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Written by Lane Pease, Kate’s Club Program Director
At Kate’s Club, we have implemented 4-week, closed support groups in the last couple of years. Closed means that the same people participate for 4 weeks. We have special topics for these groups, and the whole family participates. We have had a teen and parent group, sibling loss groups, and suicide and homicide loss groups. In 2017, we have added a new family formations group to our schedule. The families do some activities together and divide into age groups for others.
During these groups, I have experienced some of the most powerful times of my career at Kate’s Club. In these groups, I see what I see frequently at Kate’s Club that is connection and support. However, I see it more intensely as trust and understanding is built with the same participants over the course of 4 weeks. Who better to offer hope to a parent grieving a child than a parent who is also grieving a child, but is further along in the journey? Who better to cry and laugh with when discussing the insensitive comments made to suicide survivors than other suicide survivors? I watched teens and their parents journal back and forth for our group learning that it is sometimes easier to write about how they feel than to talk. I listened to children who have lost a sibling share how each room in their house has changed for them. I saw both children and adults have “light bulb” moments as they learned the myths and misconceptions surrounding suicide grief. I saw these same members burn letters to their loved ones in a bowl while letting go of some of the anger, guilt, and shame they felt. I watched a girl write a letter to her mother’s murderer expressing her anger and fear. I have seen divorced parents work with their son on a “family shield” that honored their son who died while looking at the strengths of the family that remained.
Group members’ hand mandalas from a suicide support group
At the end of one the group sessions I ended with a ritual called “Today I learned…Tomorrow I hope…”. We pass a rose and take a pedal or put the paper hands we have decorated on a poster board together. One of the most common things I hear is “Today I learned that I am not alone” or “Today I learned that I can feel better” or “Today I learned this was not my fault”. I also hear “Tomorrow I hope I can continue to heal” or “Tomorrow I hope I can help others” among many other comments. I learn something every time I lead a Kate’s Club group. Here are some of the things I have learned: the courage of parents and children to move forward in the face of devastating loss, the incredible love family members have for one another, and the love, support, and comfort, that relative strangers can offer one another. Tomorrow I hope that those grieving alone will reach out for help, that those further down the road will reach back to help someone, and most of all that Kate’s Club will continue to be the healing community that people need. I wish you peace in the new year.
For more information about programs, including these 4-week long quarterly support groups, contact Lane Pease at [email protected] or call 404-347-7619.
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