Keep an eye on this page for information about our Holiday Potluck!
As we wrap up auction season, we’d like to share with you some of the lovely pictures taken at the 2014 Detlef Schrempf Celebrity Auction and Gala. The Ripple of Giving was truly felt as hundreds gave to benefit the programs of Inspire Youth Project and The Healing Center. Thank you to everyone who attended, volunteered, or donated items. Your generosity inspires us and the work we do!
On May 4th 2014, The Healing Center celebrated it’s 6th Annual May Day Walk at Gas Works Park with over 60 participants and 25 volunteers. Here are our top 3 reasons why we loved the day and are excited to keep the May Day Walk tradition going for our Healing Center community. Be sure to check out the pictures below.
1. YOU – Nothing makes us happier than seeing our Healing Center friends and families come together. We believe so much benefit comes from meeting others that have shared the experience of walking through grief. While this year it was under more drops of rain than rays of sun, we are so grateful for all who joined us and those who couldn’t make it but supported their friends and family in other ways. You are our inspiration.
2. The chance to remember – Transitional periods can be difficult – even the transition between seasons. As we move swiftly into spring, we enjoyed the opportunity to do some reflection during the art activities during the Walk. We wrote a message to our loved one on a message flag. We considered what we’d say to them in a private message. We contemplated the meaning of short-blooming cherry blossoms during origami folding. We stood with everyone and felt the words of the poem, “We Remember Them”.
3. Support for our programs – With the combined donations from The May Day Walk and GiveBIG two days later, we received $63,053 from our generous supporters. This doesn’t even include the GiveBIG “stretch funds” that will be applied to our GiveBIG donations soon. These funds mean so much to The Healing Center and our community. They keep our doors open, buy pizza for our weekly children’s groups, make healing client retreats possible, and help to train our dedicated volunteers – all contributing to our overall mission of offering a safe, loving place that honors grief, helping you to move through it and heal. We thank those who fund-raised for us, our wonderful donors, and our $5,000 sponsors, Safe Crossings Foundation, Nintendo, and University District Kiwanis. THANK YOU!
When 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: http://bit.ly/N6GgIu
This week The New Yorker featured an essay written by Mark Slouka, “Nobody’s Son”, 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.”
When asked about her experience at The Healing Center, this is what one of our Perspectives Group widows had to say:
What impact has this group experience had on your grief journey?
My grief journey became not only possible, but hope-filled and finally joyful.
What were the most valuable aspects of the group experience for you?
I knew I could say whatever was on my heart and others in the group would “get it”.
What did you learn about “where you are” in your grief journey right now?
It was a relief to learn that where I am at any moment is not where I’ll be for the rest of my life. I am not going to get crazier, but I will learn to live with the circumstances of my life.
What changes have you seen or experienced in yourself that you might be able to attribute, at least in part, to your participation in the group?
I can be joyful (without guilt)!
How did your participation in this group impact your relationships with others?
The trust level continues to build. Some of my “old timers” have shared a lot of deep personal stuff over the years.
If you could describe in a sentence or two what this group meant to you what would you say?
I continue to be amazed that the sharing of life experiences profoundly impacted by grief can be so empowering and uplifting.
The Healing Center is proud to share The Dougy Center on National Public Radio and in the New York Times. The Healing Center’s children and parents’ programs is modeled after The Dougy Center and our Founder and Program Director have participated in training at The Dougy Center. We whole heartily support The Dougy Center’s Executive Director, Donna Schuurman, belief that
“a lot of kids, one of the biggest needs they have is to know that they’re not alone, they’re not the only one this has happened to, it’s, as Melissa said, again, it’s OK to feel sad and it’s OK to feel happy. So kids like to look at photo albums, to do things like oh let’s go have a root beer float – remember, your dad loved root beer floats.
Let’s do positive things as well in his memory so that we can honor him. And I don’t find – you know, I think that most people are not dwelling in a negative way. I mean, I know when I die I want people to be sad, and I want them to remember me. I think most of us do. But we’re in a society that’s urging us to put it behind us, and I think that that actually is what complicates things for children and often makes it more difficult for them to grieve and mourn in healthy ways.”
The entire program is linked below as well as the transcript. If you would like to celebrate your loved one with us, please join us for our Dia de los Muertos, Friday, November 2 (for more details click here.)
The Dougy Center’s Executive Director Donna Schuurman, and former Dougy Center participant Melissa Loveless-Boynton, were recently featured on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” which aired live nation-wide.
The program focused on “How to Help Kids Handle Death and Grieving.” Donna discussed how parents can talk to their children about death, and the importance of being honest. She also emphasized the need for grieving children and adults to feel that they are not alone and that they are being heard. Melissa discussed her experiences along with her daughter Chloe’s after her husband (and Chloe’s father) was killed in Iraq. The show also included several callers from around the country.
Recent national media attention of The Dougy Center (see the recent New York Times article) underscores the importance of peer support groups for grieving children, teens, young adults and their parents. The Dougy Center is honored to be at the forefront of these discussions, and we look forward to expanding our services to grieving children and families.
Stephen F. Dapogny, a gifted writer, devoted father and my loving husband, wrote the following poem in the Spring of 2009, a year after his father’s death. On September 24, 2011, Steve was struck and killed by a car while crossing Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, IL. The world lost a sensitive, honorable, capable and caring man that day. I lost my best friend of thirty years and my children lost a father who raised them from toddlers as an at-home Dad. I am incredibly grateful to have his poems to remind me what a talented man I had the good fortune to know and love for over 30 years. Steve also wrote this blog during his father’s battle with Alzheimer’s. As you’ll see, Steve wrote from the heart. Few hearts are not moved by his words
Nothing is Forever
Not the deserts. They were once seas.
Not the beaches. They always move.
Not the rocks and the mountains. Erosion takes its toll.
Multiplied by time
Wreak havoc in our world
In slow motion
Nothing lasts forever
Least of all me
Not my thoughts. Not my memories.
Not my words. I will be nothing.
But there is forever
And there is continuity
Whether men remember or not
When they pause and reflect
On what has passed before
The fact of the matter
Is matter is me
I cannot be created or destroyed
But only changed from one form into another
So the very atoms of my existence
Will continue in this world
Until this world ends
Whereupon they will be released into the universe
As matter or energy. Or particles or waves.
But that bit of energy, that bit of mass
Was once me
And therefore I will stay
In this world, of this world
But still here, disparate parts
They spring anew and oblivious back into circulation
Of the water of the hydrosphere
Of the carbon in the food chain
Of the energy used to produce
A new person
And some small part of me will be useful
Will be part of the world
Part of the life of those to come
Part of the very matter of their existence
Even though they do not see me
Do not feel me
Do not remember me
I will always be there
We have found here at The Healing Center that the holiday season can be an exceptionally stressful time for many of us. When you have experienced the loss of a loved one, it can often feel overwhelming to navigate all that is expected of you. When you are trying to merely survive each day, this added pressure can sometimes feel like too much.
Now, especially, is the time to reach out to your supports and tap into your resources. For some, a support might be a massage, a warm bath, or writing in your journal. For others, it may be calling a good friend who understands, reaching out to another group member, taking a walk in nature, or doing something creative.
Whatever you do, it is equally important to ask yourself “Do I need this? Do I want this?” And of course, don’t forget when you are making plans to create an escape route. Plan A is always an option, but have you thought about a Plan B or maybe even C?
Remember, you always have options. Ask yourself or others for what you need. Even if you change your mind several times, go with what feels most comfortable to you. Most importantly during this time, be gentle with yourself. In doing this you are honoring not only yourself and family, but your loved one as well.
As always, The Healing Center wishes to extend to you and your family grace and peace during this holiday season.
Your Healing Center Support Team,
Dani, Tom, Rebecca, Lisa, Jane, Scott, Michele, Marshall, Mary, Jill, Jeanne and Brian