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Come and find solace as you get to know us who share in this journey of grief. We have been praying for you and extend our deepest and sincere sympathy. We “hope” you experience comfort and peace in this safe haven of love and support.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


My wholehearted attempt to continue on with this story over a week ago has proved unsuccessful. I am, however, excited to share more with you today! :) To read the previous posts and get up to speed, click here and here.


What do you think of when you hear the words funeral home? If you're anything like I used to be, your mind wanders to horrendous decor, odd smells, and an eery feeling of unease. This was my perception prior to my experience with Hamilton's. I was thankful to be proved wrong. To experience a place associated with death as a place of beautiful remembrance. To see a funeral service worker in a pale yellow suit. To feel comforted.

In the days and weeks that followed Chloe's funeral, I learned that Hamilton's was much more than a funeral home. I expected that they would care for Chloe's body, do the service, and that would be that. But it didn't stop there. I learned that there was a division of the company called the Academy of Grief and Loss, which provided a whole array of aftercare services to the families they served as well as to the community. By the time summer was coming to an end, just three short months since Chloe's death, our family was blessed by the opportunity to participate in three of their aftercare services; the Coping with Grief Symposium, Little Hands children's grief program, and Children's Tribute.

Shortly after Chloe died, we were invited to attend this event by Ann, our perinatal hospice nurse. She would have a display up at this event, and so would many others in the community. I could have never imagined that just a couple short years later, I would be standing at a Mommies with Hope display at this very event. Anyway, the grief was so fresh. It was just 3 1/2 weeks after Chloe had died and Justin and I attended this event. It was fabulous. We learned about how to effectively cope with our grief. For us, I think it was just helpful to have permission to grieve and to know that we were not the only ones experiencing it. At the end of the program, we were able to honor our precious Chloe with a candlelighting. As each person passed the flame of their candle, they said the name of the person whom they were remembering aloud. I light this candle in memory of my daughter, Chloe Marie. The words still ring in my mind. I've said them many times over thees last five years.

Another program we learned of in the aftermath of Chloe's death is Little Hands. This is a children's grief program for young children. We wanted to do all that we could to help Gabe, then 4-years-old, understand his grief and remember his baby sister. The three-day program was like everything else we had experienced at Hamiltons ~ wonderful! Gabe, though shy, was able to be around other children who had someone special in their lives die. As a family, we were encouraged to honor and to remember. Yes, remember! I've had others question this where Gabe was concerned. Comments like, "At least he's very young and maybe he'll forget all this happened" or "Are you sure you want him to be a part of all this?" referring to memorials or services. My response? Why would I not want my son to remember his sister? Chloe is a part of our family...she always will be. We will remember her. We will honor her. In Christ, we will see her again.

Held in late summer 0f 2006, after having experienced the Coping with Grief Symposium and after Gabe having attended Little Hands in July, we were invited to a Children's Tribute at the funeral home where Chloe's services were held. This tribute was to serve the recent families who had had babies die and who had used Hamilton's Funeral Home. The garden had been dedicated a year earlier in honor of baby Alan. His mommy, Holly, was the one who had helped us with Chloe's service. This particular location houses a beautiful garden, adorned with a 'garden dancer' to represent the children who have died. Each garden dancer has the child's name etched out of it. I know my words do not do justice to explaining this wonderful event, or the beautiful garden dancers, so be sure to click on the link above to see and read more about it. Here is a picture of Gabe in the garden next to Chloe's garden dancer...

An interesting thing happened at the Children's Tribute. Funny, really. We had experienced a beautiful afternoon of remembrance, enjoyed the best butterfly sugar cookies you could imagine, and were blessed by the gift of Chloe's garden dancer to bring home. All of that was wonderful. But another thing happened...something I'll never forget. After the program and while spending some time outside in the garden, I struck up a conversation with Trudy. I had seen Trudy a couple of times by now through all the events we had gone to at Hamilton's. Trudy helped lead the symposium and was one of the helpers at the Little Hands program. Trudy was the Director of Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss. I was so impressed by the Academy's services and so blessed to be a recipient, that I had to know more, so I kept asking questions. I remember asking something about employment in the Academy and Trudy informed me that she had a part-time Coordinator, but that the position was vacant and would need to be filled in the near future. Without hesitation, I boldly stated, "Hire me!" While I wasn't hired right away, I did find myself employed as the Academy Coordinator 6 months later!


More to come in the days ahead...stay tuned!

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