Feeling like a first round draft pick…

Kate’s Club is excited to implement a new tool this year that will better inform our programing, screen for trauma, and engage new donors. All new members ages 8 and up will complete a Grief and Trauma Survey.

In December 2018, we were excited to host Julie Kaplow, PhD. and members of her team from the Grief and Trauma Center at Texas Children’s Hospital to train our staff and community partners on the GIFT (Grief Informed Foundations of Treatment) screening tool as well in Grief Informed Component Therapy for Adolescents. Dr. Kaplow is a leader in the field of childhood grief and trauma. Being a part of this network puts Kate’s Club at the forefront in child bereavement services.

Feeling like a first round draft pick…

by Ashlie Evans, Program Coordinator

Going in to my first survey, I was a convoluted mess of worried thoughts and nerves. Some time between hearing the elevator’s chime and introductions, I giggled attempting to remember if I was this nervous the first day I walked into a psychiatric residential treatment facility where at any moment I could be attacked, called derogatory names, met with all types of bodily fluids… Not in the slightest. That day I was 1st day of Pre-K nervous, first time spending the majority of the day with strangers in an unknown environment discovering which aspects you love and the things you could do without. Comparably, my first survey nerves were what I would believe a first round draft pick feels at their first game in the professional league. This could either go really well or go extremely left field with a child running out the room screaming, “I NEVER WANT TO COME BACK HERE AGAIN!”

As we greeted new families, I prayed my face did not mirror the combination of anxiety and anticipation seething inside my chest. “You Got This!” After my short pep talk, my emotions began to plateau, and I led my first child into the Teen Lounge to begin their survey. Rather than managing 12 kids with severe behavioral challenges, I was about to ask this child to share with me, a complete stranger, truths they have barricaded from their closest friends and family.

I read, “I miss my mom so much I feel like crying.”  Tears began cascading down their cheeks, and I opened my arms inviting them to emote without the fear of reprimand, embarrassment or ridicule.  As I held them in my arms, I hoped that this moment would be the catalyst to constructing a reality where it’s okay to not be okay.

Most times kids have never seen their grief experiences put to words, and this survey gives them the first breath of validation quelling those ruminating thoughts of loneliness in loss. In that moment, I realized not only the role of Kate’s Club in the community, but also the power the GIFT tool possess in normalizing a child’s grief reactions and abdicating those “no one gets it” ideations. For an instant, they felt normal and maybe a small sliver of hope stuck to the bottom of their shoes like toilet paper reminding them that there will be better days. Because that is what Kate’s Club is… Hope that they can make it through their grief journey whole.  

At the close of the evening, we said our goodbyes and departed ways with everyone feeling just a little lighter than they came. As I drove home, I thought, “This may be the single, most important thing I have ever done.”