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Healing through the Power of Connection and Friendship

Left: Gabriel, Norely and Alexa with their father | Right: Julian and Evelyna with their father

When children first come to The WARM Place, the most common thing we hear is relief in learning that they are not the only child who’s loved one has died. They don’t feel alone, and they have others that understand the pain and sadness they are experiencing. This connection was absolutely the case for the Camacho and Sanchez Diaz families.

Rosa Camacho brought her three children, Gabriel (15), Norely (13) and Alexa (8) to The WARM Place after the death of their father in May 2021. Mayra Sanchez Diaz brought her two children, Julian (16) and Evelyna (8) after the death of their father, also in May 2021. Both families were placed on the same night. A night designated for Sons and Daughters who have experienced a death of a parent.

Top: Rosa and Gabriel | Bottom: Mayra, Evelyna, Alexa and Norely at a WARM Place Family Night

We asked Rosa and Mayra about their initial perception of coming to The WARM Place and how their children felt. Rosa shared, “I remember going for a tour with my kids and having some hope but also was filled with fears. My daughters loved the building, how cozy it felt.” Mayra said that “The WARM Place was more like a safe haven for my kids and myself. My kids were very skeptical at first about it. They didn’t understand what it truly was about. Then, one day a month or two after we started attending, they were able to share, and they felt amazing like it was their own club that no one knows about. The club no one likes being a part of where they can be themselves and talk about their dad all they want. Their own safe place away from home.” After attending group for a few months, the families quickly realized they had a lot more in common than their feelings of grief.

Rosa and Mayra on their girls trip

Mayra shared that “After a couple visits to The WARM Place, it was clear we were more alike than we realized! Mine and Rosa’s employer was the same, even our kids’ interests were very similar. We started to go out with them just to the park to play, and other activities around town. Then, they all went off to summer camp where Julian and Gabriel connected even more. As for the next year Rosa and I decided to take the kids to a grief camp over the summer, which was a bit hard. However, this gave us an opportunity to have some days to ourselves. It was our first official getaway without kids or anyone else and we could just focus on us for a change, and it felt wonderful. We quickly realized we had a lot of the same values in life and that our families share similar cultures and traditions. Our families were also from the same area in Mexico! So many similarities, we knew our friendship was very special.” Rosa shared that their two boys even have the same birthday, just one year apart. She said that “All of our kids, regardless of age got along from the start.”

Rosa, Norely and Mayra

We asked both moms about the most significant change they have seen in their children since they began attending The WARM Place. Mayra shared that “When we first started, Julian wouldn’t talk and wouldn’t show his emotions, trying to be the man of the house in his dad’s absence. Evelyna wouldn’t eat and isolated herself from everyone, including me. Within months they were able to talk about their dad and their favorite memories. Evelyna proceeded to have more confidence in herself with her dad’s passing. She would state ‘My dad is no longer here but I love him dearly and carry his memory with me always.’ Julian has been able to let his emotions out in healthy ways, especially knowing there are others with the same experiences. He has learned to understand his grief. He has been able to realize that we all have moments where we may feel overwhelmed. This allows him to show his support to anyone in this situation with a silent hug.”

Julian and Gabriel at camp

Rosa shared that “Alexa knows there are others in our situation, she doesn’t feel like she is the only one without her dad. Norely is able to express her grief through activities done in group and shares them with me openly. Gabriel has found friends who share a similar grief and similar life situations. He is also more sensitive to his sisters’ feelings now as well.”

When we asked both Rosa and Mayra how The WARM Place has impacted each of their families, they shared that “The WARM Place has truly been a heaven sent and a home away from home. The WARM Place is just a precious, safe place not just for our kids but for us as well. If we don’t know how to deal with something, we usually ask other parents for their advice and get great feedback and ideas.” Mayra said that “It truly saved us as a family and helped us continue to have a great relationship, in addition to honoring their dad. We have truly found and honored him in many new ways we would not have thought of if it would not be for The WARM Place.”

Norely, Gabriel, Julian, Rosa and Alexa

We are so grateful for Mayra and Rosa’s courage to share their experiences and thoughts with us. We hope their story inspires you to know that you are not alone. There are others who know exactly what you are going through, and the power of connection is truly healing for those experiencing grief.

 

 

Katy Roussey

Katy Roussey

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