Picking up the pieces after a loss

Picking up the pieces after a loss

Long Island couple Liz and Theodore attended the Living Alongside Grief Retreat in April 2023 to address the impact of losing their only son Jeyden one year ago. The Retreat is a new family bereavement education program on the range of experiences that grieving family members may go through. Jeyden was 13 when he was diagnosed and treated for an Astrocytoma brain tumor and passed away at age 14. Liz shares how her Friends of Karen social worker Marla and the Family Support Program helped, and continue to help, her family.

“Jeyden was the kind of boy that everyone was drawn to. He had a beautiful heart and always stepped in to defend other kids from bullies. Through all our ups and downs we had each other and he knew how to make me laugh – and we laughed a lot. It was terrible to see our strong boy go through chemo, but he even went through that with a smile on his face.

Jeyden really tried to keep our spirits up, but Theodore and I were trying to cope and having a hard time facing the reality of his condition. All this was happening during COVID, and my husband was a chef and wasn’t working during the pandemic. I had to stop working to help care for Jeyden, so things started to get difficult quickly. Thankfully, our hospital social worker referred us to Friends of Karen, and we were paired with their social worker Marla.

Working with Marla and getting Friends of Karen’s support was like having them as part of our family. You just don’t find that kind of humanity everywhere. I can call Marla anytime if I need to talk or if we need help. She was there for us throughout Jeyden’s treatment and has been since he passed away. At that time Theodore and I just fell apart, and we have been holding it together with Friends of Karen’s help.

When Marla encouraged us to attend the Living Alongside Grief Retreat, we were hesitant about going. We had already cried so much and we were scared we would just sit there and cry. We took Marla’s advice and read through the retreat information and decided to attend. That was a good decision.

Our family has been so supportive, but being at the retreat with other families who went through the same thing was something we needed. This program helped us to cleanse our souls. My husband expressed his feelings in ways he had not shared before because he had wanted to support me and not burden me with what he was feeling.

When we got home after the retreat, we felt like we were in a better place than when we left home that morning. I learned that day it is OK for us to go on and live and have some happiness. It is a long process, but we are making progress in adjusting to our ‘new normal.’ We could not have gotten to this point without Friends of Karen.” – Liz