Suicide Loss Support Group Begins in November

Rhonda Knotts, MSCC, Grief Counselor, Hospice of Queen Anne’s

Rhonda Knotts, MSCC, Grief Counselor, Hospice of Queen Anne’s

Hospice of Queen Anne’s is forming a new support group for adults who have lost a loved one to suicide. HALOS – healing after a loved one’s suicide – will meet at Hospice of Queen Anne’s, 255 Comet Drive in Centreville beginning Wednesday, November 12, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The group will meet on the second Wednesday of each month. There is no cost to participate.

HALOS will be co-facilitated by Rhonda Knotts, MSCC, grief counselor for Hospice of Queen Anne’s, and Patricia Kotzen.

Kotzen, who lives in Kent Island, lost her son to suicide in 2010. “Our son took his life shortly after his 40th birthday,” she remembers. “This happened out of the blue; we had seen no signs that he was depressed or thinking about taking his life.”

Kotzen adds, “My husband and I looked for a support group and couldn’t find one locally. We did our best to make it through on our own.”

Patricia Kotzen, HALOS support group co-facilitator

Patricia Kotzen, HALOS support group co-facilitator

In 2013 Kotzen joined the board of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and was trained to facilitate support groups. After participating in the AFSP Out of Darkness Walk in Columbia, Maryland, Kotzen decided to organize the first Mid-Shore walk. The Out of Darkness Walk raises awareness about depression and suicide, and provides comfort and assistance to those who have lost someone to suicide.

“I was overwhelmed by the turn out – over 300 people participated in the first Mid-Shore Out of the Darkness Walk on September 6,” Kotzen says. “At the walk we had a sign-up sheet for anyone interested in a support group, and many suicide survivors and health care providers looking for support for their patients signed up.”

The Hospice of Queen Anne’s HALOS support group is open to anyone 18 and older. Participants are welcome to drop in each month as they need support.

“Through the Hope & Healing Center Hospice of Queen Anne’s is committed to helping people face the many emotions associated with grief,” says Knotts. “This new group will focus on a particular kind of loss that carries with it guilt, shame and many other emotional responses to a loved one’s suicide.”

For more information about the HALOS support group, contact Rhonda Knotts, Hospice of Queen Anne’s, 443-262-4109, rknotts@hospiceofqueenannes.org or Patricia Kotzen, 410-643-7674, pskotzen@atlanticbb.net. Learn more about other grief support programs available through the Hope & Healing Center by visiting www.hospiceofqueenannes.org/hopeandhealing

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Hospice of Queen Anne’s Marks 20th Anniversary of Camp New Dawn

In August Hospice of Queen Anne’s will mark the 20th year that Camp New Dawn has been a refuge for children and teens learning how to live with the loss of a loved one.

Rhonda Knotts, MCC, grief counselor for Hospice of Queen Anne’s and director of Camp New Dawn, says, “Camp New Dawn takes the essential ingredients of summer camp – fun, food and friendship – and adds activities that help children and teens express what it feels like to lose someone they love. ”

Knotts adds, “Children and teens are often the forgotten mourners because they grieve differently than adults. Camp New Dawn can help these young people develop healthy coping skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.”

The 2014 dates for Camp New Dawn are Saturday, August 9 through Monday, August 11. During their weekend at Camp Pecometh in Centreville, campers, who range in age from 7 to 17, interact with professional grief counselors, who help them learn about and express grief in a safe, natural environment.

This year, Camp New Dawn will continue for a third night on Monday, August 11, when family members join the campers for an overnight family retreat.

The success of Camp New Dawn depends on a corps of adults who volunteer as buddies for the campers. “Each camper is paired up with an adult,” Knotts says. “Some of our camp volunteers sign up because Hospice of Queen Anne’s or another local hospice organization was there when they and their families said goodbye to a loved one.”

Courtney Williams, manager of volunteer and professional services for Hospice of Queen Anne’s, says, “Many buddies come back year after year because they get as much as they give from participating in the camp activities.”

Williams adds, “We rely on other adults to help with set up, clean up and the many other jobs it takes to coordinate this event.”

Adults who apply to volunteer at Camp New Dawn must be 21years of age or older and complete a training program before camp begins.

The cost for each camper is $30. “No child is turned away because of inability to pay,” says Knotts. “We depend on donors and sponsors to help us fund the cost of Camp New Dawn so that everyone who will benefit from the experience can attend.”

Camp New Dawn is one of the many grief support programs offered by Hospice of Queen Anne’s. For more information about Camp New Dawn, contact Rhonda Knotts, 443-262-4109, rknotts@hospiceofqueenannes.org. Learn about the full program of grief support services offered by Hospice of Queen Anne’s by calling 443-262-4100 and by visiting www.hospiceofqueenannes.org.

Camp New Dawn buddies Dominic Digiovine (left) and Mark Wade (right) with camper DJ White.

Camp New Dawn buddies Dominic Digiovine (left) and Mark Wade (right) with camper DJ White.

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