Contra Costa Crisis Center volunteers and friends Steve Grimes, left, and Ann Khadalia, right, pose for a photograph, with photos of the children they both lost to tragic events Steve’s son Kevin, 15, and Ann’s daughter Priya, 8. Grimes and Khadalia both received free and confidential services at the crisis center helping them work through the loss of their children and now volunteer and help others through crisis at the center. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)


Their grief brought them together; now they help others on the same painful path

Ann Khadalia and Steve Grimes say the Contra Costa Crisis Center saved them following the loss of their children

Bay Area News Group

Published November 2021

Note: This story is from our 2021 campaign and has been fulfilled, but you can still donate to the Share the Spirit general fund.

Ann Khadalia and Steve Grimes interact with each other with a sometimes remarkable ease, occasionally finishing each other’s sentences or reminding the other of yet another story to tell. They speak easily and reflect often.

They still can smile, and when the moment hits, they can laugh, too.

“Believe it or not,” Grimes said, “you can get through this.”

Still, as they stand together outside the offices of the Contra Costa Crisis Center in Walnut Creek, holding a window into their souls — pictures of Steve’s late son, Kevin, and Ann’s late daughter, Priya — the dark cloud of pain is never far beyond the horizon.

They’re thankful it’s just not raining sadness anymore.

Grimes and Khadalia are close today because their respective paths connected and went through the Contra Costa Crisis Center following the deaths of their children more than 20 years ago. Kevin Grimes, who was almost 16, collapsed while on a Boy Scout outing with his dad near Kirkwood Mountain Resort in March 1996 and never regained consciousness. Three years later, Priya Khadalia, 5, was hit and killed by an unlicensed driver of a car that ran a red light at a Hayward intersection.

Steve Grimes holds a photo of his son Kevin, 15, he lost in a tragic event. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

Their parents now volunteer on the same grief support teams that helped them survive the worst nightmare they’ve ever encountered.

Grimes facilitates the grief groups and sometimes leads them. Khadalia does the same and became so inspired with how much the center affected her life that she obtained her master’s degree in counseling from Cal State East Bay two years ago.

“We don’t try to be therapists,” Grimes said. “We listen. We’re empathetic. We ask open-minded questions. We have a conversation, and we try to find a connection.”

The Crisis Center has been facilitating such conversations since 1963. The nonprofit is accredited by the American Association of Suicidology, and it provides 24/7 support and counseling for those in crisis, in distress, or feeling suicidal, 365 days a year. Its mission is to keep those in crisis alive until the storm passes.

The organization has received funding this year from Share the Spirit, an annual holiday campaign that serves residents in need in the East Bay. Donations will help support 56 nonprofit agencies in Contra Costa and Alameda counties. The center will use its grant towards salary and benefits for staff; to create the ability to return daily phone calls from clients; train new volunteer facilitators; and coordinate weekly grief support groups.

Grimes and Khadalia said such services were critical in their ability to resume living after the loss of their children. Each participated in group sessions in small gatherings, meetings that turned strangers at the start into teammates united in grief.

“They helped me through my grief, but to be more specific, they really allowed me to grieve,” Khadalia said. “I’m in this nightmare, but I was so consumed with how others were doing that I wasn’t dealing with my own feelings of loss and grief. I was just kind of surviving. The first few months were a total fog. I think for a year, I cried every single day. But the group helped give me a place to go with all of that, and as you go through the process, it starts to help you.”

Ann Khadalia holds a photo of her daughter Priya, 8, she lost in a tragic event. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group)

Grimes said the grief groups at the center also provided a place where people were not afraid to talk with him about his loss, a critical component to his healing. He said family and friends initially were hesitant to bring up Kevin for fear of opening too painful a wound.

Such a fear is misguided, he said. The memory of Kevin is never far away, and neither is his dad’s desire to talk about him.

“I’m always so glad when people ask,” he said. “He was an adventurous young man. He had short trick-type skis. He loved Boy Scouts, he loved bungee jumping. We just went on lots and lots of trips together in the summer time. He was an explorer.”

Khadalia similarly glows when the subject turns to Priya.

“She was a very lively, spirited little girl,” she said. “She was very determined, extremely curious. She loved to dance and was taking ballet lessons. She had a fearless personality.”

In many ways, the same can be said of Priya’s mom and Kevin’s dad. They’ve lived through a parents’ worst fear. And while the scars are there always, so, too, is the inspiration they provide countless others just by moving forward and rediscovering joy.

Both say the Crisis Center was integral in that process.

“As you receive the help, you get back to a place of knowing you can help others,” Khadalia said. “And it just seems like helping others is what made that dark cloud not be so close to me anymore. It’s there, but it’s way off in the distance now, and there’s light now.”

And the pain is less intense.

“Loss allows you perspective,” Grimes said. “It teaches you what is important and what is not important. We’re here to show others that life can and does indeed go on.”

How to help

Donations will allow Contra Costa Crisis Center to staff their Grief Counseling Services Coordination. The Crisis Center has been facilitating such conversations since 1963. The nonprofit is accredited by the American Association of Suicidology, and it provides 24/7 support and counseling for those in crisis, in distress, or feeling suicidal, 365 days a year. Its mission is to keep those in crisis alive until the storm passes.

Goal: $5,000

Note: This story was fulfilled, but you can still donate to the general fund

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