There's more than a listening ear at Seasons Hospice Drop-In Teen Days grief support group. Open to students in grades 7 through 12 who have experienced the death of a loved one, the once-a-month support group is designed to help educate youth about the grieving process and normalize all the thoughts and feelings that go with it.

 

“The goal is to let them know they aren’t alone,” said Heidi Smith, director of Seasons Hospice’s Center for Grief Education and Support. “We provide grief education. Show them there’s a reason for the anger or anxiety they are experiencing. They can look through a grief symptom checklist, and see they’re normal. They aren’t going crazy and their body isn’t falling apart. There’s a reason for what they are experiencing and the people in this room understand.”

 

Held the third Wednesday of the month, year round, the group is co-facilitated by Smith and Janet Guderian. With plenty of time for hanging out and quiet conversations, each group focuses on different topics: memories, coping skills, changes to family dynamics, unfinished business.

 

“We start each group with relaxation techniques: stretching, breathing. It helps set the tone for the group,” said Smith. “We talk about grief. We talk about self-care. We usually pose a question or do an activity and see where the group goes with it. Each group also includes a hands-on activity that the students can take with them. We’ve painted rocks, made glitter filled relaxation bottles, made worry stones. The luminaries we made were a big hit. The kids had fun taking the hammers and nails and pounding away.”

 

Group isn’t long (it typically runs about an hour) and isn’t big (there are typically fewer than a half dozen participants), but it is needed.

 

“The stats say 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone significant during the course of their school years,” said Smith. “Kids often think they are the only one. They are experiencing big feelings but often don’t go to their parents because they don’t want to be a burden or worry them. We offer group because we understand. It’s a safe place. Kids can talk about it with other kids who get it.”

 

No registration necessary. Call with questions.

Lindy Lange is a licensed school social worker. Family Time appears every Wednesday. Up next: Get creative at the Southeast Service Cooperative's Young Authors, Young Artists conference.

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