Cori & Brent’s Story

In July of 2000 I lost my boyfriend, Brian, unexpectedly. I was 22 years old and felt completely alone in the grieving process. Brian’s best friend was also navigating the loss and together we went on a journey of healing. He later became my husband, Brent. Brent and I have 3 children. A normal day in August of 2016 turned dreadful when I found Cole unresponsive in his crib. There were no warning signs and still no answers as to what happened. Instantly we became a family grieving the loss of our son and our girls grieving the loss of their little brother.

I’m sure you will all agree that when tragedy strikes, you feel unprepared and overwhelmed, as you struggle to just get through the moment you are in and look for strength to get through what lies ahead. Trying to be there for the people left behind while you feel like you are drowning is exhausting in itself.

A couple of months after Cole’s passing, we were gifted a weekend away at a grief retreat in Wisconsin where we shared a space with families who had lost a child of 2 years and younger. While it felt like the last thing we wanted to do – sit around and talk about our feelings – we pushed ourselves to go. And we are so grateful we did! We found comfort there, talking with others who truly understand, who ‘get it’; knowing that we weren’t alone. Our girls were able to connect and play with other children who had experienced the loss of a sibling and help each other heal as sometimes only kids can do.

We talked about the little things and the big things that come when a gaping hole has been blown through your family. We talked about the challenging responsibilities we now carry as a grieving parent. The weekend wasn’t a magic potion to make all the pain go away, but it gave us comfort and strength to take us to the next moment. We ended up walking out with something we didn’t have when we walked in, HOPE. Turns out that weekend was exactly what we needed.

When the weekend retreat was over, we felt a new purpose and a tugging in our hearts. We just knew that through our son’s death we would use that pain to help others going through the same situation. To provide a source of comfort, a safe place, a community of open hearts and ears, and a whisper to you that you are not alone. This is the sole mission of Cole’s Camp which started in 2017. Comfort. Connection. Community.

We of all people know how

precious every single moment is.

We hope that as you attend our events, you will move forward a little stronger, a little less alone, and with a spark of hope for you and your family’s future.
XO, Cori Mander