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New nonprofit helps parents grieving over loss of child

POSTED: July 27, 2014 12:35 a.m.

Gainesville resident Deana Martin-Owens knows all too well the grief from losing a child is often debilitating and not many know what to do with it.

“I lost my children in a devastating car accident about 3 1/2 years ago,” she said. “It just seemed at that point that none of it made any sense and I reached out looking for help in the area. I was able to find a few support groups here and there but wasn’t able to find anything that could help me move along in my grief journey.”

Martins-Owens knew Teresita Fawcett from the support groups they frequented, and the two women shared their stories.

“In 2000 I had a major loss in life, not children, but from that devastation I was able to get in touch with the Grief Recovery Institute in California, and it really made a difference in my grief recovery,” Fawcett said. “I did all kinds of workshops. I realized if it made a world of difference for me, it could make a world of difference for others.” 

Together, Martins-Owens and Fawcett decided they wanted to do something but weren’t able to completely find their calling until this year when they were both laid off around the same time.

“We kind of said ‘This is a little bit too coincidental to be coincidental. Let’s do this,’” Martin-Owens said.

In a little less than two months the women were able to get their nonprofit organization, Cry For Me ... No More, off the ground with a website, pamphlets and business cards.

“We have put together some amazing things already in a short amount of time, and we’re ready to get the name out there,” Martin-Owens said. “It is our goal to have our first two pilot workshops in the Gainesville area in the December or January time frame.”

The 2«-day workshops will be modeled after a workshop Fawcett facilitated for families who lost loved ones in the military.

“It’s not a workshop that someone takes and the grief goes away,” Fawcett said. “What we hope it does is get them to get a shift within them to see how this journey can be a connection with their child. What I’ve come up against with some parents is that they think that if they move forward, if they are happy and life becomes joyful again, that maybe they’re doing a disservice to their child. So they get stuck in that grief journey. The workshop is meant to meet them at that stuck place and gently, lovingly get them to move forward.”

Another unique approach these workshops take, she said, is they separate family members throughout the process.

“You can have a mother grieving in one way and a father grieving in a totally opposite way and that creates a problem. It puts so much stress on a relationship.”

During the workshops, mothers, fathers, adult siblings and stepparents are counseled separately.

“Then we bring them back together as a family — separate and then together — and we found that helps them,” Fawcett said.

Cry For Me ... No More is the first agency of its kind in the Hall County area, Martin-Owens said. It is operated by volunteers she and Fawcett met through other grief-counseling programs, but she said she hopes it will grow to have more funding. The nonprofit plans to have a fundraiser on the Gainesville Square during the fall and are looking for corporations to sponsor it.

“In the future, we want to put on many of these a month, and the idea is that parents are not going to be expected to pay,” Fawcett said. “They’ve paid enough with the death of the child. We don’t want them to have to pay for this.”

“Right now, to put on one weekend, we’re looking at $8,000 to $10,000 and that covers room and board for everyone, the food, the transportation for facilitators. That’s really not that much money for a big corporation. But for us, it’s a lot. It’s all we’re asking.”

Until then, Martin-Owens and Fawcett will be busy working with what they have to get Cry For Me ... No More out to those who need it.

“Sometimes I’m up starting at 6 o’clock in the morning and going until 10 o’ clock at night, but that’s how passionate I am about it,” Martin-Owens said. “I’ve talked to so many bereaved parents and we know we’re not going to end up at one set point, but together we can help each other heal and thrive after the loss of our children.”


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