A fun and safe place for grieving children.

FROM THE HEART: Grief in the Everyday Stuff

 

Elisabeth Beaver, affectionately known as Sloane, was a camper at the very first camp held by Comfort Zone Camp, in Virginia. When Sloane moved to Massachusetts, she became a Big Buddy volunteer. She now lives in New York City and continues to be a comfort zone for others.

 

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It’s been twenty years since my Dad died. Sometimes, it feels so far away; I can't remember what it feels like to call someone “Dad.” Other times, it feels like yesterday, and I can hear his voice reminding me to “have fun and learn a lot.”

 

Grief doesn’t hit me in the monumental moments, like his death anniversary, his birthday, or even Christmas. It’s the little, everyday stuff – like seeing my friend’s iPhone light up with “Call from Dad” or passing a daughter on her dad’s shoulders – that sends me back to the sadness I felt so acutely twenty years ago.

 

It hits me when I least want it to; as I watched my best friend walk down the aisle with her dad, or when I crossed the finish line of a half marathon with my sister. These moments are emotionally complicated; I sense the joy and happiness that surround me, but also feel emptiness, longing, and even jealousy inside of me. And, of course, there is the guilt that comes with feeling sad when the people around you are experiencing the happiest moments of their lives.

 

When I went to Comfort Zone as a camper, I found a place where there is no guilt attached to grief. I found a place where feelings aren’t judged. I didn’t feel shame when I was sad when I thought I should be happy, or when I was happy when I thought I should be sad. It was a place where I never felt burdened with the idea that “everything happens for a reason.”

 

When I returned many years later as a Big Buddy in Massachusetts, I was reminded that experiencing grief and sadness, no matter how many years later, just means that you are healing. Grief is a process without a discrete ending.


Someone once said, “some things cannot be overcome – they must be carried.” That's always been meaningful to me – I’m not sure I will ever not miss my dad. But Comfort Zone taught me something that the author of that quote did not – these things may have to be carried, but they don’t have to be carried alone.

 

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