It is our pleasure to highlight the special people behind the organizations that care for individuals anticipating or coping with the death of a family member. We hope this brings further awareness to why all of these organizations TOGETHER have such an incredible impact on families.
Conversations with Kelly
Meet Kelly. It would be easy to list off the many reasons why Kelly was chosen as one of our community partners. The letters after her name are certainly enough to gain her credibility in our eyes, but Kelly brings so much more to this world than just her education and experience. Kelly has a beautiful and unmeasured compassion for the dying; she is often times the one they share their deepest fears with, the one they look to when they are struggling to cope, and the one that helps them find peace when they are finally ready to let go. She is also instrumental in the healing of their loved ones by gifting them with valuable little “nuggets” from their conversations; she instills hope in moving forward. She understands that closure comes in many forms, and her life’s work up until this point has been about helping her clients and families gain that. Kelly is one of the best in her profession, and as it grew began to feel quite helpless when she could not help everyone that wanted to see her. Conversations with Kelly (CWK) was created as a larger forum to speak openly about dying with dignity, living with loss, and finding peace with your life and with those around you. Kelly is having the conversations that should also be taking place in our schools, our hospitals, our places of faith, and our homes. She is not only a beautiful voice for the ones that are no longer here, but also for the ones who have lost their voice in the midst of their grief. We invite you and yours to be a part of these meaningful conversations moving forward; we believe you will find them to be life changing and inspiring…and so is she.
1) What is the main purpose of your role?
The main purpose of my role is help spread a healing message to a larger community. I have been working for 25 years in oncology, grief, palliative care and hospice. I have learned a multitude of things from all the patients I have worked with over the years. These messages are meant to be shared. I feel a great honor to be a messenger.
2) Share a personal story that brought you to your role or to your cause.
When I was 11 years old, I witnessed my 33-year-old mother have a heart attack in a grocery store. She was resuscitated in front of me to end up on a vent for months. That moment was the pivotal one in the path to finding a career in medicine and grief. There were many moments through her hospitalization up to her death that were not handled in the manner we would have preferred. I have dedicated my career to making sure individuals and families get what they need throughout their illness, death and bereavement. I believe as our pain heals, we gain wisdom from it.
3) What are you most passionate about in your role in terms of helping the people your organization serves?
I am most passionate about sharing information about how to have a peaceful and meaning death. I was recently interviewed and asked, “What makes a good death?” My response was “The things that make our lives good will be what make our death good as well.” I love to meet with courageous people. Everyone that comes to a CWK event comes for their own reason. I see them as so courageous and open to healing.
4) What is one of the most impactful stories you can share about a family or individual that received support from your organization?
After a CWK event, a woman waited to speak to me afterwards. She was in tears, and struggled to speak. She shared with me that she had recently lost a child and that she did not know if she could survive the horrible pain of the loss. She said that the messages she received from the evening helped her feel less alone. She could receive a message that helped her realize people can survive the pain if they have support. “Coming to a CWK is like walking into your home where loving family awaits” ( THIS IS WHY WE DO THIS!)
5) Why do you think Brighter Days Grief Center is important to your organization, and to the families you serve?
I am so grateful that Brighter Days Grief Center is a part of our community. There are many needs that a bereaved family has, especially the children, and Brighter Days Grief Center compassionately addresses them. I know that my family would have greatly benefited from this valuable resource when I lost my mother. I am especially impressed with the tutoring program for youth as I know first hand how academics suffer after a loss. There has been such loving detail put into creating this deeply needed resource; it is essential that people have a safe space to gather and to find support. CWK is honored to designate Brighter Days Grief Center as our charity of choice for our next CWK Live event, Connected through Grief, on November 29, 2017. Please join us!
6) Please share some personal information about yourself-family, hobbies, and special interests.
I am a very passionate advocate for people living with chronic and terminal illnesses, as well as those who are hurting from loss. There is not any other work I would rather be doing. I feel grateful to share this life with my amazing husband Jeff, my children Chris and Carly, and our family dog Bogey. My family and friends are truly the best and encourage me every day to keep shining and doing this work. I consider it one of life’s greatest privileges to share CWK with my amazing CWK team; Marge Barry, Jeffrey Cloninger, Barbara Fleetham, Jenny Johnson, Bob Sorg, Nancy Lindgren, Connie Sullivan, and Chris Henz. I love to golf, travel and spend time with friends and family. I believe when we work hard we must play hard. Dancing, laughing and a nice glass of wine make life better. Spread love every day. Our world needs all kinds of love. Peace. Please join our healing community by visiting our website or by liking “Conversations with Kelly” on Facebook.