Women devastated by the violent death of loved ones gave the gift of support in the “crucial” Christmas period.
Mothers on a Mission Bermuda held its first community support event in the run-up to what can be the most difficult time of year for grieving families.
Nicole Fox, whose son, Ricco Furbert, was shot dead in 2013, said it was important for the group to hold its public event before Christmas to cater for people struggling during the festive season.
She explained: “This time of year is very crucial for families, not just moms, but dads also.
“Always around the holiday time is the hardest. That’s when we gather together as families, so we definitely feel the loss and the gap of one person missing.”
Ms Fox said there were “some breakthroughs” for women who attended and advice on ways to cope with their emotions.
They were also given contact details for Ms Fox and a counsellor.
She added: “Hopefully, they left feeling a lot lighter and knowing that it’s going to be OK and that they can get through.”
The group was set up last year to help tackle the fallout from gun crime and violence on the island.
Its six core members meet every week and said they wanted to extend the support to others through an open meeting held last Thursday.
The session was expected to be the first of many to be held across the island.
Ms Fox said the sixth anniversary of Ricco’s death was next month and the festive and new year periods were always painful.
She added: “Some Christmases, I just feel like the minute December comes I just want to go to sleep and wake up when it’s February, but unfortunately that’s not how it works.”
Ms Fox said: “In the beginning, it was like, ‘he’s not sitting across the table from me’. You see an empty seat or don’t hear a ‘Merry Christmas, Mama’.
“There are a lot of big gaps … but each year, with God’s strength and God’s help, I am able to manage it much better.”
She said support from family and friends, as well as counselling, had helped her get through tough times and she was now better equipped to cope.
Mom Bermuda, backed by the Government, was designed to provide a safe forum for women to express grief and speak to experts.
Ms Fox said that, although the group focused on support, it could also help prevent violence.
She explained: “If we’ve got an angry, unforgiving parent in the house, that’s very heavy. The choices that your children will make will probably be a little different.”
Ms Fox said that if heads of households were supported and able to deal with their emotions, that was more likely to “trickle down” to their families.
She is also part of a crisis response team and visited the family of the island’s most recent gun death victim, 33-year-old Paul Johnson, in the aftermath of the tragedy a week ago.
Ms Fox said: “The family is devastated. The mom of Paul, she did mention that just seeing me was a relief to her.
“She said that once she saw me walk in the room, she knew she would be able to get through this.”
Ceble Crockwell, the sister of Cup Match and Bermuda cricketer Fiqre Crockwell, who was shot dead in 2016, is another Mom Bermuda member and testified to its benefits.
Ms Crockwell said she was “angry, ready to fight, losing sleep” before she was counselled and her state of mind had now changed.
She added: “I was against counselling. When I started, I said, ‘no counselling is going to be able to help me at all’.
“Then I took advice from others; they said, ‘just go once’ and I swear by my counsellor now, she’s awesome.”
Ms Crockwell explained: “The worst thing is having to explain your story but we go to the meetings and everyone’s on the same page.
“The women that are home behind closed doors, I know their biggest fear is having to come out in public — ‘that’s so-and-so’s mother or sister’.
“But when you’re in a room with people of the same experience, it’s like a family you didn’t know you needed.”
Ms Crockwell said people sometimes approached her in the street for help and that she appreciated it when people looked to her for comfort.
She added that the group hoped to offer more meetings open to all women — including sisters, aunts, grandmothers and daughters — in different parts of the island, perhaps as regularly as once a month.
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