Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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May 16, 2014

One Day at a Time

No one can really understand the unfathomable pain experienced by a parent who loses a child, except another parent who has been there. Even therapists, counselors, who have had years of training and book knowledge can’t quite understand unless they’ve been in those shoes.

For that reason, Serena Mahoney and Jenny Henson began a support group for bereaved parents. It is also open to grandparents and siblings. It meets the second Tuesday of each month, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Harmony Christian Ministries, 1816 W. Second Ave.

Many are aware of the tragic passing of Kinsler Davis on May 8, 2013. Not quite 3, there was an accident with a gun and he died from his injuries after being transported to Dallas. Serena Mahoney is Kinsler’s mother, his father is Chris Davis.

Henson is a licensed counselor, who works as a school counselor for Rice Independent School District. Her story started April 6, 2003 when her 5-year-old daughter perished in a car accident. Her 4-year-old was critically injured, with a brain injury, broken femur, hip and pelvic bone, and ultimately lost a kidney. Her surviving daughter would remain in a coma for nearly three months, but at the time of the accident, there was confusion about which girl had perished. Henson (who was not involved in the accident) was rushed to Dallas to the hospital where the girls were taken.

“She was so swollen, I had to identify which one was dead by the color of her toenails, because I had painted them both the night before,” Henson said.

Her surviving daughter is now 15, and has regained use of all her body except one hand, but is working on that through softball. Henson was interested when Mahoney first contacted her about a group.

“Jenny had met with me right after Kinsler’s accident,” Mahoney said. “I told her I had been attending a group in Dallas, but it was hard to get there. I wanted to start a group, but my grief was too fresh, too raw. Jenny was more seasoned in her grief.”

Henson’s father is Tony Stephens, pastor of Harmony Christian Ministries, and it was he and God and her church family who got her through her time of greatest grief.

Mahoney recently passed the one-year anniversary of Kinsler’s accident. It was a date she’d dreaded for a good while, but when it came, she found she had amazing support.

“I slept late, and when I got up and checked Facebook, there were so many messages encouraging me, lifting me up, people praying for me ... and I’m the kind of person who wants to respond to every single one,” she said.

She spent a good part of the day busy responding to all the messages, but also spent some time at the cemetery, where she had a good cry.

Mahoney and Henson both agreed that after their losses, they stopped wearing makeup because it was pointless.

“You cry every single day,” Mahoney said.

But they are both determined the grief support group will make a difference. Mahoney still attends occasional meetings in Dallas to get good ideas.

“We are constantly looking for guidance because we are both brand new at this,” Henson said. “We are constantly searching the Internet for lessons, activities, pamphlets.

“When Serena met me the first time, it was because she wanted to see how she would be 10 years later. And you still have your breakdowns — just not as often.”

Harmony Christian Ministries offers counseling for siblings who are younger than teens, and siblings teenage and up are welcome in the group. There is free child care and refreshments.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a photo of their child or a memento, so the others can feel a sense of kinship. The mission of the group is “to provide support, comfort and hope to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.”

A Christian-based group, it is supported solely by volunteers and donations. The verse they claim is “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds,” Psalm 147:3.

“People don’t have to talk or share, nobody is pushed to open up, or put on the spot,” Mahoney said. “It’s good to sit and listen, observe. See how others are that are further along in the grief process.”

“We don’t just cry and weep — we also laugh and share good memories, and celebrate anniversaries,” Henson said.

For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer, contact Jenny Henson at (903) 654-9147, or Serena Mahoney at (903) 229-8835.

“Nobody can understand totally what you’re going through except those who have been in those shoes,” Mahoney said. “My faith and talking to others about Kinsler is what has helped me survive.”

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