On this Memorial Day, I want to tell you a brief story that says a bit about the reality that everyone grieves deaths in our families in different ways and that sometimes we need help.
As some of you know, I serve on the board of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care (KCH). One evening last week KCH held its annual "Circle of Lights" service of memory at two locations. I was at the one at the Nichols fountain on the Country Club Plaza. This year my wife and I were especially remembering her sister, Leslie Von Bargen, who died of cancer last July in Vermont. You see her name on the luminaria bag that was part of the commemoration.
Before the service began, I spoke to a woman sitting behind me and asked if one of her family members had been in hospice care here with KCH. No, she said, though her mother died almost a year ago in hospice care on the East Coast.
The woman said that she was attending the service because when she returned to Kansas City after her mother's death, she was an emotional mess, so she called KCH and asked for grief counseling. We have a staff that can provide that service.
"It literally saved my life," she told me.
She said she has two siblings who live elsewhere but they have not used grief counselors.
I know nothing of why the death of this woman's mother slammed her so hard or why her siblings felt they didn't need help dealing with the situation. I know only that the woman is pretty sure she would not have survived had it not been for the help our KCH counselors provided.
Just as each death is unique, so is each grief. And no one ever should feel shame or feel somehow inadequate if grief strikes in ways that seem strange and out of the ordinary. Nor should anyone have to face grief alone if counseling can help.
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P.S.: VANCOUVER, B.C. -- I'm on the road this week and may not be adding a second item, as I usually do, to the blog each day unless I have opportunity to do so.