I have experienced tremendous loss. Having lost all my immediate family members has been very difficult. I have walked through my grief and have great hope thanks to my strong faith and Cornerstone of Hope. My brother died on Christmas Day 1989. My dad died in 2002. My mom died in 2017.
When my dad passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, it was tragic for our family, especially our 12 year old son, Joe, who experienced his first loss of someone that he loved and who played a big part in his life. We were all grieving, but, as time passed, I recognized that I needed to get professional help for our son. He was struggling. Teen years are tough, but adding grief brought many emotions with the lack of ability to know what to do with them.
I found Cornerstone of Hope. I enrolled Joe in Camp Erin, a summer bereavement camp for teens. The impact that the camp experience had on Joe was life-changing. He met great people his age who understood his pain and could relate and even today remain friends. He connected with the campers who, too, were grieving the loss of a loved one. He did not feel alone. Joe continued to attend Camp Erin each summer from the age of 12 through 18 and through the support of the grief counselors at Cornerstone, Joe turned pain into purpose. Through the years, he transitioned into being a mentor for the younger Camp Erin grieving children. Camp had a huge impact on Joe and his ability to grow and cope.
At the passing of my mom on May 3, 2017, just two weeks before Joe’s graduation, grief, once again, consumed Joe and he returned to Cornerstone of Hope for grief counseling.
While doing what moms do and putting all my effort into trying to be so supportive of Joe, my husband, LyNeil, a pastor for 17 years, held me accountable to myself. He pointed out that as a mom, a wife and a pastor’s wife, that I am always giving to others and neglecting my grief. He encouraged me to seek professional services. Once again, I turned to Cornerstone of Hope. This time for myself.
The counseling that I received was a true blessing. It saved me. Through the help of my grief counselor, I was able to self-evaluate, learn about me and my grief as an individual and walk away with coping skills that over time gave me peace and hope. I was able to authentically be me – Dawn.
I graduated to a Support Group. With no preparation and with no expectation, I found my safe space. The ability for the group facilitator to create an open, honest environment without judgment for me, and the other grievers – who I have since come to call my “family members” – created a support system to get through the rough spots. The genuine connection within the group became so very important and remains strong today. The bond, and support, is incredible. We often meet outside the group by visiting each other’s homes, do something fun like go bowling and always make a point to support one another when there is an approaching birthday or anniversary of their loved one. This would not be possible without Cornerstone of Hope.
I am forever grateful to the services that Joe and I received at Cornerstone. We have become part of the Cornerstone family. We find peace and comfort by regularly attending memorial programs offered, such as the Butterfly Release and Christmas Memorial Candle Lighting. They are a beautiful way to remember and honor our loved ones, until we meet again.
I have made many referrals to Cornerstone of Hope for family and friends who are grieving the loss of their loved one. I want, for them, to be given the peace and hope that I received to move forward. Thank you for allowing me to share how Cornerstone of Hope walked alongside me during my grief journey and helped change my life.
I am Grief TransforMEd.