Not a Dry Eye in the Room at the Stepping Stones of Hope Annual Gala
No matter what position a person has in the medical industry, most of us have had to face tragic loss. It’s incredibly painful to have to look into the eyes of a person’s wife, or husband, mother, father, child, sister, brother, and tell them that their loved one has died. And unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of programs that help loved ones move on from the grief – and often anger – they feel after an untimely death.
That’s what spurred MedFlight911 medical director Dr. Charles Finch to found what was then called Camp Paz, a weekend program at a ranch in Payson to help children move on from the death of a loved one. Since its founding in 2003, the organization – now called Stepping Stones of Hope – has grown. Today, it offers six camp programs plus support groups for children, teens, and adults.
At the Stepping Stones of Hope annual gala the weekend before last, the MedFlight911 team and a group of our friends and colleagues heard stories like that of the father whose 9-year-old daughter Samantha was killed in 2004. We heard the story of a couple who met at Camp Paz – he was there to learn how to deal with the death of his wife and she was there with her niece who had recently lost her mother. Needless to say, I don’t think there was a single dry eye in the room.
I was particularly struck by the comments of one of the Stepping Stones of Hope board members, who talked about our reluctance to call death what it is. She ticked off a long list of metaphors we use to avoid confronting death: We say our loved one has passed away, moved on to a better place, gone to meet their maker, or sometimes, that they’ve kicked the bucket or are pushing up daisies. We say that we have “lost” them.
While as air ambulance service providers we are obviously in the business of saving lives, we are so thankful that Stepping Stones of Hope exists to provide peace and comfort to those whose loved ones have died. We are proud that the founder is our medical director, and we are proud to help support their important work.