LORAIN, Ohio — Everyone handles grief in their own way – in their own time. However, one woman in Lorain County may have found a common thread to help people cope.
In the basement of God's Kingdom Worship Center in Lorain, a group of women from diverse backgrounds come together to find comfort by creating.
"You can release your pain, you can release your emotions," said Mone’t Roberts.
Just one day after her mother's sudden death, Roberts, a small business owner, picked herself up to fulfill an order of pillows.
"I can hear her say, 'That's mommy's go-getter.' It was so therapeutic, it took my mind off my mom, the stress of losing her,” said Roberts.
Roberts said it gave her much-needed hope.
"Why not give that to other people? Why not open this up for others?," said Roberts.
That's exactly what she did.
Roberts created pillow therapy workshops.
"I was like, it's just a pillow. I have a bunch of pillows. I can get a pillow anywhere. And it really helped me at that time," said Joanna Serrano, a pillow therapy participant.
Serrano was in the first group of women to attend.
"I was just beating myself up about it because I thought I did something wrong," said Serrano.
The mother of two, who suffered back-to-back miscarriages, got the chance to tackle her trauma.
"When you just keep them for a long time buried up, they kind of haunt you a little bit. It was just a safe place, is a safe place to come," said Serrano.
As a mental health advocate, Roberts encourages the women to share their truth and release their pain.
"It's kind of like a balloon. If you blow up a balloon so often and you keep on pushing and pushing, eventually it is going to pop. So, we have to release some of that air out,” said Roberts.
Among the messages placed on the pillows: "Gracefully Broken - Beautifully Sculpted," and "Yet I Stand."
"This is a journey and you continue to stand, and you will always stand because God has faith that you will make it through this," said Roberts.
It's the reminder Angela Jennings found herself in need of following her father's death.
"You find out that you're not the only person that's going through these things and you're just able to really relax and let your hair down and be yourself,” said Jennings.
The care and compassion these ladies found during the creation process in this room is now just an arm's reach away.
"It's a reminder every single day, every time you look at your decor, it literally shifts the atmosphere,” said Roberts.
For Roberts, this is just the beginning.
She's currently raising money to bring this program to women living at a nearby homeless shelter.
Roberts believes she can be a part of the process to turn their lives around.
"I grew up in Lorain County, where poverty was literally a death sentence for a lot of people. So, if I can get healing, if I can get some therapeutic freedom in building a pillow then so can someone else. I believe that it's possible for everybody. So why not share it?” said Roberts.
This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.