NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - November is Children’s Grief Awareness Month, and Thursday, Nov. 19 is Children’s Grief Awareness Day.
The Ramos family from Newport News is remembering Chucky Ramos, 19, as a loving son and brother.
“He was sweet,” said Rosalis Ramos, Chucky’s mother. “Family was everything to him.”
November marks four years since the Ramos family was involved in a car crash that took Chucky’s life over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Rosalis Ramos said she was worried about how she and her husband, Alfredo, would cope with losing their son but was especially concerned about how her children would be able to deal with the devastating loss of their brother.
“I didn’t know how I was going to be there for the kids as a mom,” she said. “I lost my parents when I was young and I kind of held that in because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want that for them.”
She turned to KIDZ’NGRIEF, a bereavement program at Bon Secours designed for kids and teens between the ages of three and 18. The goal is to provide a safe environment and help each child adjust to their loss.
Chucky’s three sisters Lexi, 11; Roxie, 12; and Foxy, 15, have all found comfort in the program.
Foxy, who was just 11 at the time, said the program allowed her to talk through the pain of losing her brother.
“It helped me a lot because usually, like mom said, we’re usually quiet, or I’m usually quiet,” she said. “After a few meetings, more and more as I was going to them, I got a lot more comfortable and I was able to share more because it made me realize I’m not the only one going through this.”
Beth Pile started KIDZ’NGRIEF at Bon Secours 20 years ago. She now continues her work as a volunteer.
“We want people to be able to mourn,” Pile said. “Get their grief out, be able to heal through the loss of someone significant in their lives.”
The program is continuing to support kids virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the holidays fast approaching, they want them to know they’re not alone.
“Do things that they will think of that keeps the memory alive: Setting a place at the table; putting a candle in the plate; lighting a candle somewhere; make a memory box,” Pile said. “Don’t let this holiday go by and think you’re going to be OK if you just ignore it. We’re here to share and help you mourn, so don’t grieve alone.”
The Ramos family writes notes and releases balloons in memory of Chucky. Perhaps the most meaningful tribute has to do with a book Chucky’s mother gave to him as a gift called, "God’s Promises for Men."
“This was the book he was reading, the last book he was reading,” Rosalis Ramos said.
She said the book of quotes and short stories made Chucky decide he wanted to become a firefighter. He was reading it right before the crash in November 2016.
This Thanksgiving, like every Thanksgiving, the Ramos family will be reading it for him.
“We go to the tree of where the accident happened and we read a verse in the book, take turns reading and that’s one of the ways we remember him,” said Rosalis Ramos.
The Ramos said they’ve come a long way and are continuing to heal through the KIDZ’NGRIEF program.
For more information about the pediatric bereavement program, call 757-737-2287, or click here.