THC SPOTLIGHT

Headshot of Gracie Breunig
FALL 2020

Gracie Breunig

Young Adult Group

A few months after my dad died, I didn’t know where to turn. I wanted to be able to connect with people who understood, share experiences, and find ways to move through life with loss with the support of others. I didn’t want to burden the people in my life with things they didn’t understand. I knew I couldn’t do it by myself and I was looking for a group of people who might be able to understand what it’s like to grieve. It’s the club you don’t want anyone else to have to be a part of but if they end up joining, you’re thankful for them being there. Losing someone can be incredibly isolating and I was hoping there was a place out there like The Healing Center to not only get some help myself but try to help others as well.

The experience I have had with the Young Adult Group at The Healing Center is beyond what I ever could have expected. I was hoping I’d find a group of people who understood a sliver of my experience, maybe wouldn’t judge me if I shared something personal, and could share a few ideas for how I could learn to live with loss. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to connect with people or that I would be an outsider but what I have discovered at The Healing Center is a group of caring, honest, thoughtful, trustworthy, and understanding people who truly believe in the good of the group. My secret hope was that I could even find a group of people who could laugh through all of this-and I did.

Our facilitator Jourdan is incredible. He is respectful, patient, supportive, and truthful while simultaneously being wonderfully blunt, funny, and thought provoking. He finds ways for our group to contribute and connect over shared experiences without forcing it. He is one of the biggest reasons I have continued to come back week after week. Our group wouldn’t be nearly as awesome if it weren’t for Jourdan. Thank you for everything you do, Jourdan!

While web-based meetings certainly aren’t ideal, I have found them to be incredibly helpful. We are in a time of continuous grief and having regular group meetings has not only provided a place to share and connect but also to heal and grow. I think our virtual group works because everyone remains vulnerable and open despite the distance. I think Jourdan does a great job setting the example for how to bridge the gap through our screens. Thankfully, everyone in the Young Adult group does the same and we continue to connect despite the distance. While I miss seeing everyone in person, I am incredibly appreciative for the virtual meetings because grief doesn’t stop just because we can’t meet in person.

WINTER 2020

Maygan Wurzer

A dear friend who lost his spouse let me know about your amazing organization. When my husband died just before Christmas, the start of the New Year was beyond imaginable. I was grateful to have a place to reach out that I knew would be of ‘help’ on my new path in life.

The people who work here – tirelessly! They make sure families, clients, and children have a warm, inviting space to come to — in order to be seen, feel heard, and supported. I’m inspired by the caring staff and look back on my time in groups with a lot of gratitude for the folks who work here. It is also a privilege to be remain connected to clients – now friends – whom I met at THC as we all navigated the early stages of grief together. I’m inspired by their resilience and the sense of community we have built with each other.

For me, having a weekly support group was incredibly meaningful – as it allowed me a chance to come up for air, connect with others in similar circumstances and realize I was doing the best I could. In that small living room, we were able to share anything that we felt and hold space for each other – it was a true gift and that allowed me to feel however I felt and then keep moving forward.  The several retreats organized by clinicians were also super-valuable – as it allowed time and space to explore my grief further and connect with fellow group members over longer periods of time too.  We are so fortunate for THC – and I believe I am thriving today because of the services I received.

It would be my hope that more people become aware of the power of THC and what incredible support it offers to people on the unwelcome journey through loss. Wouldn’t it be ‘great’ if everyone knew about THC and the connection people can find when they are brave enough to go? I think one of our biggest goals as we move forward, is to help convey the importance of mental health — it is inseparable from grief and loss – and one of the best ways to be mentally okay is to find a place that upholds everyone — wherever they are at — in that journey.  The Healing Center IS that place – a safe community for children and adults to experience all that comes with the death of a loved one and still find ways to being ‘okay’ again.  I am grateful to THC for allowing me an outlet for my grief and helping me (and my children) move forward in life.

SUMMER 2019

Jason Chu

January 1st, 2018 my wife, Alice, died of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. She was diagnosed as stage III September 2016. All of her treatments (mastectomy, chemo, and radiation) were completed May 5th 2017 and we were hopeful about her recovery. In July 2017, she had pain in her shoulder blades that was a tumor in her liver. We started chemo treatment again, but the cancer was too aggressive. After a trip to Disneyland in early December, she was enrolled in hospice care and died at home the evening of New Year’s Day.

Our son Lucas was 2-3 during her cancer and probably doesn’t remember a time when his mom wasn’t sick. He’s 4 now and we both went to The Healing Center looking for help through our grieving process.

Finding people who actually get it. Very few people truly understand what it’s like to have someone you love be with you one second, with all of the potential of the future stretching out ahead of you, and then the next second have all of it ripped away. When it happened to me I felt like one entire side of my body had been torn off and everything was exposed and raw to the world. Being able to just sit with a group of people who know that feeling is really helpful, even though none of us want anyone to ever feel that again.

My son, Lucas, benefits from Littles Group as well. He gets excited the whole week before group and loves every minute of being there. Afterwards he’s noticeably calmer and happier. We both regret it any time we miss a Littles Group!

Now that I’m more than a year out, I’ve been able to rebuild parts of my life. I still feel like I’m running close to capacity, but have some breathing room. I have learned that it’s ok to depend on other people sometimes. As I move to Transition Group, I’m interested to find ways to continue growing as new challenges arise in the coming years.

That each day comes with its own unique challenges. Some days will be easy and everything will go smoothly. Other days the big accomplishment is getting out of bed. I have learned to constantly remind myself of that and not be too self-critical when times are tough.

It’s also really helpful to remind myself that everyone grieves in their own way and time and there’s no wrong way to do it. Anyone who tells you otherwise should mind their own business.

I’ve been dating someone who really loves Lucas and has a son of her own! We’re working out how to build our lives together.

Now for the hard-hitting questions: What is Lucas’ favorite thing to do or thing to play with at The Healing Center?

Lucas loves playing doctor and cooking in the kitchen with his friends are The Healing Center.

The Chu Family
The Chu Family
SUMMER 2019

Jason Chu

January 1st, 2018 my wife, Alice, died of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. She was diagnosed as stage III September 2016. All of her treatments (mastectomy, chemo, and radiation) were completed May 5th 2017 and we were hopeful about her recovery. In July 2017, she had pain in her shoulder blades that was a tumor in her liver. We started chemo treatment again, but the cancer was too aggressive. After a trip to Disneyland in early December, she was enrolled in hospice care and died at home the evening of New Year’s Day.

Our son Lucas was 2-3 during her cancer and probably doesn’t remember a time when his mom wasn’t sick. He’s 4 now and we both went to The Healing Center looking for help through our grieving process.

Finding people who actually get it. Very few people truly understand what it’s like to have someone you love be with you one second, with all of the potential of the future stretching out ahead of you, and then the next second have all of it ripped away. When it happened to me I felt like one entire side of my body had been torn off and everything was exposed and raw to the world. Being able to just sit with a group of people who know that feeling is really helpful, even though none of us want anyone to ever feel that again.

My son, Lucas, benefits from Littles Group as well. He gets excited the whole week before group and loves every minute of being there. Afterwards he’s noticeably calmer and happier. We both regret it any time we miss a Littles Group!

Now that I’m more than a year out, I’ve been able to rebuild parts of my life. I still feel like I’m running close to capacity, but have some breathing room. I have learned that it’s ok to depend on other people sometimes. As I move to Transition Group, I’m interested to find ways to continue growing as new challenges arise in the coming years.

That each day comes with its own unique challenges. Some days will be easy and everything will go smoothly. Other days the big accomplishment is getting out of bed. I have learned to constantly remind myself of that and not be too self-critical when times are tough.

It’s also really helpful to remind myself that everyone grieves in their own way and time and there’s no wrong way to do it. Anyone who tells you otherwise should mind their own business.

I’ve been dating someone who really loves Lucas and has a son of her own! We’re working out how to build our lives together.

Now for the hard-hitting questions: What is Lucas’ favorite thing to do or thing to play with at The Healing Center?

Lucas loves playing doctor and cooking in the kitchen with his friends are The Healing Center.

FALL 2019

Karen Fite

My partner of 40 year (and wife of three years!) died of cancer in April of 2018. Niki was 79 when she died. We had a strong, deeply loving, extremely honest relationship and I was left with no “if onlys” or regrets. I was just left with sadness so deep and disorientation so profound that I was shocked by it. I continue to be. Before I arrived at The Healing Center I was reading books about grief and realized that there was so much more to this experience than I had known. I had experienced deaths of people close to me–but I had had Niki to help me through. Losing a partner after so long a time was indescribable. Awful. Profound. Unbearable–but there was nothing to do but bear it.

We had the help of Evergreen Hospice and they sent me information about bereavement groups they offered. They had one for gay and lesbian people who had lost their partners, so I signed up for that, but then there were not enough people enrolled. When they called to tell me that group was cancelled, I asked if there were any groups that were closer to home than Bellevue, and they mentioned The Healing Center to me.

At the time, I thought I was doing well–but thought Niki would like me to go to a group for a bit. Niki was a wonderful child and family therapist. When she was dying, I promised her that I would be okay. So for Niki, and because suddenly I didn’t really have anything much to do, and because I was curious, I went for an intake at The Healing Center! The intake therapist I met with was gay and I thought that was nice. Talking with him and crying my way through an interview I realized that perhaps I did need a little help! I was sorry there was no gay and lesbian group but decided to just join with the group for older people who had lost spouses/partners.

The most important thing about The Healing Center is sharing experiences with others in my group. They are people I can laugh and cry with, people who also didn’t know what to do with the shoes left behind, people I can talk with about the household responsibilities that each of us now shoulders alone, and the feelings of craziness, emptiness, disorientation and lack of purpose. As Megan Devine says – it was my tribe. It didn’t matter whether we were gay or lesbian or straight. We were all in this together and the experience was so extreme and so profound that it transcended all kinds of difference. I have come to love and feel deeply connected to the people in my group. I never anticipated the depth of these connections, the friendships that would arise, or how important each group meeting would become to me. The world is divided into those who know and those who don’t or don’t yet know. I have many wonderful friends among those who don’t yet know, but having my tribe here at The Healing Center is essential to me. I want to mention how important Mary Jackson has been — throughout the changes in therapists she has been an anchor for me and for the group – and has inspired me to think about becoming a volunteer at The Healing Center.

FALL 2019

Karen Fite

My partner of 40 year (and wife of three years!) died of cancer in April of 2018. Niki was 79 when she died. We had a strong, deeply loving, extremely honest relationship and I was left with no “if onlys” or regrets. I was just left with sadness so deep and disorientation so profound that I was shocked by it. I continue to be. Before I arrived at The Healing Center I was reading books about grief and realized that there was so much more to this experience than I had known. I had experienced deaths of people close to me–but I had had Niki to help me through. Losing a partner after so long a time was indescribable. Awful. Profound. Unbearable–but there was nothing to do but bear it.

We had the help of Evergreen Hospice and they sent me information about bereavement groups they offered. They had one for gay and lesbian people who had lost their partners, so I signed up for that, but then there were not enough people enrolled. When they called to tell me that group was cancelled, I asked if there were any groups that were closer to home than Bellevue, and they mentioned The Healing Center to me.

At the time, I thought I was doing well–but thought Niki would like me to go to a group for a bit. Niki was a wonderful child and family therapist. When she was dying, I promised her that I would be okay. So for Niki, and because suddenly I didn’t really have anything much to do, and because I was curious, I went for an intake at The Healing Center! The intake therapist I met with was gay and I thought that was nice. Talking with him and crying my way through an interview I realized that perhaps I did need a little help! I was sorry there was no gay and lesbian group but decided to just join with the group for older people who had lost spouses/partners.

The most important thing about The Healing Center is sharing experiences with others in my group. They are people I can laugh and cry with, people who also didn’t know what to do with the shoes left behind, people I can talk with about the household responsibilities that each of us now shoulders alone, and the feelings of craziness, emptiness, disorientation and lack of purpose. As Megan Devine says – it was my tribe. It didn’t matter whether we were gay or lesbian or straight. We were all in this together and the experience was so extreme and so profound that it transcended all kinds of difference. I have come to love and feel deeply connected to the people in my group. I never anticipated the depth of these connections, the friendships that would arise, or how important each group meeting would become to me. The world is divided into those who know and those who don’t or don’t yet know. I have many wonderful friends among those who don’t yet know, but having my tribe here at The Healing Center is essential to me. I want to mention how important Mary Jackson has been — throughout the changes in therapists she has been an anchor for me and for the group – and has inspired me to think about becoming a volunteer at The Healing Center.

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