It was June 2012 and I was standing alone at a birthday party watching my kids who were 4 and 6 run around laughing and playing. My husband, Chip, was home in bed fighting the cancer that had overtaken his body, not well enough to come to the party.
I knew we were losing the fight. It was in that moment when I realized this is what my future looks like, living life without him. Alone. It was also the moment I told myself I had to keep joy in my life because Chip always brought laughter into our world and I wanted my kids to find a sliver of that happiness each day.
A few weeks later, as I stood dazed and hopeless at the ICU nurses station friends and family rallied around us and offered support. One friend, Shawn Hintz, was a board member at The Healing Center. He told me what a great resource it would be for us when we were ready. All these people, all the help, all the support during those final days were like gifts from God.
The Healing Center
The Healing Center in Seattle Washington was created as a safe harbor, a place where grief could be expressed openly and honestly in a caring and supportive environment. When Kath McCormack, the founding director, lost her husband at the age of 33, she envisioned a place where she and her children could receive support throughout their grief journey. A place where their grief was welcomed and understood, in a cozy home they looked forward to visiting.
Trying To Find Joy In The Dark Cloud
The days after Chip passed felt heavy. I felt like I was moving through a dark cloud. I tried all sorts of things to let the light in and to find ways to laugh and find joy. We became a team. We called ourselves Team Treverton and our mantra was Carpe Diem. Seize the Day!! It helped us keep moving through our days. It didn’t ease our pain.
“If you hold back on the emotions – if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them – you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your heard even, you experience them fully and completely.”
Finally, about 6 weeks after Chip passed, I spoke with someone at The Healing Center. We talked a lot about our journey, how the kids and I were doing. He made a comment about “widow fog” sometimes also called “widow brain.” I didn’t even know this dark cloud fogging up my brain had a name!! That little moment, I felt understood and supported in a way I didn’t know I could.
Tate and Will began attending the Children’s groups at The Healing Center. My kids visited every couple of weeks with other kids who were experiencing a similar loss. They had an opportunity to share how they were feeling or they could just come and find comfort in being with other kids who knew how their heart felt and find comfort in not being different.
Building A Community With Other Grieving Parents
While they attended the Children’s groups, I had the chance to attend meetings with other grieving parents. They sat by my side as I rode through this storm of grief. We heard each other’s stories of heartbreak and loss. They cried with me and I cried with them.
We learned that everyone’s grief journey is different, but at The Healing Center, in that room, we felt sameness. We felt normal. We felt understood. I am bonded to these women and to this day they are part of my life in various ways.
I don’t know where I’d be without my community of friends and family who brought me meals or took care of my kids. They helped me put one foot in front of the other every day for a very long time. But the community I found at The Healing Center, both the therapists and grieving clients, kept my broken and aching heart from falling apart. I learned how to let the slivers of joy in through the broken cracks.
Moving Forward With Scarred Hearts
Now, almost 10 years later, our grief scarred hearts still hurt from time to time, but we are living a joy filled life thanks to The Healing Center!
I am deeply passionate about the mission of The Healing Center and the immense impact they have on the lives of people grieving a loss. No one should suffer alone in their grief. I am forever grateful for the support we received from the staff and clients at The Healing Center and to them I say, “Carpe Diem!”
Consider sharing the Healing Center with anyone you know that could use the comfort and support. If you wish to donate to this wonderful non-profit organization see here.
”Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”Leo Tolstoy