Victoria's Story

Overcoming Grief

Victoria Perry Chandler
Tristesse Grief Center

Victoria Perry Chandler didn’t realize the level of grief she and her two children were experiencing after her husband died unexpectedly in his sleep six years ago. 

“He had a rare heart condition, but we didn’t expect him to die so suddenly,” she says. “The last thing he said to me was ‘you’re beautiful, I love you and good night.’”

The next morning, her household was thrown into chaos with police responding to a home death.

The next several months unfurled more smoothly – at least on the surface.

Victoria was no stranger to death. She lost both parents at a young age, and other close friends who passed away very young. With all of this experience with death, she assumed she could cope.

“I thought I was getting better, but I was wrong.”

A friend referred her to the Tristesse Grief Center, a United Way partner agency.

“They immediately understood what I was going through,” she recalls. “I realized my children were being strong for me, but they needed help too.”

She joined a Young Widows Group for individuals under 50 at Tristesse.

Her son Adam, who was 12 at the time, and has the same heart condition as his father, as well as other specific needs, enrolled in the Healing Hearts Camp at Tristesse, a camp for children and young adults who have recently lost parents or other family members.

“I actually considered committing suicide,” Adam says, fighting back tears. “I thought if I did, I’d see my dad again.”

Adam flourished at camp and soon helped other participants facing similar experiences cope with their own losses.

“I had always been a United Way supporter at work,” said Victoria, who had a career in human resources at ONEOK and Dollar Thrifty. “I never realized my family would need the help of the United Way.”

Victoria and her family conducts an annual fundraiser in memory of her late husband. Guests at the event give contributions to the Healing Hearts Camp and to Camp Strong, a camp for children with heart conditions and cancer, offered by St. Francis Hospital. Victoria and her family match all contributions.

“Giving back is another strategy to cope with loss and grief.”


Upcoming Events

Agency Tour of Caring Community Friends

Agency Tour of the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges

Click here for a
full listing of events

Latest News

QT and Reasorís among stores distributing child safety information
n an effort to raise awareness of child abuse risks during these stressful times, the Tulsa Area United Way, Child Abuse Network, Parent Child Center and Family and Childrenís Services have partnered with local businesses to distribute important phone numbers and website information that can help keep children safe.
Tulsa Tenants and Landlords Receive Rent Relief
Restore Hope Ministries partnered with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Tulsa Area COVID-19 Response Fund to assist Tulsa tenants and landlords with past-due rent filed on the Tulsa County Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED) Docket.
Alison Anthony: Grounded in love, learning a new way to communicate
Tulsa Area United Way President and CEO, Alison Anthony, discusses this time of transformation and leaning into empathy and humility in this Tulsa World opinion piece.
New Tax Breaks For Donations
Federal economic relief measures are providing some tax breaks to encourage charitable giving. Read more for a breakdown of the biggest changes.
Nonprofits Invited to Apply for Grant Funding
Tulsa area nonprofit organizations that are providing direct support and resources to individuals experiencing COVID-19 related hardships may now apply for grant funding through the Tulsa Area COVID-19 Response Fund.