Dani’s story of grief, hope and the power of compassion

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Sometimes, learning how other people have found support along their mental health and well-being journey can help us feel inspired and encouraged. Real-life stories can remind us that it’s not only possible to survive, but to thrive. It can be especially helpful for young people to know they’re not alone in their experiences, no matter what they’re going through. Here, a supporter of Kids Help Phone shares the lessons they’ve learned — like the power of community and the value of creative outlets.

Kids Help Phone would like to thank the writer of this story for their contributions to youth mental health and well-being in Canada. Their responses have been edited for length and style. Before you start reading, we want to let you know their story mentions loss and grief and may be upsetting for some.

Dani’s story

When I was 27 years of age my life changed forever by the sudden death of my best friend. This tragedy and the aftermath sent me spiraling out of control. I was consumed with grief for years.

Supporting a young person through grief and loss

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Eventually, I began writing in my journal every day. I made a promise to myself to document and write my story. Ever so slowly I began to heal. By finding the positive and honouring the memory of my best friend, I found my way to a different and beautiful future. My saving grace was a list of tools I created. The list helped me to find my happiness again. I am very fortunate to have an extraordinary doctor who was number one on my list followed by healthy food, exercise, my journals and my passion of writing and painting.

Connecting with people that had experienced loss helped me tremendously. Talking with others who understood helped me to feel “normal.” Listening to the stories of others helped me feel less alone. It also gave me a great sense of purpose and fueled my determination to never give up on my story.

Looking at the Kids Help Phone website takes my breath away. I wish such an open and compassionate support system had been available to me. In the wake of my grief I was told to simply “suck it up” and “stop overreacting.” I was told that because I was young, I still had my whole life in front of me, to act like it never happened and to not talk about it.

Kids face grown-up problems. We can all support them.

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When my grief began to consume me, I found a counsellor that helped me make sense of the negative comments and find a different way through. I will always be grateful for their wisdom at a time when the world swept my grief under the rug. Their encouragement and compassion helped me to survive. I never want others to feel as alone as I did or suffer. I would like everyone to be embraced.

It’s so important that younger generations are listened to without any judgment and without placing unrealistic expectations on them. Being human can be painful and overwhelming at any time, at any age. Growing up can be challenging. Every day, I remember this and give myself compassion.

While we cannot avoid tragedy, grief or pain, I believe sharing experiences will allow young people to be accepted for exactly who they are. I believe that sharing my experience might provide a little bit of light, a little bit of magic and is one of the reasons why I have worked so hard — to make it all the way through.

Kids Help Phone offers free, confidential 24/7 e-mental health services to young people in English and French. You can learn more about Kids Help Phone’s programs and services, resources for caring adults and supporting youth mental health and well-being here. You can also check out Wellness Together Canada, which provides a range of free and accessible services to adults and youth.

Kids Help Phone would like to thank Dani for sharing their story of grief and hope with young people across Canada!