If you are comfortable sharing, when, why, and for long did you use The Center’s services?
My dad passed away unexpectedly when I was 24 and my entire world flipped upside down. It was the first real loss I ever experienced and it hurt really, really bad. I was absolutely devastated, depressed, and hopeless. I turned to The Center for peer support just a few weeks after his passing. I was hesitant, but after the first night of services I left feeling like a ton of bricks was lifted off of my shoulders.
I knew I was where I needed to be. For the next 1.5 years, I couldn’t wait for that one hour a week to be able to express myself. The warm, welcoming feeling that The Center provides with complete strangers is an incredible feeling that is hard to describe. Everyone is understanding, friendly, non-judgmental, and caring.
Years later, I came back to The Center as a facilitator for 4 years! Being a facilitator for the Teen Group was very rewarding. I could relate directly with the kids and I think that helped them trust me as well. I had (& still have) a great bond with those Teens!
I am now a donor and advocate for The Center’s services, and will always be grateful to have had The Center when I needed it the most.
How did The Center help you?
The Center offered a safe place to express my grief where I learned I was not alone. I have a wonderful support group outside of The Center, but there was just something about sharing how I was truly feeling that I only felt comfortable sharing at The Center. The Center encourages you to talk about your grief – that hour a week is your time to share it all; where the “outside world” would rather hear how you’re healing. I believe that part of healing is talking and sharing all aspects of grief – the good, the bad, the ugly.
What was one of your favorite things about coming to The Center?
The people - volunteers, facilitators, other participants (young and old)! Everyone always makes you feel welcome and cared about. I actually met one of my very best friends who was a participant at the same time. She lost her fiancé less than a month after my dad died. We were both young, lost, and grieving. We bonded and could relate to each other. Even though our losses were different, we were having the same emotions. We like to say that we met from the inside-out! Here we are 11 years later and still great friends! I feel very lucky to have her in my life.
How do you think your experience at The Center impacts you now or after you stopped attending groups?
I learned to be a better listener and I am much more empathetic. I use what I learned at The Center in every relationship I have.
How do you think things would be different for you if you had not attended The Center?
That’s a great question – I would probably still be carrying some deep grief.
What would you like others to know about The Center or your experience here?
The Center is a life-changer and in some cases a life-saver to many people who need it. Peer support works!
What would you tell families who are thinking about coming to The Center?
I would say that you have nothing to lose by trying. At The Center you will find hope and love. My first day at The Center made me feel like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.
If you had to pick three words to describe The Center, what would they be?
Hope, Love, Strength