Recently Safe Crossings Foundation sat down with D’Juna Duhon and her 16-year-old daughter, Jayza. Jayza’s beloved grandfather died in June, 2009. After much resistance, Jayza accepted help from the Safe Crossings Program and attended Camp Erin.
Jayza: My grandfather passed a couple days after his birthday and five days after Fathers Day. He lived with us and was very, very dear to me. It hit me hard. We’d sit together in his old, beat-up chair. Together we’d watch Judge Judy or listen to music. When Grandpa passed, I just shut down. I just turned inward, and I felt I was in a long, dark, endless tunnel.
Jayza: A counselor from Safe Crossings came to our house and told me I was going through grief. We did some arts and craft activities together, but my mind wasn’t in it. The counselor suggested Camp Erin. I didn’t want to go.
My first time at CE, I refused to open up and I didn’t talk to anyone. I later regretted the time I wasted, so the next year I asked to return and was accepted. That time I decided to change my attitude and learn from other kids who were going through the same thing as me. I felt like our group was all growing and healing together. I made friends at Camp Erin, and I still call them when I want to talk with someone.
Grieving is like wearing a big, heavy coat all the time, and SCP allows you to remove that big, heavy coat, look up at the sunshine and remember the good times. Today I laugh a lot, and I love people, and I’ve learned to help and listen to other people.
D’Juna: In some ways Jayza has recovered more from her grandpa’s death than I have. She’s learned techniques to deal with her grief, where I have not. I’ve learned so much from my daughter. There are times now when Jayza comforts me. What Jayza learned about grief, you can’t put a price on that. I thank God for Safe Crossings Foundation because it’s helped me be a better parent.
Today Jayza sings in her school and church choirs. She is confident and has many friends. She will always love her Grandpa.