In 2010, I lost my 55 year-old mother to cancer. During the final month of her life, my dad and I took care of her in her home. Mom always said that you don’t know pain until you have a child and they are in pain. I went home that night to my ten year old son who had just learned that his Nanny, one of his true soul mates, was gone forever. I finally understood what Mom had meant when I found him in the dark, inconsolable on the floor.
Five months later, my son’s Father completed suicide. My heart broke and my mind raced when I got the phone call. How was I going to tell my baby that? The sudden crushing of his already weakened spirit was the most painful thing I have ever gone through.
I didn’t understand grief until it touched me personally. It is a hole in the heart that nothing or nobody can replace. It is the absence of a unique relationship that once occupied a very distinct place in my life. It is empty and painful and there isn’t anything that anyone can do to make it better. It is a journey of healing and it is between me and me alone. Now that I have a true comprehension of the intimacy and intensity of grief, I am better able to support others facing similar struggles. The biggest gift grieving gave to me was strong empathy.
My son and I went to The BFO Parent and Child Art Therapy Program in the spring of 2011 and began our journey to healing. Later, I took the facilitator training program and began to volunteer. I now volunteer in the Support and Share programs and facilitate the Art Therapy groups for children.
An essential part of my personal transformation was complete surrender. These deaths in our world made no sense, and in my pain and complete uncertainty, I had to trust that we would pull through and that these incidents of potential destruction could also be stepping stones to a place of great purpose in our lives. Although we will forever be affected by these deaths, they have strengthened my trust and character. I can now identify with sorrow and take more responsibility to help others in their time of need.
A journey of self-discovery emerged from my grief. Three years have passed and I now have new tools and strategies that I would not have acquired without grief. I have just completed my first year in the social service worker program at Algonquin College. I am taking courses on crisis intervention, addictions, counselling and interviewing, psychology and group work. The way that this path ties into the person I was created to be and the work I was meant to do is simply awesome.