TO GIVE BACK IS TO GROW...
Andrew, Bereavement Volunteer
Nervousness. Excitement. Worry. Reservation. Delight. These are just a few descriptions of how I felt when I first began my volunteer position with Hospice King-Aurora (HKA) as a co-facilitator of the child bereavement group. For years after the passing of my sister, despite prodding from several prominent people in my life, I shied away from participating in any bereavement group. Needless to say, to find myself preparing to help lead one brought up mixed emotions.
Before diving into my experience with the child bereavement group, let me recount my time with HKA from the beginning. I have never before stepped into an unfamiliar setting and been filled with such kindness and warmth. This welcoming atmosphere is created by all members of HKA, whether employees or volunteers. I have been lucky enough to experience this atmosphere from a working perspective as well as a volunteer perspective and I can say without a doubt that the kindness I have experienced here at HKA is genuine. If only everyone could be lucky enough during their time of need to have people in their lives with the compassion and generosity that the members of HKA display.
Those feelings of apprehension towards my volunteer role quickly turned to unbridled happiness. The other volunteers, the activities, and the interactions all added to the experience but what really made volunteering for the bereavement group worthwhile were the children. Each session of the bereavement group is broken into two parts. To begin, the children participate in an activity that focused on the loved one they lost. These activities were commonly arts and crafts and I would be lying if I said arts and crafts were my forte. The portion of the session where I really bonded with the kids was during our time outside where we played a variety of games together, which usually ended with me getting chased or pummeled with any type of ball that happened to be lying around. Despite this “abuse”, I wouldn’t have it any other way. This experience has and will continue to create a space for both the children and myself, and I can only hope that they have been as positively impacted as I have.
I came into this volunteer position with the hopes of helping the children during their time of need, but in the end I left with an unexpected surprise; a strong connection with the children. As each session came and went my relationship with the children grew. As this relationship continually developed I found myself as a person growing. I now head into my first full year as a co-facilitator of the child bereavement group with aspirations which I know will be fulfilled here at HKA.