By David Leonard, Director of Marketing & Fund Development
New Hope’s mission is to bring hope and healing into the lives of grieving people. We are always being asked by various organizations in the community to come and share our story, and the services that we provide to grieving people. We often get requests from the faith based community to come and visit during their church services. Last month, we were invited to come and share by a wonderful church in Long Beach, Parkcrest Christian Church.
Parkcrest was doing a series entitled Loss; the way we engage loss sets the story for our lives. We could not agree more with the title of this series. The Sunday they invited us to come and share, Pastor Mike Goldsworthy was preaching a sermon entitled Loss of a Person, it was most appropriate for us to be present. We were asked to come and host a table after each of their four services and educate and inform members about the resources we have available. In addition to hosting a table they asked David Leonard, our Director of Marketing and Fundraising to be interviewed live on stage during the services by Pastor Mike. During the interview David shared his experiences of grief and loss, and how it impacted many facets of his life. David’s story was transparent, moving, and powerful. It allowed members in the audience to witness how David’s grief journey, although difficult, led him to a place of hope and healing.
At New Hope we use Trees of Remembrance to allow grieving people to place a memory leaf on the tree to remember their loved ones who have died. At Parkcrest we had three Trees of Remembrance for members to place memory leaves on. David invited people after each service to place leafs on the trees. For many, this was the first time that they had taken the time to tangibly remember their loved ones. For others, it was just another great way to continue their grief journey towards hope and healing. The number of memory leaves placed on the trees was overwhelming; so many members visited the New Hope table sharing their stories of loss and grief. It was amazing to see how when David was vulnerable and willing to voice his own personal grief, the silence amongst the crowd was broken. The stigma had been broken, and the voices of many were heard.
In our grief support groups New Hope strives to create opportunities for people to share their grief with others in a safe and non-judgmental environment. On that Sunday in June it was nothing short of a miracle to see the power of one person’s story break through the stigma that exists with grief in our society. It was an honor and a privilege that New Hope helped to facilitate and create a much larger space for Parkcrest and its members to journey together. The common experience of loss and grief bonded them together, but New Hopes mission empowered them to not have to grieve alone and in silence. We exist so that no child, teen, adult, parent, or family has to grieve alone.