John Stein, Wanda and George's son, pictured above.
Wanda and George Stein of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, experienced one of the most painful situations anyone could go through: the loss of their child.
Nearly 26 years ago, 20-year-old John Stein, George and Wanda’s only child, passed away after being hit by a car while he was crossing the street.
“I think the only way you can deal with something like that is to really take one moment at a time,” George said in an interview on Seeking Solutions with Suzanne, a nationally broadcast information show.
It was going through this experience that inspired Wanda and George to start Helping Hand Grief Support, a support group based in Medford, New Jersey, in 1992.
The group originally started as a group for parents grieving the loss of a child, but evolved into a group open to anyone who had experienced any type of loss. They meet every Monday throughout the year and offer special groups for males and those mourning a death by suicide.
The meetings consist of two parts: the first part is educational, where topics such as finding your new normal, anger and grief, forgiveness and guilt are taught; the second part is support discussions where individuals meet separately related to the type of death they have experienced.
Helping Hand Grief Support has grown and sees 75 to 95 people each night and has become a referral for the Philadelphia and New Jersey Veteran’s Administration for families of military solders who have committed suicide.
In the summer of 2014, Wanda began making what she calls “memory beam-me lights.” When a friend gave her a Mr. Beams Stick Anywhere Light, she felt that it was lacking something.
“Then it came to me and I went upstairs and pulled up John’s picture and put it on the surface under the light,” she says. “When it lights up, I am moved in my heart.”
Wanda knew that if it could comfort her, it could comfort others. So she began making them for others experiencing grief, who have in turn made them for others.
“They have ‘passed it forward,’” Wanda says.
Here are Wanda's tips for creating a "memory beam-me light":
1. Cut the photo to the desired size.
2. Laminate the photo to make it sturdier and last longer.
3. Use double-sided tape to attach the photo to the face of the Stick Anywhere Light.
4. Wanda includes a message on the back of the mounting bracket for the recipient that says, "Especially for you, Love George & Wanda." Put tape over it to make sure it doesn't smudge or tear.
5. Then on the front of the mounting bracket, Wanda puts the loved one's name with their birthdate and the date they passed away. Put tape over it to make sure it doesn't smudge or tear.
6. When you install the mounting bracket, install it so that the person's name is shown above the light.
For more information on Helping Hand Grief Support, visit its website.