Friday, August 25, 2017

Lisa's Roses

Being compassionate is not something that you learn in journalism school, but I think it’s a necessary trait in a journalist. I’ve interviewed more than a dozen families that have lost a child, and some interviews have been harder than others. After reading one of my stories about someone’s loss and how I highlighted the efforts by the family to bring good out of their tragedy, my late mother always said the same thing to me, “You’re not supposed to bury your child.”

In handing out a dozen free roses every August 23 as a way of healing from their pain, the DePedro family began telling parents who have lost a child that “it does get better.” One of my friends told me that at my mom’s funeral and coming from him, it was something that I needed to hear. It was hope that I could cling on to so I could know I’d find a way to move forward.

“The hardest thing we have to tell moms and dads is that it does get better,” Greg DePedro said. “You might not feel fantastic, but you will feel better with time and prayers.”

Dorrie and Greg DePedro, Coatesville Flower Shop owners, are often asked how they came up with the idea of “Lisa’s Roses” and they tell them her legacy is to “do something nice for someone today.” But they ask again how that started. I had to ask that loaded question too for the article.
“Then we take a walk back in time that often starts as a painful memory, but ends bringing joy to our hearts,” Greg DePedro said. His daughter Lisa died five months after she was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. 

“It was a very devastating time,” Greg DePedro said. “And then it began – the outpouring of love and support from the community.”

To create a legacy in her name, on each anniversary of her death, they give visitors a dozen roses for free. The only stipulation is that they ask them to keep one for themselves and give the other 11 to different people who need a smile. The act of kindness was Lisa’s request when people asked what they could do to help her. 

Photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - Daily Local News
Dorrie and Greg DePedro, Coatesville Flower Shop owners, gave out 10,000 roses as part of Lisa's Roses, which means 10,000 people smiled when they received a rose on Aug. 23, 2017. 

Greg DePedro said that the giving of the roses over the past 13 years has brought joy to people, including him and his wife. They wanted to extend that help other parents who have lost a child by asking them to help giveaway the roses in honor of their child. 

Greg DePedro said one mother who he asked to stay to give out roses in her child’s name told him she would try to stay for a few minutes, but she questioned how she would handle it emotionally. Six hours later, he noticed she still handed out roses and she found a smile.

“It’s time for us to help them heal,” Greg DePedro said, “as so many have helped us.”

It reminds me of one of my favorite bible verses, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.” 

The DePedros encourage visitors to write their loved one’s name on the prayer board in the store and they can even post a photograph of them.

Photo by Ginger Rae Dunbar - Daily Local News 
Dorrie and Greg DePedro, Coatesville Flower Shop owners, encourage visitors to write a prayer for their lost loved one. 

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