“I express myself best on fabric,” shared Suzanne. Suzanne Egan-Hill’s quilting group challenged each other to create a quilt that embodied 2020. In the beginning, the quilt was going to reflect the 2020 pandemic. The end result was a personal expression of grief.
In 2020, Suzanne experienced the loss of her brother, Tom, her mom, Ellen, and then in 2021, one of her beloved dogs, Pepper. While coping with the compounding loss of her loved ones, her husband, George, was diagnosed with leukemia. George, after a valiant fight, passed away in March 2021.
Suzanne continues her journey with Samaritan in grief support groups. Grief is a process and The Samaritan Center for Grief Support is here to provide resources for our patients and their families in that journey.
“I don’t know how I would have survived the past six months without Samaritan,” Suzanne confided. Suzanne became familiar with Samaritan through the hospice services that her mom, Ellen, was able to receive. She felt at peace knowing that Ellen was getting more attention and that was increasing her quality of life. In addition, Ellen had access to complementary therapies, made possible by generous community support. Suzanne noted that these visits with the massage and music therapists were joyful for her mom. Suzanne’s firsthand experience with Samaritan’s compassionate care led her to return to Samaritan for her husband, George.
Samaritan life-enhancing care provides support for patients and their families. The Samaritan Center for Grief Support provides individual and group support for patient families for 13 months after their loved one passes away. Suzanne felt especially listened to by Lynn, her individual grief counselor. Prior to her Samaritan experience, she had not realized the amount of grief support that would be available to her as a family member.
Taking Lynn’s recommendation, Suzanne also registered for Samaritan’s grief support groups. The Grieving the Love of Your Life Support Group was the community she didn’t know she needed. The group atmosphere enabled Suzanne to see that she was not alone in her grief experience. In fact, the group formed such as strong bond that they continue to meet weekly outside beyond the Samaritan sessions. “I don’t schedule anything for Tuesdays,” Suzanne stated firmly. “We all live for Tuesday nights with the group.”
Suzanne, blocked by grief, had put away her quilting for 8 months. In trying to write out her emotions, she came to the realization that she expressed her feelings best through quilting. She thought to herself, “I’m a quilter, not a writer.” Deciding then to return to her 2020 challenge quilt but with a focus on the personal grief she now faced.
The sentimental value of the quilt is immeasurable. She poured her emotions into the quilt using the colorful pieces and patterns of George’s t-shirts. The colors bring back a sense memory of happy memories, like vacations to the Rockies, Costa Rica, hiking and camping with George.
Suzanne embroidered names of her loved ones along with words like despair, grief, and memories that describe her feelings of loss. Running her hands over the embroidered emotions, she’s able to see and feel the physical manifestation of all the complicated feelings of grief.
The name of the quilt, Topsy Turvy, is a reflection of the changes that have come through love and loss. There are difficult and beautiful memories woven into the quilt. Suzanne explained, “It’s the most special quilt, and it has helped me heal. When I sit with it on my lap at night I feel George’s love.”