Updated November 2, 2019 . AmFam Team
Felica Turner-Walton knows the power of presence. She made it her mission to be there for others after going through her own personal tragedy.
The death of her 4-month-old son, Zaire, changed her life forever. “Lots of people don’t know what to say to someone who experiences a major loss,” says Felica. “It’s so important to have support.”
A few weeks after Zaire passed away, a friend told Felica about another mother who lost her son, and she was feeling hurt and didn’t know where to turn. So Felica reached out to the mother, and was surprised to find out how similar their feelings were.
“We laughed and cried together,” says Felica, “and I shared some things that I had learned after Zaire passed with her. She was so grateful, and I was too — for the chance to share stories about my son, and to talk to someone who understood.”
That’s why she started Healing Our Hearts (Opens in a new tab) to offer grief support to parents and bereavement training to local businesses.
“It’s my calling,” says Felica. “Grief isn’t foreign. You can’t turn it off, it isn’t taboo and it doesn’t go away,” she says. “You simply have to let it find its way into your life and still make the most of each day.”
By day, Felica helps people as a customer care representative at American Family Insurance in Madison, Wisconsin. Once her shift is done, Felica devotes her nights to getting Healing Our Hearts up and running. “My goal is to create a safe space for families to join others and share the memories of their loved ones,” she says.
Healing Our Hearts will provide gender and age specific grief baskets filled with resources and support group meetings for grieving families free of charge. The organization will also offer bereavement training to small businesses in the Madison area. The training will help managers identify when employees might be struggling and need help. “We often spend more time at work than at home,” says Felica. “So your coworkers should know how to help you.”
Grieving her son has made Felica realize how important it is to pursue what matters most, even if it means stepping into the unknown. “Go for it, step up and step out,” she says. “The only thing stopping you is putting the next foot forward.”