Turning Over a New Stone
After losing her daughter in a car accident five years ago, Barb Schofield felt lost herself. Barb had just talked to her daughter Jennifer earlier that morning. Jennifer was driving on a road that Barb had traveled a million times before on her way to church. The road has a treacherous incline and Jennifer lost control of her car. It crossed the road, hit an embankment, and flipped three times throwing her from the vehicle.
Jennifer was a nurse and single parent. Her 13-year old son, Devon, came to live with Barb and her husband after his mom’s death, and for a while Barb put her grief on hold to take care of him.
It wasn’t until Lory’s Place was suggested to the family to help them work through their grief journey that Barb truly began the healing process. Devon took advantage of this opportunity through a support group offered at his middle school, while Barb attended a support group through Lory’s Place. The meetings provided her the ability to connect with individuals who had also lost children.
“Hearing stories of other individuals allowed me to put my own loss into perspective, and really helped guide me to a level where I could better deal with my grief,” says Barb.
The group also helped her realize that she was not alone in her grief journey and allowed her to reach a place where she could better manage it. Barb continued to attend the meetings in the months that followed. “All of the people in that group had lost spouses. I was the only one who had lost a child,” Barb recalls.
She then read about a grief support group that was offered by Caring Circle (formerly Hospice at Home) at the Senior Center in Coloma. This group was closer to home and she began attending.
She stayed with the group, which eventually turned into Shadow Steppers – an open-ended group facilitated by a Caring Circle bereavement coordinator that meets once a month for 90 minutes and provides those who are traveling through their grief journey a place to heal and receive comfort.
During one of the monthly meetings, she learned about a unique opportunity to attend a two-day memory stone class. During the class, participants create a memory stone to honor the life of the loved ones they have lost while sharing their grief journey with the group. Participants can either place their completed
memory stone in the Caring Circle Remembrance Garden or take it home.
Barb created her memory stone with all of Jennifer’s traits in mind, such as her smile and her contagious laugh. The stone also included words to describe her daughter such as “mother” and “nurse.” Her memory stone has a place of prominence next to a bench by the pond at her house.
“The process of making this stone really helped me,” said Barb. “When I feel like I can’t handle the grief any longer I just look at the stone and it helps to release the tension.”
Overall Barb said her experience at the Lory’s Place support group that very first night and hearing from other parents who had lost children to drowning and suicide was her “aha” moment. She found that each time she talked with others who had also experienced a loss, she wanted to be helpful and supportive.
When asked about raising Devon, who is now 18 and will attend the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan this fall, Barb says that the transition of having Devon come and live with them was an adjustment. To ensure that she was able to connect with Devon she stayed involved with his school, hosted team dinners, and did all the things she knew Jennifer would have done if she were there. This process kept Barb putting one foot in front of the other, and along with her strong faith, allowed her to continue to move through her grief journey.
“My grief will never be gone, but over time it becomes a little more manageable, and I attribute a lot of that to the programs offered by Caring Circle and Lory’s Place,” she said.
To learn more about Caring Circle bereavement programs or Lory’s Place please visit us online at www.caring-circle.org or www.lorysplace.org