Free to Grieve. Free to Live.

“Did you see that?” the mom asked halfway through the interview.

“See what?” I asked, feeling a bit oblivious.

“Every time my girls share something with you, they watch to see how their words have impacted me,” she observed.

The mother, her two daughters and I continued the conversation over our hot cocoa and cookies. And then I noticed it.

As these two brave little girls openly shared with me about the recent murder of their dad, they were acutely aware of their mom’s presence. Of her feelings. Her pain. Their love for their mother was so visibly apparent. They wanted to protect her from any additional hurt. However, the mom recognized how vital it is for them to have some freedom from feeling that responsibility.

This is the gift of Kate’s Club, she noted. When she drops her girls off for a program, she knows they are in an environment where they don’t feel the need to protect her. They can freely grieve and heal with other young people who share the profound experience of losing a parent or a sibling. It is not a place of sorrow and death, but a place of hope and life. This allows the healing journey to take place for Kate’s Club participants regardless of whether they are playing a mindless board game, doing an art project, or digging deep by sharing their story with other kids.

As we finished our snack, the girls became animated and full of life when they talked about Kate’s Club. There is a twinkle in her eye when the oldest (9 years old) states, “Kate’s Club means a ‘bungle’ to me. It means a lot. I love it. A lot. A lot. I like the people there. I like the activities. I like everything.”

The youngest, only 6 years old, maturely articulated that she likes Kate’s Club because she gets to be with other people who have gone through similar things. And she knows how it feels. She said, “We have something in common.”

As I learn more about Kate’s Club, I realize that one thing is not common: having such a unique environment for kids to grieve freely and live freely again. And as the mom said—that truly is a gift.