Tonight was our first peer grief group meeting. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Or how Ethan would react. It tried talking it “up” with Ethan for days, but you just never know…
It was FANTASTIC.
We arrived, as requested, 30 minutes early. Ethan was whisked off immediately by one of the counselors for a private tour. I took a seat in the dining room by the director. Small talk ensued. She was super easy to talk to and everyone was very nice.
Ethan came back just as some of the other families were arriving. After designing his name tag, dinner was served. Ethan wanted to get his dinner himself, so I let him. I followed, not too close behind, with his milk. I fully expected him to sit next to me in the dining room, but he turned into the sun room, where the other boys (ages 7-14) were sitting.
I dropped off his milk, waved, and walked back to my seat. I kept an ear toward the other room, in case Ethan needed me.
Within 15 minutes, the kitchen helper called out, “Jackie, Ethan has TOTALLY adjusted already! He’s doing great with the other boys!” She had a direct view of the activities in the sun room.
Soon it was time to break off into the sessions. The kids went upstairs where they would work on crafts and talk in age-appropriate settings. The parents went into the living room, where counselors facilitated our discussion.
Of course, details of all discussions are confidential, but there was SO much I could relate to. So many similarities to our situation and Ethan’s difficulties. I found myself in tears before I said anything.
It was refreshing to hear that others are experiencing many of the same things, that Ethan isn’t alone in what he’s feeling and doing. But it was sad, too. We were all there for a reason – someone close to us died. Insert tears.
The hour went by so fast, and soon the kids were coming downstairs. Ethan was smiling, carrying a picture he drew of Mike and another art project he made.
But he was ready to go home. (After all, it was bedtime.)
The drive home was good – he talked about his experience in a very positive way, but he wasn’t overly hyper about it (a good thing).
He did, however, have a massive stomach ache. Turns out, he and some of the older boys were sneaking extra cookies before the break out session.
As I was tucking him tonight, Ethan said, “I learned my lesson. Cookies and tortilla soup don’t mix.”
Words of wisdom.