Losing a child to death is the most devastating loss a couple could experience. It is a heartbreak like no other. Julie Giordano and her husband agonized over the loss of their beloved son, Gavin. He was only 2 1/2.
They would survive the intense, exaggerated pain that lingered for years. But ultimately their marriage would not survive. Their divorce after 24 years of marriage would add to the layers of pain Giordano had already endured throughout her youth. The couple married in 1985 when Julie Corbello was 20. They were blissfully in love. It wasn’t long before they had two active little boys, Jeno and Gavin, full of laughter and fun. The tragedy happened on a beautiful spring day in April 1991. The family had been working in the yard all day.
According to Giordano, the boys had gotten into a small storage closet off the garage and were playing with a small can of gasoline. Suddenly, the nearby hot water heater ignited. Gavin was on fire. Approximately 49 percent of his body was burned. After hours in the emergency room, Gavin was transported to Galveston Burn Center in Galveston, Texas. Two days later, he had surgery to begin skin grafting.
“After two hours of surgery, everything went wrong,” Giordano said. “During surgery, Gavin’s lungs were not working. He had a heart attack and coded in surgery. After using a defibrillator and CPR for 45 minutes, the doctors finally brought him back. He was in a coma.”
Later the next day Gavin’s organs began to fail, and, despite many prayers, he did not survive. The loss was beyond words, the pain unimaginable.
“The accident was so tragic, so emotional,” Giordano said. “I don’t believe a husband and wife are equipped in their DNA to handle that type of pain. It’s not in a mother or a father to lose your child. It’s just not. Only supernaturally can you move forward with the Lord and not live in a state of anger and be mad at God. I needed God. I couldn’t afford to be mad at Him because He was my only source of help.”
Giordano stated she and her husband lived in shock for the first two years, describing the aftermath at times as “unbearable.”
“We prayed and went to church. I had a strong faith and my husband hung onto my faith in the beginning, but later grew in his own faith. We moved to a new church and they really loved us and encouraged us as a family. We later had a little girl named Jade. She was born in our brokenness but she brought so much joy in our lives.”
Years later, however, Giordano said her husband immersed himself in his work, traveling a lot in his sales position and becoming very successful.
“Every person has their own layers,” she said. “Gavin’s death was layered upon all of my pain. And my husband had his own layers. His way of dealing with it, after he got through the initial crisis, was just not to deal with it. I wanted to talk through it. He didn’t. He wanted to just move forward in his business.”
Giordano said they fought for their marriage a long time, but ultimately separated in 2007, then divorced in 2009. She admitted with tears swelling in her eyes how difficult that was.
“It is one of the hardest things I have ever been through, and it is the very thing that still makes me cry,” she confessed. “When a marriage is workable, it is so difficult to watch it slip through your hands. How do walk away from all of your history together — all the memories, all the dreams? Your dynamic of family changes, just like that.”
Giordano said she learned how to keep her mind on God’s Word and worship her way through life.
“That’s been my greatest victory, I would say. I can get in God’s Word, stand on His Word and believe His Word even when I don’t feel it. The Word is true and your feelings will line up. I also had to learn how to protect myself, because the enemy will attack you in your weakness. I know what triggers me. I learned a lot about boundaries in life. I learned to protect my mind and how to stay in that place of peace. The Lord has healed so much in my life. For so long I was looking for my husband to fill those wounds in my life, and he was incapable. He’s not a savior. Through it all, I learned about the importance of the peace of God.”
Giordano has shared her message at churches, conferences and colleges, as well as national and international missions in Honduras and India. She explained how she ended up in Cleveland.
“I followed Judy Jacobs Tuttle on television and heard about her mentoring program. I was the executive director for Habitat for Humanity in Southwest Louisiana. One of my friends was in her mentoring program and invited me to attend one of the mentoring conferences in Cleveland,” Giordano said.
“I came with my friend in February 2011. At that time my daughter had just graduated from high school. She was going to LSU and she would travel with me quarterly to the mentoring conferences. I’m really passionate about mentoring. It’s a part of my DNA. Our lives were radically changed during that year, and we knew we wanted to be part of the mentoring program, church and vision here at Dwelling Place Church International.”
Giordano and her daughter moved to The City With Spirit 4 1/2 years ago, leaving family and longtime friends behind. She is the director of ministries at Dwelling Place Church International, working with Pastors Jamie and Judy Jacobs Tuttle. She also accompanies Tuttle when she travels.
“She’s a powerful mentor in my life,” Giordano said. “As our pastors, they have truly loved and encouraged us as we experienced a deeper level of healing from our past.”
Experiencing the early loss of her innocence, the tragic loss of her child and the heartbreaking loss of her marriage have not made Giordano bitter. Instead, she is using her experiences to teach and empower others who are coping with their own tragedies in life. While she would be the first to admit that her journey is far from over, Giordano said her life is a happy one, devoted, not to hatred or holding grudges, but to empowering others, mentoring and sharing a message of mercy, compassion, understanding and love.
“I have a heart and passion to minister to women,” she said. “I minister to many broken women due to my testimony, and there are so many women who have been abused in some form or fashion, and their identity has been broken. My passion is for women to rise above their situation and fulfill their purpose. We are not our circumstance. There are so many women living bound. They’re not living in freedom. We have to learn how to seek the Lord, embrace healing and pursue the purpose inside of our heart.”
For further information, visit: juliegministries.tv.
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