National Eating Disorders Association

In Remembrance: Karyn Tendler’s Story

Bea and David Tendler

It was very difficult for our family to lose our daughter Karyn to an eating disorder in the prime of her life at the age of 46. We and she did everything in our power to save her, and in the end, by telling her story we would like the story to be one of hope and miracles.

It was from NEDA, an organization that my daughter Pearl researched and found, that we learned that it was a miracle for Karyn to have made it to her 46th year given the acute state of her illness. Instead of looking at the glass as half empty, this mere fact helped us begin to see the glass as half full, and this was unbelievably comforting and life-changing for us.

Karyn was very special, vivacious, funny, smart, and beautiful. It was only when she was about 17 years old that our family noticed she had habits that no one else in the family had, and these habits were having a serious impact on her health. Our internist quickly diagnosed her as having an eating disorder and placed her in the hospital, and it was over a two-month period that she was able to become stable. We had hoped this would be the end, but this was only the beginning. Karyn would be in and out of hospitals and treatment centers for almost 30 years, even undergoing numerous devastating surgeries to correct her debilitated body. 

Nonetheless, there were plentiful moments of hope when we saw our daughter able to be happy and dating, working, and enjoying life. But the illness continued to assert itself. While she was fighting to get better, she wished to be strong enough to share her hard-earned wisdom and help others recover. This quality was one of the most beautiful parts of her that we will always remember. No matter what was happening in her life, her hand was always outstretched and open, hoping to give. In the end, she wouldn't have the opportunity to do this work, as the illness got the best of her.

It has been NEDA that has allowed good to come of Karyn's life. NEDA has provided us with an opportunity to carry out Karyn's dreams and wishes after her death. It has been through establishing the Karyn Tendler NEDA Conference Fund that her dreams were realized. Every year, people suffering from an eating disorder can apply for a scholarship to attend the annual NEDA Conference and find the support and resources they need to try to overcome their battle. We also established a training program for social workers at Yeshiva University so they will be able to recognize and diagnose eating disorders. We feel this is critically important given the lack of knowledge among clinicians in the field.

As much as she suffered, Karyn always wanted to help others benefit from her struggles. Through these gifts to NEDA, we see Karyn's hands at work. May her beautiful memory be remembered with love and hopefully others will be inspired to join us in this crusade.

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