MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — Their son, Noah, was healthy. Catie and Dan Taylor said he was a vibrant 2-year-old full of personality with a love for trains, and a proud big brother to his then 6-week-old sister.
“Every time Noah would enter a room he did so with enthusiasm,” Dan said.
But on Jan. 16, 2019, things took a turn.
“We were 100% shocked,” Catie said. “We had no idea what had just happened in our world.”
Noah died peacefully that day in his sleep. Doctors told his parents he had lymphoma, but an autopsy wouldn’t reveal that until months later.
“To say that it was difficult is an understatement,” Dan said.
Kaitlin Booth, a Children and Teen Acquisition Librarian for Medina County, knew the Taylor family. She said her son and Noah were friends.
“Noah passed away and for the first time in my life I had to help my son through that,” she said. “He was asking me a lot of questions. 'What happened to Noah?' 'Where is Noah?' 'When is he coming back?' 'Are we going to his house?'”
Those questions are hard to answer but sparked the idea of grief kits.
“If a family suffers a tragic loss and they don’t ever come to terms with it or don’t ever talk about it or work through it, at some point in that person‘s life they will come face to face with that those feelings and those thoughts,” said Ashley Waite, Director of Community Engagement of Waite and son Funeral Homes. “We can start at a young age helping to make these conversations natural and less taboo and ultimately to destigmatize the grieving process.”
Waite said since Noah’s passing and the start of the coronavirus pandemic, grief has overwhelmed Medina County. Her team is preparing to serve 600 families this year, leaving up to 5,500 loved ones to grieve.
But the grief kits, provided by the local libraries, can help.
"The library felt like a natural partnership. The library is a place where people have congregated and come for information for many years," Waite said.
The kits include activities, resources and books for families and kids of all ages to heal together in honor of Noah.
“It’s hard but it’s important work to do so that you can continue to try to find joy in everyday,” Caite said.
The grief kits are available free at the Medina County District Library and several other branches. All you need is a library card to check on out. However, that has to be done in person.