Gabrielle A.

 

Scholarship Amount: $10,000
School: Humber College
Program: Social Service Worker

It has been almost four years since I lost my mother, Nazare, to Stage 4 ovarian cancer. My mother was an independent and strong-willed woman, she took charge of many things in the household, especially financial matters. 

Both of my parents were disabled and receiving income from Ontario Disability Support Program, however, after my mother passed away our income became substantially less, and we were not able to pay all our bills. The year she revealed that she was sick I was attending an Animation Workshop and was creating a Portfolio to apply to Animation School. After the loss of my mother, I was unable to cope with grief along with the stress of our financial situation; I saw no other option but to stop going to classes and work instead. I knew that I had to solely take on this responsibility once my father and brother were both diagnosed with depression. The stress of our financial situation was all too overwhelming and unprepared for after such a tragic loss. 

During her final months my mother sought out to companies that offered life insurance, but many turned her away in the condition she was in. If we had life insurance, we would have been able to properly grieve my mother’s death, as opposed to figuring out a way to gather enough funds for our next month’s bill, two weeks after her burial. I felt like I was not able to grieve over my mother properly and had developed an unhealthy pattern of distracting myself with work from the emotions I was feeling. I was prioritizing our financial situation over my mental health and these unhealthy patterns eventually transitioned onto my relationships. As a result, I am now going to psychiatrists and counselling groups because I did not let myself grieve and suppressed my emotions. 

As time passed, more situations arose that required more funds. I had to get a second job to pay for the extra expenses, I became physically and mentally exhausted working 75+ hours, walking more than 30km a day and still presenting myself to customers with a smile. It is definitely not the life I had imagined when I was younger and wouldn’t have been my life had we received insurance. I have taken out many loans which has had an enormous impact on my credit score, to pay for unexpected expenses. I do not regret working to help my family financially, however, I do regret the situation my family was in because we were not prepared for my mother’s loss. 

My emotional and mental state would be entirely different if we were financially stable after losing my mother. Once I discovered this scholarship, I felt appreciated that people in my situation (or similar) have the opportunity to receive help. Even if I do not win this scholarship, I take comfort knowing someone else will be getting the support they need.

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