Family Finds Healing After Infant Loss
Nicole Garman knew that traditional therapy wasn’t going to alleviate the grieving process of her 11-year-old son, Richard, who lost his baby brother George to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in January 2010. That’s why she was relieved when she came across a camp that offered a unique approach to helping children cope with death.
“I tripped over the Comfort Zone Camp webpage and thought Wow, this is exactly what I’m looking for,” Nicole said.
Richard’s two younger brothers, 5 year old Joshua and 3 year old Michael, suffer from rare mitochondrial illnesses. As the oldest sibling, Richard has developed a strong sense of leadership that often makes him neglect his own feelings in order to remain strong for the people around him.
“Richard is a leader, and he has to comfort everyone. He never wants to be helped even though he needs to be,” Nicole said.
Comfort Zone Camp finally gave Richard the opportunity to open up about the loss of his brother without feeling that he was burdening others. For the first time, Richard realized that he was not alone in his struggle and that there were people out there who genuinely understood what he was going through. This idea of understanding was not only felt by Richard, but also by the rest of his family.
At the parents’ dinner the first night of camp, Nicole noticed that most of the adults shared a common concern about their children. “One theme across the board was that our kids wouldn’t talk to us about their loss,” said Nicole. “It didn’t make a difference if they lost a parent, sibling, or uncle, they just weren’t talking to us. Once they came home from camp, they finally opened up and had the ability to communicate.”
Nicole feels that many barriers existed in their family before Richard went to camp. Richard’s camp experience helped to eliminate these barriers and strengthen communication at home.
“Comfort Zone Camp bridged that gap between all of us so that we’re no longer off in our own individual worlds. It let us figure out how to make sense of this new sort of life,” Nicole said. “It not only help Richard, but it helped the whole family.
On the way home from camp, Richard turned to his mom and asked if they could hold a fundraiser for Comfort Zone Camp. In order to give back to the organization, the Garman family held a benefit brunch on what would have been George’s first birthday.
“I did it because it was someone else’s generosity that made it possible for my son to attend the camp. Had someone not stepped up to raise the funds, or volunteer, Richard wouldn’t have been able to attend,” Nicole said.
The Garman family has faced their fair share of hardship, but it gives them peace of mind to know that Comfort Zone Camp is a safe haven that they can always turn to for help. Although Richard has only been to one camp, he intends to stay on board for the long haul.
“He’s a natural-born leader, and has already talked about becoming a camp counselor one day,” Nicole said. “It will be with him for life.”