Efrat (Effie) Finkler, Adam Finkler,
About 4 years ago, my husband, David, contracted terminal pancreatic cancer. We knew he had 6 months to live.
Working as a teacher for more than 15 years, with kids who have cancer made it easier for me to gradually bring the bad news to my son, Adam, who was 11 years at the time. I wasn't totally sure if I did a good job preparing Adam.I had my doubts. Did I say the right thing? How will Adam hear my words? I was a mother, soon to be a widow. I was not a trained therapist.
Our friend, Dr. Tommy Bacher introduced me to The Dr. Jay Children's Grief Program. David was hospitalized at the Princess Margaret Hospital in the palliative care unit, when I made the call. Two wonderful counselors came to see us at the hospital. One of them talked to me and asked me questions regarding my conversations with Adam and reassured me that I had done a good job preparing Adam to deal with and prepare for his father's death. This was a great relief in a very difficult time. The other counselor talked to Adam.
I was reassured that he was well prepared. The counselor also asked Adam, "If your father dies, while you're at the hospital, would you like to see him?" That was a question I could not bring myself to ask…and Adam said "yes".
Both counselors asked if Adam and I would like to decorate a pillow case with special markers they had and put that pillow together with the many pillows that cushioned David, so he would feel our love and care surrounding him.
On Saturday morning, Oct 28th, 2008, I walked in David's room to get the markers from the closet. A minute after I walked in David closed his eyes forever. We didn't have a chance to decorate his pillow case … Adam was with him in the room (Thanks to the counselors, I knew he wished to be there. Adam amazed everyone, and especially the young nurse, when he asked if he could take the intravenous out of David's arm.
Even though we didn't have many counseling sessions with the Dr. Jay Children's Grief Counseling Program counselors, the few sessions we did have and the information provided helped me feel good about the way I prepared my son for dealing with a painful tragedy, and helped me be assured of an important fact … Adam wanted and needed to say farewell to his father on his death bed!!!
I was and still am very grateful for the emotional support we received by very qualified and sensitive counselors.
I offer my deepest and sincere thanks to The Dr. Jay Children's Grief Program. Please maintain this amazing program, and continue to support children who are dying or are experiencing the death of a family member and continue to help children and their families deal with death and grieving before and after the loss of a loved one.
My name is Robyn Posen Young.
I know that in the past, you’ve heard about the wonders of the Grief program that your dollars support. I’d like to tell you about what happens without such a program.
My daughter Samantha was suddenly diagnosed with an aggressive brain stem brain tumour when she was 4 ˝ years old; she had been perfectly healthy, happy and beautiful until just before her diagnosis. Samantha died a horrible death 11 months later.
Her death was horrible for many reasons; besides the obvious…no one can imagine the agony of losing their only child.
Samantha died horribly because of the absence of palliative and grief support. Grief support is VERY different from physical, palliative care.
Grief support deals with the crux of our souls and our hearts…the parts of us that allow us to be social, functioning human beings.
And when it comes to children, grief requires specialized care…for they are our babies…
We were left on our own for the most part to answer all of her questions and to guide her through all of her fears as her body deteriorated.
“What happens after a person dies, Mommy?”
“How does a person die?”
“Will you come to visit me?”
Were excruciating to deal with as parents who loved their child more than life itself.
There was no one for any of us to run to when Samantha asked these questions; and so, I had to become my own grief specialist…for her, for my husband, for our extended family…and of course, for myself. I had to come up with the answers and guide the way on my own, for all of us.
The weight of this burden was grueling emotionally, psychologically, socially and ultimately, physically.
We were left alone in a black hole…I was alone in a hole and my poor child was searching for answers.
Had we been lucky enough to have had specialized social, emotional, psychological grief support, Samantha’s death would have been different and so would the rest of our lives.
Maybe Samantha would have been willing to look at herself in the mirror, even though she was swollen and losing her hair.
Maybe my husband and I would not have locked the world out of our lives because the load of exhaustion, dealing with supporting Samantha in living through her dying process would have been lightened.
Maybe we would have heard more laughter and Samantha would have had quality of life at the end of her short existence.
Ultimately, maybe my husband’s and my health would have been better as the exhaustion quickly took its toll on each of us physically after she passed. This physical, psychological, social and emotional toll of having to have dealt with Samantha’s disease and death independently affects us daily. Proper, specialized grief support helps families live during the palliative process and the support received, allows families to live with lighter hearts, treasured memories and a little more breath after the death of a loved one because QUALITY
exist during the end… They are not alone!
We would have treasured the blessing of grief support during the end of our baby’s life. Samantha would have been able to ask all of her questions and we would have been able to hold hands with a specialist who understood more. The Grief Program supports families, children and adults, and allows them to help the agony dissipate to some extent, because the families know they are not alone. With proper grief support, we could have helped our baby pass on to the other side with peace in her heart…and maybe, a little bit of peace in ours as well.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart, as a mother, for helping to make sure that children and parents are not alone anymore…I thank you for allowing children to have quality at the end of their lives. None of this could happen without you.