"Grief never ends ... But it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness , nor a lack of faith ...It is the price of love" - Unknown
Thanksgiving has passed , there are three weeks until Christmas and four weeks until the new year. The holiday season is filled with love, laughter , food and anticipation for a brand new start. For me , this time of year tends to have a bittersweet tone. As much as I love the family gatherings and fellowship over indulgent dishes and relaxing moments , I can't help but to think of those who are not with me to celebrate yet another season of life. It feels at times that the holidays are the best and the worse of times , mainly because there tends to be a lingering fear in my mind that there will be love ones who may not make it to that dinner table and inevitably not into the new year.
Don't get me wrong , I'm not this emo girl who just wants to focus on the negative. I'm sure you're wondering who really thinks like that ? So allow me to back track. When I was 11 years old, my favorite aunt/second mother passed away in a tragic car accident on Thanksgiving Day. I was casually awaken at 2 am as if it was mid afternoon to the phone ringing and hearing my father give my mother the tragic news that her sister would not be a part of our lives any longer. The fog of sleep had exited instantly and reality settled while the words replayed in my head that my dearest aunt was gone. Needless to say, Thanksgiving would go on to never be the same. For years , my family struggled with whether we should continue to celebrate a day which brings us back to our darkest memory. To this day , it is a conflict in our hearts that honestly may never fully subside.
The death of someone close to you is an experience of many layers. The amount of grief , sadness and many times guilt can be consuming and indeed overwhelming to say the least. As a child , trying to process the loss of my aunt was difficult because I didn't really know where to start. I did not know what was normal to feel or how long I would be in that mental space. To be honest , many times I questioned my right to my sadness. My mother and father were alive and well while my two cousins had lost their mother , their love and light . How could I want sympathy or comfort? Grieving for them became a part of my grief . I realized as time passed , each person connected to her had been processing their sadness in their own way seemingly internally instead of leaning on each other or seeking professional help.
Envision a place where you can enter that is free of judgement , welcomes fear and sadness all while cultivating an experience that will at some point provide you the courage to live victoriously. Tomorrow's Rainbow is that haven. Abby Moshra , after experiencing a tragic head on collision which claimed the life of her husband created this organization that has created a supreme impact on so many families. After such a traumatizing ordeal to endure with her son Dustin ( who also was involved in the accident) , they were blessed to be provided with professional care and guidance to assist with the grieving process and therapy to heal their family from the inside out. She realized the amount of people, specifically children . who go without professional care not because there wasn't a need but because there was none available in an affordable realm. The emergence of Tomorrow's Rainbow came into fruition to predominately allow children a refuge from their pain using the unique technique of using animals, primarily miniature horses to help heal .
Children and adolescents can have a natural tendency to be verbally non-communicative in vocalizing the grief their experiencing as it is difficult to even pin point those feelings as their occurring , let alone talking it out. As those emotions go unaddressed , they can play a detrimental factor in the future mental development of that child, inhibiting certain coping skills and can cause a domino effect of negative behavioral actions and harm to others but most importantly to themselves. The facts are that children who are supported in their grief are 10 times less likely to get involved in substance abuse (Rainbows, UK), 20 times less likely to develop a behavioral disorder (Center of disease control), and 9 times less likely to drop out of school (National Principals Association Reports on the state of HS).
Tomorrow's Rainbow is located in a ranch site in Coconut Creek , Florida where you are surrounded by miniature horses and trained counselors graciously awaiting your arrival and anticipating their role in helping you through the motions of grief. Although it may seem strange at first thought , horses are remarkable animals that have the ability to play a large part in the healing process for a grieving child. As I learned in the educational orientation provided ( required before volunteering ) , a welcome circle begins your journey , providing an area to openly discuss your feelings or to quietly listen to others until you're ready to share your story. The horses are used a therapeutic source for the children to connect with , focus on by helping care for them and build a natural bond with an animal that is allowing them to display their feelings in the most natural way. The open area also has play areas where children can put their energy into acting out plays , drawing pictures which actually tend to depict the feelings rising within them and the counselors assist with facilitating those moments to provide the skills and tools needed "to take their own personal grief journey in a way that is meaningful to them".
Tomorrow's Rainbow is 100 percent funded by private and corporate donations meaning there is absolutely no government assistance given. Through the selfless donations the organization is able to fund their grief camps and maintain it as a whole. There are a couple ways you can be of value to this extraordinary place. Remarkably, they have a thrift store which is always in need for items that may have no use to you but would be a gem for someone else at an extremely discounted price and all proceeds go to supporting the organization. All my thrifters out there can make it your "home" thrift store or for those with the time available can actually volunteer working in the store. For those who are interested in working directly with the children, you can become a trained Program Facilitator. That role is imperative in having a level of commitment that will not waver because the children being helped need stability and true dedication. For those like myself who don't have the time available for such a committed and important role, you can help with the site/horse maintenance or office help. As I stated previously , orientation is required before beginning any role but don't worry it is the quickest and most endearing hour of your time as Abby gives additional information about the organization , what they stand for , statistics and details on the opportunities available. After filling out a quick application you can sign up for the next or most convenient orientation date for you. In case you're wondering ,the next orientation date is Sunday, December 3rd at 10 am.
Experiencing death as a child was indeed a traumatic moment in my life which carried on into my adulthood. Shaping my mind and spirit in a way I could have never envisioned in that period of time . Surely as an adult I have experienced the loss of many other love ones but remembering the first impact of losing someone so close to me laid a negative foundation in my mind and heart that would have been everlasting if I allowed it. The 11 year old girl that still lives in me at times allowed the fear of loss to navigate into holding on to situations , relationships and people that were detrimental to my own growth, which in truth, was simply a manifestation of the grief that was not fully healed. Years has gone by and one thing rings true, it is all a constant work in progress. My coping mechanism is prayer (thanks to my aunts teachings ) but many do not know where to begin or what would work for them in order to endure the sadness and triumph over the pain and tears. Every person , despite age , needs that guidance but children , notably , require a touch that will provide a space of comfort, support and the instrument of knowledge to maneuver into their best life and not allowing a moment in time to mold the bright future ahead. Give yourself and time away into a company whose pledge is to be the light that these families deserve and help them realize that while today can be covered in clouds; there is always Tomorrow's Rainbow.