Jane Bell of Merrick tragically lost her daughter, Jennifer, in 2009, but like many parents who’ve had to bury their children, she found comfort through the COPE Foundation (Connecting Our Paths Eternally).
The Roslyn-based nonprofit grief organization is dedicated to supporting families living with the loss of a child. Jane, a COPE Foundation board member, found support in her meetings with other parents who had experienced the same trauma.
“You realize that you thought that this was the worst thing that could ever happen, and it is, but these people understand,” she says. “I wasn’t alone.”
Lillian Julien founded the organization in 1996, four years after her daughter, Michelle, passed, meeting informally with other parents who’d lost a child. They gathered in the comfort and safety of each other’s homes sharing their grief. The organization grew, offering facilitated groups and additional programs until officially recognized as a nonprofit in 1999.
Today, the COPE Foundation serves more than 1,000 families across Long Island and New York City in 10 locations. According to COPE’s Executive Director Adam Rabinovitch, “We have a whole suite of programs and workshops which give family members the tools to live and the tools to grieve.”
Programs include healing workshops, meditation, yoga, writing, art and music therapy, along with Camp Erin® NYC, a weekend bereavement camp for children and adolescents who’ve lost a loved one. The camp was awarded the prestigious 2014 Roger E. Joseph prize. Julien also won the 2016 Imagine Award for Leadership Excellence.
For Julien herself, COPE’s work is a fulfillment of a dream. After her daughter passed she was inspired to reach out and help other families in grief so no parent or child had to grieve alone.
“When COPE first became a nonprofit, the goal was to help others with the healing tools that had helped me on my own grief journey. And in helping others, I helped myself,” Julien said.
For more information about the COPE Foundation, visit copefoundation.org