Remembering her father

Edmonds woman to speak about her loss and recovery at Seattle luncheon
By Jesse Blair | Sep 05, 2018
Courtesy of: Taylor Dowdle Taylor Dowdle and her dad, Jeff Dowdle. Jeff Dowdle opened Harbour Pointe Chevron on the Mukilteo speedway.

Sept. 28, 2008, is a day that remains fixed into the memory of college student Taylor Dowdle. It’s the day her father, Jeff, died unexpectedly of a heart attack when she was just 11 years old.

“That day changed everything,” she said. “When you are little, you expect those that you love to live for a long time, and for your parents to be beside you for all of the big moments in life.”

Dowdle, now 21, will share her story of loss and her journey of recovery at Providence Hospice of Seattle’s 19th annual Pediatric Luncheon Sept. 18 in Seattle. Providence operates Safe Crossings parent/child group as well as Camp Erin-King County.

Dowdle was involved in both programs as part of her recovery. She remembers missing her father the most on holidays, graduating from high school and moving away to college.

“As a child, I did not even know what the word ‘grief’ meant,” she said. She did not know why she was crying all the time, and did not understand what a funeral was. Her classmates did not understand grief either.

Her father, Jeff Dowdle, opened the old Lynnwood Chevron before she was born. Later, he opened Harbour Pointe Chevron on Mukilteo Speedway. This was a home away from home for her as she explored the inner workings of business ownership.

“As a little kid, I dreamed of taking over the family business, even though owning a gas station is not something many kindergarteners dream of.”

After her father’s death, Taylor and her mother attended Safe Crossings. She remembered eating pizza and playing games. Afterward, the children broke off from their parents to participate in grief activities with counselors.

“I remember reading books, drawing our feelings, and sharing our stories in the group. This program allowed us to feel like children, but also feel validation and support for the emotions that we were experiencing.”

At this group she learned about the Camp Erin-King County program, which she also joined. In addition to remembrance and grief activities, campers participated in rock climbing, zip lines, swimming and other outdoor activities.

In each cabin there would be five other campers, two cabin leaders, and a trained clinical point person.

“Going to camp, I found refuge in the support and empathy of these volunteers and other campers,” Dowdle said. “We could support one another on the high-rope courses, while also being beside one another while sharing about our loved ones who had died and the grief that we were experiencing.”

Dowdle grew up in the Brier area and attended local schools. Her household consisted of her parents, herself and the family dog. All of her grandparents lived close by and have always been a part of her life. She now lives in Edmonds with her mother.

She is now moving into her last year at Colorado State University, double majoring in business administration and human development and family studies. She also serves as a cabin leader at Camp Erin.

“These past two years as a camp volunteer has provided the opportunity to hear teens share their stories about their loved ones that have died and be present with them as they build relationships with other campers,” she said.

Dowdle’s experience of grief has challenged her to empathize in different ways with those in the throes of it.

“Grief can challenge you in many ways,” she said. “But let it challenge you to serve and support others.”

 

Taylor Dowdle will speak at Providence Hospice of Seattle’s 19th annual Pediatric Luncheon Sept. 18. (Photo by: Taylor Dowdle)
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