As most of you know, we lost our sweet 7 month old daughter Cate a little over a year and a half ago from complications after open heart surgery. The days, months, and past year have been a world wind of emotions and experiences for Ali and I, but also for Cate's big sister Ella and her big brother "Dude.” It has been a difficult journey for those two little troopers to wrap their little hearts and heads around loss, grief and death. About two weeks ago I was lying in bed with Ella saying prayers and she began to cry. I proceeded to ask her what was wrong, she then told me, "Dad, I want a sister on earth. I miss Cate, I want her here with us." What do you say to that question as a Father? As my heart broke for her, I held her and cried with her because I do not know that pain. I do not know what it is like to lose a sibling at such a young and formidable age, but she does, but luckily she does not have to alone.
Ella and Dude attend the "Healing House, whose vision is, "that no child should grieve alone." Every other week Ella and Dude attend a group session with a volunteer facilitator and other children, who have lost siblings as well. They have group time where they can share their thoughts and feelings about their grief or whatever they want. This is truly "their time" without having to worry about how their feelings will effect mom and dad, because believe it or not, a 6 year old does worry about that. After group time they have "free play" time. They have a room full of dress up clothes, puppets, arts and craft supplies, and musical instruments because children often express their grief through play. They also provide what is called the "Hurricane Room" which is full of large bean bags and big pillows, where the children are safe to go in, throw stuff around and get angry if they want to, which allows them to release their anger in a safe and productive way and of course Dude loves this room. One does not think that a 4 year old can experience the anger that adults feel about the unexpected loss of a love one, but they do. They are little versions of adults with all the same thoughts, feelings, and emotions just simply on a child’s level. Dude is viciously protective of his sisters and gets very angry when someone upsets them and I have seen him over the past year get very angry over Cate's death, so the Hurricane Room provides a place for him to express that safely and thankfully not on the neighborhood cat:) The Healing House fosters an environment that allows children to meet other kids who speak their language and to express what is going on in their young and unfortunately experienced hearts.
Ella and Dude have been attending the Healing House for a year now and it has RICHLY blessed their lives. Ali and I, as parents, more often than not feel like we do not have the answers to the questions Ella and Dude have regarding the death of Cate and it is so wonderful to know that there is a place where Ella and Dude can find comfort knowing they are not alone and its ok to feel whatever you are feeling. In the year that we have been attending Healing House they have asked us for 0 dollars! Everything the Healing House does for us and our children is COMPLETELY FREE! The Healing House runs completely on the generosity of others to provide a service that is priceless to these children who have experienced this type of tragedy at such a young age.
Last year there was a raffle in conjunction with a golf tournament here in Lafayette that offered the Healing House a chance to sell raffle tickets. Whatever money the Healing House raised they kept 100% of it! This is an awesome fundraiser for the Healing House and last year through me pestering you and you giving in, we raised a little over $3000.00 and that was just through Ella and Dude's friends and family!!!!!!! This year I want to beat that! I want to let the Healing House know in a BIG WAY how much we APPRECIATE the services they provide for Ella and Dude and ALL of Acadiana.
The Grand Prize of the raffle is $5000 and the tickets are $10 a piece and 10 tickets come in a book PLUS for all you Acadiana golf fans your raffle ticket gets you a one day pass pass to the Chitimacha Louisiana Open at LeTriomphe Golf Course. So, not only do you get a chance to when 5000 bucks, but you get the chance to watch these great golfers battle it out for a PGA card, I went last year with my free pass and it was amazing!
Please help our little family make a huge THANK YOU to the Healing House by supporting the Healing House through this raffle. Your support ensures that no child will grieve alone! You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how many tickets you want. The checks are to be made payable to "Healing House" NOT to me! You will mail your checks:
P.O. Box 52978
Lafayette, LA 70505
I will then fill out your tickets and mail the stubs to you. It does not matter where you live, last year we had people from ALL over the country who supported the Healing House by buying tickets! Thanks for taking the time to read this note and for your support of Ella and Dude and the Healing House, hope for grieving children!