Grief is universal. And while the death of a loved one is a natural part of life, our society has lost many of the customs and traditions that once surrounded death and supported those impacted by it. Despite studies that demonstrate the significant physical and emotional impact of unresolved grief, our culture shies away from issues related to death and dying, and there is little support for adults in grief. Friends and family are often uncomfortable, and don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to be helpful. And once the funeral is over, and family and friends have returned to the “real world,” the bereaved are often left feeling isolated and confused. They are left without an understanding that although there is no right way to grieve, there are ways to grieve wellIt is estimated that only 20% of adults in grief will seek support from external sources. That means that 80%, the vast majority of individuals, will rely on those already surrounding them — their friends, family, colleagues, faith community, etc.  to provide both initial and ongoing support. By educating these individuals about grief and how they can effectively support their loved ones, peers, and acquaintances, GrieveWell seeks to build a community that more effectively supports healthy grieving and healing.The GrieveWell vision is a community in which individuals grieve well so that they can lead a full life after loss. To reach our vision, the GrieveWell mission is to provide resources and support to individuals in grief — as well as those who surround them — in order to build a community that promotes healthy grieving and healing.

Our History: How GrieveWell Came to Be

In 2000, Doug and Julie Stotlar’s 6-year-old daughter, Lauren, was killed in a tragic school bus accident. They looked for grief support, but found that what was available in the community — primarily support groups and individual therapy — didn’t match their needs.

Along the way, the Stotlars found that the most meaningful support was connecting individually with other families who had been through a similar loss. In 2010 — in an effort to help others and build hope out of their own tragedy — Doug and Julie founded the kite network, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) to support others whose lives have also been darkened by grief. The launch was made possible with the help of a licensed grief professional and a host of dedicated family and friends.

With support from a community of individual and corporate donors, the kite network trained a cadre of peer counselors, all of whom experienced a loss in their own lives and moved through their own grief journey. The organization continues to provide support for individuals grieving the loss of children, parents, siblings, close friends, pets, and other loved ones.

Recognizing the need for grief services beyond one-to-one peer support, in 2017 the kite network broadened its vision and mission and became GrieveWell. While continuing the one-to-one support program, GrieveWell has developed a range of resources, referrals, and services to expand its community impact and help build a more compassionate community with a greater capacity to support individuals in grief.

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