I sat down on a couch that was much too soft. As I sunk into it, I felt like I was drowning in faded taupe. I looked around and saw only a few people my age. Five or six girls who looked about 18 were sitting on the couch opposite me, talking and laughing. Pretty weird behavior for a grief support group, where you are forced to think about dead people and feel sorry for everyone around you.

My brother was playing with his hair, as usual, and my sister was staring into space nervously. She did not want to come here. She said she was “scared.” My dad didn’t understand this, but I did. I wasn’t scared, but I was uncomfortable enough to understand.

I feared people would misinterpret my all-black outfit; did they think I thought we were supposed to wear black, like for a funeral? But this was just what I wore to school. I hoped it didn’t make me look too sad.

A boy plopped down next to me. His T-shirt said “Don’t chase ’em, replace ’em.” He introduced himself excitedly, seemingly out of breath, as if he had run over here. Maybe he had. Another boy darted over, trying to introduce himself and sit beside me at the same time. The couch was small, and there was barely enough room for the two people already on it. I shifted uncomfortably. Boy Two was practically on top of me as he told me his name.

I was led to the teen section. Turns out those laughing girls were interns working at this place, which I was happy about for some reason. I didn’t dislike seeing them happy, it just made me uncomfortable, like I was supposed to be laughing too.

There were nine purple folding chairs in a dark room, for one supervisor, one facilitator who looked like Jesus, one intern, and six kids. This was my age group, but I was clearly the youngest. We went around in a circle saying our names, how long we’d been in this group, and who our “special person” was. Everyone in the room said a parent’s name (though Boy One said a whole lot of names in addition to his mom’s). Everyone had lost a parent at least five or six years ago. I was the newest. I was a freshman in grief support, just like at school.

We lit candles and played weirdly unproductive “team-building games.” I hated the idea of the group. I loved the kids. I had never met anyone who didn’t immediately become awkward and pitiful when I told them about my mom.

“My mom, um…wore leather pants?” I said. We had to say something special about our Special Person.

“Cool,” said Boys One and Two. A skinny girl from across the room sighed, exasperated.

“I, um, play bass?” I said when we needed to say something special about ourselves.

“Me too,” said Boy Two. Boy One sighed. The only other boy in the room muttered something, and the skinny girl next to him laughed. It didn’t sound mean, though. You could tell that they were all friends. I smiled.

We left. Boys One and Two gave me their Facebook info so I could friend them at home. I gave Boy Two my band’s YouTube link. At the end, outside, they were all hugging goodbye. The skinny girl pulled me in, and everyone hugged at the same time. It was weird how not-weird that was. Grief support looks like a creepier version of AA on the outside, but I like those kids. They’re just normal. ♦