My family’s grief journey started only a year and a half ago. What I found at CURE’s Weekend of Hope and Healing was a safe place for my family to grieve, cry, laugh, learn, share, and make new friendships. In short, I am grateful for the care, connection, and clarity I get from the weekend each time I go.
I can only speak for myself, but once I become a bereaved parent my perspective on life and relationships changed drastically. I lost some friends, gained new ones, but quickly realized that a lot of time I was grieving alone. And when I was feeling desperate and wanted to call someone, the list was pretty short or non-existent because I just wanted someone to listen without feeling sorry for me, or giving advice, or getting upset themselves. I wanted someone that truly cares about my story and is able to just be there without judging my grief. And then I went to the Weekend of Hope and Healing and felt so grateful to be in a place where I could be me and would be heard, not judged, and just listened to. I realized I was lucky to have a place and people who cared and who provided not just a safe place for me to grieve, but who genuinely cared about my well being and my story, my life, and my family.
You probably heard it by now if you know a bereaved parent: it is a club no one wants to be part of but once you are in it, you are so glad that there are others who understand your pain. For me, personally, this connection I get at the Weekend of Hope and Healing with other families is one of the best things I find each time I attend. Hearing that a mom is going back to school to be a nurse and seeing her excitement of following her newfound dream, or seeing a mom who found a new love and is expecting her rainbow baby, getting to know newly-bereaved moms, and hearing from moms who have been there for ten-plus years and receiving their words of hope and healing is something you do not get in your everyday life. And it is so much more real and meaningful to connect with these parents who know the pain and struggle of your days as this is your new world. These are your people – your new tribe.
The last, but not least, is that I always learn better ways to cope with my grief at the Weekend of Hope and Healing. Counsel, experienced speakers, workshops, conversation with others, and time provided to focus on my grief and struggles usually provides newfound clarity in how to tackle my issues in the future. I know grief is not curable and I do not expect to ever be cured from it. I know I will be grieving my whole life, but just seeing how my experience changed from last year to this year and how much “easier” this year’s experience at the weekend was gives me hope that even though my heart might never completely heal and be whole again, my grief can be lighter and different and that it is okay to begin healing and feeling better.
So I would like to thank CURE for all they do but especially for all they do for us bereaved parents as what you give us is truly priceless. We love you so much.
Ana Kucelin is a wife and mother of two children: Kalie, who is five, and Bianka, who was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of four and passed away after an eighteen-month battle on July 29th, 2015. She is the Menu and Wellness Specialist for Decatur City Schools.