Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bereaved Parents find comfort in one another

BRANDON — Charles L'Homme carries white trifold pamphlets to many of his meetings for the Bereaved Parents of the USA.

Inside are points about life's choices and a short biography of L'Homme's speaking experience. On the back, a picture of a grinning Bloomingdale High School graduate clad in white sits above Ryan L'Homme's memorial.

In March 2000, L'Homme lost his son, Ryan, during an accident in an intramural fraternity softball game at Florida State University.

"He got hit with a ball when he was running bases and got killed on the field," L'Homme said. "It tore me apart."

Not knowing where to turn with his grief, L'Homme contacted a staff member of the Bereaved Parents of the USA's Tampa Bay chapter to find out where meetings were held. In October of that year, he went to his first meeting.

Fourteen years later, L'Homme facilitates the meetings at First United Methodist Church in Brandon.

"After losing my sister, my niece and my son, I said, 'Okay, the three of them made choices, and those choices cost them their lives.' So I used that to help others," L'Homme said. "I facilitate these meetings to help parents because when I lost Ryan I did not think I'd be able to continue, but the chapter helped me find a way."

The gatherings — which can last two hours — encourage parents to talk about their children and how they are they are dealing with the loss. Many parents say their biggest fear is that their children won't be remembered.

"We try to make new memories, but we do honor her," member Patty Wilson says of her 32-year-old daughter, Lisa, who died of complications of a seizure. "I don't want her to ever be forgotten."

Throughout the year, the Bereaved Parents Tampa Bay chapter invites local families to participate in fundraisers and gatherings — the largest of which is the annual candlelight remembrance ceremony held each December.

"We've helped hundreds of families," said chapter co-chairwoman Debbie Nemitz. "No one can truly understand the devastation of the loss of a child unless they have experienced it. It doesn't matter the age or the circumstances."

According to Nemitz, who joined the group after losing her 15-year-old daughter, Robyn, Bereaved Parents was established as a national organization in 1996 in Louisville, Ky. It has grown to 42 chapters in 34 states. L'Homme is one of three facilitators of the Tampa Bay chapter, which has about 300 members.

"Everybody moves through grief in their own way," L'Homme said. "I've learned over the years I need to be there for the parents and help them move through it."

. if you go

Support group

The Bereaved Parents group meets from 10 a.m. to noon the second Friday of each month and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. the last Thursday of each month at First United Methodist Church, 120 N Knights Ave., Brandon. Call Debbie Nemitz at (813) 501-9567 for information.

Bereaved Parents find comfort in one another 08/21/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2014 2:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Warehouse burns on Tampa's east side


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County emergency crews are at the scene of a two-alarm fire at a warehouse near 56th Street and East Hillsborough Avenue.

    Hillsborough County firefighters battle a blaze Thursday night at a warehouse on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  2. 'Dream big' drives Lightning's Conacher brothers

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Two words: Dream big.

    Cory Conacher includes them every time he signs an autograph for a young hockey fan.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher (89) on the ice during Lightning training camp in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17).
  3. Irma roughs up endangered snail kites, birds that help us gauge the Everglades' health


    Hurricane Irma was as rough on some wildlife as it was on the humans. Audubon of Florida reported Thursday that the storm destroyed all 44 nests around Lake Okeechobee built by the endangered Everglades snail kite, a bird considered crucial to the River of Grass ecosystem.

    Hurricane Irma destroyed 44 snail kite nests, capping off a poor mating season for the endangered species, which is seen as an important barometer of the health of the Florida Everglades. Their off-center beaks allow them to probe inside the spiral shells of the native apple snails. But the snails' population has dropped as the Everglades has changed. [MAC STONE | Audubon of Florida]
  4. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs


    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  5. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort


    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times