PALM DESERT, Calif. - The death of a loved one is painful for any family. But when it comes to children, parents and caregivers face the struggle of helping them grieve. Hundreds of people across the southland turn to Mourning Star.
Andrew Etto's father died three years ago, and Mourning Star helped him get through it. But, funding for the grief support group got cut, and closed its doors.
"I miss my daddy. Please don't take away our grieving group too," said 6-year-old Andrew Etto.
With posters, chants and waves, more than two dozen families hope to bring it back to life.
The Visiting Nurse Association funded the $250,000 program for almost a decade, but now, can't pay for it.
"It made me feel really angry and sad. It was something we really loved and I didn't say bye," said 12-year-old Steven Loza.
Steven and Zachary Loza's dad, Ronald Loza, passed away from a heart attack. Their family and at least 200 others across the Coachella Valley, 600 across the southland, depend on the program.
"We don't have funds to get paid professional counseling, this is our light at the end of the tunnel," said Sis Loza, Steven's grandmother.
"It feels like we lost another family member, like another death. It's the place when things are hard you're going to Mourning Star to feel empowered," said Jennifer Loza, Steven's mother. "We are in desperate need for the community to gather together to find funding for it so our kids have some place to go."
"It's something you don't realize you need until it's too late," said Zachary Loza, 20.
"It's helped thousands of kids, and it could help a thousand more, that's our goal," said Nikkola Etto, of Bermuda Dunes.
To help keep Mourning Star operating, donate at the following links: