Voices’ Blog

Experiencing Grief in Foster Care

Posted:  -  By: Margaret Nimmo Holland

By: Sophia Booker

In April, I had the opportunity to experience Comfort Zone Camp for the first time. Comfort Zone Camp partnered with United Methodist Family Services to help foster youth understand different types of grief and how to cope with them. It was an invigorating experience. I was asked to share my experience in the foster care system, how I experienced grief, and what things I did I do to cope with that grief. My initial thought was what could I possibly talk about? I never experienced grief before; well at least that’s what I thought. I was focused on the traditional form of grief when you lose someone who dies. I quickly learned that grief can be experienced in different ways for many different reasons. This was a learning experience not just for myself but the for the youth who heard my story. The group I spoke to were ages 7 to 17.

In sharing my story, I talked about my grief experiences and how I was able to cope. I gave examples of transitioning into the foster care system and exploring a life unknown to me. I also talked about school and how it was always a safe place for me. It was a way to escape challenges I faced, even though I faced challenges there as well. I talked about understanding what I experienced before foster care and how it affected me growing up and how it has an effect on me now. I felt the need to share these things with the youth because it was important for them to hear it from someone who has walked in their shoes. I let them know that they are not alone. At this moment, I witnessed glimmers of hope in their eyes. Some made comments, others whispered to their friends. They could relate to what I was saying.

My emotional speech ended with encouraging the youth that they can do whatever they set their mind to, no matter what they have faced or are facing now. There are two things I left them with that Friday night: find your passion and build a support network. I told them that these two things will help them get through anything they face in life, even the toughest challenges. Passion is the burning desire in your heart that keeps you going. It is what I think about even in my darkest moments. When you feel like you want to give up on everything, passion is what stops me from making that choice. When you are passionate about something and you want it so badly, giving up becomes obsolete. Along with your passion, having a support network, I believe, is key to success. Having people in your corner rooting for you is such a powerful thing. The people in my life have gotten me through so much and I am forever grateful to them. They are the ones that are there when I throw in the towel. They pick it back up, give it to me and tell me to keep going. My support network is one of the things I cherish most in my life.

Giving that speech was a special moment for me. I felt like I connected with the youth in a surreal way. I observed empowerment, relief, empathy, and hope in their eyes. It was a humbling experience. The youth were talking about how they were inspired by my story the entire weekend.


About Sophia: Sophia is a Bachelor’s of Social Work intern from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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