December 2018 Newsletter
How it moves so fast from fall to winter always baffles my mind. We are in full holiday swing at the Healing Center with the holiday party on December 6th for our group members and providing extra support during a very difficult time of year. It’s been a busy fall, just a few weeks ago the entire Board of Directors and staff came together for our first (and what will become) an annual retreat. As I mentioned last month, I want to share some of the specific goals we are working towards next year.
Our two big themes are building leadership and financial sustainability. On leadership, we will continue to add new board members and hire an Executive Director. Regarding financial sustainability, this is a priority for the board to make sure we continue to build our reserves and steward the organization for the future. These are the goals we are striving to achieve by June 2019:
• Hire an Executive Director
• Build an engaged, dynamic Board of Directors with a minimum of 12 members
• Gather feedback and implement recommendations on our programs (what we call our service delivery model)
• Over 1000 individuals receiving quality services measured by satisfaction surveys
• Establish new community partnerships to better serve our group members
• Shared core values, communication, and transparency leading to a more positive organizational culture
We have lots of work to do, but we’ve got great momentum and excellent leadership from our Board, Advisory Committee and Clinical and Operations Directors.
Since January 2018, we have served over 300 group participants. That’s 197 adults, 45 young adults, and 60 kids. We’ve seen extraordinary demand for our services. In 2017, we had 190 new people reach out to the Healing Center, January through November 2018, there have been over 375 new individuals and families seeking group support. We’ve never had this kind of demand.
If you can this holiday season, please think about The Healing Center and the support you have received. We’d love to be able to provide more group support hours. Please donate to give the gift of comfort and healing to an adult or child grieving the death of loved one.
I want to thank all of you who have helped to make this safe place possible: our donors, our volunteers, our dedicated staff and interns. Most of all I want to thank those of you who are grieving and who have trusted us to help ease your load. You are the reason we are here.
A group member shared in our recent feedback survey: “I had never been to a support group before my husband died. I was absolutely reeling, and the Healing Center gave me hope and a new perspective. It was amazing to be in the room with fellow survivors who I knew could understand my feelings and not judge me. I was safe to say anything.”
On behalf of the Board and Staff, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Holiday Party & Potluck
Our annual holiday party and potluck was held on December 6th. The event was a chance for the Healing Center community to get together and celebrate the holidays in a safe and supportive environment. In addition to a delicious potluck, the children were paid a visit from Santa and received many gifts.
My life partner of 35 years died suddenly of a rip in his aorta while on a run in September of 2017. A good friend, whom The Healing Center had helped when her husband died, strongly suggested that I join the early Group. I’m glad she did.
By far, the most helpful thing about early group is sharing what’s going on and listening to others. Especially in the early months after the loss, so many people say things which we receive as hurtful (even though that is not the intention) or insensitive or preachy or full of bad advice or downright offensive. When those events are shared, everyone feels the support and understanding, even though it is most often unspoken. There is a lot of trust that develops quickly in the group. I found I was able to share feelings and events with the early group that I hadn’t shared with even my closest friends.
When hard times arise, I can hear certain people’s words of comfort and support, reminders that there is no clear time frame or process that this grief takes. We all navigate this path in our own way, in our own time, and that’s okay. Also, I hear the laughter. Life–even in its darkest moments– can be humorous. We all have laughed a lot through our tears.
Because of my personal circumstances, I’ve had to take charge of a huge clean-out process at my property. After nearly 15 months, we’re almost done. It’s been a lot of work and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. This clean-out has meant getting rid of my sweetie’s “treasures” which he spent decades collecting. But I know Bill would want me to be happy and to have a good life after he’s gone, overall it feels really good. Now that the clean up is coming to a close, I can continue to figure out what my life will be like moving forward-a daunting but also exciting challenge.
Volunteer Highlight: Linda Kemnitzer
My husband John died November 9, 2013. The last week of his life he was in hospice care at our home. After he died I knew I needed help. I signed up for a six-week bereavement group with Hospice. At the last session the facilitator passed out a list of other places to go for bereavement help, The Healing Center was included on the list. I looked at the website and decided this might be a place for me to go to receive additional support.
I attended the Early Group for about a year. It was so wonderful to be in a room of people who “got” it. The facilitators and co-facilitators were so understanding and caring. Those of us in the group could share our pain and as we went along, also share some laughter and new accomplishments as we went through our struggle.
After attending the Transitions group for a few months I knew I wanted to give back so I started volunteering. Nothing too major at first. I’d help at events and do some office work. Eventually, I realized that I wanted to give to others what was given to me by the co-facilitators during my time as a client. That’s when I asked if I could train to be a co-facilitator.
After attending the co-facilitators training, I participated in one of the client retreats. Eventually I started co-facilitating for the Adult General Loss and the Survivors of Suicide (SOS) groups. I continued volunteering at client and special events. I volunteered almost two years.
Five years is a long time to spend without your partner and the love of your life. John and I had many adventures. We were together for 34 years. I loved our life and our home in the Seattle area. After a while though I realized I was living our life alone and started wanting another adventure.
I have a dear friend that lives in the Houston area. I have visited her and her family many times over the years and I decided that I’d move to Crosby, TX. So far I am enjoying it. I bought a small home and I’m busily trying to get all my furnishings organized.
Without the help of all of the facilitators, co-facilitators, staff, and other volunteers, I would never have been strong enough to survive let alone make a big life decision to create a new adventure for myself. I’ve always believed the universe takes care of us and guides us if we allow it. I realize that I will never be the same person I was with John. I will always miss him and he will always be a part of the rest of my life. Being a part of The Healing Center, as a client and as a volunteer, helped me realize life goes on and I will be forever grateful.
The Healing Center office will be closed from December 24th until January 2nd for the holidays. All groups during this time will be cancelled.
Adult groups will resume on January 2, 2018. Please note, our children’s programming will resume the week of January 21, 2018. Please refer to our Google calendar for a more detailed view of the cancellations.
Feel free to reach out to the office with any questions or concerns. If you have an emergency during this time, call 911 or the 24 hour crisis line at 206-461-3222.