Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare.
A Florida woman has made it her mission to make sure those parents never have to walk alone.
“I had lost two girlfriends that were really special to me, to suicide," said Ivonne Lizarazo, founder and program director of Waves of Hope.
Lizarazo is no stranger to grief.
“The struggle I saw their mothers going through is really what just made me have to act and do something to try and help them with that process," said Lizarazo.
Lupe, one of the friends she lost, had a friend with a retreat center in Costa Rica.
“One thing led to another and I started doing regular retreats every year," said Lizarazo.
That’s how Waves of Hope was born. Grieving parents from Florida and beyond are given free room and board, meals, and excursions on the Costa Rican retreat. Waves of Hope will even pay for the flight if parents cant.
“Once the wake and funeral is over and people go home, everybody goes back to their lives and these parents are left lost and broken," said Lizarazo.
Like Pat Woods was when her son Max died two years ago, after he fell out of a hotel window.
“To get the phone call from the hospital that says, you know, your child had a traumatic accident and then within minutes to receive another phone call that says ‘I’m sorry, we did everything we could, but we couldn’t save him,’” said Woods.
She stumbled upon Waves of Hope’s Facebook page, and went on the Costa Rican retreat.
The retreat helps parents work through their grief with journaling, trauma counseling, art workshops, and so much more.
Woods says you can’t put a price on the new family she’s found.
“The only people in your life that know what you feel," said Woods. "With the other parents being at different stages of the journey, it gives you hope that you can make it.”
If you or someone you know has lost a child and needs someone to lean on, visit the Waves of Hope website.