Group night was just about over. The children were bustling out of their group rooms in search of their families in that sort of beautiful chaos that happens in classroom hallways. I was talking with a group of mothers when one child came running up to his mom. He held out some papers and excitedly said “Mom! Look! Look what I did in group!” I stepped aside and observed the exchange between the boy and his mom.
“Look! I made our family! Our whole family!” He smiled so proudly as he showed her a crayon drawing he made of their family which included their loved one who had died. But his excitement was not over. With his eyes big and bright, he said, “Now look at this! Then we did this! I drew what life was like before he died and how my life changed after he died!” His mom praised his work and said what most moms have to say in a hectic moment, “Hang on to those and when we get in the car you can tell me ALL about it okay?”
It was a simple exchange between mother and son. But to me it was priceless. To me it was another example of what happens at The WARM Place. The little boy was given the opportunity to draw his family ~ his complete family ~ in a safe and supportive environment. Even though someone dies, they’re still part of your family. He was able to celebrate that with a drawing and have it validated by his peers. He was also able to illustrate how the death loss has impacted his young life. But even deeper than that, he had the words to share those intimate discoveries with his mom.
It is common for parents to say to us “I don’t know how my child is doing because he won’t talk to me.” I tell them it’s okay, come to group, and we’ll help your family find the words.
The excitement I witnessed between the little boy and his mom was such a brief exchange. But the significance was not lost on me. That moment was growth. It was progress. It was love between a grieving mother and her grieving son. It’s true that grief is personal and family members grieve differently. But as that little boy and his mom reminded me, families can heal together.
All my best,
Lisa Nichols, M.A., LPC-S