Yia Yia 2

Artwork by Matthias Lillis (Age 6)
Article by Judith Lillis, Matthias' Mother

This is the picture that my six-year-old son, Matthias, drew when I asked him to draw a picture about his feelings about his great grandmother (YiaYia 2) who passed away 15 months ago.

Yia Yia is Greek for grandmother. Matthias called my mother in law Yia Yia 1 and her Mum Yia Yia 2. He had a very close bond with his 91-year-old Yia Yia 2, she was quite a playmate for him. Even though they didn’t speak the same language, they could communicate without words. Their faces would light up when they saw each other. She liked to make her special crepes for him to eat.

When I asked Matthias about his picture, this is what he said: 

“I am crying because of my Yia Yia 2. She is dead. I miss her good pancakes and when she played games with me.”

Drawing has been an important tool in the grieving process for both Matthias and his older brother. Before we went to the hospital to say goodbye and spend what was expected to be the last few hours with Yia Yia 2, both my sons were sobbing and crying hysterically. After a little while I got out some crayons and papers and told them it might help them to draw what they were feeling. They both used strong colour and motions, drawing away on the page, and then shortly there was calm. It was something that seemed so powerful in that moment – to give expression to their feelings when neither one wanted to, or could, put their extreme sadness and anger into words. It helped us to then be able to spend some precious time with her that evening as a family before she died.

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