I first met my child, Vincent William Baran, through an iPad while in Kabul, Afghanistan for a military deployment in 2013. Despite the distance, I could tell through photos and videos that Vincent was already a kid with a big personality. Vincent, or Vinny as we called him, lived in a way that was so much bigger than his small frame.
On November 7, 2020, I was working at home when my phone rang. It was Lindsay. Between panic-stricken breaths, she told me that Vincent had been hit by a car. Lindsay had taken the kids on a bike ride around our town. After a stop at the park to play, they headed for their favorite ice cream shop. Vinny led the way.
They were riding single file down the sidewalk when a driver pulled out of a parking lot without looking, and hit Vinny. I arrived on the scene a few minutes after Lindsay’s call. Vinny was unconscious, and shortly after I arrived, the paramedics took him away. The images I saw then and the hour that followed will stay with me for the rest of my life. When we arrived at the hospital, a medical team surrounded our son, attempting to bring him back. I crouched by his side, praying, telling him I was there, and begging him to hold on.
When the doctor pronounced him dead, it felt like a piece of my chest was ripped out. One of the nurses asked, “Would it be OK if we said a prayer?” We held hands, and she began the Lord’s Prayer. I swallowed hard and forced out the words, “Thy will be done.”
After some time, we drove back to our house, during which time I tried to prepare myself for the task of telling Vincent’s three siblings that their dear 7-year-old brother had died.
– Ben Baran, Vincent’s Father
In the days after Vincent’s accident, I knew we would each need grief counseling, due to the traumatic nature of his death. My parents mentioned reaching out to Cornerstone of Hope.
We each had counseling sessions two days after Vincent’s funeral, and had a parent intake meeting to discuss counselors for each of our children. We began a regular counseling schedule, which helped us navigate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Vinny’s birthday within two months of his death. This continued through May of 2021 with each of us pausing when we felt we had the tools we needed … at least for that time.
Cornerstone of Hope counselors also helped our community. School was closed the Monday after the accident, and Cornerstone counselors helped the teachers prepare to handle the questions and grief of Vincent’s classmates. When students returned on Tuesday, Cornerstone counselors supported the teachers as they talked with each class.
From my counseling I’ve held onto two key lessons. First, that Vincent’s death could either tear us apart as a couple or make us stronger. Our counselors spoke about how to support each other with compassion and patience as we grieved in different ways. Second, I was taught the strategy of ‘pre-grieving’ as important milestones approached. To this day, I spend deliberate time looking at pictures of Vincent, going through his things, and just sitting and crying in the deep tragedy of his loss.
– Lindsay Baran, Vincent’s Mother
We’re so grateful for the support we received from Cornerstone of Hope. Without a doubt, your support of this exceptional organization will help so many other people suffering from grief, so they too can write their next chapters after loss.