Grieving over any loss is normal. It is a natural healing process. The goal of grieving is to experience true healing so the pain doesn’t build up and hold one back from moving on. This is not easy for any of us, but it is especially challenging for young people. Although the effects of trauma and death can be devastating, they do not have to be permanent if there is encouragement to work through the grief using a strong support system.
A strong support system has been in place for one of our students at Illiana Christian High School. Senior Marissa Jackson, of Harvey, lost her mother to cancer on Oct. 28. The Illiana community has rallied around Marissa and her family during this terrible loss in several tangible ways. Daily prayers have been offered, and notes and cards of encouragement have been sent. Students organized a “Wear Pink Day” in memory of Mrs. Jackson’s fight against breast cancer. During the week of the funeral, the student body signed a giant poster demonstrating their united support of Marissa and her family. Many students and faculty attended the visitation and memorial and expressed their heartfelt sympathy.
Just recently, Illiana added a new club, a dinner club fondly named The Jackson Five. It developed from a desire to honor the memory of Marissa’s mother. Club members plan to prepare an easy meal for a family in need twice a month during their eighth hour club period. Their first meal, a delicious taco dinner, was delivered to the Jackson family. Their faculty sponsor, Rose Medema, said, “My hope is that this club will be a blessing to the students in the club as well as to the families we serve.”
Marissa continues to feel the support of this Christian community every day. It has been extremely difficult for her to lose her mother during her senior year, usually an exciting time in a teenager’s life, filled with the anticipation of what comes next. Marissa explained that it was exceptionally hard over Thanksgiving because it coincided with her birthday, but she and her family got through it with the support of friends, family, and her church family. Before her passing, Mrs. Jackson also prepared Marissa very well, reminding her daughter that she will always be with her and encouraging Marissa to keep moving forward in her life.
At Illiana, we will continue to pray for the Jacksons and trust that God will comfort them through their grief. We will also continue to reach out to other hurting families in our community because this is who we are. We are the hands and feet of Christ, whom we honor and celebrate at this very special time of year. Please remember and be sensitive to those who have lost loved ones during the Christmas season.
In January, after Christmas break, there are many events coming up at Illiana Christian High School. A bus load of 46 students will be riding through the night to attend the Jan. 22 March for Life Rally in Washington D.C. Then on Jan. 24, our Christian Service Club with be serving at the Ronald McDonald House of Lurie Children’s Hospital. One more thing — don’t forget to save the date for Feb. 25, when we will present our second Preview Illiana at 7 p.m.