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Helping Grieving Hearts Heal

Jackie Naginey Hook, Koch Funeral Home


Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.


Everyone in Happy Valley is very grateful for the many helping hands in our community, especially during this pandemic. We’re continually in awe of all the first responders who put their helping hands in harm’s way to care for others. I’m also in awe of the “last responders” who do their part to care for others.


The last responders are those who care for the deceased and the deceased’s loved ones. I have the privilege of working with Koch Funeral Home and their last responders. Many times since last March, the Koch staff has humbled me with their unquestioning dedication and willingness to serve. Early on when it felt as if COVID-19 was an invisible demon that could attack out of nowhere, the staff relied on their training and experience to safely care for those who had died. And as the number of local COVID-19 deaths increased and restrictions were enacted, the staff offered families safe and healing ways to make arrangements and hold services honoring their loved ones. This safe healing care continues today through limited numbers of guests, mask wearing, physical distancing, and through the Because LOVE Can’t Wait program – which includes such options as drive-through visitations and virtual and remote-viewing funerals and graveside services.


While observing the response to the pandemic by the Koch staff, I’ve often thought of how they represent what it truly means to be a neighbor. Just as I used to tell our young children to look for a “mom” if they ever got lost because I knew a “mom” would make sure they found their way, I now tell our adult children to look for a funeral home if they ever need help in a new city because I know the staff there will make sure they find their way. Funeral work is neighbors caring for neighbors.


Of course we can’t talk about neighbors without thinking about Fred Rogers. One Mr. Rogers’ quotes that speaks to the last responders is:

Caring comes from the Gothic word kara, which means “to lament.” So caring is not what a powerful person gives to a weaker one. Caring is a matter of being there…lamenting right along with the one who laments.


That is exactly the kind of caring that happens at Koch Funeral Home and through its Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program that I help facilitate for them.


Lamenting is not a word I hear used very often these days. It is about passionately expressing grief and mourning. Lamenting is a part of our journeys in grief. If you’ve lost a loved one, please visit www.kochfuneralhome.com to learn more about how you can lament and begin to heal with the services we offer.


Centre County Council for Human Services

Promotes communication and relationships among human service agencies and the community.

Centre County Council for Human Services
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