Jenniffer: "Some days I felt I couldn't live anymore without my brother."
Jenniffer, 16 and a sophomore in high school, experienced the death of her brother five years ago. She began at the Caring Place four years later, to help with her continuing struggles with her brother's death.
Life Was So Hard to Live
I started coming to Caring Place for a couple of reasons. One of them being that my parents recognized that I was struggling in many areas. The second is that I needed help and advice about grieving with my brother's death.
Before I started coming to the Caring Place, life was so hard to live. There were days that I sat there and I didn't think I could live anymore without my brother. Whenever a birthday, holiday, or special occasion would come along, I would always end up shedding at least a few tears. Nothing was the same without my brother.
If my family would go to the cemetery to plant flowers I would end up in tears there, too. The tears aren't the part that changed when I came to the Caring Place. I still cry when I miss my brother, but what the Caring Place has taught me is that there are many different ways to grieve, and one of my personal ways is to cry. The Caring Place has taught me that this is acceptable.
They Know What It's Like
Coming to the Caring Place has also taught me how to approach my friends and family about my brother. It has made me more comfortable with explaining my brother's story to not just my friends, but his old friends as well.
Even though I got to be more comfortable talking to people about my brother, I still find it easier to talk to people that have gone through a similar situation and understand the way that I feel, like the people at the Caring Place.
The families here have all lost someone that they love. They are so understanding and they know what it's like. I feel that it is easier to talk to someone that I can relate to than it is to talk to somebody that has never experienced the feelings and emotional states that I have.
The volunteers here are also very good with all of the different age groups. They dedicate their time to helping families grieve with lost loved ones. Some of the many activities that I enjoy doing when coming to the Caring Place are the journals and the memory boxes. I enjoy the journals because they give me time to write my thoughts on paper, and I have the choice to share them or keep them confidential. I also tend to get overwhelmed with my thoughts when I think about my brother's death, but there are some prompts that the volunteers give you, that you can choose to use or not. Most of the time, I use the prompts so that I'm thinking about a narrower region of the effects of my brother's death.
The memory box was nice too because I could decorate it however I wanted to. I put lyrics from a song by Switchfoot, called "Yesterdays" on it. It says "I woke up from a dream last night; I dreamt that you were by my side; reminding me I still had life in me; I carry on." Both of these activities I felt could help me with expressing my feelings for my brother but in a way I would have never thought about.
Like most places, there are a few rules here. One of the big rules here is called "I pass." This rule simply says that if your group is going around talking about something and you are just not in the mood to talk maybe you had a bad day at school or work, or maybe you're just not comfortable talking about a certain subject you may say "I pass" and the volunteers and people in your group will respect that; no questions asked. They will not make you do or say anything that you do not want to do, or are not comfortable with.
Another big rule here is called confidentiality. This means what is said in your group, stays in your group. You don't need to worry about other kids or the volunteers going home, to school, or to work, and talking about what was said in session. What happens in the room, stays in the room, except for some of the activities that you do.
Something that the Caring Place has given me is the opportunity to make a lot of new friends. You will discover that if you come here, there is usually at least one other family that has a story similar to yours. A lot of times you will be closer to them than anyone else there, but you will most likely make friends with everyone, if not friends, at least acquaintances.
Another thing about the Caring Place is that if you are telling people in your group your story and you start crying, they aren't going to laugh at you, judge you, or make fun of you. The people here are very understanding; they have respect. They treat everyone equal because everyone is here for basically the same reason.
The Caring Place has helped me out so much, so far, that my family and I have decided to come back for ongoing sessions.