In Los Angeles each spring, more than 1,200 people come together to walk or run a 5-K race in memory and celebration of a loved one who has died. The annual Run for Hope hosted by OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center, which takes place this year on Sunday, April 28, 2019, fosters a powerful connection among grievers by allowing them to honor the memory of their loved ones while providing the community with hope and celebration. It is a unique day to share grief, loss, and love.
Each year, I form a team to run/walk the Run for Hope and raise money for the invaluable services that OUR HOUSE provides. Team Robyn supports literally THOUSANDS of grieving children, teens, and adults as they endeavor to cope with a painful and lifelong loss.
When asked how I know OUR HOUSE, I describe my affection and appreciation for this organization following the unexpected death of my father over 10 years ago. I talk about how grief is hidden in our society and death is a taboo subject. I describe how people are simply not prepared for the intensity of grief and the duration of the grief process, nor how to support others who are grieving.
I explain that grievers share a common bond which sets them apart but can also feel terribly isolating. I introduce many to OUR HOUSE, possibly for the first time, as rare jewel – a place where people can talk openly about all the thoughts and feelings which inevitably surface after someone close has died. A place to get support from fellow grievers that they cannot get anywhere else. A refuge in the storm. To further that common bond, groups at OUR HOUSE are organized according to age and familial relationship to the griever. There is a place for all ages at OUR HOUSE, including grievers as young as 5 years old.
Honored by OUR HOUSE in 2018, Dan Fogelman, the television series creator of This is Us, recently described the impact of grief and loss on his groundbreaking work.
“I never imagined that I was writing something about getting past losing somebody … it was only stepping back from a bunch of the things I’d worked on that I realized I was writing some stuff that I probably wasn’t strong enough to talk about in therapy…. While I’m no expert on grief or loss, I’m able to watch myself from above as I realize some stuff would make a really good TV show or movie … What you all are doing [at OUR HOUSE] so clearly helps give people the tools — people of all ages and of all kinds of loss — to help turn the brutal into the beautiful.” – recipient of the Good Grief Award, 2018 House of Hope Gala
I love talking about OUR HOUSE and telling those who do not know that the agency is comprised not only of grief groups for children and adults (including school groups and programs for Spanish-speaking grievers) but also of On-sight Grief Response, grief education for mental health, and medical professionals, and a grief summer camp (Camp Erin) which was showcased in the 2014 HBO Emmy-award winning documentary, One Last Hug. With the help of trained volunteers, OUR HOUSE served, educated and reached nearly 20,000 adults, teens, and children in 2018 alone.
Now a committed board member since 2015, I have been actively involved in OUR HOUSE since 2008 when I helped form the Associate Board – a group of young professionals who wanted to become involved in philanthropy and give back in support the agency. I had the privilege of working as a team side by side with a committed group to support this organization through fundraising and ambassadorship, as well as the production of Faces of Grief – a short video we produced for OUR HOUSE in 2011.
Simply put, OUR HOUSE provides a lifeline to grievers, allowing them the opportunity to laugh, cry, share, and heal alongside those who understand. Please tell someone who you think may want to know about this wonderful resource in our greater Los Angeles community.