By the time she was 34, Julie Enos was a Boston Public School teacher, mother of a darling three year-old boy named Jayce, three-months pregnant, and a widow.
Jon, the first great love of her life and the father of her children, was involved in a fatal car accident early in the morning on Valentine’s Day, 2010.
“No one knew how to help me, or what to do,” Julie recalls. “I was isolated, lonely, and going through the worst time of my life.”
Julie’s primary focus was her children. She knew she needed to help Jayce grasp (as well as feel and heal) his grief, and to do this while carrying her and Jon’s second son to term.
Soon after the arrival of Anthony, Julie began looking for more support for herself.
“My parents were, and are, amazing. My family and friends made it possible for me to stay employed and pay my bills, but the truth was I still didn’t have my happy back. I didn’t know how to get it back.”
Then, someone from the school where Julie worked told her about Playmakers – a personal and professional development retreat for teachers and caregivers, created by a social worker named Steve Gross (Founder of The Life is Good Kids Foundation).
“Steve and I talked before I enrolled. I told him about Jon and Jayce and Anthony. I told him that I’d have to bring my newborn (and my Mom) to the two-day retreat, because I was still nursing – and while I understood that the program was intended to help teachers create healthier, happier spaces for kids in schools, I told him I needed some of these tools to bring back home, too.”
Steve totally understood.
Julie came to the Playmakers Two-Day Discovery with her Mom and Anthony, and left with a renewed spirit.
“I walked away from that weekend committed to taking care of myself. Playmakers opened me up to the truth that I couldn’t share what I didn’t have. I wanted to give my sons peace and confidence and happiness. I wanted to make it safe for them to feel all of their feelings. And in order to make all of that possible for them, I first had to make it possible for me.”
Julie then started prioritizing her own self-care. Healthy eating. Walks outside. Yoga. And most importantly, sharing her story and connecting with others who were suffering.
“The greatest gifts that have come out of discovering the power of my own optimism is seeing our family continue to thrive, and helping others navigate their own grief through our non-profit, We Do Care.”
Created by Julie more than five years ago, We Do Care is a support group and joy source for young widows and their children – offering social connection and active engagement for grieving families through the darkest (and then brightest) of times.
Today, Julie continues her Playmaker Practice of prioritizing self-care through her non-profit work, and by caring for her own family, which as of September 2016 now includes her husband, Tom Brennan.
“It’s true, life isn’t perfect. Life isn’t easy, but it is good. Life is Good.”
Learn more about Julie’s non-profit We Do Care, or send her a note of gratitude and encouragement by clicking the “Submit” button below.