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  • Writer's pictureShannon Winans

My personal story of loss and how it is leading me to helping others

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

God will always lead you to places that he wants or needs you to be at when he needs you there. It is the way I found a very special place that helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life. A place I am excited to say that I have recently selected to volunteer at. An organization that I cannot say enough good things about. That place is Cornerstone of Hope - a special place of support for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

This is a summary of my extremely personal story that I am about to share publicly for the 1st time to a mass audience. July 18th will be 2 years that my mom left this life to be with the Lord. Leaving me at 39 years old, I found myself now without any parents, losing my mom, my rock, my best friend and roomie, the person who loved me and who knew me better than anyone else ever will in this lifetime, the kindest most loving, unselfish, wonderful person you can image, is gone from my life forever. The weeks following my mother’s sudden death, I was lost, grieving, dealing with everything an executor deals with, going through a horrible personal relationship breakup, a job transition, interviews, financial worries, comforting other family members, all at the same time trying to survive each day, find peace, wellness, a focus and to feel "normal" again. I have truly never felt so alone and I didn’t know where to go to find any comfort or understanding for all that I was going through, someone who understood grief, loss and the kind of pain I was in.

One day a few weeks after mom's passing, a woman at my gym struck up a conversation with me and I broke into tears about my mom. I had never seen this woman before and I had been a member for 8 years at my gym. She hugged me and told me about a wonderful place called Cornerstone of Hope. I had never heard of it before. So I decided to contact them immediately following our conversation. I applied that very night for entry into the grief program that would be starting shortly there after.

After the application process to get into the Cornerstone programs, I was invited into a group counseling session with a small group of other people who were going through similar grief. I was blown away by the kindness shown by everyone who worked or volunteered at Cornerstone and I knew then that I found an absolute treasure and place of hope and kindness- something really special. I cannot express enough how much I looked forward to going to Cornerstone for the group sessions, personalized one-to-one grief healing sessions and for all the wonderful events I was invited to take part in including a Christmas Candlelight Ceremony that honored my mother, a Butterfly Release, a women’s pampering day and so much more. I felt so comforted and I just can’t tell you how much it helped me though my healing process. I had no idea we had this kind of resource in northeast Ohio. I wish I had this when my dad died when I was 23. It could have helped me so much.

I still grieve every day in some way and have learned that grief is forever. I grieve my dad who died from Pancreatic Cancer when I was 23 and for my mom, who was left a widow and lived for her girls (and her 6 month old triplet grand babies) up until her very last breath almost two years ago. Now I take comfort knowing that both of my parents are reunited together. I long to have just one more conversation, hug and a kiss from them. I now more so than ever cherish my time - it is the most valuable thing that we have- we can never get back or get more of. I wish I had more time with both of my parents. I was cheated. I never got to have an adult relationship with my dad, and I will never have either of them at monumental days in my life to come or just to hear them say I love you again. It changed holidays, birthdays it changed everything, most of all daily life. Permanently, forever and way too soon.

What I found at Cornerstone was such a treasure and a rare gift that we have in the Cleveland area. So it made sense as I was looking to volunteer my time with an organization, that I come back to the very place that showed me such kindness and helped me begin on my journey through healing and grief.

I went to the Cornerstone volunteer orientation this week, met the volunteer coordinator and I am so excited to help at events or wherever else that I may be needed. It feels right and good and God has a plan. I am doing what He wants me to do.

I also created the logo for myself with the cross, the heart, halo and the angel wings that you see in the picture to represent my parents and God and I am putting it on any articles that I create where I am doing something with my God given talents for others. It represents the honor I have for my parents and for God.

This week, I also got a call from a friend of a friend who has asked me to become a board member for his non profit organization to help him create awareness for another great cause...Autism which we know so little about. God is good and he is working through me, guiding me to do the work he wants me to do. Good things are beginning to happen in my life and he is finally bringing in good people to surround myself with. I am excited at what lies ahead in his plans for me, one day at a time, but I can't wait for the road ahead. God Bless. ~ Shannon

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