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Phone: (310) 459-1789
Email: hope@griefHaven.org

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Portrait of Hope
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Character Counts
Living a Life After
Losing a Child

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Erika Whitmore
Erika Whitmore Godwin

       My name is Susan Whitmore, and I am deeply sorry for your loss. I, too, know the pain of losing a child.

In 2001, my only child, Erika Whitmore Godwin, was diagnosed with a rare sinus tumor. One year later, despite every effort, Erika died. The painful and difficult journey I began exceeded anything I could have imagined. Only with perseverance and the hope I received from friends and other parents who had lost a child was I able to make it through each day.

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I'll never, ever forget the day we stood in the hallway at UCLA Hospital. Our beloved oncologist told us that Erika's tumor was not responding to the chemo, and she was stopping it. As she walked down the hallway looking back at us with her eyes full of tears, we all stood there, not capable of understanding what that meant, what she had just really said, or what we were supposed to do next, even though they had already contacted Hospice and made all of the arrangements. Once Erika died, I was beside myself, and I didn't know what to do with my body. I thought I was going out of my mind.

       It was all I could do to get out of bed every day. I knew I had to do something to help myself, but I had no idea what was available or how to even begin. Even when I heard about a specific organization or support tool, I wondered whether or not other parents found it helpful. Where does a grieving parent or family member go at a time like this?

       As I began my personal journey, I discovered there were many support tools, but they were scattered everywhere, and finding them was a painstakingly arduous process. Most of the web sites talked about their own organizations and what they offered. I needed one place where I could learn about a variety of support tools available and, ideally, what other grieving parents and family members found helpful as well. It was then I decided I would put together that web site--a grief haven--where parents, siblings, family members, friends, and specialists could come and find all that was available. I envisioned including not only all available support groups and organizations, but also other forms of support parents had previously discovered.   

         So griefHaven, a private hideaway for you, came to life. This is one place where you will find a broad spectrum of currently available support tools--a foundation from which you may start rebuilding your life. This is your haven, and it is through your ideas, input, sharing, and participation that we will continue to grow and upgrade this site. So please let us know whenever you hear about anything that we should add.

         My prayer is that somehow, some way, the word will eventually circle the globe, and griefHaven will become one place where those who are grieving can regularly come, sit down, and privately find strength, hope, comfort, and love.

       The key to surviving this is HOPE. For if those who are suffering the horrific pain of losing a child see that others before them have gone on to build purposeful and meaningful lives, then they have the hope that they, too, can do the same.

       As a few examples of support available, you will find a free newsletter, our amazing and professional video entitled "Portraits of Hope," a chat room for you to meet and talk with others, our beautiful Grief Pin, memory gifts and ideas for parents and others, and much, much more.

        We are parents who are traveling this unwanted path of grieving the loss of our children. None of us want to be here. Whether your child was with you for fifteen minutes or 50 years, the end result is the same. Your beloved child is gone, and now you are left to pick up the pieces and go on.    

       We are here to show you some of the ways, to let you know that you are never alone, and, if you will allow, to walk with you as you traverse this path. If you look carefully, you will see that there are many footprints on the path in front of you. So please come here often and try different approaches offered, whether it be contacting a support group, talking to another parent, or purchasing the video. At some point, you will find the tools that work for you, and that will be the greatest reward you could possibly give yourself.

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