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Oregon, Ohio family dealing with sudden loss of husband, father | Mental Health Awareness Month

39-year-old Cory Stevenson, who played bass in the Cedar Creek worship band, passed away unexpectedly earlier this week leaving behind a wife and three children.

OREGON, Ohio — To start this past work week, Cory and Bethany Stevenson and their three children weren't thinking about National Mental Health Awareness Month.

The month was established in 1949 as a way to raise awareness for a wide range of mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and grief.

The Stevensons, with deep roots in Oregon, Ohio, were living what seemed like a picture-perfect life. Cory served on the board for the Oregon Schools Foundation and played bass guitar for the Cedar Creek worship band on Sundays.

"Before this happened, everything was perfect. We went on regular date nights, we planned fun activities with the kids and loved just being together," said Bethany Stevenson. "We had just talked on Sunday that life was perfect and we were so thankful for our children and the life that we had built."

But earlier this week, 39-year-old Cory passed away - tragically and unexpectedly.

Now, his surviving family members are trying to understand their grief in a month dedicated to millions of others in the same shoes.

"I called my counselor right away and said 'hey, checking in. Going through something really heavy right now.' And his advice was - don't be afraid to grieve," said Luke Shortridge, a close friend and relative of Cory’s.

Cory's family says he was born with an interrupted aortic arch. Doctors installed a mechanical valve in his heart when he was a child, but as he grew, doctors would need to replace the valve. By the time he was 18, Cory had a total of 8 surgeries on his heart.

On Tuesday night, his family says Cory had a complication that they believe was tied to his heart. He ended up dying Wednesday morning.

Bethany says one of the first things she thought about was journaling to help her through the grief.

"I want us to write down memories, things we want to say to him. The kids each have a journal and they're writing things down that we want to get out, things we don't want to forget," said Bethany.

And it's something her children are embracing and clinging to as they process their own grief.

"It really helps me feel better, and I feel like God will send those messages for me. It just feels like I can talk to Dad with it," said 11-year-old son Colton. 

Like so many before them, the family is working together to learn the difficult lessons of how to handle unexpected tragedy and the grief that comes with it.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral costs.

If you are experiencing grief there are many resources you can reach out to for help.

Click here for a list of National Alliance on Mental Health organizations around the state.


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