Grief Support Brings Comfort and Inspires Volunteer Work

“Jake is my baby brother. He had the biggest heart, a wicked sense of humor and was always willing to help someone else.” Megann Grissom of Winterset remembers her brother with love and happy memories. “He was the ‘cool’ uncle, buying all the amazing toys, but knowing secretly it was because he wanted to play with them, too!”

Jake struggled with anxiety and depression, and sought treatment, but the medications he was given made him severely ill. “He was too proud to tell me of his suffering,” says Megann. “His death anniversary is still painful, even after eight years.”

Jake passed away in November of 2014. In the midst of her grief, a volunteer brought Megann an EveryStep Cheer Box. EveryStep Cheer Boxes are a holiday box of 12, specially chosen gifts that go to families and individuals that have felt the pain of losing a loved one during the past year.

Learn More and Nominate Someone for a 2023 Cheer Box

“It was one of the sweetest things ever. We received a game that the kids and I could enjoy together, these beautiful hearts that were flower seeds to plant, and a book about grief,” says Megann. “This book was precious because trying to explain to my 8-year-old at that time about grief wasn’t easy. I felt like we were able to find new ways to honor him and keep his memory alive, especially during the holidays.”

Megann and her children turned to EveryStep Grief and Loss Services’ Amanda the Panda grief support groups in January of 2015. “My kids and I were involved in the eight-week grief program, and my oldest and I attended a summer camp as well. I felt heard and cared for,” says Megann. “Any time I hear about someone losing someone, I suggest Everystep as a wonderful resource. The support from them was more than I could have ever hoped for. I can’t imagine where I would have been otherwise, so my hope is that it helps the next person.”

While Megann is still navigating the grief of losing her brother, she now volunteers with EveryStep’s Cheer Box program. This year she helped wrap gifts for those who will receive a Cheer Box this year. “I get the opportunity to bring some joy to another family at the beginning of their grief journey. I know what it’s like to feel isolated and alone. And in a way, it helps me heal as well.”

During the holiday season, EveryStep wants to remind families that they have our support and care. The Cheer Box program is a long-standing tradition and one of many free grief and loss support services offered through EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda program.

Donations for EveryStep’s Cheer Box program are accepted year-round at (Choose “Grief & Loss Services/Amanda the Panda” from the drop-down menu). To learn how to nominate someone to receive a Cheer Box during the 2023 holiday season, email For information about EveryStep’s free grief support services, visit

If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946 or complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.