My service project was to spend time with children who have lost a parent at a very young age. I planned to invite a total of five young teenagers to my home for a Halloween Party. Those invited were my son, who lost his father to cancer at age seven. My niece who lost her father to an automobile accident at age ten. A cousin who lost his mother to an illness at age five. Another cousin who lost his father to cancer at age six. And finally a cousin who just lost his mother to a heart attack August of this year at the age of thirteen. The importance of this small gathering was to allow them all to share and spend time with each other and play and have fun but also to bind. Sometimes, it is hard for children to open up about their feelings or fears and they all handle grief and pain in different ways. I wanted to give them an atmosphere where they were comfortable and could reflect on their parent but also to find the positive in the situation. So, they all came in their costumes and exchanged their events of the day at school and soon began playing games and of course CANDY!! After we settled down for the evening I asked each one of them to share how they were expressing a positive show of love towards their parent. They all agreed they were staying involved in their school work and giving their best with their grades and being obedient and not getting into trouble. We talked about it was normal to cry at times and to miss their parent that had died especially during the holidays and during parent oriented events at school. Two of them shared that they were afraid at night with the thoughts of their parent dying in their home. Two of the children had parents to die inside the home. I assured them that were normal to feel that way and there was nothing wrong with it; tears heal.
As I watched them through the rest of the evening mingling in with one another I made me feel such a burst of positive energy and feeling of purpose by taking an evening of my time to give them a afternoon of healing was so very rewarding. It is so easy for people to get caught up in the hustle of everyday life. It is so easy to say you do not have time or it is not your place to say or do anything. As I thought of my service idea, I reflected on these children and how each one was around me and I was in knowledge of their lost and I could not let anymore time pass without giving of myself and time to be a positive light. I am so thankful for this class for assigning this service project and forcing me to think of where and to whom, I could make a difference. I admit before this assignment I had not thought in the way I did when trying to find a meaningful act of service. Also, through this project it has made me even more sensitive and slow to react to situations of confrontations because one truly does not know what cards life has dealt someone and that everyone reacts to death, loss, pain and sadness in different ways. So many express their pain in negative ways like getting into trouble at school and with law enforcement and some not all have to do with some sense of loss or feeling of abandonment. Many times with girls they become vulnerable to boys and engage into acts they normally would not because they are searching to feel love and acceptance and to fill the void they have inside their hearts. What I hoped to accomplish was reassurance that they are loved and their parents are still watching over them and that with every decision to do good instead of bad they are honoring their parents memory. They all were so happy and recharged in a way to keep pressing forward and it also has given them all something to look forward too. They all experienced loss and they can learn, grow and heal from each other. In closing. I stressed to them that life is all about giving of yourself and to always look for a way you can give of yourself to someone else. And I will note that since the first gathering on Halloween we have had another gathering, we all went to the movies during the Thanksgiving holidays. This is something I will continue and search to add others who have loss parents and add them into the group. The children are getting healing and strength and I am benefitting from knowing my purpose and making a difference in their lives; not materialistic but of my time and service and that is the most gratifying feeling of them all.