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1.800.847.7831 LifeNet Health and Healing the Spirit are registered trademarks of LifeNet Health, Inc.


In This Issue of DFQ In Celebration & Remembrance Ceremonies - Be a part of our community Healing Tears by Dr. Lani Leary - Struggling through the tears Healing The Spirit - Visit our new website and blog Comforting the Soul by Sarah Decker, MA - Surviving a traumatic loss Happily Ever After - Organ recipient dedicates wedding to donation In Celebration & Remembrance Ceremonies - Be a part of our community

Photo by Jeff Chao In honor of National Donate Life month each spring, LifeNet Health hosts In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies across Virginia. Here, we recognize the compassion of organ and tissue donors as we celebrate their lives along with those whose lives have been saved or restored through the gifts of organs and tissue. Years ago, donor parents Jan and Jules Broom were guest speakers at the ceremonies. Jan spoke from the heart with her words of wisdom and delivered a message of hope to the donor families who attended. She made many important reflections but one was especially meaningful. Jan explained why she continues to attend the ceremonies so many years after her daughter Shannon's organ donation. In these settings she doesn't have to explain herself; why she might cry or use language others may not understand. At these events, there's acknowledgement and understanding in the room. LifeNet Health is honored to bring our donor family community together annually at In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies where we've seen a bit of healing take place over the years. There will be three remembrance events again this year. We sincerely hope you and your family will be able to attend. Be a part of our community. Please call 1-800-847-4671 if you have any questions.

Photo by Anne Harmon Hogan All In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies begin at 2:00 p.m. Roanoke area - Sunday, April 7th at Vinton War Memorial, Vinton Richmond area - Sunday, April 21st at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens Virginia Beach area - Sunday, May 5th at Founders Inn and Spa Refreshments will be served. To RSVP: Before 5:00 p.m. call 1-800-847-7831, extension 4671 or 4305 After 5:00 p.m. call 1-800-847-7831, extension 3840

Healing Tears by Dr. Lani Leary Dear Dr. Leary, My husband died almost a year ago now. One of the challenges of my grief is my emotions. When I'm in public and am asked about him I almost always tear up and have trouble completing a conversation. I cherish all the memories I have of our life together and they make me feel wonderful but for some reason it is difficult remembering him in a public setting without embarrassing myself with tears. Do

you have suggestions? -- Susan Dear Susan, You find yourself in a place that none of us knows about until we are engulfed in it. Your tears are the words that seem never enough to describe your void and your pain. The problem may not be your tears and difficulty talking about your husband in public, but how you make meaning out of your normal response. You may feel exposed, raw, and fragile in a public setting. Grief makes us feel out of control; unable to think; unable to control our emotions. So it is a natural, physiological response to grief to be unable to think and focus, and unable to maintain control over your tears. Instead of judging yourself, your feelings, or your reactions please accept that you are navigating through unknown territory, doing the best that you can in this moment. In fact, there is nothing weak or frail about your tears, but a willingness to be authentic and courageous. It takes strength and honesty to be vulnerable and real. Your tears are healing and need to be expressed. There are places and events where your memories and all expressions of your grief would be welcome and encouraged. The upcoming In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies mentioned in this newsletter is such a place. There are friends who want to be with you and listen as you remember your husband. There are others who have lost spouses who will understand your pain, and who have shed similar tears over similar songs and anniversaries. Being with others who are experiencing loss and grief can reflect for you that what you are feeling, doing, and thinking is exactly where you should be in your journey. As difficult and painful as it is, your emotions and their expression are reminders of the significance of your loved one and the power of your relationship. We need each other as we grieve. We will all grieve; what we all have in common and share is an experience with love and loss. Connection is what makes it bearable. Through ceremonies and rituals we can acknowledge, validate, and reflect a mourner's feelings and experiences after a death. Just having a caring environment in which you can express your feelings and be heard is profoundly healing. I encourage you to be gentle, comforting, and accepting of yourself. Grieving is physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting work and no one can do it for you, or do a "better" job. Expressing your grief is important work as you try to find a new way of being in the world, in a new way without your husband. There will be a time when you will be able to speak about your husband without being overwhelmed and in tears. Death does not get to take away the love you feel for him. You can live with grief but carry it with love. You can take your loved one forward into the future with you, into your life in a new way. You will not forget him just because your tears lessen. Grief does not end, but it can be transformed and softened. Love for your husband does not die just because he did. Blessings,


Dr. Leary is a psychologist and certified grief therapist who consults with LifeNet Health. Her responses reflect her professional opinion to general questions. If you're struggling with complicated grief, we encourage you to seek the care of a professional. Please submit your questions to Healing Tears.

Healing the Spirit - Visit our new website and blog

LifeNet Health Donor Family Services' website, Healing the Spirit, was launched back in April 2004. It was the first of its kind, providing information about grief and mourning, support programs for donor families, literature and resources for the grieving, support groups and much more. It served not only our donor families but anyone looking for support and comfort in their journey through grief. It served us well for years. And in this age of fast-changing technology it got old. So we're pleased to announce our new website. It retains all the information of the original and adds much more, including: Better navigation and more links so you can get where you're going quickly and easily A blog where you can share your stories and comments and express your grief through words, music, art, video or photography Simple ways to ask a question or request services Fresh content that's responsive to your needs Online memorials, resources and grief support

Visit us at and let us know what you think.

Comforting the Soul - Surviving a traumatic loss by Sarah L. Decker, MA, CIC-Csp, QMHP With so much talk about guns in the media today it is a reminder of the tragic results of gun violence. While our political stance is individual it will not change the fact that for every victim of gun violence there are many more survivors, loved ones, and of course, those left to grieve. This leads me to think of the delicate subject I wanted to talk about which is living after the loss of a traumatic death.Traumatic death occurs as a result of many circumstances; all unexpected, all tragic. According to Duke University, a traumatic death is one that is sudden, and/or violent. Duke also defines this death as occurring due to "accident, suicide, natural disaster, or other catastrophe (2005)." For those of you who have experienced the death of a loved one due to a traumatic death, you know the feelings of anger, denial, mood swings, bewilderment, and despair.

Reactions to traumatic death can come and go even years after the death. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a psychological condition that occurs in some survivors of traumatic death. If you are bothered by intruding thoughts of the death and its circumstances for more than a month, and/or mixed feelings that life is out of control, you may wish to consider seeing a health care professional who may assist you. What can be done to help the traumatized griever? Here are some things to think about:

1. Consider how this death has affected you differently from deaths in the past. Come to terms with the fact that this will be the nature of your grief and you will grieve differently from those around you. Your grief is unique. 2. Believe you CAN heal. After the loss, many feel they will not survive let alone heal, but just making the choice to get through the day can become comforting to you in the future. 3. Seek support. There are services just for the families of those who have died from traumatic death. For instance, Parents of Murdered Children and Other Survivors of Homicide Victims (757-482-8657) holds meetings in Chesapeake. Check our website for other support groups in your area. 4. Homicides specifically give us a person to direct our anger toward. Visualizing how you want to deal with the criminal is normal but it is not normal to act on your revenge fantasies. A good alternative is volunteering and getting involved in victim assistance or local organizations that help prevent crime. 5. Guilt and remorse are typical in those impacted by a traumatic death. Talk about these feelings but do not punish yourself for them. Allow yourself a dose of this guilt but do not let these feelings have power over you and your grief journey. For more information on how to deal with your grief surrounding a traumatic death, or to find support contact us. We're here to help.

Happily Ever After - Organ recipient dedicates wedding to donation Photo and story by Maggie FitzRoy

Sarah Natalino had a liver transplant in 2008. In 2012, she married Josh Doubek in Jacksonville Beach, FL at a donation-themed wedding. As dare devil pilots flew loop de loops in the sky above, Sarah Natalino was taking what some consider one of life's riskiest moves - she was getting married. Sarah and Josh Doubek wed on the beach in Jacksonville Beach during the peak of the city's Sea & Sky Spectacular. They hadn't taken the noise and aerial drama into account when they booked their wedding for that day. But after all they had been through a sky show above their heads was nothing. Natalino, 30, was marrying the man who stood by her as she battled a serious illness. A liver transplant at age 26 saved her life. So she used her wedding as a way to shine a spotlight on the importance of organ donation. She made a speech, gave out organ donation key chains, Frisbees and other trinkets, and set up a table where guests could sign up to be an organ donor. "It's fabulous," said Bonnie Chase, Sarah's transplant nurse and wedding guest. "She's young and celebrating her wedding, so hopefully that will reach people who haven't thought about organ donation before." Natalino's health problems started at age 21, when she fell ill with kidney disease. At first, doctors couldn't determine what was wrong with her, but they finally discovered her kidneys were not filtering toxins as they should. Her illness worsened to the point where she was in the emergency room every month, then every three weeks, then every two weeks.

Finally, in 2007, an emergency room physician told her he suspected she had liver cancer, and recommended she go to the Mayo Clinic, where the diagnosis was confirmed. "They told me I was going to be put on a transplant list.'" Natalino said. Sarah was lucky because she only had to wait nine months for a liver. She got the call at midnight. The surgery took almost nine hours, and was complicated because her spleen ruptured. But it was successful. With her transplant behind her, Natalino can focus on a brighter future. "Many people here at the wedding were there for her," said Sarah's mother Colleen. "We all feared Sarah wouldn't have a future, but thanks to an organ donor, now she does."


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Donor Family Quarterly: Spring 2013  

Donor Family Quarterly

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