Good Grief Helps Grieving Families in Jersey City

Malena Attar Press

At the beginning of each night at Good Grief’s In Community program, grieving children and adults participate in an “opening circle” ritual. As they pass around the “Talking Stick,” they say their name, and who died. It is incredibly powerful to look around the room and to see kids as young as 6-years-old bravely sharing their story. Isolation and loneliness are some of the most frequently experienced effects of grief and loss. But at In Community, grieving kids and adults get to be with others who truly understand their experience.

Good Grief partnered with RWJBarnabas Health and New York Life Foundation to launch In Community, a free grief support program for grieving families in Jersey City. The first cycle of the program, which began in April, recently finished. “This program helped me a lot. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to shut down, but I learned how to get out of that space when I was ready,” said a dad participant. “I thought I was alone, that no one could understand what my family was going through. But at Good Grief, I was actually able to open up and talk to people.”

Good Grief’s mission is to provide unlimited and free support to children, teens, young adults, and families after the death of a mother, father, sister, or brother through peer support programs, education, and advocacy. Good Grief’s In Community meets once a week for 9 weeks, and is designed for children 6-18-years-old who have experienced the death of someone significant in their lives. Children participate in age-specific peer support groups, while the guardians receive support and learn resilient parenting.

Within this supportive environment, participants have the opportunity to build a new vocabulary for the expression of their grief, feel understood, create and nurture relationships with their peers, explore the complexity of their feelings, and build identity after their loss. On the last night of their groups, kids shared their takeaways from the program. “I learned that if you’re going through anything, you can talk to people you trust about how you feel. I can now be more open with my friends; I’m more confident. Don’t be afraid to speak how you feel!” a 15-year-old shared in her group. In the 6-9-year-old group, one of the girls looked around at her friends and said “Don’t be scared. You can talk about things with your friends!”

Thanks to generous funding from The New York Life Foundation, In Community is free for families, and they can enroll as many times as they need. In Community’s next cycle will begin in September and is now accepting applications for families and volunteers.

“I’m so grateful for Good Grief and the support from this community. It has helped my kids in school, it has helped me at work, and it has helped us as a family. We can’t wait to re-enroll in the fall.” said a mom participant as she hugged her two daughters.

To learn more about In Community, volunteer opportunities, or potential partnerships, please contact Whitney Allen: whitney@good-grief.org

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Good Grief is respected as a national leader in delivering grief services to children and their families.  It is the leading provider of these services in New Jersey serving over 1,000 children since its founding in 2004.  Good Grief is a registered 501(c) (3) tax-exempt non-profit organization whose mission is to provide unlimited free support to children, teens and families after the death of a parent or sibling.  Servicing more than 150 communities, we operate programs in Morristown and Princeton. For more information about Good Grief, please visit our web site www.good-grief.org.