When I became Board President in January, 2019, I felt getting to hear your thoughts, opinions, feelings, and needs was essential to help me and the Board make sure that COPE continues to be an important resource for grieving families.
I had been uncertain about visiting our support groups—I didn’t want to intrude or take up precious time but the facilitators agreed to let me come and a few weeks ago I started the visits.
I have been to four different groups so far and this is what I have to say—thank you. Thank you to our strong and empathic facilitators. Thank you to our amazingly strong and compassionate COPE families who, in the midst of their own grief, reach out with kindness and tenderness to comfort others.
Thank you to the community programs that donate their space so our families can meet at locations that are accessible to them.
Our support groups are the heart of COPE. Our founders knew that and twenty years later, like a real heart, our groups pump life back into our families. Whether parents or siblings, all the participants I heard from said the same thing—here we are not alone. Here people know the unique and often endless pain of losing a child or a sibling. At our COPE support meetings, people can cry, or wail, or make a joke, or just breathe—here we can be our most human.
Continue to use all that COPE offers. Come to our workshops, read the healing tips that Michelle Graff, our Clinical Director, includes in our monthly newsletter. Open our emails and even though it feels impossible sometimes, come to our events. Ask members of your group to join you and you can always go have a cup of coffee at a diner afterwards.
It is 11 years since my own loss but there are still many moments that I feel different from my friends, colleagues and neighbors. This is a crazy and isolating world we now live in. What still has not come back to me is knowing how to say “yes.” Yes, I would like to go to a meeting. Yeah, I would love to go to a movie, a dinner, a lecture, a workshop. I still say “no” way too many times. I’m tired, I say, or I am not interested, or I’ll see later in the week….but I don’t.
I urge all of you to borrow strength from each other, from those who love you, and say yes maybe more than I do. Say yes to opening up your life a bit more, not because you will ever get back to being who you were, but because your loved one is now kept cherished in your new life. Come to COPE and let’s heal together. Come to COPE and let’s help each other and COPE get stronger.