Judith A. Pedersen, Thanatologist, MSW, FT
Founder, Board President and Executive Director
“Hearts of Hope is a dream that began many years ago to create a safe, welcoming environment for all grieving people. People grieve differently and there is never a ‘one size fits all.’ I know this because I’ve witnessed courageous, brave people navigate their journeys through life-limiting illness, tragedy, trauma and loss. I first learned of loss through my own personal journey.
In March, 1994, the man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with died suddenly from a heart attack. I never expected to be a young widow. I never expected my life to turn completely upside down and I had never, up until that point, experienced grief. I also learned an indelible lesson. When loss occurs, what we thought was our day-to-day, normal, routine life was something that would never return.
Over the following many months, I continued to learn. There are people in this world grieving significant losses and these very same people taught me I didn’t need to grieve alone. They were there for me – to talk, listen or simply sit quietly with me in my place of sadness.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I had family, friends and people I never expected offer comfort and support. On this journey that began with sorrow, these people revealed a path to joy, healing and growth. My courage grew, my network grew and I ultimately met and married a man who, I’m sure, was heaven sent. Life returned in many meaningful ways.
When an ad appeared in my local news in April, 1998 for ‘hospice volunteers wanted…’ it was the beginning of an incredible journey. From that point forward, a path to serve those facing end of life, grief and loss was something I not only felt I could do, it was something I felt driven to do. My passion for this work began at that moment and continues as strongly today as it did then.
My work with hospice formed the framework to make my dream become a reality. Hearts of Hope was formed to offer access to a variety of services to serve people of all ages and in ways most comfortable for them. For some, it’s through education, others through support and, for an overwhelming number of people, healing comes through art.
Our mission is to help people with grief and loss. We strive to be a partner in a journey that begins in sadness and moves forward with opportunities to become empowered, discover healing, build resilience and grow in hope.”
Yours in hope, Judy