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At Issue: Dealing With Grief - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

At Issue: Dealing With Grief

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Two families are facing the shock of losing a child suddenly on the ski slopes in Vermont.

The deaths of 20-year-old Torin Tucker and 19-year-old Kendra Bowers resonates with a Vermont mother who lost her own son in a ski accident.

"This is him. That was the summer before he died," says Brooke Cunningham.

Her son Bradley died in a skiing accident when he was 18 years old.

"He was skiing at Sunday River. He was a ski patrolman. He was doing sweep and he didn't show up and they went to look for him and they found him by the trail and he'd hit a tree," she says.

Since her son's death 13 years ago, Brooke has helped other families who face sudden deaths. She's not a counselor, just a mom who knows the pain of losing a child.

She says, you should avoid telling someone who just lost a child that their child is still with us.

"When someone said that to me after a number of times I finally exploded and said, well then tell me where the hell he is because I'm going there," she says. "This poor person that said it was like ... and it's true that she didn't deserve it but I'd heard it 500 times and still every minute I was alone in my heart."

Brooke also recommends thinking about something your child really loved and finishing it. For Brooke that meant helping other families.

"I had Bradley in my mind when I dialed that women and said this happened to me last year," she said.

For the Dartmouth Ski team, it meant celebrating the life of Torin Tucker by skiing the final 7k of the race he never finished. It's a tribute, they say, has started to help fill a void after their teammate died during competition.

Two years after her son died, Cunningham took a ride in the boat he made.

"I have to say that was incredibly empowering being in his boat," she says.

"I can say my son died in the cold in the evening alone or I can say my son was doing what he loved more than anything in the universe and both things are true," she says.

She says your decision will influence how you move forward, though she admits you will never be the same.

Brooke has a Facebook page called, "The Child in My Heart" where people can share their stories.

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