In 2018, Omega's housekeeping manager, Cindy Campbell, went through one of the most devastating experiences a parent can live through: the loss of a child.
Cindy had returned to Omega for her 7th season and was just getting started on preparing the campus to open when she received news that her daughter, Desiree Diane Bojara, had passed.
Cindy went home to Florida for several weeks, and when she returned to Omega, she says she was grateful for the immense support and love she received from her coworkers.
But then Mother’s Day arrived.
“When you lose a child, it doesn’t matter their age. You can’t understand until you go through it, but you have a need to be around others. I had this deep longing to be with other mothers,” she said. “I realized, 'I need to do something for next Mother’s Day—I can’t make it through another one like this.'”
Creating a Wider Base of Support
With the support of her boss and other Omega staff, Cindy began to pull together a free Mother's Day weekend retreat for bereaved moms for the following year.
She called it Desiree’s Gathering, and with the assistance of Helping Parents Heal, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting bereaved parents with support and resources to aid in the healing process, she brought together 20 other grieving moms from across the country for a weekend of fellowship and self-care. Omega provided the classroom as well as meals and accommodations for all the participants.
Chris Lowe, the Florida brand ambassador for O Magazine andalso a bereaved mom, opened the weekend with a talk to the group Friday night. Medium Colleen Smith did a presentation about understanding and interpreting signs from loved ones who have passed. Judith Hancox, a licensed therapist and trauma specialist, led a healing circle for the group.
Four psychic mediums—Jake Samoyedny, Colleen Smith, Britta Grubin, and Ana Reluzco—offered 30-minute private readings to participants.
Time for self-care was also built into the weekend. Each mom received a 30-minute massage and a restorative yoga class.
“Medium Lisa Williams was on campus that weekend, and when she heard about what we were doing, she offered to do a gallery reading for us that Saturday night, which was amazing,” Cindy said.
All of the teachers and presenters offered their services for free, at Cindy's request.
“The worst thing in my life happened, so I wasn’t afraid of rejection anymore,” Cindy remarked about asking professionals to participate in the weekend for free. “People really responded, and it was awesome.”
The moms also received gift bags with copies of Paula Stephen’s book From Grief to Growth, greeting cards from a local artist, and special flower pins made for them by Omega staff member Jean LaPlante.
A Weekend of Important Healing Moments
Cindy said that during the weekend all the moms had what she called "a moment.”
One of the moms lost her son at age 18 after he had just received his drivers’ license and had a head-on collision with a tree. Trees were a big thing for her, and she was not very far along in the grief process. As she was walking on campus, she noticed someone who was working on a tree painting and admired his work. After the talk on receiving signs, she went back and he was still there. They talked for a bit, and he was so moved by her story that he gave her the painting.
Cindy’s “moment” was the whole weekend, but she also felt a particular outpouring of love on Sunday morning. She organized a Mother’s Day brunch for everyone and said it felt like the first time she could relax for a minute.
“I walked into a room of 20 women laughing, talking, and eating,” she said. “Look at us! A room of bereaved mothers—supported and happy in each other’s company. I’m not curled up in bed and bawling like last year.”
She said what she learned most from hosting this event was that the way you heal yourself is to help other’s heal.
“Everyone kept saying it’s awesome what you are doing, but it was so good for me personally,” Cindy said. “I’ll never spend another Mother’s Day alone.”