On Tuesday, December 9, 2008, my baba (grandma)’s two year battle with cancer was finally over. Although we expected it, nobody was ready for it. I felt grief overwhelm my body – but at the time, had no idea what grief was. It was an unknown force making me feel cold, sick, angry, sad, a little bit relieved, but very, very scared.
I HATED my grief. I wanted “him” to leave me alone and never come back. I knew he was there to serve a purpose, but had no idea what his purpose was. I was angry at him for being there, and devastated at the thought that he may never go away.
In a desperate search for something or someone to help me get rid of my grief for good, I came across Pilgrims Hospice and signed up for the Expressive Arts for Grieving Children & Teens program.
I don’t remember every detail of what was said, but I do remember tracing my body on a giant piece of paper and illustrating my emotions within my body. I remember the music that made us think of grief and loss. I remember crying, too, and that being okay.
Aside from all of this, I remember everyone listening to me and how respected, honoured, valued, and validated I felt. Sitting next to other children who had lost a loved one helped reverse my loneliness. The candles we lit made me feel close to my baba and I still light candles on her “Angelversary” (the day she became an angel), to feel close to her.
As I’ve become an adult, I’ve learned that I can define my grief for myself. I can embrace it as a part of my life and make informed decisions about how to coexist with it. I’m a firm believer that grief never goes away once it’s with you. But I also believe that the way in which you coexist with grief can make all the difference.
Because I attended the grieving teens program at Pilgrims Hospice, I learned that my feelings are okay. I learned to express them in healthy ways, and I got to learn how to feel close to my baba again.
I will be volunteering with Pilgrims Hospice in the grieving teens program soon, and hope to help other teens learn how they can be close to their loved ones. I want to help them feel validated, respected, honoured, and valued. I want them to know they aren’t alone. I think that’s something my baba and I can both be proud of.
– Jennifer Pothier