The NAGC sent out a call for letters from those who experienced childhood bereavement. The letters were to be written to their younger self and hopefully show today’s grieving children and teens that there is a future ahead.
The following letter came to us from Tory.
To the Children, Youth and Families grieving around the globe,
It was the traumatic death of my father at the age of 9 years that made me who I am today.
With this loss came a profound sense of grief which resulted in me experiencing all the common (but as individual as the individual) feelings and emotions of anger, unexpected happiness, loneliness and profound sadness.
However when my world had turn upside down I was fortunate to have had the unconditional love and presence of my mother.
At the time I didn’t understand how lucky I was to have a mother who understood that she had two daughters who were now vulnerable to being ‘at risk’ for mental health illness as well as social and emotional behaviour challenges. With much reluctance on my part, I was given the support and guidance to help me through such a difficult time.
Most of the time this support involved several different types of play experiences which clinicians used to navigate my thoughts and understanding around the death of my father. Naturally for me as a child this became an exciting ‘event’ in my week. Play was how I normalized my childhood and established a better understanding of the trauma myself and my family had experienced.
Fast forward 23 years. I am now a Registered Early Childhood Educator and Certified Child Life Specialist. I have found my passion as a clinician working with children, youth and families who have been touched by illness, grief and bereavement both within hospital and community organizations.
I firmly believe I wouldn’t be who I am today without having experienced the loss of my beloved father at such a young age. More so – without the support and love of my (at times relentless) mother. Without a shadow of a doubt I wouldn’t be the successful individual I am today.
Often I am asked how I emotionally handle the work I do. I am constantly questioned and looked at with a sense of wonder. People are so curious how do I do the work I do?
My answer is consistently this. I could not imagine I child not having someone there to simply the hardest things for them and support them through by helping them understand the toughest thing they have ever experienced by creating a space of acceptance.
My grief has changed and evolved as I have from a grieving little girl to a successful and professional woman working to support all children, youth and families who have experienced grief in their life. Your own experience will change and evolve just like your life ahead of you. Thank you for sharing and supporting Children’s Grief Awareness Day with me.