A fun and safe place for grieving children.

Sam's Comfort Zone

 

I can't tell you who I'd be if my dad hadn't died, but I can tell you I wouldn’t be who I am today without Comfort Zone. 

 

That's why I am writing today – it takes community support to give every grieving child the experience of realizing they are not alone. I want others to have the same tools and support to cope with their loss.

 

On Dec. 1, 2002 – as I stared blankly at the stark walls of the ICU waiting room – my world changed with the words "daddy died." At 11 years old, I had been the textbook example of a "daddy's girl," and the months after his death were incredibly difficult.

 

On one hand, I had people telling me to "move on." On the other, when I wasn't crying, they questioned whether I loved my dad. When I got the role in the fifth-grade play, peers insisted it was because the teacher felt sorry for me. Over time, it became easier to not interact. I can still remember staring ahead at the lunch table to avoid making eye contact with my classmates.

 

Meanwhile, at home, I fought back tears daily, as my two-year-old brother asked why daddy wasn't coming home from the hospital and my mom did her best to cope with three grieving children as she grieved herself. Not only did I feel isolated from my "normal" peers, but I also felt detached from my own family. I felt completely alone.

 

My life changed again on July 25, 2003, when I begrudgingly attended Comfort Zone Camp for the first time. Sharing my story, hearing others' stories, and simply talking in a supportive environment taught me how to positively cope with my grief.

 

As my Comfort Zone Camp count grew, I also learned to grieve the memories I had yet to make with my dad. Graduating elementary school. School plays, band concerts, piano recitals and swim meets. Father-daughter dances. My little brother starting school. Learning to drive. Report cards. College applications. Boyfriends. Graduating high school. A myriad of accomplishments. The list goes on — all without my dad. Yet one thing has remained constant: The friends I made through Comfort Zone have been there for me.

 

On Dec. 1, 2002, I lost one of my biggest advocates. Though he never got to watch me grow up, on July 25, 2003, I gained an entire community of people who have been cheering me on since. We know Comfort Zone makes a difference. It gave me a place to share my story. It empowered me to make a difference. It reminded me how to be goofy. It brought some of the most inspiring, selfless, compassionate people into my life. It helped me to celebrate my memories. And, most importantly, Comfort Zone has showed me and thousands of others that we're not alone.

 

-  Sam      

 

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