SHERIDAN – If you’ve ever lost a child, Dave and Kristina Collins want you to know you’re not alone.
The couple lost their eldest son, Davey Collins, in 2014 when the boy was 3 in a tragic car accident. Kristina Collins and the family’s eldest daughter, 8 months old at the time, survived the crash.
After the fatal accident, Kristina Collins kept her feelings inside for a long time. Her husband has spent a lot of time isolating himself from his family. She said her feelings escalated and eventually exploded.
âNo matter how strong you think you are, at some point you’re going to crash,â said Dave Collins.
Their marriage struggled because of it, until Dave Collins hooked up with a worldwide group of bereaved parents.
âCompassionate Friends is big enough that the networking is phenomenal,â said Dave Collins. “Unless you personally know someone who has sadly experienced (the death of a child), you don’t know who to talk to.”
Dave Collins said some parents want to talk to someone who has had a similar experience, as both have had a fatal 4-H incident with their child and want to talk to someone else who can relate to themselves directly.
âCompassionate Friends are all over the world which is awesome,â Kristina Collins said. âYou can reach someone in a whole other country. “
Networking allows people around the world to connect with parents in person, over the phone or virtually. The Collins family are now participating in this global connectivity by mentoring other bereaved parents. Dave Collins first felt the call to give back to the organization that helped his family in times of need. His still hesitant wife finally joined him in 2020 after continually replying that she had four children, one of whom was in paradise.
Now the couple are working together to host a 24-hour helpline through Compassionate Friends. Most other groups meet in person at designated times and rarely. From their experience, the Collinses knew that some parents like them needed more help and accessibility from someone any time of the day, any day of the week.
“There are still times when I want to blame myself for waiting so long as wanting to reach out, whether it’s just to help others or just for myself to reach out,” Kristina Collins said.
For those looking for help the Collinses knew they needed, you can contact the Collins 24-hour line at 307-685-6629 or visit the Compassionate Friends website at compassionatefriends.org.
âNobody foresees it; no one knows the time, so we wanted to be available to talk to someone day and night, âsaid Dave Collins. “And if for some reason we miss a call, we’ll return it within 12 hours.”
The couple continue to raise three children in rural Weston, Wyoming.
Ashleigh Snoozy joined The Sheridan Press in October 2016 as a reporter before assuming the role of editor in November 2018. She is originally from Colorado and graduated from Biola University in Los Angeles.