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Aug 3 / Peter Lichtenberg

Conversations with Kathleen

There are few people with whom your relationship deepens as you grieve.

Kathleen Hardy, the social worker at the Weisberg Center of the Karmanos Cancer Institute, is one of those people who is truly there for me. She met and became close to Susan during Susan’s long periods of chemo and radiation treatment. She encouraged me to join the caregiver support group, which I did, and later the grief support group, which I also joined for 15 months.

Two years ago in August, I wrote this about Kathleen:

“When cancer was defeating my spirit I would make an appointment with Kathleen. Each time I would only need a single session or two with Kathleen to put me back on the right path. She talked about herself and her experiences, and about other patients and caregivers and their experiences, and she listened with full caring and attention. She told me about how often we have to live in two worlds during the journey of cancer; the world of Stage IV incurable cancer, and the world of today and joy and the usual stuff Two worldsof our life. She helped me normalize my feelings, and somehow she always chipped away at and banished my sense of failure. I met with Kathleen after Susan died, and even talked about her incredible impact on both Susan and me during my eulogy for Susan.”

Last week I had a chance to visit with Kathleen and give to her and the Weisberg Center copies of my book Grief and Healing. It was another conversation filled with love, honesty and affirmation. She was thrilled to hear about Debbie, and understood well that I sometimes am between the world of grief and the world that is evolving for me here and now. I left as I always do; amazed that Kathleen — who shared with me that knowing Susan changed her — continues to support my healing journey.