The idea for AIMS began with my personal experience.
I am forty-two. My only daughter is six years old. I have always been so healthy that I have not even had a cold for years.
In April, however, I was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer with metastasis to ovary and peritoneal membrane. My days are numbered. Until March, I was skiing almost every weekend; I swam with dolphins with my daughter. I was completely asymptomatic. The news hit me like a thunderbolt out of a cloudless sky.
It did not take long for me to accept the truth of my illness and the fact that I was not going to live much longer. What worried me more than anything, however, was my little daughter, and her psychological well-being.
How should I tell her that I am leaving this world? After my death, who will take care of the heart of my daughter who is still too young to communicate her feelings to the others?
Through discussing the matter with my doctor and counselors that I know well, and through my own research on the Internet, I quickly realized that Japan lags behind when it comes to how people are counseled about their grief concerning the death of loved ones. This is generally called “grief care” in the West.
Slowly, experts called “childcare specialists,” who were trained overseas, have been increasing in Japan. However they are scarce in number and their presence is not widely recognized. Furthermore, most of them are on staff at a hospital, and if you are not treated at a hospital where they work, you cannot receive assistance from these childcare specialists either.
In particular, I did not find a program that focused solely on the children to provide emotional support in the long term.
As I learned more about this situation, I came to believe that emotional care for children needs to become more widely available. This was why I decided to start the non-profit organization AIMS.
I want to begin by conducting research in Japan and in other countries. I want to publicize the need for the emotional care and let people know about the specific options available for heart centered care. My dream for the future is to be able to train counselors and to provide support programs.
I am writing this message from my sickbed, not knowing how much time I have left. I may be leaving this world in the very near future, but if even a fragment of my experience can be of use to help others through AIMS, that gives me hope.
I hope that I can deliver even the tiniest hope to dads and moms who, sadly, have to leave this world too soon, and that I can relieve some of the pain in the wounded hearts of the beloved children who are left behind.
August 2011, my 43rd birthday month
She left us on September 9, 2011