and our closure in the end will likely amount to a news blip on an ever-evolving timeline describing the development of eating disorders mentoring.

Or at least I hope it will.

That, to me, would be a grand destiny – a wonderful legacy – indeed.

But for now, it’s back to the grief process for me.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever had to watch any entity or creative endeavor you loved, cherished, felt proud of, even took part of your personal identity from, depart before you did? What helped you heal and come through the experience feeling strong and positive and grateful? I would really love to hear your thoughts!