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

SPRING  2014

In This Issue of DFQ
DecadesDonor Families through the Decades:
- Profiles of LifeNet Health donor families over the past four decades. We hope their stories will inspire. -

A look at the 1990's: Taking One Day at a Time

-by Sandy Lancaster

Kimberly Ann Quattlebaum
Our daughter, Kimberly Ann Quattlebaum, went by Kim. She was born October 8, 1968 and she died October 24, 1993. She had just turned 25. She loved animals. She said she would be a veterinarian, but would want to adopt all the animals! She had great compassion for wounded animals and people. Kim would have made a great nurse.


Driving one evening in the dark, Kim suddenly came upon an accident that had just happened but she did not see. She rear-ended a van. The impact and seatbelt forced great pressure on her body. The pressure was so strong it caused internal bleeding and damage to her liver. Her vehicle did not have an airbag. Despite performing emergency surgery at the hospital, the doctors lost her on the operating table.



I had heard many stories about organ transplants saving people. I paid attention because it was so amazing. In my generation, it was unheard of. I didn't even know about LifeNet. Kim, being who she was, had checked yes for organ donation on her driver's license.



I have never regretted Kim's donation. Because of her, I know at least two women can see better and numerous tissue gifts helped others. I'm proud we could help, and LifeNet helped me.


My advice to newly bereaved donor families is to really take one day at a time. Talk about it to anyone who will listen. Never think you will "get over it," as I was told by people who did not understand. You never "get over it," you learn to live with it. Try to think about the good parts instead of the tragedy that happened to the one you love.


Kim has now been gone over twenty years. I still have bad days because of a thought, a reminder, or a mention of her name. I know God has a beautiful red headed angel! Until I am with her again, I am blessed to have my son and his daughter, who looks remarkably like her Aunt Kim, and my husband who carried me through the nightmare in my life. Thank you, Bill! Thank you, LifeNet!

HealingTearsHealing Tears by Dr. Lani Leary


Dear Dr. Leary,

My husband took his own life eight months ago and I am having a tremendously difficult time with my anger toward him for leaving us. I have two small sons, ages 7 and 9, who miss their father and don't understand. How do I explain this to them when I don't understand this either, and am very angry about it?   - Single Mom


Dear Single Mom,

The death of a loved one to suicide is one of life's most painful experiences. Normal reactions to death include shock, anguish, anger, guilt, regret, anxiety, fear, intrusive images, feeling overwhelmed, and loneliness.


Suicide survivors also report feeling overwhelming guilt, confusion, rejection, shame and anger.

The normal tasks of grieving may last longer because of a need to:

  • Make sense out of a death that seems to make no sense
  • Sort out feelings of responsibility and preventability of his death
  • Deal with the shock and horror at the manner in which he took his life, and
  • Deal with the stigma and misunderstanding in our culture that surrounds suicide.

Many in our culture grow up with the belief that people who take their own lives are crazy, selfish, or have some kind of a moral defect. Research shows that suicidal thinking and behavior is the result of common disorders such as major depression and other mood disorders, and substance abuse disorders. Chronic pain, insomnia and adverse effects of medications have also been cited as contributing factors in suicide. Their suffering may have been invisible, unexpressed, and untreated.


Most children will have questions and strong feelings surrounding their parent's death, but their primary and immediate concern is most often "who will take care of me?" It is important you communicate and demonstrate a sense of security and love. It is equally critical that they know they can talk about their father's death and ask whatever questions and as often as they need.


As you begin to explain their father's death to your children, let your children's questions guide you. Some children may need a one- or two-sentence answer. Others might have repetitive questions. It is most helpful to respond honestly and directly to the specific question that is asked, and then check for understanding.


Your children need to know that the suicide was not their fault, and they did not cause his death by something they said or did. They could not have done or said anything to stop their father from dying. They need to understand that their father loved them, but that because of an illness or pain, he may have been unable to convey that or to think about how the child would feel after the death. Over time, and with much support and repetition, you can help your children to understand that suicide is something that happens when someone is hurting so much but unable to find the help they need to make things better.


There are many helpful tools and resources available to you. A suicide outreach program, a support group that focuses on suicide, or a therapist with experience with suicide can be useful.


Information and networking is available online through the International Association for Suicide Prevention and the Survivor e-Network to be able to connect and communicate with over 50,000 survivors worldwide.


Helpful books to read with children include:



Dr. Leary is a psychologist and certified grief therapist who consults with LifeNet Health. Her responses reflect her professional opinion to general questions. Individuals struggling with complicated grief are encouraged to seek the care of a professional. Please submit your questions to Robin Cowherd, LifeNet Health, 1864 Concert Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23453, or visit Healing Tears at our website.


ComfortingComforting the Soul - The Pain Came Back

   by Sarah L. DeckerMA, CIC-CSp  


Just the other day I came across an old friend of mine who expressed to me how she hadn't slept in days. This was unusual for her. I found out that she was going through a time where she could not remember all the ways she missed her husband.


Her husband had died nearly five years ago. For the first time, issues from their past and early marriage began to haunt her. She found herself waking up angry, sad, and anxious. It became difficult to keep these thoughts only in her sleep and thus the memories of her dreams would confront her multiple times during her daytime hours.


What a difficult situation. This can happen to any one of us with little or no warning. What do we do? These powerful emotions can bring us back to the beginning of our grief journey.


Embracing the pain of loss is something that none of us wants to do but it helps us to reconcile our grief. The work can be done at any time after a loss but it does not mean that once done, it is done forever. My friend's dreams, for example, show it may be time to embrace some pain not already addressed.


How do we embrace this pain? Allow your feelings to come to you freely. You can't help what or who you dream about, just as you can't help when these feelings creep into your waking life. Make a plan to address your thoughts and emotions. Perhaps you will write them down and look at them later. Maybe you will take some time alone to weep or be angry.


Reach out for support to a trusted person with whom you can share your feelings. It is understandable that what you are thinking about can feel so personal that you find it difficult to talk with others. This is where a good counselor could come in handy.


As you confront these fresh feelings, it's important to remember we can reconcile our feelings and let go of decisions we might have changed. We can't change our past but only look forward to the future and the decisions we can make now.


HealingHealing the Spirit Highlight - Hope's Heroes

    by Michael Reilly, MA



Family members frequently ask us for help talking about the benefits of organ and tissue donation with young children. To assist families' understanding and to further honor the donation, a unique partnership between two organ procurement organizations was created.


New England Organ Bank created the Hope's Heroes story books. In the story, Hope is driven by her father to pick up her grandmother at the hospital. Grandma had received a tissue transplant. She tells Hope about the heroes who donated their tissue when they died to help restore her and others peoples' lives.


LifeNet Health developed an animated Hope's Heroes online experience on www.healingthespirit.org, our bereavement support website. The animated story uses interactive tags to display information about tissue donation. Surprises abound for children to find. Drive by local people like fireman John, construction worker Maria and others who, Grandma explains, have been helped by tissue donation.  


The LifeNet Health Foundation provided a grant, and a professional web developer was engaged to translate Hope's Heroes to a digital environment. The online experience went live on February 20th.  


AloneAlone No More Suicide Discussion Group 

Have you been affected by the death of a loved one to suicide? You're not alone. Suicide is the leading cause of death by injury in the United States. Yet you may be feeling isolated.


LifeNet Health is forming a Suicide Discussion Group. This 10-week series of meetings will be held in the fall via conference call, so no matter your location, you can participate. If you would like to get on the list, please email Sarah Decker or call her at 757-609-4613. We also have materials available for you now to help support you through your grief.

ICRRSVP for In Celebration & Remembrance events
  • Western Virginia - Sunday, April 6th, 2:00 p.m. Hotel Roanoke, Roanoke
  • Central Virginia - Sunday, April 27th, 2:00 p.m. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond
  • Southeastern Virginia - Wednesday, May 7th, 6:00 p.m. The Founder's Inn, Virginia Beach 

To RSVP before 5 p.m., call 1-800-847-7831, extension 4671 or 4305. After 5 p.m., call 1-800-847-7831, extension 3840.

AwardMatters of the Heart Award Winner

Please join us in congratulating Donnetta Quarles Reese, community volunteer and donor mother of Clarke "Dani" Reese, on her recent award. Donnetta was honored with the Catherine Lamb Matters of the Heart award at the 11th annual Legacy Dinner Gala presented by the International Black Women's Congress in Norfolk, VA.


Donnetta was selected for her work in the community, including sharing her daughter's story, supporting other bereaved families, and educating others about eye, tissue, and organ donation.


Dani was a very giving, fun-loving and motivated young lady. She stayed quite active as an honors student, Girl Scout, and member of a dance troop, a theater group, and several volunteer organizations. In February 2007, at age 13, Dani unexpectedly died and became an eye and tissue donor.


Since then, Donnetta has helped LifeNet Health in a number of ways, including serving on the Central Virginia Donor Family Advisory Committee, becoming a trained Ambassador and Grief Companion volunteer, and contributing greatly to our online donor family grief support group. Donnetta has also worked with Dani's middle school and the Girl Scouts to help educate the community about the importance of eye, tissue, and organ donation.


Congratulations to Donnetta and many thanks for all she does to support LifeNet Health and its mission!



workshopCreative Expressions of Grief Workshops


Creative Expressions of Grief workshops for donor families will be held in Virginia Beach on Saturday, August 9th and Saturday, October 18th. Supplies and tools will be provided. Donor family volunteers will help you create a photo collage or a tribute album. We will also help you make a large photo button of your loved one to take home. Lunch will be served.


For more information or to RSVP, please email Tina Pierce or call her at 1-800-847-7831 ext. 4903.  


Visit LifeNet Health's website for more grief and loss support