The heartbeat behind Cole's Grace Project started May 24, 2015, a day my life forever changed. I walked into Cole's room (my 15-year-old son) to tell him his dad was on the phone... and I found him lifeless after a suicide attempt.
This was an utter shock to all that knew him. He didn't fit the description of what one would picture to be a "depressed, suicidal teen". He was a star athlete, well-liked, a GT student with a crazy awesome sense of wit, a love for puns and practical jokes, and just an all-around joy to be around.
At the ER they were able to get his heart beating again and he was life-flighted to Lubbock. As the days passed by, there was very little brain activity. Though we prayed for a miracle and for his brain swelling to go down, the test results kept getting harder to swallow. No cognitive function, no humor, no "Cole" as we once knew him would ever return.
The painstaking decision was made to remove him from life support a week later. On May 31, 2015, as I laid curled up next to Cole in his hospital bed, he took his last breath, and our lives were forever changed.
Needless to say, that week was filled with some very traumatic and devastating moments for his 2 younger brothers, myself, and our entire family. We needed help. We needed hope that we weren't always going to be feeling the gut-wrenching, emotionally paralyzing, and painful feelings we were.
Our pain was lessened with the help of three main things: (1) our faith; (2) having a steady support system; and, (3) counseling sessions from our counselor, Tom Wynne, who is experienced in grief and trauma.
Throughout this journey, I have become increasingly aware of how there are so many hurting, grieving people around us. The stories are all unique, and often, they're not talked about or processed, which can intensify the pain even more. I wanted to help them all. Referring people to Tom was one of the more tangible and helpful ways I could do that.
Some people were able to afford this. However, due to financial constraints, several were not. For some, it was a job loss due to not being able to cope well enough to return to work or a lack of insurance. For some they had insurance, but medical or funeral expenses made paying weekly co-pays for an entire family not feasible.
It became heavy on my heart to find a way for anyone who wanted grief counseling services to be able to get them. I wanted people that were hurting to have the same opportunity for healing and hope that I was able to receive through counseling - without the financial burden. Thus, the idea for Cole's Grace Project began.
Perhaps you are one of those hurting people right now. You may be feeling helpless, angry, lost, or confused. Perhaps you have no desire to even get out of bed or wake up tomorrow. I'm here saying, "I get you". And also, "there IS light at the end of the tunnel".
You just have to take that brave step.
If you're hesitant to talk to a counselor, I encourage you to consider it! You've got nothing to lose except an hour of your time. Know there are several professional, empathetic, knowledgeable, and truly caring counselors we've partnered within this area that WANT to help. And they're good at it! This is their specialty!
I don't know about you - but if your loved one was anything like, Cole, chances are they wouldn't want you feeling the way you do right now. Or maybe you have a grief story that is even more complicated due to a poor relationship. Regardless, your grief and feelings are real. And the pain and emotions you're feeling CAN begin to be tolerable. You've just got to take a step.
Is today the day? If so, it would be my honor to have Cole's Grace Project help you along your journey toward hope and healing.
Things can get better. I'm living proof.