January 5, 2006 by

Dorothy Godfrey


Categories: Extraordinary People

When her 31-year-old daughter committed suicide, Dorothy Godfrey sought comfort at a support group for grieving parents. A man whose son had died in a motorcycle accident responded to the news of her daughter’s death by saying, “She must be burning in hell.”
Although Godfrey left that meeting in tears, she eventually found a way to deal with her loss by helping others. In 1981, she and two friends co-founded Survivors of Suicide Loss (SOSL), a non-profit, nonsectarian organization for survivors of suicide victims to share their grieving experiences in a safe and comforting environment.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, SOSL provides information and counseling to thousands, runs a 24-hour hotline, holds regular support group meetings in two southern California counties and operates a speakers bureau. The organization also publishes a newsletter and Website, and helps police, coroners, clergy, funeral directors and other members of the community understand the special needs of people who’ve survived the death of a loved one to suicide.
Godfrey was born Dorothy Henderson in Downers Grove, Ill. She spent two years studying at Northwestern University, where she met her husband, Vince Godfrey. The couple moved to San Diego in 1939 and had two daughters, Judy and Susan.
After Judy’s death, Godfrey worked on the SOSL hotline and trained many of its facilitators. She also ran in-person meetings and served on the organization’s board of directors. For her efforts, Godfrey received the KGTV-Channel 10 Leadership Award in 2000, and was named Volunteer of the Year from the Mental Health Community of San Diego in 2001.
Godfrey died on Dec. 20 of complications from congestive heart failure and kidney failure. She was 90.

2 Responses to Dorothy Godfrey

  1. Melissa

    She was one of the most amazing, approachable, loving women I ever had the priviledge to meet. I think of her often and will continue to love her for all of the good she did for our world.
    Rest in peace, dear friend.

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