OUR VOLUNTEERS MATTER
As a peer-to-peer based organization, our volunteers are critical to our organizational success. We rely heavily on their lived experience and their unique loss-specific perspectives to help facilitate our groups and services. Read how some of our volunteers feel about their journey from participant to program support.
WHAT OUR VOLUNTEERS ARE SAYING
I think anyone who has suffered through grief understands the difficulty in navigating the journey. The road winds and curves with multiple delays, and there is no Google Maps to provide directions. For the country lanes, well past dusk, where darkness seems to swallow HI beams. I wanted to be part of an organization which provides light to those lost in loss.
Aside from the kind souls with whom I am blessed to associate, there are two aspects of volunteering with the Centre for Grief & Healing that I particularly favour. The first is the opportunity to help another by drawing upon my own experiences with loss. From pain to purpose. The silver lining of grief, I like to say. It is a beautiful way to transmigrate what was once no more than memory. The second is the connection and community unlike what we regularly encounter. The sense of commonality, a collective support for those whom know what it is like. It is wonderful to witness (when we see we are not alone).
To understand each story of grief is unique. The journey is independent. There will be times your heart will break as you hear each tale unfold. It is a humanity for which it is difficult to prepare. To watch another suffer... But most rewarding are those moments, when our souls are shared.
— Mark, Facilitator and Events Committee Member
WHAT OUR VOLUNTEERS ARE SAYING
I lost my mom to cervical cancer in February 2018. Losing her in my twenties was an incredibly isolating and alienating experience. I was lucky enough to access some amazing support groups over the past few years that made me feel less alone. At this point in my grief journey, I felt ready to contribute to groups as a facilitator. Having recently moved to Oakville, I was excited when I learned that CFGH was accepting volunteers.
There is a real shared connection and immediate understanding when you meet others who have been through an experience of profound loss. It means a lot to me to be able to connect with folks in the Guardian Loss group who know what it's like to lose a parent or other guardian figure. And I love seeing when group members connect with each others' experiences and offer words of encouragement and support for one another.
You don't need to "move on." If you want them to still be part of your life, your loved one always will be, even if they're not physically here anymore. The impact they had on you and others lives on. You wouldn't be you without having known and loved them. And moving forward, you can also choose to live your life in ways that honour them.
Being a peer facilitator is about making space for group participants to share their stories and connect. Give some direction, but then step back and give them space to speak. Even on Zoom, you'll be amazed at the organic conversations that happen if you make space for it.
— Sasha, Facilitator
SPECIAL ADDITIONS FROM OUR VOLUNTEERS
POETRY WRITTEN AND SHARED BY MARK MATEJA, VOLUNTEER AROUND HIS PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF GRIEF
Candy cane cell.
shackle the sunrise
in eternal silhouette.
Hangs in the horizon with care.
Stockings are stuffed
with sympathetic suggestion.
Inside this box
without any ribbon.
The present is lost in an attic.
Winter warmth exhales
onto memory panes.
by the breathless cyclical chill.
The sound of silent carols.
They sing angel dawn.
Happy trigger warnings.
Tis the season for magnification.
Tis the season, but never a new year.
Can this just be another day?
To be alone in my loneliness.
I miss her like I miss Christmas.
Hollow as an ornament.
Sharp as the point of an icicle.
These holidays I hope to get through.
The only gift you could never give.
"Hope is This Holiday"
We will put dinner on in the morning.
There will be too many leftovers.
Set stockings by the fireplace.
One will be left empty.
There will be fewer presents,
but we will think of Christmas' past.
We can warm our hearts
where these embers burn forever.
There will be an extra seat at the table
we do not see as vacant.
New traditions bring us closer.
They do not ask us to let go.
We will memorialize grief
in venerable endeavour.
Hope is this holiday
we get to remember.
Grief is a difficult journey, maybe even moreso at this time of year. When Christmas becomes your trigger, how do you get through December? As my own began on the twenty fifth, to be annually repeated, helping others navigate this season is something I hold dear. Grief is individualistic. A wish in sharing my peregrination is perchase an illustration of the hope still in this holiday.
Copyright © 2020 [MARK MATEJA]. All Rights Reserved.