By Stuart & Xaviera Latta
Stuart & Xaviera Latta are the co-founders of Jacoby’s Shield. Jacoby’s Shield is a nonprofit created to help parents, grandparents, and siblings navigate life after the loss of a child, of any age, and no matter how long ago the loss occurred. Families that lose a child face unique challenges. The Lattas didn’t find the resources that addressed the unique needs of their entire family unit, so they started Jacoby’s Shield to help other bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings navigate this bewildering journey.
Jacoby’s Shield also communicates the needs of bereaved parents and siblings to those not currently grieving, educating those on how to offer proper emotional support.
How we got started
Jacoby’s Shield was born from a heartbreaking event. Stuart and Xaviera Latta lost their three-year-old son Jacoby on May 31, 2014. Due to no fault of his own, tragedy struck from above as a tree limb fell as he was playing on a playground at a local park. The two men who were struck received minor injuries, but the injuries Jacoby sustained were fatal. What was meant to be a celebration of church family, in an instant, turned into a living nightmare. That day Jacoby’s life ended, but the Lattas did not want Jacoby’s life to end in tragedy. There’s a saying that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Jacoby’s Shield is the Latta’s attempt to make something sweet (lemonade) out of bitter experiences that they have faced, and to share the lessons that they have learned with others. Honored by Marvel Comics as a fallen Avenger, Jacoby is our inspiration.
The mission of Jacoby’s Shield is to help parents, grandparents, and siblings grieving the death of a child find connection and healing. Our vision is that no parent, grandparent, or sibling should be alone to struggle in their grief. We expect to achieve this vision by helping the entire family unit move through their grief together as one.
One of the things that makes Jacoby’s Shield unique is that we treat child loss as trauma. All child loss is beyond devastating to each of the surviving members of a family, be it a parent, grandparent, or a sibling. We treat this trauma in the way that our brains process emotional pain. Each member of a grieving family has a different capacity to process emotional pain. There is a common saying that time heals all wounds. That’s a myth. It is what you do with the time that counts.
There are five different areas of the brain that are used to process emotional pain. Healing occurs when you experience emotional pain and that emotion (grief) is processed through each of the five areas of the brain in order (from level 1 through to level 5). The problem is that child loss, or level 1 attachment pain, is the most intense, most overwhelming pain that a person can experience. When a person is overwhelmed in their grief, parts of their brain actually “cramp” and a cramped up, overwhelmed brain doesn’t process emotions. The result is that this emotional trauma is stored in the body. And more than just time is needed to go from being overwhelmed in grief, feeling like you can’t go on, to having a story that is healthy. The programs sponsored by Jacoby’s Shield help grieving families deal with this and find connection and healing from the loss of their precious loved one.
Jacoby’s Shield accomplishes its mission primarily through hosting two events for bereaved families. The first is Camp SHIELD Family Bereavement Retreat. Camp SHIELD is an annual weekend event that combines traditional fun camp activities with grief education and emotional support, facilitated by grief professionals and trained volunteers. Camp SHIELD is an opportunity for the entire family to remember and honor their loved one, to grieve together outside of the funeral in a relaxed, safe, and supportive setting. Families are allowed to express emotions, share their grief, connect with others, and learn positive coping skills. Camp SHIELD is usually held on the last weekend in August, in conjunction with National Grief Awareness Day, which is observed annually on August 30.
The second event that we host is our monthly support group called Jacoby’s Journey Group (for adults only). Jacoby’s Journey Group meets the first Thursday of the month at Tribal Coffee in Irmo. Our next meeting will be on October 6th. This is a free in-person event and virtual event. Registration for the support group can be found on our website. Virtual participants can register by texting the word VIRTUAL along with their full name to 833-990-3299 and they will receive the private meeting link.
How people can help Jacoby’s Shield
Jacoby’s Shield has the awesome responsibility to talk about death. Or rather, talk about the life one leads after burying a child. We don’t want you to imagine what that feels like. We are, however, looking for heroes, but not just any kind of hero. We’re looking for superheroes. Superheroes who have the heart to serve the brokenhearted, those brokenhearted families who have lost a child.
To learn more about our non-profit,visit our website at www. jacobysshield.org.
Child Loss | Jacoby's Shield
Child loss is beyond devastating. But healing is possible. You're not alone in your grief. Get behind Jacoby's Shield and find connection and healing.
Registration for our Superhero 5K can done at www.strictlyrunning.com.
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