Communities in Crisis: Taking Action in Avondale
July 1, 2015
Our colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center reached out to us to provide grief support to the Avondale community because of the increase in violent shootings. This month, we met with the Avondale Community Development Committee and the Avondale Concerned Clergy group, to get input from these community leaders. We are currently planning to offer a special educational workshop for later this summer for these individuals who are often the first people families turn to after a death.
In preparation for meeting with Avondale leaders, we reached out to Edna Gibbs, a life-long Avondale resident and Fernside family. Here are her reflections along with those of her children, 18-year-old daughter, Amber and 14-year-old son, Quincy below:
The experience that I have had with Fernside has been a God send. I was referred to the program by a family member after the loss of my mother, Susie M. Hobbs and father, Eddie Hobbs. They were in their 80’s and still living in my childhood home on Cleveland Avenue, in South Avondale for over 40 years. Having been a part of Avondale most of my life, it saddens me with the level of violence that has become a part of it. When my mother transitioned to Heaven, it was a huge adjustment for not only myself but my two teenage children. I wanted to be able to do something to help my children. I needed to also do something to help myself.
This is where Fernside entered our lives. I found a location close to our home, downtown. When we arrived at our first meeting, my children were divided into their age groups. I was grouped with the adults. We started by telling our story, who we came with and who we lost. I sat and listened to other adults (parents/ grandparents/siblings etc.) tell their story. I was comforted almost immediately as these people have been through a lot and were still there. I felt hopeful immediately. It was difficult when it was my turn to share. I wasn’t sure that the words would come and they did. The more meetings we attended it became easier to express. This group did not judge me. This group was confidential. This group did not tell me ‘sorry for your loss.’ This group did not try to tell me what to do. This group just listened. This group cried with me. This group hugged me. This group asked me about other things going on in my life. This group became an oasis in the midst of my suddenly chaotic life. This group understood me. This group understood my pain because we had one thing in common we lost our loved one to death. Whether it was violent, of old age, suicide, accidental or illness, we all became connected. We were all at different stages of grief or even acceptance. We all had to work to begin to reconstruct our lives. The facilitator simply guided our discussions and they did focus on topics to help us cope with life. We had to have this time to learn how to get ourselves together enough to learn how to help our children.
My son leads the effort finds a safe way of expressing himself with other kids his age and to work towards healing from the multiple losses that we have experienced. As my daughter prepares to leave for college over 500 miles away, we are excited and will miss her. I am confident that she has with her interactions with Fernside been able to develop strategies for being successful on her own.
In Fernside we all found a place where I can share confidentially our frustrations, our pain, our questions, our anger, our sadness and eventually our joys! I would highly recommend Fernside to any family with children who have experienced loss. As our youth today live in this technology age, human contact in matters of grief allow everyone involved a forum to express their thoughts and come to peace with the loss of their loved ones.
- Edna Gibbs, Avondale resident and client of Fernside
Fernside for me was the most helpful resource I had dealing with death. Within a year, I lost my grandmother, cousin and grandfather, then my uncle in October 2014. I take death extremely hard. But I can say because of Fernside, I handle death a whole lot easier. I joined a few weeks after I loss my granny, and at first I was extremely hesitant because I wasn't ready to talk about it anymore than just the surface stuff. Well, I'm so glad I went. My group leaders were patient and allowed me to talk as much as I wanted and cry as much as I needed. Now I'm headed off to college, and I will miss my Fernside family dearly. I recommend this to any and everyone that wants an outlet to express themselves. They do not judge you and support you in everything that you do even outside of death. Plus who doesn't like free pizza every other week.
– Amber Wilks, 18
About 2 years ago, I lost my grandmother. I felt depressed and confused, then my mother found Fernside. My first time there, I felt very shy and uncomfortable talking about my grandmother's death. But there was something about those group meetings that made me feel safe. In our meetings, we did many activities involving topics about the person we loved and lost. I personally would advise anyone who has lost a loved one to go to Fernside.
– Quincy Wilks, 14