Mending Hearts Program for Grieving Children, Teens and Families
Restoring family balance one child, one teen, one family at a time.
- Companions on a Journey’s (COJ) Mending Hearts Program for Grieving Children is a faith based “ongoing” grief support program offering a safe and nurturing environment for all children ages 3 – 18 and their families who have experienced a death.
- When a death takes place in a family, the family becomes unbalanced. COJ’s Mending Hearts Program assists families to restore family balance. While addressing the parents and guardian needs, we work to assist them to look through the eyes of their children - to see their children’s needs and to show them how their responses impact their children’s lives.
- Restoring family balance helps children and families to find hope, strength and healing surrounded by love and support.
- For information about this program Contact Sheila@companionsonajourney.org or call 513-870-9108
A special story, bravely written and shared by one of our young Mending Hearts participants...
By LilyMae Pieniazek
This is my life. This is my story.
I have not always liked the way my story was made. Some people might like it and others might not, but it is mine. I think that my story is encouraging, impactful and most of all unique. I want to start this story with my little brother’s first birthday. I am going to skip over some fun years and start this story when I was six. Now I am nine.
December 2015 Daddy and I took a mission trip to Africa. Daddy and I felt like God wanted us to go back to Africa someday. I felt like this was what God wanted us to do. Daddy and I always planned to go back to Africa together.
April 30, 2016 was my little brother’s first birthday. His name is Ever James Pieniazek. His name comes from Psalms. It says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. For His love endures forever.”
I was at Bubbub and Pappy’s house (my grandparent’s), so I was not able to participate in his party. But I saw the funny video of Mommy when everyone was singing happy birthday to Ever and she blew out his candle and he started crying. Then she lit the candle again and he was happy, but he started crying again. It was very funny.
Ever’s birthday party was the last time that he got to see Daddy.
May 1, 2016 Daddy woke up to go to work early in the morning and my little sister was sleeping on a mattress next to Mommy and Daddy’s bed. He rubbed Mommy on the shoulder and asked her if she wanted Zoey in the bed with her, and mommy said yes. Mommy told Daddy, “Thank you for working so hard for our family. Have a great day at work.” Daddy then got dressed, went downstairs, and wrote a note that Maisy, our dog, was not fed and that he loved us. He left to go to the firehouse on his motorcycle, but he never made it to work.
After Mommy finished nursing Ever around 8 o'clock am, there was a knock at the door. Mommy went downstairs to see who it was and she could see through the peephole in the door that it was Mr. Brett, daddys Firehouse lieutenant and the Chief of the Fire Department.
- Bubbub and Mommy answered the door, and Mommy put her hand on Bubbubs cheek, and said “I am going to have a talk with them but we are going to be okay.”. They both knew that something was wrong. Mr. Brett asked Mommy if there was someplace else that us kids ( Zoey, Ever, Macy (our cousin) and I) could go. Bubbub was in town, so we went to Mcdonalds while Mommy, Mr. Brett and the Chief stayed at home.
When we got home from Mcdonald’s, I saw some cars parked in our driveway. We went inside, and everyone was...crying. Zoey and I walked over to Mommy, and she asked us to sing “This is the Day the Lord has Made”. She said, LillyMae (Mom was still crying), your daddy was on his way to work and there was an accident and daddy is now with Jesus. I sat down on the coffee table, and thought about what she had said. Zoey then asked “Is daddy coming home”? Mommy told Zoey “No, daddy will not be coming home”. Then it hit me, and I started crying. The very first thing I said was “But daddy and I were supposed to go back to Africa”. Mommy told me that we would try our best to go back to Africa.
A few days after Daddys accident, Bubbub asked Mom if she could get Zoey and me dresses for the funeral. Mommy said that she would love for us to have white twirly dresses. So Zoey, Bubbub, and I went in search of those white twirly dresses. We went into the Tri-County Mall, and the lady told us that there was a evening gown/bridal dress store down the hall. We went down the hall, and from the outside it looked like it was just adult clothing. We went in anyway, and Zoey and I found some fancy purses to distract us while Bubs went and talked to a lady named Barbara Ann. Bubbub and Barbara Ann were talking about Daddy, and Barbara was very sad for us. Bubbub then asked her if they carry kids dresses and she said no. She said that there was a woman in the back that could help us on our mission to find the white twirly dresses. The woman came out from the back of the store. Her name was Jessica. Jessica said that it was odd, but her daughter was suppose to be in a wedding. She had picked up dresses, and found that neither of the dressed fit her daughter. She had just not returned them yet. Jessica ran out to her car, and came back in with two white twirly dresses! Zoey and I tried them on, and they fit PERFECTLY! This was truly a miracle in how God will supply us with what we need!
The day of Daddy's celebration of life was a hard one. There were people crying, and talking, and it was sad. In fact, I could not imagine how anything in my life would ever make me more sad. After the funeral, we had cookies and milk, (because that was Daddy’s favorite treat!)
2017 All of 2017 was tough. And I felt...well it is safe to say...unsafe. It was hard waking up and not hearing Daddys motorcycle come into the driveway, and then not running down stairs and giving him a hug. I just HATED that he had died. May 1 was the hardest day of the year, because that was the day that he died. Although, my birthday was rough also. Daddy was not there to celebrate it with me. And it was not like Mommy and Daddy divorced, where I had a party at moms house and then I went over to dads house. No, Daddy was gone... FOREVER.
2017 was also the year that mommy and Jake (I now call him dad) started dating. That was an amazing and fun adventure for all of us! Jake came over almost every day, and that was really fun! But at the same time it was kind of hard, because for me, it was hard thinking that a new man was coming into our life.
May 4th 2018 was the day that Jake told me that he was going to propose to mommy! I think that I felt like I was in a dream. It was also hard because in a way, I didn't like the fact that a new man was coming into our life.
May 6th 2018 was the day that Jake asked Mommy to marry him. We had a surprise party for Mommy and Jake, at Aunt Kris and Uncle Mike’s house! I thought that it was very fun. When Mommy and Jake came in the door and everyone shouted surprise, Ever started crying because it was too loud for him. I thought that was funny, but I also felt bad for him at the same time. When we went home, I was basically smiling the whole way. I felt so good inside because we had dad coming into our life.
August 4th 2018 was the day that mommy and dad got married. Zoey and I were mommys maids of honor and Ever was the ring bearer! Just as we were coming out of the house, it kind-of felt a little...well...sad that mom was getting married again. We walked down the aisle, and it was a little bit hard for me, just because I missed daddy a lot. Mommy and Dad then said their vows, and mommys face looked like she was constipated or something but really she was in awe of what dad was saying. After the vows, they exchanged the rings and then they kissed. After they kissed all of us ran back down the aisle, and then we were a FAMILY!
When I Moved
We moved in November, and that was a big thing for me. I mean, I lived in Cincinnati for nine years and I had great friends that lived minutes away from me, and the neighbors were so very amazing. So when we moved, I kinda felt like I started a whole new life. It was hard for me and we have good friends here, but I just miss the people that we used to live near. Sometimes when people say “We're Going to Pass by the Old House”, I just want to say “IT IS NOT MY OLD HOUSE”! In a way, I still live their, not actually but in my mind I try and imagine that I live on Edgewater.
These are my thoughts from the past few years. If I had to tell the people who are reading this one thing, it would be that when you have darkness and you feel like you will never see the sun again, there is hope. This quote from C.S Lewis has helped me a lot to see the sun again. It says “There are Far Better Things Ahead, Than we Ever Leave Behind”. And I think that is true.
Thank you so very much to mommy, Baby Pea, and Nana for helping me write this story about my life! I do not know what I would do without you all. Love you!!!
Also, I want to thank Companions on a Journey, for posting this story online for me! You all have helped me so very much with losing daddy. I hope you keep helping people like me with their grief. Thank you again!