Working through grief

Learn how one local family moved forward in hope and peace by working through grief in programs specially designed for children and adults.


In the sweltering heat of August in Kansas City, Greg Curlett stepped into the backyard with his then five-year-old son, Mason. The last few months had been swallowed up in the disarray of caregiving. He recalls now that he hadn’t cut the grass in so long that its gentle sway hit him just below his knees. The world seemed to be moving in slow motion, and Greg was about to do the impossible.

“I had to walk him out to the backyard and say, ‘Mommy’s gone. She is not sick anymore. She’s at peace, she’s okay, but she is not coming home’,” Greg recalls. “I couldn’t imagine a harder thing to do.”

Greg & Christina

Solace HouseGreg’s description of how he met Christina seems like something out of a romantic comedy. A botanist, Christina was researching the PH balance for aquatic plants when she ran across a dating website called Plenty of Fish. On a whim, she signed up.

“I was amazed because she was so pretty, and I thought there was no way that this woman would talk to me,” Greg recalls. “She was sarcastic, very smart, and sharp, but also so beautiful. I, on the other hand, was exceedingly immature and stubborn and selfish. I was 29, so I wasn’t quite out of the stupid bachelor phase yet. But she was very patient and merciful, and so sweet and so loving.”

Greg was immediately drawn to her laughter, and believes that it was what got their family through their darkest days. “When cancer came, it was the most important time to have a sense of humor, because it’s so dark and heavy, so terminal and scary. It’s something that I have carried through to this day.”

Their time together was a time of growth and “just learning what a relationship is like,” Greg recalls. “[Christina’s older daughter] and I were really close. We would all spend a lot of time together just hanging out and doing stuff. It was amazing, but it wasn’t perfect. We would have these ridiculous, stupid arguments about things that didn’t matter. When I look back now I think we could have compromised in so many different ways. But still, the love was real and we had a strong partnership.”

Eight months

In January of 2015, nearly six years into their marriage, Christina was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Eight months of treatments, doctors, and multiple hospital visits later, they learned it had metastasized to her brainstem.

“We did meet with someone from Kansas City Hospice while Christina was in the hospital to see what our options were. I don’t remember the lady’s name now, but she met with us and discussed everything. It was about a 45-minute visit. She was so nice and she and Christina bonded instantly. We talked through all of the services they could provide to us and we told her we would think about it,” Greg shares.

Just 20 minutes after that visit, Christina had a grand mal seizure that caused severe damage to her brain.

Four days later, she was gone.

Moving forward

After Christina died, Greg was referred to Solace House Center for Grief and Healing, a program of Kansas City Hospice. He began attending group sessions at Solace House and found the group setting helpful as others could understand what he was experiencing.

“Solace House was my anchor,” Greg shares. “I would pay close attention to other people’s stories and how they felt because it’s not always cancer, there were suicides and other different stories. You never get selfish thinking this is only my pain or this is specifically ‘my’ story. It’s like a bonding experience with all of these people.” A few months after attending Solace House, Greg brought Mason to join other children in his age group. Solace House serves children as young as three, with each child or teen placed in groups based on age/developmental stage.

Solace House

Greg found comfort in journaling and writing poetry.

“ Watching memories like a keepsake
laughter, tears and tender hugs,
and pause to reflect inevitably,
upon the fleeting ways of love. ”
– Greg Curlett

Camp Erin

Mason was also able to attend Camp Erin, where children who have experienced the death of someone close to them – typically a sibling or parent – learn the skills to cope with grief while having a fun camp experience.

“It was a big deal for him,” Greg says of the experience, “and was his first time being away from me for a set amount of time. He had so much fun.” Later, Greg joined Mason for Camp Carousel, which is a camp for children and families to come together and connect over their shared experiences. Greg recalls the parents found it funny that the kids were having a lot of fun together, while the parents were focused on opening up and talking about who they lost and what they lost.

“It was this weird mix of mourning and stress and fun. That made a huge impact on me.”

Positive Growth

Mason continued to attend Solace House and summer camps and as for Greg, he has ended his time with Solace House as he continues to move forward. Greg says the growth and positivity he found at Solace House makes him wish Christina could have met him as the man he is now, but everything that happened has led him to where he is today.

“Everything is about positive growth. Recognizing the past and honoring it by moving forward, but not doing it in a selfish way. Leaving Solace House was about a very simple principle of… I need to come into my own, as a man, as my own identity, not just as ‘the guy who lost his wife’. Learning to let myself be loved and seen as an individual again, it’s what Christina would have wanted.”

Your gift today helps children and families heal

Donors have made a tremendous impact in the lives of Greg and Mason, and the many families served by Solace House, Camp Erin and Camp Carousel each year. With your support, Solace House programs including group support and grief camps, are offered without charge to children and families who are grieving the death of someone they love.

Families are never charged for grief support groups or summer camp attendance, thanks to the generosity of our donors.

Please thoughtfully consider making a gift right now which will go right to work helping children and families served by Kansas City Hospice. Please go to to make a secure gift.

About US


The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. And, our vision: each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

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  1. Heather Impens on April 1, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    I lost my husband to melanoma and we have two children. KC Hospice is staffed with ANGELS sent by God himself. I couldn’t imagine going through it without them. Well worth supporting. Many prayers to Greg and Mason.

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