A fun and safe place for grieving children.

STORY SHARE: Bonita Oliver

 

My beloved John was an amazing dad, an athlete, a healthy vegan, an adventurer and an unwavering optimist. He had just begun a huge documentary film project under the umbrella of his own film company. He drew so much strength from being a dad to our three young children.  After this big career windfall John and I began looking at buying a house to finally settle our family outside of the city. John told me that I would be able to shift my energy from a “survival job” to the pursuit of my career goals. Things were looking so good for our whole family. 

 

In November of 2014 - Two days after John’s 40th Birthday and two days before Thanksgiving, John was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer. Receiving this diagnosis was like each of us being sucker punched then stabbed in the gut by our best friend. The universe had betrayed our hopes. It was devastating. 

 

For 5 months John, being the perpetual positive thinker that he was, believed he would fight and overcome the statistics stacked against him. I supported him and tried to be there for him and for our children the best I could. I wanted to savor each and every moment- as a family. Neither of us thought he’d go so quickly. After months of pain and nausea and the inability to do the things he used to love - John took his last breath at 2:28AM. It was April 18th. Our children -Ezra, Kefirah and Anais had lost their father at the ages of 4, 6 and 8.  

 

The months to follow were the most violent roller coaster ride of our lives. My kids and I held each other in the night.  In the day we cried together. We joined support groups for grief, and went to individual counseling, but there was just so much being thrown at us on top of the unfathomable darkness that losing John had wrapped us in. As time continued to pass, the hands-on support of those friends dwindled. The support groups were a boon for us, but the joy was just so shallow and fleeting. The kids felt so different and isolated most days... Until the discovery of Comfort Zone Camp. 

 

Comfort Zone allowed my kids to bond with others who had lost some of the most intimate relationships of their lives. These new friends could relate deeply to the feelings my children were/are experiencing. Profound connections were made and they gained a deeper sense of peace. It’s like my children somehow matured in one weekend- crazy as that sounds. They suddenly had new language to speak about their feelings. They got through to me with a clarity that wasn’t there before. This was something different, and I am so happy for it. I am ever grateful to the people of Comfort Zone- the love they showed my kids and the good times they encouraged. The dedication of staff and volunteers is so touching.

 

My children hope to go to camp each and every year until they too can be volunteer counselors. I look forward to the many years of healing and growth. 

 

Thank you endlessly for this gift, 

 

Bonita Oliver

 

Please join Comfort Zone as we continue to raise awareness of childhood grief and help give families their lives back. Volunteer. Donate. Advocate.

 

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