CURE’s Weekend of Hope and Healing
January is typically a time to set resolutions, gather with friends and families for creating celebrations of joy and memories, watching sports or curling up with a good book. For 56 families, it was a time to participate in what many called a “reunion” for hope and healing in dealing with the journey of losing a child to cancer. On January 25th and 26th, these families gathered to share in the experience of learning tools for dealing with their grief, sharing memories of their child, remembering their child in a candle lighting ceremony, and especially spending time with others who have “walked the same journey.”
The opening session began with a keynote speaker, Susan Whitmore, President of Grief Haven and founder of the Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation. Susan Whitmore shared her personal journey of losing her daughter to cancer and how she was able to move forward through her grief. She has the gift of meeting her audience where they are in the grieving process and, as some attendees shared, “She gets it!” Susan provided coping skills for the grieving process, scientific research about how the brain is affected by grief, and suggestions for the continued journey in life without one’s child.
Parents were invited to attend breakout sessions with various presenters/topics, giving them the opportunity to attend sessions that would be most beneficial in supporting them on their journey. A special thank you is extended to our outstanding presenters, Gary and Elvira Delaplane – Marriage: From Surviving to Thriving, Susan Whitmore – Understanding Your Grief, Grief Myths, & What to Do With It All, Erin Pridgen – Siblings, and David Smith – Dads.
In the afternoon, families shared in a candle lighting ceremony with a slideshow presentation of their precious children. Also, parents gathered in groups to share memories of their child which brought some laughter and some tears. As one family described the weekend, “We look forward to this weekend because it is all about sharing memories of our child.”
This weekend experience gives the families an opportunity to share a common bond with others who have traveled the same journey and time to reacquaint with friends whom they have met along the way. A parent wrote, “The friendships we have formed through this event and the topics are cherished.” Another parent shared, “Seeing old friends and meeting new friends, it gave me peace.”
The weekend concluded with a session led by Susan Whitmore, “Where Do We Go From Here?” She provided tools for parents to use for daily living and suggestions for remembering their special child as they experience life in a different way. It is affirming to hear from parents who attended, “This weekend has been extremely instrumental in our ability to deal with our grief and move on in life!”