Roy Gilbert

Caryn M. Sullivan: The Anna Westin story

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Her tombstone reads, “In my end is my beginning.” Twenty years after her tragic death, these words represent Anna Westin’s legacy.

On Feb. 17, 2000, Mark and Kitty Westin found their daughter’s lifeless body in their Chaska home, a note nearby bearing the final words of a prolific writer: “I’m sorry. I love you.”

It was not inconceivable that Anna might die from the eating disorder she was diagnosed with at age 16. That she would do so at age 22, by her own hand, was quite unexpected, though.

Kitty Westin quickly realized the family was at a crossroads.

They could choose to be bitter. Or they could choose to be better.

They could dwell on why their daughter had lived with and died from a disease from which she found no other escape.

But answers to “why” questions tend to be as elusive as sunshine in November.There was another choice.Rather than wrestling with “why,” the Westins could focus on how.For Kitty Westin, mother of four, the question was how she would transform her grief into something positive so it wouldn’t destroy her and her family.Kitty is a high-energy woman. She was raised by a mother who modeled grit and fortitude and taught her to have an open heart and mind. She realized that her upbringing could help her to survive her overwhelming grief.The family made a choice. Not only would they focus on how to move forward, they would be very transparent as they did so.The decision was bolstered by Anna’s words, housed in […]

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