Grifyn Sawyer

This site is a place to celebrate the amazing Grifyn Sawyer who passed away on December 26, 2007.

Grifyn's Obituary

Grifyn Robert Sawyer

Born in Salem Hospital on Apr. 9, 1999
Died Dec. 26, 2007 and resided in Lynn, MA.

Grifyn Robert Sawyer, age 8, of Lynn, died Wednesday, December 26, 2007, in Tufts New England Medical Center – Floating Hospital, Boston, after bravely fighting a six year illness. He is the son of David & Amy (Comeau) Sawyer. Born in Salem Hospital on April 9, 1999, he lived his life in Lynn. Grifyn was attending third grade at Lynn Woods Elementary School. He was active with Lynn Soccer and Wyoma Little League. He also enjoyed playing wiffle ball in the back yard, and playing with his best friend, Emma. He was the video game champion at home and Pokemon Master Trainer. Even with the time he missed at school, he was always at the top of his class, and was the class winner of Jeopardy two years in a row.Besides his mother, Amy and his father, David, he is survived by his brother David Sawyer Jr., and his two sisters Jessica and Caitlyn Sawyer, all of Lynn; his grandparents, Robert & Sandra Comeau of Lynn and Robert & Mary Lou Sawyer of Lynn and Englewwod, FL; aunts & uncles, Jennie & Shawn Hennessey of Lynn, Robert & Kimber Comeau of California, Scott Sawyer of Lynn and Christine & Rick Farrow of Wakefield; and cousins Meaghan & Lauren Hennessey, Ashleigh & Cameron Farrow of Wakefield.

Grifyn’s funeral will be held from the SOLIMINE, LANDERGAN & RICHARDSON FUNERAL HOME, 67 Ocean St. (Rt1A) Lynn on Saturday at 8AM, followed by services in Bethany Congregational Church, 410 Eastern Ave., Lynn at 9AM. Relatives & friends are respectfully invited. Interment will be Pine Grove Cemetery, Lynn. Visiting hours will be Friday from 2-4 & 7-9PM.

Memorial donations may be made to the:

Floating Childrens Cancer Center, c/o Dr. Lawrence C. Wolfe, NEMC Box 014, 750 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111.

Funeral Home Link:

Read at Grifyn's Funeral by Hospital Chaplin on Behalf of Grifyn's Doctor

I honestly do not know why Grifyn’s parents gave him his name and especially the spelling of his name, but it seems prophetic in retrospect that this name was chosen. A Grifyn is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. In those old times, this meant that the animal was part king of the beasts and part king of the birds and thus was especially powerful and majestic. We have all seen Griffins in family crests and on the shields of medieval knights, because these animals were thought to be guardians of the divine in the human spirit.

Anyone who knew Grifyn, especially after he began the serious trials of his life, saw the lion’s personality if he was inappropriately disturbed and the eagle part in his remarkable ability to see the reality of what was happening to him with crystal clear clarity.

Let me give an example to you of Grifyn’s crystal clear clarity. A few years after transplant, Grifyn’s graft versus host disease, a side effect of bone marrow transplant where their new immune system attacks the patient, became more severe especially in his skin. To those of us on the outside his skin was very diseased. Thickened in some places, reddened in others, covered with small areas of bruising and other areas of breakdown it was difficult to look at and also causing him difficulty in making facial expressions. When his favorite child life worker, Kerri, asked him what he saw when he looked in the mirror he said, “ the cute boy that everybody says he is”. His eagle eyes saw himself with a clarity from on high. Even though Grifyn is gone, we now get to wear his symbol on our shields as we try go into the battle of life with as much strength, vision and fearlessness that he possessed.

I do not know much about video games, but Grifyn did. He played all types of video games on portable units and on large screens. He entered into the world of these games as a positive escape from the technology and pain forced on him by his illness. So it must be instructive to know which of these games was his favorite. His favorite video games involved Pokemon. My own children grew up before the Pokemon craze so I wasn’t all that knowledgable about them. So I went to look into the Pokemon universe and was surprised and delighted. Instead of finding a battle game of death and destruction I found something different. Here is a sample description from Pokémon Trainers (like Grifyn) don't just accumulate Pokémon, they use them as tools to fight evil and protect the helpless, human and Pokémon alike. So, this young boy, whose life hadn’t been even close to normal for years, surrounded by sickness and technology chooses to enter an alternate universe with the expressed purpose of protecting the helpless. How do you honor a child like this? Where does a child get these profound values?

Anyone who has had the opportunity to spend time with the Sawyer family knows immediately the wellspring of love that creates such a splendid soul. No parents could have ever been so courageous, so selfless and so creative in handling a situation so overwhelming. Amy, Grifyn’s mother, was there for him but in such a special way. When he needed to be held, to be cuddled, she was immediately there. When he needed his space; when he needed to set boundaries with others she allowed her son to be authentic, to live in a way that protected him and allowed him to assert himself.

Grifyn had ways of letting people know when he was not to be bothered (remember the lion part of Grifyn?). Yet, Amy allowed him to be bold and strong and to do a lot of growing up in a short period of time. Although the experience was exhausting she gave her son the strength to face each setback with his own coping and processing. She proved the notion that true love is not a zero sum game. She gave and gave and gave not caring what she got in return and proving that love would never run out from a mother this in love with her child. For anyone who knows Grifyn’s father, it is not surprising that his approach was to model a courageous, proud masculinity for his son, but also show him the heart that a true man has. His ingenuity led to several remarkable benefits in the actual medical care of his son, with contraptions that joyously led Grifyn into more comfort and success. With his sleep schedule obliterated, and no time for himself, he gave everything he had and still managed to generate a remarkably upbeat feeling whenever he was with Grifyn. Grifyn’s brother and sisters followed their parents lead. It is so very hard to be a sibling when another child in the family is sick, but they all felt a part of this and their approach allowed their parents to serve the situation and give their brother everything they could. In this they reflected their parents values as well and we can all be so very proud of them.

It is no wonder then that paradise on earth for Grifyn was seen during a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard given to them by a very special anonymous donor. Grifyn said that this was his favorite place ever because he was there alone with his family and could be with them, be held by them and play with them. Other than that the only other place he said he wanted to go was to Pokemon universe. In Pokemon universe you get to meet new Pokemon, train them to be be better and better with other Pokemon players and aim for a time when humans and Pokemon live in Harmony and the helpless are protected. Sound like any other wonderful place you go to after death? Well, I suspect Grifyn may be there now playing Pokemon with the greatest Pokemon master in all of Heaven who is looking at and smiling at the cute boy we all say he is.

Lawrence C. Wolfe, MD
Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Tufts New England Medical Center floating Hospital for Children

Read at Grifyn's Funeral by His Uncle Shawn Hennessey

Dear Grifyn,

Some of us knew you as Grifyn, Grif-man, Buddy, or even Fuzzhead, but no matter what name we used, we will always know you as the strongest, bravest, most beautiful little boy in the world. Although we will never forget the tremendous battle you fought, we will try our best to concentrate on all the wonderful things about you that make us smile. There are so many that it is hard to know where to those long beautiful eyelashes (even though you hated them) and your gorgeous blue eyes, flicks, playing Sorry or Skip Bo in the backyard and always knowing everyone else’s best possible move, your famous grunt, marrying Emma on the 4th of July, easy fries & ketchup, Pikachu on Halloween, all your blankies and stuffed animals, the car and train sheets that you dragged everywhere, watching you play baseball at the major league field, winning everyone’s quarters in LCR, your amazing strength….

Meaghan said she smiles when she thinks about playing “shops” with you. Lauren smiles when she looks at your pictures and says, “That’s my Buddy!”

We know you loved water balloon fights in the yard with Grandma as your target! Grandma will never forget the precious moment of you giving her a kiss on her hand and telling her to close it tight. She will carry it with her forever!
You made us smile more than you could ever know. It is true honor to have you as our nephew. You will always be our little Grif-man.

Love you,
Auntie Jennie & Uncle Shawn
xo xo

I’d like to share one last thought. As each of us leaves here today, let us go with some of Grifyn’s strength. When we find ourselves afraid to take action, or thinking that life is just too hard, or when we are tired and emotionally drained and saying “I just can’t do it, I give up,” I pray that we can all remember Grifyn when our lives get tough. Remember how hard he fought just to be a normal boy. Let us all make Grifyn’s fight an inspiration in our lives and let his fight help us to be stronger everyday.

Thank You

Read at Grifyn's Funeral by Cathy Raymond

Grifyn Sawyer was only eight years old when he left us but don't ever think that his life did not have a purpose and his life indeed showed us how to live. Let us look at this for a moment.....His parents showed us what unconditional love was all about....not many of us know that, do we !!!

His little life showed us patience.....he was so good while being treated every day. His life also helped us to know kindness and consideration for others....isn't that what the Lord wants from all of us each day. Grifyn helped us all to know faith.....without it, his family would never have survived.

Hope is a virtue that we all should have no matter what the outcome of our lives may be. WE truly have hope that Grifyn is with the Good Lord now. That is our hope.

Grifyn has showed us charity. WE all have hopefully, reached out to this Sawyer family and the extended Comeau and Sawyer families. The charity and love shown to Grifyn and his family over the past many years have been beyond words.

WE are indeed sad to have lost our little Grifyn but all of us here today know that he has had such an impact on our lives and that his little time here on earth and his life have been a jewel to all of us, one, no one here will ever forget.

Cathy Raymond

From the Daily Item January 2, 2008


He was the three-year-old with the amazing eyelashes that photographer, Jonathon Whitmore and I met five years ago. He was — is — one of the reasons those of us who do community news do what we do, and — today — one of the reasons we wish we didn't. Grifyn Sawyer, 8, of Lynn died the day after Christmas after a six-year battle with aplastic anemia, bone marrow transplant and a rare, inexplicable complication.

He was the Lynn Woods third-grader, little league player and Pokemon champ, and, on at least one occasion, sister, Caitlyn's reluctant living room dance partner.

He was the youngest of four children in an amazing family. Grifyn knew that. We came to understand.

We learned the truth of middle of the night emergency runs to Boston hospitals, to dad, David's, overnight shift, and mom, Amy's indefatigable faith. We watched them not fight — battle — insurance companies who wouldn't listen, pharmacies who didn't get it in the beginning. We watched them struggle to balance the needs of three older siblings — David, Jessica and Caitlyn — while walking with Grifyn. It was a six-year,24/7 walk from an initial diagnosis at two, marrow transplant, victory and the start of third grade to the devastation of what would prove to be a crisis complication.

What was in between, though, is what Grifyn knew long before we did: the truth of those with whom he walked. They are the ones you meet doing this job that stay with you, the real, true everyday giants that make everything else pale in comparison. They are the parents who cried and carried on, a brother and sisters who sacrificed to serve the family goal, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and friends, there to pick up kids at school, grocery shop or listen. They are Grifyn's gang, the ones who giggled, and sang, and acted silly in the midst of fear, who loved this little guy because he was Grif, who never— ever — gave up or in, but walked with him all the way. It isn't the final story we wanted to cover because we believed too — in him, in them, still do. We believe in the power of those who stand so tall to change those of us allowed to stand witness. We are changed by that witness and by an eight-year-old and the lessons he left behind.

Boston Herald - November 4, 2007

Boston Herald - November 4, 2007

Lynn Journal - October 24, 2007 - By Bill Cooksey

Lynn Journal - October 24, 2007 - By Bill Cooksey



Martha's Vineyard August 2007

Martha's Vineyard August 2007
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