Grief had a grip on Carolyn Williams' life after her son was killed in a shooting in 2007.
“I went to a grief meeting here in Baton Rouge, but I didn’t feel welcomed,” she said. “I didn’t feel like they were going to address what I was going through, because they didn’t understand. I knew there were other people there grieving, but I had just lost my only son. So I said to myself, ‘Maybe I’m going to start a grief support group.'”
After more than four years, Williams said God gave her the vision to start the Healing Hearts Grief Support Group.
“I tell people all the time when they call me, ‘I’m not a therapist. I’m an LPN. I’m a person that God has planted this ministry into,” said Williams, the executive director. "I wanted to speak life into people and let them know that God wants us to live. He wants us to go on. He doesn’t want us to sit here and grieve ourselves to death.”
Healing Hearts will celebrate its 10th year with a free prayer breakfast from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at the East Baton Rouge Main Library, 7711 Goodwood Blvd.
The breakfast hosted by Gisele Haralson will feature special music; a message from minister Debra Rouse, a breast cancer survivor from South Carolina; and the lighting of candles.
“It’s kind of like an end-of-year celebration,” Williams said.
The prospect of any kind of a celebration once seemed inconceivable to Williams.
One day, she found herself at home depressed and in tears. God led her to Deuteronomy 1:6: “Ye have dwelt long enough in the mountains.”
“I felt like, ‘Oh, it’s talking to me. OK, you could stay here dwelling in this depression and your child is gone. (God said), ‘I’ve already told you that you had something to do, and you haven’t done it,'" Williams said.
Within an hour, Williams was on the phone with another grieving mother who also had lost her son.
“That’s how Healing Hearts got started,” she said.
Williams, 58, said it was her faith that sustained her.
“Jesus is who I lean and depend on,” she said. “I feel that if I hadn’t had a strong foundation at that particular time that I probably would have lost my mind.”
Healing Hearts was founded in 2011 to help grieving mothers and fathers but has since expanded to include anyone going through difficult times.
“People need to understand that we’re going to grieve,” she said. “As long as we’re here, we’re going to lose something that has been a value to us, whether it’s a loved one or a broken relationship or the loss of a job.”
Healing Hearts hosts grief sessions, workshops, social gatherings and community service days.
“This organization has helped me heal,” said Williams, who chronicled her journey in her 2016 book “It Was Me.” “I wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t had Healing Hearts and the relationships that I’ve had over the years with mothers and families.”
For more information, call (225) 505-0015 or email email@example.com.