This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
South Jordan • Fifteen years ago, 17 children lost their fathers when a turbo-prop plane crashed near Malad City, Idaho, claiming the lives of eight people.
On that day, when three top officers from Swire Coca-Cola U.S. and two executives from a Salt Lake City advertising agency died, young mothers Carrie Moore and Janice Taylor were forced to confront myriad emotions and questions.
It ultimately provided the inspiration to open The Bradley Center, a peer group and interfaith grief-support organization that plans to offer a safe and supportive place for hope and healing for children and families who have lost a loved one.
Surrounded by pictures of their husbands and families, Moore and Taylor held a news conference on the anniversary of the plane crash Saturday to announce the opening of the center named after Moore's husband Bradley who, at 36, died in the plane crash with Taylor's husband Craig, along with Gary Barber, Merlin Mikkelson, William Garcia, Bruce Keyes, Richard Shipman and Scott Bogan.
Moore said that in the days following the crash, she drew on her faith for strength, all the while looking for a place where her children could talk with others who had lost a parent or a sibling about their questions, including the role God and faith play in the grieving process.
"As most of you know, I was not able to find such a place and began a multi-year journey of discovery on how I could meld faith and grief support," she said.
Moore, a journalist, found a study estimating that one in seven children in the United States will experience the death of either a parent or sibling before age 20. That translates to nearly 70,000 children or teens in the Salt Lake and Utah County areas.
Research also showed that when children and adolescents don't receive the help they need in dealing with grief and loss, they are at a higher risk of developing depression, anxiety, withdrawal, lowered self-esteem, less hope for the future, panic disorders, a sharp drop in school performance and even thoughts of suicide.
Moore also discovered the Dougy Center in Portland, Ore., the nation's first peer-group grief support facility, which is a model for the new Bradley Center.
The idea is that peer-group support led by staff and trained volunteer facilitators helps participants share emotions on their own developmental level, not just verbally but through play, art, storytelling, music and other media. Moore stressed that this model is not therapy or counseling. A small monthly fee will be charged to meet expenses for the nonprofit organization, which will be housed in the American Heritage School of South Jordan.
The program will include peer-based grief support; a safe place for families trying to come to grips with a loss while using their faith in a higher power as a resource; and educational outreach to schools, churches and community groups.
"The new center is founded on the belief that every child deserves the opportunity to grieve in a supportive and understanding environment, which includes an interfaith recognition of the role that God or a higher power can play in healing," Moore said.
Janice Taylor remembers going into "efficiency mode" when her 39-year-old husband died, leaving behind son Jason and daughters Elizabeth and Nichola.
"Eight months later I crumbled and found TV commercials brought me to tears," she said.
After being helped by organized grief work, family support and spiritual blessings, she said that she experienced an awakening 14 months later while walking under a dark, star-filled sky alone in the snow.
"I realized for the first time I was smiling and feeling hope," she said. "I had a confirmation that night that life would be good again. We would still have struggles but there would be joy, too."
Utah Jazz owner Greg Miller, whose family has done business with Swire Coca-Cola for 20 years, became neighbors with Taylor and her children. He said she had been a great example of strength to his family as it went through the grieving process after recently losing loved ones.
"If you haven't endured and experienced something like this, it is hard to relate to people on that level," he said. "This is a faith-based resource. Many of us may not be interested in religion when things are going well, but we become focused on it when things aren't going as well. The healing process is accelerated depending on how much we invite God in to help with the healing."
The new center has the support of Ivan Cendes, of the Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, and Shawn Evans, community manager of LDS Family Services' Salt Lake City office, as well as Swire CEO Jack Pelo.
Cendes said that families instinctively turn to faith in difficult times, but sometimes may not have a place to find answers for the struggle.
"This is a wonderful center open to all religions and all people, no matter what religion, race or political beliefs," Evans said.
About the Bradley Center
P The Bradley Center will be headquartered in South Jordan and provide a community-based resource for grieving children and families by offering peer-based grief support, a safe space for families trying to come to grips with loss, and educational outreach to schools, churches and community groups. For information, log on to http://www.bradleycentergrief.org, call 801-302-0220 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.