Camp helps kids to find the good in grief - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Camp helps kids to find the good in grief

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June 8, 2006 

Albany-- The dictionary defines grief as deep mental anguish. Grief is difficult for most adults to deal with. So imagine a child having to cope with so much pain. A two-day camp helped one little girl and several other kids gain peace.

On Wildfair Road in Albany, a sign points several kids on a road to recovery.

"We learned how to express each other's feelings and to learn how to deal with them in an easier way," says 10-year-old Asiaunnya Bryant.

But it hasn't been an easy road for Asiaunnya.  She was forced to travel it without someone who used to give her direction. "I lost my Daddy," says Bryant, "it was February 12th, 2006 at 3:15 p.m." And  her father's death led her here to Camp Good Grief.

"It makes me feel better when I come here," says Bryant.

Here is where she confronts her feelings.  Asiaunnya and groups of kids talk about how grief affects them and it lets them know that they're not alone. "The groups may have [someone say] 'draw me a picture of how you felt when you found out you lost someone' and it's very interesting to see the emotion that comes out," says Cindy Summerlin of Camp Good Grief.

Summerlin says most kids keep their emotions bottled up but the camp can release those emotions in as little as one day.

"We do see a lot of tears. A lot of happy tears and a lot of sad tears," says Summerlin.

Although it's still sad for Asiaunnya, she still remembers her father here. "He was strong. He lifted weights. He was very supportive and he was always helping anyone he could help," says Bryant.

She wants to be just like him. "Well I can't lift weights," laughs Bryant. But she says she's smart like him and a big weight of sad grief is lifted from her shoulders as she releases a butterfly with his name on it.  It's a sign that she's healed.

"It will mean that I can move on now," says Bryant.

She now has peace like these released doves flying through the air but she sent them with a message for Daddy.

"I love and I miss him very much," says Bryant. Words said a little easier with the help of a camp that finds the good in grief.

Camp Good Grief is free of charge for kids ages 6 through 16. It's sponsored by Albany Community Hospice and this is the 11th year they've helped children deal with loss.

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