She lost her 18-year-old daughter and then she thought she was losing her mind.
Linda Allen of Marshalltown took solace in support from others who have grieved similar losses to help her realize what she was going through was normal.
That group, The Compassionate Friends, has a local chapter in Marshalltown and is a peer group to help those who have lost a child no matter what age, even prematurely.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Linda Allen, of Marshalltown, holds a picture of her daughter Malinda who was killed in a car accident in 1991. Allen received the support of The Compassionate Friends and now helps others dealing with the loss of a child.
Linda Allen and her husband, Roger Allen, lost their daughter, Malinda, on Aug. 9, 1991. She was a passenger in the car of a drunk driver who crashed on Highway 14, south of Marshalltown.
At 3 a.m. the next morning, Dr. Mark Bethel was at Linda's door giving her the news.
"It was really tough," Allen said. "Mindy and I were always together and like best friends. I not only lost a daughter, I lost my best friend. It's something you never get over."
After a few weeks of mourning, Allen was led to The Compassionate Friends by her pastor Tom Bower, who was at First Presbyterian Church at the time.
"He was a life saver," Allen said. "He was there all the time."
At the group, Allen was able to talk to others who made her feel more at ease.
"It was listening to these other stories that helped me understand what I was feeling," she said. "I wasn't going crazy. It was a natural feeling."
Malinda was the youngest of the couple's four daughters. She had just graduated from Marshalltown High School that year and was looking forward to attending Marshalltown Community College.
Over the past two decades, Allen has moved from a recently-grieving member to more of a counselor-type role as a peer with Compassionate Friends. Now she is the one helping those who are dealing with a loss by telling her story.
"We try to be there to support them," she said. "You never know for sure what the need might be. You try to be there as a friend who understands the problem."
The group is a totally volunteer organization and relies on funds from the Marshalltown Area United Way.
The Compassionate Friends meet the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at First Friends Church, 2409 S. Sixth St. For more information about the group, call the chapter leader Karen Shipley-Cooper at 641-752-6983.