INDIANAPOLIS — Transforming grief into hope. It's the mission of Brooke's Place, an Indianapolis nonprofit organization that's providing support to families after the death of a loved one.
"In February of this year, we lost my 18-year-old brother, Jordan Lee Woods. He was murdered," Michaela Woods said.
Woods still doesn't know who took her brother's life. It happened at his home on Walcott Street on Indy's east side.
"It's taken a lot on my mom and on my kids and it has been so hard to figure out how to keep going and to know how to remember him," Woods said.
After his death, her family started receiving grief support and therapy services from Brooke's Place.
"My mom is almost 60 years old and after this happened she confided in me that she was thinking about killing herself," Woods said.
"Thankfully, we were able to find Brooke's Place pretty quickly and she's had people that she can share her thoughts with, that she can remember him and tell stories to people who haven't heard them and to see these just weren't funny moments to us, they were funny, he was funny," she said.
Brooke's Place provides therapy services, professional counseling and grief support groups for those ages three to 29, as well as their parents or caregivers, following the death of a loved one.
Every year, Brooke's Place hosts a fishing outing at a pond at Washington Park East Cemetery. It's a chance for families to honor their loved ones and enjoy time outside as they process their pain and grief.
"Our loved ones, they're never going to be forgotten. It takes a lot to make a way to remember them but they will never be forgotten through places like this. They give us techniques for the kids to remember and process, but also to celebrate the person that they are missing," Woods said.
"When a child or teen experiences the death of a loved one that has a great impact on the trajectory of their growing years and their development from childhood to teens and on into adulthood," Tara Ntumba, Brooke's Place Support Group Director said. "We believe grief is a very natural love reaction to the death of a loved one and so our services are really here to help support that natural healthy grieving process and knowing that it's OK to grieve it's OK to talk about grief it's OK not to talk about it if you don't want to talk about it."
For Sally Ware, Brooke's Place has been a constant part of her life for 19 years, following the death of her dad, who passed away from cancer when she was just seven years old. She's now a volunteer with the organization.
"The one thing that I remember is how Brooke's Place made me feel, just having that place to go to every couple of weeks that people related to me," Ware said. "I wasn't the only kid in the room who lost a loved one and that was the most impactful thing. Some nights we don't even talk about grief, we play on the playground, but that is just enough to know there's somebody with you who knows the pain that you're going through."
Woods believes having the support of Brooke's Place in our community for families dealing with the loss of loves one is critical.
"Especially in Indianapolis, especially right now," she said.
Her family is able to continue to remember her brother at a place where they feel safe, supported and understood as they continue to heal.
"It's hard for kids to understand, but I'm hoping with time and with the help from Brooke's Place that in ten years they won't be distraught that he is gone, but they will be comforted that he was here" Woods said.