Bruce McIntyre: triumphing over tragedy

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By By Ben Rayner • 10/11/2021 8:30 AM EST

Bruce McIntyre’s efforts have been a lifeline for countless families for decades, through the Cove Center for Grieving Children, which began in Guilford in 1995. As reported on Cove’s website, www.covect.org November is National Childhood Grieving Awareness Month. .

Bruce was living a seemingly perfect suburban life with four children and his loving wife Judie. Then Bruce and his children endured an all-too-familiar ordeal when Judie died of cancer in 1974.

A single father of four children aged 3 to 11, Bruce has been overwhelmed with the responsibility and work it takes to deal with the grief he and his children have faced. After several years of struggling to keep his family together, Bruce met and then married his current wife Renee, to whom Bruce credits saving him and his family, and inspiring him to help others facing the same challenges. and help organize The Cove.

“I got widowed in 1974 and raised them for 6½ years pretty much on my own,” says Bruce. “Then I met Renee and our relationship started to develop. We used to have great conversations in the evenings and I shared, and she taught me some great and valuable things.

“I once said, ‘The four kids want my attention all the time,’ and Renee said, ‘Pick a night of the week that works best for you and take each of them to dinner together,’ she said. he remembers. “So we did it every week, and we had a really good one-on-one time and that’s one of the first things that started to inspire us.”

Bruce says he and his kids just couldn’t mourn Judie. The pressures of everyday life, the times and the lack of resources did not allow the founding of a program like The Cove, Bruce says.

“We just didn’t cry and that’s what Renee noticed,” says Bruce. “Renee told me, ‘None of your kids have gotten through, they need help.’ And I also needed help figuring out what it was about. She’s so strong that she instinctively knew what to do to push them in the right direction.

A few years later, Bruce and Renee met a couple from Guilford, Jim and Maryanne Emswiler. This couple’s heart-wrenching story of losing a wife and mother resonated with Bruce and the quartet began to form the idea of ​​an organization dedicated to guiding children and families through the grieving process. The Cove Center for Grieving Children was born and the organization immediately found a community in desperate need of help.

Although Bruce, a longtime resident of Madison, who and Renee have developed, led and contributed time and funds to many Madison organizations including the ABC program, the Teen Rec Committee, Safe Rides, Madison Youth Services and many others, the organization that brings Bruce the most sense of accomplishment is his work with The Cove.

Bruce had always volunteered and devoted time to the community, but with Renee’s guidance they began a truly uncompromising dedication to service in a way that is as unique as it is critical.

It might seem obvious given Bruce and his family’s experience with the death of a caring wife and mother, but the ability to help others deal with the same issues he and his family have has. was a critical part of her eventual recovery, says Bruce.

The Emswilers “had heard so much about the work Renee had done and really stayed with us to help them out, which we ultimately did,” says Bruce. “The Cove model was not a downfall. It’s family based — the whole family is involved. It is up to the family or caregivers to come and meet other family members at The Cove to have the opportunity with volunteer animators to help both parents and children.

Bruce said The Cove was intended to be a safe haven for anyone affected by the loss of an immediate family member. Bruce says it was important for him to give back in a way that could somehow ease the pain and heartache of others and spare them the trauma, however small, that he and his children went through.

“The most important thing for me was just the language. When people die, we often use the term “death”. What is that? We celebrate birth, but we don’t celebrate death. Other cultures celebrate both. So it’s so important to get people to use the “D” word. Death, death, that’s where the process begins, just saying the words. He grew up pretty quickly. The need, we found, was really there.

Bruce says the organization has a volunteer and professional staff who work tirelessly to help clients cope with the overwhelming issues they face, but sometimes even a small reward from the program can take on special meaning.

“One mother told me – a woman who was raising three young children after her husband died – it’s the fact that she didn’t have to cook dinner the nights she brought her children to The Cove. which eased his grief. and gave him precious moments of peace, ”says Bruce. “The Cove is truly a special place. It really had a positive influence on a lot of people.

Bruce says the organization strives to offer professional grief counseling and an opportunity to listen. Bruce encourages anyone experiencing grief to contact The Cove and begin the healing process. Words like closure don’t necessarily have a place in the grieving process, says Bruce.

“Without The Cove, so many children will turn to drugs, alcohol, struggle with school, and forgo the healing they desperately need. The Cove was designed for any family or caregiver who needs our help, ”says Bruce. “There are other wonderful organizations that do this work as well, but they are not as big as us and we just want families to have access to help wherever they can. For me, I don’t want a family to be without the resources to help a grieving child. I will do all I can to focus on this.

Bruce says some of the children have become counselors within the organization and all attribute The Cove to the important role in their healing process. Bruce says he and Renee have been blessed by their experience and the people who have come through their lives.

“Renee really opened my eyes to helping others, really. I played golf, guy stuff, but I hadn’t really taken anything like that. What are the important things in life? Renee was doing all kinds of activities and I saw how much she was giving back emotionally and it really hit me how I could do that too, ”says Bruce. “I was so blown away by what Renee was doing not only with our kids, but with other kids. Without a doubt, I am the luckiest guy in the world.

Today, there are seven Cove sites statewide serving hundreds of grieving children and their families through regular support sessions, including one in Guilford. If you or your family need grief counseling, visit the Cove Center for Grieving Children online at www.covect.org or call the coordination office in Meriden at 203-634-0500.

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