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The Leonard Family’s Journey of Grief and Hope

Grief during the pandemic had a larger reach than normal with the virus taking its toll on families around the country. Deaths not related to Covid-19 continued to devastate children and families, as this grandmother describes after the death of her son in August of 2020.

Sharon Leonard was winding down her day when the phone rang at 11:29pm on August 23rd. It was in this moment that she received the news that her son and only child had been shot. Getting herself ready for the drive to the scene, not knowing if he would still be alive, was a surreal nightmare. Her son, a father of 5, did not survive. In fact, the coroner’s report later stated that he had died instantly.

“This was the worst night of my life,” Sharon painfully recalled. “Then as the daylight came and I began the task of trying to figure out Why? What do I do next? How do I tell 10-year-old Makyi and 8-year-old Faith, his two oldest children? How are these children going to feel finding out they will not be seeing their father again? The emotions were a roller coaster and still are. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help for my husband, my two oldest grandchildren, or myself.”

Thankfully, an investigator put her in touch with the Victims Advocate program in Seminole County who shared information with her about New Hope for Kids.

Sharon registered her family in our grief support program, and says that it has been a blessing to her grandchildren, her husband and herself. They’re learning ways to celebrate and remember their loved one, and to know that it’s ok to express feelings with each other.

We’re so thankful her family found hope here with us during this tragic and difficult time. Sharon continues to be grateful for the services provided by New Hope for Kids, and looks forward to continuing the healing process with us by her family’s side. “My grandchildren look forward to the virtual group sessions every Wednesday, and after the sessions it is our time to remember their dad and share funny and happy times they shared with dad as well as share our sadness not having him here with us anymore. New Hope for Kids is truly a blessing for my family as it continues to help us get through the death of my son.”

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