About cczahnow

Founder of The Shore Grief Center which encompasses Save the Teens and Wake Forest Survivors of Suicide. Author of "Save the Teens: Preventing suicide, addiction, and depression." Suicide prevention and postvention are also passions of mine. The Shore Grief Center provides free peer-based grief support groups for kids, teens, young adults and adults. Unresolved grief can manifest into depression which can lead to suicide.

10 types of support The Shore Grief Center provides



Participating at a Shore walk in 2014.

  1. First and foremost, we hold grief support groups each month for those grieving the death of a significant person in their life.
  2. Provide a group, Cameron’s Kids grief group, for children ages 6 – 12. This consists of six consecutive weeks with a meal provided before the group starts. We hold this once or twice each year – depending on the need.
  3. Provide a group just for teens (13-18). Save the Teens grief group is held for eight consecutive weeks. We have lots to teach the teens such as healthy ways to deal with their grief; not by using drugs or self-harm.
  4. Beyond the in-person groups, I answer calls from grieving adults, concerned friends and family, school counselors, mental health facilities and more requesting information about our services. Those grieving deserve, and receive, a soothing voice to help them through a confusing death (suicide, drug overdose or other expected death). There calls come in at all times during the day and night.
  5. We also provide comfort and information on our websites and Facebook pages (The Shore, Bereaved Parents, Save the Teens, and Wake Forest SOS). We are considering adding a closed Facebook group and are seeking volunteers to monitor the group.
  6. Provide support for those who have lost someone to suicide. This type of death slaps “survivors” in the face. Survivors are unclear why their loved ones choose to die. Just walking into a SOS group helps because you see there are other people who understand your pain and confusion. These groups helped me survive in 2005 when my 18-year old son choose death over life.
  7. Provide groups and support parents who have lost a child of any age. The death can be from drug overdose, murder, suicide, vehicle accident, illness – any type of death. The Bereaved Parents groups are here for them. We currently have groups in Wake Forest, Cary, Youngsville and Wilson for bereaved parents.
  8. Provide a sounding space for those grieving to express their fears, concerns, and even relief sometimes, after a death. We don’t judge or tell anyone how to feel or act. This allows bonds to form between group members who “get” how they’re feeling.
  9. Hold events where everyone can come together and relax and have a good time. Our next event (for anyone) is on 3/23. It’s our annual Comfort Food Cook Off. Click for additional details.
  10. Keep our main website, the Shore Grief Center, current with upcoming groups and events as well as helpful information and resources.

I hope this illustrates the depth and breadth of exactly what The Shore Grief Center does for those grieving.

Thanks for learning more.




What’s included in running The Shore Grief Center?


it came to my attention recently that maybe everyone doesn’t know the behind-the-scenes activities which makes The Shore Grief Center tick.

Ideally we would have a person to handle each of the following roles but as nonprofits run on donations, that’s not the case as we don’t have the funds. Each task gets done by myself currently. (P.S. I’m always hopeful I can reward myself with a small salary but that’s not always possible.)


  • Event planning
  • Marketing
  • Outreach
  • Grant writer
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Bookkeeping
  • Social media
  • Training
  • Webmaster (3 websites)

I feel sure I missed a few roles but you get the picture. We do not have office space so we save at least $1,000/month there!

So the moral of this blog is – your donation to The Shore Grief Center is needed greatly! If not for the meager salary I receive for the many roles I handle, then for the following items which are vital to accomplish our mission:

  • Website – there’s the cost of keeping the web domains yearly plus other costs
  • Insurance – we must have!
  • Phone – I get phone calls at all times during the day and night. This is a vital link to those seeking help after a death.
  • Literature and other handouts for groups
  • Office supplies – gotta have ink to print handouts, etc.
  • Mileage – to events and getting to groups (Cary, Wilson, Raleigh, Wake Forest and Youngsville)
  • Arts and crafts supplies – for kids and teens groups. And new this year, we’re trying some mindful crafts at Bereaved Parent groups
  • Meals at children’s and teens groups – this helps the harried parents or caregivers.
  • Postage – for mailing out letters and outreach info
  • Advertising – mostly on Facebook, print is far too expensive
  • Fees related to taking online credit card donations
  • Salary for Executive Director

If you can volunteer your time at one or more of the roles I listed, that would be great! But please, please consider becoming a sustaining member by donating monthly to help us stay afloat. Here’s the link to donate online – either once or monthly. You can always help by mailing a check, too (info on our website).

In next blog, I’ll share everything The Shore does to help others.

Thanks for learning more about The Shore! And thank you volunteers who do help The Shore tick the best it can!

Carolyn Zahnow

Founder and (exhausted) Executive Director

New Book – “Beautiful Disasters”

I find myself with so much going on these days that I don’t know what to work on first or last. I’m not to the point of putting out fires – yet – but I feel it coming. I released by second book, “Beautiful Disasters – A Family’s Journey Through Teen Depression,” on June 20, 2017. It’s a follow up to my first book, “Save the Teens.” In “Beautiful Disasters,” I share a glimpse into the life of my small family during my son’s last three years of his life.

His natural (or birth) father died when Cameron was two months shy of his 15th birthday. This was pretty traumatic for him even if he wasn’t living with his dad at the time. He was there when his dad died on a March night in Washington, NC in 2002.

Anyway, most of you know the story but within “Beautiful Disasters” I share what occurred each school year. It also includes some of Cameron’s blogposts which are sometimes twisted and confusing. But drugs will do that to a brain.

I share the family fights, the groundings (sometimes we lost track of what Cameron was being grounded for already!) and the confusion of living with a teen who was depressed and who was abusing drugs to the point of self harm.

Pick up a copy of “Beautiful Disasters” and learn if your teen might be on a downward spiral like our son was. Books are on sale at www.carolynzahnow.com as well as Amazon (sign up for Smile Amazon and select The Shore Grief Center as your favorite nonprofit, that way you’ll be helping others who are grieving a death).

Thanks! And reviews online are always a plus. Shoot – I might even post a vlog one of these days!

Carolyn Z

Author, speaker


We are not funded by huge organizations

I tend to forget that a lot of people know very little about The Shore Grief Center so it’s time to to set some misbeliefs straight. We are a startup 501c3 nonprofit. We receive no government funding nor any from the supersized nonprofits which will readily take your donation when you are vulnerable after a loss.

This happens time and time again. I was one of those who raised a lot of money for such an organization after my son died from suicide. I wished I had donated that same amount of time and effort to the support groups which helped me survive this horrendous loss. Perhaps they didn’t ask for a donation. But now I know they could continue to help others if they received even small donations.

The Shore Grief Center’s facilitators are in the trenches with those grieving and helping them navigate the waters of lost dreams.  And yes, we can use your donations! We can expand to help even more people who do live in areas which offer no type of grief support.

So if you’re assisting someone who has experienced the death of a loved one and they have family and friends who wish to donate in their loved one’s memory, please consider donating to your local grief support group.

Donations for The Shore can be made here. We will use your donation wisely by being there, face-to-face, who those who are grieving.IMG_0314

Thank you and I’ll be writing more blogs to let you know how we help those grieving.

Carolyn Zahnow

Founder, Executive Director

Confused Grief: The death of an ex or casual friend

JC and CC

Carolyn and JC – 1980s

We all understand grief when a parent, aunt, uncle or sibling dies. But what about when an ex dies? Ex-husband or wife, ex-boy or girlfriend or even someone you knew but not close to you yet you still mourn their death?

I knew I had this issue when my ex-husband died but didn’t consider that others had the same experience until I mentioned it during a training recently. I started attending a grief group after my son died by suicide – that one makes sense. That led me to starting a group in my town and ultimately a nonprofit that offers all types of grief groups.

I no longer attend groups, but rather I facilitate groups. I am the leader so my grief comes second to others in a group. At the training I was attending, I was a participant in a grief support group and thought I’d try out the unresolved grief I felt for my ex-husband.

J.C., my ex, died when he was 44 years old. He had melanoma which he lived with for many years but finally it manifested into a brain tumor. We were not married during his cancer ordeal.

When J.C. died, I attended his funeral as well as my husband, my sisters, mom and many of his friends that he had drifted away from over the years. Yet at the funeral there was no mention of life before his marriage to his current wife. That was extremely hurtful to his many friends and me.

I knew this man for 27 years. We may have been divorced for 14 of those years but we were still friends and in touch since we had a child to raise – even if it was a in two different states at times and with two different spouses.

Last year I experienced the death of a boyfriend from my high school era. I tried to re-ignite our relationship three times over 41 years but the flame never took over for him as it did for me. Fortunately via social media, we did communicate but did not get to see each other (in person) before his untimely death.

His death was hard on me. I even warned my husband about grief surrounding the death of an old boyfriend. He didn’t question me.

There are also deaths that affect us even though we didn’t know the person well or at all. The best example of this is when Robin Williams died (on my son’s death day – 8/11). The world loved Robin and most were strongly affected when hearing of his suicide.

It seems we’re almost embarrassed by the grief we feel for someone we didn’t know intimately or even casually. No worries – it just means you’re human and capable of feeling empathy for these special people on the edge of your life.

While some die and we don’t mourn that loss. That’s normal, too. I seem to feel this way when someone older dies. I know they lived a long life while here and when they die, they go onto a more peaceful place.

But of course when it’s a parent or grandparent who is older, there is the missing that goes along with the mourning.

So know that you’re “normal” to mourn those deaths that maybe you feel you don’t have a right to. People touch us in different ways – some very deeply. Just ride out your grief and start to remember the good times.


The Shore Grief Center



It’s been too long

The Shore Grief Center welcomes you to attend a group.

The Shore Grief Center welcomes you to attend a group.

Carolyn Zahnow with Gabby, a recent Cameron's Kids "graduate"

Carolyn Zahnow with Gabby, a recent Cameron’s Kids “graduate”

That is since I’ve written a blog for The Shore Grief Center! We have accomplished so much since the last post (11/2014).

In February 2015 we found the perfect location to hold groups and have a  real “center” now. We’re in downtown Wake Forest, NC at 116 Brooks St. in a refurbished “mill house” dating back to 1920.

Since the advent of this huge step, we’ve added more grief groups. We started with one adult group;  for survivors of suicide loss. We now have groups for kids (Cameron’s Kids Grief Group) and one for teens (Save the Teens Grief Group) and more for adults.

There are three new adult groups. “Lost Parents” for the loss of a child of any age by any means. There’s a general grief group that goes along with one held in North Raleigh. There’s also the Shore Widows group. We invite you attend the appropriate group for you.

To be more active in the vibrant downtown area, we will participate in Art after Hours every 2nd Friday at our Center. There will be art by local artists adorning our walls – I can’t wait to sign up artists for this!

We have two major fundraisers each year as well as small ones that pop up. In March there’s  the “Comfort Food Cook Off” – a favorite of many locals. In November, we walk to  remember those who have died.

As a way to get word out about our activities further, we make and sell “Shore Soap.” We sell these at local farmers markets and craft fairs. The soap smells wonderful – it’s as if you’re standing on the beach smelling the ocean. The soaps are in shapes that remind you of the sea as well: mermaids, starfish, and an assortment of shells.

Waiting for y

Waiting for y

Proof that The Shore has been busy and hopes you’ll come to visit sometime, buy some soap, join a group, donate to our efforts, or volunteer.

Stay in touch via our Facebook page – The Shore Grief Center. Sign up for our newsletter at our website theshoregriefcenter.org (there’s a Donate Now button there as well 🙂

Thanks for being a member of the Shore!


Founder and Exec. Director

Ph: 919.368.6286

Walk with the Shore Grief Center 11/1/2014

memory treeIt’s that time of year again – our annual walk in downtown Wake Forest. To be honest, for the first five years I organized a walk for AFSP for suicide awareness. Then in 2012, the Shore became a nonprofit and I felt it was time to ask for support for the work we do providing grief support groups for kids, teens and adults.

We are holding our second walk for the Shore Grief Center this Saturday 11/1/2014. We walk in memory of those who have died and to support the center. “Walk Along the Shore — a walk to remember” will start at 2:00 pm and wind through downtown Wake Forest for 2.8 miles.

We hope you’ll consider walking with us or donating to the Shore.

For more info or to donate: http://bit.ly/rememberwalk2014

P.S. I’ll be walking in memory of my son, Cameron, who died by suicide in 2005. I could walk for many others but the pain of losing him has been the hardest.

Cameron fav sr picYep, this is Cameron. This was his favorite senior picture.

Come walk with me,

Carolyn Zahnow

Pet loss – let’s feel free to talk about it

I have always felt strongly about the connection between adolescent’s loss of a pet and depression or at least grief. So much so, I held a talk for the public about pet loss and grief. I hired a pet loss expert and then it was lightly attended. It could have been that it was a Saturday afternoon but I really think people are afraid to say, “I miss my pet!”

Yesterday I was invited to share pet loss information at a huge dog event. It was a strange speaking situation in that no one was sitting directly in front of me – or even on the side – it was outside. I did see one little girl listening intently so maybe I reached one person. I let her know that her feelings do matter and it’s normal and okay to miss your dog or cat when they die.

Today’s pets in the U.S. live as long as 20 years (some cats even longer!).  Anything, animal or human, that lives with you for a long time becomes part of you. Your routines are based on their needs. Your needs are based around their routines.

For example, my alarm clock goes off in the morning at 6:25 am. I know that Sheila (our cute little Sheltie mix) will be ready to go outside and then eat her breakfast.

It’s expected and I gladly do it for the happiness she brings me everyday. I’m rewarded when I get home at the end of the day with her little nose right there at the door waiting to welcome me home. She then jumps up on my legs, ready to provide a kiss if I need one.

Sheila is 11 years old and I am so fearful of the day that she can no longer be here for us. Or that we can no longer be here for her. See how it works?

She is showing her age by moving slower and not wanting to play for long. And she’s gained some gray hairs on her muzzle. But she’s still our girl.

The reason for my extreme attachment is that Sheila was at home the morning I found my son after he died by suicide.

That morning was quite chaotic but I seem to remember putting her in the guest bedroom downstairs after EMS and the police showed up. I don’t think she went upstairs when I was up there with Cameron. She was probably scared!

When I was asked to go to the hospital with my son that morning, I was worried about Sheila. I told the detective to be sure not to let her out. He promised he’d leave via the garage so she would be safe in the house.

She has been my comfort, as well as some humans, ever since.

There are two other pets I had that I still miss to this day. I had other cats and a couple of dogs but Albert and Canzas lived longer than the others so those are the ones that remain in my memory.

Albert was a beautiful black cat that had a penchant for fighting. His ears were gnarled up from fighting other cats. He came into my life, gosh I don’t remember how, but he grew up with Canzas. Canzas was an Irish Setter we acquired in Memphis and then moved to San Diego with us and later to Raleigh. Canzas was a bit daffy but sweet all the same.

Canzas was seven when he died. A vehicle on Highway 70 in Raleigh hit him. We lived on Ebenezer Church Road quite close to 70. We always just let him outside, which was the norm during those days.

One night a band member came over and I shooed Canzas outside since we lived in a small space. He didn’t come back that night. Our neighbor came over to give us the sad news. He even offered to bury our beloved pet for us in the woods which we accepted. Losing Canzas was as hard on my first husband as it was for me.

Albert met his demise while I was living in Five Points on New Road. Albert was an indoor/outdoor cat. He loved it that way. He was a frequent visitor of our next-door neighbors, an older couple who loved Albert, too.

When he didn’t come in one morning, I suspected he was at my neighbor’s house. But instead the neighbor came over and told me that a pack of wild dogs had killed Albert. In Raleigh – wild dogs! I couldn’t believe it. I took Albert, wrapped him a quilt and buried in my to-be-husband’s back yard. Albert was 11 years old at his death.

I have gone over my time here. I have provided resources for those affected by pet loss on The Shore Grief Center’s website. You can find it here – go to the bottom of the page to Pet Loss and Grief. Take time to heal after you lose a cherished pet. You have every right to grieve – don’t apologize for it.

Take care of your pets and yourself.

Please share with your friends, families and neighbors! Thanks.


Sheila and Carolyn Sept 2014



Carolyn Z

Two / nine years – celebration and remembrance

The Shore Grief Center officially turns 2 years old on August 10, 2014! This is cause for celebration for many reasons. The biggest is, if a business is going to fail, it’s within the first two years. We continue to grow and want to do more!

The nine years part; that’s the anniversary date of my son’s death which was on August 11, 2005. Yes, I know, how ironic that the Shore’s anniversary date and my son’s death are only one day apart. Cameron must have been looking down upon me that day saying, “Go for it Mom. Go out and help those who are struggling with a death or considering suicide. If anyone can do it, you can.”

I know in my heart that I have touched others and helped them along their grief journey. People share that with me often. I never considered myself a savior by any means; just someone who knows the hurt and confusion when someone you love dies, and unexpectedly.

My son experienced death too early in his life. His dad died when he was almost 15 years old. Cameron did not live with his dad during that period but he did when he was 6 years old until the 6th grade.

A bit of background info; I was left by my first husband, Cameron’s dad, to raise him on my own when Cameron was a mere three months old. This was quite shocking and unexpected. I lived in a fantasy world for a year thinking that my husband would come back and love us. That didn’t happen. I remember the phone call clearly to this day…”I don’t love you any more. I won’t be moving back.” My heart was ripped into pieces. 123952412_6d42c1429e_q

How was I was going to raise a baby by myself? Surely I must have done something wrong. I kept this secret that my husband no longer lived with us for a year. Only two of my closest friends knew the truth and they helped me along this new path which was laid out in front of me.

The path took shape; I went back to college to receive a BA degree in Communications at NCSU, met a wonderful man who loved me and my son, traveled to other countries, lived in beautiful houses – overall life was much improved.

Life changed again after my ex’s death though. Cameron’s grief turned into major depression and was fueled by teen angst, alcohol and meth addiction. Then his death by suicide. Yet another path was to be formed.

I left my heart and mind open so the powers greater than me would lead me where I could sort all this out. And I can happily say it has all culminated with the creation of The Shore Grief Center.

I hope we can help you one day in some way. We’re here for you and your family. Thank you for your continued care, love and support.

ccz signature



Memorial Day – a day to remember the dead

IMG_5785Memorial Day hits me hardest for all the men and women who served military time in Vietnam – that is what I grew up with. We became numb to the number who died each day as shared on the national evening news. It seemed never ending.

I had an uncle, Don Voorhees, who died while waiting to board a plane for a trip home from Nam. Uncle Don was a Green Beret and quite a guy. His death saddened me. He left behind a wife and a son. I don’t remember much more. Later on his son suffered from mental illness and killed himself. Perhaps if his dad had not been killed, my cousin might have survived as well.

dog tags DC 2013

Dog tag Arlington Cemetery 2013

I just discovered this about my uncle: http://www.virtualwall.org/dv/VoorheesDL01a.htm

Peace to all who have died while in service during all the times our country has been in wars, scrimmages, protecting other countries’ freedom, and protecting us on our own soil.

Who are you remembering this Memorial Day?

Orbs at WWII Memorial, DC, 2013