Read Charlie's Willow House Story
This is a small tidbit of how much good Willow House has proven to be for our family. Back in August of 2010 my wife and the mother of our two boys, ages 3 and 11 months, died from breast cancer at the age of 35. A few weeks after this I spoke with someone who had lived through a similar horrific event. He mentioned Willow House and how he and his two small children benefitted from attending the monthly sessions. I began looking into Willow House and made our first session in October 2010. Of course entering the building, not knowing anyone, and still struggling with the death of my wife, my boys and I crept into the gathering place. We were met by a woman who immediately made us feel welcome. She turned out to be someone who had attended sessions for some time. She told me she remembered her first session and how petrified she was. This was the beginning of realizing we are not and will never be the only ones to go through a tragic event. I was barely able to speak about my wife and the boys’ mom and the staff and other attendees let me know it was perfectly alright. I will tell you that I come across at times as a macho, tough as nails, and bulletproof guy. The loss of my wife brought me to the lowest point in my life. The staff and attendees at Willow House allowed me to swallow my pride and fall apart in front of all of them and I knew I would not be judged negatively. All of these people were complete strangers, but there was something in the eyes of these folks that allowed me to show my inner feelings without hesitation. The problem was no one could understand my words because I was a mess.
Each time we attended it became easier to speak. I began to see this was beneficial to myself and even more so for the boys. There were so many young children there who had lost a parent. This was going to be a place where the boys did not need to feel different since there mom died, in fact all of the kids were missing a parent. At school the boys may be the only ones who have lost a parent but at Willow House all attendees are made to feel a togetherness and wholeness.
It has been four years since the boys mom has passed, it is still not simple but Willow House has helped tremendously. The boys, now 7 and 5 years of age, look forward to the monthly sessions. The location we attend happens to be in a church basement. The boys ask "When are we going to God's house for Pizza!" Each session has a meal before the meeting and families enjoy each other’s company while the small children run throughout the basement with smiles and laughter. The boys look forward to making crafts or playing games each month which are in some way attached to the loss of their mom. One of their favorite times at Willow House has been when a Doctor shows up to answer questions from the children. The Doctor made sure each child had an opportunity to ask whatever they wanted. In fact, my oldest son was hesitant to ask in front of everyone. He approached the doctor in the hallway after the session, asked his question, and seemed so relieved he was able to ask and receive an answer.
Willow House has become part of our family or we, part of theirs. Either way I am not sure where we would be without Willow House. I do not believe we would be doing as well as we are without them. Willow House staff has been there for us each and every time. I have called to ask questions or concerns about my boys’ grief journey. I have met with staff in their office about concerns. Each time I was welcomed and never felt the staff was counting the minutes till I was out of their hair. In fact, one specific meeting I had planned on talking for about 15 - 20 minutes max, I was there for about two hours. I cannot express how grateful I am to Willow House. I wish there was no need for a place like Willow House, but since there will be tragedies, I could not think of a better place for the boys and I to help navigate "OUR NEW NORMAL!"
Willow House Family Member
Charlie shared his story in support of Willow House on #GivingTuesday. We had a day for giving thanks. We had two for getting deals. Today is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. Use this day December 2, 2014 to support grieving children, teens, families, and communities by making a donation to Willow House. No donation is too small! Because of YOU, Willow House will be able to continue providing support and assistance to grieving parents and families just like Charlie, Colton, and Hudson. Thank you for making Willow House a part of your annual giving!
“I firmly believe that as we look back on the pivotal, early years of our loss, it will be through the efforts of Willow House that we were able to move forward, not afraid to look back, fully understanding and accepting our loss.” - Willow House Father