Pasadena grief counselors assist kids', families' recovery

PASADENA, Calif.

"I just can't forget and I'm never going to forget. And it just seems like yesterday he was here with me," said Liliana Nava, whose son died last year.

Last June in South Los Angeles, 1-year-old Angel Cortez was in his father's arms when someone rode up on a bike and shot at them. The bullet killed Angel.

"I don't want to deal with the pain. I don't want to cry," said Liliana.

She didn't know how to tell her 8-year-old niece.

"So crazy because she asks so many questions and I don't know what to tell her sometimes," said Liliana.

A day after Angel's death, grief counselor Arvis Jones with the Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services showed up at the family's door. She's helping Liliana and her niece walk through the pain.

"Grief is like a dirty table: When you start to wipe it, it smears and it smudges. And as you wipe it, it gets clean," said Jones.

Grief experts say in dealing with the loss the first step is to acknowledge it, talk about it -- don't push it away. As time goes by, it's important to never forget. Relive the memories, especially the good ones.

"The memories are very difficult at first to bring up, but after a while, the memories create a joy within your soul," said Jones.

Experts say the key thing is to reach out. That's the message at the 9th Annual Childhood Grief and Traumatic Loss Conference in Pasadena.

Liliana is encouraging others to seek out help because it is available.

"I know it seems like it's the end of the world, every day sometimes. But just don't give up. There's hope. Just let yourself cry. Cry all you can."

Liliana was born with a heart defect. Doctors told her she would never have kids. She said Angel is the miracle child who lives on in her heart.

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