A Joyful Testimony! I feel compelled to send this to you.

Rev. Sky,

I really enjoyed the Trauma‐Focused Training that I recently took and received a certificate in. This training did a world of good for me both personally and professionally. I now feel more confident to deal with death pertaining to people in my own inner and close circles and even pertaining to my own mortality.

In my work with youth, I will be able to better respond to others and support them when dealing with a traumatic situation.

Our community is dealing with so much violence, trauma and deaths that most of our youth are losing hope. I feel in a much better place after this training to be able to assist them in what they are going through.

The training was well structured and detailed. Receiving so much take away material will also help me in my continued practice with all that I learned. I learned quite a few new words which I never heard before and which I will apply in my relations in the community.

I appreciated the PowerPoint presentations that happened at every class and the role‐play and POD sessions.The field trip to the funeral home also help relieve some of the myths and misconceptions I had around funerals and cemeteries.

As an instructor, Rev. Sky, you were brilliant in how you presented the material, making such a heavy topic a little more light‐hearted when needed.

Most of all I would say this training is relevant for everyone who lives and work in this community, not only with the repetitive gun violence and deaths we are experiencing, but also because we are all going to face death one day. I keep remembering you said that “every living thing and person will eventually die.”

All the participants in my POD felt a transformative connection with each other and our own spirituality by the end of the training. That is how powerful it was.

I would highly recommend this training for these reasons and so much more, which I would need to write a book to explain.

Thank you for what you do for us all in this community,

Judith Otto
Youth Unlimited
Community Development Coordinator

Powerful Mechanism For Change

Dear Rev. Sky,

Cause and effect is a powerful mechanism for change. I am not sure what caused me to sign up for your Trauma-focused Training after our business meeting a couple of weeks ago, but I was certainly compelled to do so by what was obviously strong intuition that I would feel positive and lasting effects from it. And I do.

Your depth of knowledge and experience, and your incredible focus on the roots, process and effects of trauma-caused grief and major loss have changed us all. The years of violent deaths in the Jane-Finch neighbourhoods caused you to find your calling as their principal grief counselor. The effect is a community who knows they have a deep, reliable resource in you. Training classes of people like me over the last several years is spreading the support net further and further into these neighbourhoods, and giving you a team, albeit a volunteer one.

As a newly graduated Level One Facilitator, I know I have years of training ahead, but my oh my, the difference in my understanding, awareness and compassion is far greater than I expected. Like my classmates, I have a new and humbling grasp of the effects not only of the violent losses, but the collateral losses, and the subtle losses; as well as the absolute and far-reaching trauma of grief caused by the violent death of a loved one. One death affects an entire community – family, friends, school, faith group, neighbourhood, sports teams, music groups and more. It takes mothers a lifetime to continuously come to grips with the death of their child, especially when every new death in the area triggers full body and soul memories of their own loss.

Having the young mother of the 15-year old who died actually tell us her story, having to observe and then interact with her, was tragedy lived. It was the most emotionally draining class, but its intensity was matched several times in our learning. Constantly looking inwards, then outwards, is an exercise everyone on the planet should have to learn and practice.

I may have told you that personally, the last two years have seen my mother, my mother-in-law, a cousin, an elderly family cousin, and 7 more parents from the small community I grew up in – all die. The parents in a small town tend to parent collectively, so it has been hard. In addition, I discovered that

I had not processed my own son’s stroke of three years ago. Every time I look at the now healthy 20- year old, I know he is a gift, and I especially know that after taking your course. My mind, heart, soul and body are all more healthy and free because of what I have learned from you and your course.

From a larger perspective, you are teaching a community how to process and heal, by training groups of us to be aware, to know how to support families and neighbours in crisis situations. The more people that are aware, sympathetic, empathetic and trained, the healthier this community can be.

Grief is a disease. It requires diagnosis, proper levels and doses of treatment, and techniques in self- management as well as community management.

What you are teaching is diagnostics and techniques that can change the way communities and the individuals in those communities deal with violent loss, as well as the many types of loss that accompany the principal death.

We need you to clone, or at least find proper funding so that you can build this essential service. Thank you for what you do, and who you are. I will be promoting you and Out of Bounds to my entire network.

Sincerely,

Debra Chandler
Executive Director, Community Shared Services
Executive Director, Health Arts Society of Ontario

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