Why do I do what I do? I value being able to be in a job I love and feel passionate about.
Some days are particularly hard in this line of work, being surrounded by loss and grief, and some days I give more of myself than is healthy. On those days I share my challenges with my wonderful team and know I am in the right place, for the consideration, nurturing, and support I feel. In this job we have to walk our talk, give ourselves permission to grieve, to mourn and ask for help when needed. There are times I mourn the loss of my lovely Dad, gone 2 years now and I have to breathe and let that sadness move through me.
I work in a field that fills many with dread and most people do not want to talk about. Some days I will shed tears for those that have touched my heart, some days there is laughter and an uplifting encounter. I also get to feel inspired, humbled and grateful.
I do what I do because I get to see the powerful transformation that can occur when grief and loss are embraced and supported. I love to share tools and processes that empower people, I know these tools work, I know there is a way out of the darkness. I get to witness others step out of their pain and dark days and go on to pay it forward by volunteering. I do what I do because it is my purpose and my passion. I do what I do with others who come from their heart and lead with compassion. Not everyone is that lucky!
Why do I do what I do? I had gotten tired of being in the corporate profit driven environment and wanted to put my skills to use for something more meaningful that would have social significance. After making that decision I started searching for what that would be.
As chance would have it, I was introduced to WinterSpring through my then future wife Marla when they were preparing for an upcoming training. After learning more about WinterSpring’s mission and approach I thought to myself, I want to be a part of that. Actually, it was more like I have to be part of that! I applied for the open Office Manager position and the rest is history. I am now the Director of IT & Operations.
Loss touches us all and I’ve seen it take many forms. I’ve also seen the results of not having the support that it is needed when it is needed. What really resonates with me is that WinterSpring gives someone the space they need to just be where they are at the moment. Just being there with them without judgement or expectation and allowing what happens to flow freely and organically.
For me, this journey is being where you are in any given moment, understanding it and being seen and heard in a safe space. Yes, there are hard times and you are not ever alone. That is why I do what I do for WinterSpring and am grateful for the opportunity.
Why do I do what I do? I show up for grieving people because people showed up for me when my son died. People who cared enough did the hard work to keep the doors open at WinterSpring in 2006, enough funds were raised to keep the office rented, the staff hired, the phone working so that when I called in despair that winter day, a kind voice answered and listened to my sorrowing heart.
Weeks later, I was able to walk into a room and light candles with other sad parents and feel safe and understood. I had a life raft waiting for me each week as the ship that held all my dreams and security sank into oblivion.
I show up to keep weaving the web of support that holds us all.
Why do I do what I do? That is a very interesting question. While it is very difficult for me to boil that down to only a few reasons, I can think of two of the most important ones.
First of all, I love working with teenagers and children. Every time I get the opportunity to sit with a group or speak with someone one to one, I am just amazed by the young people in our valley. Their insight, their wisdom and their bravery to be vulnerable with each other, is truly inspiring. I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to work with these great young people.
Secondly, grief and bereavement is not always handled the best by our culture. Oftentimes society tells us that we have to grieve in certain ways, at certain times, and it’s something we have to do alone. At Winterspring, however, we see the value in grieving with a community and looking to them for support. More importantly, we respect the choices of those we work with and encourage them to live a life that is for them. That’s why I love working here at Winterspring.
That is why I do what I do.
Why do I do what I do? I started my relationship with this wonderful organization in 1995 after a desperate phone call from my mom to help get the newsletter out. My mom found WinterSpring after the death of her sister Dolores in 1989 and soon became their first Office Manager. She worked for 10 years in that role. After helping with the newsletter, I started volunteering regularly, helping out with housekeeping and occasionally doing office work when my Mom needed an extra hand.
In 1997 I took the training and began volunteering with the Children's Program. I am now the Youth Programs’ Children’s Grief Coordinator.
I do what I do because I have seen firsthand the wonderful work that WinterSpring does. Broken people come for help and they find it. I have witnessed healing, tears turn to laughter, and loneliness turn into new friendships. I have learned from the most incredible people and worked with the most dedicated volunteers who each come here with their own passions and gifts. These people give of their time for no other reason than they want to help people who are grieving. I feel so honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization.
Why do I do what I do? Because I have to. Because my grief is part of who I am. Because I have always believed in allowing my grief to guide me, and this is the place it has brought me to. It may seem strange to hear this, but my grief makes me a better me. Believe me, it took years to get to this point, but I am now able to see and receive the gifts that came from my deep pain, and with that comes a responsibility to share them.
After the death of my son Oliver, even in the darkest days of inconsolable grief I knew it was important for me to find a way to parent the child the rest of the world could not see - and I have done that. It has just been a different kind of parenting.
My work with WinterSpring is one of many ways I can honor my son, and now more recently my mother, and play a small part in changing the way grief is perceived in our culture. The fact that I can do this while working with a group of incredible people who lead with their hearts and stand beside people in their darkest hour, is a gift in and of itself.
Why do I do what I do? I first came to WinterSpring because I desperately needed a place to tell my story–and to tell it over and over again if necessary. In the Fall of 1995 my wife, Angelika, died of leukemia. I went into a deep depression for two years, until my 16 year-old daughter said to me, “Dad, that’s enough! I’ve lost one parent; now I’m losing the other.” So, I picked myself up, dragged myself out, and started swing dancing–and went to WinterSpring for help and support.
I came asking questions like: How will I make it? How will I go on? How can I get beyond such emptiness and despair? Other grievers were there, too–asking questions and telling stories.
WinterSpring staff and volunteers were there to help us find the answers; often they were the answers. I was with others who knew grief, who knew how to BE WITH loss. WinterSpring provided just what I needed–a place for healing and renewal, a sacred place full of love and love of life.
For the past 20+ years I’ve been giving back by serving on the WinterSpring Board. I’ve had the honor of facilitating support groups for bereaved widows and widowers. I’ve helped at-risk youth, wards of the court, get in touch with their own losses and learn healthy ways to cope and grieve. It’s the most meaningful and rewarding work I’ve ever done, which is why I volunteer and donate to this amazing nonprofit. It’s a small one, but it makes a huge difference in the lives of the people it “touches”.