San Diego Family: June 2017

Page 20

Kristen Castillo



Healing for kids after the loss of a loved one

Paul Lopez and children, 12-year-old Finn and 8-year-old Sloan

It’s been two years since Marni Kass

died from a brain tumor. Her husband Paul Lopez and children, 12-year-old Finn and 8-year-old Sloan miss her and think about her every day. The Lopez family, who lives in Carlsbad, is busy. Paul works and the kids have school and activities. Finn plays soccer; Sloan does gymnastics. But no matter how busy life gets, they always take time to connect as a family. “I think we’re in a good space right now,” says Paul, who does regular “check-ins” with the kids. “We are pretty open about Marni and the loss so we talk about it all the time.” Kass battled the brain tumor for six years. The kids remember the fun they

20 • • June 2017

had with their mom and her great cooking—especially taco night. “I liked when she made beans, cheese, beef, rice and lentil beans,” says Sloan, a third grader who likes art. They reminisce often and keep pictures of Marni around the house. “When I talk about my mom, it sort of makes the grief go away, more and more,” says Finn, who’s in sixth grade and wants to be a professional soccer player when he grows up.

A Place for Healing Last summer, Finn and Sloan attended Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for kids ages 6–17 dealing with the loss of a parent, sibling or anyone significant to the child.

Marni Kass “It’s easier to talk about at camp because you’re not different from everybody else,” says Finn. “There’s something that you all have in common.” Camp Erin is part of a national group of bereavement camps started by former Major League Baseball player Jamie Moyer and his wife Karen. They started the camp in Seattle to honor Erin Metcalf, a girl with liver cancer who worried about family and friends affected by the death of a loved one. There are over 45 Camp Erins nationally (one in every Major League city) and more than 18,500 kids have attended the camp. Locally, 120 kids attend Camp Erin, a free, three-day camp held every

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