Turning Grief Into Good

April 2024 Blog Photo 1 Main
By:  Allison Apple, KCH Donor Specialist
Published:  April 9, 2024

Solace House, Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care’s center for grief and healing, has been providing solace, support, and planting seeds of hope to those navigating the challenging journey of grief for more than 25 years.

Below is a testimonial from a family who was able to turn their grief into good through the services provided by Solace House.

Meet Charlie, Jen, and Cody

Charlie and Jen met as coworkers at a retail store and became fast friends. Despite Jen’s later transfer to another Kansas City location, they remained in contact and their friendship deepened over time.

Within just a few short years, Jen and Charlie were married and in 2012, welcomed a son, Cody, into their lives. Charlie played a crucial role in Cody’s early development, and even now Jen still sees so much of Charlie in Cody, explaining, “Charlie stayed home with Cody for his first five years. He gave Cody a really good foundation for kindness.”

“Charlie was very kind and could talk to anybody,” Jen went on to share. “So, like, when going to the grocery store, he was the first one to ask the cashier how their day was. He was just so very kind and loving. He was an amazing dad. He also had a sense of humor – he didn’t bring it out often, but when he did, it was pretty funny stuff.”

Unfortunately, in the spring of 2017 when Cody was just five, the unimaginable happened. Charlie died at just 55 years old, leaving his beloved wife and son feeling lost.

The overwhelming grief at the death of Charlie was devastating, often causing them to feel alone as they tried to cope with the loss they had both experienced. Jen was faced with not only learning how to cope with her own grief, but also with how to help her son understand that his dad and best friend was gone.

Jen began seeing a therapist to help with her grief, but she was ultimately worried about how Cody was coping. Her therapist recommended grief support groups provided by Solace House.

Jen and Cody joined a Solace House grief support group, meeting with other families who had experienced similar losses. During group, trained facilitators led discussions and therapeutic group activities tailored for different ages. 

“There would be one topic for the evening and Cody’s class would discuss it in a way he could understand. And then I was in a [adult] group where I was able to talk about the same topic,” explains Jen. “It gave us an opportunity to not only talk about it on the way home but talk about it at home. It brought us together. It opened lines of communication, which was huge, because when you have an event like this, the last thing you want to lose is the ability to communicate.”

When Cody visited Solace House, he was able to find a bit of normalcy. Jen explains, “They had games and toys. He would get to play and just be a kid. When you’re at home, you’re so bogged down with ‘How’s mom feeling? How am I feeling?’, and here he could just go play.”

Cody is now in sixth grade and has many hobbies, which include playing basketball, skiing, playing the trombone, gaming, and acting.

“I could not be more proud of Cody, and just the path he has taken since his dad passed away. We talk about being strong,” Jen reflects. “He’s a smart kid and I think the biggest thing was having Solace House there for us and getting the help we needed. He has been able to thrive because of the early communication we had that Solace House generated.” Jen goes on to share more about Cody’s journey, “I think it was because of the community we found and knowing we’re not alone. It allowed him to not let this define him.”

Kansas City Hospice relies on community support to continue to offer Solace House grief and healing services to families and individuals, regardless of their financial situation or the nature of their loss. Most families are helped by Solace House following either a traumatic circumstance or an unexpected and sudden death. For some, this could be a sudden illness or other health event, for others, a work, home, or vehicle accident. In all these situations, compassionate and specialized support makes all the difference in people’s ability to cope and heal.  

Jen describes the help she and Cody received at Solace House as life changing. The group therapy sessions helped her persevere.

“The further down you go into your grief journey, the less people follow you along that path. And when you go to Solace House, everybody there walks with you,” Jen shares. “There were some people who were further along in their journey. To know that there is – not necessarily an end to it – but that there are better days ahead [is comforting].”

If you or someone you know could benefit from the services at Solace House, visit KCHospice.org/SolaceHouse, call 913.341.0318, or email shmail@KCHospice.org. If you would like to learn more about this family’s experience or would like to support Solace House, so more families like this can receive grief and healing services, please visit KCHospice.org/GrieftoGood.

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