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Grief & Play & Growing Up

Last month, I spent three consecutive Saturdays learning about children and death.

No joke. I want to volunteer with the Philip Aziz Centre for Hospice Care, specifically with children who have a life-limiting illness or who have a family member with a life-limiting illness. One of the first steps through the door is a series of Saturday training sessions.

It's been interesting seeing peoples' reactions as I've told them how excited I am at this opportunity - each weekend I left the training tired from sitting all day, but eager to be in someone's home and life during a turbulent time. Is that weird? It isn't that I am glad of trauma and devastation, but I think the services that Philip Aziz offers are a beautiful thing.

Most of the training focused on two topics: grief and play. Because that's what we volunteers are there for. Helping children have some stability and support as they walk through grief, and giving them the freedom and opportunity to play.

Play is very important in childrens' lives, and the speakers told story after story of life-processing in the context of play. It made me wonder why we cut play out of our lives as we grow up, and how perhaps we adults would be a little more well-adjusted if we gave ourselves the freedom to play. Not play as mind-numbing escape, not play as competition, and not play as moral debauchery...but play as play.

I also think most adults could use some training in how to interact with people who are grieving. Sensitivity training! That's what we need. How to navigate potentially awkward conversations (and not just about death), how to give people the freedom to say no, how to let people know we support them without demanding more from them. We all have life-crises of one sort or another, and yet most of us are ill-equipped to step into others' lives and walk beside them. If the general population at large had the maturity and knowledge to do this, I would be out of a volunteering opportunity. And wouldn't that be a beautiful thing?

Two links to clips from The IT Crowd to wrap things up with a laugh.
One shows how awkward and afraid our culture is when it comes to death.
The other shows how good intentions don't always equal comfort.


MLW said…
Excited to hear where this special training and volunteering leads you.

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