Over the last year, the pandemic has blanketed the Southern California community with grief. Families have lost loved ones. People have lost jobs. Our KNX Hero of the Week is helping people who are grieving pull through.
The idea to open a grief center came about six months after Susan Whitmore lost her 32-year-old daughter to a rare sinus cancer. She says in that moment, her grief steered her into a direction of helping others.
"It was almost like I knew of all the people all over the world, who were grieving the way I was, at that time," explains Susan. "I remember saying out loud, 'oh my God' I have to do something about this!"
That was in 2002. Years later, in 2021, Susan is still helping people overcome sadness and heartbreak with Grief Haven, a non-profit based in Pacific Palisades. With the pandemic, the number of people who are grieving is overwhelming.
"When COVID-19 hit, and all of these people started dying, there was such profound grief, everywhere," says Susan. "The impact of grief was so huge. People had nowhere to go. They didn't have their normal outlet where they could distract themselves. [They couldn't] go to work, or go to the gym, or do the normal things that people do, to help them get through a day when they are grieving. Plus, thousands of people are losing loved ones in the most terrible way. Not being able to say goodbye, or having to say goodbye to their loved one on a cell phone."
So, Susan and her team at Grief Haven opened their online forum to anyone around the world, who needed help. "We just put out this idea, that anybody who was grieving could come to these free groups we were doing through Zoom."
Lori Lerner Grey met Susan after suffering the loss of a family member. She says Susan is her hero. "It’s kind of like having your hand and your heart held by someone who gets it," remarks Lori. "She just has this inexhaustible energy, caring and compassion, and [she's] filled with hope. She's just an amazing woman."
Grief Haven's Susan Whitmore is our KNX Hero of the Week, for helping people get through some of the toughest times of their lives.
"The work that I do is gut-wrenching at times, but also incredibly humbling and meaningful. In many ways it saved my life, after losing my daughter, Erika. It gave me meaning and purpose."
KNX Heroes is brought to you by California Resources Corporation, saluting our military veterans and all of our heroes!
For more information about Grief Haven, go to https://griefhaven.org/
If you have someone you’d like to nominate for an upcoming KNX Hero of the Week, go to KNX1070.com/nominate