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Oklahoma City mother finds support, and supports others, through organization after son's death

Sharon Ellington

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It was a late September evening in 2007 and Robert Kott was driving home from work in Yukon.

The 22-year-old Kott never arrived.

His vehicle was struck head-on by a drunken driver. That driver and a child were pronounced dead at the scene. Kott was transported to OU Trauma Center, but shortly after 1 a.m. he died.

Kott’s mother, Sharon Ellington, learned from a close friend about The Compassionate Friends, a national nonprofit support group for families grieving the death of a child of any age, regardless of the cause.

Ellington and daughter, Michelle Kott, were at their first meeting the week after they buried Robert.

Ellington, 57, of Oklahoma City, is now a chapter leader for North Oklahoma City Chapter of The Compassionate Friends. She remains active because she doesn’t want to walk this alone and she doesn’t want to see others make this journey on their own. The group’s website carries the statement, “We are not here to treat, fix or lead, but to listen, share and companion through the grief journey.”

“I’ve learned I can live with each day,” Ellington said. “I can find joy. More importantly, when my grief sneaks up on me I have friends to call upon to share those moments and move forward again. There are days when the steps are smaller and more cautious, but they are steps forward, even though occasionally there are two steps back for the other forward steps.

“I have seen a lot of parents that suffer tremendously, emotionally as well as physically. I keep coming to help the newly bereaved that walk through our doors to help them learn to walk this path that we have been placed on. Without guidance, the path is very hard to follow.”

Ellington said group members meet monthly to share their grief stories, and “to let each other know there is some hope after these losses.” Meetings are attended by parents, siblings or grandparents who have lost a child from any cause, at any age, she said.

“We encourage all who attend to participate in the meeting each month but also understand that it is often too painful for the newly bereaved to do so,” she said.

Ellington said their chapter meets the second Thursday of each month at Mayflower Congregational Church, 3901 NW 63. Individuals usually start gathering about 7 p.m. and the meetings begin at 7:30. The average attendance is 15 to 20, but at special events — the walk called “A Walk to Remember Our Children Gone Too Soon” or their candle lighting gatherings — about 80 may attend.

“We welcome any parent or sibling that has lost a child from any cause. In other words, it doesn’t matter how they lost their child, it’s just that they are gone,” she said. “Also, TCF at the local chapter level is all volunteers, from the steering committee to chapter leader to chapter advisers. We are supported only through love gifts in memory or made to honor our children gone too soon.”

Circumstances differ in terms of tragedies, but Ellington knows what she faced following the death of her son. She also is willing to share what life has been like in the following months and years.

“I feel I have been put in this position to make something good happen from the terrible thing that happened,” Ellington said.

“To be able to share hope that joy can re-enter their lives when all they can see when they first come is darkness is important to me.”

MORE ABOUT: “A Walk to Remember Our Children Gone Too Soon,” organized by the North Oklahoma City Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, is scheduled for 10 a.m., Sept. 27 at Dolese youth park, 5105 NW 50. Registration/sign-in starts at 9:30 a.m. that day. Registration in advance is not required to participate, however, pre-registration before Aug. 30 will allow event organizers to have a T-shirt provided for participants in their size at the walk. There is no cost for this walk. “Love gifts or sponsors for the walk are welcomed which helps us to continue to open our doors for those who need us,” said Sharon Ellington, a chapter leader for North Oklahoma City Chapter of The Compassionate Friends.

Signing-up can be done through the group’s website at , or by calling the chapter phone 693-3955 or calling Sharon Ellington at 401-9092.

Bryan Painter

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