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“All who wander are not lost.”

~Anonymous

Post #1

Heartlinks Grief Center feels like home to me.  I’ve volunteered there for seven years.  I found Heartlinks by searching on the internet for grief counseling services in our area in Southwestern Illinois.  A couple of results came up, and I emailed them to see if they needed volunteers.

My two sisters and four brothers and I experienced the traumatic death of our Mom.  I was 14 at the time, in 1970.  No secrets, dear reader, so you already know I’m 61 😊.

We’d had a very rough childhood after she died so suddenly.  But, we’d all made it and had grown stronger together.  I was raised to give back when you can, so I thought it was time for me to try to help others.

Diana Cuddeback, one of the founders of Heartlinks Grief Center and their Director, emailed me right back.  We talked on the phone and she made me feel so comfortable, like I’d known her for a long time.  I attended the volunteer training required and came to the next children’s grief group session, held on the first Monday of each month.

Well, to say I didn’t do well would be an understatement.  She assigned me to just observe and help the leader with the pre-teen group.  As one of the eight children in the grief session started talking about what she was grateful for, which was her grandmother’s hugs after her mother’s death, I started crying and had to leave.

Diana was gracious about it, but suggested I may not be quite ready to help with clients.  And, it was in that moment I realized I still had this grief in my heart, 40 years after Mom died.  And, I understand now that’s ok – grief stays with many of us, popping up in severity from time to time. Kind of like a “whack a mole” game where the mole pops up and we quickly try to beat it down.

Part of what helped me get to the realization that life-long grief was just a part of me was a project that I recently completed, writing a book about losing our Mom – from each of the sibling’s perspective.  We titled it We Lost Her.  It was a difficult journey to write (more than I ever imagined) but it helped me to realize several important learnings about grief.

In the weeks and months ahead, on this site, Grief Reflections, I’ll take you, dear reader, through those learnings, share my family’s grief journey, and provide information on Heartlinks Grief Center.

I was able to volunteer with Heartlinks eventually.  Diana and her staff and a wonderful group of volunteers do such important work to help those in our region to grow through their grief.  I now help Heartlinks Grief Center with business consulting, like helping with their strategic plan and budgets – and writing to you.

I look forward to our journey ahead, dear reader.  I hope you’ll feel at home here, too.