Parent Column – September 2022

Bridges from a loss

My son Adam took his own life 13 years ago. Adam was a loving, caring soul that always helped whoever he could. Immediately after Adam’s death I did what I could to stay connected to his spirit, his unique caring energy. Although mortally wounded I did what I could to help myself and those around me with the gift of Adam’s essence. 

I realized shortly after his passing how people would open up to me about their own experiences with depression, loss and suicide.  It became very clear that life is difficult for most and it does help to share our experiences. 

In many cases once I shared my pain to other people, they would tell me all sorts of things. I guess they felt if I can share my pain and loss that they were safe to share their own difficulties and tragedies.  I never hid the reality of my son’s death with anyone I met. In return many sad stories were told to me. Heartbreaking stories that were difficult to hear, especially since my soul had experienced immense pain and was raw to extreme emotions. 

It was important for people to hear about Adam. I wanted to share what an amazing person he was. I also wanted to hear the stories of other people for the sole reason of connecting in the deepest of ways. Perhaps we could help each other. 

Two people with open and broken hearts sharing their pain is intense but unites those who allow it. It was challenging for me to cross the emotional bridge to another suffering heart, but I forged ahead with faith. 

In that tender, intimate connection is where I found Adam. Yes, Adam’s spirit was with me when I connected to another human in pain. Adam helped people when alive and together in his death we are united in trying to help others. 

Just sharing life’s pain connects people but there was more. A way was found to give others hope.

There is a reason to live. 

I felt Adam would want me to live a happy meaningful life. I shared this thought with those who suffered in a similar way. “Honor the departed by being happy and productive in their name” is what came out of my heart and mouth. 

Through loss I found many bridges to connect one broken heart to another. 

When I did, Adam was there. Sometimes we could not be of help, but we tried. 

The credo of the bereavement group Compassionate Friends states the following: “We need not walk alone. We are The Compassionate Friends. We reach out to each other with love, with understanding, and with hope”.

These lines are the material my bridges are made of. 

After 13 years since Adam’s passing, I realize how through loss I’ve crossed many bridges to connect to people. 

With love, understanding and hope a bridge is crossed hopefully bringing comfort to someone in need. 

I was never alone on this journey as Adam was with me every step of the way. The experience has transformed me, and I know Adam’s spirit has made me a better person.  He does live on in my soul and in everyone who knew him. He was a true blessing beyond measure and led by example. 

I wish there were less bridges to cross but if I need to do it again, I will not be alone. 

Rick Jacobs

8/4/2022

Column and photo courtesy of Rick Jacobs

 

Co-President’s Message – July 2022

A lot of people are wondering if we will ever experience the world the way we did before COVID-19 disrupted it.  If I am being honest, I wondered that too for a little while, but I haven’t in a long time.  How do we go back to the way something was after something so significant has happened? I don’t think we do.  I think we remember what we had then, we acknowledge what we have now, and we create something new as we look ahead and plan to move forward.  This is what COPE has been doing since March 2020. 

Our mission to help parents, siblings, and families living with the loss of a child, and the importance of doing so never changed; if anything, we saw the importance of that mission through a new lens.  What changed was how COPE carried out its mission to provide the help and support needed.  People were struggling, in perhaps more complicated ways, because of the impact COVID had on them- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.   COPE adjusted and remained a constant in people’s lives in a time of chaos.  COPE’s support groups continued, grief and healing programs continued and evolved, and we expanded our connections to reach people and communities in new ways.  All of that allowed us to continue to thrive as an organization. 

Although we are reminded daily that COVID is still here, it feels as if many of us are truly beginning to reacclimate into the world… even if this world is different than the one we once knew.  I’ve always believed that different does not mean better or worse, it simply means it’s not the same.  As we move forward in 2022, COPE is doing things differently, too.  Sandy Wolkoff, COPE’s past President, has completed her three year tenure after fiercely and compassionately leading the organization through the most uncertain of times.  While we are all so grateful for, and appreciative of, everything Sandy has done for COPE, her shoes needed to be filled and those shoes were mighty.  Instead of trying to replicate someone who we didn’t feel could be replicated, COPE looked in a different direction.  In the spirit of a new and different world, we are excited and proud to lead COPE together, through our Co-Presidency, and we are honored and grateful for the confidence shown, support provided, and the true partnership we share with the entire Board of Directors.

To everyone in the COPE Community, thank you for supporting COPE as an organization, but more importantly, thank you for the never-ending support and compassion you show each other.  Each and every one of you are the reason parents, siblings, and families will never have to experience their journey alone.

Welcome to Jennifer Webb

Jennifer Webb is the newest member of the COPE board and is excited about her new role! Jennifer is a Long Island native and is a career special education teacher. She currently owns and operates her own education company that offers curriculum based instruction to individuals whom struggle with social communication skills. She joined COPE four years ago after the tragic loss of her beloved brother Tommy to cancer. She resides in Massapequa with her husband and three beautiful children.

Parent Column – April 2022

Parent Column – April 2022

My mini-me, Elizabeth Raisa Fenton, or Lizzie, as she was affectionately called throughout her childhood, was diagnosed with Stage IV Colorectal Cancer in June of 2015, 6 months after her wedding. She fought valiantly for almost 6 years undergoing several major surgeries, countless rounds of chemotherapy, and radiation . She was a warrior through it all but sadly passed away on April 15, 2021 leaving many broken hearts behind. Throughout her journey Lizzie dealt with her own “grieving” of what was not to be in her life. I want to share a message she sent to a dear friend of hers to describe what she was experiencing. Little did I know what a prophet she would turn out to be finding a perfect way to describe grief.  
 
Her family and friends miss her beyond words can ever convey.  
 
– Marleen Fenton