“I painted a broken heart because it felt like that was all there was inside of me.” These are the words of Kaela, age 8, after the loss of her brother. When a family member dies, it impacts the way a family functions as a whole. Children, in particular, often have a difficult time adjusting to these changes and coping with the feelings that accompany the loss. They may feel a need to protect other family members from their own feelings of grief.
To support the children of our community, Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice is pleased to announce their new bereavement program called “Crossings” for children, ages 4 to 18, who have experienced a loss.
The Crossings program is modeled after the well-established Center for Grieving Children in Portland, ME. Groups are facilitated by trained volunteers, under the mentorship of the Center. Like the Center in Portland, Crossings offers peer support groups to connect children and families. “We know that connecting kids with each other has a positive impact on the healing process,” said program coordinator, Julie Lanoie. Crossings will provide a space for children to safely express their emotions. “If children don’t have a way to express their grief fully, they often internalize it,” added Lanoie. “This can increase their risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other emotionally avoidant patterns in the future.”
Groups will take place one evening per week at the Mt. Washington Valley Children’s Museum in North Conway. Parents will have the option of participating in an adult bereavement group held simultaneously. All services are free to participants thanks to generous support from private donors as well as from Zeb’s Charitable Fund, the Kiwanis Club of Mt. Washington Valley, the Whittier Lions Club and the Mt. Washington Valley Children’s Museum.
For more information and to find out if Crossings is a good fit for your family, please contact Julie Lanoie, RN, MA at 603-356-7006 ext. 43 or 800-499-4171. If you are interested in supporting Crossings, please call Sandy Ruka, Executive Director of VNHCH at 603-356-7006 ext. 14.