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Support Services & Resources

Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one. We offer numerous support services, programs and information to help you and your family during this difficult time.

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Beginning in the summer of 2011, Gift of Life Donor Program began offering every family who has the opportunity to say ‘yes’ to donation the option of having a personalized funeral recognition display for their loved one.

Gift of Life’s Family Support Services department helps families and friends of donors deal with the loss of a loved one.

You can receive assistance in the following ways:

  • Speak to one of our counselors over the phone
  • Meet a counselor for a personal session in our Philadelphia office
  • Receive referrals to support groups and grief counselors in your community

To contact our Family Support Services call 1-800-DONORS-1.

David Nelson Jr. Memorial Fund

David Nelson Jr. passed away suddenly in July 2006. During his journey, David’s compassion for others resulted in his decision to be an organ donor. David saved the lives of five other people.

In his memory, David’s family and friends have established the David Nelson Jr. Memorial Fund. The Fund provides educational scholarships for children of deceased organ and tissue donors. The Nelson family has provided these scholarships since 2009 and have awarded over $35,000 in scholarships for children of organ and tissue donors.

The David Nelson Jr. Memorial Fund will annually award a $1,000 scholarship to a deserving child of a deceased donor parent or guardian. The funds will help pay for high school or college.

2019 David Nelson Jr. Memorial Scholarship Application

Additional resources
Writing to a Transplant Recipient

The time may come when you wish to communicate with the recipients of your loved one’s organs or tissue.  Family Support Services can assist you in the writing process by providing you with ideas on what to write.  We also facilitate the delivery of all letters and correspondence between donor families and transplant recipients.  Additionally, if you would like to get updates on the health of the recipients of your loved one’s gifts, Family Support Services will assist you.

Start writing your letter.

Life and Legacy Celebrations

Each year, Gift of Life Donor Program hosts families of organ and tissue donors at our Life and Legacy Celebrations to pay tribute to their loved ones’ lives and donations. You will be invited the year following the death of your loved one to join us as we pay tribute to donors and remember them through music, photographs and the presentation of the Gift of Life Donor Medal.

Learn more about these celebrations.


Online resources
Support for donor families
  • Healing the Spirit is an extensive website from LifeNet Health that encouarges healing and comfort for organ and tissue donor families.
Bereaved parents
  • The Compassionate Friends is a national organization that offers personal comfort, hope and support to families who are grieving the death of a child. It has local chapters throughout the U.S. and internationally.
  • Alive Alone serves bereaved parents whose only child or all children are deceased, through a self-help network and publications that help resolve grief and promote ways to achieve a positive outlook for the future.
  • Bereaved Parents of the USA has local chapters throughout the country that offer support, understanding, compassion and hope, especially to the newly bereaved, to rebuild their lives after the death of children, grandchildren or siblings.
Infant death or miscarriage
  • American SIDS Institute is dedicated to preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the advancement of infant health through research, education, clinical services and family support.
  • CJ First Candle is a national health organization dedicated to saving babies and supporting families. Its services include SIDS and stillbirth bereavement information and resources.
  • Unite Inc. offers free support for parents grieving miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. It provides local group meetings led by trained facilitators, referral assistance for individual counseling, a newsletter, as well as workshops for grief counselors and caregivers.
Sibling support
  • Twinless Twins Support Group, Intl. provides support for twins and other multiples who have lost their twin due to death at any age. Services include regional activities, national conferences and educational resources.
  • The Compassionate Friends has a brochure for adults grieving the loss of a sibling, as well as local chapters throughout the U.S. and internationally.
Helping children grieve
  • Rainbows helps children grieve and grow after a loss due to death, divorce or other painful transition in their family. Its trained facilitators use age-appropriate materials and establish support groups in schools, faith-based organizations and community centers.
  • Peter’s Place offers peer support groups for children, teens and young adults. Located in Radnor, Pa., through the Peter’s Place Institute, it provides educational presentations and other resources to foster an understanding of the effects of death and grief.
  • Olivia’s House is an organization of caregiving professionals and volunteers committed to supporting grieving children. Located in York, Pa., it facilitates healing through grief and loss education.
  • Highmark Caring Place provides peer support to children and families who are grieving the death of a loved one in the Harrisburg-area.
  • Kidsaid enables kids to share feelings, artwork and stories with peers, to help deal with grief and loss. It is professionally directed to ensure safe content for children.
  • The Dougy Center is a safe place where grieving children, teens, young adults and their families can share their experiences. The Center also provides training to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children and teens in grief.
Bereaved spouses
  • AARP offers online communities, articles and other information to help grieving widows cope with the loss of a spouse.
  • Parents Without Partners utilizes local chapters to help single parents deal with death, divorce and separation through discussion, study groups, publications, social and community service.
  • Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) provides peer support, scholarships and more, to assist in rebuilding the lives of surviving families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. COPS also gives training to law enforcement agencies and educates the public about the need to support police and their survivors.
Violent death
  • Parents Of Murdered Children (POMC) is for the survivors (friends and family) of homicide victims. It aims to make a difference through emotional support, education, prevention, advocacy and awareness.
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is committed to creating a culture where domestic violence is not tolerated; and where society empowers victims and survivors, and holds abusers accountable. Services include public education, victim assistance and policy development.
Crime victims
  • Victims of Crime Resource Center uses a hotline, 1- 800-VICTIMS, to share resources and referral information with crime victims and their families, victim service providers and other victim advocates. Callers receive guidance on victims’ compensation, victims’ rights, restitution and other legal issues, as well as information on the rights of victims of domestic violence and abuse.
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has more than 600 chapters nationwide for those who have lost a loved due to drunk driving. It works to find solutions to the problems of drunk driving and underage drinking. Services include victim support, legal and financial information and memorial tributes.
  • National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) champions dignity and compassion for those harmed by crime and crisis through advocacy and crisis intervention training.
Suicide
  • The American Association of Suicidology advances the understanding and prevention of suicide and supports those who have been affected by it. Services include education, research, public awareness programs and training for professionals and volunteers. It also acts as a national clearinghouse for information on suicide.
  • Survivors of Suicide helps those who have lost a loved one to suicide to resolve their grief and pain. It also has articles and member discussion boards.
Substance abuse/addiction
General grief support
  • The Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) is a multi-disciplinary professional organization dedicated to developing excellence in death education, bereavement counseling and care of the dying. It offers webinars, conferences, publications, certifications and more.
  • The Grief Resources Catalog has pamphlets and books for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. Its materials are designed to help individuals in their journey through grief; and for friends, relatives and professionals who want to help someone who is experiencing grief.
  • The Center for Loss and Life Transition is dedicated to “companioning” grieving people as they mourn significant transitions and losses that transform their lives. Located in Ft. Collins, Colorado, it helps mourners in their life journeys and serves as an educational tool for professional and lay caregivers.
  • The Centering Corporation serves those in need of healing from loss. From children to adult, it helps the bereaved through books, DVDs, caring cards and a magazine.
  • Compassion Books has books, videos, DVDs and CDs to help cope with serious illness, death and dying and losses due to many circumstances, including suicide, trauma and violence.
  • Beyond Indigo is an online community for families and professionals that contains links to message boards, chats, social media sites and articles on a variety of topics including loss, grief, caregiving and violent death.
  • Hospice Foundation of America educates the public and health care professionals about death, dying and grief. It also funds research about hospice care, supports hospice and grief initiatives and financially assists hospice providers in times of disaster.
Books
For Children of all ages

The Fall of Freddie The Leaf by Leo Buscalia

Picture books for younger children

The Two of Them by Aliki

I Had a Friend Named Peter by Janice Cohn

Saying Goodbye to Grandma by Thomas Resh

Geranium Morning by Sandy E. Powell

Saying Goodbye to Daddy by Judith Vigna

For parents and children

Teenagers Face to Face with Bereavement by Karen Gravelle and Charles Haskins

Talking about Death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child by Earl Grollman

Parental death

When My Mommy Died: A Child’s View on Death by Janice M. Hammond

When My Daddy Died: A Child’s View on Death by Janice M. Hammond

How it Feels When a Parent Dies by Jill Kremenz

Sibling grief

Recovering From the Loss of A Sibling by Katherine Fair Donnelly

Am I Still A Sister? by Alice M. Sims

Surviving the Death of a Sibling: Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies by T.J. Wray

Bereaved parents

Before and After My Child Died by J. Fischoff and N. O’Brien-Broh

A Broken Heart Still Beats by Anne McCracken and Mary Semel

Healing A Father’s Grief by William Schatz

The Bereaved Parent by Harriet H. Schiff

General bereavement

What Helped Me When My Loved One Died by Earl Grollman

Parting is Not Goodbye by Kelly Osmond

Living Through Mourning: Finding Comfort and Hope by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff

The Courage to Grieve: Creative Living, Recovery & Growth Through Grief by Judy Tatlebaum

Suicide

My Son, My Son by Iris Bolton and Curtis Mitchell

Suicide of a Child by A. Wrobleski

Homicide

No Time for Goodbyes by Janice Harris Lord

Widows/widowers

Widow by Dr. Joyce Brothers

Widow by Lyn Caine

Being A Widow by Lyn Caine

Widower: When Men Are Left Alone by Campbell and Silverman