A hot cup of coffee might just be a “cup of cold water” for a moms journeying through the loss of a child.
In 1977, Diane Wendt started her own journey when her son Carl, just 4 years old, died. The following years were a difficult time of doubt, anger, and tears. “I finally said to God, use me,” said Wendt, “and then all these moms started showing up—in restaurants, in line at the grocery store.” When they started overflowing her living room, her pastor encouraged her to use the church, and they began meeting regularly.
Three decades later, Coffee & Comfort meets regularly at Orland Park (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church to provide support and education for mothers who have experienced a child’s death.
Each meeting has 12 to 15 women from all walks of life, backgrounds, and church affiliations. On the fourth Wednesday afternoon of each month, they spend time sharing and talking. They quickly find that they are drawn to women who have had similar experiences—death from cancer or death from accident, said Wendt. The second hour of their time is spent in education. They watch a video and discuss it. Wendt reminds them that grief is not neat stages; it is a rollercoaster. “Hang on tight, hang on to your God,” Wendt says.
For 35 years, Wendt has been walking alongside grieving mothers. She has shared with pastors, church leaders, and even Oprah Winfrey about her support group and the unique needs of grieving mothers. “Feelings of loss are the same [in any death]. The difference with a mom’s grief is that the child was a part of her, that bond can’t be described. Whether born or adopted, the love is different,” said Wendt.
“The basis of Coffee & Comfort is that it gives [women] hope,” said Wendt.