I started coming to The Center in March, 2004. My husband, Kevin, died November 8, 2003 of a massive heart attack he suffered in his sleep. The day after he died I was told about The Center. I always knew about The Center but never realized that I would be coming here. Immediately after Kevin died, I called The Center. I was 6 months pregnant at the time. The Center was just unbelievable. Right after Meghan turned three and Grace was born, we started coming.
It has been a wonderful experience; it's just magical what happens here.
At first I didn't want to come. I can remember walking up the stairs and thinking "this just isn't right; we shouldn't have to come here." But immediately, Megan took right to the "Littles" (the 3-6 year old group) and the facilitators and I could see instantly that it was a wonderful thing for her. We've only missed a week or two due to illness. It has been an incredible experience. We love it here.
How do you think it would be different if you didn't have The Center to go to?
I can't even imagine if we didn't have a Center to go to. You know, family is wonderful and supportive, but The Center is a place that you can come. Sometimes I feel like you burden family members with your grief. You don't want to scare them with feelings of sadness or grief. The Center is a place where other people have gone through loss and it's like you don't even have to say a word. You can talk or you don't have to talk. I can't imagine what it would have been like without The Center because I have seen huge changes in my daughter. With children, if you just explain simply, in simple terms...She understands about death and her father dying. We talk openly about it and there are no feelings of shame or taboo. I let her be the guide, she asks questions at home and I answer. When I have concerns or questions, I write them down and the following week I'll take her facilitator aside. There is just so much love and compassion, they know what to do. There is support all the way around for me in my adult group and for my daughter. I can't imagine not having had The Center to go to.
How is the possibility of a new space for The Center important?
You know it's funny; we talked about that in my group last week. Sometimes it is very loud; the walls here are paper thin, the steps are very steep. My daughter is five now, and sometimes she has a hard time going up the steps. You know the safety issue, I always worry coming in here because when we leave the building at night, everyone goes into a different direction. You know it's not like we all go into one parking area. I'm just always looking around me, always aware, always telling Meghan, "Quickly, get into the van." As far as the noise issue, it's kind of nice hearing the pitter patter, but sometimes it does get a little bit too loud, you can hear what's going on.
What does The Center mean to you and your family now?
My experience at The Center has been remarkable! I came in a completely shattered, numb, broken woman and I can honestly say that I am a woman who can laugh, who can smile, and who can comfort again. My oldest daughter, Meghan, has flourished at The Center. She looks forward to it every week. "Yeah, Mama, it's Center night!" is a typical statement from her. Meghan feels safe and secure and she has experienced grieving over her daddy in very healthy ways. She communicates very well with me how she's feeling. Our second child is Grace. She is amazing. She is 2 years old now, and although she never met her daddy, Kevin knew we were going to have another girl before he died. Meghan and I will tell her all about him.
When our world was totally black and seemingly hopeless, The Center infiltrated our lives with hope, love, and compassion.
The Center taught me that everyone grieves differently and that it's okay to cry, to laugh, to question, to be angry, to be quiet. My facilitators have been very kind, patient, attentive and caring. It gave me hope when my whole world had collapsed around me.
Our time at The Center has been priceless... We look forward to it weekly. I can't say enough good things about The Center.