Removing the Stigma of Loss

HONOLULU — For Nikki Gregory, the hard truth was that staying with the father of her three daughters was not going to make their relationship any better.

The 34-year-old single mother admitted that it took her a long time, but she finally did realize that prison was his life.

She just needed help getting across to her girls – Champagne, age 10, Chardonnay, age 13, and Alize, age 15 – that it was not their fault their father has been in and out of prison his whole life.

“I wanted them to know that there are other kids like them,” Gregory said. “They’re not alone. That it was unfortunate we’re in the situation that we are in, but it’s not their fault. And it’s OK that their parents are not together. Kids Hurt Too Hawaii helped them become more open about their situation. They are not ashamed to say that their father is in prison.”

Gregory’s three daughters are among the more than 250 grief-stricken children, between ages 3 and 19, that every year in Hawaii turn to Kids Hurt Too Hawaii for a safe space to express feelings about their loss of a parent to such factors as incarceration, death or divorce.

Stepping in to help out

Donna Hodges gets helpful tips from Cynthia White
Donna Hodges (right) gets helpful tips from Cynthia White.

HONOLULU — A difference can start with one person.

Just ask Donna Hodges, a 53-year-old Makaha resident who adopted her two grandsons nearly five years ago after their mother could no longer care for them.

To hear Hodges tell it, her 33-year-old daughter, Rosina, never recovered emotionally from when, at age 7, her father died in prison.

Her daughter’s chronic mental-health problems left her grandsons with two choices: living in foster care or with their grandmother.

“Kids Hurt Too Hawaii really helped me give them hope,” said Hodges. “With my grandsons, who were ages 6 and 7 at the time, it was helping them vent and share their feelings. Now, at age 9 and 10, and watching me go through chemotherapy for breast cancer, it’s using woodcraft to help them overcome inner feelings. They would take their feelings out on the wood by sanding it and sanding it. Kids Hurt Too has been a way for them to see that they don’t have to keep their feelings bottled in. I really believe in Kids Hurt Too Hawaii.”