Filling the Newest Job at O’Connor: Family Care

Filling the Newest Job at O’Connor: Family Care

 – A Special Journey Mercies Entry – 

Being a mother of 4 and a grandmother of 9, I have come to believe that I have a pretty good handle on caring for my family.  Today my relationships with my children have become deeper and much more meaningful than they were while they were growing up. I also have the opportunity to mentor my grandchildren, and a few months ago, I moved my brother here from Oregon to manage his care. I have a lot of experience in caring : )

This year I celebrated 20 years with O’Connor and retirement from my full-time position.  I loved being the Director of Community Relations and Resources but with retirement came a new opportunity to grow and give back and still work part-time for my beloved O’Connor in a brand new position. I am the very first Family Care Coordinator.

The goal of our Family Care Program is to provide care-touches to the families we serve when their services are over. I get to meet with our families face-to-face, hear their stories, connect them with grief and bereavement resources, and share some loving support and opportunities for healing.  And, because we respect each family’s opinion, I also have the opportunity to ask for insights and thoughts about their ceremonies and our staff who provided support and care.

Each family that I meet has a story. One in particular touched me deeply. I had the honor of being with a woman about my age, and as I sat across from her, a newly grieving widow, I could see and feel her profound sense of sorrow.  It came up out of the depth of her being and these words spilled forth, “I already miss him so much.”  At that moment I felt a surge of compassion that I had not known before, and as I reached out and took her hand, these words flowed from my heart, “I know this is painful, and I am so sorry.  Your journey of healing has just begun.  Give yourself all the time you need to heal.  I will be here for you and I am just a phone call away.”  In that moment two women came together, and there was no need for any more words.

Her eyes softened as she thanked me, she took a deep breath and began to tell me about how her husband had died and about the passions he practiced in his life.  A smile broke on her face and I felt privileged to listen.  Her gratitude for the care and support she received was evident.

“The ceremony was perfect,”  she said.  “It was everything I had hoped for.”

Helping our families begin their journey of healing.

Being here as long as I have, I have had the joy and the honor to be placed in roles that have helped me grow as a woman, a mother, and a person who cares deeply for others. That would not have happened, I truly believe, in any other work environment.

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of


Neither of my roles were something that I picked for myself.  I was “chosen” by the incredible men who lead us each day to be better than we ever imagined. This new role has given me the opportunity to come along side our families and support and love them “after it’s over.”  I want them to feel that we will not leave them “at the grave.”  I want them to know that we can support them through the ages.  That we will continue to be there when they need us the most.

The other day I had lunch with my daughter Kari. She is an Administration Specialist here at O’Connor and she asked me if I enjoyed my new role.  Without hesitation I simply said, “I love it.”  She paused and then she said, “Mom, how often is it that we get the opportunity to “love” our jobs?  You have had two with O’Connor and you love them both.  That doesn’t happen.”  She’s right.

I know that this kind of opportunity does not happen all the time. I have been gifted with the responsibility to provide care and comfort to folks who, for a moment in time, become my family.

Family Care . . .  It’s what I do best right now.

What do you think of this new program?

Do you wish someone had helped your family in this way after a loss?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Patricia Kolstad says:

    Chris . . . and I have watched you as well! Aren’t we glad that we move into those positions that can often times mean “learning curves and failures”? We are better for it . . and your growth is so visible. Thank you for your kind words, but as we move through this life, we find those with integrity, loyalty and the ability to mentor those who are new to the O’Connor Way. You, my friend, are that. Keep being filled with your desire for all of us to reach GREATNESS!

  2. Patricia Kolstad says:

    Thank you Amy . .
    Who would have thought that this would be a fit for me . . . I wouldn’t have way back when . . . but as you know, we are all given opportunities to grow and learn. My time with O’Connor has been just that and more. I believe in the leadership we have here . . . they know what we are capable of and they support and “push” us to be great. I’m so glad that I listened!


  3. Patricia Kolstad says:

    To my daughter . .
    It’s not difficult to love your family. Through the good times and the not-so-good times, we have endured. And, because of you and your siblings, I have had the opportunity to become a “better me!”. Thank you for your love, your support and your increasing awareness that we don’t often get the opportunity to work in a profession that not only supplies us with a livelihood, but also gives us the opportunity to give back, and become better than we ever imagined. If we learn from our “years on this earth” we can always do great things.
    Thank you for being you and for the good works that you are doing. I am, right now, so thankful to be able to meet with the families we serve, and continue the care and concern that they need and deserve! Who would have imagined that? When the doors open . . . RUN THROUGH!
    I love you dearly!

  4. Mark says:

    Pat…..Nobody knows what twists and turns this thing called life has for us….the latest “turn” in your life has brought you to meet face to face with our families….it is both a great honor and a great responsibility….I have sat in with you and you do an amazing job….you are right….family care is what you do best….keep it up……Mark

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Mark . . thank you!
      Each of us have the ability to do good works. I have great appreciation for you as an Arrangers. You are highly trained, and prepared to shepherd our families on their journey through grief. You are the pivotal point of the beginning of “good grief” for a family. They trust you to help, care and provide for them, when they cannot do it for themselves. I now have an opportunity to see “you” through their words. It’s such a comfort to know that we have great men and women in those positions. I am blessed to have a small window of time with them and add another layer of care and comfort for their journey.
      Keep moving forward . . .

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