“Listen I thought I was gonna buy stock in waterproof mascara and posh puffs. I did I bought a book on crying! I thought I was never gonna stop crying.”
Inside, what looks like a home near Reliant Stadium, Mary Beth Arcidiacono is sitting on a big brown, comfy sofa in a small room stuffed with similarly cozy looking furniture. She’s chatting with Mary Beth Staine, Executive Director of Bo’s Place and Elizabeth Cobb, one of its clinicians.
The topic isn’t a happy one, it’s the death of Arcidiacono’s 13-year old son Johnny in a car accident 14 years ago. Now she can laugh, but that’s thanks to the countless nights spent at Bo’s Place, chatting to other mother’s who had lost either a husband or a child.
Bo's Place Clinician Elizabeth Cobb with a rock in the memory garden
“You know, that’s the one thing about that shared experience; you know that it’s ok to talk about it. You can just say, 'Look, I’m really struggling right now!' And it’s 14 years later and they’re like, 'Yep I get it.'”
Cobb: “Because grief is a lifetime journey … something new in their life has happened that grief will be revisited.”
That’s Elizabeth Cobb the clinician at Bo’s Place. She’s explaining something that’s integral to helping families after they leave.
Carmichael Khan who lost his wife Rose in a car accident can attest to that. Khan says he and his daughter Asia are forever changed by Rose’s death, and by their time spent at Bo’s Place.
“We got a lot of support from family, but Bo’s Place was a different family which we still use today. Asia comes back and I have been back. Doing the stuff that helps us continually recover.”
Khan has returned as a facilitator who sits with the small groups of eight or ten people. Families are separated into moms, dads and kids. Cobb says this helps them speak freely away from their family. They chat in cozy sitting room settings most of the time. But Cobb brings me to a very special room where the kids can express their grief.
“Wow, it’s padded!”
Mary Beth: “We have two tornado rooms.”
Elizabeth Cobb: “My joke is that the walls are padded to protect the walls.”
The two tornado rooms are the kid’s favorite places in the building. They contain nothing more than padded walls, a wooden board and balls of clay, but Cobb says it’s amazing what those three things can do.
“The throw and release of the clay is very gratifying being able to yell, 'I’M ANGRY AT CANCER!' is very gratifying, and then the sound of that against the wall also very satisfying. Is really validating to that child saying, you have a right to be angry.”
Many families have come through the doors of Bo’s Place since they opened in 1995. Everything they do there is to help through the stages of the grief process and Mary Beth Arcidiacono says it does help and so does time.
“It’s just a challenge for a lot longer than people think it is. “I’m really grateful that my children had the opportunity to be at Bo’s Place and my husband and I both.”