Caring Place had its final night for us this evening. It was a good experience. I don't know if it was an experience tailor made for someone like me necessarily, but it definitely was a good experience for me and for Emma. It generated some nice conversations.
Caring Place is a group support "service"? specifically for the benefit of children who have lost a loved one.
So every other week for the past...four months...Emma and I have spent our Mondays with other families also dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Emma asked me if it helped me. I hedged. "It didn't hurt me."
A second went by as I considered.
"That's not the same thing as helping."
"I know, baby, I just want to be honest, let me think about it for a second." And I thought about it.
I told her that I felt that it was helpful. I told her that if nothing else it gave me a 'scheduled time to grieve'; a time where I didn't have an excuse to compartmentalize.
What I told Emma then was that I don't like thinking about it. That I'm pretty content 90% of the time because I'm not thinking about it. On purpose. That when I DO think about it, I'm sad. And I don't want to be. The Caring Place for me became a time where I had no escape from thinking about it. And I told her that was good for me. Because I think it's good for me to think about the sadness and about Leslie and about loss...and that sometimes I'm just not disciplined enough to do it myself.
And it was good for me too because it made me feel like I was "doing something" to help give Emma an outlet. People to talk to who "get it".
Emma told me that one of the things she liked was being in a group where discussing losing her mom or her mom's life wasn't "a downer". Not that it wasn't still a downer...but everyone in the room was in the same boat. It didn't stop conversation...it started it. It was nice not to have to censor herself and just talk to people without trying to protect their feelings.
Did I love it? No. It wasn't necessarily my kind of place. We did touchy-feely things that make me feel uncomfortable. They were quick to reiterate that anyone could "pass" on any activity without judgment. And they meant it. But I was committed to the program...it just wasn't necessarily my thing.
Would I recommend it to someone...anyone else? Yes. Everyone. Maybe it's not your thing. Maybe it IS your kid's thing. Maybe you might even find out that although you thought it wasn't your thing...it really WAS your thing. Whatever. Highly recommend it.
We did a square of a quilt that will hang in the Caring Place when it's done (in a month or two, I think). They took a picture of Emma and I. It looks weird. We're smiling because we're having our pictures taken, but we're holding a square of a quilt with Leslie's memorial on it. Yay!
Emma saw it and said, "I look so tired."
I looked at it and said, "My beard is so long."
But I thought...man we sure look happy. Brave faces maybe. Appearances perhaps. But we are happy for the most part. Just looks weird.