Grief support was key to mother’s journey after the loss of her son

Pathways of Hope grief counselor Bonnie Orlins (Image provided by Ohio's Hospice of Dayton)
Pathways of Hope grief counselor Bonnie Orlins (Image provided by Ohio's Hospice of Dayton)

Pathways of Hope grief counseling is available to anyone

Life for Judy Stockert O’Rourke changed forever on April 10, 2011. She was sitting on her front porch at her farm in Lebanon, enjoying the beautiful spring day, when she received a call from her son Shawn’s daughter, Lindsay. Lindsay told Judy that Shawn had been killed in a traffic accident. A driver had gone over the yellow line, hitting Shawn’s motorcycle head-on.

“My heart broke in two. Nothing – nothing – prepares you for this,” Judy said.

Judy thought she could work through the grief herself. “But six months after Shawn’s death, I realized I wasn’t doing much better,” she admits. “After a while, people get tired of hearing about your loss.”

She happened to see the website for Ohio's Hospice of Dayton and read how their Pathways of Hope Grief Counseling Center offers many options to help Hospice families and anyone else coping with a loss.

“I never needed counseling before, but when I saw they offered one-on-one counseling, I thought I would at least try to see if it would help,” Judy said.

Judy began sessions with Pathways of Hope grief counselor Bonnie Orlins. Although Judy wasn’t expecting positive results, she says what happened in sessions with Bonnie was “phenomenal.”

“By far, Bonnie has been one of the most influential people in my life,” Judy said. “She gave me the tools I needed to cope with the loss of Shawn.”

Unfortunately, Judy needed Bonnie even more when her husband passed away two years after Shawn. “But I have gotten through it, with Bonnie’s help, the love from my family, and lots and lots of prayer,” Judy said.

Free counseling services for all

"Pathways of Hope provides a wide range of services to the community, all at no charge, thanks to our supporters," said Bonnie. "Our counselors, social workers and an art therapist have significant experience and expertise in journeying with grieving children, adolescents, and adults."

One-on-one counseling sessions are available by appointment. Many times, just one session can provide adequate information for the griever to feel they are processing grief normally. For Judy, it was a two-year process.

Grief support groups provide a much-needed bridge over the difficult days, weeks and months following a loss. A general grief support group is offered for anyone who has had a loss, plus specific groups are for people who have experienced a sudden loss, or the loss of a spouse, parent, or adult child.

Pathways of Hope also provides school-based programs and "Art Forever After," an art-based group for family members of all ages. Camp Pathways is an overnight summer camp for youths aged 7-17 who have experienced the death of a loved one.

The phone call from Judy's granddaughter changed her life. So did the phone call Judy made to Pathways of Hope. "Pathways of Hope made all the difference in the world," said Judy. "Grief is a process, and I needed help going through mine."