GiveBIG + May Day Walk

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Here at The Healing Center, May brings two of our favorite events: the May Day Walk on May 4th and The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG on May 6th.

If you have not already donated to the May Day Walk (our spring fundraiser this Sunday, May 4th) we encourage you to make your donations through The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG on Tuesday, May 6th.

GiveBIG is The Seattle Foundation’s annual one-day giving event. All funds donated to The Healing Center through the Seattle Foundation’s website between midnight and midnight on May 6th will be stretched by The Seattle Foundation and will be counted towards our May Day Walk fundraising total. Learn more about GiveBIG here, and click here for instructions on how to donate on the Seattle Foundation website.

If you have any questions about GiveBIG or May Day Walk, call us at (206) 523-1206 – we’ll get you pointed in the right direction.

To everyone already participating in or supporting May Day Walk 2014: THANK YOU!

East West Bookshop Reading: Join Us April 26th

Please join us for an afternoon poetry reading from The Widow’s Handbook at East West Bookshop. The event will be Saturday, April 26th from 4:30-6 p.m., followed by our quarterly potluck at The Healing Center from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.


As with all Healing Center potlucks, we’ll have volunteers to play with the kids so adults can have some time to themselves. It’s a two-minute walk from the East West Bookshop so stop by! Contact Cindy at to RSVP to the potluck.


See below for details:


Windows' Handbook Reading


May Day Walk 2014 – Register & Donate Today!

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WHEN: Sunday, May 4th, 12:30 – 4PM
Sign in starts at 12:30pm
Walk starts at 1:00pm
Picnic and kids’s activities start at 2:00pm
WHERE: Gas Works Park
WHY: To raise money for The Healing Center’s grief support programs
HOW: Register here to join the 2014 May Day Walk and raise funds for The Healing Center,
click here to donate!

08_Silly Jane, Alexander & Mattie_closeupMay Day celebrates the coming of summer and new beginnings, and The Healing Center is excited to celebrate this holiday with our friends, families, and community. The May Day Walk is an event to raise funds to grow our grief support programs which serve widows, widowers, children, and young adults who have experienced the premature death of a spouse, parent, or sibling.

We hope you will join us for a fun-filled day! Please encourage your friends and family to join us as we raise funds to support our healing programs. Register or donate today to support The Healing Center!

If you need any help, or have any questions about the online registration or donation process, contact Jen Power, Development Coordinator, at or (206) 523-1206 x15.

Thank you to our May Day Walk Sponsors!

Amaryllis Level – $5,000

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"Call If You Need Anything"

To DoWhen a loved one dies, it can be difficult to ask for help from friends and family when you are feeling overwhelmed.  Even when the “call if you need anything” offers pour in from generous people who want to help, we tend to suffer alone.  Our “to do” list fills up with tasks that our loved one used to complete, or chores we just don’t find the energy for anymore.

Instead of letting those tasks pile up and become a bigger problem, we encourage you to reach out to your circle of people who have offered to help. Mobilizing the “call if you need anything” offers can not only help reduce the pressure of life but can open up communication with you and your friends and family about the grief process. Take a moment to read this story of how one young widow asked her friends for help:

The Healing Center's Four-Legged Friends


As we settle into the couches, chatting before children’s group starts, we hear the front door’s usual “beep beep beep”. But instead of the pads of little feet, in comes the rush of four legs. As the panting of doggie excitement comes closer, the children’s faces light up–it’s one of our therapy dogs!

At The Healing Center, we are lucky to have two therapy dogs who regularly attend our children’s groups. Glory, a Newfoundland, and her owner Diana Stoll attend our Healing Club 4-5 and Justina, a yellow lab, and her owner Ronit Amitai attend Healing Club 1-2-3 and Gigi’s.

Therapy dogs connect with adults and children in a way that humans cannot. Being in the presence of a therapy dog can bring back happy memories of pet ownership, can calm a person down through the act of petting the dog, and can be a non-intimidating companion to talk to.

We asked Diana to tell us a little about her experiences with Glory (pictured to the right). Whether it’s a quick hug or wanting to sit down and read a story to her, Diana feels like children are drawn to Glory and Glory helps put them at ease. “What they say to Glory might not have anything to do with grief or The Healing Center, but she helps them open up. And if we could bring that kind of joy to people, why wouldn’t we?”



“Allow nature to take its course. Grant the sufferers the dignity of their own process. Let them define meaning. Sit simply through moments of pain and uncomfortable darkness. Be practical, mundane, simple and direct”.

These words of wisdom come from a recent New York Times article, “The Art of Presence” by David Brooks.

As many of us who have experienced grief know, the impact of having someone to be present with you during tough times is immeasurable. However sometimes what grieving people receive is anything but presence: friends choosing to “give them space”, or on the other hand, friends trying to fix their sadness or make sense of it. It can be difficult to put words to what you really need. If this NY Times article speaks to you, consider sharing it with friends and family to help them understand.


Welcome Our New Executive Director, Cindy Burdell!


We are delighted to welcome Cindy Burdell into the Healing Center family. We hope that if you didn’t get a chance to meet her at the Holiday Potluck, you will be able to meet her in January. Rebecca Soukakos, our outgoing Executive Director, will continue her service with The Healing Center as a board member.

A little about Cindy:

A Seattle native, Cindy Burdell was educated at Mills College and Western Washington University where she earned a B.A. and an MEd., respectively.  After three years of teaching, she left the profession to open a bookstore in the University District in Seattle, which she ran for 8 years.

Cindy moved to Portland Oregon to manage the care of her younger brother, affected with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  She subsequently founded and directed the ALS Association of Oregon and SW Washington to help other people affected by ALS.  During her 8 years of leadership, the organization grew from a small operation with a $7000 budget and no staff to a full-fledged chapter with a $1.5M budget and 9 staff. In 2008, having accomplished everything she set out to do in Oregon, Cindy began the transition back home to live and work among family and old friends.

After a few years working at the King County Bar Association and Northshore Senior Center, she is thrilled to be able to contribute to such a worthy organization as The Healing Center.

"Nobody's Son"

This week The New Yorker featured an essay written by Mark Slouka, “Nobody’s Son”Print, a piece that looks deep into Slouka’s own grief in the wake of his father’s death.

Although we all will have a time in our lives that we grieve the death of a person dear to us, sometimes it takes a honest portrayal such as this to realize it is a commonality we all share.

One of our goals at The Healing Center is to bring adults and children together who have similar losses so we can support each other. However, as Slouka’s essay expresses, and as grievers know, “in the aftermath of loss, the ones you love will keep you whole, but the journey is yours alone. Whatever you do, whatever you feel, becomes the map.”

We hope you can keep this in mind as we transition into a new year. “Nobody’s Son” outlines one man’s grief story but we all have our own that are ever changing as we experience new things and gain new perspectives. To end with what Slouka believes his father would tell him if he could: “You don’t love me less by living more. Live! Live like you mean it.”

Click here to read “Nobody’s Son”.

January Update – Children's Groups

Jen McCormick Clinical Supervisor

Jen McCormick
Clinical Supervisor


Dear Healing Center Families,

For those of you I have yet to meet, my name is Jen McCormick and I am The Healing Center’s Clinical Supervisor.  I hope this letter finds you well. I know that this season is a time of change and emotion, and I hope that each of you is able to find some joy and ways to support yourselves.

I wanted to share with you a few changes in the children’s programs taking place in January at The Healing Center. After researching similar grief support organizations, such as The Dougy Center, we have decided that our children’s groups will be more beneficial if we change them from two hours to one and a half hours, and increase the frequency of the groups per month.

Starting in January, all children’s groups will run from 4-5:30pm. After testing this timeframe, our hope is to double the frequency of groups in the spring, so that children will meet every other week as opposed to once a month.  We hope this model will make groups more robust, easier to attend, and that our children will form deeper connections with one another.

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Jeanne pictured with Littles Group & volunteers
holding “the” sign

In addition, we have shifted to allowing our master level interns, externs, and volunteers to take a more active role in facilitating groups, with the hopes of fostering a supportive relationship between the children and more trained grief supporters at The Healing Center.  Our clinical staff of therapists, counselors and social workers, will be supportive in supervisory roles. Jeanne Lowman has taken on this role in most of the children’s groups (Michelle Massey for the SOS Group), and I will also be available to supervise and advise our volunteers, interns, and families.

Our overall goal is to support you and your family in the most sound and effective way possible, while continuing to nurture the unique community that has always been the centerpiece here at The Healing Center. My hope is that these small changes will allow us to continue on this path of service to all who walk through our doors.Please contact me or Jeanne, if you have any questions or concerns.  I may be reached by email at and Jeanne may be reached by calling The Healing Center, (206) 523-1206 or  Thank you very much, and take care.


Jen McCormick, LICSW

Clinical Supervisor

Marshall's Story, and a Holiday Request

The families who come to The Healing Center have had their lives shattered. The unthinkable has happened – their husband, wife, or partner, their father or mother, has died.  We give them a safe space to heal and regroup, to grieve as they need, and to figure out how to live their lives now that everything has changed. By giving to The Healing Center, you can help grieving families put the pieces back together. 


Marshall Peabody joined The Healing Center community in 2006 after his wife Terri died.  Since 2006, Marshall has been an integral part of The Healing Center’s growth and evolution.  From client in the new house, to volunteer co-facilitator of the only Men’s Grief Group in Seattle, Marshall’s healing journey is an inspiration for many.  Here is a part of his story:

How did you come to find The Healing Center?

Urged by my guy John, I searched the web and found three places.  One in Federal Way, another in Bellevue, and one right in my neighborhood, The Healing Center.  I set up an appointment to talk to Kath, “come see the place..,” she said.  I didn’t realize it was an “intake,” it was more like meeting the family – the cozy space, her warm presence – I literally felt right at home, a MOST welcome feeling.

I’d found a place where I could be me; express and experience my grief, and at the same time be part of a larger community, a place where I not only “received,” but also had something to “give;” a place where I saw and felt like I had something to contribute.

My loss experience had two sides, I realized even back then, with little idea how things would evolve.

I remember that first meeting, me feeling like I didn’t need the organization as much as it could use me; that I had something to offer the group since I was already doing so well – HA!  Not that I wasn’t, or aren’t, but the experience continues to unfold in so many rich and unexpected ways, growth keeps happening in ways unimagined.  Who could have guessed I’d find such solace and affirmation in group facilitating, hospice volunteering, organ music, and our Men’s Group?

How did it make you feel to be a part of The Healing Center?

Like many widows/widowers, I found being at The Healing Center calming, nurturing; I came away feeling lifted, supported.

In a natural move towards something that felt good, I came early and stayed late. During a period of unemployment, I’d stop by to chat, hang out; after groups, I do the dishes – they’re there, they need to be done, I have the skill, and I don’t want to leave.  Hanging out morphed into hanger-on.  Help setting up the auction, serving at the auction, potlucks… I love potlucks, the opportunity to cook for other people, socialize with others who ‘get it’, drink wine, and begin to create a new ‘normal’ for otherwise solitary Saturday nights.

After 8 years, why do you choose to stay connected to The Healing Center?

Going through this experience, these experiences, your perspective shifts – it wants to, it HAS to… but finding support and help exploring this new view of life and death, it’s not easily found, certainly not in the “old world,” of people wanting me to “be over it,” to “move on.”  It’s an intense experience, with profound lessons, dearly paid for.  You can try to view it as rotten luck, the worst possible accident… but there’s a sneaky suspicion that this wasn’t an accident, or if it was, there’s some meaning buried deep down inside it.  If it didn’t happen to Terri or Jill now, something else would, eventually.

Seeing others pour through the door, in that state of total shock, absolute dismay, trying to reconcile their personal experiences of loss with their expectations of “happily ever after” – it is not just a sneaky little change, a minor tweak in my understanding of reality… NO, it is life changing, a sublime shift in consciousness, if we dare unwrap the package so ungratefully delivered.  Our loved ones died ahead of us, perhaps to help us learn a lesson, the lesson of life?

Kath, our Founder, loved to say, “be patient with yourself” and “relax around it.”  These are words of wisdom we continue to practice here at The Healing Center, and we are honored that Marshall continues to share his story with our newly grieving so as to provide hope and inspiration.  Please make a year-end gift so that more widows & widowers like Marshall can get the support they need to continue their grief and healing journeys.

Please donate to The Healing Center this holiday season – your gift will support grieving families. Click the donate button below to make your tax deductible donation now, or send a check made out to The Healing Center to 6409 ½ Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle WA, 98115.

Donate Button

Thank you for being part of the The Healing Center community, and for helping us keep our doors open for the grieving widows, widowers and families of King County.