A Grand Time

A Grand Time

Bear Cottage held its very first camp for Grandparents in 2016. Grandparents play a special and significant part in their grandchild's life and they are deeply affected by the impact that a sick grandchild has on their entire family.

We wanted to provide the opportunity for this special group to form friendships and gain support from others who have shared this experience. Gail and Pat Rafferty were kind enough to share their experience of the camp.

We first became involved with Bear Cottage through our grandson Aidan, who was diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disease.

Aidan loved to go to Bear Cottage, he loved the staff, the games and music they played - he fancied himself as a musician and dancer. We went to Bear Cottage on one of Aidan's earlier visits but it was not until Aidan's final day that we realised what a unique place the Cottage was. The staff are very caring people, without them our final goodbye to Aidan would not have been so special. THANK YOU!

After Aidan's passing we struggled so much. Aidan is never far from our minds and little things, like his favourite song or a word he would have used would trigger an emotional downer. For the six years of Aidan's life, we were on this roller coaster of up and downs and then there was an emptiness that nothing will ever fill.

When we were invited to go to a grandparents' camp we were unsure about going but we found the experience not only enjoyable but very helpful. On Friday night we were met by the wonderful staff from Bear Cottage who made us feel so welcome right from the start. After settling in to our wonderful accommodation we all met for dinner where the staff mixed with us to help break the ice with the other grandparents.

The next morning they had arranged breakfast for us but allowed us to work it between ourselves which helped us to mix with the other grandparents. After breakfast we got together as a group for a therapy session. At all times over the weekend there was never any pressure to get involved, you could say as little or as much as you wanted and the staff made you feel at ease. After the group session we went on a tour of the Quarantine Station, which is where we were staying, then had a foot massage. That night only the grandparents went to dinner and by that stage we were feeling very comfortable with each other. On Sunday morning we had a drum lesson which was a lot of fun, followed by some more discussions and group photos.

After we got home, we discussed what a wonderful weekend it was but it wasn't until a few days had passed when we both agreed that somehow we felt an inner peace and a little better.

The thing about meeting and talking with other grandparents is that you have someone to talk to who is going through, or has gone through, the same thing as you are and understands your pain and feelings. Talking won't fix your pain, but it helps.

We would like to thank the Q Station for their generous support providing the beautiful accommodation, facilities and extraordinary meals for our grandparents.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017