The Grief Project (TGP) is a community-based, volunteer-driven mutual support organization that offers supportive services for widowed men and women. Suzann Eisenberg Murray began this project in 2005 as a means to realize her vision to companion and care for widowed spouses, significant others and life partners throughout their grief journey.
Called to the painful journey of loss and transformation after the death of her own husband in 2004 – Suzann knows first hand how important the experiences of those who have walked the widowed path are to those who are in the midst of the searing pain of bereavement. It was through her transformational journey to wholeness, coupled with the companionship and unconditional love of other widowed that the Grief Project was born.
A Message from Our Founder
My Dearest Sisters and Brothers in Sorrow,
“In the early days of widowhood from the depths of misery and desolation, I cried out, “when will this be over?” It was a question I asked so many of the widowed that had walked the path before me. I now know the answer to that question. It is “never”. It changes but it is never “over” and I suppose it is not supposed to be.
This journey has left its mark. I see the invisible stigmata of widowhood writ large upon my life. I am not the same person who walked out of Woodwinds Hospital alone that Sunday morning in November 2004.
I am a better, more caring and more present person. I am stronger and more resilient. I have good boundaries and I choose carefully how I spend my time and with whom I do so. I have spent a great deal of solitary time the last 5 years and it has been important.
I am not lonely (except for missing you know who) in fact, I relish in my time alone.
I have wept more tears than I thought one woman could ever produce. I have been held close by my friends and held them close in return. I have been blessed with sisters and brothers of the heart and soul, who have been my stalwart companions on this broken road of loss and grief. We have held each others hands as we traveled towards the light – even in the days of being in the black hole of suffering and deep mourning – we helped each other steer towards the light.
My mantra from the depths of the black hole was, “what I am supposed to learn while I am down here this time.” I learned that from Anne, one of those treasured companions, a wise widow friend who held me up when I didn’t know what to do next.
Today – I feel whole – I feel the loss of Tom has been integrated into my life. I am no longer broken. I will long for this man until the hour of my own death – I will cry. I will awake in the middle of the night and suddenly remember what was lost. My memories are sweet. I knew unconditional love. I miss my love, my friend, my flyboy, my husband. And every year, November will be a time of remembrance. That is just the way it is.”
I wrote those words in my blog November 2009, since that time I have continued to heal and begin to realize my dream of providing one of the most important gifts I was blessed to have bestowed upon me during the critical parts of my personal widowed journey – companionship and nonjudgmental support.
Welcome to The Grief Project and to Sacred Journey – I hope you find things here that will serve you well and bring hope, healing, comfort and companionship to your own Sacred Journey.
Many blessings and much love,
The Grief Project Leadership
The Grief Project is funded by donations and an all-volunteer staff does the work. Over the last few years, these dedicated volunteers have provided the impetus, ideas, resources, wisdom, contacts, planning assistance and hard work to breathe life into the project and to make a difference in the lives of the bereaved.
Meet our Leadership Team. This group of amazing human beings is the guiding force behind The Grief Project and the Sacred Journey. They give of their time, talents and experience to ensure the integrity of the program and to help steer the organization to success.
Joan Fraley is a dynamic manager of projects and people, using her experience and skills to make a better today with everyone she comes in contact. Working with diverse populations in the Western, Northeastern, and Southern US and in India, sheʼs been able to influence positive changes, challenging people and organizations to achieve the the best possible outcomes.
For the past 5 years, as Director of a food rescue nonprofit in NE Florida, Joan was instrumental in community outreach, doubling the number of non-profits receiving food and the number of donating organizations. In rescuing over a million pounds of food annually, Waste Not Want Not, Inc. reduced the expenditures of nonprofits in Northeast Florida by $1.5 million annually, freeing available capital to implement their core services. Starting and leading a nonprofit networking resource group increased collaboration in the 6-county area resulted in additional services for the population that needed it the most.
Joanʼs caregiving during 4 years as her Mother succumbed to Alzheimerʼs taught her the importance of recognizing all people and all of their needs. In moving to St. Paul recently, Joan fulfilled the dream of working together with Suzann Eisenberg Murray to establish a community of hope and strength for those walking the grief path.
We are so excited to meet you!
Kirsten’s professional background includes Human Resources, Benefits, and Accounting. She has two wonderful children (twins) that are now away at college. She is blessed with a large family (6 siblings) that all live in the Twin Cities area.
After traveling along this path called Grief, Kirsten realized that each loss is not only different, they are complex; layered with regret, doubt, relationship changes, sorrow, loss of identity, and so much more. Kirsten joined our leadership team in order to help keep TGP growing and the vision alive. Being a part of this group helps Kirsten continue to heal and make sense of her loss, while offering support to others along their journey.
In the early years of her grief journey, Suzann experienced the amazing support and friendship of widows who had walked the path ahead of her. In the darkest times when it felt that life was over, these widow companions shared their light and held up the hope for a new life ahead.
Paying it forward, giving back and being present to the pain of the bereaved is a vital part of Suzann’s new life – a hard earned life of joy that was forged from pain and sorrow. The Grief Project, five years in the making, is the living embodiment of that work and her fiercely held dream to make a difference to those who mourn.
In her professional life, Suzann is an experienced nonprofit executive, communications professional and organizational development consultant. For the past ten years she has served as a consultant working primarily with nonprofits, community alliances and collaborations. Serving organizations in the midst of difficult leadership transition is one of her specialties.
Suzann and her business partner, Jonathan Bucki, own the Dendros Group, LLC in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dendros has funded the development of The Grief Project, through their nonprofit organization, Good Work, Inc. Suzann blogs at www.journeytoanewlife.blogspot.com.
Kim Ury is no stranger to grief. Her mother, husband, sister and good friend all died at young ages and she has lost many more people who were dear to her. She has a Master’s of Arts degree in Adlerian Counseling and Psychotherapy and her background is in life coaching and counseling. Kim also volunteers as the Special Needs Coordinator for a statewide homeschool group.
Kim came to the Grief Project for support after her husband, Michael, died at the age of 45. She wants to help support others in their grieving journey and hopes to make a difference in the world by empowering others. Kim loves connecting with others and brings compassion, inspiration and energy to everything she does. Her interests include healthy eating, gardening, hiking and volunteering.
Many of our angels have been here since the inception of the dream and others continue to join us along the way. They are the people who inspire us, support us, provide advice and counsel and are our biggest cheerleaders. They have our everlasting gratitude.
Anne D’Ambrosio and GROWW
Heidi Hagel Braid
TGP Angels in Memoriam
Amy Mannick (“Tigger”)