As we prepare for this year’s Memory Walk on November 16 and National Grief Awareness Day on November 21, we will be sharing personal grief journeys, tools to better understand and cope with grief, and inspirational stories. Many thanks to Ben Yin for sharing his story today.
Kids, especially ones that have experienced a loss of a parent or sibling, scare me. Because I lost my dad at age 5, I have placed undue pressure on myself; as if I should automatically be able to relate to the kids at Kate’s Club.
I didn’t want to get stuck in a situation where a kid wanted to discuss his loss and I would have nothing to say. Thus, I’ve been more behind the scenes at KC as opposed to working directly with the kids. But that all changed once I faced my fears and volunteered at a Clubhouse day. These kids aren’t scary. They’re just looking for a safe place to hang out and be themselves. They just want to feel normal and know that they’re not the only ones who have lost a loved one. Each kid has different stories, different backgrounds, and different circumstances. But what they do have in common is strong enough to sustain friendships for years.
Nowhere is that showcased better than at Camp Good Mourning, where some of these kids don’t see their KC friends for a year. At camp, these kids serve as each other’s therapeutic counselors; they laugh together, cry together, and remember together. All I do is play basketball with them and there’s nothing scary about that!
Monet is a writer, mother, sister, daughter, baker and friend. For someone so young, she and her family have experienced more grief than most. Yet, she moves onward with grace, love and joy. Through her writing and her recipes she heals not just herself, but those around her.
Like Monet, for many, recipes are passed down from one family to the next and remain a connection to loved ones who are no longer here. This rings true especially around the holiday season. One of Monet’s favorite holiday treats is Apple Cardamom Cheesecake. (You can find more of her musings and recipes on her blog.)
We share that recipe with you today. Bon appetit!
Apple Cardamom Cheesecake
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Cardamom, Ground
- 4 medium apples (2 pound) peeled and cored
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Cardamom, Ground
- 2 packaged (8 ounces) each cream cheese, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 4 eggs
Preheat oven to 325°F. For the Crust, mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Press firmly onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
For the Glazed Apples, cut apples into thin slices (about 1/4-inch thick). Add remaining ingredients to apples in large skillet. Cook on medium heat 5 to 10 minutes or until apples begin to caramelize, turning frequently. Arrange apples on bottom of crust.
For the Filling, beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, vanilla and lemon peel. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Spoon evenly over apples.
Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until center is almost set. Turn oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven 1 hour with door slightly ajar. Run small knife or metal spatula around rim of pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on wire rack.
Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.
As we prepare for this year’s Memory Walk on November 16 and National Grief Awareness Day on November 21, we will be sharing personal grief journeys, tools to better understand and cope with grief, and inspirational stories. Many thanks to Judy Train for sharing his story today.
One of the key themes of Kate’s Club is that, in moments of profound sadness and grief, we can reach out to each other. And in that process, we can celebrate and even laugh.
I learned that when my brother died. I was fifteen and my house was filled with the family and friends who were there to support our family during this difficult time. At times, it seemed like a macabre cocktail party – everyone brought food to eat. The dining room table was crowded with sandwiches, casseroles, cheese sticks, and cookies. You could, at times, hear laughter ringing out from one room to another, or old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years greeting one another. We told stories – stories about my brother, stories about the service, stories about what was happening right then. One of my favorite ones goes to the heart of what makes confronting and acknowledging grief so difficult: we often don’t know what to say.
My father had taken a break from the house filled with people, and walked up to the top of the driveway to smoke a cigar. He came back into the house with a bemused expression on his face and recounted this tale: A woman pulled up to the street and carefully parked her car on the curb. As she was getting out of her car, she saw my father standing there, and was clearly surprised and flustered. No doubt, she thought she’d have the length of the driveway to figure out what to say to my parents in their time of grief. She was unloading an apple pie from the car, and in her confusion, she dropped it on the street. She burst into tears. “What should I do?” she asked my father, who was standing there, as they both looked at the pie on the street. “Go home and bake another one, I guess,” he said. We asked him in the kitchen what she did. “She got back in her car and drove away. I guess she is baking another one as we speak,” he said, smiling.
I never found out if she did return with her replacement pie. I do know, though, that her heart was in the right place. And that’s what’s most important – that we reach out, however awkwardly, and make that connection to those who are grieving. This is especially important for children and teenagers, who don’t have any context for the grief they are experiencing.
On Saturday, November 16th, Kate’s Club will be hosting its second annual Memory Walk, which is a tremendous opportunity to reach out to those who you know have experienced a loss of a loved one. Open to the community, the walk is designed for all ages and abilities and will include activities designed to foster grief awareness and healing. It’s held in coordination with National Children’s Grief Awareness Day, held the Thursday before Thanksgiving each year, which is designed to help foster an understanding and generate a dialogue around loss. Especially as we go into the holiday season, where memories of loved ones we’ve lost are particularly strong, so many opportunities exist to reach out. Whether it’s by suggesting participating in the Memory Walk, making a phone call, sending a card – or baking an apple pie – reach out to those who are grieving as this holiday season begins. They will welcome it, no matter what happens to the pie.
Just like grief, no death is the same. At Kate’s Club kids and their families have lost loved ones in every way you can imagine, including suicide. Jeff Romig has shared about his father’s suicide on this blog and we have retold Clay Hunt’s story as well. Clay Hunt’s family is part of a club no one wants to be a part of – veterans who have taken their own lives.
According to the veterans administration 22 veterans kill themselves each day. Joanna Eldridge knows this all too well. Her husband, Justin, a sergeant in the Marine Corp, committed suicide two days before Halloween.
Their story was shared on NPR this past Thursday in advance of Veteran’s Day. Today is Veteran’s Day. We encourage you to listen to the Eldridge’s story and talk about it. Removing the stigma that surrounds military suicides will help these families grieve publicly. One step closer to creating a world where it is okay to grieve…
In addition to listening to the Eldridge’s story, listen to your friends and family. If someone you love is considering suicide, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or similar organization in your community.
When Lady Gaga’s Grandpa passed it was her first experience with death ever. Her 2011 hit “The Edge of Glory” was written as he was about to pass away in hospice while she played the piano in her family’s New York apartment. She and her father had just returned from telling him goodbye. When sharing the origins of the song with Oprah she told her the song took about 10 minutes to write and speaks to the last moments of life.
Gaga has spoken widely about the meaning of the song with everyone from Oprah to Google to Ryan Seacrest. On Seacrest’s radioshow she explained: “My Grandma said Joey [her Grandpa] just go. And we left the room and he died. And I remember he just gave this look to her that said ‘I won.’ Like i’m a champion.” She also added, “The ‘Edge of Glory’ is not just about falling in love or about dying, but it’s about being on the glorious edge of that glorious championship of your life.”
During her “A Very Gaga Holiday” show, she performed “Edge of Glory” and included stories about memories of her grandfather.