Gift of Hope

Your Gift of Hope will help families here in Kansas City, like Greg’s.

In the sweltering heat of August in Kansas City, Greg Curlett stepped into the backyard with his then five-year-old son, Mason. 

“I had to walk him out to the backyard and say, ‘Mommy’s gone. She is not sick anymore. She’s at peace, she’s okay, but she is not coming home’,” Greg recalls. “I couldn’t imagine a harder thing to do.”

Read on below the form to learn more about how donors have helped Greg’s family work through their grief and move forward in hope and peace.

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Greg’s story

Mason

In the sweltering heat of August in Kansas City, Greg Curlett stepped into the backyard with his then five-year-old son, Mason. The last few months had been swallowed up in the disarray of caregiving. He recalls now that he hadn’t cut the grass in so long that its gentle sway hit him just below his knees. The world seemed to be moving in slow motion, and Greg was about to do the impossible.

“I had to walk him out to the backyard and say, ‘Mommy’s gone. She is not sick anymore. She’s at peace, she’s okay, but she is not coming home’,” Greg recalls. “I couldn’t imagine a harder thing to do.”

Greg & Christina

Greg’s description of how he met Christina seems like something out of a romantic comedy. A botanist, Christina was researching the PH balance for aquatic plants when she ran across a dating website called Plenty of Fish. On a whim, she signed up.

“I was amazed because she was so pretty, and I thought there was no way that this woman would talk to me,” Greg recalls. “She was sarcastic, very smart, and sharp, but also so beautiful. I, on the other hand, was exceedingly immature and stubborn and selfish. I was 29, so I wasn’t quite out of the stupid bachelor phase yet. But she was very patient and merciful, and so sweet and so loving.”

Greg was immediately drawn to her laughter, and believes that it was what got their family through their darkest days. “When cancer came, it was the most important time to have a sense of humor, because it’s so dark and heavy, so terminal and scary. It’s something that I have carried through to this day.”

Their time together was a time of growth and “just learning what a relationship is like,” Greg recalls. “[Christina’s older daughter] and I were really close. We would all spend a lot of time together just hanging out and doing stuff. It was amazing, but it wasn’t perfect. We would have these ridiculous, stupid arguments about things that didn’t matter. When I look back now I think we could have compromised in so many different ways. But still, the love was real and we had a strong partnership.”

Eight months

In January of 2015, nearly six years into their marriage, Christina was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Eight months of treatments, doctors, and multiple hospital visits later, they learned it had metastasized to her brainstem.

“We did meet with someone from Kansas City Hospice while Christina was in the hospital to see what our options were. I don’t remember the lady’s name now, but she met with us and discussed everything. It was about a 45-minute visit. She was so nice and she and Christina bonded instantly. We talked through all of the services they could provide to us and we told her we would think about it,” Greg shares.

Just 20 minutes after that visit, Christina had a grand mal seizure that caused severe damage to her brain.

Four days later, she was gone.

Moving forward

After Christina died, Greg was referred to Solace House Center for Grief and Healing, a program of Kansas City Hospice. He began attending group sessions at Solace House and found the group setting helpful as others could understand what he was experiencing.

“Solace House was my anchor,” Greg shares. “I would pay close attention to other people’s stories and how they felt because it’s not always cancer, there were suicides and other different stories. You never get selfish thinking this is only my pain or this is specifically ‘my’ story. It’s like a bonding experience with all of these people.” A few months after attending Solace House, Greg brought Mason to join other children in his age group. Solace House serves children as young as three, with each child or teen placed in groups based on age/developmental stage.

Mason was also able to attend Camp Erin, where children who have experienced the death of someone close to them – typically a sibling or parent – learn the skills to cope with grief while having a fun camp experience.

“It was a big deal for him,” Greg says of the experience, “and was his first time being away from me for a set amount of time. He had so much fun.” Later, Greg joined Mason for Camp Carousel, which is a camp for children and families to come together and connect over their shared experiences. Greg recalls the parents found it funny that the kids were having a lot of fun together, while the parents were focused on opening up and talking about who they lost and what they lost.

“It was this weird mix of mourning and stress and fun. That made a huge impact on me.”

Mason continued to attend Solace House and summer camps and as for Greg, he has ended his time with Solace House as he continues to move forward. Greg says the growth and positivity he found at Solace House makes him wish Christina could have met him as the man he is now, but everything that happened has led him to where he is today. “Everything is about positive growth. Recognizing the past and honoring it by moving forward, but not doing it in a selfish way.

Leaving Solace House was about a very simple principle of… I need to come into my own, as a man, as my own identity, not just as ‘the guy who lost his wife’. Learning to let myself be loved and seen as an individual again, it’s what Christina would have wanted.”

Your gift today helps children and families heal.

Donors have made a tremendous impact in the lives of Greg and Mason, and the many families served by Solace House, Camp Erin and Camp Carousel each year. With your support, Solace House programs, including group support and grief camps, are offered without charge to children and families who are grieving the death of someone they love.

Please thoughtfully consider making a gift right now which will go right to work helping children and families served by Kansas City Hospice.

Most importantly, thank you for trusting us to carry out your vision of how families in our community should be supported in their grief. We depend on you, and so do they.

Families are never charged for grief support groups or summer camp attendance, thanks to the generosity of our donors.

A special donor and Sustaining Angel, Mary McNieve, has made a commitment to match your gift dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $2,500. As always, your gift will go right to work helping children and families served by Kansas City Hospice.

Our Programs

There's a long list of hospices in Kansas City, but there's only one Kansas City Hospice. Our programs provide comprehensive expert care for all ages at all stages of serious illness.

Hospice Care

When the focus shifts to comfort instead of treatment, care comes to your home or nursing facility with a plan tailored to your needs, including emotional and spiritual support for the whole family.

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Hospice Care

Palliative Home Health Care

When complex needs benefit from a team approach, supportive home care brings the care you need, with 24/7 nurse support for pain, stress and symptoms due to serious illness.

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Palliative Home Health Care

Advanced Illness Support

Beginning as early as diagnosis and at any stage of serious illness, our nurse practitioners make home visits as needed to help coordinate your care and provide expert pain and symptom management.

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Advanced Illness Support
Hospice House

Hospice House

When symptoms cannot be easily managed at home, two hospice houses provide 24/7 expert care in comfortable home-line settings where family members can be relieved of caregiving duties to focus on loved ones.

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Carousel Pediatric Care

Carousel provides palliative and hospice care for perinatal and for babies through young adults with a dedicated team of pediatric nurses, social workers, chaplains and other specialists.

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Carousel Pediatric Care
Solace House

Solace House

Our center for grief and healing supports individuals and families who have been impacted by the death of a loved one, whether anticipated, or sudden and unexpected. We provide opportunities to share, listen, learn and heal with peer group support from age 3 through adult.

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