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

SPRING  2015

In This Issue of DFQ

Maria Diaz, daughter of Al and Susie
mariaRemember and reconnect at In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies

By Al and Susie Diaz, donor parents


With spring upon us, our thoughts turn to LifeNet Health's annual In Celebration & Remembrance program. This is when we are all invited to attend and remember not only our loved one but all donors from past years. We get to reconnect with donor and recipient families we've met through the years, hear their stories and share ours about our daughter, Maria.


This will be our 13th year attending, and as usual we are looking forward to being there, sharing and helping out, as we were helped when we first attended. The connections we have established with other donor and recipient families and LifeNet Health staff provide us comfort, as we continue to deal with our loss.


Maria, our third child, died in a single car accident on her way back to college. My husband and I stopped to help at an accident that day. Tragically, the accident was that of our daughter's. Fortunately, we knew Maria wanted to be a donor and we were able to coordinate with the state troopers and LifeNet Health so that she could become a tissue and cornea donor, helping 67 people with her gifts.


Knowing something good came from our loss has helped us move forward in our grief journey. We also hope that sharing our story provides comfort to other donor families in various stages of their grief.


Maria was fun loving, always full of life and there for others with her trademark smile and shoulder to lean on. I know she would enjoy the In Celebration & Remembrance evening, especially when we get to say her name out loud and place a flower in the vase in her memory. We support each other, and enjoy hearing all of the names, remembering some and learning new ones.


Over the years we have become volunteers for LifeNet Health. At the In Celebration & Remembrance event, we help at the Donor Family Services table, explaining to new families about support that is available to them. Consider attending! In Celebration & Remembrance is a safe place to celebrate memories of our loved ones with tears and laughter, and help each other get through the pain of our loss.


See you there!

HealingTearsHealing Tears by Dr. Lani Leary



Dear Dr. Lani,

A previous Healing Tears column stated that "relationships are the building blocks of the evolution of our spirit". That is an unhappy and daunting thought for me. Although I am not elderly, dozens of relationships have ended for me in a few short years due to death, dementia, and other life events.


Yes, I am grateful to have had the relationships, but it is very difficult to establish new ones in today's world where people/family are busy, busy, busy, and already entrenched in existing relationships. Perhaps my spirit has evolved as much as it's going to in this lifetime, or will continue to evolve from the building blocks formerly in place.  In any event, it was a somewhat unsettling quote.      

- Anonymous


Dear Anonymous,


My perspective is just one "way of seeing", as the above quote is just one "path" of how we might grow into our best self. It is not the only way.


Yes, the pace of the world today, the inevitable death of loved ones and friends, the limitations of illness and age, and the mobility of our society challenges our opportunity to connect with others. It is difficult and often discouraging when we want to be in relationship with others. That does not mean that we cannot have meaningful relationships.


Relationships may indeed be an opportunity for us to stretch, challenge, grow and evolve. How do relationships help us to evolve? A relationship provides a means to contribute and be of service; to share love; to mirror our best self or to remind us where we need to grow.


If this is true, then there is much that we can relate with and to: we can have a deeper and more authentic relationship with whatever we consider to be a Higher Power. We can have a relationship with our self, whom we may have overlooked and diminished in favor of pleasing others or living by others' expectations. We can have a relationship with nature and the world, a connection of gratitude that we may have taken for granted before. We can have a relationship with animals that reflects and teaches us what unconditional love can provide. And we can continue a relationship with loved ones who have died, moved, or changed through our thoughts and intentions. Or, as you suggested, you can continue a relationship through the building blocks already in place, the legacy of lessons learned that they left with us.


LifeNet Health has several programs that can offer donor family members ways to begin new and meaningful relationships:


The Grief Companion program pairs donor family members who would like to speak with someone who has suffered a similar loss as they have. To mitigate the challenges from distance, opportunity, and illness, these relationships often occur through telephone and email contact, and many have blossomed into close face-to-face friendships.


The Facebook group or email support group serves in those times when folks may want to bounce a situation off others by posting through the private Facebook group or the LNH email support group (if they don't want to bother enrolling in Facebook). Conversations may include: how to observe various anniversaries such as weddings, birthdays, death dates, etc.; what to do with the spouse's wedding ring; or how to celebrate holidays without the loved one.


LifeNet Health's annual In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies, gatherings and workshops offer opportunities throughout the year for donor family members to connect with one another and potentially build relationships.


As you look back on your life, don't you now understand all the ways you were evolving, if even in those moments you thought not much was happening?


Thank you for your question and for thoughtful response.




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 www.healingthespirit.org 

comfortingComforting the Soul


By Sarah L. Decker, MA, CIC-CSp.


Technology and the media have changed how we grieve. Every day, we see and hear stories of violence, death and survival in the news and on television. We share our feelings on social networking sites. The internet allows us to skip funerals by giving us the option to sign a guest book online and share memories electronically. It is now commonplace to hear of someone's death online before hearing the news from family or friends.


As we journey through grief and loss, we continue to watch television, go online and read the news. Yet our emotions can color our perceptions. The words filtering through our brain translate into thoughts and feelings based on our experienced life events. When loss happens, our experience can change our perceptions.


How can you deal with your negative or strong emotions after something you see or hear in the media strikes a nerve? To help comfort your soul, you must find supportive and healthy outlets where you can reflect on what you saw and talk about how you are feeling. It might be hard to limit your exposure to the media, but having support in place for those times when you become offended, confused or emotional is good.


LifeNet Health Donor Family Services provides positive outlets and resources that can help. We offer a private Facebook group just for donor family members, an email support group, listings of other support groups, and Grief Companions® to lend a listening ear. You can also share your feelings on one of our supportive blogs on HealingtheSpirit.org. We are here to help!




Healing the Spirit Highlight - In Celebration and Remembrance

by Michael Reilly, MA, Donor Family Advocate



Every April during National Donate Life Month LifeNet Health Donor Family Services sponsors our In Celebration and Remembrance events in three Virginia locations: Roanoke, Richmond and Norfolk. We celebrate and remember our donors, who have given the Gift of Life, and their families who have made the gifts possible.


We invite you, our donor families, to join us in this safe and caring environment to commemorate and mourn your loved one. We know that especially for newly bereaved families it can be a difficult and brave decision to attend. Many families have told us so, and that they were glad they made the decision to attend, that they felt welcomed and comforted among those who share the grief experience.


2014 In Celebration & Remembrance ceremony at the Founder's Inn,
Virginia Beach, VA



Read more for details about the In Celebration & Remembrance events. 

donateLifeNet Health Florida to celebrate National Donate Life Month:

A time to honor those touched by donation and transplantation


Join LifeNet Health Florida in recognizing National Donate Life Month this April, during a month-long celebration that showcases the various perspectives of those touched by donation and transplantation.


Every year since 2002, the month of April has been filled with events to spread the lifesaving message of donation in order to motivate people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.


You can become a donor by registering at www.donatelifeflorida.org.

For more information about how to become a volunteer or to get involved in an event in your area, please email Louanne_white@lifenethealth.org.



ICRIn Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies in Virginia  


Look for your invitation in the mail.

  • Sunday April 12, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.:  Hotel Roanoke
  • Sunday April 19, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.:  Norfolk Botanical Gardens
  • Sunday April 26, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.:  Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond

In Celebration & Remembrance events in Florida and the Northwest will be held at different times throughout the year. Invitations will be sent approximately one month prior to the events.

Visit our website for more grief and loss support.