My name is Laurette. In 2009 I had three children under seven. And a husband with cancer.
Cancer. The “C” word was not new to us. My husband George was diagnosed with a brain tumor years earlier, before we started our family.
At first they told us that he had a year to live.
But a year passed, and George got better, not worse. The surgery was effective and he defied the odds. Doctors, family and friends encouraged us to get on with our lives. So we did.
We took steps toward the big, beautiful life we had planned for ourselves. We bought a house, we got pregnant and we welcomed our baby boy, Brett, into the world.
As time passed and George’s health stayed strong we welcomed two more babies, Gillian and Claire, and settled into life as a family of five.
Then it happened. We got the call that the cancer was back. This time it was inoperable. George wasn’t going to get better.
George passed away in June 2009. My kids were 7, 5 and 3.
I don’t remember much from that summer. But I do remember Heather, a coworker from Lions Gate Hospital where I worked as a nurse. Heather approached me and invited us to Camp Kerry.
I remember Heather saying to me, “I think you need to come to Camp.”
We arrived at Camp Kerry dazed, with eleven other families, each still raw from their own devastating personal loss.
A volunteer named Eleanor met me as I arrived. I was overwhelmed and exhausted, part of me wanted to turn around and run. She whisked away my kids and gave me a sweet and rare moment alone to collect my thoughts: this moment of relief was the first step on my 10-year journey with Camp Kerry.
Since 2009 we haven’t missed a year at Camp Kerry’s annual Family Retreat. We come to heal and to connect as a family. We come to remember George. And we come to help others.
I’m not sure where my kids would be without your support of Camp Kerry – I’d rather not think about it. This community has provided stability, compassion and a family of peers and mentors that we would not have found elsewhere.
You might think that Camp Kerry sounds like a sad place.
But let me tell you: this is the best place.
Yes, there is sadness. But there is so much joy and hope. There is happiness and friendship that rejuvenates you like nothing else can. When I go home, I feel like I can do anything again.
Your donation to Camp Kerry will ensure that grieving families can continue to access this vital community next year. I am tremendously grateful that my family had access to Camp Kerry when we needed it most. I know that not every grieving child has the support system they need.
In fact, 20% of teen suicide attempts are committed by teens who have experienced a personal loss. Grief can destroy a child’s mental and emotional health. And ultimately their future.
But, grief can also create kind, empathetic and resilient young people. When children are cared for with compassion and given a chance to work through their grief in a community that is equipped with understanding and experience, they can thrive.
I know this because my three teenagers impress me every day with how thoughtfully they treat others and how confident they are in the face of a challenge. These are strengths they have earned on their journey with grief.
Please consider a donation to Camp Kerry today. With your generosity, you can surround grieving children with the compassionate community they need to grow into healthy, resilient adults.
You can also give by mailing a cheque to 145 East Columbia Street New Westminster, BC V3L 3W2. Please make cheques payable to Camp Kerry Society.