Stories from Our Walkers

For the past 15 years, our community has gathered together for the Annual Memories Walk to walk in memory of loved ones and to support the essential programs of The Children’s Room.

The Children’s Room provides a compassionate and supportive community that extends beyond the families, volunteers, and staff who fill our house throughout the year. We extend our deep appreciation to the following people who have shared their stories and their answers to the question,

“Why do you walk for The Children’s Room?”

Courtney’s family’s story

“The Walk is a special tradition for me. It is a dedicated time to remember my dad, and an opportunity to connect with current and former families, volunteers, and TCR staff.”

My dad died when I was six years old. After the overwhelming support from family and friends subsided, my mom, brother, and I were left to pick-up the pieces and process our grief. As a new family of three, we were forced to adjust to a new dynamic.

In an effort to help my brother and me cope with our grief, my mom brought our family to The Children’s Room. At The Children’s Room, I found solace in knowing that other children my age had also lost a parent. My experience at The Children’s Room, has helped me to have open conversations about grief and share memories.

I started participating in the Annual Memories Walk when I volunteered as a Facilitator at The Children’s Room. Since then, I have walked in memory of my dad with my mom, friends, and fellow volunteers. The Walk is a special tradition for me. It is a dedicated time to remember my dad, and an opportunity to connect with current and former families, volunteers, and TCR staff.

This year, I’m particularly excited about the Walk. While I will still be walking in memory of my dad, I’m also looking forward to sharing the Walk with some of my dearest friends. We will be walking together in memory of loved ones that we have lost.

Anne’s family’s story

Peb, with Hunter, Sarah, and Read

Peb, with Hunter, Sarah, and Read

“We walk to celebrate the life of Peb Stone, my husband of 22 years and father extraordinaire of Sarah, Hunter, and Read.”

My husband died unexpectedly in June of 2013. Peb was such a fun, adventurous, compassionate man who adored his family. His two teenage sons, Hunter and Read, and daughter, Sarah, were the focus of his life. His death caused an unraveling in the intricate fabric of our family. How do we repair such damage?

The Children’s Room became a place for Sarah and I to share our sorrow and frustrations with other families going through similar experiences. Although my teenage sons did not participate at TCR, the support and advice I received from my peers helped me become a better mom to my sons. Because of TCR, Sarah and I no longer feel alone. We have made meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime.

Our family loves to participate in the Annual Memories Walk. It gives us a chance to celebrate Peb’s life and to thank all of the friends, family, and TCR volunteers who helped us get through this extremely difficult time. When we walk with other families, we know we are part of a community that has weaved together an intricate support system. We hope you will join us this year!

 

John’s family’s story

john-dececca

John and his daughters, Olivia and Ella, on a family vacation

John and his daughters, Olivia and Ella, walk in memory of John’s wife and Olivia and Ella’s mother, Dina, who died in July 2010. He shares,

On July 6, 2010, my two daughters, Olivia and Ella, and myself experienced the most unthinkable tragedy when their mother and my wife Dina, was killed in bicycle accident while on vacation. A family unit of four instantly became three, and the immediate sense of loss and grief was completely overwhelming. What do we do? Where do we turn? One turn led us to The Children’s Room, where the girls and I instantly felt we were in a place where others knew how we felt. For close to three and a half years, we spent every other Monday night expressing our grief, but it was not your typical way of grieving. After each session, the girls would bring home something they created to help them remember their mother. Just as important was the fact that the girls and myself left each session feeling like we could find a “new normal” as a family. We found our new normal, and The Children’s Room played an enormous part in helping us find our way. Since transitioning out of The Children’s Room in June of 2014, the girls and I pledged that we would continue to support this wonderful organization by fundraising and participating in the Annual Memories Walk every year. We feel it is the best way for us to give back and support an organization that means so much to us and help allow others in receiving similar support that we did.

Sarah and Sue’s family’s story

Vaillancourt FamilySarah walks in memory of her father, Peter, who died in March, 2003, when she was nine years old. She shares,

“During my time at The Children’s Room and in the years since, I’ve come to understand that loss affects everyone, at some point in their life. I’m grateful that The Children’s Room taught my family and everyone who has walked through its doors to be comfortable having conversations about loss and sharing our stories and feelings, as well as frustrations.”

“Since leaving The Children’s Room in 2006, my appreciation for the services they provide has grown exponentially. I’ve been so proud to see The Children’s Room grow over the last 12 years, from the early days in a church basement, to the beautiful home prominently perched on Mass Ave. I’m particularly happy to have remained connected to The Children’s Room over the past decade. The annual Memories Walk has become one of my favorite yearly traditions that not only brings together my friends and family and the entire Children’s Room community, but many important supporters and friends of TCR. It is wonderful to see the community come together in support of an organization whose work has changed so many lives, and continues to do so. Additionally, the Memories Walk adds a bit of needed color and a genuine sense of hope to what can sometimes be a dreary October Sunday.”

Sarah’s mother, Sue, adds:

“Over the years I have stayed closely connected to The Children’s Room as a volunteer, as well as attending events, one of them being the Memories Walk coming up this October. This event has been one of many that I am grateful and honored to be a part of.”

“By walking in this event, I find I am able to support and fund The Children’s Room so that more families can receive help, maintain important connections, share their grief with others who understand completely, and, very importantly, start rebuilding their lives after tremendous loss.”

“I am grateful as we share this time at the Walk together as a bigger family, and as a wonderful community, as we carry in our hearts, and on our shirts, precious memories of those that have died, as we stroll down Massachusetts Avenue in support of life, and of The Children’s Room.”

Sue and Jeff’s family’s story

“We walk to raise awareness of the importance of grief support in our town.”

sue and jeff

Sue and Jeff with sons Will and Pete at the 2012 Memories Walk

“Our family has a long history with the Memories Walk, starting from the very first Walk in 2003.

“The walk has been a special event for us, a time when we remember Jim (Sue’s husband) and Sandy (Jeff’s wife) and then later, Peter Keffer-Fries, Jeff’s oldest son who died two days after the Memories walk in 2009.

“When we walk by the First Baptist Church, we remember the first years of TCR, when groups were held in the church basement with the entrance behind the building.  There was no sign from the street, and only people who attended really knew it was there.

“As we pass by TCR’s big yellow house on Mass. Ave. during the Memories Walk, it is wonderful to see the flowers, the sign, and the welcoming building — knowing The Children’s Room is a permanent and really important part of Arlington.

“The Children’s Room Memories Walk is something we do every year.  We walk to remember our father and husband, mother and wife, and brother and son who died, and to honor all of the wonderful volunteers and staff who keep the program running. We walk to raise awareness of the importance of grief support in our town and to help ensure that The Children’s Room will continue to be able to support grieving families like ours for another ten years and beyond.”

Anne’s family’s story

“I am honored to give back to The Children’s Room in any way I can as it was “home” to us when our home was in such turmoil after Peter died.”

Anne with her husband Peter and their children, Daniel and Kristen

Anne with her husband Peter and their children, Daniel and Kristen

Our family has been involved with The Children’s Room’s Memories Walk since it began in 2003. My son, Daniel, and daughter, Kristen, have walked with me in memory of my husband and their father, Peter.

Anne (center) with her family at the 2012 Memories Walk

Anne (center) with her family at the 2012 Memories Walk

The Memories Walk is one of the ways I spread the word about TCR. I talk about it when I come across people who have lost a loved one, and I tell them the Memories Walk is a welcoming place for them. I mention that I am an active member of the TCR community and that being involved in the Memories Walk is my way of giving back to an organization that has been so supportive of my family.

The 2012] Memories Walk was a milestone for us as it was the 10th anniversary of Peter’s passing. I asked some members of my family to join us and all four of my sisters, a couple of brothers-in-law, and a nephew joined us. It meant so much to have them walk with us.

I am honored to give back to The Children’s Room in any way I can as it was “home” to us when our home was in such turmoil after Peter died.

Brendan and Emily’s story

“We walk to help ensure that TCR can continue its mission of helping families like ours cope with loss.”

From Brendan, 2013

brendan and emily

Brendan & his wife Amy with their daughter Emily

emily 2

Emily decorates her shirt in memory of her mom at the 2013 Memories Walk

“It has been 3 years since my wife Amy, Emily’s Mama, died after a prolonged illness. In the aftermath of her passing, we were struggling through simple daily tasks as we tried to resurrect our lives. We thought death would bring the final wave from the storm. We would soon find out it was followed by an ocean filled with waves of challenge headed our way.

“At The Children’s Room we found a community who understood the depths of our sorrow. We found a caring, compassionate, supportive group of volunteers and staff.  We found a high-energy room with a punching bag the perfect height for a 5-year-old. We found friends who knew the song in our hearts and ‘sang’ it back to us when we needed it most.

“Emily and I have been a part of the TCR Memories Walk for the past 2 years. We walk to honor Amy’s memory. We walk to help ensure that TCR can continue its mission of helping families like ours cope with loss. We walk to support this special community.”

Aris’s story

“I walk every year so that other families can be given this same support.”

Aris & her dad

Aris & her dad

“My dad died of cancer when I was five years old. Three months after his death, I came to The Children’s Room with my mom and sister. We stayed for three years, and during that time my whole family benefitted tremendously from being with other people who had experienced a similar loss.

“The Children’s Room helped reduce my feelings of isolation and loneliness, as I met other children without dads.

“This is why I have participated in the Annual Memories Walk since the beginning. I know the support The Children’s Room provided to me as a child, and continued to provide to me as a volunteer, and so I walk every year so that other families can be given this same support.”

 

Share Your Story

If you have a Memories Walk story that you would like to share, please email walk@childrensroom.org. Please include your answer to the question, “Why do you walk for The Children’s Room?”

We will do our best to post stories that are sent in to us, but please be aware that we might not be able to share everything we receive. 

 

Help support grieving families!

You can donate to a particular Walk team or individual or to the Memories Walk in general. Click the box below to show your support!

If your donation is in memory or honor of a particular person, please include their name in the comment field.

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