By Katty Douraghy, an EO Los Angeles spouse
My husband, Jamie, has been an EO Los Angeles member for more than 10 years, and has held several leadership positions within the organization. Ever since he became a member, EO has been an active topic of conversation in our household. I’ve seen firsthand the transformational effect EO has had on him, both at home and at work. Needless to say, I wanted to experience that incredible value for myself!
Recognizing EO as a valuable driver of personal and professional growth, I attended local events as a guest, listened to amazing speakers and met countless members who, like Jamie, are committed to learning, growing and giving back. Empowered by my experiences and inspired to share them with other spouses, I helped launch a Spousal Forum in EO Los Angeles. While I was excited to better experience EO, I couldn’t have anticipated just how impactful this Forum would be, offering strong bonds and deep friendships that continue to guide me to this day.
In 2010, I discovered my Spousal Forum’s true value when I was faced with a personal crisis. That year, my mother’s lung cancer had unexpectedly returned and spread to her brain. Apart from Jamie, I didn’t know where to turn for support during this difficult period of my life. Then I remembered my Forum mates. By sharing their own experiences of dealing with loss, grief and taking care of elderly parents, I was guided through the ups and downs of managing my mother’s cancer and the toll it was taking on me, especially in those final moments.
In early 2011, my step-father and I honored my mother’s wishes and took her off of life support. She died peacefully within the hour. Honoring my mother’s living will was difficult for me, even though it was what she wanted. I viewed the responsibility as a burden, and carried much guilt and resentment inside of me. It wasn’t until I attended the 2014 EO Penang Global University that I finally found some inner peace. One of the keynote speakers, Chris Gardner, shared his story about taking care of a terminally ill loved one. He said that the greatest honor is when someone trusts you to be their voice, when they no longer have one. At that moment, my perspective shifted … and I felt a burden lifting.
Up until that point, the guilt, anger and sorrow that came with losing loved ones had become unbearable. In the months before my mom died, I had lost my father to Parkinson’s and my stepmother to a heart attack. Needless to say, 2011 was not a good year … but my Spousal Forum saved my sanity and the experiences delivered through EO helped me rebuild my spirit. For me, this journey has validated the power of EO and the benefits available to us as spouses, prompting me to become more involved in the EO community. I now volunteer as the EO Spousal Engagement Subcommittee Chair to help grow spousal involvement in all corners of the world.
Since becoming more involved in EO, I have felt it important to share the profound impact this organization can have on both the member and those around the member. There are so many ways for spouses to experience EO’s tremendous value: Take advantage of local, regional and global learning events; become a spousal champion in a local chapter; explore—or start your own—Spousal Forum; participate in the EO Youth Exchange with your child; or engage the Healthnetwork Foundation and other benefits available to EO families. All you have to do is make the decision to boldly go! EO will take you the rest of the way.
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