Help us help grieving families

It’s only been 14 months.   

Only 14 months since Jillian answered her door to find two detectives at her home.  They were there to do the unthinkable: Deliver the news of her husband’s death.  Zach had taken his own life.     

Suddenly, Jillian’s husband of 12 years and father to their two young daughters, Brooklin (age 10) and Brenna (age 7) was gone. Even though she had supported Zach through previous mental health struggles, the news of his death was a shock. 

“I lost my mother when I was 14 years old,” Jillian said. “Having grown up without a parent, I never imagined that my children would go through the same experience.”   

A friend who had also lost her husband introduced Jillian and her kids to Fox Valley Hands of Hope (FVHH). Our agency welcomed them into our community – one of compassion, support and understanding of their grief journey.   

“The hardest part is when the kids get sad,” Jillian confessed.  “After Zach died, Brenna [my youngest daughter] wouldn’t talk about him”.  Brenna attended one-on-one and family sessions with FVHH’s clinicians and, eventually, she started sharing happy stories and comforting memories of her father.   

“The grief journey is not linear, and it’s still a process that we’re all going through.” said Jillian. “As my kids’ capacity to understand and process the death of their father evolves, I’m glad to know that FVHH’s door is always open and ready to provide services at their level.” 

Jillian also participated in one-on-one sessions with FVHH’s clinicians, Pathways and Lightfinders (groups for those experiencing spousal and suicide loss, respectively). The whole family took part in Family Forest Days, a one-day outdoor family program, this summer and are looking forward to attending future sessions.   

Across these groups, Jillian started to recognize familiar faces, a community of comfort and reassurance that she and her kids are not alone in their grief and loss experience.   

Looking forward to 2023, we at FVHH expect an increase in the demand for our no-cost grief support services. We are planning new services (such as an all-new expressive arts gatherings) and continuing to provide our core programming like M.A.L.E.S. (Men After Loss Expressing themselves Safely) and Project Hope (school-based youth groups). 

Our FVHH network of support is right in the heart of your community, serving the families, individuals and school districts in and surrounding the Fox River Valley area.  As a fully community-funded organization, our clients rely on the generosity of our neighbors, like you, to ensure that our vital services remain available.  Through this appeal, we must raise at least $45,000.  Reaching this goal will help ensure that 300 client sessions can be provided, 28 grief support groups can run, and anyone living with a death loss can have ready access to our no cost grief support services.   

Thank you so much for your support of Jillian, Brenna, Brooklin and other clients like them.