“It requires courage for all of us to go to the most vulnerable places. It’s a condition of being human.”
Canuck Place counsellor and registered marriage and family therapist, Deborah Davison supports Canuck Place families as they navigate their grief, both before and after their child passes.
“If we’re doing our job, we’re coming in shoulder-to-shoulder alongside people to allow them to know, ‘we’re with you’ ”
When speaking about her work, Deborah repeatedly returns to the feeling of humbleness she experiences being put in a position to support families through one of the most difficult journeys they will ever face, because it does take an extraordinary level of courage to step up and choose to face it.
“I think it’s a condition of being human to want to make sense of the story,” Deborah said. “And we talk a lot about meaning-making. We need to feel that our narrative, our journey makes sense to us. When your child has a life-limiting condition, that upends all of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘coulds’.”
Canuck Place seeks to provide a safe space to navigate these complex journeys and feel the big emotions.
“None of us go to the scary places alone. You take a trusted companion along to keep you safe enough to do the big work. Canuck Place offers the professional expertise to help them figure out who they are and what they need.”
Canuck Place does a remarkable job of ensuring entire families are cared for, including parents, siblings, grandparents, and even aunts and uncles, something Deborah is particularly proud of.
“I suspect people don’t know that we’re as family-centered as we are. Canuck Place represents a safe environment for families. They can be their whole self here. We don’t put a time limit on grief. If you think you’re still in need of support, we are available.”
In addition to counselling sessions and group work, Canuck Place counsellors are also on hand during family outings and events like the Winter Family Fest or the Family Skate.
“Grief surges when you find yourself triggered with emotions you didn’t even know you had,” explains Deborah.
Through it all, the thing that sticks with Deborah the most is a sense of humbleness while witnessing love and courage between families.
“I am always honoured to witness the continuing bonds these parents have with their children, and the courage with which they hold them in their hearts when they no longer have the privilege of holding them in their arms.”
Courage is featured in 2016’s 12 Gratitudes. Follow along as we share joy and gratitude.