Greif is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.”
Significant bereavement can be difficult to overcome, but Thadd’s Place is looking to provide support so people won’t have to grieve alone.
Thadd’s Place was named after Thaddeus Cowan Thompson who passed away in February 2019 at the age of 39 after a battle with cancer.
“Picking a name was pretty easy because Thadd’s place is a reflection of who he was, and his legacy and this idea of telling people of how important grief is was because of his death,” said Thadd’s Place Secretary Sylvia Ross.
Before Cowan Thompson passed away, he had his loved ones promise to get grief counseling, and his wish was that they take care of each other and get the proper help, according to Ross. She added that going to counseling helped make a difference for his loved ones after Cowan Thompson’s passing.
Thadd’s Place is a grief center currently in construction between Chester’s Thriftway and Body, Fitness and Dance. The center is hoping to open by August, and Ross added that this would be a great resource for the community in Eastern Oregon since one of the nearest grieving center is The Dougy Center in Portland.
“The mission of Thadd’s Place is to companion individuals experiencing the loss of a loved one through emotional support, access to relevant education resources, and space for healing in a supportive community,” said a press release from the group.
For a person coming to Thadd’s Place for the first time, Ross said there will be business hours on the front door and a front receptionist to greet each visitor. The visitor can then share their situation with the receptionist, and then they would discuss where to go from there.
The visitor can then decide if they want to be in a group or individual sessions, and then the frequency of the visits would be set up, which is usually once a week. If a visitor goes through a grief group, the program is a 13-week program based on Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt’s book “Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart.” The 13 weeks include an introduction and conclusion week, and a week given for each touchstone.
One of the big goals at Thadd’s Place that Ross shared was being able to create various types of support groups so people do not have to grieve alone.
“Our goal is to have different groups of people, like have a coffee group with moms who have lost children or a group of children who have lost a parent,” Ross said. “What we see with Thadd’s place eventually is to have different groups functioning at all times.”
As the facility continues to grow, there are many plans to add additional rooms and programs as people of all ages will have different ways to connect and overcome grief together.
For kids the facility would like to get walls up and have a fun room, a rock wall climbing room, a library and more because there is science behind kids getting together and having them play while talking about hard things, according to Ross. They also expect to have volunteers down there offering different group activities such as therapy by painting or by playing basketball together.
“That eventually would be what we want the facility to look like,” Ross said. “On the elderly side it would be awesome to have raised beds outside so the elderly can come and garden and grow flowers that they could take to the grave of their lost ones — doing normal things together with other people who are struggling.”
Ross added that grieving loss can also come in different forms than losing a loved one.
“There are so many dynamics that go into grief, and we’re all going through it,” Ross said. “Even right now, we’ve been talking with (COVID-19) and people are grieving the loss of their job and the lifestyle they used to have because they used to have an income... I don’t know if I can say there’s one person in this county who has not experienced loss of some sort.”
The services provided by Thadd’s Place will be free, and as a nonprofit organization, it gives the group the opportunity to raise funds and look for grants.
“Grief facilities are run off of volunteers that have a passion to be there and donations,” Ross said.
On June 27, there will be a golf tournament, which has sold out, followed by an open house where people will be able to walk through Thadd’s Place to learn more about the organization and their vision. There will then be a drive-through dinner by donation at 6 p.m. The winner of their raffle for a cooler full of gifts worth over $1,000 and a three-minute shopping spree will also be announced.
“My goal is that the community will come out and support it enough where we can do some remodeling inside the building and get a couple walls up,” Ross said.
The organization has also seen a great amount of support from the community in terms of donations and in support of the grief center.
Ross said it has been amazing selling raffle tickets as some people also provide their grief story and how they wished a place like Thadd’s had existed.
“One person said, ‘Wow, I really wish this was here 20 years ago because I lost my son, and it has been so hard and I felt alone,’” Ross said. “So just sitting down there and selling raffle tickets, we have been able to start fulfilling the mission of Thadd’s Place, which is nobody grieves alone.”
For people interested in donating to Thadd’s Place, money can be sent to P.O Box 422, John Day, OR 97845, and other resources can be found on the Facebook page “Thadd’s Place.”