Spring | 2018                                                                                                      1-800-847-7831                                

                                 April is Donate Life Month-For more information, visit                                                     
Hello from the Director

Hello! 2018 welcomes in a new look for the Donor Family Services website We have completely revamped the content and made navigation easier. We hope that you will visit the site for information on the Grief Journey, Hope & Healing, and Ways to Remember & Honor your loved one. Within the Donor Family Support area you can get information on events and workshops, request access to the Donor Family Facebook page, or request a Grief Companion. Our hope is the website will provide support and information - please visit it and let us know your thoughts! We look forward to seeing you at one of our events – with workshops for National Donor Day, In Celebration & Remembrance ceremonies, and the upcoming Share the Love 5k/1mile event - there are opportunities for you to share your stories, give & receive support, and be a part of the donor family community.  Bring family, bring friends, or come by yourself – we value your presence! As Helen Keller once said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

With hope,

      Debbie Hutt 
      Director, Donor Family Services

Healing Tears

Ask Dr. Leary

Dear Dr. Leary:
My husband of 20 years died unexpectedly over 2 years ago. I’ve had the support of friends and family but I can’t seem to “get my life back.”  I feel knocked down by my grief, and am surprised by the depth of pain and how long it has had a grip on me.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Can you shed some light for me?


                              Surprised by Grief

Dear Surprised by Grief:
I am glad that your friends and family have validated the obvious suffering that the absence of your dear husband has brought. Having their emotional support and constancy is one of the most significant factors in how a survivor copes and adjusts to this life shift. It is obvious to most that your husband’s death changes everything, but we all forget exactly how much and how far that change extends. As time passes, most of our support team expects that we will feel better; we want that for ourselves too, of course. But as time passes, we are still left with the void, as well as all of the reminders of who we use to be, as well what we do not have now. The grief you are feeling is not just related to the primary loss, but to the secondary losses that most cannot identify, articulate, or validate. Secondary losses relate to all of the other losses that are fallout from the primary loss.
Examples of secondary loss may include:

  • Loss of our self-identity or the way we know ourselves: “Am I still a wife?” “Who am I now?”
  • Loss of the way we see the world or our belief system: “I thought the world was safe and I would always be taken care of."
  • Loss of a sense of meaning and purpose: “my husband was my reason for waking up and we conquered the world as one.”
  • Loss of a sense of future and hope: “we made plans for our future, and now I don’t know how to move forward without him.”
  • Loss of a partnership and the physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual support it brought: “I don’t have anyone who accepts the ‘real me’; I don’t have anyone to tell my inner most thoughts to.”
  • Loss of income and financial security: “my income has been cut in half and I am worried all the time; I’ve had to take over such a burden of financial management and don’t have anyone I truly trust with it.”
  • Loss of friendships and connections to other couples and groups: “I feel like a third wheel everywhere I go; the loneliest time is coming home alone from a gathering without anyone to talk with.”
  • Loss of physical, emotional and sexual intimacy: “No one touches me anymore; I miss the physical comfort of someone next to me; who can I tell my insecurities to?”

We often say that sudden, unexpected death is like having the rug pulled out from under us.  As you reflect on the many secondary losses that add pain to the primary loss, you can understand that it isn’t just one rug that has been pulled out from beneath you, but many layers of what use to be your foundation and bedrock. Understanding the concept of secondary losses can bring renewed compassion and patience to the life-long work of grief. I hope the awareness of the depth and breadth of your loss will remind you of immensity of what you shared with your husband. There is legitimacy, logic, and normalcy to the triggers of your grief.

Lani Leary, Ph.D. specializes in work with chronically ill, dying and bereaved clients. Dr. Leary has worked for the past 25 years as a psychotherapist in private practice and in 6 hospices across the country.


Donor Family Story

Roanoke Organ Donor Honored on 2018 Rose Parade® Float

Grace Lovegrove, an organ donor from Roanoke, was honored on the 2018 Donate Life float in the New Year’s Day Rose Parade® in Pasadena, Calif. Grace’s likeness was featured on one of the 44 floragraphs — a portrait made of organic materials such as seeds, spices and crushed flowers. The floragaphs honor people from across the country who have become organ, tissue and eye donors.

 “The Gift of Time” was this year’s theme for the Donate Life float as a reminder that donation truly is the greatest gift any one can bestow upon a waiting recipient. The float shared the impact that one donation and one person can make by helping potentially hundreds of others. The Donate Life Rose Parade float serves as a memorial to organ and tissue donors and a platform for donor families, living donors and transplant recipients to inspire the world to save and heal those in need through the gift of life. Today, more than 3,200 Virginians are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. One organ and tissue donor can help save and restore the lives for more than 150 patients in need.

About Grace Lovegrove:
Grace was a vibrant, quirky girl who dearly loved people. She loved drawing, singing, marine science and Cheerwine soda. She was a trusting soul who gave her time to summer church mission trips as a youth camp counselor. She had a love for running and even qualified for the NCAA III cross country regionals while attending Christopher Newport University. She is described as having a zest for life. When she was in middle school, Grace had a bumper sticker on her bedroom door that read “Recycle yourself. Be an organ and tissue donor.” She let her family know that she was serious and supported the sentiment. Early in 2005, Grace went into cardiac arrest on a training run and was declared brain dead at 18 years old. Four Virginians received her gifts of life including both kidneys, her liver and pancreas.

Donor Family/Recipient                                                                                                                             
Christmas came four days early for LifeNet Health donor Mom, Jackie Hoover. On December 21, on a sunny day in Emporia, Va., Jackie, accompanied by her niece, had the opportunity to meet her beloved son Alex’s lung recipient, Daniel “Yates” Murphrey and his wife Clara. Alex was 20 years old at the time of donation. Yates, 70, has been restored to health by Alex’s gift of life. The Murphrey and Hoover families learned they are also united by their love of the game of golf, which Yates said he plans to enjoy a lot more of this Spring! 

  Pictured L to R: Daniel “Yates” Murphrey, Jackie Hoover and Yates’ wife, Clara Murphrey


Save the date for the below upcoming events!

2018 In Celebration & Remembrance

                                     April 8, 2018

                                    Hotel Roanoke
                              110 Shenandoah Ave.,
                                 NW, Roanoke, VA


                                   April 15, 2018

                                    Founders Inn
                             5641 Indian River Rd.,
                              Virginia Beach, VA


                                  April 29, 2018

                       Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
                            1800 Lakeside Ave.,
                                  Henrico, VA

Pictured Above: Jacksonville, FL --In Celebration and Remembrance. Lynn Wadley’s hammer dulcimer filled the room with beautiful music. LifeNet Health Donor Families gather for fellowship and the opportunity to honor their loved ones.



The Journey

Reconciling Our Grief
“Because grief is love’s twin, grief never ends either.
We don’t ‘recover from’ or ‘get over’ grief. Instead, we become reconciled to it. We learn to live with it and integrate it into our continued living. We come to reconciliation in our grief journeys when the full reality of the loss becomes a part of us. Healing is not returning to an old normal but rather creating a new normal.
Our grief does soften, however. If we explore, embrace, and express it along the way, it eventually becomes less painful. The more actively we grieve, mourn, and meet our six needs of mourning, the more likely we are to live the rest of our days with meaning, love, and joy. There is darkness and pain in grief, but there is also hope. We have loved, and we must now muster the courage to mourn.”


Tree of Remembrance Ceremonies provide an opportunity for donor families to hang an ornament in honor of their loved one(s). Ceremonies were held in VA, FL and the Northwest.


Donor Family Services hosts workshops throughout the year, including scrapbooking and quilting workshops, as a creative outlet to honor the memory of their loved one(s).

For more information, contact

Donor Family Services
1-800 847-7831

For more information, contact:
1-800-847-7831  |

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