Grieving father organizes therapy for those in similar spots

Michael J. Strange, a Navy SEAL, died 15 months ago, plunging his father into grief.
Michael J. Strange, a Navy SEAL, died 15 months ago, plunging his father into grief.
Posted: November 12, 2012

When Charlie Strange lost his son Michael, a member of an elite Navy SEAL team, in combat 15 months ago, he initially had trouble finding comfort in therapy.

"I went to a grief therapist recommended by the military, and although she was a great lady, I just didn't find her helpful for me," Strange said. "She didn't really have any experience in dealing with what I was going through at the time."

After doing some research, Strange tried a group called Vets Journey Home and decided to attend a retreat in Maryland.

Although he was not exactly in the right place - the group was set up mainly for veterans who wanted to talk about their experiences overseas - Strange's encounter was overwhelmingly positive.

Upon his return, he decided to set up an organization tailored to people in situations similar to his own, the Michael J. Strange Foundation, in honor of his son's memory.

"The initial goal is to bring in the family members of fallen heroes and introduce them to the healing process," said Tim Rooney, chairman of the foundation.

"The bottom line is that attached to the memories of their children is the anguish of their loss. We've put together a group of professionals specifically trained to help people deal with this type of loss."

On Feb. 15 to 17, the Michael J. Strange Foundation will host the first of its grief counseling retreats, believed to be unique in this country. The retreats are specifically for families who have lost loved ones overseas, and will be led by those who have suffered similar losses.

"We want to reach out and do some healing," Strange said. "The weekend retreats are going to be able to help people cope with their loss. That's what my son would want. He lost his life protecting this country, and he would want his name to live on and mean something."

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