Feists have fond Memories Matter recollections; next camp set for Sept. 27

(Great Bend, Kas.) - Each member of Linda Feists family has favorite recollections of the event but two highlights were the Memory Box and the burning of a letter.

These are just two of the activities at the Memories Matter Bereavement Camp, which is sponsored by Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice (GBHH&H). The upcoming camp is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 at Heartland Farm.

While the camp is designed for children ages 5-12, adults can also benefit from the experience, said Feist, a Great Bend resident. Four children and four adults in her family attended the camp last year and she encourages other grieving families to take advantage of the opportunity.

Feists husband, Frank, died May 23, 2013, at age 67; he had renal cell carcinoma.

I attended the grief support group sponsored by Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice, Feist said. That is where I learned about Memories Matter.

It was a wonderful experience for our family, Feist continued. I would encourage anyone to attend. It is a Saturday well spent and Heartland Farm is a great location for all the activities.

The popular Memory Box entails placing reminders of a loved one in a self-decorated container. The burning letter involves a handwritten note that is burned in a chiminea. The smoke goes up to heaven, Feist explained.

She also noted that GBHH&H Social Worker Cathy Soekens reading of Waterbugs and Dragonflies was another highlight. The waterbug has gone away and changed into a dragonfly that is still there and thinking of those left behind.

I am especially thankful my 12-year-old grandson attended, Feist commented. Grief is so hard for boys, and there werent many boys there. It was good for him to be around others facing a loss. They can have fun, yet learn they dont have to be afraid to cry.

An adult family member indicated the camp was a positive experience because it helped him understand the levels of grief.

He and the rest of us learned you can get better, Feist said. You can cry or be angry. Feelings are okay.
Donita Wolf, GBHH&H director, said the Feists experience is not uncommon and encouraged adults to realize that children are oftentimes forgotten mourners.

Children grieve differently than adults, Wolf explained. Since they dont have the same vocabulary we do, the camps art and music activities help them share what they are feeling.

Games and a puppet show also are on the camp agenda; participants are welcome to pet the alpacas and visit the chickens at Heartland Farm too.

This is a wonderful venue, Wolf said. And it is gratifying to know that the Dominican Sisters started St. Rose and now operate Heartland Farm.

It is located 12 miles west of 10th and Patton in Great Bend, and then a half-mile south.

GBHH&H is part of the St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center family.

For more information about the camp or to register, contact GBHH&H by calling 620-792-8171 or visit www.stroseasc.org/memories-matter-camp. GBHH&H has been serving central Kansans since 1979.
St. Rose is part of Centura Health, which connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.