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

SUMMER  2016

In This Issue of DFQ 
Honoring the Gift of Life

The Gift of Life donor medallion is bestowed upon donor families for their courage and compassion in the face of their loss. It also honors and recognizes the donors themselves.

This impressive medallion is over three inches in diameter and depicts two hands holding a heart with a rose in the center.

Rays of light radiate outward with the words Gift of Life Donor inscribed at the top and Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donation at the bottom.
"My son was a hockey player, so when we received the medallion, I was thrilled that he was getting one last medal to recognize his courage and love for others," recalls a donor mom.
"My medallion is sitting on my shelf in the living room where I can see it," said a donor family member. "I used it in a memory box along with pictures and his swimming medals."

"I keep mine on my desk at work so I am often reminded of her selfless gift throughout my day," added another recipient.

Donor families recently shared some of their creative ideas for incorporating the donor medallion into their loved one's tributes: 

  • Feature the medallion on the headstone memorial.
  • Display the framed medallion on an accent wall with a favorite picture of your loved one.
  • Create a memory shadow box and include the medallion among your loved one's photos and mementos.
  • Display the medallion using a tabletop easel, available at most trophy stores.
  • Use your own unique skills and creativity. Cut the medallion so it can be repurposed as a switch plate, an ornament, or a pendant strung with ribbon and displayed on a cork board.

WalkJoin us for Out of the Darkness Community Walk
The annual Hampton Roads Out of the Darkness Community Walk promotes good mental health, raises awareness of the treatability of depression, and offers the community an opportunity to remember loved ones lost to suicide.
Please join us as we walk together on Saturday, September 10th at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach. Sign up at www.sos-walk.org/sos and you can register as a part of the LifeNet Health team.
Healing the Spirit Highlight - Website gets a new look  
by Michael Reilly, MA

LifeNet Health Donor Family Services is relaunching our Healing the Spirit website, www.healingthespirit.org.
Our goal is to simplify the navigation and make the site more user friendly. The new site will go live in the fall. Our website address will remain the same.
We encourage you to provide us with your feedback. Just go to the Contact us page athttp://www.healingthespirit.org/contact/, and select I have feedback about the website. Type your comments in the field titled How Can We Help?

HealingTearsHealing Tears by Dr. Lani Leary

Dear Dr. Lani,
My husband died a year ago and, following many people's advice, I have not made any
major life decisions or changes. But now I'm thinking about moving out of state for a job opportunity. How will I deal with being in a new place where no one knew my husband? I feel that I will be untethered and out of balance without the reference to him. It's like losing him all over again. Can you help me deal with my anxiety? -- A Grieving Wife

Dear Grieving Wife,
Yours is not an uncommon task. In the journey called grief, we are challenged to find the courage and energy to move forward into the uncharted territory of a place and future which does not include our loved one.

The feeling of losing him again is what you do as you review the reality of his death again and again, to understand the mystery of loss from many different perspectives. You are returning, reviewing, and readjusting to the reality of life without him.  

As you grieve, the daunting task is to re-learn how to live in this new world and re-learn what your world means without your loved one. You are working to find answers to questions like, "Who am I without him?" and "What does my life mean without him?"

We have to learn how to invest ourselves in facets of life that once involved our loved one. We have to learn who we are now; how to be ourselves in a world without our loved one to, and why our life has meaning, even without him.

You have been with your husband in the physical your whole married life. Now you must learn a different kind of intimacy and connection. The best metaphor I can think of is a song. You have sung a melody with your husband for years called marriage. Even though he is not singing it with you now, or you are not singing out loud so others can hear it, you are able to hold the melody in your mind, hear it echo and replay anytime you choose. You carry the tune though the song does not sing itself. It lives in you even when the singing stops. You carry that wherever you go in to the future.
Psychiatrist and author Robert Lifton writes about a "symbolic immortality" that happens as we learn to live and acknowledge the values, meanings, and legacy left to us by the deceased. You can make your focus the mystery of the immortal aspects of his life. The struggle is to retain and cherish what you have been given from him and your relationship. Take that and shape the future years, weaving his legacy into your new life. No matter where you live, you take his values and his legacy with you.
Your old home and community must have held reminders, memories, and benchmarks of your life together and so it holds parts of your husband. Sometimes we believe if we leave the home we made together, we leave the love behind...as though love could ever be confined by walls or geography.
Perhaps those things, places, and people that remind you of your husband can serve as a "backboard" from which your husband comes back to you. I believe you can carry that backboard with you into a new place because it is your mind and your heart that hold your husband and your history together.

Try to expand your resources and the number of things that will evoke him for you:
  1. Make a list of the things in your home you will take with you that remind you of him.
  2. Create anniversaries to celebrate your history together.
  3.  Continue to "relate" to him and share who you are becoming.
  4.  Share stories of him with new friends as you would share stories of how  you grew up and where you came from.
In essence, you can learn a different form of attachment and way of belonging to your loved one. You can carry him with you rather than leave him behind.
Go into your future honoring your past.


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 Debbie Hutt, LifeNet Health, 1864 Concert Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23453, or visit Healing Tears at www.healingthespirit.org 
LifeNet Health Florida hosts Expressions of Grief workshop

Amidst the exchanging of ideas, there's laughter, a few tears, and lots of good memories created at an Expressions of Grief workshop.
Our most recent workshop was held in Crestview, Florida at the Victorious Life Church. There, donor families came together to create shadow boxes or scrapbook pages in a safe, caring environment. Families share stories and memories of their loved ones while creating a lasting memorial.
Donor families share their stories and their pain in a safe environment with people who want to listen and who understand their shared experience. They can let go of a little sorrow and allow a little healing to take place. Memories are our connections to our loved ones, whether they make us laugh, smile or cry, they keep us close to those we've lost.

Happenings in the Northwest
by Noreen Sutton, Donor Family Advocate
For those of us in Washington state, this summer is finally starting to warm up!
On May 27th at our Renton campus, we hosted our second annual Founder's Day event. This event celebrates and honors the life and vision of LifeNet Health founder Bill Anderson.
Our Founder's Day event was attended by LifeNet Health employees and their families, and included a donor family along with a tissue recipient from the area.

We were honored to listen to donor parents Troy and Sonja Torres speak about their son Troy Torres, junior, who tragically passed away in 2015. We thank the family for their generosity and courage.

Did you know that one tissue donor can enhance the lives of up to 150 people? One of those enhanced lives is David Hartley's. David shared how he needed knee surgery after a motorcycle accident. From the tissue donation he received, David is now once again able to play with his daughters, stay active, and even get back to riding.

MichaelHail and Farewell Michael!
We bid a very fond farewell to Michael Reilly, Donor Family Advocate, who retires from LifeNet Health this summer after ten years of dedicated service.
Thank you, Michael, for the genuine care and compassion you have extended every day to our donor families.
Congratulations and best wishes as you start this next chapter of your life.
DonnaMeet our new manager
Please join us in welcoming Donna Maria, our new Manager of Donor Family Services at LifeNet Health.
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Radford University and a Master of Science in Organizational Communication from Murray State University, Donna worked for nonprofits including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the Brain Injury Association. She has served on the Bereavement Committee at her church and as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Lourdes Hospital.
Donna Marie is also a donor family member and a tissue recipient. "I have experienced profound feelings of grief associated with losing a loved one," shared Donna. "And as a tissue recipient, I am forever grateful to the family who honored their loved one through organ and tissue donation. Now I can continue to live my life with purpose and without pain. It is truly an honor to be a part of LifeNet Health, serving the needs of donor families on their healing journey."
A certified therapy dog handler, Donna enjoys volunteering with her therapy dog at Virginia Oncology Associates and Norfolk Public Libraries.
Visit our website for more grief and loss support.