How can one begin to describe a weekend spent with people from different areas of Georgia and beyond, many of whom had never met before, and some were seeing each other for the first time in a year, but each sharing one heartbreaking bond? Each parent understood the reality of losing a piece of him or herself – a child.
On January 17th and 18th CURE hosted our Annual Weekend of Hope and Healing. Forty-seven families gathered to find comfort and hope from speakers and counselors – and each other. Throughout the weekend, parents were guided with tools to move forward in the grief process.
Parents remembered their children during a beautiful candle lighting ceremony and laughed and cried with other each other during the “Memories” session. One young couple discovered they each had some different memories of their child, and they expressed, “It brought joy in hearing something new about our sweet child.” A memory jar was created for each family to retain those special thoughts/words, and they were encouraged to ask family members and friends to record their precious memories to include in the memory jar.
On Saturday morning, Janet Street who lost her son, Cam, to cancer in 2009 concluded her presentation, “Thoughts on Grieving, Striving for a Healthy and Positive Perspective” with this thought, “Your joy will return – joy and pain can coexist.” A mom thanked Janet by saying, “Thank you for coming to share your story and let us know that we are not alone in this journey. Thank you for helping us with our pain.”
Dr. Rona Roberts’s, whose precious daughter passed away in 2013, spoke to the group on Sunday and eloquently shared her journey into the world of childhood cancer. Tears freely flowed as other parents, who did not know her daughter, totally “got” her story. Her message inspired, comforted, and left all full of hope. One parent shared, “The loss of a child can be paralyzing to the mind and life of the parent – and to witness [Dr. Roberts] stand and speak so strongly today was a true testament. I will never forget [her] words and message!”
A parent in attendance expressed, “I saw many couples lovingly supporting and protecting each other. It’s so encouraging to see couples and families loving each other through loss.” The weekend was very much a time of shared pain and loss, but more importantly a weekend of hope and healing.