“Look for the Rainbow.” Betty Asplund, Founding Director, The Bereavement Care Center now Chesapeake Life Center
The Chesapeake Life Center started with the vision of several dedicated individuals whose hearts’ desire was to support grieving family members of hospice patients in Anne Arundel County. In the late 1970’s, the hospice movement was just developing in the United States, and Anne Arundel County was blessed to have a dedicated group of volunteers committed to changing end of life care for our community. In 1979, Hospice of the Chesapeake opened in Anne Arundel County as Arundel Hospice and was the first 501 (c) (3), not-for-profit organization dedicated to the provision of medical, nursing, social work and spiritual and bereavement care to people with life-limiting illnesses. Our programs were founded on the belief that all patients, their families, and loved ones must be treated with honesty, compassion, fairness, respect and the highest quality of care.
Since family-centered care was the mission of hospice, another movement was unfolding and that was the care and support of family members as they re-shaped their lives after the death of a loved one. The Bereavement Care Center opened in the late 1980’s with the convened help of many volunteers and concerned individuals. Truly a grassroots effort, this local effort embraced the mission to build programs for grievers. As the team grew and bore witness to the stories and needs in this community, support programs were created and extended to anyone in the community grieving the death of a loved one.
In 1992 Camp Nabi a bereavement camp for children was launched. Ten years later, teens were welcomed to their own camp, Phoenix Rising. Powerful, transformative moments at camp emerged as children begin to realize they were not alone in their grief. Betty Asplund, Founder of the Bereavement Center shared, “to do the hard work of thinking about who died, saying their name out loud, and admitting it hurts as much as it really does” is the foundation upon which healing takes place. As children play and work together as a team at Camp, they find strength and begin to realize that with time and help they will make it through.
Our team continues to develop renowned programs to meet the needs of the community, such as expanding our services to individuals and couples experiencing an unexpected pregnancy diagnosis, providing a guiding presence to those grieving a death by suicide and partnering with local author, Laura Oliver, to offer a writing support group allowing participants to tell their story and discover their own resiliency through the written word. In addition, Chesapeake Life Center is an approved sponsor of the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners for continuing education credits for licensed social workers in Maryland. Our continuing education courses have also been approved by the Maryland Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists.
Our message then and our mission now is to celebrate life, discovery and healing through a variety of support services and education to individuals in places of transition resulting from the death of a loved one, an unexpected diagnosis or an unanticipated event.
We will always look for the rainbow,
Karen Frank, Director and Chesapeake Life Center Staff