When Vicki Etzkorn was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the fall of 2012, her family faced the most difficult personal challenges they had ever encountered. Her only daughter, Katie, had the added task of explaining her mom’s diagnosis to her own children. They were extremely close to their grandma Vicki, whom they had nicknamed ‘Wicki’. Katie knew that Wicki’s illness, treatment, and impending death would play an important role in her children’s life. She had to introduce the subject of death and grief to her little ones, while helping them (and herself) to mourn in a healthy way.
As a former educator and school counselor, Katie realized that she was at an advantage. She had extensive experience working with children who have special needs and with children in the general population. One of her favorite tasks as a counselor was to lead groups for grieving students. Katie was blessed to have a wealth of professional knowledge and resources, but she became aware that not everyone would know where to begin with their own children. As time went on, she found herself offering advice, books, activities and journals to other friends who needed to approach the subject of grief with children.
Katie realized that she could share her talents and experiences to reach out to others needing help in this situation. She was also aware that grief can exist in many forms: death of a loved one, loss of a pet, divorce, moving, the anticipatory grief of dealing with long term illness or military deployment. However, children are often forgotten in the act of sending condolences and gifts of comfort.
The family lost Wicki in the fall of 2013, after a short battle with her cancer. Wicki used the 10 months that she had left on Earth to prepare all who loved her. She shared her wishes, continued to live her life to the fullest, found joy in everyday blessings, and looked forward to her future beyond this world. After she died, she continued to bless Katie with her signs of hummingbirds, always fluttering by when they were needed the most.
When these signs coupled with the desire to reach out to others in grief, Wicki’s Wings took flight…