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

Summer  2015

In This Issue of DFQ 

LukeMatters of the Heart 

Donor mom JoAnn Cockey listened to her son

Luke's heart beat, giving life to heart transplant

recipient Twyla Kim.

"Luke was a talented carpenter and worked with his father. He never met a stranger and had a great sense of humor.  I can still hear his laughter in my ears. He was a loyal friend," said his mother, JoAnn Cockey. 

"Luke signed up to be an organ donor when he was 16 years old. He was proud to make that decision. Luke spent time with his grandmother while she waited for a lung in 1997. He saw a miracle when she received the gift of life.  He knew how important organ donation is. Luke was 23 years old when he died from a head injury," his mother continued.

Luke Cockey became an organ, tissue, and eye donor on January 27, 2008. His family grieved the devastating loss. They found some solace from knowing that he made a positive difference in many lives through his donated gifts. "Luke had a love-filled heart. His generous spirit helped our family to begin the healing process," recalled JoAnn.    

Luke's family has come a long way over these past seven years. Their journey has been tough, like so many who have lost a dear loved one. Sharing their story has helped the family on their healing journey. "Many blessings have come out of this tragic loss," said JoAnn. 

Recently, the family had the opportunity to finally meet the grateful recipient of their son's heart at a face-to-face meeting in the chapel at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Their meeting was joyful, life-affirming, and emotional.  Heart transplant recipient Twyla Kim and her family were overwhelmed by the kindness shown by her donor's family. The two families made a connection, and they promised each other to keep in touch. 



Giving Hope - Images of LifeNet Health's In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies across Virginia

Giving Hope was the theme at this year's LifeNet Health In Celebration & Remembrance Virginia ceremonies, in recognition of the recent addition of the words Giving Hope to the organization's mission statement. 


Over 700 donor family members and friends attended three ceremonies across the commonwealth to honor and remember those who chose to donate life through eye, tissue, and organ donation, and through donation for research. 


A full house packed the ceremony at Norfolk Botanical Gardens.


A donor family revealed how their loved one's brain donation for research on Parkinson's disease brought them comfort.
A donor wife arrived with her grandchildren to honor their loved one at Richmond's Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.
A donor dad honored his son by placing a flower in the vase at Hotel Roanoke.
A donor husband and son shared a special poem and photo of their beloved wife and mother on the tribute table at Hotel Roanoke.
Donor sister Patti Dean, herself a liver transplant recipient and a LifeNet Health associate, reflected on the meaning of Giving Hope.

HealingTearsHealing Tears by Lani Leary, Ph.D.



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 question to Healing Tears on our Healing the Spirit website for grief and loss support.



Dear Dr. Lani,

Recently my family and I donated certain tissues of my husband for research. Several members of my family were upset that we were unable to restore the health and lives of people needing transplants. We really wanted to learn specifics about how he helped these people in need. We trust the gifts my husband was able to provide for research will be helpful but for some reason we are left disappointed. Is there anything I could say or suggest to my family members to help them understand that these gifts are important too?

- Disappointed 

Dear Disappointed,

You may be saddened to find that your loved one's organs could not be used for direct transplantation, and that he was "only" a research donor. But research carried out because of his donation will touch millions of people in need, waiting for medical breakthroughs. You can remind others that, in fact, his donation will restore the health and lives of thousands of people in need. The gift of his organ donation will lead to treatment and cures for illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, Parkinson's disease or cancer. It is because of donations such as your husband's, that researchers are able to discover and share information that will make a difference across the world. His donation, and the research that it allows, is a significant and meaningful way to serve humanity and share your loved one's values. His legacy will have a ripple effect for generations to come by helping people to live better, longer, and healthier lives.

You may not be able to speak with the one person who received your husband's donated organ, but we all know someone who suffers from a debilitating disease. You can imagine the faces of those people, and trust that the research carried out because of your husband's organ donation directly touches them.

The impact of research through donation is significant, wide spread, and lasts far into the future. Shared information touches not just one organ recipient or their family, but improves lives across the globe. New medical findings will impact the larger national and international field of medicine. Your gift transcends one particular individual, their family, this time, and this place. Your husband's gift creates opportunities for greater success for greater numbers of people, improving the impact to individuals, families, communities, and the world.

Ask others to imagine the ripple effect and far-reaching consequences of a single gift. Because of his donation to science, he will brighten untold numbers of discouraged patients, lift broken spirits, and change future medicine.





Healing the Spirit Highlight by Michael Reilly, MA, Donor Family Advocate 

Travel your grief journey with a Grief Companion®


When we lose a loved one, we often feel alone in our grief. Our feelings, thoughts and behaviors can be confusing. We sometimes feel like we are the only ones having these bizarre experiences or like we are "going crazy" and there is "something wrong" with us.


If we're lucky, we might have understanding people in our immediate support system with whom we can share our disconcerting experiences, who allow us to talk about our grief and provide us with comfort. If not, we can feel isolated and tend to withdraw from social contact. Often people, even those close to us, expect us to "move on" with our lives and "get over" the loss of our loved one. They can say things to us which are not helpful, and sometimes hurtful.


It is important to be able to express our grief, to talk with someone who understands this alien world, to talk about our departed loved one, to shed tears that bring us some relief, to share our grief with another. Often those closest to us and our loved one are also grieving. They are reluctant to share their grief, because they believe that it upsets us to do so. So they hold back their grief and distance themselves from ours. The mutual grief becomes a barrier to, rather than a means for, healing our grief. So we walk our journey through grief alone and bewildered.


If this describes you, please consider the LifeNet Health Grief Companion® program. We will connect you with another LifeNet Health donor family member who is more distant from the early trauma of grief, who has traveled the journey for a good while, who understands the visceral experience of grief, and who is willing to accompany you on your journey.


Your Grief Companion will allow you to talk and will listen with quiet compassion and without judgment, knowing that each grief experience is unique - that there is no wrong or right way to grieve and mourn, only your way. He or she will let you cry and talk about your loved one, encourage you to tell your story as often as you need to, and will answer questions like, "is it normal to...", suggesting ways to cope with the inevitable anniversaries and holidays. Your Grief Companion will be available when you want to talk, and will check in with you when you are quiet. They are all volunteers who wants to give back some of what they have received from others. 


To request a LifeNet Health Grief Companion®, click here.  







"Grief shared is grief healed."                




walkOut of the Darkness Community Walk - Join Team LifeNet Health

This year, LifeNet Health is once again forming a team to participate in Hampton Roads' annual Out of the Darkness community walk sponsored by the Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Support Group. This walk promotes good mental health, raises awareness of the treatability of depression, and offers the opportunity to remember loved ones lost to suicide.

Please join us to walk together on Saturday, September 12th at Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach. Go to www.sos-walk.org/sos and register to be part of team LifeNet Health. Or email Debbie Hutt at deborah_hutt@lifenethealth.org and she will be happy to add you to the team.


photo courtesy of the Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Support Group



Creative Expressions of Grief workshop - Make your own tribute album

A small group of donor families recently spent the day working on scrapbooks of their loved ones. 

"We are so grateful to Andrea Skeen and Hospice of Virginia for allowing us to offer our Creative Expressions of Grief workshop in their Richmond office," said workshop organizer Tina Pierce, LifeNet Health Donor Family Advocate. 

Are you interested in creating your loved one's tribute album? Two more workshops are scheduled this year.


Join us at our Concert Drive location in Virginia Beach on Saturday, August 22nd or Saturday, October 24th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided.


Call Tina Pierce at 757-609-4903 or 1-800-847-7831, or email christina_pierce@lifenethealth.org to sign up. Space is limited.


Visit our website for more grief and loss support.