Greg, Cati and Cole

CGC helped Cati and Debbie find their own ways to process grief

Cati has always processed tough news by talking about it.

Cati’s dad died by suicide when she was six. The night her dad died, Cati asked Debbie: Who’s going to walk me down the aisle?

The family’s close-knit church and school community quickly heard the news of Cati’s dad’s death. But while Cati faced loss by talking about it and asking questions, some of Cati’s classmates’ parents didn’t want their children talking about suicide.

So Cati’s family went to the Children’s Grief Center to find a safe space to talk about and process their loss.

“We knew going in we could talk about it and it wouldn’t be gossip,” Cati says.

Cole, Deb, and Cati

When the kids did sand tray therapy, Cati noticed a toy eagle and tree among the supplies.

She recreated her dad’s cemetery plot in the sand tray. A tree stands near where her dad was laid to rest, and a nearby headstone has an eagle on it.

Cati made that scene in sand tray therapy many times, “working through that he wasn’t here,” she says.

Debbie attended one of the CGC’s adult support groups while Cati and her brother attended groups for kids.

“Sometimes the parent needs as much support and that group setting just to ground them for a little bit – give them a break from dealing with their kids’ grief to be able to talk about your grief,” Debbie says.  

Deb and Cati

Eighteen years after Cati’s dad died, the family has healed and grown together. New experiences require them to meet loss in new ways. 

“As new life events come up, we have to process it all over again,” Cati said. “That’s the nature of grief.” 

The CGC allowed

 each member of the family to process grief on their own timeline and in a way that made sense for them, Debbie said.

Cati agrees. When it comes to dealing with grief, she says, “the one size fits all method does not work.”


If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts: 

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line, a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.