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. Kori Kolstad says:

    I do believe that you are perfectly suited for this new position Mom. You’re journey has brought you to this place where you are making a difference in the lives each family that you encounter. You are such an incredible inspiriation to me. I know that you are doing what you do, embracing change, and impacting lives with the love that you show to your own family. I couldn’t be happier for you. You are my Mother and I am proud of that. I love you big as the world and big as the best!!

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Kori . .
      I believe the things we have learned from the past provide us with the tools to move forward and be a “light” in the future. Who would have thought that 20 years ago, I would be here providing care for grieving families. Certainly not me. But we know that we become stronger, more open and available when we learn from past experiences. I love what I am doing now, and hope that I can continue to learn and grow as I listen to the stories these families tell.
      I love you dearly!


  2. Fitz says:

    We are blessed to have you in this new role, Pat. Thank you again for giving of yourself and for having the courage to walk hand in hand with our grieving families. You are filling one of those gaps that people experience when they have lost a loved one. The power of your presence will be an undeniable gift.

  3. Patricia Kolstad says:

    Fitz . . . thank you for your kind words and expressions of trust. You have been a very large part of my growth as a woman, mother, friend and O’Connor Advocate. I have learned so much from your support and leadership. I am doing things that I wouldn’t have done 15 years ago. I can remember digging in my heels and not wanting to rise out of my comfort zone. I never realized that so many years later I would be able to feel like I was worthy or proficient enough to walk along side our families. I find that it is such an honor to do so.
    Thank you for your trust and confidence in me. My life here has more purpose than I ever could have imagined.


  4. Elsa says:

    Having you and Lori care for our families after we have cared for them is such an amazing service you two are providing. It is so awesome to see the work that you guys are doing.I can not think of any two ladies more perfect for this new position.
    Wishing you all the best in your new role.

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Thank you Elsa . . . we are forever learners here, and it has been a joy to sit with our families and hear all the wonderful things they share about you and all of our other staff. You are such a wonderful compliment to our team. You have a beautiful smile and a wonderful way of connecting in the first few moments. Thank you for your support of this great new program. It is an honor to serve along side you!
      Keep being great!

  5. Erin Fodor says:

    I love the new program! I wish this were in place 13 years ago when my father and uncle were killed. I believe it would have benefited my whole family. Sometimes simply talking, or reminiscing about the past is what the doctor ordered. I love that you’re there to help the family truly start healing. Your kind heart and passion for the job is shown to any family that is lucky enough to meet with you. It takes a lot of strength and courage to help families and I couldn’t think of anyone better suited for the task.

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Erin . . as one of the newest in our “family”, you have great depth and insight. I am so excited to have you here. We all have the ability to touch the families we are honored to serve. I have been given another opportunity to bring the very best care, comfort and support in their journey of healing and I am blessed to be able to bring resources and a listening ear. Family Care is just another touch to those who are grieving.
      Thank you so much for your kindness, both to me, our staff, and the families we care for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.