The holidays are in full swing and for many of us, this time of year makes us feel joyful and full. We’re enjoying family, friends, festivities, and food, and we’re savoring all of the goodness that this season has to offer. But for others the holidays are hard. For those of us who have lost someone, whether in recent months or years ago, the holidays can often conjure up feelings of sadness and pain. While many are celebrating a season of togetherness, the rest of us may feel the pangs of loneliness as we miss the loved ones we’ve lost. Some of us may be in survival mode this time of year, striving to put one foot in front of the other each day. In an attempt to provide a sense of hope during this difficult time, we’ve gathered some ideas that may help make this season a little brighter for those of us who are missing special people that we’ve lost. Find a Way to Serve There are so many wonderful ways to serve our communities this time of year. From hosting a coat drive for the homeless community our town and collecting toys for low-income children to […]
We love listening to NPR’s This American Life each week, and we were particularly struck by an episode that we heard last month. The piece, which originally aired in May of 2015, highlighted various areas of life that are difficult to discuss with children. An entire section was devoted to talking to children about death and grief, and we were fascinated by the information we learned about a grief-counseling center called The Sharing Place. Based in Salt Lake City, UT, this non-profit organization “provides a safe and caring environment for grieving children, teens, and their families to share their feelings while healing themselves.” We were intrigued as we learned more about The Sharing Place and the innovative tactics and techniques they employ to empower children to cope with their grief. One specific way they do this is by helping children identify and share the way their love one died, developing sensitive but frank ways of encouraging children to articulate their losses directly and profoundly. “Kids sit in support groups led by grown-ups, but the point is to allow children to talk to other children about their grief. They’re encouraged to speak in concrete language about death because, the thinking […]
We are so excited to introduce you to our friend, Lennon Flowers. Lennon is the Executive Director for The Dinner Party, a non-profit organization that is changing the way we speak about grief and providing opportunities for young women and men to connect with one another through evenings spent around the table. We talked to Lennon about the loss of her mom, the structure of The Dinner Party, and the advice she has for young adults walking down a similar path. Read on to learn more about her and her inspiring story. Thank you for joining us, Lennon! You lost your mom when you were a senior in college—we are so sorry. Can you tell us about her and how that loss impacted you? My mom was many things: a middle class working mother who never quite got over her days of single parenting, a photographer and documentary film buff, a product of the ‘60s and consummate real-talker with zero tolerance of intolerance, a fiercely independent woman who told us we could be anything we wanted to be, provided we were passionate about it. She was sick for four years, and they were hard years. Her death impacted […]
We stumbled upon this amazing post by Deborah Greene, a contributor for The Mighty, a website that helps users “face disability, disease, and mental illness together.” In the piece she pens a letter to the strangers in Whole Foods who comforted her and surrounded her with love and grace when she received a phone call with the heartbreaking news that her father had committed suicide. Greene expresses her gratitude for these people, these total strangers, who rallied around her during her time of need: “If it were not for you, I don’t know what I would’ve done in those first raw moments of overwhelming shock, anguish, and grief. But I thank God every day I didn’t have to find out. Your kindness, your compassion, your willingness to help a stranger in need have stayed with me until this day. And no matter how many times my mind takes me back to that horrible life-altering moment, it is not all darkness. Because you reached out to help, you offered a ray of light in the bleakest moment I’ve ever endured. You may not remember it. You may not remember me. But I will never, ever forget you. And though you […]
We are beyond honored to feature our beautiful friend and Touch A Life’s favorite photographer, Nancy Borowick, on our blog today. Nancy has traveled to Ghana to document the work going on at the Care Center more times than we can count, and we are forever grateful to her for capturing the most perfect images of our children, staff, volunteers, and property. Within the last two years, Nancy lost both of her parents to cancer. Today she is sharing her powerful story with us, providing us with so much wisdom and inspiration. We love you, Nancy—thank you for opening your heart to us and encouraging and inspiring us more than you could ever know. How did you first hear about Touch A Life, and what inspired you to get involved with our organization’s work? I heard about Touch A Life through a stranger on a train! We were both leaving Washington, D.C., and we started talking. I had mentioned that I was working in Ghana building water wells in impoverished community, and nearly the next thing I knew I was meeting Pam at a Jantsen’s Gift book signing in New York. When I was back in Ghana the summer […]
Today we are featuring Amy Munoz, whose story is so powerful that we guarantee you will want to hunker down in front of your computer with a latte or a glass of wine and read her piece from start to finish (and then maybe start all over again). Amy and her husband, Alex, live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and they have a one-and-a-half year old daughter named Kiera. In 2013 they lost their daughter, Kaitlyn, when Amy was 39.5 weeks pregnant; in fact, they didn’t find out that their daughter was gone until they went to the hospital for their scheduled C-section. Though Amy works full time for Biosense Webster as a Clinical Account Specialist, she is passionate about her work with Hope Mommies, an organization that she serves in many ways, including by being the President of the non-profit’s Dallas Chapter. Read on to learn more about Amy, Kaitlyn, and what this mom is doing to honor her beautiful daughter’s legacy. Thank you for joining us, Amy! We are so grateful that you are willing to share your story with our readers. Can you tell us about your sweet daughter Kaitlyn? We were thrilled to find out […]
It’s easy (and fun!) to remember the exciting anniversaries and special dates in our lives—wedding anniversaries, birthdays, dating anniversaries, first-day-at-a-new-job anniversaries, heck, anything that gives us a reason to celebrate! But this post via Adulting served as a great reminder of the importance of remembering our loved one’s sad anniversaries, too, by actually marking them in our calendar and reaching out with an encouraging text, phone call, or card to let them know they are not alone on their difficult day. We loved this simple advice in the post: “…when it [the anniversary] comes (and it’s appropriate based on this friend’s personality), just send a text, “Hey, I know this is a hard day. I love you and I’m here to talk or eat ice cream with you or whatever you need.” We don’t have to go to extravagant lengths to remind the ones we love that we are there for them. The simplest of acts can serve in more powerful ways than we realize. Allow this post to encourage you in the way it encouraged us by making intentionality a priority in your relationships.
We were so inspired and moved by Joanna Goddard’s post about writing a thoughtful, genuine condolence note. It can be so hard to know what to say to a loved one who is grieving. We want to be intentional and personal and kind but sometimes, even though we know what we want to say, it’s hard to actually get the words out. Head on over to Cup of Jo to take a cue from Joanna’s prompts (things like telling stories about the loved one who has been lost and describing how you can help in specific, tangible ways), pick up a pen and an empathy card, and pop a note in the mail to someone who needs it most.
We are so excited to introduce you to Morgan Booth. We met Morgan a few years ago when she went on her first adventure to the Touch A Life Care Center in Ghana as a chaperone for a youth group service trip. We have been so blessed by her friendship and her service to our organization. This summer Morgan will be spending seven weeks in Ghana overseeing our inaugural Summer Collegiate Internship Program. Without her selflessness and willingness to sacrifice her time, the dream of ours to implement this program could not have become a reality. Read on to learn more about Morgan’s work as a travel nurse, the impact the loss of her father had on her life, and they ways she stays motivated and inspired even when times feel tough. Tell us about your job as a travel nurse. What does a day in the life of a travel nurse look like, and how did you end up in this line of work? I first heard about travel nursing when I was in college working on my nursing degree. I knew immediately that I wanted to pursue that career one day. My love for travel has […]
We were so inspired by this post by Joanna Goddard about a truly unique way that she showed support to her grieving sister. Joanna’s twin sister, Lucy, lost her husband, Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, last March after a valiant battle with lung cancer. He was just 37 years old. Joanna writes about spending time with Lucy this past fall when she came to visit Joann’s family in Brooklyn: “She was grieving the loss of her husband, Paul, and she felt very lonely. ‘I feel like bursting into tears when I think about returning to an empty house,’ she told me. She said it still felt like the house she shared with Paul, but she wanted it to feel like a home of her own, where she could have a fresh start with her daughter. So, we brainstormed: What could we do to cheer up her place? I reached out to my super talented interior-design friend Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook and Juniper Studio, and she was kind enough to agree to help. What she did was more than we had ever hoped for.” Hop over to Cup of Jo to see the incredible before-and-after photos of Lucy’s living […]