Transforming Grief into Purpose

Genavive Edman (’13), founder and president of Coeur du Christ Academy.
Genavive Edman

December 09, 2023
Kate Vanskike (’22 M.A.) | Gonzaga Magazine Winter 2024

On a full-ride scholarship for Division I golf, Genavive Edman (’13) earned a degree in business administration with a focus on law and public policy and entrepreneurship. A minor in philosophy and experience with the Socratic Method drew her deeper into the realm of faith and reason, which she supplemented with experiences in various Christian and Catholic student groups.

Her love for all of those things came to fruition through involvement in Catholic/Christian communities in Idaho’s Kootenai County, as well as “a university-style hybrid co-op that serves approximately 90 children with part-time, affordable, integrated education in support of family life.”

But her deepest passion arose from the depths of grief after she gave birth to a son, Clark, whom she knew had a condition medical professionals called “incompatible with life.”

In a story by Edman chronicling her journey, she writes, “I was wheeled down the hallway of the postpartum wing, empty-handed and broken-hearted,” unaware that the words of St. Therese of Lisieux would ring true for her one day: “Love can accomplish all things. Things that are most impossible become easy where love is at work.”

“The loss of a child at any stage of life is no easy suffering,” Edman wrote. “In fact, I would argue that if anything could break one’s heart to the point of death it would be to experience life without your children; to continue to live while a most important part of your heart is buried in the ground.”

Edman and her husband came to understand what psychologists call post-traumatic growth – the positive change that some can have after a life crisis.

For them, that came in the form of bringing hope to the hopeless, bridging Clark’s hopeless diagnosis with the lack of hope many people have in the next generation – a generation for whom suicide is the second-leading cause of death.

“As a mother with a heart pierced for our young people and a desire for their ultimate joy, I simply could no longer sit by and watch their demise,” Edman wrote.

In 2022, she founded and became president of Coeur du Christ Academy, a mission she believes is all about nurturing high schoolers through “counteracting the cultural and educational norms which seem to be trending toward ever- growing depression, self-harm, suicide and crime rates."

This role garnered Edman recognition by the Kootenai County Young Professionals as a Top 30 under 40 in 2022.

Eight years after Clark’s passing, the Edmans are raising five children, in addition to loving the teachers and youth of the classical academy.

“One thing is certain,” says Edman. “We know that if we place our trust in Christ and rely on His love, ‘impossible’ no longer needs to be a part of our vocabulary.”

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