Finding hope, dealing with loss

Written by Gillian Smith
 | Wednesday, 30 April 2014 15:01

As information comes to light about the unusually high number of suicides that have recently occurred in Duxbury, one organization is seeking to provide healing opportunities for those who have unexpectedly lost loved ones.


Hope Floats Wellness is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide healing programs and a safe space for adults and children who have lost a family member or friend to suicide. Hope Floats was started by Denise and Ken Brack in 2008 after the pass- ing of their son, Michael, in 2002. The Bracks created the non-profit foundation and edu- cation center and developed it into a retreat where people could deal with life struggles and work to improve their wellness. Hope Floats provides free support groups, support retreats, counseling and healing workshops for adults and programs for children and teens in collaboration with other organizations.

This weekend, Hope Floats will hold its first 5K Memory Walk. Participants will walk in honor of loved ones and raise money for the organization. Duxbury resident Kate Otto will walk in honor of her daughter, Alexandria Norman, who passed away in 2002 at age 17. Six months after Norman’s death, Otto’s stepson Andrew also passed away. Since the organization started, Otto has found solace in the programs that Hope Floats offers.

“Knowing why people go there, you might think it’s a sad place, but it is the complete opposite of sad,” she said. “It’s a wonderful place.”

Otto has participated in retreats and group activities at Hope Floats, both as a participant and as an instructor. Before the loss of her children, Otto worked a highly stressful job in law enforcement, but af- terwards she decided to change the pace of her life, and is now a dog trainer and psychic medium. Through Hope Floats, she has discovered the ability to help others connect with their loved ones and instructs group programs and retreats.

“The organization really coverts the gamut in everything from healing to therapy for children to tai chi and acupuncture,” Otto said. “Everyone who walks in there gets an instant feeling of peace.”

Otto said having a safe place to go, where she can talk to others about her experience with the loss of a loved one, is crucial.

“So many times we don’t want to burden our friends with how we are feeling about things,” she said. “No one wants to be in this club, but it’s nice to have people there who actually, truly know what you are going through.”

The Hope Floats 5K Memory Walk will be held on May 3. Participants will walk in memory of loved ones to raise money for the organization. For more information visit