‘American Sniper’ wife coming to Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Taya Kyle, who travels the country talking about healing through the death of a loved one, will share her story in Fort Wayne next week at the Common Bond breakfast to support Erin’s House for Grieving Children.

Chris and Taya Kyle

Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL whose story was depicted in the movie “American Sniper.”

“The worst thing that ever happened in my life is losing Chris and also my kids losing their dad is really, really hard. How do you make that okay? You can’t,” Kyle told NewsChannel 15. “But you can work through it and that’s why I appreciate so much Erin’s House because, as a parent, when you’re broken too, it does help to have other people outside who can help you with the most important people in your lives. I felt like I didn’t know how I could hold it together for all of us, so to have someone on the outside to help you hold it together and support your little people is huge.”

Chris Kyle with his two children.

With more than 160 confirmed kills, Chris Kyle was considered the deadliest sniper in U.S. history. Kyle was shot and killed by a Marine he was trying to counsel at a Texas shooting range in February 2013. Taya Kyle is also the author of the book “American Wife.”

“One thing I’ve learned about grief is that it’s a lifelong deal. But, it doesn’t mean you’re forever in this dark place. What it means is different parts of your grief will creep up at different times and you’re finding a way to live while you also realize there’s something painful that will demand your attention,” Kyle said.

The Kyles have two children, who were seven and eight years old when Chris was killed. Four years after his death, the Kyle family is navigating a new normal and embracing their grief while moving forward.

“My kids and I, we talk about Chris all the time. We laugh. We share fun memories about him. We talk about the little things. We will relate what he would have said or done and we keep him alive in those ways. And then there are times where we have to just allow ourselves to just cry and mourn the loss of him being here physically. We’re able to embrace life because we’re painfully aware that we don’t know how long it will last but we’re here to grab it by the horns while we are here,” Taya Kyle said.

There are still some tickets left for the Common Bond breakfast to hear Taya’s story in person. Click here for information about how to get tickets or call (260) 423-2466.

Since opening in 1993, Erin’s House has helped nearly 20,000 people through the grief process. It’s the only free-standing center in Indiana that provides grief support solely for children and teens.

“Erin’s House is the happiest sad place that any kiddo could come to after experiencing the death of a loved one,” Audrey Gilbert, the director of development and events for Erin’s House, said. “Part of the magic of Erin’s House is the peer support we’re able to provide. Every single kiddo or teen who comes here has experienced the death of someone close to them, so it’s kids helping kids which is really neat to see.”

All the programs are at no cost to the families, which is why Erin’s House relies on fundraisers like the Common Bond breakfast.

“It makes a big impact on the services we’re able to provide – the camps, the in-school programming. We wouldn’t be able to provide those services to the community without fundraisers like this,” Gilbert said.

Children come to a group night twice a month where they are divided up by age groups. In the groups, they will do various activities that are fun, but also help with the grief process.

“Talking one-on-one with a counselor or a family member might not be the right fit for a a child who’s grieving, so giving them groups and maybe coloring pictures or making bead bracelets, it’s a different form of expressing themselves and another outlet,” Gilbert said. “Children are often the forgotten grievers after the death of a loved one. Sometimes they’re told to just play in a corner or sometimes there’s the misconception that just because they are playing, they’re not grieving, when in reality they have a lot of questions and things running through their minds and things they want to ask. Erin’s House is a safe place for them to that.”

For more information about Erin’s House’s services click here.