Parent in-take

Like Wednesday morning, Thursday started with tears, too.

I found a local organization that helps kids deal with the grieving process. It’s not counseling and it’s not therapy. The organization is structured with regular peer gatherings in which kids can share their feelings and talk about what’s going on their lives and how they are coping with the death of a loved one. Every kid there has lost someone – a grandparent, a sibling, a cousin, a parent.

I talked to the director by phone earlier this week. Today was “parent intake day.”

The organization doesn’t take everyone. Space is limited. And there’s a process to matching the kid (and parent) to the right group. That’s why the director meets with every parent first.

I knew I would have to talk about how my dad’s and Mike’s death have affected Ethan, so the tears started before I was even in the shower this morning. I can usually stay strong – until I have to talk about the effect on my kids.

The organization is a good 35 minute drive from my house, and it’s in a part of town I’ve never been.  I allowed plenty of time to find the place, but when I got there, I just couldn’t pull into the parking lot.

I passed it, on purpose.

I drove down the street, did some banking, stopped for a Coke, checked out the window display at some of the cute little shops. Now, I was officially late.

I’m never late. Being on time is late to me. If something starts at 9 a.m. and I’m there at 9 a.m., I’m late. I would prefer 10 minutes early, at least. I can sit and observe. I can collect my thoughts. I can mentally prepare. But this morning, I was late. On purpose. Being late ALMOST never happens – on purpose, NEVER.

I turned around and s-l-o-w-l-y drove back. I was now about 10 minutes late and having thoughts of wanting to blow off the appointment entirely. “It’s for Ethan,” I thought to myself and pulled into the parking lot.

I approached the discrete, old, brick building with a little bit of mixed emotions. “It sucks that there has to be places like this,” I thought and I walked through the front door.

The director greeted me and handed me some paperwork. Name, address, occupation, employer… Fine.  Child’s name, school… OK. Then I got to the section about the deceased. Cue the tears.

I kept it brief and matter of fact. Then I turned the page.

Half of the page was dedicated to how I was dealing with the death, the other half to how Ethan was coping. Rate on a scale from 1-5 each of these statements. Cue more tears.

I finished the paperwork, grabbed a Kleenex and the director entered the room. We talked for more than an hour about the loss of my dad and the death of Mike. How both impacted me, the kids, and my mom.  More tears.

Ever cried so much that the Kleenex was wringing wet? Yeah, that was my morning.

The director gave me a tour of the house and explained the program. We talked about Ethan’s needs and what was going on with him at school.

His problems? All textbook kids-who-are-grieving. I felt a sense of relief knowing that during meetings, all the kids are hyper and squirrely. That the kids have to state their name and age before a meeting, but don’t have to participate if they don’t want to. That art and other ways of expression are big components to the meetings. That the parents get together and meet during this time, too.

It seems like a solid program. One that can help us through this. I’m hopeful. And a hot mess (must not forget to reapply makeup before my class this afternoon).

I just hope that Friday is tear-free – or I’ll need to buy more mascara.

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