When Kelly Bolisï¿½s 15 year old daughter was killed in a car accident, she turned to Mercy Grief Services.
Kelly Bolis has come to know this room well. Its clay coloured walls and overstuffed armchairs hold the pain of many people, the sorrow of many hearts, including hers. She is comfortable here, now, but it has taken some time. ï¿½I didnï¿½t want this room, this place, to be in my life. I was so angry that I had to come here. But when you need it, you need it. This is my room now.ï¿½
On 26 March 2011, as Kelly and her family were getting ready to move back to Melbourne, a call came through. ï¿½I was in the jewellery shop buying my daughter Aleshia a ring ï¿½ sheï¿½d spent the night with friends in Melbourne and we were going to pick her up on our way through. For some reason I started crying in the jewellery store as I was holding her ring ï¿½ white gold, she loved that. I couldnï¿½t explain it, the sudden sadness I felt. And then later, when we were all packed up and ready to go, my other daughter Jess came running toward me with the phone in her hand saying Aleshia had been in a car accident. I knew sheï¿½d been killed. I fell to the ground screaming and I donï¿½t remember much after that.ï¿½
Aleishia was 15 years old when she died and Kellyï¿½s world was blown apart.
Kelly was referred to Mercy Grief Services and began seeing Maria Nagy, a counsellor of 10 years.
ï¿½Maria is incredibly patient. I was really raw and angry when I first came here. I kept asking myself, why is this my life? I didnï¿½t want to be part of any of it. But I found peace and healing in coming here. Even on the days I was feeling really bad, I forced myself to get out of bed and come here. Even if all I could do was sit here with my attitude on, I made myself at least do that. Maria waited patiently for me to be ready to talk.
ï¿½Throughout my life Iï¿½ve supported other families, Iï¿½ve supported my kidsï¿½ friends and helped reunite children with their parents. And here I was having to identify my daughterï¿½s body, trying to accept that she wouldnï¿½t be coming home. Of course you donï¿½t want to live at first, when you lose a child. Maria allowed me to speak about what was going on inside, to say all the things that wouldï¿½ve destroyed my family to hear. You have to go through many processes to start to live again. The assistance I received here through counselling helped bring me to this point where I have focus in my life. I have five other children to look after.
ï¿½Iï¿½ve always wanted to help people in the community, but since losing Aleshia and going through counselling, Iï¿½m more focused on grief and helping people through that pain; showing them that you can go on. Of course youï¿½ll cry and sometimes the pain will sneak up on you, but donï¿½t deny yourself that, thatï¿½s helping you grow. But youï¿½ve got to remind yourself that every tear you let fall, theyï¿½re seeing you. After a while, in my grief, I started to question if I was crying my tears or hers.ï¿½
Kelly Bolis found peace and healing through Mercy Grief Services, following the death of her daughter Aleshia (above).
A talented artist, Kelly creates art to express her grief and to help others through theirs. She recently donated three works to Mercy Grief Services. Each, in the words of Garret Oï¿½Dowd, Manager Mercy Grief Services, ï¿½captures her journey through grief; you can see the heartache in it, the tears, the love she has for her daughterï¿½. Now hanging in the counselling room where Kelly spent so much time, Garret explains why the donation is so special. ï¿½People feel quite isolated in grief, so when someone captures aspects of their experience, people feel more connected and find support in that connection. Kellyï¿½s art brings beauty to this room and offers hope.ï¿½
Grief is ongoing and the loss of someone you love inevitably becomes part of who you are. In working through her grief, expressing herself through art and helping others, Kelly keeps Aleshia close. ï¿½We were best friends. We were so close we had our own language, one without words or explanations, just a knowing. We could just give each other a nudge and a look and weï¿½d know exactly what was going on. That connection we had without words means sheï¿½s always with me. Sheï¿½s keeping me going, nudging me, reminding me I have to keep living.ï¿½
Mercy Grief Services is a program of Mercy Palliative Care, which is committed to providing a skilled and accessible service for bereaved people in the western metropolitan region of Melbourne. The program offers professional counselling for anyone experiencing bereavement following the death of a relative, friend or work colleague.
For more information visit: www.mercyhealth.com.au.
Published in Our Voice, Winter 2013