Unfortunately, 20 years in the funeral industry never prepared me for my brother’s death.”Karen Cook
CULLMAN – Sometimes we tend to overlook the things our brothers and sisters say to us, not giving their words a second thought, but when Karen Cook’s brother, Johnny, spoke, she listened. After all, he was her best friend and confidant. On Nov. 8, 2015, Johnny committed suicide. That day changed her life forever. The words he had once written down became the building blocks of her new calling, Cook Ministries.
"Sometimes people are struggling with life and carrying a smile, always trying to be strong. Be kind to the people you meet; you never know what is going on in their life. A kind word may be all it takes to help them through another day."
For more than 20 years, Cook, single mother of three, has worked as a funeral director, a job most people don’t like to think about. But to her it’s a job where she feels she can help families during their darkest hours.
“Working at a job where I help families in one of their darkest hours, I have found there’s no greater fulfillment than helping someone else,” she smiled. “Unfortunately, 20 years in the funeral industry never prepared me for my brother’s death.” Her demeanor changed to sadness for just a moment.
“I was brought up a pastor’s kid and frankly never saw myself being any type of Christian leader, much less do the things I’m doing now, although I’ve played piano and sang in church all of my life.”
As Cook worked through her sorrow at Johnny’s untimely death, she began to feel a new purpose in life. She wanted to help others who shared similar issues her brother had. She wanted them to know there were other options in dealing with depression besides suicide.
“Cook Ministries focuses on helping/supporting the Cullman County Child Development Center as well as the Hanceville Police Youth Explorers,” Cook explained. “We advocate for suicide prevention awareness in any way we can. We work alongside Dr. Howard Rodgers at The Delta Center in Cullman. Dr. Rodgers is a Christian counselor we refer people to, if needed.
“In memory of Johnny, we have a support system in place for suicide prevention. We also help people deal with suicide, grief, hurt, addiction, recovery and finally restoration. We focus on supporting those who don’t quite believe in themselves, just as Johnny did for his baby sister. We help them to succeed and become productive members of society. They, in turn, learn to help others.
“We have pamphlets and information available regarding suicide. We also have churches, pastors and counselors in place for referrals. We are also available to speak about suicide in recovery group meetings as well as other public forums.
“One of the biggest challenges in my ministry is in seeing people who need help, who want help, but aren’t strong enough to get help. That is where we come in with the Lord’s help, to restore love.”
Cook is a busy little lady these days. She still enjoys her job as a funeral director and helping others through Cook Ministries. Would you believe she also serves as Chaplain at Hanceville Police Department? Yep, she definitely has her work cut out for her these days.
You know, there is a word that comes to mind when I think of all the work Cook does throughout Cullman County. That word is DIGNITY. Her ability to bring a ‘sense of pride in oneself’ to those around her is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Through God, she is able to give the depressed, the lowly and the downtrodden a sense self-respect, which in turn saves lives.
From Cook Ministries:
SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS
Talk about wanting to kill oneself.
Talk about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
Talk about feeling trapped.
Talk about being a burden to others.
Increased alcohol or drug use.
Acting anxious or behaving recklessly.
These are just a few, but if you or someone you know are experiencing any of these symptoms, we are here to help – contact us and let put you in the hands of a Christian licensed counselor today – YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND YOU DO MATTER!
For more information about Cook Ministries, call 256-338-2340, email them at CookMinistries@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/CookMinistries.