How to Help a Grieving Friend -- New Faces of Willow House -- Toasted Marshmallow Shake -- Family Recipe #3 -- Save the Date!
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How to Help a Grieving Friend


Special thanks to a Willow House family member for allowing us to share this with you...

"This reminds me of a car accident when I was a sophomore in High School...  A family of 4 were in a car accident during summer vacation and only the father and son survived.  I knew the sister who died well and had met the brother two years earlier.  What I am ashamed of is how I acted to the brother in school afterwards.  I was in shock and denial when I heard about the accident as I was out of town at the time.  I remember seeing the brother in the school hallway between classes one day weeks later and my heart sank.  I never said a word to him as I passed by in the hallway.  I regretted it then and of course even more now.  Nothing is worse than being ignored by those that know you and what you have been through.  We experienced that from many families for a long time after our daughter died.  As a result, our friends changed.  Many parents that had daughters in her grade stopped talking to us.  They didn’t know what to say, so they said nothing.  The good news is we did become friends with other families that reached out and had kids the same ages as our 2 boys..."

Often following a death, colleagues, acquaintances, and even friends and family are unsure of what to say to someone who is grieving. This lack of clarity, combined with the fear that bringing up the person who died will upset the bereaved, results in a deafening silence. Overnight, people stop mentioning the loved one’s name and become avoidant of those who are grieving. This is a very common response, as it is difficult to see others hurting, and no one wants to pour salt in the wound of a grieving person. However, we can learn to be present, supportive, and emphatic to grieving people by keeping a few things in mind.

First, respectfully acknowledge the death. You could say, “I am sorry to hear your mom died, and I have been thinking about you. I am here for you.” You will not be shocking or hurting your friend or colleague as they will already be upset, and will not have forgotten that their mother died. They may be looking for an opening to discuss their feelings, and your acknowledgement provides an opportunity to share their thoughts with you when ready.

Second, it is okay to be at a loss for words. If you are not sure what to say, you can simply state “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know that I care.” This may help a grieving person feel less alone. A grieving person does not expect you to have answers or for you to fix the situation. They simply need support and to know that people care about what they are going through.

Finally, do not be afraid to say the name of the person who died. By mentioning to a friend or peer, “Sally loved this song!” or “I remember how much Ted loved to play golf” you express that you have not forgotten the person who died. Their loved ones never will forget them, and may be comforted by a reminder of how they touched other people’s lives.

Willow House Family Recipe - Volume #3

As part of the Willow House newsletter we are featuring recipes that are treasured by Willow House families. Food can play a huge role in remembering our loved ones and honoring their memory. This month, I had the pleasure of speaking with Betsy Ries about the apple pie that her husband, Jack, loved to make after a day of apple picking. Thank you Betsy for sharing your story and this delicious recipe with all of us.

- Marissa Rogina, Willow House Intern

"It was his favorite thing, he just loved homemade apple pie. Apple pie just helps us remember Jack."

Click here to view the unique recipe and read the full interview.

Willow House Families, Save the Date!

Willow House Holiday Remembrance Gathering - "I Have a Story to Tell" - Save the Date - Thursday, November 17, 2016 6:00 PM
The Annual Holiday Remembrance Gathering provides an opportunity for families to come together from all of the Willow House group sites to support one another, share memories and to honor their loved ones during the holiday season. The evening includes unique activities for the children, a very special dinner and a candlelight remembrance ceremony.

This evening is available to Willow House family members at all group locations who should receive a more detailed invitation via email. If you would like to learn more about this event or inquire about Willow House support services... please contact us.

How you can help

This month we have an easy one... stop by DMK Burger Bar in Lombard, IL and try this absolutely delicious shake:

Toasted Marshmallow Shake
100% of the proceeds through October 30th will benefit Willow House. Click here for directions.

A special thank you to DMK Burger Bar for their support of grieving children & families!

New Faces of Willow House!

We are so excited to share with you two new members of the Willow House Board of Directors as well as a new Willow House School Program Coordinator. This School Program position is made possbile as a result of a grant from the Lauri S. Bauer Foundation.

Samantha Acosta is a Social Work graduate from Dominican University where she obtained her Masters in Social Work. Samantha started her learning career at Midwest Hospice Center as a Bereavement Counselor Intern, where she worked directly with families and children through their personal grieving process. Click here to read more about Samantha.

Eric Lynch, Director of Managed Care at AbbVie, is a father of 3 children who lost his wife in 2010 to cancer. Eric and his children started coming to Willow House shortly after their loss and benefited immensely from the caring and safe environment created by the staff and other attendees. Continue reading about Eric.

Diane Rapaport, MD, is Senior Medical Director for VITAS Health Care in the Chicagoland area. She consults with patients attending physicians, supervises the program’s team physicians, and provides guidance to VITAS staff. She educates practicing physicians and other healthcare professionals regarding the benefits of hospice and palliative care for patients and their families. She serves as a team physician and personally attends patient in their homes. Click here and read more about Diane.
Since 1998, Willow House has provided support to children, teens, adults, and families who are coping with grief and the death of a loved one, and also to schools and communities coping with grief and death. Willow House services are open-ended and provided at no cost to thousands of Chicago-area families, including survivors of 9/11 and those grieving a death from suicide.
Willow House Empty Chair Project

Peer Support Groups
Survivors of Suicide Loss
In-School Support Program
Community Outreach and Education
Crisis Support Services
Special Remembrance Events
Please contact us for more information: (847) 236-9300 or
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