Delaware mom pushes for mental health resources following son's death

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Delaware mom pushes for mental health resources following son's death
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Wendy Eastman-Teal started blogging about her son Nolan on Facebook after his death. Those words turned into action.

HOCKESSIN, Delaware (WPVI) -- A Delaware mom is pushing for more mental health resources for teenagers following the suicide death of her son, a popular varsity football player who passed away earlier this year.

"This will be an encyclopedia of grief, if you care to read through," said Wendy Eastburn-Teal, reading one of the Facebook blog posts she's made over the past few weeks.

This week should have been the start of senior year summer for her son, 18-year-old Nolan Whitman. He should have been walking across the graduation stage and signing his friends' yearbooks. Instead, his friends signed a poster at his funeral.

Eastburn-Teal, who lives in New Castle County, knows the power of words.

"The hits just keep coming," she said, reading another one of her posts.

Nolan Whitman

She says words hurt her son, but they're also how she's keeping his memory alive.

"He was 5' 2", but his personality-- it was 10 feet tall," said Eastburn-Teal.

Whitman died by suicide on January 2.

"As of January 3rd, I was never going to be the Wendy I was. The Wendy I'm trying to be now is loud," she said.

Eastburn-Teal started blogging about Nolan on Facebook after his death.

Those words turned to action. She held a mental health resource fair in honor of her son. She's been working with Sean's House, a mental health safe haven for young adults, and she got her son's school to designate a room called "Nolan's Nook" for kids to de-stress.

Additionally, Eastburn-Teal has been meeting with local and state lawmakers about legislation to make mental health resources more accessible for teenagers.

"We need to start hearing and seeing our kids and so that's what I started speaking out about," she said.

This summer, Eastburn-Teall is streamlining all of her advocacy work into starting a non-profit called "Live Like Nolan." Its main objective is for kids to have the mental health resources they need to be successful.

"My motivation comes from the love I have for Nolan, just pure love. And I will not be embarrassed by his death. I will honor his death," she said.

In honoring her son's death, Eastburn-Teal has also found a way to use her words to help others heal.

"I want this to not be a hobby. I want this to make a difference beyond Delaware," she said.