published in the Davis Enterprise on February 17, 2013
Frank Marrero and his family know about coping with loss. Eight years ago, his 19-year old son died by suicide related to steroid use. Five months ago, his 49-year old wife, mother of his three children, and love of his life died of cancer. Frank is doing his best to be strong for his 25-year old daughter and 9-year old son.
[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”right” cite=”Frank Marrero”]We’ve had so much loss in such a short time, I knew we needed help. I knew we had a long road to recovery. My wife’s doctor recommended Yolo Hospice’s Bereavement Services to us.[/pullquote2]
“We’ve had so much loss in such a short time,” said Marrero. “I knew we needed help. I knew we had a long road to recovery. My wife’s doctor recommended Yolo Hospice’s Bereavement Services to us.”
Marrero’s daughter, Erika, is a graduate student working towards a degree in psychology. She accesses grief resources through Yolo Hospice’s Bereavement Services and her school. Son, Ethyn, began attending the Yolo Hospice’s Stepping Stones children’s group program in October. There Ethyn can freely express his thoughts and feelings through art and play, including, puppets, a sand tray, costumes, drawing, clay work, and construction toys. The tools and activities used are all carefully chosen to enable children like Ethyn to explore what is most troubling to them.
“For Ethyn to have a group of children of similar age and similar situations has been a great benefit to him,” said Marrero. “Now he knows he is not alone in his grief. Others have gone through the same thing. The Stepping Stones program has been a tremendous help.”
[pullquote2 quotes=”true” align=”left” cite=”Frank Marrero”]For Ethyn to have a group of children of similar age and similar situations has been a great benefit to him. Now he knows he is not alone in his grief. [/pullquote2]
While Ethyn is in the Stepping Stones group, Marrero goes across the hall to a group for adults, which is held simultaneously. Marrero says it is wonderful to be able to talk about his grief and pain. He also believes it helps him to hear the stories of other people. Some people in the groups are in different places in their grief and can say, “I was there. You’ll get through it.” Others tell him they still grieve deeply though it has been years since their loved one’s death. For Marrero, this is information to help him process his grief, reassurance that he can cope, and affirmation that everyone grieves differently.
“I was experiencing tremendous pain and anxiety,” said Marrero. “I didn’t think anyone could help me—no pill, no doctor, not my children. As I began to talk one-on-one with bereavement specialists and in group sessions, those overwhelming feelings started to subside, and I had hope again. It is an on-going process, but as far as I’m concerned, it is working.”
The Yolo Hospice Bereavement Services are a resource to those coping with the pain and other emotions resulting from the death of a loved one. There are many options open to those seeking assistance. There are support group meetings held regularly and one-on-one contact with a grief specialist is possible. The Barbara Frankel Memorial Library offers books, DVDs and CDs on many grief related subjects. Those items are available to check out by anyone in the community. Marrero is a fervent believer that seeking assistance, through whatever resource is right for you, is a sign of strength not weakness.
[pullquote2 align=”right” cite=”-Frank Marrero “]It takes courage to speak up and say ‘I’m hurting, I need help.’ It is a sign of strength to say those words and accept help.[/pullquote2]
“It takes courage to speak up and say ‘I’m hurting, I need help,’” said Marrero. “It is a sign of strength to say those words and accept help. I’m confident I’m setting a good example for my children to know, now and in their future, it is OK to seek and receive assistance when you need it. I’m becoming a stronger person for my family and community.”
Marrero is taking other positive steps in his life to remember his loved ones. He continues the foundation he and his wife began after their elder son’s death. The foundation educates teens about the dangers of steroid use and suicide. In addition, he’ll be participating in Relay for Life this summer in his wife’s honor and sponsoring a golf tournament later in the year to raise funds for both cancer research and the foundation.
The Stepping Stones program groups are held every Thursday evening. Children (12 and under) and teens (13-17 years old) meet on alternate Thursdays. Children can enter the groups at any time, but all children and teens must pre-register. Adult grief services are available on a drop-in basis or through specialized groups. For more information or to register, please call 530-601-5756 or visit the our events page.