By Guest Blogger, Todd Gaylord
Painted in pink and green and blue and orange, our Memory Rock reads, “Sydney, 1976 – .” The “S” is written backwards and my wife’s final year of life, “2011” is omitted because Mary Haven, my six year old, ran out of room to paint it.
She decorated this rock as a craft-project alongside my other daughter, Vail (9), at a
KinderMourn event a few weeks ago. To adults, KinderMourn is a local non-profit founded to help grieving children. It is located in a craftsman style home in the heart of Myers Park and helps kids each year cope with the trauma of losing a parent or loved one.
To Mary Haven and Vail, KinderMourn is an island of safety and respite. When they walk over threshold of this home, they step into the one place in the world where they feel normal. In support groups and counseling sessions, they can acknowledge the terrible hole created when their mom was taken from them last summer by brain cancer. They can tear up as they tell a story about their mom, or they can laugh as they draw, create, or play a game. They can uncover their wounded heart as they see other children courageously do the same. They can let down and relax; they can be kids again.
It is hard to explain just how powerful the camaraderie is among grieving children. I have come to believe that for a child, one of the hardest parts of losing a parent is the nagging feeling that they are different from other children, that something is wrong with their family, that something about them is faulty or damaged. From the moment my girls walked into their first KinderMourn group, they sensed a bond with these children. Just knowing what their new friends held in common was enough to draw them into the group. As their parent, I could sense them begin to let down, loosen up, and open themselves to connection, and eventually, healing.
I have used the parent group to get help addressing questions such as, “What do I do when my child’s anger seems uncontrollable?” “How should I deal with declining grades and interest in school?” and “How can I prepare for Mother’s Day?” It has been helpful to bounce these questions around with other single parents, many of whom face or have faced the same grief related issues.
Finally, I will add that the culture and focused expertise at KinderMourn is top-notch. After twenty minutes of individual counseling, a licensed counselor was able to tell me more about my daughter and her grief than I had learned in six months of counseling elsewhere. The compassionate and energetic culture of the organization is focused very clearly on the hearts of children and it shows.
I am so thankful for what KinderMourn has meant to my family and hope the organization will continue to help grieving families and children like Mary Haven and Vail for many years to come.
KinderMourn’s 8th Annual Hope Floats Duck Race
Sunday, April 22
US Whitewater Center
2:00p – 5:00p
Race time approx 3:30p
Adopt your ducks today! Go to www.kindermourn.org. Once there, click on the yellow duck. You have the option of adopting through “fast adoption” or selecting your favorite team to give credit to a specific team. We created a “Jennifer Lisman Bunich” team in honor of our beloved Jen B, click here to donate to Jen’s team. Make sure you click on the Team Member Name which is “Charlotte Smarty Pants.”
You can also raise $ by purchasing the Sydney necklace by Towne & Reese and Balboa jewelry – for more details, click here.
I am so sorry for the loss of your wife, Sydney. Your daughters are beautiful, and it is wonderful that you all have a place like KinderMourn.
Todd, great blog and thank you for sharing your story. Having lost my wife in 2007 (shw was a founding “Mommy” of this website), I know exactly how you feel and how much KinderMourn has helped my daughter, myself and my in-laws cope with the loss of Jennifer. My thoughts are with you and your family and I wish you all the best.
I look good in my old pictures my brown hair is cute!!!!!! i really love this! Dad, you did a great job, mom would have loved this!