The YoloCares Center for Loss & Hope exists to help hospice patients, their loved ones, and members of the broader community, journey through experiences of loss and grief.
2022 was a transitional year for the center. Building on its legacy of compassion and innovation, the center established new goals for expanding high quality care, initiated new structures of support, and hired new staff.
In the fall, I joined YoloCares as the manager of the Center for Loss & Hope. With more than three decades of experience guiding people through life transitions, I have a particular expertise in trauma and recovery. Elisa Stone and Debra Chapman are also new additions. Stone, one of three grief specialists, is also the coordinator of YoloCares for Kids, the region’s only grief program for children who have suffered a significant loss.
With a strong history in developing and managing social programs and services, focusing on the emotional life of individuals and families across the age spectrum; early childhood development is her expertise. Chapman is a grief specialist and support group coordinator. A certified death doula and grief companion, Chapman values what is sacred to the people and communities she serves.
The Loss & Hope team leads YoloCares in offering a robust array of grief support programs that exceed normal standards for care among California hospice organizations, making YoloCares a regional standout in end-of-life care and support for those who have lost loved ones.
Chapman, for example, has planned a year of weekly drop-in support groups, free to the community, offered both as online and in-person formats. All groups are facilitated by expert group guides. She is also organizing short term, theme-focused groups that help participants not only face their loss in a safe environment, but that offer tools, resources, and coaching to find their way into a new and healthy future through a different relationship with the one they have lost.
In another area, Stone will inaugurate Camp Hope in 2023 — a summer day camp for children and youths. Camp Hope will welcome both tears and laughter as campers receive and give support to one another through art, movement, games, crafts, swimming, and music. The first program of its kind in the Sacramento Valley, it takes a different approach to grief. Grief is not something to heal from. Instead, staff honor and work with the natural feelings of grief to help create healthier, more integrated young people and families who know how to embrace the whole human experience.
The end of the weeklong camp will be punctuated with a meaningful memorial celebration for the children and their families. The culmination of the week’s activities and learning, campers will be commissioned as Ambassadors of Hope in a special ceremony. Encouraged to go out into the world and help others, they will offer their experience and new understanding to those who struggle to find meaning through loss.
In time and with appropriate funding, the Center for Loss & Hope will expand to serve rural residents with mobile kids and adult programs. Offerings for both children and adults will be available in Spanish, in-person, online, and through mobile programming. YoloCares Ambassadors of Hope approach is the foundation for a new grief paradigm.
All human life is characterized by big and small losses; these losses wound our lives and our communities. Grief is inevitable and unavoidable. It is also something we do not, and cannot, cure. Grief always dwells in the soft tissue of our lives; it lives in our bones. And so, the program does not treat grief as a disease, a pathology of our minds and bodies and souls.
Grief is a normal — and even creative — response to loss. It is an adaptive way we cope with the distressing experiences of our lives. Of course, uncared for, it can shut us down, isolate us, and become chronic and destructive. But tended well, it can open us, connect us, and, with help of compassionate guides, can transform our lives.
And so, at the Center for Loss & Hope, we work with grief as natural process, helping children, youths and adults honor the inner workings of grief. Our mission is to change our personal and societal responses to grief, fostering grief-informed families, organizations, and cultures. Given the right conditions, grief can be transformative, empowering us to learn, grow, and integrate our experiences of loss that foster hope and human flourishing. We aim to cultivate those conditions and by doing so make us all Ambassadors of Hope, contributing to healthier lives, stronger communities, and a better world.
— Chris Erdman, Ph.D., MDiv, former pastor and head of staff at Davis Community Church was appointed in 2022 as the manager for YoloCares’ Center for Loss and Hope. Erdman earned his doctorate from Columbia Theological Seminary, a master’s degree in divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree in business/marketing from Colorado State University.
Leave a Reply