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.